Quick run for your lives!
So Karl Rove will leave the White House at the end of August. Many are wondering why, what’s with the quick departure. Me, well, I believe that he is leaving in order to shield the White House from some very strong storms about to come from the numerous investigations into law-breaking that came out of Rove’s strategies, from politicizing US attorneys, to the Abramoff scandal, to the Hatch Act violations.
These of course, are still minor things. They are not the meat of the violations that the Bush administration has committed under the direction of Karl Rove. Let us not ever forget that the war in Iraq, while architected and dreamed up by Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, was used by Karl Rove as a political lever. He told Republicans in January of 2002 to use the impending war against Democrats. The 2004 election, strategized by Karl Rove, was all about the war. The May Mission Accomplished landing on the aircraft carrier in 2003 was all about the 2004 election. Starting the war in March of 2003 (and not waiting around until the summer, or late fall) was all about the 2004 election. The war in Iraq was all about getting Bush reelected and about creating a permanent Republican majority, Karl Rove’s wettest dream. Building on the false perception that Democrats were militarily weak, Rove and the Republicans pressed for the worst things of the war, just for political points. This is the legacy of Karl Rove. This is the legacy of George W. Bush. This is the legacy of these Republicans today.
The unfortunate part is that our media today is most complicit in this bamboozle. So Americans won’t get a clear picture of what is really going on. You have to look at sources outside of America to see things clearly. It is very unfortunate that it really has come to this, but this is the consequence of divisive politics.
The observations of the judicious Blackstone, in reference to the latter, are well worthy of recital: “To bereave a man of life, [says he] or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government.” And as a remedy for this fatal evil he is everywhere peculiarly emphatical in his encomiums on the habeas corpus act, which in one place he calls “the BULWARK of the British Constitution.”
Michael Gordon writes another propaganda piece in the New York Times, unquestioningly passing along Bush’s false assertion about Iran being our greatest enemy, blah blah blah. Interestingly in his piece, while uncritically writing what the military wants us to hear—accusations that Iran is supplying the worst EFPs— Mr. Gordon probably unknowingly reveals a bit of a truth. See, Mr. Gordon and the Bush administration want us to believe that our greatest enemy in Iraq is Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. But Mr. Gordon writes:
Such bombs, which fire a semi-molten copper slug that can penetrate the armor on a Humvee and are among the deadliest weapons used against American forces, are used almost exclusively by Shiite militants.
While the group [al Qaeda] is seen by the American military as the most serious near-term threat, there are other signs that Shiite militias remain active. According to General Odierno, the day-to-day commander of American troops in Iraq, Shiite militants carried out 73 percent of the attacks that killed or wounded American troops in Baghdad in July.
Even though Shi’ite militias are attacking us at a greater rate, he can’t help himself and state what a threat Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia is. Note that he states that Al-Qaeda is “seen by the American military as the most serious near-term threat,” even though “Shi’ite militants carried out 73 percent of the attacks” in July, which would seem quite “near term” frankly.
Worse, of course, is that Mr. Gordon does not even care to show what evidence the military has that proves that Iran is behind the EFPs, even though a previous raid in southern Iraq found a bomb-making factory that made those very EFPs that are killing Americans. In Iraq. Not Iran. Hmmmm…..
“Iraqi army soldiers swept into the city of Diwaniya early this morning to disrupt militia activity and return security and stability of the volatile city back to the government of Iraq,” the U.S. military said in a statement.
Bleichwehl said troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory that produced “explosively formed penetrators” (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches.
That was in April of this year. But that doesn’t matter to Mr. Gordon and the Bush administration. They would rather have Americans believe that Iranians are the Great Satan, the dark that the light of America must consume, the evil that must be vanquished. Forget that over half the foreign fighters in Iraq come from our bestest of friends, the Saudis. Forget that Shi’ites in Iraq themselves are actually creating these EFPs.
Worse yet, we’re now funding Sunni insurgents we used to be fighting. And to top it off, 30% of our weapons that we gave to Iraqis have gone missing. Is there a more appropriate time to use the old FUBAR phrase than now to describe our mission in Iraq?
