Here's a transcript of Daniel Ellsberg, the man who blew the whistle on the Pentagon thirty years ago, on CNN Newsnight with Aaron Brown, 10/18/02. A chapter from his new book, "Secrets" is available online at www.ellsberg.net
Iraq-related excerpts from Daniel Ellsberg's speech in honor of Mordechai Vanunu (the man who blew the whistle on Israel's nuclear arms program) @ http://www.ellsberg.net/weblog/9_28_02.htm
Fond regards, L
October 19, 2002
Transcript of Ellsberg on CNN Newsnight with Aaron Brown, 10/18/02
BROWN: We came across some quotes from the President arguing for military action. "Our credibility is at stake," he said. "The dangers involved action is less than the danger resulting from inaction. Creating a free and democratic nation is essential to America's security." It sounds like some of the things we've been hearing from President Bush of late, but this it was Lyndon Johnson, and the nation was Vietnam.
Daniel Ellsberg, for one, believes we risk forgetting the lessons of that terrible war as we consider the prospects of a new one in Iraq. We should add Mr. Ellsberg has a new book out "Secrets, a Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers." We are pleased to welcome him to the program. It's nice to see you. You are a little hoarse tonight, so we'll bear with you.
I want to talk about Vietnam and the papers for a bit. Did it ever occur to you that what you were doing, as strongly as you believed it was right, might be wrong, that you might, in fact, be doing great damage to the country? That ever hit your mind?
ELLSBERG: I read the papers. I knew these documents. I was one of the first who read all of them. I'd worked for the government for 15 years as a Marine and as a consultant and in the pentagon. I knew these documents should have been made public to Congress and to the press years before. And I knew I should have done it.
BROWN: And you never thought that your wisdom and your conscience, as sharp as you are and as good as you are, that that judgment might be wrong? And that the judgment of five presidents and countless secretaries of defense and the list goes on might, in fact, have had the country's best interests in mind?
ELLSBERG: First, of course, I can always be wrong. I'm human just like those presidents. And I know I've been wrong many times before, and I'll be wrong again. There's never been a time when I was sure I was right, except that I felt pretty sure that I'd been wrong to keep my mouth shut so long when Congress was being lied into a reckless gamble, into an unnecessary war and a wrongful war. You know, I used to be asked that question an awful lot right after the papers came out. That was 30 years ago. "What gave you the right to make this decision on your own?" And I used to ask myself, I wonder why I never got asked the question that I have to ask myself: "What gave me the right to conceal that so long? What gave anyone in the executive branch the right, when they knew that the country was being lied into this war?" I don't think I was - I wasn't elected. But I didn't really take - I took an oath to uphold the constitution, and what we were doing was clearly not constitutional.
BROWN: All right. Let's fast forward and try and bring these two things together as much as they fit together. In some ways they don't. There are lots of people who oppose the president's way about doing this. But, at the same time - we've had him on this week in fact - who will. . .
ELLSBERG: You're talking about history or today?
BROWN: No, today. I'm sorry, today, in talking about Iraq.
ELLSBERG: It is very hard because I feel that I'm waking up to the world I left 30 years ago.
BROWN: But don't you - don't you see a difference between a Vietnam of 1960 and an Iraq of today? They are not the same, are they?
ELLSBERG: Oh, no. Their language is different; religion is different. There's lots of - actually, there are lots of differences. For example. . .
BROWN: No, but I mean the threat is different.
ELLSBERG: We are facing a very serious threat today from Al Qaeda. According to the CIA director, George Tenet, which he - I give him credit for saying in an unclassified letter to Congress - he said Saddam Hussein is a threat to his own people. He surely is. He is a tyrant. He's even a monster, like a lot of others, but that doesn't excuse him. He is not a threat to us unless he is attacked. He's not behind al Qaeda, as far as the CIA can make out, and as far as the Senate Intelligence Committee can make out, and statements to the contrary by Vice President Cheney and President Bush appear to be without any basis.
BROWN: We've got about a half a minute left. Do you think there is - is it your view then that there is some hidden agenda here?
ELLSBERG: Well, I feel confident that the reasons being given for this war by the President, the Vice President and the Secretary of Defense, they can't be right. They're contradicted by everything that comes out from the Senate Intelligence Committee, from the CIA and so forth. So we have to look for other reasons. That's, by the way, part of the job. That's what I did when I worked for presidents. They - the message of my book and of the Pentagon Papers, unfortunately, is that officials, like me and my bosses did, lie and conceal far more than any outsider can even imagine.
But there is another side to that. It's possible to tell the truth. The message I would like to get to people inside right now: if they feel that what the President and the Vice President and the Secretary of Defense are saying is deceptive of the public, is not founded on the evidence that they know passing across their desks or they know, by expertise, I would like them to consider doing what I wish I'd done in 1964 and 1965, rather than waiting five years, as I did until 1969. They should consider going to Congress and the press and telling the truth with documents. They shouldn't do what I did, wait until the bombs are falling. That's why I think the message in my book is urgent. So urgent, in fact, that I decided to put the first chapter on the internet tonight on Ellsberg.net. You don't have to buy the book to read that. That tells us what is happening right now. It's about the week that Congress passed the first Tonkin Gulf Resolution, having now - this is the time to read it, when they've just passed the second one.
BROWN: Mr. Ellsberg, it's nice to meet you. Thanks for coming in tonight. Good luck.
ELLSBERG: Thank you.
For the first chapter of Ellsberg's book, www.ellsberg.net
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THE GENERAL ('Taguba's) REPORT
By Seymour M. Hersh.
June 17, 2004
Comment by Dick McManus:
Hersh's report is the most confusing bit of writing I have ever read by a "noted" journalist. I have re-written Hersh's article/commentary so you can understand it. I have summarized it somewhat as well, because Hersh is writing to other journalist more then writing to the general reader.
That is, he includes comments from sources, that speak in defense or spin these matters to support or protect the Bush administration. I have not included this BS. Hersh has had to write these comments to retain his image of impartiality.
I am not afraid of taking a point of view, because in my opinion the facts below speak for themselves, speak the truth. I have also added my past Newsletter material about his subject.
Dick (firstname.lastname@example.org) N&V newsletters: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NewsViewsnolose
A RE-WRITE of the article by Hersh, THE GENERAL'S REPORT the follows a time line:
Taguba learned that in August 2003, the Pentagon had ordered Major General Geoffrey Miller, the commander at Guantanamo, to Iraq. His mission was to survey the prison system there and to find ways to improve the flow of intelligence. The core of Miller's recommendations, as summarized in the Taguba report, was that the military police at Abu Ghraib should become part of the interrogation process: they should work closely with interrogators and intelligence officers in "setting the conditions for successful exploitation of the internees."
"Between October and December 2003, at the Abu Ghraib Confinement Facility (BCCF), numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees.
On January 13, 2004, a military policeman named Joseph Darby gave the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (C.I.D.) a CD full of images of abuse. Two days later, General Craddock and Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating, the director of the Joint Staff of the J.C.S., were e-mailed a summary of
the abuses depicted on the CD.
(On 31 January 2004, U.S. Army Major General Antonio Taguba was appointed by a Lt. General.) His orders were clear, however: he was to investigate only the military police at Abu Ghraib, and not those above them in the chain of command. "From what I knew, troops just don't take it upon themselves to initiate what they did without any form of knowledge of the higher-ups," Taguba told (Hersh). "These M.P. troops were not that creative," he said. "Somebody was giving them guidance, but I was legally prevented from further investigation into higher authority. I was limited to a box."
Taguba decided to keep the photographs from most of the interrogators and researchers on his staff of twenty-three officers. "I didn't want them to prejudge the soldiers they were investigating, so I put the photos in a safe," he told Hersh). "Anyone who wanted to see them had to have a need-to-know and go through me."
Taguba told Hersh, "early on, a senior general in Iraq had pointed out to him that
the abused detainees were "only Iraqis."
"I kept on asking these questions of the officers I interviewed: 'You knew what was going on. Why didn't you do something to stop it?' "
Taguba came to believe that Lieutenant General Sanchez, the Army commander in Iraq, and some of the generals assigned to the military headquarters in Baghdad had extensive knowledge of the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib even before Joseph Darby came forward with the CD. Taguba was aware that in the fall of 2003 -- when much of the abuse took place -- Sanchez routinely visited the prison, and witnessed at least one interrogation. According to Taguba, "Sanchez knew exactly what was going on."
Taguba's assignment was limited to investigating the 800th M.P.s, but he quickly found signs of the involvement of military intelligence -- both the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, commanded by Colonel Thomas Pappas, which worked closely with the M.P.s, and what were called "other government agencies," or O.G.A.s, a euphemism for the
C.I.A. and special-operations units operating undercover in Iraq. Some of the earliest evidence involved Lieutenant Colonel Steven L. Jordan, whose name was mentioned in interviews with several M.P.s. For the first three weeks of the investigation, Jordan was nowhere to be found, despite repeated requests. When the investigators finally located him, he asked whether he needed to shave his beard before being interviewed -- Taguba suspected that he had been dressing as a civilian. "When I asked him about his assignment, he says, 'I'm a liaison officer for intelligence from Army headquarters in Iraq.'" But in the course of three or four interviews with Jordan, Taguba said, he began to suspect that the lieutenant colonel had been more intimately involved in the interrogation process -- some of it brutal -- for "high value" detainees.
Taguba said that Jordan's "record reflected an extensive intelligence background." He also had reason to believe that Jordan was not reporting through the chain of command. But Taguba's narrowly focussed mission constrained the questions he could ask. "I suspected that somebody was giving them guidance, but I could not print that," (in his final report) Taguba said.
"After all Jordan's evasiveness and misleading responses, his rights were read to him," Taguba went on. Jordan subsequently became the only officer facing trial on criminal charges in connection with Abu Ghraib and is scheduled to be court-martialled in late August (2007) ...for failure to obey an order or regulation; cruelty, and maltreatment; and false swearing and obstruction of justice.
At the time he filed his report, in March of 2004, Taguba said, "I knew there was C.I.A. involvement, but I was oblivious of what else was happening" in terms of covert military-intelligence operations.
Their essential tactic was seizing and interrogating terrorists and suspected terrorists; they also had authority from the President to kill certain high-value targets on sight. The most secret task-force operations were categorized as Special Access Programs, or S.A.P.s.
COMMENT: Extra-judical murders just like Operation Phoenix in Vietnam.
Whether the President was told about Abu Ghraib in January (when e-mails informed the Pentagon of the seriousness of the abuses and of the existence of photographs) or in March (when Taguba filed his report), Bush made no known effort to forcefully address the treatment of prisoners before the scandal became public, (April 28, 2004) or to re-evaluate the training of military police and interrogators, or the practices of the task forces that he had authorized. Instead, Bush acquiesced in the prosecution of a few lower-level soldiers. The President's failure to act decisively resonated through the military chain of command: aggressive prosecution of crimes against detainees was not conducive to a successful career.
April 28, 2004: 60 Minutes II Has Exclusive Report On Alleged Mistreatment, 28 Apr 04: CBS shows images from 2003 of inmates being subjected to abuses by US soldiers
News reports. "George Bush is shocked" May 1, 2004
On the afternoon of May 6, 2004, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba was summoned to meet, for the first time, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in his Pentagon conference room. Rumsfeld and his senior staff were to testify the next day, in televised hearings before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees, about abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq. The previous week, revelations about Abu Ghraib, including photographs showing prisoners stripped, abused, and sexually humiliated, had appeared on CBS and in the *NewYorker*.
Lt. Gen. Taguba was not prepared for the greeting he received when he was finally ushered in (to speak to Rumsfeld and his boys).
"Here . . . comes . . . that *famous* General Taguba -- of the Taguba report!" Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.), and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials.
Taguba, said, sadly, "I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting."
In the meeting, the officials professed ignorance about Abu Ghraib. "Could you tell us what happened?" Wolfowitz asked. At that point, Taguba recalled, "I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and (Taguba) said 'That's not abuse. That's torture.' There was quiet."
Rumsfeld was particularly concerned about how the classified report had become public. "General," he asked, "who do you think leaked the report?" ...Rumsfeld also complained about not being given the information he needed. "Here I am," Taguba recalled Rumsfeld saying, "just a Secretary of Defense, and we have not seen a copy of your report. I have not seen the photographs.
COMMENT: Why did Rumsfeld fake ignorance. He and Bush made no known effort to forcefully address the treatment of prisoners.
Taguba had submitted more than a dozen copies of his report through several channels at the Pentagon and to the Central Command headquarters, By the time he walked into Rumsfeld's conference room, he had spent weeks briefing senior military leaders
on the report...When Taguba urged one lieutenant general to look at the photographs, he rebuffed him, saying, "I don't want to get involved by looking, because what do you do with that information, once you know what they show?"
Taguba also knew that senior officials in Rumsfeld's office and elsewhere in the Pentagon had been given a graphic account of the pictures from Abu Ghraib, and told of their potential strategic significance, within days of the first complaint back in January 2004.
Taguba told Hersh) that the first wave of materials included descriptions of the sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees. Taguba said that he saw "a
video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee."
Rumsfeld, in his appearances before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees on May 7, 2004, claimed to have had no idea of the extensive abuse.
Rumsfeld told the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees: "There were rumors of photographs in a criminal prosecution chain back sometime after January 13th . . . I don't remember precisely when, but sometime in that period of January, February, March. . . . The legal part of it was proceeding along fine. What wasn't proceeding along fine is the fact that the President didn't know, and you didn't know, and I didn't
Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeld's testimony was simply not true. Taguba said. "He and his aides have abused their offices and have no idea of the values and high standards that are expected of them. And they've dragged a lot of officers with them."
What happened to Lt. Gen. Taguba:
A few weeks after his report (into the torture at Abu Ghraib) became public, Taguba, who was still in Kuwait, was in the back seat of a Mercedes sedan with General John Abizaid. Abizaid's driver and his interpreter, who also served as a bodyguard, were in front. Abizaid turned to Taguba and issued a quiet warning: "You and your report will be investigated."
Taguba said. "I'd been in the Army thirty-two years by then, and it was the first time that I thought I was in the Mafia."
One of Rumsfeld's his senior press aides, Lawrence Di Rita, stated to Taguba. Di Rita, who was standing beside Rumsfeld, said sarcastically, "See what you started, General? See what you started?"
Taguba had been scheduled to rotate to the Third Army's headquarters, at Fort McPherson, Georgia, in June of 2004 A retired four-star Army general later told Taguba that he had been sent (instead) to the job in the Pentagon so that he could "be watched." Taguba realized that his career was at a dead end.
In January of 2006, Taguba received a telephone call from General Richard Cody, the Army's Vice-Chief of Staff. "This is your Vice," he told Taguba. "I need you to retire by January of 2007." No pleasantries were exchanged, although the two generals had known each other for years, and, Taguba said, "He offered no reason."
Taguba went on, "There was no doubt in my mind that this stuff was gravitating upward. It was standard operating procedure to assume that this had to go higher. The President had to be aware of this."
"From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service," Taguba said. "And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable."
Hersh article continues:
Later that summer of 2004 after he submitted his report, Taguba learned that the C.I.A. had serious concerns about the abusive interrogation techniques that military-intelligence operatives were using on high-value detainees.
Hell, even if we reopened it we wouldn't get any more information than we already have."
The Army also protected General Miller. Since 2002, F.B.I. agents at Guantanamo had been telling their superiors that their military counterparts were abusing detainees. The F.B.I. complaints were ignored until after Abu Ghraib. When an investigation was opened, in December 2004, and Air Force Lieutenant General Randall M. Schmidt, ordered to investigate the charges, which included alleged abuses during Miller's tenure at Guantanamo..
Schmidt, who retired last year, told Hersh, . "I found some things that didn't seem right. For lack of a camera, you could have seen in Guantanamo what was seen at Abu Ghraib."
At Guantanamo, Schmidt told the investigators, Miller "was responsible for the conduct of interrogations that I found to be abusive and degrading. The intent of those might have been to be abusive and degrading to get the information they needed. . . . Did the means justify the ends? That's fine. . . . He was responsible."
According to a Dec. 20, 2005 Army inspector general's report on Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commanding general in charge of Gitmo, Rumsfeld approved an interrogation plan for Mohammed al-Kahtani, the alleged 20th hijacker:
In a sworn statement to the inspector general, [Lt. Gen. Randall] Schmidt described Rumsfeld as personally involved" in the interrogation and said that the defense secretary was talking weekly" with Miller.
Rumsfeld developed an interrogation plan that required the Gitmo detainee to stand naked in front of a female interrogator, was accused of being a homosexual, and was forced to wear women's underwear and to perform ‘dog tricks' on a leash." Schmidt said that the open-ended policies Rumsfeld approved, and that the apparent lack of supervision of day-to-day interrogations permitted the wide-scale abuse to take place. http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/04/14/18154701.php
Schmidt formally recommended that Miller be "held accountable" and "admonished."
LT. Gen. Craddock rejected this recommendation and absolved Miller of any responsibility for the mistreatment of the prisoners. The Inspector General inquiry endorsed Craddock's action. (Lieutenant General Bantz J. Craddock, was promoted about serving as Rumsfeld's senior military assistant)
"I was open with them," Schmidt told (Hersh), referring to the I.G. investigators. "I told them, 'I'll do anything to help you get the truth.'" But when he read their final report (Dec. 20, 2005), he said, "I didn't recognize the five hours of interviews (by IG) with me (Schmidt, in the IG report)."
Rumsfeld was in frequent contact with Miller about the progress of Qahtani's interrogation, and personally approved the most severe interrogation tactics. ("This wasn't just daily business, when the Secretary of Defense is personally involved," Schmidt told the Army investigators.)
Military investigators were precluded from looking into the role of Rumsfeld and other civilian leaders in the Pentagon; the result was that none found any high-level intelligence involvement in the abuse.
In an April, 2005, memorandum, a C.I.D. officer -- his name was redacted -- complained to C.I.D. headquarters, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, about the impossibility of investigating military members of a Special Access Program suspected of prisoner abuse: "[C.I.D.] has been unable to thoroughly investigate . . . due to the suspects and witnesses involvement in Special Access Programs (SAP) and/or the security classification of the unit they were assigned to during the offense under investigation. Attempts by Special Agents . . . to be "read on" to these programs has [sic] been unsuccessful."
The C.I.D. officer wrote that "fake names were used" by members of the task force; he also told investigators that the unit had a "major computer malfunction which resulted in them losing 70 per cent of their files; therefore, they can't find the cases we need to review."
The military task forces were under the control of the Joint Special Operations Command, the branch of the Special Operations Command that is responsible for counterterrorism. One of Miller's unacknowledged missions had been to bring the J.S.O.C.'s "strategic interrogation" techniques to Abu Ghraib. In special cases, the task forces could bypass the chain of command and deal directly with Rumsfeld's office. A former senior intelligence official told me that the White House was also briefed on task-force operations.
The former senior intelligence official said that when the images of Abu Ghraib were published, there were some in the Pentagon and the White House who "didn't think the photographs were that bad" -- in that they put the focus on enlisted soldiers, rather than on secret task-force operations. Referring to the task-force members, he said, "Guys on the inside ask me, 'What's the difference between shooting a guy on the street, or in his bed, or in a prison?'" A Pentagon consultant on the war on terror also said that the "basic strategy was 'prosecute the kids in the photographs but protect the big picture.'"
A recently retired C.I.A. officer, who served more than fifteen years in the clandestine service, told me that the task-force teams "had full authority to whack -- to go in and conduct 'executive action,'" the phrase for political assassination. "It was surrealistic what these guys were doing," the retired operative added. "They were running around the world without clearing their operations with the ambassador or the (CIA) chief of station" (the CIA's chain of command).
COMMENT: Here we learn why a SAP was needed, without telling Congress. A program where only those with the need to know were read onto it. This is done to limit the risk of compromise or leak to the press. If you don't have a record of enemy combatants (ghost detainees) in Abu Ghraib or in secret prisons, you can kill them and nobody can prove the U.S. killed them, extra-judicial murders.
J.S.O.C.'s special status undermined military discipline. Richard Armitage, the former Deputy Secretary of State, told me that, on his visits to Iraq, he increasingly found that "the commanders would say one thing and the guys in the field would say, 'I don't care what he says. I'm going to do what I want.' We've sacrificed the chain of command to the notion of Special Operations and GWOT" -- the global war on terrorism. "You're painting on a canvas so big that it's hard to comprehend," Armitage said.
A former high-level Defense Department official said that, when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, Senator John Warner, then the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was warned "to back off" on the investigation, because "it would spill over to more important things." A spokesman for Warner acknowledged that there had been pressure on the Senator, but said that Warner had stood up to it -- insisting on putting Rumsfeld under oath for his May 7th testimony, for example, to the Secretary's great displeasure.
An aggressive congressional inquiry into Abu Ghraib could have provoked unwanted questions about what the Pentagon was doing, in Iraq and elsewhere, and under what authority. By law, the President must make a formal finding authorizing a C.I.A. covert operation, and inform the senior leadership of the House and the Senate Intelligence Committees. However, the Bush Administration unilaterally determined after 9/11 that intelligence operations conducted by the military -- including the Pentagon's covert task forces -- for the purposes of "preparing the battlefield" could be authorized by the President, as Commander-in-Chief, without telling Congress.
There was coordination between the C.I.A. and the task forces, but also tension. The C.I.A. officers, who were under pressure to produce better intelligence in the field, wanted explicit legal authority before aggressively interrogating high-value targets. A finding would give operatives some legal protection for questionable actions, but the White House was reluctant to put what it wanted in writing.
A recently retired high-level C.I.A. official, who served during this period and was involved in the drafting of findings, described to me the bitter disagreements between the White House and the agency over the issue. "The problem is what constituted approval," the retired C.I.A. official said. "My people fought about this all the time. Why should we put our people on the firing line somewhere down the road? If you want me to kill Joe Smith, just *tell* me to kill Joe Smith. If I was the Vice-President or the President, I'd say, 'This guy Smith is a bad guy and it's in the interest of the United States for this guy to be killed.' They don't say that. Instead, George" -- George Tenet, the director of the C.I.A. until mid-2004 -- "goes to the White House and is told, 'You guys are professionals. You know how important it is. We know you'll get the intelligence.' George would come back and say to us, 'Do what you gotta do.' "
The Pentagon consultant said in an interview late last year that "the C.I.A. never got the exact language it wanted." The findings, when promulgated by the White House, were "very calibrated" to minimize political risk, and limited to a few countries; later, they were expanded, turning several nations in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia into free-fire zones with regard to high-value targets. I was told by the former senior intelligence official and a government consultant that after the existence of secret C.I.A. prisons in Europe was revealed, in the *Washington Post*, in late 2005, the Administration responded with a new detainee center in Mauritania. After a new government friendly to the U.S. took power, in a bloodless coup d'état in August 2005, they said, it was much easier for the intelligence community to mask secret flights there.
End of Harsh article:
========== Dick McManas ===================
What is JTF-121?
IT is a highly classified field Army/AirForce/Navy unit that has been activated to coordinate the hunt for "high-value targets." Its organization and structure have been streamlined to improve its ability to concentrate on real-time hunter-killer missions (to kill or capture and interrogate) against terrorist leaders and cells. A three-star command is also being designed to oversee the most clandestine elements of U.S. special operations, according to senior officers close to the community.
The very secretiveness of special operations makes it hard for the public, or even members of Congress charged with oversight, to keep informed about the new tactics or to measure their effectiveness.
Only about 1,500 "black" special operators are assigned to clandestine units at any one time, including JTF 121 and the so-called Gray Fox intelligence unit.
The "buzz" on the Internet is that Task Force 121 is a new elite assassination death squad trained by the Israelis at Fort Bragg. First, Task Force 121 is not a brand new Special Operations unit....More likely, the Israelis were sharing intelligence or maybe some of their vast experience in operating in Arab countries. (translated: their vast experience in torture methods).
What is SOG?
Six years ago when he took charge of the CIA, George Tenet began rebuilding the supersecret Special Operations Group (SOG). Hundreds of millions of additional dollars have been pumped into the CIA budget by President George W. Bush. He has ordered SOG operatives to join forces with foreign intelligence services. He has even authorized the CIA to kidnap "terrorists" in order to break their cells or kill them.
Comment: When was torture authorized? Because there existed a "JTF-121 interrogation policy".
The CIA had about 100 officers and SOG troops roaming in Afghanistan during the U.S. invasion.
Intelligence sources tell Time that the CIA had requested that commandos from the U.S. Army's elite Delta Force join its first team going into Afghanistan but that the Pentagon refused to send them.
The part of the (CIA) SOG air force that has received the most publicity lately is the fleet of remote-controlled Predator drones, armed with 5-ft.-long Hellfire missiles, that the agency bought from the Air Force.
In November 2001 the CIA deployed the drone to eliminate bin Laden's lieutenant, Mohammed Atef. Last November's Predator hit in Yemen killed an al-Qaeda commander and his entourage of five, though the strike was controversial: one of the dead men turned out to be a U.S. citizen. .Administration officials say Bush did not specifically order the Predator attack in Yemen. But after Sept. 11 he gave the CIA the green light to use lethal force against al-Qaeda.
[My related research:]
Is the torture methods used at Abu Ghraib the product of CIA research?
Forced standing: has a long proven history of use by torturers because it leaves few mark
This torture is well known to intelligence agencies worldwide. The CIA documented the effects of forced standing 40 years ago. And the technique is valued because it leaves few marks, and so no evidence.
Forced standing was a prescribed field punishment in West European armies in the early 20th century. The British Army called it Field Punishment No. 1, though the soldiers referred to it as "the crucifixion." The French Legionnaires called it "the Silo."
By the 1920s, forced standing was a routine police torture in America. In 1931, the National Commission on Lawless Enforcement of the Law found numerous American police departments using forced standing to coerce confessions.
In the 1930s, Stalin's NKVD also famously used forced standing to coerce seemingly voluntary confessions for show trials. The Gestapo used forced standing as a routine punishment in many concentration camps. It even created small narrow "standing cells," Stehzelle, where prisoners had to stand all night.
In 1956, the CIA commissioned two experts, Harold Wolff and Lawrence Hinkle, who described the effects of forced standing. The ankles and feet swell to twice their normal size within 24 hours. Moving becomes agony. Large blisters develop. The heart rate increases, and some faint. The kidneys eventually shut down. ("A Long-Standing Trick of the Torturer's Art," The Seattle Times, May 14, 2004)
In the mid-20th century, torturers learned how to use the swelling and blistering to cause more pain. The South African and Brazilian police made prisoners stand on cans or bricks, the edges causing excruciating pain to the sensitive feet. In 1999, the South African Truth Commission determined that forced standing was the third-most-common torture during apartheid, after beating and applying electricity.
Hooding was a common feature of Brazilian and South African torture. In the 1970s, the Brazilians added the electrical supplement. They threatened victims with electroshock if they began to give up and collapse in exhaustion. The jolts of electricity would make the hooded victims' feet stick to the cans and force them to stand up straight.
Source: The Seattle Times, 14 May 2004, by Darius Rejali. He is the author of "Torture and Democracy" (forthcoming, Princeton University Press) and a 2003 Carnegie Scholar. He is an associate professor of political science at Reed College in Portland.
Torture at Abu Ghraib Followed CIA's Manual (Stress and Duress Techniques)
by Alfred W. McCoy
CIA torture techniques noted in the phonographs from the Abu Ghraib prison are snapshots not of simple brutality or a breakdown in discipline, but have been developed by the US intelligence community.
From 1950 to 1962, the CIA led secret research into coercion and consciousness that reached a billion dollars at peak. After experiments with hallucinogenic drugs, electric shocks, and sensory deprivation, this CIA research produced a new method of torture that was psychological, not physical -- best described as "no touch" torture.
The CIA's discovery of psychological torture was a counterintuitive breakthrough. Under the CIA's new psychological paradigm, however, interrogators used two essential methods to achieve their goals.
In the first stage, interrogators employ the simple, nonviolent techniques of hooding or sleep deprivation to disorient the subject; sometimes sexual humiliation is used as well.