The administration would have us believe, particularly of late, that our primary enemy in Iraq is al Qaeda of Mesopotamia. But if 73% of attacks in Baghdad in July were carried out by Shiite militants, who are certainly not al Qaeda fighters, then that’s a major story, one that underscores just how unmanageable the situation in Iraq is.
We are simultaneously under attack by Sunni and Shiite militants, who, when not attacking us, are attacking each other. Both Sunni and Shiite militant groups are (apparently) being supplied, whether with official blessing or not, by sympathetic parties in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Some have suggested that we are in a proxy war with Iran. I think it’s far more accurate to say that we are stuck in the middle of a proxy war between Iran and its Sunni rivals.
Meanwhile, in order to root out al Qaeda, we’ve started arming the very Sunni militants we were previously fighting. And we continue to support a Shiite-led central government that is openly allied with Shiite militias who, when not ethnically cleansing Sunnis in the Baghdad area, are apparently blowing up our troops with Iranian-made bombs. There’s a word for this type of situation and it rhymes with fustercluck.
UPDATED: Matt Yglesias adds:
The administration is lying (for them not to be lying would be unprecedented) and Gordon is passing on what his sources tell him.
As a policy matter, looking at the Iranian support issue tends to highlights how pointless it is to get one’s hopes raised by such minor signs of progress as may or may not be thought to exist in Iraq. Iran is charged with supplying a bit more than 100 explosive-formed penetrator bombs to Iraqi militants per month. Iran is also a bit of a rinky-dink third world country. But even they clearly could be providing a lot more weaponry than that were they so inclined. Hezbollah’s armaments are, for example, much more sophisticated than that. If the Iranians ever were to reach the conclusion that the US were in danger of achieving its goals of creating a stable Iraq happy to play host to large US military installations and serve as an anti-Iranian bulwark in the region, Iran could easily step up its assistance and then you’re back to square one.
The issue here, then, really isn’t where, exactly, these EFPs come from and why. The issue is whether you think it serves US interests to try to reach an accommodation with Iran so they we can fight terrorism by trying to fight the al-Qaeda terrorists who want to come here and kill or, or whether you think it serves US interests to continue picking unprovoked fights with tangential adversaries. But before you pick what’s behind door number two, just keep in mind that a US-Iranian escalation cycle will certainly lead things to get much, much worse over the short and medium terms.
To show just what a Catch-22 we’re in over in Iraq, two reports out this morning from Washington Post present a nice contrast between both options: surging and withdrawing.
On the failing withdrawal of British troops from Basra, we read of increasing violence as Shi’ite factions fight each other for control.
What does this evidence mean? Well, put simply, we should never have gone in in the first place. The whole experiment is a failure. And also, the cynic in me is starting to believe that Tony Blair planned with Bush to withdraw forces from Basra before Americans withdrew from the rest of the country. The reason being is now becoming clear. Tony Blair knew that Basra was not ready for an actual withdrawal. But at the behest of Bush, he began withdrawing his troops. This way, when British soldiers leave and Basra regresses to violent tribalism, Bush can go to the American people and say, “See, this is what happens when you withdraw precipitously.” (Of course he would never use such a big word like that). Maybe I’m too cynical, but with this administration, I’ve learned that nothing should be dismissed as the possible actual events.
Here is more evidence to show that Mitt Romney, and I guess all those Republicans that still support Bush, just have no idea what they are talking about. From the recent Republican debate:
This morning’s Republican presidential candidate debate in Iowa was a relatively low-key affair, but this was one of the more unusual exchanges of the event. Following a question about ending the war in Iraq:
“Just come home,” dissented Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the lone advocate of a quick troop withdrawal on a presidential campaign debate stage. He said there had never been a good reason to go to war in the first place.
“Has he forgotten about 9/11?” interjected former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Romney didn’t make clear why the attacks of Sept. 11 justify the war in Iraq, but he seemed oddly pleased with himself for making the comment.
Republicans have so strongly tied Iraq to 9/11 that even now they still see the war in Iraq as a sensible and logical response to 9/11 even though Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with it, and our enemies were not in Iraq. Is this the kind of person Americans want as the next president? Please!
Jane Mayer writes for the New Yorker on the CIA’s black sites. I highly recommend her article.
Have you guys noticed how often the Republicans have said this past week that if Congress didn’t pass the FISA bill, terrorists would attack us? Note Mitch McConnel and Lamar Smith who say:
“Al-Qaida is not going on vacation this month,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “And we can’t either until we know we’ve done our duty to the American people.”
“I hope that there are no attacks before we are able to effectively update this important act,” said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
Then there is Trent Lott scaring up the whole town of Washington DC with this:
In light of the heightened threat, Congress can either amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or all of us can run screaming into the inferno.
Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) ominously advised Thursday that Congress needed to pass changes to terrorist surveillance laws before leaving for the August recess and warned that otherwise “the disaster could be on our doorstep.”
Further demonstrating his counterterrorism sagacity, when asked if people should leave Washington, D.C., during the month of August, Lott replied that “I think it would be good to leave town in August, and it would probably be good to stay out until September the 12th.” By contrast, a former Capitol Hill chief had the temerity to note that, according to U.S. intelligence analysis he’d been privvy to, “Americans tend to be much more oriented toward anniversaries and the jihadists seem to be less so. I’ve seen over the years where we concentrate on dates and the analysts say, ‘Don’t get wrapped up in dates because our terrorist jihadist enemies bide their time.'”
The American Heritage Dictionary defines terrorism as such:
n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
One has to ask himself, just why would these Republican leaders use such threats of possible attacks to rush through a law without proper debate or even real consideration of the effects of the new law? It’s time to be quite frank. These Republican leaders are using terrorism to frighten Americans into submission. They use their favorite boogeyman, Al-Qaeda, to threaten Americans. Pass this law, or we just might be attacked, they claim. As if not passing this law means we will be attacked. Note the logic in that. It gives the feeling that Republicans can control this boogeyman, and can assure that we will not be attacked if this law is passed, but if this law is not passed, there is no guarantee that we will not be attacked. Does that sound familiar to anybody? Who else uses such threats? Anybody remember The Godfather Part II? What did that Italian mob boss try to do to Don Corleone? It’s called extortion. Wikipedia defines extortion as such:
Extortion is a criminal offense, which occurs when a person either obtains money, property or services from another through coercion or intimidation or threatens one with physical or reputational harm unless they are paid money or property. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime groups. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense. Making a threat of violence or a lawsuit which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence or lawsuit is sufficient to commit the offense. The four simple words “pay up or else” are sufficient to constitute the crime of extortion. An extortionate threat made to another in jest is still extortion.
You know, when I hear people like Tom DeLay and other miscreants talking about how The Terrists are about to do something that could make Washington a really dangerous place to be if Democrats don’t instantly cave in and sign over whatever else Bush wants, it sounds to me like it’s not so much a warning as a threat. And therefore, I expect Democrats to stand right up and say, “Are you threatening us?”
Because constantly trying to terrify people with the threat of violence really is terrorism, and it’s not Al Qaeda that’s doing that to us right now.
So my next question would be: “Why would Al Qaeda want to launch a terrorist attack on America just in time to give a bomb-happy executive the opportunity to suspend the elections so he can take out half the Muslim world?”
I would just love to hear the Democratic leadership stand up and ask what the Republicans are up to when they start terror-threatening over legislation. They could say:
“I thought you said you were keeping us safe. If that’s true, why are you so sure we’re about to be attacked? Aren’t you planning to stop it? Are you saying you will refuse to ‘keep us safe’ if we don’t support your bills?”
Or they could say:
“My, it sure is convenient for you that Al Qaeda is always about to attack us right before you want us to vote for your bills that we haven’t even had time to read. Are they on your payroll or something?”
Indeed. It also is so surprising that in a country like ours these Republicans can actually get away with terrorism like they do. And our Democratic leaders really are pansies of the worst kind. Com’on guys get some balls! Bin Laden is probably taking notes from them on how to effectively terrorize a population to capitulate and do their will for them.