Once the subject is disoriented, interrogators move on to a second stage with simple, self-inflicted discomfort such as forced standing for hours with arms extended. In this phase, the idea is to make victims feel responsible for their own pain and thus induce them to alleviate it by capitulating to the interrogator's power.
o.. Men ordered to masturbate in front of each other and in front of female American soldiers, a humiliating experience which offends their religion (see: "The application of procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality");
o.. Men ordered to simulate homosexual sex with one another, a humiliating experience condemned by their religion (see: "The application of procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality");
o.. A man, hooded, standing on a box with electrodes attached to his fingers and penis, who was told that if he stepped off the box, he would be electrocuted to death
o.. A naked man menaced by, and then attacked by, a vicious dog
Comment: I think these sexual tortures, etc. were the result of years of experimentation by the CIA.
In the below article you will see some of these torture methods spelled out in a formerly classified CIA torture manual dated 1963. This manual was produced based on a whole lot of classified CIA research projects in years proceeding its publication.
Iraq Tactics Have Long History With U.S. Interrogators
By Walter Pincus
13 June 2004
A CIA handbook on coercive interrogation methods, produced 40 years ago during the Vietnam War, shows that techniques such as those used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have a long history with U.S. intelligence and were based on research and field experience.
Declassified 10 years ago, the training manual carries in its title the code word used for the CIA in Vietnam, "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation - July 1963." Used to train new interrogators, the handbook presents "basic information about coercive techniques available for use in the interrogation situation."
Note The CIA was never to be mentioned by name in any documents or in oral communications; instead the Agency was referred as KUBARK .
The specific coercive methods it describes echo today's news stories about Guantanamo and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. At Abu Ghraib, for example, photographs and documents have shown that detainees were hooded, blindfolded, dressed in sloppy garb and forced to go naked.
The KUBARK manual suggests that, for "resistant" prisoners, the "circumstances of detention are arranged to enhance within the subject his feelings of being cut off from the known and the reassuring and of being plunged into the strange."
The 1963 handbook describes the benefits and disadvantages of techniques similar to those authorized for use at Abu Ghraib, such as forcing detainees to stand or sit in "stress positions," cutting off sources of light, disrupting their sleep and manipulating their diet.
And among the manual's conclusions: The threat of pain is a far more effective interrogation tool than actually inflicting pain, but threats of death do not help.
Like the lists of interrogation methods approved for Iraq and Guantanamo, the KUBARK manual offers a menu of options for confusing and weakening detainees. A neat or proud individual was to be given an outfit one or two sizes too large without a belt "so that he must hold his pants up," the manual said. Forced changes in diet and sleep patterns should be done "so that the subject becomes disorientated [and] is very likely to create feelings of fear and helplessness."
Tactics involving deprivation of accustomed sights, sounds, taste, smells and tactile sensations were presented as primary methods for producing stress, and mirror the techniques seen at Abu Ghraib. Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the top U.S. military officer in Iraq, approved in September a list of methods that included "sensory deprivation," "minimum bread and water," "light control," enforced silence and yelling at prisoners. Those methods have since been barred in Iraq.
The KUBARK manual cited research supporting the effectiveness of the deprivations. "Results produced only after weeks or months of imprisonment in an ordinary cell can be duplicated in hours or days in a cell which has no light or weak artificial light which never varies, which is sound-proofed, and in which odors are eliminated," the manual said.
An experiment referred to in the handbook was done in the 1950s and involved conditions designed to produce stress before an interrogation - similar to those applied to John Walker Lindh after his capture in Afghanistan. Lindh was tied to a stretcher naked and later held for long periods in a large metal container.
In the experiment done about 50 years earlier, volunteers were "placed in a tank-type respirator" with vents open so that the subjects could breathe but their arms and legs were enclosed in "rigid cylinders to inhibit movement and tactile contact." Lying on their backs in minimal artificial light, the subjects could not see their own bodies, and the respirator motor was the only sound.
Only six of the 17 volunteers completed the 36 hours of the experiment; the other 11 asked for early release - four because of anxiety and panic, and the others because of physical discomfort.
The conclusion reached, the handbook said, was that "the early effect of such an environment is anxiety" and that "the stress becomes unbearable for most subjects," some of whom "lose touch with reality [and] focus inwardly."
The payoff of such techniques, the manual said, is that when the interrogator appears, he or she appears as a "reward of lessened anxiety . . . providing relief for growing discomfort," and that sometimes, as a result, "the questioner assumes a benevolent role."
When it comes to torture, however, the handbook advised that "the threat to inflict pain . . . can trigger fears more damaging than the immediate sensation of pain."
"In general, direct physical brutality creates only resentment, hostility and further defiance," the manual said.
Intense pain, interrogators were taught, "is quite likely to produce false confessions concocted as a means of escaping from distress."
While pain inflicted by others tends to create resistance in a subject, the manual said, "his resistance is likelier to be sapped by pain which he seems to inflict upon himself."
Reports from Iraq and Afghanistan indicate that detainees have been told to stand at attention for long periods or sit in "stress positions." In one of the photographs from Abu Ghraib, a hooded detainee is shown being forced to stand on a box with wires attached to his body. He was told he would get an electric shock if he moved. Seven military police soldiers have been charged in connection with the abuse shown in that and other photographs. Investigations continue into the role military interrogators played in those incidents.
In such situations, the manual said, the source of pain "is not the interrogator but the victim himself." And while the subject remains in that uncomfortable or painful position, he must be made to think that his captor could do something worse to him, creating in him the stress and anxiety the interrogator seeks.
Threats of death, however, were described as "worse than useless" because they can leave the prisoner thinking "that he is as likely to be condemned after compliance as before."
Experiments at that time also showed that creating physical weakness through prolonged exertion, extremes of heat, cold or moisture, or through drastic reduction of food or sleep do not work.
"The available evidence suggests that resistance is sapped principally by psychological rather than physical pressures," the handbook advised.
PEntagon leak confirms US tortured Iraqis illegally Aug 28 2004
WASHINGTON -- On (25 Aug 04), the Pentagon made public unclassified part of the 171-page report by Maj. Gen. George R. Fay on the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.
A senior Defense Department official" leaked "classified parts of the
Fay report to the *New York Times*, the paper reported in a front-page story Friday, Aug. 27.
Classified passages involving General Sanchez's orders were among several deleted from the unclassified version of the report.
Classified parts of the report say Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former top
commander in Iraq, approved the use in Iraq of some severe interrogation
practices intended to be limited to captives held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Afghanistan.
"Interrogators at Abu Ghraib used both dogs and isolation as interrogation
practices," a classified part of the report said. "The manner in which they
were used on some occasions clearly violated the Geneva Conventions."
The classified parts of the do not appear to contain sensitive material about interrogations or other intelligence-gathering methods. They do show in much clearer detail than ever before how interrogation practices from Afghanistan and Guantanamo were brought to Abu Ghraib...
Military officials and others in the Bush administration have repeatedly said
the Geneva Conventions applied to all prisoners in Iraq.
The classified sections of the Fay report reinforce criticisms made by the independent panel headed by James R. Schlesinger. That panel argued that General Sanchez's actions effectively amounted to an unauthorized suspension of the Geneva Conventions in Iraq by categorizing prisoners there as unlawful combatants.
In an interview on Thursday with reporters and editors of the *Times*, Gen.
Paul J. Kern, the senior officer who supervised General Fay's work, said the
Fay inquiry had not addressed whether General Sanchez was authorized to
designate detainees in Iraq as unlawful combatants, as the administration has
treated prisoners in Afghanistan.
The classified section of the Fay report also sheds new light on the role
played by a secretive Special Operations (Group) /Central Intelligence Agency task force that operated in Iraq and Afghanistan as a source of interrogation procedures that were put into effect at Abu Ghraib. It says that a July 15, 2003, "Battlefield Interrogation Team and Facility Policy," drafted by use by Joint Task Force 121, which was given the task of locating former government members in Iraq, was adopted "almost verbatim" by the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, which played a leading role in interrogations at Abu Ghraib.
That task force policy endorsed the use of stress positions during harsh
interrogation procedures, the use of dogs, yelling, loud music, light control,
isolation and other procedures used previously in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The techniques approved by General Sanchez were among those previously approved by the Pentagon for use in Afghanistan and Cuba, and were recommended Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller and his Team, a commander at Guantanamo who had been sent to Iraq by senior Pentagon officials, and by a military intelligence unit (JTF-121) that had served in Afghanistan and was taking charge of interrogations at Abu Ghraib.
The Schlesinger panel described that reasoning as "understandable," but said
General Sanchez and his staff should have recognized that they were "lacking specific authorization to operate beyond the confines of the Geneva
Comment: Translated:... lacking a Presidential finding (order) to use torture.
The role played by members of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, from Fort Bragg, N.C., some of whom were identified as having taken part in the abuses, is given particular attention in the classified parts of the report.
Members of the 519th MI BN had earlier served in Afghanistan, where some were implicated in the deaths of two detainees that are still under investigation, and the report says commanders should have heeded more carefully the danger that members of the unit might again be involved in abusive behavior.
The 519th MI Bn had worked closely with Special Operations Forces (JTF-121) in Afghanistan, and "at same point" it "came to possess the JTF-121 interrogation policy" used by the joint Special Operations (Group)/C.I.A. teams, the classified section of the report says.
Source: via Mark Jensen, Professor, PLU
How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon's operation or top secret special-access program, (SAP), known inside the intelligence community by code words, Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official in confirmed the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld's long-standing desire to wrest control of America's clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.
Note: That during the Clinton administration, the CIA started built a secret paramilitary (aka Special Forces) Army estimated in size to be 200 to 500 men.
Rumsfeld authorized the establishment of the SAP that was given blanket advance approval to kill or capture and, if possible, interrogate "high value" targets in the Bush Administration's war on terror. The program would recruit operatives and acquire the necessary equipment, including aircraft. Fewer than two hundred operatives and officials, including Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were "completely read on to the program," the former intelligence official said. The goal was to keep the operation protected.
"Rumsfeld's goal was to get a capability in place to take on a high-value target-a standup group to hit quickly," a former high-level intelligence official told me. "He got all the agencies together-the C.I.A. and the N.S.A.-to get pre-approval in place. Just say the code word and go." The operation had across-the-board approval from Rumsfeld and from Condoleezza Rice, the national-security adviser. President Bush was informed of the existence of the program, the former intelligence official said.
The people assigned to the program worked by the book, the former intelligence official told me. They ...recruited, after careful screening, highly trained commandos and operatives from America's élite forces-Navy seals, the Army's Delta Force, and the C.I.A.'s paramilitary experts.
In theory, the operation enabled the Bush Administration to respond immediately to time-sensitive intelligence: commandos crossed borders without visas and could interrogate terrorism suspects deemed too important for transfer to the military's facilities at Guantanamo, Cuba. They carried out instant interrogations-using force if necessary-at secret C.I.A. detention centers scattered around the world. The intelligence would be relayed to the sap command center in the Pentagon in real time, and sifted for those pieces of information critical to the "white," or overt, world.
One Pentagon official who was deeply involved in the program was Stephen Cambone, who was named Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence in March, 2003. Early in his tenure, Cambone provoked a bureaucratic battle within the Pentagon by insisting that he be given control of all special-access programs that were relevant to the war on terror.
In mid-2003, the special-access program was regarded in the Pentagon as one of the success stories of the war on terror. "It was an active program," the former intelligence official told me. "It's been the most important capability we have for dealing with an imminent threat. If we discover where Osama bin Laden is, we can get him. And we can remove an existing threat with a real capability to hit the United States-and do so without visibility." Some of its methods were troubling and could not bear close scrutiny, however.
By then, the war in Iraq had begun. The sap was involved in some assignments in Iraq, the former official said.
Rumsfeld and Cambone went a step further, however: they expanded the scope of the sap, bringing its unconventional methods to Abu Ghraib. The commandos were to operate in Iraq as they had in Afghanistan. The male prisoners could be treated roughly, and exposed to sexual humiliation.
"They weren't getting anything substantive from the detainees in Iraq," the former intelligence official told me. "No names. Nothing that they could hang their hat on. Cambone says, I've got to crack this thing and I'm tired of working through the normal chain of command. I've got this apparatus set up-the black special-access program-and I'm going in hot. So he pulls the switch, and the electricity begins flowing last summer. And it's working. We're getting a picture of the insurgency in Iraq and the intelligence is flowing into the white world. We're getting good stuff. But we've got more targets"-prisoners in Iraqi jails-"than people who can handle them."
Cambone then made another crucial decision, the former intelligence official told me: not only would he bring the sap's rules into the prisons; he would bring some of the Army military-intelligence officers working inside the Iraqi prisons under the sap's auspices...Hard-core special operatives, some of them with aliases, were working in the prison at Abu Ghraib.
By fall, according to the former intelligence official, the senior leadership of the C.I.A. had had enough. "They said, 'No way. We signed up for the core program in Afghanistan-pre-approved for operations against high-value terrorist targets-and now you want to use it for cab drivers, brothers-in-law, and people pulled off the streets'"-the sort of prisoners who populate the Iraqi jails. "The C.I.A.'s legal people objected," and the agency ended its sap involvement in Abu Ghraib, the former official said.
Comment: Was CIA Director Trent fired because he blow the whistle on Bush and Rumsfeld's secret SAP to HERSH?
The C.I.A.'s complaints were echoed throughout the intelligence community. There was fear that the situation at Abu Ghraib would lead to the exposure of the secret sap, and thereby bring an end to what had been, before Iraq, a valuable cover operation. "This was stupidity," a government consultant told me. "You're taking a program that was operating in the chaos of Afghanistan against Al Qaeda, a stateless terror group, and bringing it into a structured, traditional war zone. Sooner or later, the commandos would bump into the legal and moral procedures of a conventional war with an Army of a hundred and thirty-five thousand soldiers."
In a separate interview, a Pentagon consultant, who spent much of his career directly involved with special-access programs, spread the blame. "The White House subcontracted this to the Pentagon, and the Pentagon subcontracted it to Cambone," he said. "This is Cambone's deal, but Rumsfeld and Myers approved the program." When it came to the interrogation operation at Abu Ghraib, he said, Rumsfeld left the details to Cambone. Rumsfeld may not be personally culpable, the consultant added, "but he's responsible for the checks and balances. The issue is that, since 9/11, we've changed the rules on how we deal with terrorism, and created conditions where the ends justify the means."
The government consultant said that there may have been a serious goal, in the beginning, behind the sexual humiliation and the posed photographs. It was thought that some prisoners would do anything-including spying on their associates-to avoid dissemination of the shameful photos to family and friends. The government consultant said, "I was told that the purpose of the photographs was to create an army of informants, people you could insert back in the population." The idea was that they would be motivated by fear of exposure, and gather information about pending insurgency action, the consultant said.
. One book that was frequently cited was "The Arab Mind," a study of Arab culture and psychology, first published in 1973, by Raphael Patai, a cultural anthropologist who taught at, among other universities, Columbia and Princeton, and who died in 1996. The book includes a twenty-five-page chapter on Arabs and sex, depicting sex as a taboo vested with shame and repression. "The segregation of the sexes, the veiling of the women . . . and all the other minute rules that govern and restrict contact between men and women, have the effect of making sex a prime mental preoccupation in the Arab world," Patai wrote. Homosexual activity, "or any indication of homosexual leanings, as with all other expressions of sexuality, is never given any publicity. These are private affairs and remain in private." The Patai book, an academic told me, was "the bible of the Neocons on Arab behavior." ...It became a talking point among pro-war Washington conservatives in the months before the March, 2003, invasion of Iraq.
In 2003, a group of senior military legal officers from the Judge Advocate General's (jag) Corps to pay two surprise visits within five months to Scott Horton, who was then chairman of the New York City Bar Association's Committee on International Human Rights. "They wanted us to challenge the Bush Administration about its standards for detentions and interrogation," Horton told me. "They were urging us to get involved and speak in a very loud voice. It came pretty much out of the blue. The message was that conditions are ripe for abuse, and it's going to occur." The military officials were most alarmed about the growing use of civilian contractors in the interrogation process, Horton recalled. "They said there was an atmosphere of legal ambiguity being created as a result of a policy decision at the highest levels in the Pentagon. The jag officers were being cut out of the policy formulation process." They told him that, with the war on terror, a fifty-year history of exemplary application of the Geneva Conventions had come to an end.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes. MY NEWSLETTER has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is MY NEWSLETTER endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)
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VIDEO | Murtha on Patriotism and the Cost of the War An Interview by Geoffrey Millard and Scott Galindez http://www.truthout.org/multimedia.htm
In Part 2 of our interview with Congressman John Murtha, we ask him about the attacks on his patriotism, the cost of the war, and his opposition to permanent bases in Iraq.
Murtha Lays the Dead at Rumsfeld's Door
Murtha Lays the Dead at Rumsfeld's Door
[vfp-all] 9/15/2006 3:07 PM
Jason Leopold | Murtha Lays the Dead at Rumsfeld's Door
Democratic congressman John Murtha has released a 12-page report outlining severe shortfalls plaguing the US Army as thousands of troops prepare to be deployed to Iraq. Murtha said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld bears full responsibility for the military's consistent readiness failures and demanded that he resign.
Murtha Lays the Dead at Rumsfeld's Door
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report
Friday 15 September 2006
Democratic congressman John Murtha released a 12-page report outlining severe shortfalls plaguing the US Army as thousands of troops prepare to be deployed to Iraq.
Murtha, a 37-year Marine Corps veteran who entered the political arena in 1990, said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld bears full responsibility for the military's consistent readiness failures and demanded that the Defense Secretary resign.
"Many Army combat and support units scheduled to deploy to Iraq in 2007 will have less than the required one year period for rest and re-training," the report says. "This is one of the key indicators that lead many Army officials to conclude that current deployment rates cannot be sustained without breaking the force."
Murtha publicized the report at a news conference Wednesday where he was joined by Congressman David Obey, D-Wisconsin. Murtha read the most explosive parts of the report, much of which is based on detailed, internal Army documents his staff requested over the past few months.
The findings are damning.
"In effect, the Army has become a 'hand-to-mouth' organization," Murtha said, reading from the report. "Its inability to get ahead of the deployment and training curves is rooted in the Secretary's miscalculations and blind optimism about troop and industrial surge requirements for the US occupation of Iraq."
Murtha added that "thousands of key Army weapons platforms - such as tanks, Humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles - sit in disuse at Army maintenance depots for lack of funding ... there are over 600 tanks - enough for one full Army division - sitting at Anniston Army Depot."
An Army spokesman said Murtha's report is wildly overblown, and released a statement in response to the congressman's charges.
"Today's Army is the highest quality Army this Nation has ever produced - it has not 'gone south,'" a statement released by the Army says. "To imply otherwise is an insult to the young men and women who have volunteered to protect our nation's freedoms."
But Murtha refuses to back down. Frustrated by the White House's refusal to hold Rumsfeld accountable for failing to prepare for a lengthy ground war in Iraq, which, according to career military officials have led to thousands of US casualties, Murtha released a resolution calling for Rumsfeld to immediately step down.
"For the good of the country, the United States of America must restore credibility both at home and abroad and the first step toward restoring that credibility must be to demonstrate accountability for the mistakes that have been made in prosecuting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by
immediately effecting the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and replacing him with someone capable of leading the nation's military in a strategy to resolve our deployment in Iraq," Murtha's resolution says.
Megan Grote, a spokeswoman for Murtha, said the resolution has five co-sponsors and is gaining support among House Democrats. However, she cautioned not to read too much into that, since the resolution is just starting to make the rounds among Murtha's colleagues in the House.
"It's still too early to know, because it's only been a day since the resolution was released," Grote said. "There are other members who've called for [Rumsfeld] to resign in the past whose offices may not have heard about the resolution yet."
Career military officials have long believed the reason the Iraq war hasn't been a "cakewalk," as Bush administration officials described it prior to the March 2003 US-led attack, is because of the flawed war plan Rumsfeld designed in 2002.
In October 2002, Rumsfeld ordered the military's regional commanders to rewrite all of their war plans to capitalize on precision weapons, better intelligence, and speedier deployment in the event the United States decided to invade Iraq.
The goal was to use fewer ground troops, a move that caused dismay among some in the military who said concern for the troops requires overwhelming numerical superiority to assure victory.
Rumsfeld refused to listen to his military commanders, saying that his plan would allow the military "to begin combat operations on less notice and with far fewer troops than thought possible - or thought wise - before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks," the New York Times reported in its October 13, 2002, edition.
Military officials viewed Rumsfeld's approach as injecting too much risk into war planning and said it could result in US casualties that might be prevented by amassing larger forces, according to published reports.
Those predictions have been borne out over the past 41 months, and that is of grave concern to Murtha, who spent most of his life in the military. Murtha said during Wednesday's news conference that issues plaguing today's military are so severe that "of the 16 active-duty, non-deployed combat brigades in the United States managed by the Army's Forces Command, the vast majority of them are rated at the lowest readiness ratings."
"The situation facing the Army Guard and Reserve is comparatively worse," Murtha added. "Of all the Guard units not currently mobilized, about four-fifths received the lowest readiness rating. Personnel shortages are the major reason behind the decline in Guard and Reserve readiness-shortages created for the most part by mobilizations having lapsed or personnel having been pulled from units to augment others. Perhaps most troubling to many of the Army's senior uniformed leaders is the lack of national attention to the Army's plight."
Jason Leopold is a former Los Angeles bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswire. He has written over 2,000 stories on the California energy crisis and received the Dow Jones Journalist of the Year Award in 2001 for his coverage on the issue as well as a Project Censored award in 2004. Leopold also reported extensively on Enron's downfall and was the first journalist to land an interview with former Enron president Jeffrey Skilling following Enron's bankruptcy filing in December 2001. Leopold has appeared on CNBC and National Public Radio as an expert on energy policy and has also been the keynote speaker at more than two dozen energy industry conferences around the country.
Murtha predicts Iraq pullout
Blog: Imagine A World Of,
"PTSD: You didn't fight Alone Then,
You needn't fight Alone Now!!"
AP: Murtha predicts Iraq pullout or Democratic control of House by 2007
[snow-news] 5/13/2006 9:40 PM
[On Thursday, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA 12th) told AP that either George W. Bush will yield to public opinion and pull U.S. troops out of Iraq or Democrats will regain control of Congress in the 2006 off-year elections. -- Murtha predicted Democrats would gain between forty and fifty seats; only fifteen would be needed to shift control of the U.S. House of Representatives out of Republican control. -- Murtha was first sent to Congress "in a February 1974 special election that signaled the political weakness of Richard Nixon" (*Almanac of American Politics 2004*, p. 1392), and on Thursday he compared today's political situation to the time when as a 41-year-old decorated Marine veteran of Vietnam (Murtha was the first Vietnam vet to serve in Congress) he was elected from the district that includes the site of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. --Mark]
MURTHA PREDICTS U.S. PULLOUT FROM IRAQ By Kimberly Hefling
Associated Press May 12, 2006
CAPTION: Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa. is interviewed by the Associated Press in his Capitol Hill office, Thursday, May 11, 2006.PHOTO
WASHINGTON -- Rep. John Murtha, a Vietnam veteran first elected in the anti-war fever of 1974, says American troops will be brought home from Iraq by 2007.
Either President Bush will bow to public opinion or Democrats will have won control of the House of Representatives and increased pressure on the White House, Murtha, D-Pa., said in an Associated Press interview Thursday.
Most likely, there will be a "tidal wave" that propels Democrats into the majority, said Murtha. He predicts Democrats will gain 40-50 seats -- well more than the 15 needed for the party to gain control.
Murtha, 73, a retired Marine colonel who has generally been hawkish on war issues, shocked Washington in November when he said the war could not be won and it was time for troops to come home. He offered a plan that would keep troops in the region in case of a national security emergency.
Murtha was elected in 1974, when public outrage over the Watergate scandal and President Nixon swept Democrats into office. He compared this election year to that of 1974 and to 1994, when the GOP rolled into power -- partly because of discontent with President Clinton.
"Republicans are spinning the fact that it's going to be very hard. From my experience in '74 and '94, they can't stop it . . . even if they did something dramatic," Murtha said.
Murtha said he thinks President Bush would have to bring more than half the troops in Iraq back to the United States before election day for it to start to make a difference to voters.
"If that happens, he would have to admit he made mistakes," Murtha said. "The biggest problem he has had is admitting he made a mistake in going in there in the first place
Murtha re Troop Moral, [PTSD]
MARINES KILLED IRAQI CIVILIANS 'IN COLD BLOOD': U.S. LAWMAKER
AFP May 17, 2006
A U.S. lawmaker and former Marine colonel accused U.S. Marines of killing innocent Iraqi civilians after a Marine comrade had been killed by a roadside bomb.
"Our troops over-reacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood," John Murtha told reporters. The November 19 incident occurred in Haditha, Iraq.
"There was no firefight" that led to the shootings at close range, the Vietnam war veteran said, denying early official accounts, which said that a roadside bomb had killed the Iraqis.
"There were no (roadside bombs) that killed these innocent people," he said.
*Time* magazine reported the shootings on March 27, based on an Iraqi human rights group and locals, who said that 15 unarmed Iraqis died, including women and children, when Marines barged into their home throwing grenades and shooting.
"It's much worse than reported in *Time* magazine," Murtha said.
At least three Marine officers are under official investigation, and no report has been released, *Army Times* said Tuesday.
Murtha is a harsh critic of the war in Iraq and said that such incidents are the result of inadequate planning, training, and troop numbers in Iraq.
2. Politics & government
PENTAGON REPORT SAID TO FIND KILLING OF IRAQI CIVILIANS DELIBERATE By Drew Brown
Knight Ridder May 17, 2006
WASHINGTON -- A Pentagon report on an incident in which U.S. Marines shot and killed more than a dozen Iraqi civilians last November will show that those killings were deliberate and worse than initially reported, a Pennsylvania congressman said Wednesday.
"There was no firefight. There was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed those innocent people," Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said during a news conference on Iraq. "Our troops over-reacted because of the pressure on them. And they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. That is what the report is going to tell."
Murtha's comments were the first on-the-record remarks by a U.S. official characterizing the findings of military investigators looking into the Nov. 19 incident. Murtha, the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee and an opponent of Bush administration policy in Iraq, said he hadn't read the report but had learned about its findings from military commanders and other sources.
Military public affairs officers said the investigation isn't completed and declined to provide further information. "There is an ongoing investigation," said Lt. Col. Sean Gibson, a Marine spokesman at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla. "Any comment at this time would be inappropriate."
Both Gibson and Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said that the military has yet to decide what, if any action, might be taken against Marines involved in the incident.
"It would be premature to judge any individual or unit until the investigation is complete," Irwin said. Said Gibson, "No charges have been made as we have to go through the entire investigatory process and determine whether or not that is a course of action."
Three Marine commanders whose troops were involved in the incident were relieved of duty in April, but the Marines didn't link their dismissals to the incident, saying only that Gen. Richard Natonski, commander of 1st Marine Division, had lost confidence in the officers' ability to command. Gibson reiterated that point Wednesday. "It's important to remember that the officers were relieved by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division as a result of events that took place throughout their tour of duty in Iraq," he said.
The dismissed officers were Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, commander of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and two of his company commanders, Capt. James S. Kimber and Capt. Lucas M. McConnell. Gibson said all three have been assigned to staff jobs with the 1st Division.
U.S. military authorities in Iraq initially reported that one Marine and 15 Iraqi civilians traveling in a bus were killed by a roadside bomb in the western Iraq insurgent stronghold of Haditha. They said eight insurgents were killed in an ensuing firefight.
But Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the ground commander of coalition forces in Iraq, ordered an investigation on Feb. 14 after a reporter with *Time* magazine told military authorities of allegations that the Marines had killed innocent civilians.
After CNN broke the news of the initial investigation in March, military officials told Knight Ridder that the civilians were killed not in the initial blast but were apparently caught in the crossfire of a subsequent gun battle as 12 to 15 Marines fought insurgents from house to house over the next five hours. At that time, military officials told Knight Ridder that four of the civilians killed were women and five were children.
Subsequent reporting from Haditha by *Time* and Knight Ridder revealed a still different account of events, with survivors describing Marines breaking down the door of a house and indiscriminately shooting the building's occupants.
Twenty-three people were killed in the incident, relatives of the dead told Knight Ridder.
The uncle of one survivor, a 13-year-old girl, told Knight Ridder that the girl had watched the Marines open fire on her family and that she had held her 5-year-old brother in her arms as he died. The girl shook visibly as her uncle relayed her account, too traumatized to recount what happened herself.
"I understand the investigation shows that in fact there was no firefight, there was no explosion that killed the civilians on a bus," Murtha said. "There was no bus. There was no shrapnel. There was only bullet holes inside the house where the Marines had gone in. So it's a very serious incident, unfortunately. It shows the tremendous pressure these guys are under every day when they're out in combat and the stress and consequences."
Murtha, who retired as a colonel after 37 years in the Marine Corps, said nothing indicates that the Iraqis killed in the incident were at fault.
"One man was killed with an IED," Murtha said, referring to a Marine killed by the roadside bomb. "And after that, they actually went into the houses and killed women and children."
West Point Graduates Against the War
[PolyPsySp] West Point Graduates Against the War [yes, really! :-)]
4/14/2006 10:13 PM
I was ecstatic when heard about these guys.
From the West Point Graduates Against the War Statement of Purpose:
"...When we West Point graduates took our commissioning oath of office one past June morning, we swore to protect our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The deceitful connivances of the current administration have resulted in a war catastrophic to our nation's interests: politically, economically, militarily, and morally. We now stand to protect our nation from these deceivers. We will not serve their lies..."
Also THE (full) LANCET STUDY (documenting the 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed - finished in 2004, and not even including those since) is at West Point Graduates Against The War .Org. "Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey": http://www.westpointgradsagainstthewar.org/thelancetstudy.htm
How GI Resistance Altered The Course Of History:
Sir, No Sir," A Timely Film,
Premiers Week of 4/3/2006
by Paul Rockwell
General, your tank is a mighty vehicle.
It shatters the forest and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs drivers.
General, a man is quite expendable.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think."
-- Bertolt Brecht
When award-winning actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland organized an anti-war review, touring U.S. military bases and towns around the world, the GI rebellion against the war in Vietnam was already in full force.
In one theatrical episode, evoking laughter and applause from thousands of soldiers and Marines, Fonda played the part of an aide to President Richard Nixon.
Richard," she exclaims. There's a terrible demonstration going on outside."
Nixon replies: Oh, there's always a demonstration going on outside."
Fonda: But Richard. This one is completely out of control. They're storming the White House."
Oh, I think I better call out the 3rd Marines." Nixon exclaims.
You, can't, Richard," says Fonda.
Why not?" says Nixon.
She answers: Because they ARE the 3rd Marines!"
Archival footage of the Fonda tour appears in David Zeiger's exciting new film, Sir, No Sir," which opens in select theatres throughout the U.S. this month. (See www.sirnosir.com for schedule.)
Sir, No Sir," the untold story of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam, is a documentary. It's not a work of nostalgia. It's an activist film, and it comes at a time when GI resistance to the current war is spreading throughout the United States.
There are more than 100 films -- fiction and nonfiction -- about the war in Vietnam. Not one deals seriously with the most pivotal events of the time -- the anti-war actions of GIs within the military.
The three-decade blackout of GI resistance is not due to any lack of evidence. Information about the resistance has always been available. According to the Pentagon, over 500,000 incidents of desertion took place between 1966 and 1977. Officers were fragged. Entire units refused to enter battle.
Large social movements create their own committees of correspondence" -- communication systems beyond the control of power-holders and police authority. Despite prison sentences, police spies, agent provocateurs, vigilante bombing of their offices, coffee houses and underground papers sprung up in the dusty, often remote towns that surrounded U.S. military bases throughout the world. Just about every base in the world had an underground paper," Director Zeiger tells us in Mother Jones.
When the first coffee house opened in Columbia, South Carolina, near Fort Jackson, an average of six hundred GIs visited each week. Moved by the courage and audacity of soldiers for peace, civilians raised funds to help operate the coffee houses and to provide legal defense.
When local proprietors, like Tyrell Jewelers near Fort Hood, fleeced GIs, GI boycotts were common. At one point, the Department of Defense tripled its purchase of non-union produce in order to break the United Farm Workers boycott. American GIs, many from the fields and barrios of California, immediately joined the Farm Worker pickets. Mocking signs appeared on military bases saying Officers Buy Lettuce." The GI movement was a profoundly class-conscious movement.
A counter-culture blossomed inside the military. Affinity groups, like The Buddies" and The Freaks" were formed. Afros, rock and soul music, bracelets and beads, the use of peace signs and clenched fists -- a culture antithetical to the totalitarian culture of military life -- proliferated. Prison riots in the stockades, from Fort Dix to the Marine brig in Da Nang, were common by 1970.
In response to a detested recruitment slogan -- "Fun, Travel, Adventure" -- GIs named one periodical FTA," which meant Fuck The Army." When GIs ceased to cooperate with superiors, the military lost control of culture and communication.
Military attacks on GI rights -- the right to hold meetings, to read papers, to think for themselves, to resist illegal orders -- did not subdue the growing anti-military movement. Repression actually widened the resistance.
Like Pablo Paredes, Kevin Benderman, Kelly Dougherty, Camilo Mejia -- to name a few war resistors of our time -- the GI resistors of the 60s and 70s showed incredible courage. Pvt. David Samas, one of the Fort Hood Three, who refused to serve in Vietnam, said in one impassioned speech: We have not been scared. We have not been in the least shaken from our paths. Even if physical violence is used against us, we will fight back...the GI should be reached somehow. He doesn't want to fight. He has no reason to risk his life. And the peace movement is dedicated to his safety."
In July 1970 forty combat officers sent a letter to the commander-in-chief. If the war continues, they wrote, young Americans in the military will simply refuse en masse to cooperate." That's exactly what happened. Nothing is so fearful to power-holders as non-cooperation. In 1971, even the Armed Forces Journal published an article by a former Marine Colonel, entitled, The collapse of the Armed Forces."
A point was reached where the resistance became infectious, almost unstoppable. It spread from barracks to aircraft carriers, from army stockades and navy brigs into the conservative military towns where GIs were stationed. Even elite colleges like West Point were affected by revolt. Thousands of defiant soldiers went to prison. Thousands went into exile in Canada and Sweden.
In the end the GI anti-war movement -- enlisted youth, draftees, poor kids from ghettos, farms and barrios--paralyzed the biggest death machine of modern times. In short, people power altered the course of history. (The book Soldiers In Revolt," by David Cortright, makes an excellent companion to Sir, No Sir.")
Meeting The War Resisters
Sir, No Sir" is organized around the testimony of prominent war resistors. Yes, there are a lot of talking heads in Sir, No Sir." But their revelations, backed with images and footage of rebellion, are unforgettable. We meet Donald Duncan, the decorated member of the Green Berets, who resigned in defiance in 1963 after 15 months of service in Vietnam. His article in Ramparts, I Quit," generated great excitement in the student movement.
We also meet Howard Levy, the Green Beret medic who refused to use medical practices as a political tactic in war. His court martial caused a huge impact on GI and civilian consciousness. The troops supported him.
When the court martial began on base," he tells us on film, it was the most remarkable thing when hundreds and hundreds would hang out of the windows of the barracks and give me the V-sign, or give me the clenched fist. Something had changed here, something very important was happening."
That something was GI revolt.
Thousands of separate, individual acts of moral defiance eventually merged into a collective movement with a specific goal: end the war.
Sir, No Sir" is not a preachy film. Geiger does not lecture us; he tells a story. Yet we cannot afford to miss the built-in lesson from the eventual triumph of the GI resistance, a lesson that goes against media ideology and conventional wisdom. In the words of George Lakey, People power is simply more powerful than military power. Nothing is more important for today's activists to know than this: the foundation of political rule is the compliance of the people, not violence. People power is more powerful than violence. The sooner we act on that knowledge, the sooner the U.S. Empire can be brought down."
Of course times have changed. The '60s are over. And while every generation determines its own destiny in its own way, while history itself is but a light on the stern" -- it is still true that The spirit of the people is greater than man's technology."
Sir, No Sir" is a work of hope.
Paul Rockwell is a columnist for In Motion Magazine. His latest essay on military resistance appears in Ten Excellent Reasons Not To Join The Military," edited by Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg, just published by New Press.
Published in In Motion Magazine April 3, 2006.
Field commanders tell Pentagon Iraq war 'is lost' (ref: Gen. Pace)
"Never again shall one generation of veterans abandon another."
Member: Veterans For Peace
Blog: 'Imagine' a World of...
From Capitol Hill Blue
Field commanders tell Pentagon Iraq war 'is lost'
By DOUG THOMPSON
Jun 5, 2006, 07:13
Military commanders in the field in Iraq admit in private reports to the Pentagon the war "is lost" and that the U.S. military is unable to stem the mounting violence killing 1,000 Iraqi civilians a month.
Even worse, they report the massacre of Iraqi civilians at Haditha is "just the tip of the iceberg" with over-stressed, out-of-control Americans soldiers pushed beyond the breaking point both physically and mentally.
"We are in trouble in Iraq," says retired army general Barry McCaffrey. "Our forces can't sustain this pace, and I'm afraid the American people are walking away from this war."
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has clamped a tight security lid on the increasingly pessimistic reports coming out of field commanders in Iraq, threatening swift action against any military personnel who leak details to the press or public.
The wife of a staff sergeant with Kilo Company, the Marine Unit charged with killing civilians at Haditha, tells Newsweek magazine that the unit was a hotbed of drug abuse, alcoholism and violence.
"There were problems in Kilo company with drugs, alcohol, hazing [violent initiation games], you name it," she said. "I think it's more than possible that these guys were totally tweaked out on speed or something when they shot those civilians in Haditha."
Journalists stationed with the unit described Kilo Company and the Third Battalion of Marines as a "unit out of control," where morale had plummeted and rules went out the window.
Similar reports emerge from military units throughout Iraq and even the Iraqi prime minister describes American soldiers as trigger happy goons with little regard for the lives of civilians.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki says the murder of Iraqi civilians has become a "daily phenomenon" by American troops who "do not respect the Iraqi people."
"They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable," Maliki said. The White House tried to play down Maliki's comments, saying the prime minister was "misquoted" although Maliki himself has yet to made such a public claim.
''Can anyone blame Iraqis for joining the resistance now?'' Mustafa al-Ani, an Iraqi analyst living in Dubai, told The Chicago Tribune. ''The resistance and the terrorists alike are feeding off the misbehavior of the American soldiers.''
As the resistance mounts and daily violence escalates, the over-stressed U.S. units are unable to control the mounting violence and conclusions escalate that the war is lost.
"Our troops over-reacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood," says Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.
The former commander of American forces in Northern Iraq admits incidents like Haditha add to the impression that the U.S. cannot win the war.
"Allegations such as this, regardless of how they are borne out by the facts, can have an effect on the ability of U.S. forces to continue to operate," says Army Brig. Gen. Carter Ham. Others say the incident just shows the U.S. has lost he "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people.
"When something like Haditha happens, it gives the impression that Americans can't be trusted to provide security, which is the most important thing to Iraqis on a day-to-day level," says Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It tends to confirm all of the worst interpretations of the United States, and not simply in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan and in the region."
© Copyright 2005 Capitol Hill Blue
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[vfp-all] Murtha Details His Exit Strategy - CBS "60 Minutes - 1/15/2006:
The beginnings of actual political fallout began to find its way into the White House last week. Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania, the House Democrats' most vocal defense hawk, joined Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to declare that the conflict is "unwinnable." Murtha, a Vietnam veteran, rocked the Democratic caucus when he said at a leader's luncheon Tuesday that the United States cannot win the war in Iraq.
"Unwinnable." Well, it only took about 14 months.
Also last week, calls for the resignation of Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld became strident. Pelosi accused Rumsfeld of being "in denial about Iraq," and said U.S. soldiers "are suffering great casualties and injuries, and American taxpayers are paying an enormous price" because Rumsfeld "has done a poor job as secretary of defense." Representative Charlie Rangel, a leading critic of the Iraq invasion, has filed articles of impeachment against Rumsfeld.
===============[ ------------ ]================
Bill Moyers comments:
Our present Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has a plaque on his desk that reads, "Aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords." Perhaps, but while war is sometimes necessary, to treat it as sport is obscene. At best, war is a crude alternative to shrewd, disciplined diplomacy and the forging of a true alliance acting in the name of international law. Unprovoked, "the noblest sport of war" becomes the slaughter of the innocent. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/anniversary/moyers.htm
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BACKGROUND: *NY Times* reports on intra-military debate on Rumsfeld-related issues
The *New York Times* reported Sunday on its front page that "an extraordinary debate" is underway among "junior and mid-level officers" throughout the military around issues raised by the controversy over whether U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should resign. -- Although Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (http://usmilitary.about.com/od/punitivearticles/a/mcm88.htm) says that "Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct," (constitutional challenges to this law have consistently failed; see *United States v. Howe*, 37 C.M.R. 555 [A.B.R. 1966], *reconsideration denied*, 37 C.M.R. 429 [C.M.A. 1967], in which a conviction was upheld even thought the lieutenant convicted was off duty and wearing civilian clothes at the time he carried a sign insulting President Lyndon B. Johnson in an anti-war demonstration), "the military correspondents of the *Times*" set out to give officers an opportunity to publish expressions of their contempt for civilian leaders anonymously. -- Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt quote an Army major in Special Forces who said, "I believe that a large number of officers hate Rumsfeld as much as I do, and would like to see him go." -- The *Times* reporters seem oblivious to the fact that by soliciting such comments, they are doing more than reporting on "a debate" within the military. -- They are, in fact, encouraging and stimulating insubordination against civilian leadership of the military. -- There are, of course, ample grounds for contempt. -- Historian Chalmers Johnson has written: "The old and well-institutionalized American division of labor between elected officials and military professionals who advised elected officials and then executed their policies was dismantled [after Vietnam], never to be recreated. During the Reagan administration, an ever-burgeoning array of amateur strategists and star-wars enthusiasts came to occupy the White House and sought to place their allies in positions of authority in the Pentagon. The result was the development of a kind of military opportunism at the heart of government, with military men paying court to the pet schemes of inexperienced politicians and preparing for lucrative post-retirement positions in the arms industry or military think tanks. Top military leaders began to say what they thought their political superiors wanted to hear, while covertly protecting the interests of their individual services or of their minifiefdoms within those services. The military establishment increasingly became a gigantic cartel, operated to benefit the four principal services -- the army, navy, Marine Corps, and air force -- much the way the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC) functions to maintain the profits of each of its members. Shares of the defense budget for each service have not varied by more than 2 percent over the past twenty-five years, during which time the Soviet Union collapse and the United States fought quite varied wars in Panama, Kuwait, Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Military needs did not dictate this stability" (*The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic* [Metropolitan Books, 2004], pp. 61-62). --Mark
YOUNG OFFICERS JOIN THE DEBATE OVER RUMSFELD By Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt
** Secretary's Woes Raise Wider Military Issues **
New York Times April 23, 2006 Section 1, Page 1
PHOTO (http://graphics9.nytimes.com/images/2006/04/23/world/military.190.jpg) CAPTION: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at the 2004 graduation ceremony of the United States Military Academy.
WASHINGTON -- The revolt by retired generals who publicly criticized Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has opened an extraordinary debate among younger officers, in military academies, in the armed services' staff colleges and even in command posts and mess halls in Iraq.
Junior and mid-level officers are discussing whether the war plans for Iraq reflected unvarnished military advice, whether the retired generals should have spoken out, whether active-duty generals will feel free to state their views in private sessions with the civilian leaders and, most divisive of all, whether Mr. Rumsfeld should resign.
In recent weeks, military correspondents of the *Times* discussed those issues with dozens of younger officers and cadets in classrooms and with combat units in the field, as well as in informal conversations at the Pentagon and in e-mail exchanges and telephone calls.
To protect their careers, the officers were granted anonymity so they could speak frankly about the debates they have had and have heard. The stances that emerged are anything but uniform, although all seem colored by deep concern over the quality of civil-military relations, and the way ahead in Iraq.
The discussions often flare with anger, particularly among many midlevel officers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and face the prospect of additional tours of duty.
"This is about the moral bankruptcy of general officers who lived through the Vietnam era yet refused to advise our civilian leadership properly," said one Army major in the Special Forces who has served two combat tours. "I can only hope that my generation does better someday."
An Army major who is an intelligence specialist said: "The history I will take away from this is that the current crop of generals failed to stand up and say, 'We cannot do this mission.' They confused the cultural can-do attitude with their responsibilities as leaders to delay the start of the war until we had an adequate force. I think the backlash against the general officers will be seen in the resignation of officers" who might otherwise have stayed in uniform.
One Army colonel enrolled in a Defense Department university said an informal poll among his classmates indicated that about 25 percent believed that Mr. Rumsfeld should resign, and 75 percent believed that he should remain. But of the second group, two-thirds thought he should acknowledge errors that were made and "show that he is not the intolerant and inflexible person some paint him to be," the colonel said.
Many officers who blame Mr. Rumsfeld are not faulting President Bush -- in contrast to the situation in the 1960's, when both President Lyndon B. Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara drew criticism over Vietnam from the officer corps. (Mr. McNamara, like Mr. Rumsfeld, was also resented from the outset for his attempts to reshape the military itself.)
But some are furiously criticizing both, along with the military leadership, like the Army major in the Special Forces. "I believe that a large number of officers hate Rumsfeld as much as I do, and would like to see him go," he said.
"The Army, however, went gently into that good night of Iraq without saying a word," he added, summarizing conversations with other officers. "For that reason, most of us know that we have to share the burden of responsibility for this tragedy. And at the end of the day, it wasn't Rumsfeld who sent us to war, it was the president. Officers know better than anyone else that the buck stops at the top. I think we are too deep into this for Rumsfeld's resignation to mean much.
"But this is all academic. Most officers would acknowledge that we cannot leave Iraq, regardless of their thoughts on the invasion. We destroyed the internal security of that state, so now we have to restore it. Otherwise, we will just return later, when it is even more terrible."
The debates are fueled by the desire to mete out blame for the situation in Iraq, a drawn-out war that has taken many military lives and has no clear end in sight. A midgrade officer who has served two tours in Iraq said a number of his cohorts were angered last month when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that "tactical errors, a thousand of them, I am sure," had been made in Iraq.
"We have not lost a single tactical engagement on the ground in Iraq," the officer said, noting that the definition of tactical missions is specific movements against an enemy target. "The mistakes have all been at the strategic and political levels."
Many officers said a crisis of leadership extended to serious questions about top generals' commitment to sustain a seasoned officer corps that was being deployed on repeated tours to the long-term counter-insurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the rest of the government did not appear to be on the same wartime footing.
"We are forced to develop innovative ways to convince, coerce, and cajole officers to stay in to support a war effort of national-level importance that is being done without a defensewide, governmentwide, or nationwide commitment of resources," said one Army colonel with experience in Iraq.
Another Army major who served in Iraq said a fresh round of debates about the future of the American military had also broken out. Simply put, the question is whether the focus should be, as Mr. Rumsfeld believes, on a lean high-tech force with an eye toward possible opponents like China, or on troop-heavy counterinsurgency missions more suited to hunting terrorists, with spies and boots on the ground.
In general, the Army and Marines support maintaining beefy ground forces, while the Navy and Air Force -- the beneficiaries of much of the high-tech arsenal -- favor the leaner approach. And some worry that those arguments have become too fierce.
"I think what has the potential for scarring relations is the two visions of warfare -- one that envisions near-perfect situational awareness and technology dominance, and the other that sees future war as grubby, dirty and chaotic," the major said. "These visions require vastly different forces. The tension comes when we only have the money to build one of these forces. Who gets the cash?"
Some senior officers said part of their own discussions were about fears for the immediate future, centering on the fact that Mr. Rumsfeld has surrounded himself with senior officers who share his views and are personally invested in his policies.
"If civilian officials feel as if they could be faced with a revolt of sorts, they will select officers who are like-minded," said another Army officer who has served in Iraq. "They will, as a result, get the military advice they want based on whom they appoint."
Kori Schake, a fellow at the Hoover Institution who teaches Army cadets at West Point, said some of the debates revolved around the issues raised in *Dereliction of Duty*, a book that analyzes why the Joint Chiefs of Staff seemed unable or unwilling to challenge civilian decisions during the war in Vietnam. Published in 1997, the book was written by Col. H. R. McMaster, who recently returned from a year in Iraq as commander of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment.
"It's a fundamentally healthy debate," Ms. Schake said. "Junior officers look around at the senior leadership and say, 'Are these people I admire, that I want to be like?'"
These younger officers "are debating the standard of leadership," she said. "Is it good enough to do only what civilian masters tell you to do? Or do you have a responsibility to shape that policy, and what actions should you undertake if you believe they are making mistakes?"
The conflicts some officers express reflect the culture of commander and subordinate that sometimes baffles the civilian world. No class craves strong leadership more than the military.
"I feel conflicted by this debate, and I think a lot of my colleagues are also conflicted," said an Army colonel completing a year at one of the military's advanced schools. He expressed discomfort at the recent public criticism of Mr. Rumsfeld and the Iraq war planning by retired generals, including Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold, the former operations officer for the Joint Chiefs, who wrote, in *Time* magazine, "My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results."
But the colonel said his classmates were also aware of how the Rumsfeld Pentagon quashed dissenting views that many argued were proved correct, and prescient, like those of Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, a former Army chief of staff. He was shunted aside after telling Congress, before the invasion, that it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure and stabilize Iraq.
Others contend that the military's own failings are equally at fault. A field-grade officer now serving in Iraq said he thought it was incorrect for the retired generals to call for Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation. His position, he said, is that "if there is a judgment to be cast, it rests as much upon the shoulders of our senior military leaders."
That officer, like several others interviewed, emphasized that while these issues often occupied officers' minds, the debate had not hobbled the military's ability to function in Iraq. "No impact here that I can see regarding this subject," he said.
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Part I | Andrew Bacevich: The Delusions of Global Hegemony
By Tom Engelhardt
Tuesday 23 May 2006
I wait for him on a quiet, tree and wisteria-lined street of red-brick buildings. Students, some in short-sleeves on this still crisp spring morning, stream by. I'm seated on cold, stone steps next to a sign announcing the Boston University Department of International Relations. He turns the corner and advances, wearing a blue blazer, blue shirt and tie, and khaki slacks and carrying a computer in a black bag. He's white haired, has a nicely weathered face, and the squared shoulders and upright bearing of a man, born in Normal, Illinois, who attended West Point, fought in the Vietnam War, and then had a twenty-year military career that ended in 1992.
Now a professor of history at Boston University, he directs me to a spacious, airy office whose floor-to-ceiling windows look out on the picturesque street. A tasseled cap and gown hang on a hook behind the door - perhaps because another year of graduation is not far off. I'm left briefly to wait while he deals with an anxious student, there to discuss his semester mark. Soon enough though, he seats himself behind a large desk with a cup of coffee and prepares to discuss his subjects of choice, American militarism and the American imperial mission.
Andrew Bacevich is a man on a journey - as he himself is the first to admit. A cultural conservative, a former contributor to such magazines as the Weekly Standard and the National Review, a former Bush Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, he discovered sometime in the 1990s that his potential conservative allies on foreign policy had fallen in love with the idea of the American military and its imagined awesome power to change the world. They had jumped the tracks and left him behind. A professed cold warrior, in those years he took a new look at our American past - and he's not stopped looking, or reconsidering, since.
What he discovered was the American empire, which became the title of a book he published in 2002. In 2005, his fierce, insightful book on American dreams of global military supremacy, The New American Militarism, How Americans Are Seduced by War, appeared. (It was excerpted in two posts at this site.) It would have been eye-opening no matter who had written it, but given his background it was striking indeed.
Forceful and engaged (as well as engaging), Bacevich throws himself into the topic at hand. He has a barely suppressed dramatic streak and a willingness to laugh heartily at himself. But most striking are the questions that stop him. Just as you imagine a scholar should, he visibly turns over your questions in his mind, thinking about what may be new in them.
He takes a sip of coffee and, in a no-nonsense manner, suggests that we begin.
Tomdispatch: In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, you said the revolt of the retired generals against Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld represented the beginning of a search for a scapegoat for the Iraq War. I wondered whether you also considered it a preemptive strike against the Bush administration's future Iran policy.
Andrew Bacevich: The answer is yes. It's both really. Certainly, it's become incontrovertible that the Iraq War is not going to end happily. Even if we manage to extricate ourselves and some sort of stable Iraq emerges from the present chaos, arguing that the war lived up to the expectations of the Bush administration is going to be very difficult. My own sense is that the officer corps - and this probably reflects my personal experience to a great degree - is fixated on Vietnam and still believes the military was hung out to dry there. The officer corps came out of the Vietnam War determined never to repeat that experience and some officers are now angry to discover that the Army is once again stuck in a quagmire. So we are in the early stages of a long argument about who is to be blamed for the Iraq debacle. I think, to some degree, the revolt of the generals reflects an effort on the part of senior military officers to weigh in, to lay out the military's case. And the military's case is: We're not at fault. They are; and, more specifically, he is - with Rumsfeld being the stand-in for [Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense] Robert McNamara.
Having said that, with all the speculation about Bush administration interest in expanding the Global War on Terror to include Iran, I suspect the officer corps, already seeing the military badly overstretched, doesn't want to have any part of such a war. Going public with attacks on Rumsfeld is one way of trying to slow whatever momentum there is toward an Iran war.
I must say, I don't really think we're on a track to have a war with Iran any time soon - maybe I'm too optimistic here [he laughs] - but I suspect even the civilian hawks understand that the United States is already overcommitted, that to expand the war on terror to a new theater, the Iranian theater, would in all likelihood have the most dire consequences, globally and in Iraq.
TD: Actually, I was planning to ask about your thoughts on the possibility of an Iranian October surprise.
Bacevich: You mean, attacking Iran before the upcoming fall election? I don't see Karl Rove - because an October surprise would be a political ploy - signing off on it. I think he's cunning, calculating, devious, but not stupid. With the President's popularity rating plummeting due to unhappiness with the ongoing war, it really would be irrational to think that yet another war would turn that around or secure continued Republican control of both houses of Congress.
TD: It seems that way to me with gas assumedly soaring to $120 a barrel or something like that
Bacevich: Oh gosh, oh my gosh, yes
TD: But let me throw this into the mix, because I've seen no one mention it: If you look at the list of retired commanders who came out against Rumsfeld, they're all from the Army or Marines. We always say the military is overextended, but only part of it is - and I note the absence of admirals or anybody connected to the Air Force.
Bacevich: That's a good point. One could argue that the revolt of the generals actually has a third source. If the first source is arguing about who's going to take the fall for Iraq and the second is trying to put a damper on war in Iran, the third has to do with Rumsfeld's military transformation project. To oversimplify, transformation begins with the conviction that the military since the end of the Cold War has failed to adapt to the opportunities and imperatives of the information age. Well before 9/11, the central part of Rumsfeld's agenda was to "transform" - that was his word - this old Cold-War-style military, to make it lighter, more agile, to emphasize information technology and precision weapons.
Well, if you're in the Air Force, or you're a Navy admiral, particularly one in the aviation community, that recipe sounds pretty good. It sounds like dollars, like programs being funded. But if you're in the Army or the Marine Corps, becoming lighter and more agile sounds like cutting divisions or like getting rid of tanks and artillery; it sounds like a smaller Marine Corps.
Both the initial stage of the Afghanistan War and the invasion of Iraq were specifically designed by Rumsfeld as projects to demonstrate what a transformed military could do. Hence, his insistence on beginning the Iraq War without a major build-up, on invading with a relatively small force, on having the ground intervention accompany the air campaign rather than having a protracted air campaign first as in the first Gulf War. All the literature about both Afghanistan and Iraq now shows that the war-planning process was filled with great civil/military tension. The generals argued, "Mr. Secretary, here's the plan; we want to do a Desert Storm Two against Iraq," and Rumsfeld kept replying, "I want something smaller, think it over again and get back to me" - reflecting his intention to demonstrate his notion of how America will henceforth fight its wars.
Well, now we can see the outcome and it's at best ambiguous. That is to say, the early stages of Afghanistan and Iraq proved to be smashing successes. The smaller, agile forces performed remarkably well in demolishing both the Taliban and the Baath Party regime; but in both cases, genuine victory has proven enormously elusive. This gets us to the third basis for the generals' gripe. When they talk about Rumsfeld's incompetence and micromanagement, they're arguing against the transformation project and on behalf of those services which have footed most of the bill.
TD: Just to throw one other thing into the mix, if there were a campaign against Iran, it would be a Navy and Air Force one.