Here may be a great reason for the multitude of Mormons still supportive of this war to think twice about it. The families, especially the children of soldiers who go off to Iraq are irreprably harmed.
Rates of neglect and abuse of the children of servicemen and women rose 42% within the family when the enlisted parent was deployed on a combat mission, according to a new study led by senior health analyst Deborah Gibbs of RTI International, a research institute in North Carolina. Previous studies have shown an association between combat-related deployments and higher levels of stress in the family, and it is this stress that is thought to play a major role in the maltreatment of children by the parent who stays home.
The current study is the first to take a comprehensive look at how deployment affects child neglect and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Backed by funding from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the researchers harvested data from the U.S. Army Central Registry of 1,771 families worldwide with at least one instance of child neglect or abuse between Sept. 2001 and Dec. 2004, a period during which many soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The results show that a staggering 1,858 parents had maltreated their children during that period — boys and girls in equal numbers, with an average age of 6. Nearly 10% of those parents neglected or abused their children on more than one day. The number of times a parent was deployed, however, whether once or twice, did not significantly affect the rate of maltreatment — researchers speculate that by the time of a soldier’s second tour of duty, the homebound parent has developed at least few coping strategies.
The study suggests that Mom is the one taking it out on the kids. During the deployment of her soldier-husband, rates of child maltreatment tripled; neglect quadrupled; and physical abuse nearly doubled. “Female spouses are the ones that stay at home when soldiers are deployed,” says Gibbs. “They deal with the stress of single parenting, worrying about a spouse and holding down a job as well. We recognize that military families do an amazing job at getting though these situations that are tougher than many of us could ever imagine.” Abusive women were more likely to be Caucasian than Hispanic or black, suggesting that there may be differences in the way white mothers cope with stress compared with black or Hispanic moms; the study’s authors write that the racial difference may have to do with the mother’s employment status or her willingness to ask for outside help. In contrast, male spouses showed no increase in maltreatment when their wives were deployed.
The study controlled for characteristics often linked to child maltreatment — such as substance abuse, socioeconomic status and age of the children —making it evident that deployment was the determining factor.
So let us review the costs of this war and see if they do not indeed outweigh the supposed benefits
1. Our good, professional, all-volunteer force is being decimated and spent, making it more difficult to be fully ready for any bigger event on the horizon.
2. Their families are suffering at a staggering rate back home, with abuse and maltreatment.
3. The financial costs of this war are being put on a credit card for future generations to pay while we sit back and consume like good baby boomers.
4. Iraq is a veritable hell-hole. Thousands of Iraqis die violently a month. They have to rely on militias to get some semblance of security because the Americans are certainly not providing proper security.
5. There is no political resolution on the horizon in Iraq. The Iraqi Parliament is on vacation for the month of August.
6. Regional countries are beginning to be assertive in controlling the broken country to their own selfish needs. Turks are attacking Kurds in the north. Saudis are funding their Sunni brothers in the insurgency. Shi’ite Iranians are supporting the Shi’ites in the south.
7. The war has done absolutely nothing to stop Al-Qaeda regain its strength while they sit comfortably with friends in Pakistan.
8. The Taliban in Afghanistan are learning techniques used by insurgents in Iraq so as to further undermine and destabilize the country we should have already bagged years ago. Instead, Afghanistan is falling further and further in the direction of Iraq.
9. Iran is not feeling any real heat and continuing on their desired path towards nuclear technology.
10. Israel certainly does not feel any safer than it did before 2003.
I’m sure there are many more. Now, I ask those few who read my blog, what have been the benefits of our invasion of Iraq that have outweighed these costs? I ask it in this fashion, because there of course have been obvious benefits to the invasion, one being that Saddam is gone. But tell me, does his removal outweigh these costs?
As if that is any big surprise to anyone who has closely followed the utterly inept Ms. Rice as she does a dog and pony show across the Middle East. But yet again, she has failed to produce any result from her current trip to the Middle East. Sure the Saudis are going to gobble up the $20 billion dollars of advanced weaponry; after all we’re just giving it away with nothing to show in return.