Bacevich: It would begin with a Navy and Air Force campaign, but it wouldn't end that way. If the Army generals could be assured that we know exactly where the Iranian nuclear program is, that we have the targeting data and the munitions to take it out
Well, that would be one thing, but we don't have that assurance. From the Army and Marine Corps perspective, an air attack might begin a war with Iran, but the war would not end there. As is the case in both Afghanistan and Iraq, some sort of ugly aftermath would be sure to follow and the Navy and the Air Force aren't going to be there, at least not in large numbers.
TD: What about the Iraq War at present?
Bacevich: There are a couple of important implications that we have yet to confront. The war has exposed the limited depth of American military power. I mean, since the end of the Cold War we Americans have been beating our chests about being the greatest military power the world has ever seen. [His voice rises.] Overshadowing the power of the Third Reich! Overshadowing the Roman Empire!
Wait a sec. This country of 290 million people has a force of about 130,000 soldiers committed in Iraq, fighting something on the order of 10-20,000 insurgents and a) we're in a war we can't win, b) we're in the fourth year of a war we probably can't sustain much longer. For those who believe in the American imperial project, and who see military supremacy as the foundation of that empire, this ought to be a major concern: What are we going to do to strengthen the sinews of American military power, because it's turned out that our vaunted military supremacy is not what it was cracked up to be. If you're like me and you're quite skeptical about this imperial project, the stresses imposed on the military and the obvious limits of our power simply serve to emphasize the imperative of rethinking our role in the world so we can back away from this unsustainable notion of global hegemony.
Then, there's the matter of competence. I object to the generals saying that our problems in Iraq are all due to the micromanagement and incompetence of Mr. Rumsfeld - I do think he's a micromanager and a failure and ought to have been fired long ago - because it distracts attention from the woeful performance of the senior military leaders who have really made a hash of the Iraq insurgency. I remember General Swannack in particular blaming Rumsfeld for Abu Ghraib. I'll saddle Rumsfeld with about ten percent of the blame for Abu Ghraib, the other ninety percent rests with the senior American military leaders in Baghdad
TD: General Ricardo Sanchez signed off on it
Bacevich: Sanchez being number one. So again, if one is an enthusiast for American military supremacy, we have some serious thinking to do about the quality of our senior leadership. Are we picking the right people to be our two, three, and four-star commanders? Are we training them, educating them properly for the responsibilities that they face? The Iraq War has revealed some major weaknesses in that regard.
TD: Do you think that the neocons and their mentors, Rumsfeld and the Vice President, believed too deeply in the hype of American hyperpower? Ruling groups, even while manipulating others, often seem to almost hypnotically convince themselves as well.
Bacevich: That's why I myself tend not to buy into the charge that Bush and others blatantly lied us into this war. I think they believed most of what they claimed. You should probably put believe in quotes, because it amounts to talking yourself into it. They believed that American omnipotence, as well as know-how and determination, could imprint democracy on Iraq. They really believed that, once they succeeded in Iraq, a whole host of ancillary benefits were going to ensue, transforming the political landscape of the Middle East. All of those expectations were bizarre delusions and we're paying the consequences now.
You know, the neoconservatives that mattered were not those in government like Douglas Feith or people on the National Security Council staff, but the writers and intellectuals outside of government who, in the period from the late seventies through the nineties, were constantly weaving this narrative of triumphalism, pretending to insights about power and the direction of history. Intellectuals can put their imprint on public discourse. They can create an environment, an atmosphere. When the events of September 11, 2001 left Americans shocked and frightened and people started casting about for an explanation, a way of framing a response, the neoconservative perspective was front and center and had a particular appeal. So these writers and intellectuals did influence policy, at least for a brief moment.
TD: Here's something that puzzles me. When I look at administration actions, I see a Middle Eastern catastrophe in the midst of which an Iranian situation is being ratcheted up. Then there's China, once upon a time the enemy of choice for the neocons and Rumsfeld, and now here we are this summer having the largest naval maneuvers since Vietnam, four carrier task forces, off the Chinese coast. Then - as with Cheney's recent speech - there's the attempted rollback of what's left of the USSR, which has been ongoing. On the side, you've got the Pentagon pushing little Latin American bases all the way down to Paraguay. So many fronts, so much overstretch, and no backing down that I can see. What do you make of this?
Bacevich: My own sense is that this administration has largely exhausted its stock of intellectual resources; that, for the most part, they're preoccupied with trying to manage Iraq. Beyond that, I'm hard-pressed to see a coherent strategy in the Middle East or elsewhere. In that sense, Iraq is like Vietnam. It just sucks up all the oxygen. Having said that, before being eclipsed by 9/11 and its aftermath, China was indeed the enemy-designate of the hawks, and a cadre of them is still active in Washington. I would guess that large naval exercises reflect their handiwork. Still, I don't think there's been a resolution within the political elite of exactly how we ought to view China and what the U.S. relationship with China will be.
Why the hell we're extending bases into Latin America is beyond me. Rumsfeld just announced that he has appointed an admiral as the head of U.S. Southern Command. Now this has almost always been an Army billet, once or twice a Marine billet, never a Navy one. I got an email today from someone who suggested that this was another example of Rumsfeld's "boldness." My response was: Well, if he was bold, he'd simply shut down the Southern Command. Wouldn't it be a wonderful way to communicate that U.S.-Latin American relations had matured to the point where they no longer revolved around security concerns? Wouldn't it be interesting for Washington to signal that there is one region of the world that does not require U.S. military supervision; that we really don't need to have some four-star general parading around from country to country in the manner of some proconsul supervising his quarter of the American Empire?
Now, I have friends who think that [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez poses a threat to the United States. I find that notion utterly preposterous, but it does reflect this inclination to see any relationship having any discord or dissonance as requiring a security - i.e. military - response. I find it all crazy and contrary to our own interests.
TD: One thing that's ratcheted up in recent years is the way the Pentagon's taken over so many aspects of policy, turning much of diplomacy into military-to-military relations.
Bacevich: If you look at long-term trends, going back to the early Cold War, the Defense Department has accrued ever more influence and authority at the expense of the State Department. But there's another piece to this - within the Defense Department itself, as the generals and the senior civilians have vied with one another for clout. When Rumsfeld and [Paul] Wolfowitz came into office they were determined to shift the balance of civil/military authority within the Pentagon. They were intent on trimming the sails of the generals. You could see this in all kinds of ways, some symbolic. Regional commanders used to be called CINCs, the acronym for commander-in-chief. Rumsfeld said: Wait a minute, there's only one commander-in-chief and that's my boss, so you generals who work for me, you're not commanders-in-chief any more. Now the guy who runs US Southern Command is just a "combatant commander."
Also indicative of this effort to shift power back to the civilians is the role played by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which has been nonexistent for all practical purposes. Accounts of the planning and conduct of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars make clear that they had virtually no influence at all. They were barely, barely consulted. Ever since Colin Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs and became a quasi-independent power broker, presidents have chosen weak chairmen. Presidents want top officers to be accommodating rather than forceful personalities who might hold independent views. I'm sure General Myers of the Air Force is a wonderful man and a patriot, but he served four years as chairman after 9/11 and did so without leaving any discernible mark on policy. And that's not accidental. It reflects Rumsfeld's efforts to wrest authority back towards the office of the Secretary of Defense.
TD: Isn't this actually part of a larger pattern in which authority is wrested from everywhere and brought into this commander-in-chief presidency?
Bacevich: That's exactly right. I've just finished a review of Cobra II this new book by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor. A major theme of the book is that people like Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz saw 9/11 as a great opportunity. Yes, it was a disaster. Yes, it was terrible. But by God, this was a disaster that could be turned to enormous advantage. Here lay the chance to remove constraints on the exercise of American military power, enabling the Bush administration to shore up, expand, and perpetuate U.S. global hegemony. Toward that end, senior officials concocted this notion of a Global War on Terror, really a cover story for an effort to pacify and transform the broader Middle East, a gargantuan project which is doomed to fail. Committing the United States to that project presumed a radical redistribution of power within Washington. The hawks had to cut off at the knees institutions or people uncomfortable with the unconstrained exercise of American power. And who was that? Well, that was the CIA. That was the State Department, especially the State Department of Secretary Colin Powell. That was the Congress - note this weird notion that the Congress is somehow limiting Presidential prerogatives - and the hawks also had to worry about the uniformed military, whom they considered "averse to risk" and incapable of understanding modern warfare in an information age.
TD: And you might throw in the courts. After all, the two men appointed to the Supreme Court are, above all else, believers in the unitary executive theory of the presidency.
Bacevich: Yes, it fits. I would emphasize that it's not because Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz are diabolical creatures intent on doing evil. They genuinely believe it's in the interests of the United States, and the world, that unconstrained American power should determine the shape of the international order. I think they vastly overstate our capabilities. For all of their supposed worldliness and sophistication, I don't think they understand the world. I am persuaded that their efforts will only lead to greater mischief while undermining our democracy. Yet I don't question that, at some gut level, they think they are acting on your behalf and mine. They are all the more dangerous as a result.
[Note: Part 2 of Andrew Bacevich's interview, Drifting Down the Path to Perdition, will be posted on Thursday. Those readers who want some background on the issues discussed in this interview are advised to pick up a copy of Bacevich's remarkable book, The New American Militarism, How Americans Are Seduced by War.]
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WATADA WATCH: Account of hearing & statement by Boyle published
[snow-news] 8/24/2006 1:13 AM email@example.com
In the Aug. 24-30 *Stranger*, Eli Sanders gave a 2,900-word account of Lt. Ehren Watada's Aug. 17 pre-trial Article 32 (pretrial) hearing at Fort Lewis. -- The "only one in the room wearing a suit" was Watada's attorney, Eric Seizt, Sanders reported, no doubt hyperbolically. -- The "opportunity to see a serious debate over the legality of the war" was rare, and it "felt a bit tardy, coming more than three years after the fall of Baghdad, but it was nevertheless refreshing." -- On Thursday, the web site CounterPunch posted hearing witness Francis Boyle's statement on Lt. Watada. -- Boyle wrote: "First Lieutenant Ehren Watada is America's equivalent to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Vaclav Havel, Andrei Sakharov, Wei Jingsheng, Aung San Suu Kyi, and others. He is the archetypal American Hero whom we should be bringing into our schools and teaching our children to emulate, not those wholesale purveyors of gratuitous violence and bloodshed adulated by the U.S. government, America's power elite, the mainstream corporate news media, and its interlocked entertainment industry." -- As for the Bush administration, Boyle said that it "should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international criminal law in violation of the Nuremberg Charter, the Nuremberg Judgment, and the Nuremberg Principles." -- Also on Wednesday, Mark Tooley published a piece in *American Spectator* mistakenly linking Watada to First United Methodist Church in Tacoma, which has declared itself a sanctuary for service personnel reviewing their options. -- Thanks to Sallie Shawl for sending the first piece. --Mark
WAR CRIMES By Eli Sanders
** Last Week, in a Small Hearing Room at Fort Lewis, a Young Soldier Put the Iraq War on Trial **
Stranger (Seattle, WA) August 24-30, 2006
Lieutenant Ehren Watada seems to know his chances are slim. He is trying to convince the U.S. Army that the war in Iraq is illegal, a task that would be challenging for anyone, and is even more so for Watada, a 28-year-old officer who has, with much ensuing media attention, refused to deploy to Iraq. "He is willing to accept some form of punishment," Watada's lawyer, Eric A. Seitz, told military officials at a packed hearing at Fort Lewis army base on August 17, tacitly acknowledging his client's difficult position.
After deliberately missing the deployment of his Iraq-bound Stryker brigade on June 22, Watada was charged with multiple violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice -- one count of missing movement, two counts of contempt toward officials, and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. It was a contentious ending to a military career that began with the stuff of Army recruiters' dreams: A patriotic young man who simply wanted to defend his country against terrorists.
By his own account, Watada joined the military in 2003 at the age of 25 because he felt the United States was in danger. This was two years after the Twin Towers had been leveled by terrorists flying hijacked airliners, a year after the terrorist bombings in Bali, and during the run of constant terror alerts and heated rhetoric that marked the build-up to the Iraq war.
"I had the idea that my country needed me," Watada recently told an interviewer for the liberal website TruthOut.org.
His first rotation took him to South Korea, where he received stellar reviews from his superiors, but while he was racking up accolades he was also developing a different view of the Iraq war, reading books and articles that led him to conclude that the U.S. attack on Iraq was "manifestly illegal." That transformation led to his refusal to deploy, and to his current confrontation with the military justice system.
The August 17 hearing was simply meant to allow the Army's investigating officer, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Keith, an opportunity to hear arguments from both sides before deciding whether to recommend a court-martial for Watada. In the language of civilian courts, it was a hearing about whether to have a trial. But what transpired suggested that if Watada is ultimately court-martialed, as seems likely, the military will be dealing with more than just a few violations of its code. In prosecuting Watada, it will also have to defend the legality of a war that is increasingly seen as a mistake (if not worse), and as a result is steadily losing its public support.
As his lawyer noted, Watada repeatedly looked for ways out of this confrontation with the military. When he realized he could not allow himself to deploy to Iraq, Watada asked to be sent to Afghanistan, a war he supports because it has a clear connection to an enemy that attacked the U.S. The request was denied. Watada then asked to resign. That request, too, was denied. After refusing to deploy and having the book thrown at him by Army prosecutors, Watada suggested a compromise: a less-than-honorable discharge and some non-prison form of punishment. The military wasn't interested. All of this suggests to Seitz that the military wants this confrontation with his client -- wants to make an example of Watada.
"That's fine with us," Seitz said on August 17 before heading into the hearing, which he promptly used as an opportunity to put the Iraq war on trial. Afterward, explaining his strategy, he said: "We really want the military to know what's coming."
* * *
The spring of 2003, when Watada enlisted, was a tense and confusing time. The U.S. had just deposed the terrorist-sheltering Taliban leadership in Afghanistan, but the "war on terror" continued with Osama bin Laden still on the loose, the American population still jittery, and the military now gearing up for its second major offensive.
Phase two of the war on terror was a war of choice -- or, as President Bush described it, a "preemptive war" -- against a longtime American adversary, Iraq. Even as a surging patriotism drove Watada to enlist, he was aware that many people disagreed with the arguments being used to justify this new war. He knew there were doubts about the links the Bush administration was drawing between Iraq and the attacks of September 11, 2001. He also knew there were doubts about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. What he couldn't imagine, however, was that he was being misled.
"I could never conceive of our leader betraying the trust we had in him," he told the TruthOut interviewer.
Watada, raised in Honolulu, is now doing desk work at Fort Lewis, just south of Tacoma, as he awaits his legal fate. In person, he has a serene bearing and a hopeful, earnest face. It's the face of an idealist, a face that reminds of the great chasm between the way the world should be and the way it actually, disappointingly, is. In Watada's world -- or, at least, in his world as it was in 2003 -- it's hard to imagine a leader betraying the trust of his people.
There is, of course, no shortage of such leaders in the wider world, now and ever since the beginning of storytelling, but when Watada tells his story of being disappointed by Bush, there is something fresh about it. Perhaps it is that hearing about the loss of innocence always hurts, no matter how many times such loss is repeated. Or perhaps it is that so many citizens of this country can relate to Watada's particular disappointment.
"Like millions of Americans," Watada says in a recent web video, "I believed the administration when they guaranteed that Saddam [Hussein] had weapons of mass destruction and had the willingness to use them against his neighbors and also the U.S. And I believed the administration when they said that Iraq had ties to al-Qaeda and 9/11." He is wearing a plain gray sweatshirt as he says this, staring into the camera with serious, unblinking eyes.
"Since then," he continues, "I have found those premises to be false."
It is Watada's genuine and compelling dismay, directed both inward and outward, that makes him such a good spokesman for the antiwar movement. His resistance to the typical attacks from war supporters helps, too. Watada's patriotic motivations, and the good reviews he received from his commanders until this year, make it impossible to suggest he is a coward in military clothing -- to "Swift Boat" him, as was done with Vietnam veteran John Kerry during the last presidential election -- and his succinct eloquence makes it hard to call him crazy or unhinged, as was done to Cindy Sheehan.
His desire to defend the U.S. against foreign threats also makes it impossible to tarnish him as a "cut and run" coward -- or, worse still, a wimpy liberal. And the plain, unselfconscious way in which Watada talks about his evolution over the past few years allows him to push the debate over the Iraq war beyond the normal limits -- further than it has been pushed by Kerry or John Murtha or Nancy Pelosi, further than it has been pushed by the handful of Republicans now questioning the war, further, even, than most liberal pundits and bloggers have dared to.
Instead of talking about whether the Iraq war was wise, or whether it has been well executed, Watada talks about whether it was ever legal to begin with. He clearly wants to engage in a new critical discussion about the war, but also, he has to. He faces up to seven years in military prison unless he can convince the military justice system that his commanders were issuing an illegal order when they told him to deploy to Iraq -- an order that, by virtue of its illegality, he had an obligation to refuse.
* * *
A military hearing is a strange thing. For starters, everyone involved is wearing the same fatigues and boots -- the defendant, the prosecutors, and even the investigator, who plays a judge-like role. The on-base setting and the sameness of the attire all serve to create a sense of unreality, a sense that everyone is just acting and for the most part playing roles to which they are unaccustomed. In the case of the investigator, Keith, this was in large part true. As he told the hearing audience at the outset, he is not a lawyer and has never before served as a military investigator.
Seitz, Watada's civilian defense lawyer, was the only one in the room wearing a suit, and he painted his client's legal predicament as one entirely of the military's making. He recited Watada's attempts to get out of his Iraq deployment by reaching compromises with military officials and then complained, "All of those efforts were rejected."
Yet it seems a bit unrealistic to imagine that the military would ever have backed away from the hard line it is taking with Watada. Part of waging war is controlling the narrative about the war, and if the army came to be seen as giving credence to Watada's position on the war's illegality, it would have a serious problem on its hands. "It's just dangerous in our army to allow that to happen," said Captain Dan Kuecker, the lead military prosecutor.
The result of these opposing hard lines was, as Seitz and Watada no doubt intended, a rare opportunity to see a serious debate over the legality of the war -- a war that has become the defining political and foreign-policy issue of the time and yet is still difficult for Americans to discuss without descending into recriminations about lack of patriotism or lack of intelligence. The debate felt a bit tardy, coming more than three years after the fall of Baghdad, but it was nevertheless refreshing.
Francis Boyle, an expert in international law whose mentor at Harvard wrote the army's field manual on land warfare, was the lead witness for Watada. He told the hearing room that "under the circumstances of this war, if [Watada] had deployed, he would have been facilitating a Nuremberg crime against peace."
The invocations of Nuremberg at the hearing were repeated and served as a rather stark reminder of how different the posture of the U.S. is these days than it was in the 1940s, when the American government helped organize the Nuremberg trials to deal with the war crimes committed by the Germans during World War II. Those trials helped cement in international law the idea that soldiers have an obligation to disobey illegal orders, along with the idea that certain wars cannot be justified -- such as a "war of aggression" by one country against another country that has not attacked it. While in the 1940s the U.S. was helping to create these international norms for warfare, these days it is bending -- some would say outright breaking -- the rules it once backed. It attacked Iraq, for example, without the U.N. authorization that is required, according to Boyle, in order to keep a war from being deemed an illegal "war of aggression."
Another prong of Watada's argument was that he would inevitably be a party to war crimes were he to deploy in Iraq. Noting the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, the alleged use of cluster bombs in civilian areas, and the reported rapes and murders committed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Boyle said that if Watada deployed to Iraq, "it would be difficult, if not impossible, for him not to be committing war crimes."
This was the easier of the two prongs for Keith, the military prosecutor, to attack. "By this reasoning, if you will, has everyone in theater committed war crimes just by the fact of their deployment?" Keith asked.
Boyle's response was that Watada, because he was a lieutenant and because he had made it his business to learn about U.S. misconduct, would be more culpable than the average grunt. "The more you know, and the higher your rank, the more your responsibility," he said.
On the question of whether the war itself was illegal, however, prosecutor Keith could only point out that no legal or international body -- not the U.N., not the U.S. Congress, and not the U.S. court system -- has yet declared the war to be a violation of international law. Boyle agreed that this was so. But he and other witnesses also pointed out that the U.N.'s structure makes it nearly impossible to sanction the world's sole superpower, that no American civilian court has yet been asked to rule on the legality of the Iraq war, and that the Bush administration was able to procure its war authorization from the current U.S. Congress "by means of fraud -- they lied to Congress that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and they lied to Congress that Iraq had connections to 9/11."
* * *
Watada, sitting slightly slouched, was all but silent during the proceedings, speaking only to tell the military investigator that he didn't wish to make a statement. Prosecutors, however, played a number of clips of Watada speaking in public about his reasons for not deploying. In one clip, shot at a recent Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle, Watada is seen explaining what he hopes to accomplish. "Today I speak with you about a radical idea," he says. "The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers and service members can choose to stop fighting it." The prosecutors' use of this clip seemed intended to hammer home how dangerous it might be to military morale and discipline if Watada's example were followed.
It doesn't seem, however, that a huge mass of soldiers is yet following Watada's lead. In fact, Watada is believed to be the only officer so far to have refused duty in Iraq, and while prosecutors worried during the hearing that his example would hurt army morale and discipline, after the hearing, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Williams, spokesman for Fort Lewis, told reporters that Watada's actions were doing no such thing. "My morale is just as high as it was yesterday," Williams said. "This is an anomaly."
The military is speaking out of both sides of its mouth on this score --arguing during the hearing that Watada is a threat to order and discipline and arguing to the media that he is not -- but the fact remains that Watada has not inspired a large number of soldiers to throw their weapons down. His impact, at this point, appears to be mainly as another piece of the steady legal assault that is taking apart the grand narrative by which the Iraq war was sold and conducted -- the narrative in which the war is completely justified and any criticism of the Bush administration or its conduct of the war can be dealt with by an official saying, essentially, "Trust us, we're protecting you; don't ask too many questions and don't worry about the law." (Or, when that fails, attacking the critic's patriotism or sanity.)
There are signs that the administration is increasingly worried about the unraveling of its war narrative -- especially with the midterm congressional elections just 60 days away -- and recently, the nation's courts have given the administration even more cause for concern. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the administration's attempt to ignore the Geneva Conventions for prisoners in the war on terror was illegal. Last week, a federal judge in Detroit ruled that the administration's domestic spying program was unconstitutional, with the judge, Anna Diggs Taylor, using her ruling to remind Bush that he is not allowed "unfettered control," particularly when his actions "disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights" (that ruling is now being appealed). And a CNN poll released on Monday showed opposition to the Iraq War now at its highest level ever, 61 percent.
The tide seems to be shifting, and in a sign of the concern this is generating within the administration, officials representing Bush are currently circulating proposed amendments to the federal war-crimes law, apparently hoping to give themselves a way out should they someday be charged under that statute. That's not the tactic of a group of people who feel they are on the right side of the law, or public-opinion trends.
In this context, it seems impossible that the army will be allowed to go easy on Watada. In all likelihood, he will go to jail for refusing to deploy. He has said he is at peace with his decision, and with his possible punishment. As one of his own witnesses at the hearing, retired army Colonel Ann Wright, put it: "If you challenge an order, you do it at your own jeopardy."
Still, Wright added, army commanders, and their civilian leaders, suffer from being unable to convincingly explain, to Watada or anyone else, why the Iraq war shouldn't be seen as illegal under international law. This failure probably shouldn't be surprising, given how often the rationale for the war has shifted -- from WMDs to spreading democracy to the self-justifying notion that we can't leave because we're now there. But this lack of good answers, Wright said, hurts military order and discipline more than anything else.
"Good order and discipline," she told the army investigator, "is based on the fact that good leaders can explain things to their soldiers."
STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF LT. ERHEN WATADA By Francis A. Boyle
** An Archetypal American Hero **
CounterPunch August 23, 2006
One generation ago the peoples of the world asked themselves: Where were the "good" Germans? Well, there were some good Germans. The Lutheran theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the foremost exemplar of someone who led a life of principled opposition to the Nazi-terror state even unto death.
Today the peoples of the world are likewise asking themselves: Where are the "good" Americans? Well, there are some good Americans. They are getting prosecuted for protesting against illegal U.S. military interventions and war crimes around the world. First Lieutenant Ehren Watada is America's equivalent to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Vaclav Havel, Andrei Sakharov, Wei Jingsheng, Aung San Suu Kyi, and others. He is the archetypal American Hero whom we should be bringing into our schools and teaching our children to emulate, not those wholesale purveyors of gratuitous violence and bloodshed adulated by the U.S. government, America's power elite, the mainstream corporate news media, and its interlocked entertainment industry.
In international legal terms, the Bush Jr. administration itself should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international criminal law in violation of the Nuremberg Charter, the Nuremberg Judgment, and the Nuremberg Principles, because of its formulation and undertaking of wars of aggression, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany.
As a consequence, American citizens and soldiers such as Lieutenant Watada possess the basic right under international law and the United States domestic law, including the U.S. Constitution, to engage in acts of civil resistance in order to prevent, impede, thwart, or terminate ongoing criminal activities perpetrated by U.S. government officials in their conduct of foreign affairs policies and military operations purported to relate to defense and counter-terrorism.
If not so restrained, the Bush Jr. administration could very well precipitate a Third World War.
--Francis A. Boyle, Professor of Law, University of Illinois, is author of *Foundations of World Order*, Duke University Press, *The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence*, and *Palestine, Palestinians and International Law*, by Clarity Press. He can be reached at: FBOYLE@LAW.UIUC.EDU
3. [still on the Watada issue]
The Nation's Pulse
SANCTUARY CHIC By Mark Tooley
American Spectator August 23, 2006
"Sanctuary" became a *cause célèbre* in the 1980s when left-wing churches ostensibly offered it to illegal Central American refugees as a protest against the Reagan Administration's battles against Marxist insurgencies in Latin America.
Now "sanctuary" is chic again. There are currently two ongoing celebrated cases. One involves an illegal Mexican woman immigrant in Chicago. The other involves a U.S. army officer in Tacoma who refuses to serve in Iraq. Both involve Methodist churches.
Lt. Ehren Watada is facing a court martial because he will not deploy with his unit to Iraq, where the U.S. military effort is "morally wrong" and "a breach of American law."
Watada is currently at Ft. Lewis in Tacoma. He joined the army after the Iraq War had begun, but decided afterwards that he must oppose a war based on "lies."
In solidarity with Watada, the 250-member First United Methodist Church in Tacoma has declared itself a "sanctuary" for any U.S. soldiers who don't want to fight in Iraq or elsewhere. "We're supporting troops by giving them the space to think about what their options are in a supportive environment," a church member told the local newspaper.
First United Methodist Church Tacoma is offering legal counseling on evading military service, along with overnight shelter for conscience-ridden, anti-war soldiers. Watada has used the church for media gatherings and doubtless appreciates the supportive gesture from the Methodists, who have helped organize demonstrations on his behalf outside Ft. Lewis.
Several liberal Methodist bishops have spoken up for Watada. "I perceive in your actions a courageous questioning of the role of the military in our world and a willingness to act on the basis of what you believe to be ethically right." said Bishop Robert Hoshibata of Oregon. "I applaud your willingness to balance your call to duty with your innermost thoughts and core beliefs."
Bishop Roy Sano, as secretary of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, offered his support to Watada's mother. "I was inspired by the brave step your son took in refusing to be deployed to Iraq," he wrote. "In the United Methodist Church, we do not take civil disobedience lightly, but when necessary for conscience sake, we approve it."
The United Methodist Bishop of Los Angeles, Mary Ann Swenson, told Watada: "I commend you as one who has taken a courageous and difficult stand to publicly make known a position you have come to believe in opposition to a particular war." She insisted that the denomination's supposed anti-war stance is the "underpinning of our support for you."
Meanwhile, illegal Mexican immigrant Elvira Arellano is living in "sanctuary" at Chicago's Adalberto United Methodist Church. Its activist pastor, Walter Coleman, defends the church's harboring her based on her outspoken leadership of undocumented workers. "She defines the movement for her people, and they love her," he explained to the *Chicago Sun-Times*.
Rev. Coleman compared sanctuary for Arellano with Moses and the burning bush. "God said this is holy ground," he said. "She has a place here." Of course, she agrees with her pastor. "This is the house of God," Arellano told the *Washington Post*. "What man would enter the house of God to arrest me?"
Arellano's supporters may cite supernatural protection. But they are hoping that fear of negative publicity will prevent the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement from enforcing its deportation order against Adalberto, whose cause has been championed by Mayor Richard Daley and Senator Richard Durbin, among other politicos. She was arrested in 2002 for using a false Social Security number, and after having entered the U.S. twice illegally. Private congressional bills delayed her deportation based on the health of her young son, which has since improved. Her notoriety as an activist has earned her a wide circle of political and religious allies.
United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcano of Phoenix, appearing on CNN in defense of Arellano, claimed that since the Old Testament, "the community of faith has provided refuge for persons who are foreigners." As a young Methodist woman, Arellano "stands out of her Christian conviction that our laws are unjust," the bishop explained.
"The United Methodist Church views the immigration policies of this country as unjust," Carcano asserted. "It is seeking the reformation of our immigration policies, stands with families like Ms. Arellano's family, requesting that this government look at the impact on families. If we really care about children in this country, this is an opportunity to care for a child." Arellano's situation is not political, the bishop insisted, it is a "moral and ethical issue."
It is a lot of high-handed talk by clerics who preside over declining churches that are long on statements and short on members. Of course, just as "sanctuary" in the 1980s was simply a ruse to oppose Reagan in Central America, "sanctuary" now is an opportunity to oppose the Iraq War and advocate unrestricted immigration as "moral" imperatives.
More revealingly, "sanctuary" is usually championed by well-heeled liberal elites hunting about for a politically palatable cause *du jour*. No Methodist or other liberal church elites were offering sanctuary to victims of Saddam Hussein. Not do they agitate over refugees from Fidel Castro. Indeed, the United Methodist Church helped fund Fidel Castro's lawyers in sending Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba in the 1990's. Their version of "sanctuary" only extends to the contrived victims of U.S. policies, and rarely to anybody else.
--Mark Tooley directs the United Methodist committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C.
Corporate media treated this victory like it was a flat tire, or some other technical problem. We were right there front and center, in the inner court room, and we knew that the mistrial of Ehren Watada, first officer to refuse to go to Iraq, was a big victory for our side. We saw how the judge pulled the plug on the trial rather than risk a Watada victory. Our court-room observer heard one juror mutter "at least somebody has some principles around here." We saw the prosecutor bury his face in his hands when the judge began to bail out of the case that had become an airplane on fire, careening towards the earth.
Our cameras were at the gates, at the rallies, and at the press conferences. And because NO cameras are allowed in any kind of federal court, including military courts-marital, we got the court artist sketches, and with animation, sketches, and live footage we bring you the story that corporate media glossed over. There was no "mistrial." The prosecution rested its case, and on the prosecution case alone, Lt. Watada was doing great. The judge had already barred every witness Lt. Watada wanted to bring in, and had ruled out every defense Watada could possibly raise. But every prosecution witness contributed to the defense's case, and by the time the prosecutor excused his last witness, it was painfully obvious that Watada should win, and there was a distinct possibility that he would win on at least some counts. The judge stopped the show. It isn't that often that something like this happens, but we were there, we watched it all, and now, we're bringing that story to a screen near you.
"He Stood UP" is the story of Lt. Watada and the mistrial that happened in February. The Army claims that they are going to try him again, although there are serious doubts about the legality of that, because of double jeopardy. Sometimes a moral stand can bring a legal victory. This is that story, brought to you by PepperSpray Productions, an independent activist video collective based in Seattle, WA.
To get more info, or to order the DVD online, go to www.peppersprayproductions.org/videos.htm
(Also available at Alliance for Democracy video Lending Library- check out the library at http://www.sounddemocracy.org/ (click on “lending library” in Left Column)
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COMMENTARY: Iraq is 'Vietnam with the volume turned way up'
Writing in the Oct. 16, 2006, number of the *Nation*, author Richard J. Whalen called attention to a "revolt . . . brewing among our retired Army and Marine generals." -- Among the leaders: Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack Jr. and Maj. Gen. John Batiste, both of whom commanded forces in Iraq, and both of whom "recently sacrificed their careers by retiring and joining the public protest" against the leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- a movement that is, according to Whalen, "unprecedented in American history." -- Whalen has personal experience of what it is like to be on the inside in the midst of a strategic débâcle: forty years ago, he was on the staff of President Richard Nixon and was involved in planning to end the Vietnam war. -- Whalen favors Karen Kwiatkowski's view that "The retired generals' revolt may be inspired by their apprehension over a wider Mideast conflict spreading to potentially nuclear Iran," and goes on to endorse the increasingly heard view that the U.S. must engage in discussions with Iran with a view to reaching agreement on security in the Persian Gulf region. -- As part of the aftermath of the Iraqi débâcle, Whalen foresees an "inevitable post-Iraq War tsunami of U.S. political recrimination." -- Thanks to Todd Boyle for sending this piece. --Mark
REVOLT OF THE GENERALS
By Richard J. Whalen
October 16, 2006 (posted Sept. 28)
[This article was corrected for the web after going to press; in the printed version, comments made by Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton were mistakenly attributed to Marine Lieut. Gen. Gregory Newbold.]
A revolt is brewing among our retired Army and Marine generals. This rebellion -- quiet and nonconfrontational, but remarkable nonetheless --comes not because their beloved forces are bearing the brunt of ground combat in Iraq but because the retirees see the U.S. adventure in Mesopotamia as another Vietnam-like, strategically failed war, and they blame the errant, arrogant civilian leadership at the Pentagon. The dissenters include two generals who led combat troops in Iraq: Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack Jr., who commanded the 82nd Airborne Division, and Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who led the First Infantry Division (the "Big Red One"). These men recently sacrificed their careers by retiring and joining the public protest.
In late September Batiste, along with two other retired senior officers, spoke out about these failures at a Washington Democratic policy hearing, with Batiste saying Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was "not a competent wartime leader" who made "dismal strategic decisions" that "resulted in the unnecessary deaths of American servicemen and women, our allies and the good people of Iraq." Rumsfeld, he said, "dismissed honest dissent" and "did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war."
This kind of protest among senior military retirees during wartime is unprecedented in American history -- and it is also deeply worrisome. The retired officers opposing the war and demanding Rumsfeld's ouster represent a new political force, and therefore a potentially powerful factor in the future of our democracy. The former generals' growing lobby could acquire a unique veto power in the future by publicly opposing reckless civilian warmaking in advance.
No one should be surprised by the antiwar dissent emerging among those who have commanded our legions on the fringes of the U.S. military empire. After more than sixty-five years of increasingly centralized and secret presidential warmaking, we have concentrated ultimate civilian authority in fewer and fewer hands. Some of these leaders have been proved by events to be incompetent.
I speak regularly to retired generals, former intelligence officers, and former Pentagon officials and aides, all of whom remain close to their active-duty friends and protégés. These well-informed seniors tell me that whatever the original U.S. objective was in Iraq, our understrength forces and flawed strategy have failed, and that we cannot repair this failure by remaining there indefinitely. Fundamental changes are needed, and senior officers are prepared to make them. According to my sources, some active-duty officers are working behind the scenes to end the war and are preparing for the inevitable U.S. withdrawal. "The only question is whether a war serves the national interest," declares a retired three-star general. "Iraq does not."
How widespread is antiwar feeling among the retired and active-duty senior military? And does it extend into the younger active-duty officer corps? These are unanswerable questions. The soldiers who defend our democracy on the battlefield fight within military, and therefore nondemocratic, organizations. They are sworn to uphold the Constitution and obey orders. Traditionally, they debate only on the "inside."
Earlier this year, Gen. George Casey, the top American commander in Iraq, drafted a highly classified briefing plan that was leaked to the *New York Times* in June. It called for sharply reducing U.S. troop levels in Iraq from the current fourteen combat brigades to a half-dozen or so by late December 2007. The plan contained a great many caveats, and events soon rendered it obsolete. Now General Casey says the Iraqi security forces may be ready to take the lead role in twelve to eighteen months, but he says nothing about troop withdrawals.
Casey's leaked plan revealed the thinking of some of today's top-level officers. These senior military men believe that our forces will have to win the potentially decisive battle for Baghdad before the United States can leave. In August the Army announced an urgent transfer of American forces from insecure western Iraq to the capital in preparation for that coming battle. The move barely doubled the number of troops in Baghdad, to only 14,000 GIs spread over a sprawling metropolis with a population exceeding 7 million.
On August 3 the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, Gen. John Abizaid, the universally respected, Arabic-speaking warrior-scholar who knows Iraq intimately, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that worsening Iraqi sectarian violence, especially in Baghdad, "could move [Iraq] towards civil war." In private, senior officers openly refer to civil war, and have indicated that the Army would depart in such circumstances to avoid being caught in the crossfire.
The dissenting retired generals are bent on making Iraq this nation's last strategically failed war -- that is, one doggedly waged by civilian officials largely to avoid personal accountability for their bad decisions. A failed war causes mounting human and other costs, damaging or entirely destroying the national interest it was supposed to serve.
Let me interject a personal note. At the height of the Vietnam War, between 1966 and 1968, I was a conservative Republican in my early 30s on the campaign staff of the likely next President, Richard Nixon. What I heard from junior officers returning from Vietnam convinced me that U.S. military involvement there should give way to diplomacy. We no longer had a coherent political objective, and were fighting only to avoid admitting defeat. I wrote Nixon's secret plan for "ending the war and winning the peace," a rhetorical screen for striking a summit deal with the Soviet Union, followed by a historic opening to China that would allow us to extricate ourselves from what we belatedly recognized was an anti-Chinese Indochina.
After I left Nixon's staff in August 1968, I helped end the draft. In 1969-70, I co-wrote and edited the *Report of the President's Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force*. Our blockbuster proposal to end the draft combined political expediency and libertarian idealism. Our staff's numbers crunchers calculated that if we raised enlisted men's pay scales, retention rates among the sons of lower- to middle-income families would stay high enough to create a de facto all-volunteer Army. So why not take credit for acting on principle? Nixon's domestic adviser Martin Anderson pushed it, the private computers of consultant Alan Greenspan (who would go on to become chair of the Federal Reserve System) confirmed it and I delivered the text that the commission accepted. Nixon, for once, enjoyed the media's acclaim. The draft was swiftly abolished.
The Iraq War only confirms the wisdom of the nation's commitment to the all-volunteer armed forces. A draft would merely prolong the Iraq agony, not avoid defeat. More than 2,700 GIs killed and more than 20,000 wounded, along with tens of thousands of dead and wounded Iraqis, are enough to carry on the nation's conscience.
Some of the officers from the first generation of the volunteer Army, now mostly retired, are speaking out and influencing their active-duty colleagues. Retired Lieut. Gen. William Odom calls the Iraq War "the worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States" and draws a grim parallel with the Vietnam War. He says that U.S. strategy in Iraq, as in Vietnam, has served almost exclusively the interests of our enemies. He says that our objectives in Vietnam passed through three phases leading to defeat. These were: (1) 1961-65, "containing" China; (2) 1965-68, obsession with U.S. tactics, leading to "Americanization" of the war; and (3) 1968-75, phony diplomacy and self-deluding "Vietnamization." Iraq has now completed two similar phases and is entering the third, says Odom, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. In March he wrote in the newsletter of Harvard's Nieman Foundation: "Will Phase Three in Iraq end with U.S. helicopters flying out of Baghdad's Green Zone? It all sounds so familiar. The difference lies in the consequences. Vietnam did not have the devastating effects on U.S. power that Iraq is already having. On this point, those who deny the Vietnam-Iraq analogy are probably right. They are wrong, however, in believing that staying the course will have any result other than making the damage to U.S. power far greater than would changing course and making an orderly withdrawal. . . . But even in its differences, Vietnam can be instructive about Iraq. Once the U.S. position in Vietnam collapsed, Washington was free to reverse the negative trends it faced in NATO and U.S.-Soviet military balance, in the world economy, in its international image, and in other areas. Only by getting out of Iraq can the United States possibly gain sufficient international support to design a new strategy for limiting the burgeoning growth of anti-Western forces it has unleashed. . . ."
The fact that so many retired generals are speaking out against the war and against Rumsfeld, and are doing so at such forums as New York's prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, reflects the depth and intensity of the military's dissent. Traditional discipline and career-protecting reticence prompt many disillusioned field-grade officers (majors and above) to keep silent. These are "the Carlisle elite," who attend the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and from whose ranks are selected the generals and top leaders of tomorrow.
The military's senior active-duty leadership will not openly revolt. "We're not the French generals in Algeria," says Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, now retired. "But we damned well know that the Iraq War we've won militarily is being lost politically." The well-read retired Marine Lieut. Gen. Gregory Newbold wrote in a *Time* magazine essay: "I retired from the military four months before the March 2003 invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy." Newbold calls the Iraq War "unnecessary" and says the civilians who launched the war acted with "a casualness and swagger" that are "the special province" of those who have never smelled death on a battlefield.
When civilian Pentagon officials bungled the long, dishonorable endgame of the Vietnam War, disciplined senior soldiers kept silent. After that war ended in U.S. defeat and humiliation, a flood of firsthand military accounts of the war appeared. Embittered generals and other officers, like future general Colin Powell, vowed it would never happen again.
Today, a retired major general privately asserts: "For our generation, Iraq will be Vietnam with the volume turned way up. Three decades ago, the retired generals who are now speaking out against the Iraq War were junior officers in Vietnam. The seniors who trained and mentored us, and who became generals but who kept silent, did not speak out after retirement against Vietnam." Now, even before the Iraq War has ended, generals have shed their uniforms and begun publicly to fight back against Rumsfeld's bullying and a new generation of Pentagon civilians' bloodstained mistakes. These former generals despise Rumsfeld, with several, like Batiste, describing him as totally dismissive of their views. They recall repeatedly trying to warn Rumsfeld before the Iraq invasion that the U.S. forces he was planning to deploy were barely half the 400,000 they said were needed.
Rumsfeld publicly humiliated all who dissented, beginning with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, who was virtually dismissed the day he honestly gave his views to Congress. Rumsfeld's deputy, neoconservative ideologue Paul Wolfowitz, listened respectfully before rejecting the generals' advice. As the Iraqi insurgency grew, the generals found Rumsfeld "completely unable and unwilling to understand the collapse of security in Iraq," says Maj. Gen. Eaton. The severely understrength U.S. forces have never been able to provide adequate security. Once Iraqi civilians lost their trust and confidence in America's protection, the war was lost politically. As General Newbold says: "Our opposition to Rumsfeld is all about his accountability for getting Iraq wrong from day one."
Bureaucratic accountability comes hard and very slowly. According to a stark consensus of global terrorism trends by America's sixteen separate espionage agencies, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq "helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and [expand] the overall terrorist threat." This highly classified National Intelligence Estimate is, according to the *New York Times*, "the first report since the war began to present a comprehensive picture" of global terrorism trends.
There's blame enough to go around. In his recently published bestseller *Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq*, Thomas Ricks, the *Washington Post*'s senior Pentagon correspondent, offers a devastating, heavily documented indictment of almost incredible civilian and military shortsightedness and incompetence, such as the foolish decisions that encouraged the Iraqi insurgency. "When we disbanded the Iraqi Army, we created a significant part of the Iraqi insurgency," explains Col. Paul Hughes, whose advice to retain the army was rejected. Before he retired he told Ricks, "Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically." The most critical political-strategic decisions about post-Saddam Iraq's future were made by deeply mistaken civilian officials in Washington and in the Green Zone by our "viceroy," Paul Bremer, administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
The senior military dissenters will not rest until they indict the mistakes of Rumsfeld and his principal civilian aides at Congressional hearings. The military always plays this game of accountability for keeps. Should the Democrats gain control of a Congressional chamber in the November midterms, televised Capitol Hill hearings in 2007 will feature military protagonists speaking of "betrayal" and "tragically wasted sacrifices." The retired generals believe nothing would be gained, and much would be lost, by keeping the truth about Iraq from the families of America's dead and wounded.
Says retired two-star General Eaton: "The repeated rotations of Army Reservists and National Guardsmen are hollowing out the U.S. ground forces. This whole thing in Iraq is going to fall off a cliff. . . . Yet we have a moral obligation to see this thing [the Iraqi occupation] through. If we fail, it will cause America grave problems for several decades to come." These earnest, if contradictory, sentiments echo what some conflicted U.S. military officers told me thirty-five years ago, as Vietnam was being abandoned. After President Nixon's Watergate disgrace and resignation, a fed-up American public and a heavily Democratic-controlled Congress finally pulled the plug on our Saigon ally, allowing South Vietnam to fall.
Over the past year, the United States has pressed into service newly trained Iraqi army, police and security forces, replacing elements of the 140,000-plus U.S. troops. But the Iraqi forces lack everything from body armor to tanks and helicopters. Major General Eaton, who in 2003-04 was in charge of training Iraqi security forces, says the United States needs another five years to train the Iraqi army, and as much as another decade to train and equip an effective Iraqi police force.
Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a hero in the 1991 Gulf War who visited Iraq and Kuwait this past spring, writes in an unpublished report: "We need to better equip the Iraqi Army with a capability to deter foreign attack and to have a leveraged advantage over the Shia militias and the insurgents they must continue to confront. The resources we are now planning to provide are inadequate by an order of magnitude or more. The cost of a coherent development of the Iraqi security forces is the ticket out of Iraq -- and the avoidance of the constant drain of huge U.S. resources on a monthly basis."
Thus, the crucial "Iraqification" process has barely begun and is mostly still self-deception. *New York Times* Iraq correspondent Dexter Filkins reports that Baghdad has become "a markedly more dangerous place" over the past year. This undercuts "the central premise of the American project here: that Iraqi forces can be trained and equipped to secure their own country, allowing the Americans to go home," a replay of the failed Vietnamization scenario.
The retired generals' revolt may be inspired by their apprehension over a wider Mideast conflict spreading to potentially nuclear Iran, writes former Pentagon planner and now antiwar critic Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and a razor-sharp Ph.D. Writing in MilitaryWeek.com, she speculates that the generals are trying to get rid of Rumsfeld now to head off a conflict with Iran. The Bush Administration reportedly has contingency plans to bomb Iran's U.N.-disapproved nuclear sites. Some underemployed Navy and Air Force officers are lobbying to strike Iran, but the overstretched ground combat forces overwhelmingly oppose it as the worst of all possible wars. She writes: "If Rumsfeld retires, we will not 'do' Iran under Bush 43." Such concern over Tehran is well founded. According to Kwiatkowski and retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner, American Special Forces are already secretly inside Iran, identifying potential targets for future air strikes. The Iranians are of course aware of their uninvited visitors.
The obvious diplomatic recourse is for the Bush Administration to talk to Tehran about our pending exit from Iraq, but the White House refused to do so until late September, when the Bush family's longtime political fixer, former Secretary of State James Baker, entered the picture as a deal-maker. Baker is co-chair, with retired Indiana Democratic Representative Lee Hamilton, of the Congressionally created Iraq Study Group (ISG), which is due to issue a comprehensive report on U.S. options in Iraq after the November elections. After a four-day visit to Iraq, Baker, Hamilton and the eight other members of the bipartisan task force returned to Washington with an obvious recommendation: Start talking to Tehran. After receiving President Bush's immediate approval, Baker invited an unidentified "high representative" of the Iranian government, as well as Syria's foreign minister, to meet with the ISG. Baker realizes the leverage is largely on Iran's side of the table.
An expert on Shiite Islam, Professor Vali Nasr of the Naval Postgraduate School, sees a glaring missed opportunity the ISG could help seize. He suggested in the July-August Foreign Affairs that "Iran will actively seek stability in Iraq only when it no longer benefits from controlled chaos there, that is, when it no longer feels threatened by the United States' presence. Iran's long-term interests are not inherently at odds with those of the United States; it is current U.S. policy toward Iran that has set the countries' respective Iraq policies on a collision course."
General McCaffrey warns that "U.S. public diplomacy and rhetoric about confronting Iranian nuclear weapons development is scaring neighbors in the Gulf. Our Mideast allies believe correctly that they are ill equipped to deal with Iranian strikes to close the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. They do not think they can handle politically or militarily a terrorist threat nested in their domestic Shia populations."
The recent war in Lebanon has only made the prospect of war with Iran more problematic. As Richard Armitage, the astute onetime Navy SEAL and former Deputy Secretary of State, told reporter Seymour Hersh: "When the Israel Defense Forces, the most dominant military force in the region, can't pacify little Lebanon [population: 4 million], you should think twice about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of 70 million."
McCaffrey's report raises the possibility that U.S. forces will have to fight their way out of Iraq. He says, "A U.S. military confrontation with Iran could result in [the radical Islamic Mahdi Army's] attacking our forces in Baghdad or along our 400-mile line of communications out of Iraq to the sea." The Bush Administration needs Iranian cooperation for the eventual safe exit of our troops, as General McCaffrey advises. This assumes that the Iranians will not risk World War III by trying to entrap our hostage Army in a humiliating Dunkirk-in-the-desert. After successful negotiations, the United States should be able to withdraw via the southern exit route leading through Kuwait to the Persian Gulf and the blue waters beyond.
Once we get our troops safely out, a newly elected, post-2008 administration in Washington may be able to begin reassembling America's scattered global allies to address the region's problems anew, next time multilaterally, and through diplomacy rather than pre-emptive unilateral military force.
America is a uniquely favored nation that redefines itself in each generation. But we have had a lifetime of embracing one democratic global war, and numerous presidentially inspired, politicized, and secret smaller wars that have turned out badly. Sixty-five years after Pearl Harbor, we owe it to the past three generations to resume the debate on our national identity, suspended on December 7, 1941, and foreshortened on September 11, 2001.
In the post-cold war era, we have severely cut back our military manpower, reducing the regular Army to only 480,000 troops, but we have not cut back fantastically expensive Air Force weapons systems or the somewhat more useful but still gold-plated Navy. Nor have we redefined our strategic goals to fit realistically within reduced budgets. We have "paid" for the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by borrowing heavily from foreign dollar-holders, such as China, that are awash in trade surpluses, and have left debt service to future U.S. generations.
A key argument in the ex-generals' indictment is this undeniable fact: Our armed forces are too small to police and reorder the world and intervene almost blindly, as we have in Iraq. That invasion acted out the world-changing daydreams of pro-Israel neoconservative policy intellectuals like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and others who gained warmaking power and influence atop the Pentagon but who evidently never asked themselves, Suppose we're wrong? What happens then? Sober, realistic Israelis privately fear the neocons' "friendship," and where it has led America, more than any Arab enemies. In the inevitable post-Iraq War tsunami of U.S. political recrimination, such Israelis foresee Christian Zionist evangelicals, whose lobbying muscle in Congress was decisive in the run-up to the Iraq War, attempting to scapegoat the high-profile neocons and endangering Israel's all-important security ties to the United States.
Growing public disgust and frustration with the Iraq War has begun to arouse a self-defeating desire to retreat into isolationism. Rather, the United States should revive the traditional but recently neglected realistic approach to foreign policy, as the ISG is starting to do, and it should begin with a renewed multilateral approach to peacemaking in the Middle East.
--Richard J. Whalen, a former senior editor of *Time* and *Fortune*, is the author of several books, including *The Founding Father: The Story of Joseph P. Kennedy* and *Catch the Falling Flag: A Republican's Challenge to His Party*. He writes and publishes "The Big Picture," a fortnightly letter on politics and finance, and is currently working on *In the Name of National Security*, a personal and political history of the domestic impact of America's wars since Pearl Harbor.
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Hill's National Guard Advocates Hold News Conference
To Protest DOD Bill's Proposed Decisions On National Guard
. . .'Empowerment' Steps Likely To Be Dropped, While Provision Threatening State Control Likely To Be Added
WASHINGTON (Sept. 19) Congressional leaders heading the fight for National Guard empowerment Tuesday expressed grave disappointment over the House and Senate conference agreement on the Fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Bill for abandoning the National Guard empowerment" thrust of the Senate's version of the bill. The conference report is also likely to take a sizable step toward weakening states' authority over their Guard units, according to the congressional leaders who are leading the fight for Guard empowerment.
Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) the co-chairs of the Senate's National Guard Caucus said the conference agreement is expected to include a provision making it easier for the President to declare martial law, stripping state governors of part of their authority over state National Guard units in domestic emergencies. The provision is opposed by the National Governors Association and by key leaders in both the House and Senate. The conference report is also expected to drop a Senate-adopted provision authored by Bond and Leahy to elevate the status of the National Guard within the Pentagon.
During committee deliberations thus far, negotiators from the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have dropped a Senate-adopted version of the National Defense Enhancement and National Guard Empowerment Act of 2006, a bill first introduced in the Senate in March by Bond and Leahy. The legislation, which was added as an amendment to the Authorization Bill, would codify the National Guard's prominent role in the nation's defense since the September 11th attacks. The legislation, which flowed from several major reports on the National Guard and homeland security, would have elevated the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to rank of full General with four-stars, while ensuring that the Deputy Commander of the United States Northern Command would come from the ranks of the National Guard.
Also expected to be included in the conference report is a widely opposed provision to allow the President more control over the National Guard. The conference committee has made changes the Insurrection Act, which governs when the President can call to action the National Guard without the consent of state governors to restore public order. Under the changes, the President would now be able to invoke the Act during such regular occurring events as a natural disaster. Because posse comitatus restrictions that prevent the military's involvement in law enforcement do not apply when the Insurrection Act is invoked, the changes would nullify these long-standing laws.
This would be a one-two punch against Guard empowerment that runs counter to the Guard's needs and the Guard's crucial missions," said Leahy. We can deal with a range of situations at home if the people and resources of the National Guard remain regularly under the control of the officials who are closest to managing these situations. At the same time, the Guard also needs more institutional muscle to ensure it has the equipment and authorities it needs to carry out its dual-missions. As it stands, this defense bill would go in exactly the wrong direction."
Bond added, Whenever the nation has called upon the National Guard for support, both at home and abroad, the Guard has responded in exemplary fashion. The Guard has earned a promotion and the enhanced authority necessary to be in the huddle of the Pentagon's senior defense team. Unfortunately that is not presently the case which is why the legislation we are discussing is so vital to national security and the ability of the Guard to promote and protect its key policy provisions and requirements."
# # # # #
Remarks Of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy,
Co-Chair, Senate National Guard Caucus
News Conference On The National Guard Empowerment Act
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Thank you, General Koper, General Taylor and General Conaway. I appreciate your joining us today. This petition is so impressive. It speaks directly to strong desire of our men and women in the National Guard for a more substantial voice at the highest levels of the Defense Department. It is also makes clear to those of us on Capitol Hill that the men and women of the National Guard have expectations for us, just as we always expect great things from them.
The National Guard has delivered for America, over and over again. The National Guard has played a crucial role in our national defense at home and abroad. At the high-water mark, the Guard made up almost 40 percent of the troops on the ground in Iraq. Here at home, the Guard is being routinely called up to support such diverse missions as airport and border security and, of course, disaster relief.
Regrettably, we are here because Congress at this critical moment is on the verge of an outright failure in supporting the National Guard. Reports continue to trickle out of the conference on the Defense Authorization Bill that House and Senate leaders plan to drop a slimmed-down version of our National Guard Empowerment Act, which will give the Guard more of a voice in the upper reaches of the Pentagon.
Compounding this setback, we also hear that the conferees are ready to adopt changes to the Insurrection Act, which will make it easier for this or any future President to use the military to restore domestic order WITHOUT the consent of the nation's governors. To put it another way, the Defense Authorization Bill will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law something has been done in only three - three - occasions over the past several decades.
From coast to coast, the members and leaders of the National Guard are alarmed and puzzled by these setbacks, and Senator Bond and I could not agree with them more. The Guard empowerment thrust of this year's Defense Authorization Bill in the Senate was a long-awaited reform that would help ensure that the Guard has the bureaucratic muscle to match its needs in fulfilling the lengthening list of missions we are asking the Guard to perform. Our Guard Empowerment initiative would clear away some of those bureaucratic cobwebs, to help take advantage of the Guard's ability to respond to emergencies at home quickly. We must end this troubling pattern that the active duty forces continually raid high-priority National Guard programs and personnel accounts to pay their own bills. We saw that troubling pattern in action late last year, when the Army and the Air Force tried to cut the end-strength of the National Guard by upward of 17,000 and 14,000, respectively. With more than 70 senators joining us, Senator Bond and I helped block that decision, but that episode dramatically showed how the Guard often gets the short end of the stick in key budget and policy deliberations.
At the same time, we certainly do not need to make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law. Invoking the Insurrection Act and using the military for law enforcement activities goes against some of the central tenets of our democracy. It creates needless tension among the various levels of government one can easily envision governors and mayors in charge of an emergency having to constantly look over their shoulders while someone who has never visited their communities gives the orders.