Has there been a worse Secretary of State than Condoleezza Rice?
Anonymous Liberal says it best on the White House’s utter hypocrisy when it comes to revealing or leaking national secrets to the press, as they just did with the New York Times article on data mining.
It’s also worth pointing how breathtakingly hypocritical these leaks are. For years, the Bush administration has refused to acknowledge that it was involved in data-mining activities. When the USA Today reported in May 2006 that the administration was engaged in widespread data-mining, President Bush hastily convened a press conference in which he claimed that his administration was “not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans.” He also noted angrily that “every time sensitive intelligence is leaked, it hurts our ability to defeat this enemy.”
Now the existence of data-mining activities is being confirmed by anonymous administration officials–almost surely at the behest of the White House–solely in an effort to defend Alberto Gonzales from perjury charges. How typical of this administration.
In other words, the White House gets mad at every time a piece of secret whatever gets leaked not at their behest, but when one of their own is in serious trouble, for something bad like perjury, they selectively release secrets to try to defend their own. At what point are they no longer working in the best interest of the United States?
That’s basically the gist of what is going on right now.
The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors that is expected to eventually total $20 billion at a time when some United States officials contend that the Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq.
Yeah, that “counterproductive role in Iraq” is Saudis supporting and financing Sunni insurgents on a level far exceeding that of what Iran does with the Shi’ites. After all, most of the violence against Americans come from Sunnis. Remember the kind of relationship the Bush administration has with the Saudi Royal Family where the Saudi King can summon the Vice President of the United States! As Steve writes for Carpetbagger:
Dick Cheney was in Riyadh over the weekend, but the VP’s office, which is not exactly forthcoming on a regular basis, was unusually vague about this trip. According to what Cheney aides were willing to share, the Vice President traveled half-way around the world for a two-hour meeting with King Abdullah, then hoped on his plane and came home. A spokesperson for the VP’s office would only say that Cheney’s meeting covered a “wide range of issues.” Yeah, that’s helpful.
While the AP suggested that Cheney’s trip was part of a “U.S. diplomatic push to stem surging violence in Iraq,” the WaPo reported that that the push for the meeting came from the Saudis, not the other way around. (via Nico)
Saudi Arabia is so concerned about the damage that the conflict in Iraq is doing across the region that it basically summoned Vice President Cheney for talks over the weekend, according to U.S. officials and foreign diplomats.
Classic. No wonder Cheney and his aides wanted to keep this under wraps; it’s rather humiliating to have the Saudi Crown Prince “summon” our VP for a chat about how badly he’s screwing up the Middle East.
I’ve often wondered if there was any force on earth that could get Cheney to do something he doesn’t want to do. He’s not inclined to care about Congress, or follow U.S. law, or honor U.S. commitments, or negotiate, compromise, or cooperate with anyone.
But when “summoned” by King Abdullah, Cheney is on the plane. Good to know.
How much more evidence do you want, America, that the Bush administration is fake, that they have completely and utterly abrogated the oath they took to uphold the Constitution and protect America? Here they are selling advanced weaponry to the very country that strongly supports and aides Sunni insurgents who turn around and kill our soldiers? Where is the outrage akin to the outrage against Iran? Why are we outraged at Iran’s involvement in Iraq but not Saudi Arabia’s?
The Marine Corps Times is reporting on poor relations between the two men who have most to lose if the surge fails, Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki and General Petraeus. The problem is that the two actors want two different things and both are talking past each other. General Petraeus has to satisfy his boss back home who has to deal with domestic pressures while Maliki’s priorities are, well, not the same as that of General Petraeus and the Americans. The article lists the problems they face:
— Al-Maliki, a Shiite who spent years in exile under Saddam Hussein, hotly objects to U.S. tactic of recruiting men with ties to the Sunni insurgency into the ongoing fight against al-Qaida. He has complained loudly but with little effect except a U.S. pledge to let al-Maliki’s security apparatus vet the recruits before they join the force. He also has spoken bitterly, aides say, about delivery delays of promised U.S. weapons and equipment for his forces.