A bill that began with such promise in empowering the National Guard now increasingly appears to be shaping up as a double setback for the Guard. That is inexplicable, that is indefensible, and that is wrong. The last thing Congress should be doing is making the National Guard's job more difficult. We urge the Defense Bill conferees to adopt the Empowerment Bill and drop the ill-advised changes to the Insurrection Act.
The Guard is always there for America. Now the ball is in Congress's court, and we cannot afford to let our Guard down.
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They knew Iraq was not a cakewalk knew we would not be liberators
by Margie Burns | Nov 5 2006 - 8:05am
Reprinted with permission of MargieBurns.com
The National Security Archive now reveals that the Pentagon knew from 1999 on that invasion and occupation of Iraq would entail disaster.
Through a FOIA request, the National Security Archive has obtained documents of "Desert Crossing" war games conducted by CENTCOM (U.S. Central Command) in April 1999 to assess outcomes of invading Iraq. Outcomes were not rosy.
As the NSArchive introduction observes, "Some of these conclusions are interestingly similar to the events which actually occurred after Saddam was overthrown.
(Note 1) The report forewarned that regime change may cause regional instability by opening the doors to "rival forces bidding for power" which, in turn, could cause societal "fragmentation along religious and/or ethnic lines" and antagonize "aggressive neighbors." Further, the report illuminated worries that secure borders and a restoration of civil order may not be enough to stabilize Iraq if the replacement government were perceived as weak, subservient to outside powers, or out of touch with other regional governments. An exit strategy, the report said, would also be complicated by differing visions for a post-Saddam Iraq among those involved in the conflict."
General Zinni, who retired after the war games, tried unsuccessfully to remind the current administration about Desert Crossing. In an act of political heroism, he went public with some of his concerns. Aside from other problems, "the former CENTCOM commander noted that his plan had called for a force of 400,000 for the invasion -- 240,000 more than what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approved. "We were concerned about the ability to get in there right away, to flood the towns and villages," USA Today quoted Zinni as saying in July 2003. "We knew the initial problem would be security."
Portions of the conclusions are being reported on CNN.com today.
Selected emails disclose that one of the entities involved in planning Desert Crossing, along with CENTCOM, was the giant security contractor "Booz Allen." The emails refer to Booz Allen Hamilton, a huge northern Virginia firm numbering members and signatories of PNAC among its principals and the government among its chief clients. Booz Allen is a privately held mega-funded global contractor.
The company name hit the news earlier this fall with revelations that the Bush administration was secretly monitoring bank transactions (SWIFT). The White House said that the electronic surveillance was being supervised by Booz Allen, a claim that itself arouses problems. As this article by Liana Forest reminds, Booz Allen also developed Carnivore, the discredited data mining process, for use by the FBI. Thus we have a purported check and audit on government electronic surveillance being handled by a company that has demonstrably not seen fit to warn the public about what government is doing, either in regard to Iraq or in regard to financial spying.
Back to Desert Crossing: no argument can be made that key government agencies were left out of the loop. As the report afterward makes clear, "Over 70 participants, including the Department of State, Department of Defense, National Security Council, and the Central Intelligence Agency took part in the seminar." Donald Rumsfeld, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and David Addington had access to the information processed by their predecessors in the Defense department. Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley had access to material available to the National Security Council.
Even couched in the value-neutral language of bureaucracy, the conclusions of the report are horrifying: "The dimensions of preparing a post-Saddam policy for Iraq and the region are vast and complex. Early preparation of a political-military plan as called for in Presidential Decision Directive 56 should be a priority. The accompanying policy debate will expose a variety of contentious positions that must be reconciled and managed. Key discussion points include: benefits and risks associated with various strategic options; information requirements; and the likelihood that intervention will be costly in terms of casualties and resources."
Setting aside if one could that calling the invasion of another country "intervention" is quintessentially Orwellian; setting aside if one could that one nation has no right to remake another nation in the first place; setting aside if one could the injuries and deaths of thousands - one is still faced with the obscene presumptuousness with which underqualified individuals set themselves on a course to do something they never had a chance of doing. We keep asking how - how could they do it? - how could personnel as negligible as George Walker Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Wolfowitz and Libby, Hadley and Addington even think they could accomplish the remaking of Iraq? What made them think they had the right to do so?
In a sense the question answers itself. Invading and trashing a country that has not attacked us is self-evidently invalid. Only unqualified, ignorant, selfish people - ignorant in spite of all their resources, their wealth and their access to information and expertise -- could imagine either that they could, or that they should give it a try.
Reprinted with permission of MargieBurns.com
Margie Burns is a freelance journalist in the D.C. area with a blog at MargieBurns.com.
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'Army Times' calls for Donald Rumsfeld's dismissal
[snow-news] 11/5/2006 4:38 PM firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMENTARY: ‘Army Times' calls for Rumsfeld's dismissal
[An editorial to be published Monday by *Army Times* calls for the dismissal of U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and denounces the American plan to create an Iraqi army capable of tending to the security of Iraqis as unrealizable: [T]he problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity has become a losing proposition." -- *Army Times* portrays Rumsfeld as a leader who has lost the confidence of the men he is supposed to lead. -- The editorial also asserts that many [of the nation's currently military leaders] privately feared [the Iraq war] would fail" but have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority." -- Now, *Army Times* asserts, although that tradition, and the officers' deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe [that the war is a failure]." -- The editorial places the blame for the failure squarely on the shoulders of Rumsfeld (whose incompetence, it will be recalled, is the controlling thesis of Bob Woodward's recent bestseller, *State of Denial*). --[T}he blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary," the editorial concludes. -- "Donald Rumsfeld must go." -- It's remarkable and welcome that *Army Times* questions the war's planning, execution, and dimming prospects for success," but we wish it would dig a little deeper and acknowledge, as Lt. Ehren Watada has done, the war's illegal and immoral character ab ovo...--Mark]
TIME FOR RUMSFELD TO GO
November 6, 2006 (posted Nov. 5)
So long as our government requires the backing of an aroused and informed public opinion . . . it is necessary to tell the hard bruising truth."
That statement was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Marguerite Higgins more than a half-century ago during the Korean War.
But until recently, the hard bruising" truth about the Iraq war has been difficult to come by from leaders in Washington.
One rosy reassurance after another has been handed down by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: mission accomplished," the insurgency is in its last throes," and back off," we know what we're doing, are a few choice examples.
Military leaders generally toed the line, although a few retired generals eventually spoke out from the safety of the sidelines, inciting criticism equally from anti-war types, who thought they should have spoken out while still in uniform, and pro-war foes, who thought the generals should have kept their critiques behind closed doors.
Now, however, a new chorus of criticism is beginning to resonate. Active-duty military leaders are starting to voice misgivings about the war's planning, execution, and dimming prospects for success.
Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee in September: I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it . . . and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war."
Last week, someone leaked to the *New York Times* a Central Command briefing slide showing an assessment that the civil conflict in Iraq now borders on critical" and has been sliding toward chaos" for most of the past year. The strategy in Iraq has been to train an Iraqi army and police force that could gradually take over for U.S. troops in providing for the security of their new government and their nation.
But despite the best efforts of American trainers, the problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity has become a losing proposition.
For two years, American sergeants, captains, and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don't show up for duty, and cannot sustain themselves.
Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked for more money.
And all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand.
Now, the president says he'll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his term in the White House.
This is a mistake. It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.
These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.
And although that tradition, and the officers' deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it.
Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress, and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.
This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:
Donald Rumsfeld must go.
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At 02:53 PM 2/18/2007, email@example.com wrote: COMMENTARY: The Bush team 'has completely lost its mojo' (Frank Rich)
[On Sunday, *New York Times* columnist Frank Rich had harsh words for even the Bush administration's vaunted capacity for lying. -- "Watching the administration try to get its story straight about Iran's role in Iraq last week was like watching third graders try to sidestep blame for misbehaving while the substitute teacher was on a bathroom break. The team that once sold the country smoking guns in the shape of mushroom clouds has completely lost its mojo." -- As everyone knows, when a public figure in America becomes an object of mockery, the end is near. --Mark]
OH WHAT A MALLEABLE WAR
By Frank Rich
New York Times
February 18, 2007
Section 4, Page 12
http://select.nytimes.com/2007/02/18/opinion/18rich.html (subscribers only)
Maybe the Bush White House can't conduct a war, but no one has ever impugned its ability to lie about its conduct of a war. Now even that well-earned reputation for flawless fictionalizing is coming undone. Watching the administration try to get its story straight about Iran's role in Iraq last week was like watching third graders try to sidestep blame for misbehaving while the substitute teacher was on a bathroom break. The team that once sold the country smoking guns in the shape of mushroom clouds has completely lost its mojo.
Surely these guys can do better than this. No sooner did unnamed military officials unveil their melodramatically secretive briefing in Baghdad last Sunday than Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, blew the whole charade. General Pace said he didn't know about the briefing and couldn't endorse its contention that the Iranian government's highest echelons were complicit in anti-American hostilities in Iraq. Public-relations pandemonium ensued as Tony Snow, the State Department, and finally the president tried to revise the story line on the fly. Back when Karl Rove ruled, everyone read verbatim from the same script. Last week's frantic improvisations were vintage Scooter Libby, at best the ur-text for a future perjury trial.
Yet for all the sloppy internal contradictions, the most incriminating indictment of the new White House disinformation campaign is to be found in official assertions made more than a year ago. The press and everyone else seems to have forgotten that the administration has twice sounded the same alarms about Iranian weaponry in Iraq that it did last week.
In August 2005, NBC News, CBS News and the *Times* cited unnamed military and intelligence officials when reporting, as CBS put it, that U.S. forces intercepted a shipment from Iran containing professionally made explosive devices specifically designed to penetrate the armor which protects American vehicles." Then, as now, those devices were the devastating roadside bombs currently called E.F.P.'s (explosively formed penetrators). Then, as now, they were thought to have been brought into Iraq by members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Then, as now, there was no evidence that the Iranian government was directly involved. In February 2006, administration officials delivered the same warning yet again, before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Timing is everything in propaganda, as in all showmanship. So why would the White House pick this particular moment to mount such an extravagant rerun of old news, complete with photos and props reminiscent of Colin Powell's infamous presentation of pre-war intelligence? Yes, the death toll from these bombs is rising, but it has been rising for some time. (Also rising, and more dramatically, is the death toll from attacks on American helicopters.)
After General Pace rendered inoperative the first official rationale for last Sunday's E.F.P. briefing, President Bush had to find a new explanation for his sudden focus on the Iranian explosives. That's why he said at Wednesday's news conference that it no longer mattered whether the Iranian government (as opposed to black marketeers or freelance thugs) had supplied these weapons to Iraqi killers. What matters is, is that they're there," he said. The real point of hyping this inexact intelligence was to justify why he had to take urgent action now, no matter what the E.F.P.'s provenance: My job is to protect our troops. And when we find devices that are in that country that are hurting our troops, we're going to do something about it, pure and simple."
Darn right! But if the administration has warned about these weapons twice in the past 18 months (and had known that they're there," we now know, since 2003), why is Mr. Bush just stepping up to that job at this late date? Embarrassingly enough, the *Washington Post* reported on its front page last Monday -- the same front page with news of the Baghdad E.F.P. briefing -- that there is now a shortfall of thousands of advanced Humvee armor kits designed to reduce U.S. troop deaths from roadside bombs." Worse, the full armor upgrade is not scheduled to be completed until this summer." So Mr. Bush's idea of doing something about it, pure and simple" is itself a lie, since he is doing something about it only after he has knowingly sent a new round of under-armored American troops into battle.
To those who are most suspicious of this White House, the something" that Mr. Bush really wants to do has little to do with armor in any case. His real aim is to provoke war with Iran, no matter how overstretched and ill-equipped our armed forces may be for that added burden. By this line of thinking, the run-up to the war in Iraq is now repeating itself exactly and Mr. Bush will seize any handy casus belli he can to ignite a conflagration in Iran.
Iran is an unquestionable menace with an Israel-hating fanatic as its president. It is also four times the size of Iraq and a far more dangerous adversary than was Saddam's regime. Perhaps Mr. Bush is as reckless as his harshest critics claim and will double down on catastrophe. But for those who don't hold quite so pitch-black a view of his intentions, there's a less apocalyptic motive to be considered as well.
Let's not forget that the White House's stunt of repackaging old, fear-inducing news for public consumption has a long track record. Its reason for doing so is always the same: to distract the public from reality that runs counter to the White House's political interests. When the Democrats were gaining campaign traction in 2004, John Ashcroft held an urgent news conference to display photos of seven suspected terrorists on the loose. He didn't bother to explain that six of them had been announced previously, one at a news conference he had held 28 months earlier. Mr. Bush played the same trick last February as newly declassified statistics at a Senate hearing revealed a steady three-year growth in insurgent attacks: he breathlessly announced a thwarted Qaeda plot against the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles that had already been revealed by the administration four months before.
We know what Mr. Bush wants to distract us from this time: Congressional votes against his war policy, the Libby trial, the Pentagon inspector general's report deploring Douglas Feith's fictional pre-war intelligence, and the new and dire National Intelligence Estimate saying that America is sending troops into the cross-fire of a multifaceted sectarian cataclysm.
That same intelligence estimate also says that Iran is not likely to be a major driver of violence" in Iraq, but no matter. If the president can now whip up a Feith-style smoke screen of innuendo to imply that Iran is the root of all our woes in the war -- and give the enemy" a single recognizable face (Ahmadinejad as the new Saddam) -- then, ipso facto, he is not guilty of sending troops into the middle of a shadowy Sunni-Shiite bloodbath after all.
Oh what a malleable war Iraq has been. First it was waged to vanquish Saddam's (nonexistent) nuclear arsenal and his (nonexistent) collaboration with Al Qaeda. Then it was going to spread (nonexistent) democracy throughout the Middle East. Now it is being rebranded as a fight against Tehran. Mr. Bush keeps saying that his saber rattling about Iran is not a pretext for war." Maybe so, but at the very least it's a pretext for prolonging the disastrous war we already have.
What makes his spin brazen even by his standards is that Iran is in fact steadily extending its influence in Iraq -- thanks to its alliance with the very Iraqi politicians that Mr. Bush himself has endorsed. In December the president welcomed a Shiite leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, to the White House with great fanfare; just three weeks later American forces had to raid Mr. Hakim's Iraq compound to arrest Iranian operatives suspected of planning attacks against American military forces, possibly with E.F.P.'s. As if that weren't bad enough, Nouri al-Maliki's government promptly overruled the American arrests and ordered the operatives' release so they could escape to Iran. For all his bluster about doing something about it, Mr. Bush did nothing.
It gets worse. This month we learned that yet another Maliki supporter in the Iraqi Parliament, Jamal Jafaar Mohammed Ali Ebrahimi, was convicted more than two decades ago of planning the murderous 1983 attacks on the American and French Embassies in Kuwait. He's now in Iran, but before leaving, this terrorist served as a security adviser, no less, to the first Iraqi prime minister after the American invasion, Ibrahim al-Jafaari. Mr. Jafaari, hailed by Mr. Bush as a strong partner for peace and freedom" during his own White House visit in 2005, could be found last week in Tehran, celebrating the anniversary of the 1979 Iranian revolution and criticizing America's arrest of Iranian officials in Iraq.
Even if the White House still had its touch for spinning fiction, it's hard to imagine how it could create new lies brilliant enough to top the sorry truth. When you have a president making a big show of berating Iran while simultaneously empowering it, you've got another remake of The Manchurian Candidate," this time played for keeps.
PPJH's website is located at http://www.tacomapjh.org/ -- others may join by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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This is an excerpt from an Amy Goodman interview with Gen. Wesley Clark on Democracy Now, March 2 http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/02/1440234
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: I knew why, because I had been through the Pentagon right after 9/11. About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in.
He said, "Sir, you've got to come in and talk to me a second." I said, "Well, you're too busy." He said, "No, no." He says, "We've made the decision we're going to war with Iraq." This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, "We're going to war with Iraq? Why?" He said, "I don't know." He said, "I guess they don't know what else to do." So I said, "Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?"
He said, "No, no." He says, "There's nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq." He said, "I guess it's like we don't know what to do about terrorists, but we've got a good military and we can take down governments." And he said, "I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail."
So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, "Are we still going to war with Iraq?" And he said, "Oh, it's worse than that." He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, "I just got this down from upstairs" -- meaning the Secretary of Defense's office -- "today." And he said, "This is a memo that describes how we're going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran." I said, "Is it classified?" He said, "Yes, sir." I said, "Well, don't show it to me." And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, "You remember that?" He said, "Sir, I didn't show you that memo! I didn't show it to you!"
AMY GOODMAN: I'm sorry. What did you say his name was?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: I'm not going to give you his name.
AMY GOODMAN: So, go through the countries again.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: Well, starting with Iraq, then Syria and Lebanon, then Libya, then Somalia and Sudan, and back to Iran.
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Did I say "I hate to say I told you so, but...?"
Well, obviously, if I did (between last Summer and now)
I take it back... -Chris Pringer,
vUSPA Admin & Web-Admin (vuspa.org)
VFP92, "Seattle12" of SNOW, PolyPsyArts HmPg
* PolyPsy List Archives at http://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/polypsysp/
Tucker: Active-Duty Generals Will ‘Revolt' Against Bush If He Maintains Escalation Into 2008
Appearing on NBC's Chris Matthews Show this morning, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Cynthia Tucker revealed that sources within the military are warning of a revolt from active-duty generals if September rolls around and the president is sticking with the surge into ‘08." Watch it:
Noting that retired generals such as Gen. John Batiste have already begun voicing their discontent with the president's strategy in Iraq, Tucker added that the generals don't want to fall by the wayside like the generals in Vietnam did, kept pushing a war that they knew was lost."
When President Bush vetoed the Iraq timeline legislation earlier this month, he claimed that the measure would ‘impose impossible conditions on our commanders in combat' by forcing them to ‘take fighting directions from politicians 6,000 miles away in Washington, DC.'"
But despite past claims that the right force level" will be determined by the sober judgment of our military leaders," the Bush administration has a proven track record of disregarding the advice of military leaders. As recently as last December, when the White House was first pushing its escalation plan, the administration explicitly ignored the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."
It appears the commanders on the ground in Iraq are getting tired of taking fighting directions" from a politician 6,000 miles away" in the White House. And they might not stay quiet for long.
TUCKER: Look for a revolt from active-duty generals if September rolls around and the president is sticking with the surge into ‘08. We've already heard from retired generals. But my Atlanta Journal-Constitution colleague Jay Bookman has lots of sources among currently serving military officers who don't want to fall by the wayside like the generals in Vietnam did, kept pushing a war that they knew was lost.
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Subject: [vfp92speak] CENTCOM Commander's Veto Sank Bush's Threatening Gulf Buildup Date: Wed, 16 May 2007 19:40:49 -0700
May 15, 2007 Inter Press Service
Admiral William Fallon, then President George W. Bush's nominee to head the Central Command (CENTCOM), expressed strong opposition in February to an administration plan to increase the number of carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf from two to three and vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM, according to sources with access to his thinking. Fallon's resistance to the proposed deployment of a third aircraft carrier was followed by a shift in the Bush administration's Iran policy in February and March away from increased military threats and toward diplomatic engagement with Iran. That shift, for which no credible explanation has been offered by administration officials, suggests that Fallon's resistance to a crucial deployment was a major factor in the intra-administration struggle over policy toward Iran.
The deployment of three carrier groups simultaneously was not part of a plan for an actual attack on Iran, but was meant to convince Iran that the Bush administration was preparing for possible war if Tehran continued its uranium enrichment programme.
But Fallon, who was scheduled to become the CENTCOM chief Mar. 16, responded to the proposed plan by sending a strongly-worded message to the Defence Department in mid-February opposing any further U.S. naval buildup in the Persian Gulf as unwarranted.
He asked why another aircraft carrier was needed in the Gulf and insisted there was no military requirement for it," says the source, who obtained the gist of Fallon's message from a Pentagon official who had read it.
Fallon's refusal to support a further naval buildup in the Gulf reflected his firm opposition to an attack on Iran and an apparent readiness to put his career on the line to prevent it. A source who met privately with Fallon around the time of his confirmation hearing and who insists on anonymity quoted Fallon as saying that an attack on Iran will not happen on my watch".
Asked how he could be sure, the source says, Fallon replied, You know what choices I have. [Including: resignation.] I'm a professional." Fallon said that he was not alone, according to the source, adding, There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box."
There is a lot more...
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June 7, 2007 Rebellion in the British Army
by John Pilger
An experienced British officer serving in Iraq has written to the BBC describing the invasion as "illegal, immoral, and unwinnable," which, he says, is "the overwhelming feeling of many of my peers." In a letter to the BBC's Newsnight and MediaLens.org he accuses the media's "embedded coverage with the U.S. Army" of failing to question "the intentions and continuing effects of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation." He says most British soldiers regard their tours as "loathsome," during which they "reluctantly [provide] target practice for insurgents, senselessly hemorrhaging casualties and squandering soldiers' lives, as part of Bush's vain attempt to delay the inevitable Anglo-U.S. rout until after the next U.S. election." He appeals to journalists not to swallow "the official line/White House propaganda."
In 1970, I made a film in Vietnam called The Quiet Mutiny in which GIs spoke out about their hatred of that war and its "official line/White House propaganda." The experiences in Iraq and Vietnam are both very different and strikingly similar. There was much less "embedded coverage" in Vietnam, although there was censorship by omission, which is standard practice today.
What is different about Iraq is the willingness of usually obedient British soldiers to speak their minds, from Gen. Richard Dannatt, Britain's current military chief, who said that the presence of his troops in Iraq "exacerbates the security problem," to Gen. Michael Rose who has called for Tony Blair to be impeached for taking Britain to war "on false grounds" remarks that are mild compared with the blogs of squaddies.
What is also different is the growing awareness in the British forces and the public of how "the official line" is played through the media. This can be quite crude: for example, when a BBC defense correspondent in Iraq described the aim of the Anglo-American invasion as "bring[ing] democracy and human rights" to Iraq. The director of BBC Television, Helen Boaden, backed him up with a sheaf of quotations from Blair that this was indeed the aim, implying that Blair's notorious word was enough.
More often than not, censorship by omission is employed: for example, by omitting the fact that almost 80 percent of attacks are directed against the occupation forces (source: the Pentagon) so as to give the impression that the occupiers are doing their best to separate "warring tribes" and are crisis managers rather than the cause of the crisis.
There is a last-ditch sense about this kind of propaganda. Seymour Hersh said recently,
"[In April, the Bush administration] made a decision that because of the totally dwindling support for the war in Iraq, they would go back to the al-Qaeda card, although there's no empirical basis. Most of the pros will tell you the foreign fighters are a couple of per cent and they're sort of leaderless
there's no attempt to suggest there's any significant coordination of these groups, but the press keeps going gaga about al-Qaeda
it's just amazing to me."
Gaga day at the London Guardian was May 22. "Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force U.S. out of Iraq," said the front-page banner headline. "Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaeda elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq," wrote Simon Tisdall from Washington, "in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition intended to tip a wavering U.S. Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, U.S. officials say." The entire tale was based on anonymous U.S. official sources. No attempt was made to substantiate their "firm evidence" or explain the illogic of their claims. No journalistic skepticism was even hinted, which is amazing considering the web of proven lies spun from Washington over Iraq.
Moreover, it had a curious tone of something-must-be-done insistence, reminiscent of Judith Miller's scandalous reports in the New York Times claiming that Saddam was about to launch his weapons of mass destruction and beckoning Bush to invade. Tisdall in effect offered the same invitation; I can remember few more irresponsible pieces of journalism. The British public and the people of Iran deserve better.
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Chairman of Joint Chiefs Will Not Be Reappointed 6/9/07
By THOM SHANKER
Published: June 9, 2007
[Note: article '07// 02/18 above]
WASHINGTON, June 8 - The Bush administration said Friday that it would not reappoint Gen. Peter Pace to a second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making him the highest-ranking officer to be a political casualty of the fight over Iraq.
Adm. Mike Mullen, the chief of naval operations, will replace General Peter Pace as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the decision was reached in order to avoid bitter hearings in a Democratic-controlled Senate that is already confronting the White House over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I have decided that at this moment in our history, the nation, our men and women in uniform, and General Pace himself would not be well-served by a divisive ordeal in selecting the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Mr. Gates said.
The defense secretary stood alone at a Pentagon podium in making the announcement, and he spoke in somber tones in describing how he fully had intended to recommend General Pace be offered a second two-year term as chairman, only to change his mind over the last few weeks after consulting with senior senators of both parties.
Mr. Gates said he would recommend that President Bush appoint Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the chief of naval operations, to serve as the next chairman. The defense secretary praised Admiral Mullen as a man of vision, strategic insight, experience and integrity."
General Pace has served for six years at the very highest ranks of the military, for four years as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and then two years as the first marine to be chairman. General Pace, who is 61, had made clear that he wanted to be reappointed, and associates said he was deeply disappointed. When he steps down at the end of September, he will become the shortest-serving chairman since Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor in 1964, during the early years of the Vietnam War.
By law, the chairman is the senior-ranking member of the armed services and is the top military adviser to the president, the defense secretary and the National Security Council. In that capacity, he is not in command of American forces at war, but plays a central role in shaping strategy and policy and in relaying communications from the civilian leadership to commanders in the field.
But General Pace's reputation has nevertheless become intertwined with the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the heavy tolls that the subsequent counter-insurgency fights have inflicted on the United States military. He has been criticized by some senior officers who saw him as too deferential to civilian leadership, in particular former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and too inattentive to the impact of prolonged war-fighting on the Army, Marines and their National Guard and Reserve elements.
President Bush is known for loyalty to members of his senior council, including the generals who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he risked a confirmation battle earlier this year when he successfully nominated Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, to become Army chief of staff.
In the case of General Pace, however, Mr. Bush "reluctantly agreed" not to seek a renomination for the chairman, even though the president has the highest regard for General Pace," said Dana Perino, the deputy White House press secretary.
In a written statement, Mr. Bush said, I have relied on his unvarnished military judgment, and I value his candor, his integrity and his friendship."
A confirmation hearing for the next chairman would have come in September, just as the two top American ground commanders in Iraq are scheduled to issue their first official assessment of Mr. Bush's strategy of escalating the troop presence there.
In making his announcement, Mr. Gates emphasized that the decision should not be viewed as a rebuke of General Pace's tenure, which he described as one of great distinction." Mr. Gates likewise said the decision should not be seen as an acknowledgment that the decline in Congressional support for the war was spreading even to Republicans.
The defense secretary, though, said his conversations with senior lawmakers of both parties had led him to conclude that the focus of his confirmation process would have been on the past, rather than the future" and that there was the very real prospect the process would be quite contentious."
Although Mr. Gates acknowledged that both Democrats and Republicans had warned of a bruising confirmation hearing for General Pace, the public statements from senior Republicans were effusive. "Peter Pace has served his nation, his beloved Marine Corps, with the greatest of distinction," said Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee.
But Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, acknowledged Friday that he had cautioned against offering General Pace a second term as chairman.
In response to a request from Secretary Gates, I solicited the views of a broad range of senators," Mr. Levin said. I found that the views of many senators reflected my own, namely that a confirmation hearing on General Pace's reappointment would have been a backward-looking debate about the last four years."
General Pace is a highly decorated combat veteran who led a rifle platoon during some of the most vicious urban combat in American military history, in Vietnam during the 1968 battle of Battle of Hue.
In the past week, however, speculation swirled that he would not be renominated, rumors coming after General Pace was forced to defend his comments that homosexual conduct was immoral, akin to adultery - a statement far from the legal underpinnings of the military's ban on openly gay soldiers based on arguments for discipline and unit cohesion.
General Pace also stirred concern among senior colleagues that he had stepped over a line defining civilian-military relations with a letter urging leniency for I. Lewis Libby Jr., the vice-presidential aide convicted of lying during a Central Intelligence Agency leak investigation.
Looking to the future, Mr. Gates noted that Admiral Mullen already had a reputation for rising above parochial service interests to focus on how all of the armed forces can best support each other. Mr. Gates said that his senior military assistant had recently been told by Admiral Mullen that his highest priority, even as chief of naval operations, was finding ways to help the Army as it carried the burden of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Over recent months, Admiral Mullen also called upon his service's brightest minds to write the first new maritime strategy since the end of the cold war to address both traditional challenges and emerging asymmetrical threats.