Of course he’s complained about this. There is no way he can ever trust Sunnis in power anymore. That was the whole purpose of his backing the American removal of a Sunni dictator by the name of Saddam Hussein.
— Petraeus is confronted with an Iraqi military and police force, nominally under al-Maliki’s control, that has in many cases acted on sectarian — namely Shiite — not national Iraqi interests. He has faced a significant challenge in persuading al-Maliki to shed his ties to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who runs the Mahdi Army militia.
Heh, I think General Petraeus might have an easier time getting Bill Kristol to renounce neo-conservatism and turn against his best buddy Fred Kagan.
It’s fine for such leaders to really dislike each other and find it difficult to work together. We don’t need to sit at a campfire and sing kumbayas in order to get things done; sometimes you’ve got to slap people around to get them to do what they need to do. The problem in Iraq (out of the bazillions of problems plaguing that poor cursed country) is that even the sharp disagreements are not getting real long-lasting progress done. One really has to wonder why the city of Baghdad after FOUR YEARS still only gets less than one hour of electricity a day! You’d think a far advanced country like ours would have the ability to do this.
So what should happen? Well General Petraeus and PM Maliki do not have to get along, but General Petraeus must be clear (and this should come from General Petraeus’s boss, Mr. Bush who will never do the right thing) that there is a severe consequence if Mr. Maliki refuses to press forward with the political resolutions. The real threat of withdrawal should do the job, or force Maliki out for being too weak. Iraq needs a leader. Maliki is not proving to be a good one. Unfortunately General Petraeus will also not do the right thing, as smart a man as he is. He has for too long towed the Bush neo-con line, and is basically the wrong man for the job. I mean, he’s not even following his own counterinsurgency principles in this surge!
The sad thing is that even in 2009 when (not if) a Democratic leader becomes president, they also won’t remove the troops, nor remove the failed leaders out of power. At least, I’m gearing up for extremely low expectations hoping to finally be nicely surprised by politicians. I’m learning though that upon getting an opening to do bad things, even the most good-hearted politician will choose the bad. So sad.
Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.
The doctors – whose names were blacked out – said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.
You can find more at the Gavel.
Nice! At last, some real action. Good work Democrats!
A group of Senate Democrats called Wednesday for a special counsel to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales perjured himself regarding the firings of U.S. attorneys and administration dissent over President Bush’s domestic surveillance program.
“We ask that you immediately appoint an independent special counsel from outside the Department of Justice to determine whether Attorney General Gonzales may have misled Congress or perjured himself in testimony before Congress,” four Democratic senators wrote in a letter Wednesday, according to a draft obtained by The Associated Press.
“It has become apparent that the Attorney General has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements” to the Judiciary Committee, they added.
And here’s a great video of Jon Stewart getting past all the b.s. to what it is really about:
This is a breath of fresh air, albeit quite late in the game, but two conservatives from the Reagan administration, one the commandant of the Marine Corps, the other a lawyer in the Reagan White House, have now officially and publicly come out against Bush’s latest executive order, which really didn’t change anything about how the CIA (mis)treats detainees.
One of us was appointed commandant of the Marine Corps by President Ronald Reagan; the other served as a lawyer in the Reagan White House and has vigorously defended the constitutionality of warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps, presidential signing statements and many other controversial aspects of the war on terrorism. But we cannot in good conscience defend a decision that we believe has compromised our national honor and that may well promote the commission of war crimes by Americans and place at risk the welfare of captured American military forces for generations to come.
Awww, they still feel Bush has the imperial power, just as long as he doesn’t torture.
In April of 1793, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson wrote to President George Washington that nations were to interpret treaty obligations for themselves but that “the tribunal of our consciences remains, and that also of the opinion of the world.” He added that “as we respect these, we must see that in judging ourselves we have honestly done the part of impartial and rigorous judges.”