Mr. Levin, the armed services committee chairman described Admiral Mullen as well-qualified" for the job of chairman.
Mr. Gates also said he would recommend that the new vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs be General James E. Cartwright, the Marine Corps officer in charge of the Strategic Command, responsible for American nuclear forces and computer attack.
The current vice chairman, Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr., announced his retirement last week. With the decision to name a Navy officer as chairman, it would not have been possible for Admiral Giambastiani to continue in the No. 2 job, although Mr. Gates said he unsuccessfully had urged the admiral to accept another senior-level position.
A number of respected officers have seen their career paths damaged or altered by the debate over Iraq.
Among them are Gen. John P. Abizaid, an advocate of limiting the American presence in Iraq, who retired months early from his command in the Middle East as Mr. Bush was ordering an influx of troops. And Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior ground commander in Iraq after the invasion, never received a fourth star and was quietly pushed toward retirement.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed reporting.
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July 05, 2007
Gen. William Odom writes that opponents of the war should focus public attention on the fact that Bush´s obstinate refusal to admit defeat is causing the troops enormous psychological as well as physical harm.
By William E. Odom
[see added note about half-way down "Part that goes into Solutions for Current Situation:"]
Every step the Democrats in Congress have taken to force the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq has failed. Time and again, President Bush beats them into submission with charges of failing to "support the troops."
Why do the Democrats allow this to happen? Because they let the president define what "supporting the troops" means. His definition is brutally misleading. Consider what his policies are doing to the troops.
No U.S. forces have ever been compelled to stay in sustained combat conditions for as long as the Army units have in Iraq. In World War II, soldiers were considered combat-exhausted after about 180 days in the line. They were withdrawn for rest periods. Moreover, for weeks at a time, large sectors of the front were quiet, giving them time for both physical and psychological rehabilitation. During some periods of the Korean War, units had to fight steadily for fairly long periods but not for a year at a time. In Vietnam, tours were one year in length, and combat was intermittent with significant break periods.
In Iraq, combat units take over an area of operations and patrol it daily, making soldiers face the prospect of death from an IED or small arms fire or mortar fire several hours each day. Day in and day out for a full year, with only a single two-week break, they confront the prospect of death, losing limbs or eyes, or suffering other serious wounds. Although total losses in Iraq have been relatively small compared to most previous conflicts, the individual soldier is risking death or serious injury day after day for a year. The impact on the psyche accumulates, eventually producing what is now called "post-traumatic stress disorders." In other words, they are combat-exhausted to the point of losing effectiveness. The occasional willful killing of civilians in a few cases is probably indicative of such loss of effectiveness. These incidents don't seem to occur during the first half of a unit's deployment in Iraq.
After the first year, following a few months back home, these same soldiers are sent back for a second year, then a third year, and now, many are facing a fourth deployment! Little wonder more and more soldiers and veterans are psychologically disabled.
And the damage is not just to enlisted soldiers. Many officers are suffering serious post-traumatic stress disorders but are hesitant to report it with good reason. An officer who needs psychiatric care and lets it appear on his medical records has most probably ended his career. He will be considered not sufficiently stable to lead troops. Thus officers are strongly inclined to avoid treatment and to hide their problems.
There are only two ways to fix this problem, both of which the president stubbornly rejects. Instead, his recent "surge" tactic has compelled the secretary of defense to extend Army tours to 15 months! (The Marines have been allowed to retain their six-month deployment policy and, not surprisingly, have fewer cases of post-traumatic stress syndrome.)
The first solution would be to expand the size of the Army to two or three times its present level, allowing shorter combat tours and much longer breaks between deployments. That cannot be done rapidly enough today, even if military conscription were restored and new recruits made abundant. It would take more than a year to organize and train a dozen new brigade combat teams. The Clinton administration cut the Army end strength by about 40 percent from about 770,000 to 470,000 during the 1990s. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld looked for ways to make the cuts even deeper. Thus this administration and its predecessor aggressively gave up ground forces and tactical air forces while maintaining large maritime forces that cannot be used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sadly, the lack of wisdom in that change in force structure is being paid for not by President Bush or President Clinton but by the ordinary soldier and his family. They have no lobby group to seek relief for them.
The second way to alleviate the problem is to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq as soon as possible and as securely as possible. The electorate understands this. That is why a majority of voters favor withdrawing from Iraq.
[Part that goes into Solutions for Current Situation:]
If the Democrats truly want to succeed in forcing President Bush to begin withdrawing from Iraq, the first step is to redefine "supporting the troops" as withdrawing them, citing the mass of accumulating evidence of the psychological as well as the physical damage that the president is forcing them to endure because he did not raise adequate forces. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress could confirm this evidence and lay the blame for "not supporting the troops" where it really belongs on the president. And they could rightly claim to the public that they are supporting the troops by cutting off the funds that he uses to keep U.S. forces in Iraq.
The public is ahead of the both branches of government in grasping this reality, but political leaders and opinion makers in the media must give them greater voice.
Congress clearly and indisputably has two powers over the executive: the power of the purse and the power to impeach. Instead of using either, members of congress are wasting their time discussing feckless measures like a bill that "de-authorizes the war in Iraq." That is toothless unless it is matched by a cut-off of funds.
The president is strongly motivated to string out the war until he leaves office, in order to avoid taking responsibility for the defeat he has caused and persisted in making greater each year for more than three years.
To force him to begin a withdrawal before then, the first step should be to rally the public by providing an honest and candid definition of what "supporting the troops" really means and pointing out who is and who is not supporting our troops at war. The next step should be a flat refusal to appropriate money for to be used in Iraq for anything but withdrawal operations with a clear deadline for completion.
The final step should be to put that president on notice that if ignores this legislative action and tries to extort Congress into providing funds by keeping U.S. forces in peril, impeachment proceeding will proceed in the House of Representatives. Such presidential behavior surely would constitute the "high crime" of squandering the lives of soldiers and Marines for his own personal interest.
Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. He was Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer. From 1977 to 1981, he was Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski.
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Chronicling Iraq Policy - incl. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor, Thomas Ricks, George Packer [added 9'07]
[from email: "...Shelf Full of Books Chronicle Iraq Policy, Strategy"]
A Shelf Full of Books Chronicle Iraq Policy, Strategy
Listen to this story... Windows Media Player
The Assassins' Gate author George Packer reviews new books on Iraq. Getty Images
Morning Edition, October 24, 2006 · A slew of recently released books examine U.S. policy and military strategy behind the Iraq war. Steve Inskeep discusses them with George Packer, author of 2005's highly acclaimed The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq.
The books are Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor; Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran; The Prince of the Marshes and Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq by Rory Stewart; Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas Ricks; and State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III by Bob Woodward.
Read Packer's take on these titles:
'Cobra II, the Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq' by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor
The central theme of Cobra II is how the civilians in the Pentagon really brought the uniform military under their control in a way that ignored and discouraged expert military advice. It's also the story of military failure -- the failure of the uniformed military to stand up to the civilians and give them their best advice and, if necessary, resign in the face of what some of them thought was an unworkable war plan.
Donald Rumsfeld so intimidated everyone around him, chewed out four-star generals in public, humiliated his civilians aides, told [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice that she wasn't in the chain of command. By the time we went to war with Iraq, there was a cowed, compliant defense establishment that, whatever its innermost misgivings, was ready to go [into] battle with him simply because he had broken their will to object or to criticize. In Fiasco, it becomes a more crucial theme after the invasion.
* Read an Excerpt (Requires Adobe Acrobat)
'Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq' by Thomas Ricks
The focus of Fiasco is on the occupation, and there what we see is the total failure of Rumsfeld to come up with a strategy to fight the insurgency, mainly because he simply didn't want to acknowledge that it existed. And, in the absence of a strategy, his generals used tactics that were so counterproductive, like ringing villages in barbed wire and massive sweeps of young Iraqi males that within a few months, if there was not going to be an insurgency, we had pretty much created one.
* Read an Excerpt
'State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III' by Bob Woodward
>From the point of view of Washington, State of Denial confirms what previous books have already suggested. In fact, one thing you can say about all of these books is that there is a coherent narrative in place. And that narrative is that the war plan and the postwar policy and the failures to understand what we were getting into originated because we had an incurious president who did not take an interest in the details. We had a weak national security adviser and we had two powerful poles -- the vice president and the secretary of defense -- who, over and over again, went around what's called the interagency process and got their own ideas made into policy, in some ways without the knowledge of others in the administration, like Secretary of State Colin Powell.
* Read an Excerpt
'Imperial Life in the Emerald City' Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran;
Imperial Life in the Emerald City
Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book on the Green Zone shows how those ideological and political battles that were fought in Washington played out in Baghdad. And it reads sort of as a farce because what one sees is utterly unqualified people -- people either too young, inexperienced or chosen simply because they were cronies or ideological soul mates of someone in the administration -- were put in jobs, for example, to oversee the health system of Iraq and made decisions based more on what they know of the health system of Michigan. So there you see... the confusion and disconnection of Washington having very real and long-term consequences on the ground after the fall of Baghdad.
* Read an Excerpt
'The Prince of the Marshes' and Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq by Rory Stewart
What you realize as you read his book is that all the mistakes the Americans made, all these mistakes in a sense might not have mattered because what Rory Stewart [who was a top British foreign service official in southern Iraq] gets at is something also inherent in the situation, which is an occupying power that's ignorant, that's out of place, that is more and more unwanted, and an Iraqi society that's so damaged by Saddam Hussein and so driven by tribalism and by a very conservative brand of Islam that these two may never meet.
In a sense, it leaves you with more despair than the scathing accounts from Washington and Baghdad, because it leaves you thinking: Is nation building possible? Is it a good idea to try? Should we really be bringing new ideas, or should we simply try to work with what's already there, namely tribalism and deep religious faith?
I don't know that we'll ever know whether this could have been a success, partly because so much was rigged from the outset by the follies of the administration that, in a way, we never gave the Rory Stewarts and his Iraqi counterparts a chance to make it succeed.
* Read an Excerpt
More with George Packer
* Nov. 10, 2005
'Assassins' Gate': Bush and America's Iraq Disaster
* Oct. 17, 2006
A Question-and-Answer Session on the Iraq War
* March 18, 2006
Reflections on Three Years of War in Iraq
* Nov. 30, 2005
Analysis of Bush's Iraq Strategy
More with Gordon, Trainor
* March 14, 2006
Inside the Invasion of Iraq
More with Thomas Ricks
* Aug. 24, 2006
U.S. Strategy and Tactics Fail to Mesh in Iraq
* Aug. 7, 2006
'Fiasco': The Turning Point in the Iraq War
* July 25, 2006
Book Decries 'Fiasco' in Iraq
* Aug. 7, 2006
Thomas Ricks on the Middle East Conflict
More with Woodward
* Oct. 2, 2006
Woodward's Tone Changes in New Bush Chronicle
* Oct. 4, 2006
Woodward Elaborates on Bush's 'State of Denial'
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Ex-generals: Global warming threatens U.S. security
CNN International (via Gen. Wesley Clark's MySpace message)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Global warming poses a "serious threat to America's national security" and the U.S. likely will be dragged into fights over water and other shortages, top retired military leaders warn in a new report.
The report says that in the next 30 to 40 years there will be wars over water, increased hunger instability from worsening disease and rising sea levels and global warming-induced refugees. "The chaos that results can be an incubator of civil strife, genocide and the growth of terrorism," the 35-page report predicts.
"Climate change exacerbates already unstable situations," former U.S. Army chief of staff Gordon Sullivan told Associated Press Radio. "Everybody needs to start paying attention to what's going on. I don't think this is a particularly hard sell in the Pentagon. ... We're paying attention to what those security implications are."
Gen. Anthony "Tony" Zinni, President Bush's former Middle East envoy, says in the report: "It's not hard to make the connection between climate change and instability, or climate change and terrorism."
The report was issued by the Alexandria, Virginia-based, national security think-tank The CNA Corporation and was written by six retired admirals and five retired generals. They warn of a future of rampant disease, water shortages and flooding that will make already dicey areas -- such as the Middle East, Asia and Africa -- even worse.
"Weakened and failing governments, with an already thin margin for survival, foster the conditions for internal conflicts, extremism and movement toward increased authoritarianism and radical ideologies," the report says. "The U.S. will be drawn more frequently into these situations."
Joining calls already made by scientists and environmental activists, the retired U.S. military leaders call on the U.S. government to make major cuts in emissions of gases that cause global warming.
The Bush administration has declined mandatory emission cuts in favor of voluntary methods. Other nations have committed to required reductions that kick in within a few years.
"We will pay for this one way or another," writes Zinni, former commander of U.S. Central Command. "We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we'll have to take an economic hit of some kind. Or we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives. There will be a human toll."
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29th, 2007
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Kevin Zeese 301-996-6582
Liam Madden 703-408-3626
*Marines Cut and Run – Drop Charges Against Vet Who Claimed Iraq Was Illegal “Marines Cower at a Real Debate on Whether War Crimes are Being Committed in Iraq”*
Washington, DC: Liam Madden, the Iraq War veteran who claimed the military attack on Iraq was “an illegal war of aggression under Nuremberg principles” and that “war crimes were being committed in Iraq,” received word today that the Marines have dropped the charges against him rather than provide a forum for these issues to be debated. The Marines had claimed his comments were “disloyal” and threatened to reduce his discharge from honorable to less than honorable.
“I planned to argue that my comments were accurate and therefore not disloyal. In fact, it is the duty of veterans and active duty members of the military to stand up and tell their leaders when war crimes are being committed,” said Madden. “Now that the military has chickened out and dropped these charges I hope others will join me in speaking out against this illegal war.”
The Marines offered to drop the charges against Madden if he agreed to not where his uniform at demonstrations. Liam responded that he would agree to that only if the Marines agreed that his comments about the war being illegal were not disloyal because they were accurate. His response to the Marines is below.
“The dropping of charges in my case should be a signal to all vets that they can speak out. The Marine Corps fear of holding a disciplinary hearing is an admission that my comments were accurate. If the Marines had moved forward to discipline me I would have brought forward leading legal scholars, military law experts and historians to demonstrate conclusively that the United States is now engaged in an illegal war of aggression under international law and therefore all acts being taken are war crimes,” said Madden.
Madden is currently on tour with fellow vets going to military bases to reach out to active duty troops and urge them to get involved in efforts to end the war. “The reception we are receiving is remarkable. There is no doubt that more and more troops are coming to the conclusion that this war is wrong and are ready to speak out. Indeed, under international law all acts taken in an illegal war of aggression are considered war crimes,” noted Madden.
Madden can be reached while he is on the road for interviews. His number is 703-408-3626.
*# # #*
Liam Madden's response to the Marine Corps
June 25, 2007
Lt Col Blessing,
This letter is in response to the offer the Marine Corps Mobilization Command relayed to me via my military appointed attorney. I am prepared to accept the settlement proposed in which the Marine Corps agrees not to continue with the discharge proceeding regarding my alleged disloyal statements and protest activity. I understand that this is contingent on my oral promise not to engage in further political protest while wearing articles of my Marine uniform.
I will make such an oral agreement and stand by my good word if the Marine Corps is prepared to meet the following condition.
I will orally agree to not wear my military uniforms while engaged in any political protest, hell, I'll have it carved into stone if you'd like, upon receiving a signed, written statement on official USMC letterhead acknowledging that my statements in question were neither disloyal nor inaccurate. If the Marine Corps issues this statement, apologizing for erroneously (or possibly vindictively) accusing me of disloyalty to my country, I will not share it with another living soul.
I believe that the statements I make and the protest I engage in is necessary. If it's not true that the war in Iraq is illegal, then I believe it would be indeed disloyal to declare such a position. However, the fact of the matter is that the United States is violating the sovereignty of another nation without the approval of the UN Security Council or a legitimate claim to self defense. Sir, is honesty disloyalty?
Additionally, if it isn't true, I would hope the US Government would prove to the skeptical world that the war is legal instead, of trying to stifle political opposition. I am sure we can agree that protesting against an illegal war, premised on lies and baseless assertions cannot be considered disloyal.
If the Marine Corps decides to not accept this condition, then I cannot agree to stop wearing my uniform at protests and we must continue to exhaust my legal alternatives. Which at present, include my right to an administrative board and may ultimately result in a case in federal appeals court.
I assure you, as a fellow patriot, my actions are taken in the best interest of the American people and the people of the world. Therefore, if the Marines decide to stop pursuing this case, I will accept that measure as your implied tolerance and support of protesting against war crimes while wearing military uniforms.
Thank you for considering my counter offer and I hope we can come to agreement on the matter. I understand men in your position have their careers to think about, as I'm positive many German Colonels did in 1939.
Semper Fidelis, Liam Madden
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Although numbers rising, only 5 percent of lawbreakers reprimanded
The Associated Press
Updated: 5:00 p.m. PT June 28, 2007
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - There is no crack team of bounty hunters, no elite military unit whose job is to track them down and bring them in.
Despite a rise in desertions from the Army as the Iraq war drags on into a fifth year, the U.S. military does almost nothing to find those who flee and rarely prosecutes those it gets its hands on.
An Associated Press examination of Pentagon figures shows that 174 troops were court-martialed by the Army last year for desertion — a figure that amounts to just 5 percent of the 3,301 soldiers who deserted in fiscal year 2006. The figures are about 1 percent or less for the Navy and the Marines, according to data obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act.
Some deserters are simply allowed to return to their units, while the majority are discharged in non-criminal proceedings on less-than-honorable terms.
Pentagon officials say that while the all-volunteer military is stretched thin by the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of deserters represents an extremely small percentage of the armed forces, and it would be a poor use of time to go after them, particularly when there is a war on.
As a result, the Pentagon does little more than enter deserters' names into an FBI national criminal database.
'Looking over his shoulder'
In most cases, as long as a deserter stays out of trouble — as long as, say, police don't pull him over for speeding and run his name through the computer — he is in little danger of getting caught.
“A deserter either returns voluntarily or he spends the rest of his life looking over his shoulder wondering when he'll be discovered,” said Maj. Anne Edgecombe, an Army spokeswoman.
She added: “Rather than dedicate seasoned noncommissioned officers to the task of tracking down a deserter, commanders choose to spend time and resources to ensure their soldiers are properly trained and prepared to perform the missions they will be tasked with in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Sgt. Ricky Clousing of the Army's storied 82nd Airborne Division found that out after he slipped away from Fort Bragg in the middle of the night in 2005 rather than return to Iraq.
Having left a note in his barracks announcing his intentions, he was sure police would be waiting for him with handcuffs by the time he reached his home in Washington state. But no one was there.
A year later, when he tried to turn himself in near Seattle to make an anti-war statement, he was not hustled off to the stockade in leg irons. He was given a bus ticket and told to report to Fort Bragg on his own.
“I thought I would be more of a priority,” said Clousing, a 24-year-old paratrooper and military intelligence interrogator with combat experience.
Clousing ultimately pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of being absent without leave. He was given a bad-conduct discharge and sentenced to three months in prison.
Rise in desertions
The Army is by far the biggest branch of the military, with a half-million active-duty members, and accounts for the vast majority of U.S. troops in Iraq. The number of Army deserters plummeted after the 2001 terrorist attacks and the start of the Iraq war in 2003, perhaps in a burst of patriotism, and bottomed out in fiscal year 2004.
But desertions crept back up as the fighting dragged on and the death toll climbed. Since fiscal year 2004, desertions are up by more than a third.
A total of 4,399 soldiers deserted the Army in fiscal year 2001; 3,971 in 2002; 2,610 in 2003; 2,450 in 2004; 2,659 in 2005; and 3,301 in 2006.
Desertions from the Navy have declined steadily since 2001, and are down 36 percent over the past three calendar years, falling to 1,296 in 2006. Desertions from the Marines and the Air Force bounced up and down after 2001 and stood at 834 and 42, respectively, in fiscal year 2006.
Exactly how many deserters are caught is unclear, largely because each branch of the military keeps statistics in different ways and does not give breakdowns of how many people who deserted in a given year are ultimately caught.
Many deserters decide to turn themselves in and face the consequences. Others are eventually caught, but usually after they expose themselves in some way — they get arrested for a civilian offense, or apply for a passport or a job that requires a background check, military officials say.
Under the military criminal code, the maximum penalty for desertion during a declared war is death. But such a sentence has been carried out just once since the Civil War, when Pvt. Eddie Slovik went before a firing squad during World War II. The next-highest punishment is five years in prison.
'Equivalent of a firing'
The number of Army soldiers prosecuted for desertion tripled in the year after Sept. 11. But it has essentially held steady since 2002. The Navy prosecuted 17 deserters in 2006, the Marine Corps just four. There were 10 prosecutions for desertion in the Air Force during fiscal year 2006.
The decision of whether to prosecute is up to the soldier's unit commander.
Deserters who are discharged on less-than-honorable terms through an administrative, or non-criminal, proceeding lose the medical and educational benefits and other privileges available to veterans.
“I sort of look at the administrative discharge process as the equivalent of a firing ... leaving with a bad reference,” said David Miner, a former Army attorney now in private practice, with Clousing among his clients.
The number of Army deserters in 2006 amounted to less than 1 percent of the active-duty force. That compares with 3.4 percent at the height of the Vietnam War in 1971.
“We had a larger problem in Vietnam because we had the draft,” said Scott Silliman, a law professor and director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University, who added he knows of no units that chased down deserters back then, either. “Here the individual is not going to go into the military unless they had some inclination to do so in the first place.”
'Dropped from the rolls'
In the Army, officials said deserters are typically junior enlisted soldiers in their teens or early 20s, with less than three years of service. Most often, they cite financial or personal problems as a reason for leaving, officials say.
Army and Marine officials say there is no evidence that repeated deployments to Iraq are leading to more desertions. The Army's Edgecombe said that more than 60 percent of deserters over the past 18 months have had less than a year of service, so they haven't been deployed at all.
In recent years, the military has lowered its standards to fill its ranks, letting in more recruits with criminal records or low aptitude scores. But officials said that does not appear to be a factor in the rising desertion rate either.
In fact, Edgecombe said, recruits who got into trouble before they enlisted tend to shape up under the influence of the military's code of honor and discipline.
Those who leave without permission are considered AWOL for 30 days, after which they are “dropped from the rolls” and branded deserters.
That is when the paychecks are supposed to stop, but a congressional audit found that more than 7,500 deserters and soldiers who were absent from duty improperly received $6.6 million in pay between October 2000 and February 2002.
Once a soldier is dropped from the rolls, employees at a small Army office at Fort Knox in Kentucky enter the deserter's information into the FBI database.
'Years and years'
When someone is arrested for a civilian offense and the computer flags him as a deserter, local authorities typically hold him and contact the military, which might send someone to bring him in, or ask him to come in on his own.
The military does actively chase down deserters who committed crimes before abandoning their posts. Military officials do not have jurisdiction off-base to arrest a deserter, and so the federal Marshals Service works with the military in such cases. Spokeswoman Nikki Credic said federal marshals arrested 68 deserters from all services in fiscal year 2006.
“People have been hiding for years and years. If you want to hide out, you can,” said Maj. Jay Delarosa, a Marine Corps spokesman. But he added that in the information age, it is less likely that a deserter can hide forever.
“There's other ways people reveal themselves besides being caught with a broken tail light,” Delarosa said.
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("...Goldsmith is now a Harvard Law School professor, but in 2003-2004 he was head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel - a kind of mini Supreme Court...")
COMMENTARY by Mark Jensen:
Jack Goldsmith argues that a 'global convergence on terror' is emerging (FT) -- In a comment published Tuesday in the *Financial Times* (UK), Jack Goldsmith observed that "Europeans are acknowledging possible merits in U.S. counter-terrorism positions," even as "the Bush administration has acknowledged the inadequacy of its early post-September 11, 2001, position that terrorist detainees had few enforceable legal rights." -- To Goldsmith, this indicates a "global convergence on terror." -- "How far this convergence goes will depend on many unknowns," Goldsmith argued, "including the location and scope of the next terror attack. But it is wrong to think of the gap as unbridgeable. Quietly, almost unnoticed, the blueprint for the bridge is coming into focus. For the sake of transatlantic collective security, our politicians should recognize this fact and succor it. Exaggerating these differences for political reasons will only undermine the joint fight." -- Goldsmith is now a Harvard Law School professor, but in 2003-2004 he was head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, "a kind of mini Supreme Court" whose "carefully worded opinions are regarded as binding precedent." -- In its Feb. 6, 2006, issue, almost a year and a half before former Assistant Attorney General James Comey's now famous May 2007 testimony before a Senate Committee, *Newsweek* reported that in 2003-2004 Goldsmith had been "the central figure in a secret but intense rebellion of a small coterie of Bush administration lawyers. Their insurrection, described to NEWSWEEK by current and former administration officials who did not wish to be identified discussing confidential deliberations, is one of the most significant and intriguing untold stories of the war on terror." --According to this account, Jack Goldsmith was the hero who dared to stand up to the infamous éminence grise of the Office of the Vice President, David S. Addington. -- Goldsmith's name will become much better known before the scandals of the Bush administration are fully sorted out.
Comment & analysis
GLOBAL CONVERGENCE ON TERROR
By Jack Goldsmith
Financial Times (UK)
July 31, 2007
A senior government official, discussing the possibility of using targeted killings, combatant detentions, and aggressive computer surveillance to fight terrorism, recently said: "The old categories no longer apply. The fight against international terrorism cannot be mastered by the classic methods of the police . . . We have to clarify whether our constitutional state is sufficient for confronting the new threats."
Bold, controversial stuff -- the sort of comments that human rights groups have come to expect from Dick Cheney, the U.S. vice president, and Alberto Gonzales, attorney general. Except that the speaker was neither man. He was not even American. He was the German interior minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, speaking recently to *Der Spiegel*.
Mr. Schäuble's ideas have a long way to go before being adopted. But the very fact that a European leader can float them is remarkable. For six years, Europeans have criticized America's "military" approach to the detention and trial of terrorists as inconsistent with Western rule-of-law traditions and international law, and Americans have derided Europe's stuck-in-the-past "law enforcement" approach as inadequate to thwart Islamist terrorism. Mr. Schäuble's comments are one of a growing string of implicit acknowledgments by both sides about the possible virtues in the other's positions.
European governments, for example, have begun to recognize that the traditional criminal process of trial and punishment will not suffice for dealing with Islamist terrorists. Mr. Schäuble raised the possibility of treating them "as combatants" and interning them. Last week Gordon Brown's Labor government proposed doubling the time from 28 to 56 days for detaining suspected terrorists without charge, a period that had been doubled from 14 days just last year. Spain and France already permit up to four years of pre-trial detention for terror suspects.
The shift reflects the recognition that terrorist plots take more time to investigate. The evidence is often thin or uncertain, not necessarily because there is no plot, but because the plot must be thwarted early before the evidence fully develops for fear of letting it come too close to fruition. Terror investigations also typically involve evidence trails in other countries that require the co-operation of other governments. Beyond this, sometimes the government simply lacks enough evidence to convict a terrorist even though clear evidence shows that the terrorist is a danger to society. The rationale for detention -- prevention of possible future harm to society -- is the same as traditional non-criminal detentions for the mentally incompetent and people with infectious diseases.
Detentions are not the only area where Europeans are acknowledging possible merits in U.S. counter-terrorism positions. They also believe more and more that the Geneva conventions system designed for interstate warfare between professional state militaries is inadequate for 21st century warfare against lethal non-state military forces that structure their operations to flout the laws of war. This year the U.K.'s foreign affairs committee of the House of Commons urged the government to recognize that the Geneva conventions "lack clarity and are out of date," and to "update the conventions in a way that deals more satisfactorily with asymmetric warfare, with international terrorism, with the status of irregular combatants, and with the treatment of detainees".
The special rapporteur on Guantánamo for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe made a similar recommendation last year.
The U.S. is moving in the other direction. For a while the Bush administration has acknowledged the inadequacy of its early post-September 11, 2001, position that terrorist detainees had few enforceable legal rights. While the U.S. still maintains the power to detain enemy combatants under a war powers rubric, it has ramped up the procedures for determining who is an enemy combatant and made these determinations subject to judicial review by civilian courts. And there is a growing consensus across party lines for even more elaborate procedures before an alleged terrorist can be detained without trial.