To date in the war on terrorism, including the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and all U.S. military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s losses total about 2 percent of the forces we lost in World War II and less than 7 percent of those killed in Vietnam. Yet we did not find it necessary to compromise our honor or abandon our commitment to the rule of law to defeat Nazi Germany or imperial Japan, or to resist communist aggression in Indochina. On the contrary, in Vietnam — where we both proudly served twice — America voluntarily extended the protections of the full Geneva Convention on prisoners of war to Viet Cong guerrillas who, like al-Qaeda, did not even arguably qualify for such protections.
The Geneva Conventions provide important protections to our own military forces when we send them into harm’s way. Our troops deserve those protections, and we betray their interests when we gratuitously “interpret” key provisions of the conventions in a manner likely to undermine their effectiveness. Policymakers should also keep in mind that violations of Common Article 3 are “war crimes” for which everyone involved — potentially up to and including the president of the United States — may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions.
In a letter to President James Madison in March 1809, Jefferson observed: “It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side.” Our leaders must never lose sight of that wisdom.
It’s nice to see them hearkening back to our Founding Fathers, but…well, I wonder, where were you two in 2004? Abusive interrogations were known BEFORE the 2004 general election. I wonder why you two have waited until now to speak out. You quote Thomas Jefferson who said: “It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side.” Did we not lose that moral right at Abu Ghraib? The evidence was clearly there that that incident was a direct result of President Bush’s orders vis a vis detainees and the Geneva Conventions. Why did you NOT speak out then, dear sirs?
Sure it is easier to speak out now, when the nation is clearly against this president. But true courage is to stand up to evil from the BEGINNING!
As per the conversation with ECS below, I have uploaded the Bismullah Brief here: (Bismullah Brief). It is a Word doc.
This past Saturday my wife and I went and saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The movie was pretty well done, though I do wonder what the “Order of the Phoenix” actually had to do with the plot of the movie—the actual Order members appear at the very beginning and then at the end to save the day (but that’s another story). In any case, the movie was pretty good. I got thinking about a particular aspect of our modern fictional heroes and villains. See I’m also reading Hugh Nibley’s books on the Jaredites and their origins in ancient Asiatic cultures and kingdoms. Absolutely fascinating stuff! Mr. Nibley has opened a window to a world I did not really know about but have been quite curious about for the longest time. The steppes of ancient Asia were quite a bloody, violent, and unstable times, with ruling kings dueling with rivals, capturing kings, having them live in captivity all their lives, so on and so forth. These ancient Asiatic and Jaredite kings were unafraid of battle. In fact, it was their culture that the king took the lead in the battle. They reveled in besting their rivals on the field of battle. In fact, in the account of the Jaredites the two remaining kings, Coriantumr and Shiz battled to the ultimate death and destruction of the Jaredite nation.
In any case, I’ve noticed quite a trend in our stories of late regardless of medium, be it film, television or book. The hero (and the villain too) usually takes the lead, usually is willing to go through hellfire and damnation to achieve near impossible tasks. (These same heroes apparently come out rather unscathed psychologically, but again that is also another story). Jack Bauer takes the lead on “24”. Harry Potter leads the ragtag children of Hogwarts against far more advanced Death Eaters at impossible odds. Maybe their young age makes them not think twice about the fact that they could die very easily at the hands of a Death Eater. And let me just say, if I were a Death Eater, I doubt I would let little kids get in my way of things. But that would ruin the story, wouldn’t it? Leonidas takes charge of the 300 Spartan warriors against one million Persians. Leonidas and his men die in their efforts but their efforts were able to weaken the Persians enough that a few years later they were defeated. Aragorn charges wildly into the mass of orcs in Return of the King, even though it is a foolish move if you think about it. He doesn’t though, because dramatically speaking, charging against the mass of orcs is a far more powerful scene than sitting back strategizing the perils of the kingdom of Gondor at large if the king were to die in battle.
Reality is that when the king leads the battle, the kingdom has a good chance of completely failing, of complete collapse. This is what we learn about ancient Asiatic kingdoms. People wait around until a strongman appears who takes charge, quickly amassing a powerful army that takes control of half of Asia. In no time at all, upon the king’s quick death in battle, the kingdom falls. Modern nations are a vastly different institution, where the ultimate leader stays in the back of the battle sending off the underlings to die for the cause, the homeland, for the state.
I wonder what it is doing to our culture and our mindset when we tie in our hearts and culture the worship of the hero, the soldier, the warrior, the one who, risking all, darts off to battle “evil”, coming back conqueror. Even the most insanest of us all tends to be quite realistic when it comes to his or her own survival. Thus I am befuddled when I see for example this video of College Republicans who speak so easily of our cause against terrorism, but who they themselves do not wish to pick up a weapon and fight.
I don’t mean to pick necessarily on Republicans with this point, it’s just that their example is the most blatant right now. Who do they expect to do the fighting for the cause they speak so proudly of?
We see so many examples in our entertainment, in all mediums, books, television and film, of a worship of the warrior that I really do think it has clouded our understanding of both warfare and tolerating situations we really have no power to control. So many speak of doing “something” about Iran, for example, as if it were not tolerable to have an Iran with nuclear technology. When we speak of not tolerating a nuclear Iran, what does that mean? Do we really have the power to 1) stop Iran from learning nuclear technology? 2) and not further decay our own power?
Reality bites hard. We may have deposed Saddam Hussein. Few doubted our military might and our ability to defeat someone as weak as Saddam. But I wonder if the fakery of fictional characters has so clouded our vision that we think taking massive risks means the risks won’t actually take place? I was watching “A Bug’s Life” with my daughter the other day and I thought some more about this. Flick made a grave mistake when his contraption caused the offering to fall into the river below. That’s fine, a big problem, but fixable. But Flick does not learn the lesson of his mistake, and that is that taking risks could be destructive to the whole tribe. It was quite opportune for Flick and the ants that a bird lived close by, because really, without the bird, something Flick could not control, all his plans were doomed to fail.
Pundits favoring the actions in Iraq talked so often and frequently about how this action would utterly change the Middle East that one really has to wonder how they were believed. Then again no one really asked these pundits just what evidence they had that forcible invasion of a very nationalistic tribalistic state would magically create a pro-Western democratic haven right smack in the middle of a whole slew of other ultra-nationalistic tribalistic states whose influences were and still are far greater and more powerful than the invading army’s influence. We took a high priced risk. We were the hero who rushed wildly at the mass of orcs thinking that, hey it worked in the fictional account, it should work in reality. Aragorn won’t die. He can’t. Frodo will somehow magically make it to the Mount of Doom to melt the ring of Sauron’s power. And more importantly that action would somehow make all the orcs stop attacking to kill Aragorn. Or that Han Solo would appear at the right moment to “surge” and deflect just enough of Vader’s ship to give Luke the opportunity to shoot his guns into the plot-appropriate hole that magically destroys the entire Death Star. We hear plenty in real life from war supporters who say, hey “bomb them all to hell.” “Just nuke the place, that will solve all our problems.”
I used to think that we should restart a draft into American culture, because I used to believe that forcing Americans to serve in defense of their country would make them wisen up about risking so much in wars of choices. After all, interestingly, many of today’s leaders did NOT fight in Vietnam (Dick Cheney had five deferments for “other priorities” for example). But I now don’t think the problem with our rush to wars is lack of fighting by Americans. I think it is our worship of the hero, the warrior, the soldier. Ironically, the Army’s new slogan is an “Army of One.” Heh, it couldn’t be more fitting for our culture of hero worship.
This is not going to change soon. In fact, it will probably get worse before it gets better. Which is too bad, because we’re now in decline in the world around us. The risks were not neutralized, but instead materialized as we were warned. We’ve got many problems ahead of us.
else why would he just now, six years after the program began sign an executive order banning some vaguely defined “cruel and inhuman” treatment? I mean, the standard should have been all along that we treat people with respect no matter who they are. By signing this executive order, Bush is admitting that by his orders the CIA engaged in illegal actions.
My guess is that some court ruling is fast approaching that will go against the Bush administration yet again. The Bush administration has backtracked before just moments before a defeat at the Supreme Court, in such cases as Jose Padilla and Hamdan.
Then again, it is Friday and Fridays are Bush’s bad news dump time…