The U.S. has also established a separate process for determining when detainees are no longer dangerous and can thus be let go -- a process that has resulted in the release or transfer of hundreds of detainees from Guantánamo. And after the Supreme Court invalidated the Bush administration's initial effort at military commissions, the U.S. Congress created one that provides nearly all traditional civilian court protections, including judicial review in the Supreme Court. These detention and trial institutions provide alleged terrorists with rights far beyond anything contemplated by the Geneva conventions.
These developments reflect a recognition on both sides of the Atlantic that the pre-9/11 trade-off between liberty and security must be adjusted to reflect the novel dangers posed by terrorism. They also reflect the belief that this adjustment must be embedded in durable institutions that uphold Western conceptions of justice. How far this convergence goes will depend on many unknowns, including the location and scope of the next terror attack. But it is wrong to think of the gap as unbridgeable. Quietly, almost unnoticed, the blueprint for the bridge is coming into focus. For the sake of transatlantic collective security, our politicians should recognize this fact and succor it. Exaggerating these differences for political reasons will only undermine the joint fight.
--The writer teaches law at Harvard University and is a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law.
A *Newsweek* investigation
By Daniel Klaidman, Stuart Taylor Jr. and Evan Thomas
** They were loyal conservatives, and Bush appointees. They fought a quiet battle to rein in the president's power in the war on terror. And they paid a price for it. **
February 6, 2006
James Comey, a lanky, 6-foot-8 former prosecutor who looks a little like Jimmy Stewart, resigned as deputy attorney general in the summer of 2005. The press and public hardly noticed. Comey's farewell speech, delivered in the Great Hall of the Justice Department, contained all the predictable, if heartfelt, appreciations. But mixed in among the platitudes was an unusual passage. Comey thanked "people who came to my office, or my home, or called my cell phone late at night, to quietly tell me when I was about to make a mistake; they were the people committed to getting it right -- and to doing the right thing -- whatever the price. These people," said Comey, "know who they are. Some of them did pay a price for their commitment to right, but they wouldn't have it any other way."
One of those people -- a former assistant attorney general named Jack Goldsmith -- was absent from the festivities and did not, for many months, hear Comey's grateful praise. In the summer of 2004, Goldsmith, 43, had left his post in George W. Bush's Washington to become a professor at Harvard Law School. Stocky, rumpled, genial, though possessing an enormous intellect, Goldsmith is known for his lack of pretense; he rarely talks about his time in government. In liberal Cambridge, Mass., he was at first snubbed in the community and mocked as an atrocity-abetting war criminal by his more knee-jerk colleagues. ICY WELCOME FOR NEW LAW PROF, headlined the *Harvard Crimson*.
They had no idea. Goldsmith was actually the opposite of what his detractors imagined. For nine months, from October 2003 to June 2004, he had been the central figure in a secret but intense rebellion of a small coterie of Bush administration lawyers. Their insurrection, described to NEWSWEEK by current and former administration officials who did not wish to be identified discussing confidential deliberations, is one of the most significant and intriguing untold stories of the war on terror.
These Justice Department lawyers, backed by their intrepid boss Comey, had stood up to the hard-liners, centered in the office of the vice president, who wanted to give the president virtually unlimited powers in the war on terror. Demanding that the White House stop using what they saw as farfetched rationales for riding rough-shod over the law and the Constitution, Goldsmith and the others fought to bring government spying and interrogation methods within the law. They did so at their peril; ostracized, some were denied promotions, while others left for more comfortable climes in private law firms and academia. Some went so far as to line up private lawyers in 2004, anticipating that the president's eavesdropping program would draw scrutiny from Congress, if not prosecutors. These government attorneys did not always succeed, but their efforts went a long way toward vindicating the principle of a nation of laws and not men.
The rebels were not whistle-blowers in the traditional sense. They did not want -- indeed avoided -- publicity. (Goldsmith confirmed public facts about himself but otherwise declined to comment. Comey also declined to comment.) They were not downtrodden career civil servants. Rather, they were conservative political appointees who had been friends and close colleagues of some of the true believers they were fighting against. They did not see the struggle in terms of black and white but in shades of gray -- as painfully close calls with unavoidable pitfalls. They worried deeply about whether their principles might put Americans at home and abroad at risk. Their story has been obscured behind legalisms and the veil of secrecy over the White House. But it is a quietly dramatic profile in courage. (For its part the White House denies any internal strife. "The proposition of internal division in our fight against terrorism isn't based in fact," says Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney. "This administration is united in its commitment to protect Americans, defeat terrorism, and grow democracy.")
The chief opponent of the rebels, though by no means the only one, was an equally obscure, but immensely powerful, lawyer-bureaucrat. Intense, workaholic (even by insane White House standards), David Addington, formerly counsel, now chief of staff to the vice president, is a righteous, ascetic public servant. According to those who know him, he does not care about fame, riches, or the trappings of power. He takes the Metro to work, rather than use his White House parking pass, and refuses to even have his picture taken by the press. His habitual lunch is a bowl of gazpacho, eaten in the White House Mess. He is hardly anonymous inside the government, however. Presidential appointees quail before his volcanic temper, backed by assiduous preparation and acid sarcasm.
Addington, 49, has worked as an adviser to Dick Cheney off and on since Cheney was a member and Addington a staffer on the House Intelligence Committee in the mid-'80s. When Cheney became secretary of Defense in the Bush 41 administration, Addington served at the Pentagon as general counsel. When Cheney became vice president to Bush 43, he brought Addington into the White House as his lawyer. Counsel to the vice president is, in most administrations, worth less than the proverbial bucket of warm spit, but under Prime Minister Cheney, it became a vital power center, especially after 9/11.
Like his boss, Addington has long believed that the executive branch was pitifully weakened by the backlash from Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. Fearful of investigative reporters and congressional subpoenas, soldiers and spies had become timid -- "risk averse" in bureaucratic jargon. To Addington and Cheney, the 9/11 attacks -- and the threat of more and worse to come -- were perfect justification for unleashing the CIA and other long-blunted weapons in the national-security arsenal. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who disdains lawyers, was ready to go. So, too, was CIA Director George Tenet -- but only if his spooks had legal cover, so they wouldn't be left holding the bag if things went wrong.
Addington and a small band of like-minded lawyers set about providing that cover -- a legal argument that the power of the president in time of war was virtually untrammeled. One of Addington's first jobs had been to draft a presidential order establishing military commissions to try unlawful combatants -- terrorists caught on the global battlefield. The normal "interagency process" -- getting agreement from lawyers at Defense, State, the intelligence agencies and so forth -- proved glacial, as usual. So Addington, working with fellow conservative Deputy White House Counsel Timothy Flanigan, came up with a solution: cut virtually everyone else out. Addington is a purist, not a cynic; he does not believe he is in any way ignoring or twisting the law. It is also important to note that Addington was not sailing off on some personal crusade; he had the full backing of the president and vice president, who shared his views. But, steeped in bureaucratic experience and clear in his purpose, Addington was a ferocious infighter for his cause. (Addington declined to comment. But McBride, the vice president's spokeswoman, said, "David Addington has a long, distinguished record of public service. He's committed to the president's agenda.")
Inexperienced in national-security law, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales was steered by more-expert lawyers like Addington and Flanigan. Others, like John Bellinger, the National Security Council's top lawyer, were simply not told what was going on. Addington and the hard-liners had particular disregard for Bellinger, who was considered a softie -- mocked by Addington because he had lunch once a month or so with a pillar of the liberal-leaning legal establishment, the late Lloyd Cutler. When Addington and Flanigan produced a document -- signed by Bush -- that gave the president near-total authority over the prosecution of suspected terrorists, Bellinger burst into Gonzales's office, clearly upset, according to a source familiar with the episode. But it was too late.
[More on this episode was recently revealed by the *Washington Post* in a series of articles on Vice President Dick Cheney, the first of which (http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/6380/) dealt with the maneuvering to get the president to approve an order authorizing military commissions without other high officials being consulted. --Mark Jensen]
Addington was just getting started. Minimizing dissent by going behind the backs of bureaucratic rivals was how he played the game. A potentially formidable obstacle, however, was the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. The OLC is the most important government office you've never heard of. Among its bosses -- before they went on the Supreme Court -- were William Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia. Within the executive branch, including the Pentagon and CIA, the OLC acts as a kind of mini Supreme Court. Its carefully worded opinions are regarded as binding precedent -- final say on what the president and all his agencies can and cannot legally do.
Addington found an ally in an OLC lawyer whose name -- John Yoo -- would later become synonymous with the notion that power is for the president to use as he sees fit in a time of war. Shortly after 9/11, Yoo wrote, in a formal OLC opinion, that Congress may not "place any limits on the President's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response."
The brainy, pleasant, and supremely self-confident Yoo became Addington's main man at Justice, a prolific author of legal opinions granting the president maximum power during wartime. In the winter of 2002, the CIA began catching top Qaeda terrorists -- so-called High Value Targets --like Abu Zubaydah. These hard-case jihadists proved resistant to normal methods of interrogation. In the fevered atmosphere of the time, the Bush administration feared a "second wave" attack from Qaeda sleeper cells still inside the United States. The CIA wanted legal permission to use "coercive methods."
An August 2002 OLC memo, signed by the then head of the OLC -- Jay Bybee -- but drafted by Yoo, gave the agency what it needed. The controversial document, which became famous as the "torture memo" when it leaked two years later, defined torture so narrowly that, short of maiming or killing a prisoner, interrogators had a free hand. What's more, the memo claimed license for the president to order methods that would be torture by anyone's definition -- and to do it wholesale, and not just in specific cases.
A very similar Yoo memo in March 2003 was even more expansive, authorizing military interrogators questioning terror suspects to ignore many criminal statutes -- as well as the strict interrogation rules traditionally used by the military. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld put some limits on interrogation techniques, and they were intended to be used only on true terror suspects. Perhaps inevitably, however, "coercive interrogation methods" spread from Guantanamo Bay, which housed terror suspects, into prisons like Abu Ghraib, where detainees could be almost anyone. (Poor leadership in the chain of command and on the ground was partly to blame, as well as loose or fuzzy legal rules.) The result: those grotesque images of Iraqis being humiliated by poorly trained and sadistic American prison guards, not to mention prisoners who have been brutalized and in some cases killed by interrogators in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
[This account, which is far from adequate and ignores the historical background described in Alfred W. McCoy's *A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror* (Metropolitan Books, 2006), which describes the CIA's secret fifty-year effort to develop new forms of torture, is a fine example of what Noam Chomsky calls the "Doctrine of Good Intentions," according to which "[o]ccasionally U.S. policy is marred by the proverbial 'bad apples' and 'tragic mistakes,' but basically the record of our goodness continues unimpeded" (*Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World* (Metropolitan Books, 2005), p. 115). --Mark Jensen]
In the summer of 2003, Yoo, who stands by his body of work, left the Justice Department and returned to teaching law. His departure came in the midst of a critical power struggle. Addington and Gonzales had both wanted to make Yoo head of the OLC when Bybee went off to take a federal judgeship in March 2003, but Attorney General John Ashcroft balked. Ashcroft's reasons were apparently bureaucratic. (He declined to speak for this story.) According to colleagues, he resented Yoo's going behind his back to give the White House a private pipeline into the OLC. Yoo denied circumventing Ashcroft. "OLC kept the attorney general or his staff fully informed of all of its work in the war on terrorism," he said.
Jack Goldsmith, a law professor who was working in the general counsel's office at the Pentagon, was the eventual compromise choice to head the OLC. Goldsmith seemed like a natural fit. He was brilliant, a graduate of Oxford and Yale Law School, and he was conservative. Like Yoo, he was tagged a "New Sovereigntist" for his scholarly argument that international laws including prohibitions on human-rights abuses should not be treated as binding law by the U.S. courts.
But somehow, in the vetting of Goldsmith, one of his important views was overlooked. Goldsmith is no executive-power absolutist. What's more, his friends say, he did not intend to be a patsy for Addington and the hard-liners around Cheney. Goldsmith was not the first administration lawyer to push back against Addington & Co. At the CIA, general counsel Scott Muller had caused a stir by ruling that CIA agents could not join with the military in the interrogation of Iraqi prisoners. But Goldsmith became a rallying point for Justice Department lawyers who had legal qualms about the administration's stance.
Goldsmith soon served notice of his independence. Shortly after taking over the OLC in October 2003, he took the position that the so-called Fourth Geneva Convention -- which bars the use of physical or moral coercion on prisoners held in a militarily occupied country -- applied to all Iraqis, even if they were suspected of belonging to Al Qaeda.
Addington soon suffered pangs of buyer's remorse over Goldsmith. There was no way to simply ignore the new head of the OLC. Over time, Addington's heartburn grew much worse. In December, Goldsmith informed the Defense Department that Yoo's March 2003 torture memo was "under review" and could no longer be relied upon. It is almost unheard-of for an administration to overturn its own OLC opinions. Addington was beside himself. Later, in frequent face-to-face confrontations, he attacked Goldsmith for changing the rules in the middle of the game and putting brave men at risk, according to three former government officials, who declined to speak on the record given the sensitivity of the subject.
Addington's problems with Goldsmith were just beginning. In the jittery aftermath of 9/11, the Bush administration had pushed the top-secret National Security Agency to do a better and more expansive job of electronically eavesdropping on Al Qaeda's global communications. Under existing law -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, adopted in 1978 as a post-Watergate reform -- the NSA needed (in the opinion of most legal experts) to get a warrant to eavesdrop on communications coming into or going out of the United States. Reasoning that there was no time to obtain warrants from a secret court set up under FISA (a sometimes cumbersome process), the Bush administration justified going around the law by invoking a post-9/11 congressional resolution authorizing use of force against global terror. The eavesdropping program was very closely held, with cryptic briefings for only a few congressional leaders. Once again, Addington and his allies made sure that possible dissenters were cut out of the loop.
There was one catch: the secret program had to be reapproved by the attorney general every 45 days. It was Goldsmith's job to advise the A.G. on the legality of the program. In March 2004, John Ashcroft was in the hospital with a serious pancreatic condition. At Justice, Comey, Ashcroft's No. 2, was acting as attorney general. The grandson of an Irish cop and a former U.S. attorney from Manhattan, Comey, 45, is a straight arrow. (It was Comey who appointed his friend -- the equally straitlaced and dogged Patrick Fitzgerald -- to be the special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame leak-investigation case.) Goldsmith raised with Comey serious questions about the secret eavesdropping program, according to two sources familiar with the episode. He was joined by a former OLC lawyer, Patrick Philbin, who had become national-security aide to the deputy attorney general. Comey backed them up. The White House was told: no reauthorization.
The angry reaction bubbled up all the way to the Oval Office. President Bush, with his penchant for put-down nicknames, had begun referring to Comey as "Cuomey" or "Cuomo," apparently after former New York governor Mario Cuomo, who was notorious for his Hamlet-like indecision over whether to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in the 1980s. A high-level delegation -- White House Counsel Gonzales and chief of staff Andy Card --visited Ashcroft in the hospital to appeal Comey's refusal. In pain and on medication, Ashcroft stood by his No. 2.
A compromise was finally worked out. The NSA was not compelled to go to the secret FISA court to get warrants, but Justice imposed tougher legal standards before permitting eavesdropping on communications into the United States. It was a victory for the Justice lawyers, and it drove Addington to new levels of vexation with Goldsmith.
Addington is a hard man to cross. Flanigan, his former White House colleague, described his M.O.: "David could go from zero to 150 very quickly. I'm not sure how much is temper and how much is for effect. At a meeting with government bureaucrats he might start out very calm. Then he would start with the sarcasm. He could say, 'We could do that, but that would give away all of the president's power.' All of a sudden here comes David Addington out of his chair. I'd think to myself we're not just dancing a minuet, there's a little slam dancing going on here." But Addington "usually had the facts, the law, and the precedents on his side," says Flanigan. He had another huge advantage. He never needed to invoke Cheney's name, but everyone knew that he spoke for the vice president.
Addington was particularly biting with Goldsmith. During a long struggle over the legality of the August 2002 torture memo, Addington confronted Goldsmith, according to two sources who had heard accounts of the conversation: "Now that you've withdrawn legal opinions that the president of the United States has been relying on, I need you to go through all of OLC's opinions [relating to the war on terror] and let me know which ones you still stand by," Addington said.
Addington was taking a clever dig at Goldsmith -- in effect, accusing him of undermining the entire edifice of OLC opinions. But he was not making a rhetorical point. Addington began keeping track of opinions in which he believed Goldsmith was getting wobbly -- carrying a list inside his suit pocket.
Goldsmith was not unmoved by Addington's arguments, say his friends and colleagues. He told colleagues he openly worried that he might be putting soldiers and CIA officers in legal jeopardy. He did not want to weaken America's defenses against another terrorist attack. But he also wanted to uphold the law. Goldsmith, known for putting in long hours, went to new extremes as he reviewed the OLC opinions. Colleagues received e-mails from him at all hours of the night. His family -- his wife, 3-year-old son and newborn baby boy -- saw him less and less often. Sometimes he would take his older boy down to the Justice Department's Command Center on Saturdays, just to be near him.
By June 2004, the crisis came to a head when the torture memo leaked to the *Washington Post*. Goldsmith was worn out but still resolute. He told Ashcroft that he was formally withdrawing the August 2002 torture memo. With some prodding from Comey, Ashcroft again backed his DOJ lawyers -- though he was not happy to engage in another battle with the White House. Comey, with Goldsmith and Philbin at his side, held a not-for-attribution background briefing to announce that the Justice Department was disavowing the August 2002 torture memo. At the same time, White House officials held their own press conference, in part to counter what they saw as Comey's grandstanding. A fierce behind-the-scenes bureaucratic fight dragged on until December, when the OLC issued a new memo that was hardly to the taste of human-rights activists but contained a much more defensible (and broader) definition of torture and was far less expansive about the power of the president to authorize coercive interrogation methods. The author of the revised memo, senior Justice Department lawyer Daniel Levin, fought pitched battles with the White House over its timing and contents; yet again, Comey's intervention was crucial in helping Levin and his allies carry the day.
By then, Goldsmith was gone from Justice. He and his wife (who is a poet) and two children had moved to Cambridge, where Goldsmith had taken a job on the Harvard Law faculty. Other dissenting lawyers had also moved on. Philbin, who had been the in-house favorite to become deputy solicitor general, saw his chances of securing any administration job derailed when Addington, who had come to see him as a turncoat on national-security issues, moved to block him from promotion, with Cheney's blessing; Philbin, who declined to comment, was planning a move into the private sector. Levin, whose battles with the White House took their toll on his political future as well, left for private practice. (Levin declined to comment.) Comey was working for a defense contractor.
But the national security/civil liberties pendulum was swinging. Bellinger, who had become legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, began pushing, along with lawyers in the Pentagon, to roll back unduly harsh interrogation and detention policies. After the electronic eavesdropping program leaked in the *New York Times* in December 2005, Sen. Arlen Specter announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee would hold hearings that will start next week. The federal courts have increasingly begun resisting absolutist assertions of executive authority in the war on terror. After Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, pleaded not guilty to perjury charges in the Plame leak case, Addington took Libby's place. He is still a force to be reckoned with in the councils of power. And he still has the ear of the president and vice president; last week Bush was out vigorously defending warrantless eavesdropping. But, thanks to a few quietly determined lawyers, a healthy debate has at last begun.
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How do we leave Iraq?
by Wes Clark
Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 07:52:31 AM PDT
It was great to meet many of you at YearlyKos this past weekend. Many thanks to Gina, Nolan, and all the volunteers for putting together a great conference.
I wanted to continue the discussion we began after my remarks Friday morning. (You can watch highlights here or the entire speech here [securingamerica.com].) As I said on Friday, we need to reshape the international institutions that provide the framework for the global economy and addressing the problems of mankind that are too big for any one nation to handle -- poverty, health, disease, global warming, the prevention of war, the protection of human rights. We need to rebuild American so we can compete more effectively in this global economy - healthcare, education, infrastructure, the environment, new technology, a better business environment, new relations with labor.
We can't do these things until we find a way out of Iraq.
* Wes Clark's diary :: ::
But we have to get out the right way, because unlike Vietnam, when we leave Iraq, we'll still be left with significant interests in the region. We'll still have concerns about Iranian nuclear potential, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, our friends in the Arab Gulf, and yes, the security of the world's principal supply of oil. These interests won't go away simply by pulling U.S. troops out.
Over the next few weeks, there will much discussion over the September report on Iraq, and General Dave Petraeus will be at the center of the debate. I admire Dave Petraeus. He's doing his best to make the surge work. That's his duty, and I think you can see by the results that where you put American troops, they do their duty, and of course, they make a difference. Unfortunately, it's transitory, and at what cost?
We need to stop arguing over the troops or their tactics but raise the debate to the administration's strategies and policies in this region. Here's why. We can't succeed in Iraq with more troops, no matter how good they are, because we can't succeed in this war just by killing people or intimidating the opposition.
Dave Petraeus would be the first one to tell you that. The military is part of the solution. It's not the answer. The answer is the politics. We have to work it at the diplomatic level and that means we've got to stop isolating people we disagree with and start engaging those people.
The administration doesn't want to talk about this. They want to talk about troops. They want to say they support our troops, and if we question the numbers of troops or their effectiveness, they want to say we don't support our troops. That we're not patriotic, and if we're not patriotic, then we don't have a voice.
When we argue about troops, what we're doing is we're playing on George Bush's home court. We're not going to change the policy by arguing about the troop strength. We've done it. We're on record. We want the troops home, but we must raise the dialogue. Take it away from George Bush's safe ground of troops and people in uniform and "How dare you question these Generals and these people in uniform that are so patriotic," and say, "No, we're not questioning the Generals. Mr. President, we are questioning you."
The only person who can make a difference is the person who controls the overall strategy in the region. We must make the debate about George Bush and his failure of leadership.
I need your help. I need you to hammer on the theme of the strategy and the policies. Stop isolating people we disagree with. Start engaging. We need real American leadership instead of simply leading by sending men and women in uniform into combat.
Please join me to continue this discussion in the comments below. I look forward to your comments and questions.
Update [2007-8-8 12:33:7 by Wes Clark]: 11:30 am CT: I have to get on a phone call. We had some technical glitches that prevented me from getting to as many questions and comments as I would like. I hope to be back soon. -Wes
Update [2007-8-8 13:30:7 by Wes Clark]: I think there was some confusion from my update above. I won't be able to get back online today. Thank you for joining in the discussion. -Wes
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[for html, see email: "FLASH: The V.F.W. is coming out (now get this:) as *PRO*-war! (the media NOW calls this NEWS). more..."]
Flash, as in, "Wowie, is this ever News!":
The V.F.W. is coming out (now get this:) as *PRO*-war!
uhmm... whadya mean, you're not surprised since the VFW (Veterans for Foreign Wars) is the most well known, not to mention oldest, non-military pro-military pro-war organization in the United States?
Well, hey, how about this big news for the media: "Ford is Selling Cars!"
Your eyebrows probably raised then, but how come Ford is not getting the (Free Advertising) big news interview - when the V.F.W. *IS* getting coverage about what is NO NEWS ? (See further below for "Other news about V.F.W that might well be called news")
And all this is going on in the face of the ever-increasing number of military personnel coming out against this war, including brass (in the Pentagon as well as retired), as well as the ever-increasing number of Iraq War veterans, of military desertions (compared to during any previous war), of members in organizations such as the Appeal for Redress signers *in* the military, the Service Academy Graduates Against the War, not to mention the Veterans for Peace. Now THAT list is actually a sound (read resounding) basis for a most glaring irony The glaring irony that this war continues in spite of so much resistance by those who have traditionally been the mainstay of pro-military, pro-war support. THAT should be the NEWS. That should be obvious as news for the media to report - on a continuing basis.
***For a summary and collection of news articles for back-up on this, see the "Brass Resistance" web page.
Ok, so WHY is the VFW getting the news coverage. KUOW (public radio, Seattle) just announced the big interview coming up tomorrow. I know these VFW guys are old and some of them a little slow, but this is four years after the Iraq War began!
EG: Think TIMING:
This is a Rove-type media strategy (but hey, the Bushies just stopped taking Rove's advice, right? Yeah, right.)
So, is it the Hezzbulah uprising? Siria now in the cross-hairs? Is it another revival of the case for attacking Iran?
Whatever it is, Something is up, me thinks - we best be paying attention.
Thanks for your thoughts,
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VFP92, "Seattle12" of SNOW, vUSPA Web-Admin
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* http://www.chalicebridge.com/PoliticalRef1.html Organized Summary of it ALL in Annotated Ref/Links!
* http://www.chalicebridge.com/WorldHlgPrayrOnSacredGeo.htm (and more)
* PolyPsy List Archives at http://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/polypsysp/
== Other news about V.F.W that might well be called news: ==
VFW sides with Iraq war veteran protesters | KXNet.com North ...
The nation's largest combat veterans' group is standing up for a group of Iraq war veterans who wore their uniforms during anti-war protests.
Jacksonville.com: Metro: Anti-Iraq war veterans pulled from parade ...
Welcome to the Florida Times-Union Online News Service.
VFW To Marine Corps: "Exercise A Little Common Sense," Drop Probe ...
No Iraq Vets join local VFW as membership continues to decline ...
"We didn't get the Gulf War veterans," said Calef, acknowledging that Iraq war veterans have yet to come to the post for membership either and the VFW does
Iraq war debated in ''Alamo City'': VFW''s national convention ...
Goliath Industry and Business News includes thousands of articles from journals, newspapers, newswires, and magazines, covering a wide range of industries ...
t r u t h o u t - Thousands Protest Bush, Iraq War in Salt Lake City
"They have the right to protest," said Bruno Dyszczakowski, a VFW conventioneer from Wisconsin ... No Proof Found of Iran Arms Program, Iraq: The Unseen War ...
VFW members speak out on Iraq war - Now hear this: brief news ...
VFW members speak out on Iraq war - Now hear this: brief news items of interest to veterans and their families - Veterans of Foreign Wars - Brief Article ...
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A retired Four Star General, Wes Clark is the most highly decorated officer to serve in the United States Army since Dwight Eisenhower. He is a Rhodes scholar in Economics, Philosophy and Politics and graduated first in his class at West Point. As Supreme Allied Commander for NATO, he led Operation Allied Force, which saved 1.5 million Albanians from ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
General Clark currently serves as a financial adviser to, and on the board of directors for, many companies in the United States and around the world, and is a policy analyst for MSNBC.
General Clark ran for President in 2004 to remove and replace President George W. Bush from office.
General Clark's new book, *A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country* will hit bookstores around the country on Sept 4. 2007
Message at his My Space .Com (09/01/07)
All Americans want to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and interfering on the ground inside Iraq.
Yet, President Bush's continued saber rattling gives the US little additional leverage to engage and dissuade Iran, and, more than likely, simply accelerates a dangerous slide into war. The United States can do better than this.
Whatever the pace of Iran's nuclear efforts, in the give and take of the Administration's rhetoric and accusations, we are approaching the last moments to head off looming conflict. Surely, it is past time to urge President Bush to exercise leadership and start to work now to avoid a widening of the conflict in the Middle East.
That's why we joined Jon Soltz, Chairman of VoteVets.org, the preeminent organization representing Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, to launch StopIranWar.com.
Visit StopIranWar.com today and sign the petition to President Bush. War is not the answer.
StopIranWar.com is a one-stop resource for all Americans to help stop the looming conflict with Iran. With the latest news on Iran and online tools to contact President Bush, lobby your members of Congress, and write letters to the editor to local and national print media, StopIranWar.com will help us create the groundswell of support needed to stop another dangerous war in the Middle East.
Americans and their elected officials in Congress must work together to demand that President Bush stop the rush to war with Iran. The United States must use every option available to defuse tensions with Iran -- diplomatic, political, and economic -- before even considering military force. Military force must be viewed as the last resort -- not the first option.
Cannot the world's most powerful nation deign speak to the resentful and scheming regional power that is Iran? Can we not speak of the interests of others, work to establish a sustained dialogue, and seek to benefit the people of Iran and the region? Could not such a dialogue, properly conducted, begin a process that could, over time, help realign hardened attitudes and polarizing views within the region? And isn't it easier to undertake such a dialogue now, before more die, and more martyrs are created to feed extremist passions?
Visit StopIranWar.com today and sign the petition to President Bush. War is not the answer.
War with Iran is not the answer. We must work with our allies, talk with Iran, and use all diplomatic, political, and economic options at our disposal. Military force against Iran is not the solution now, and if we adopt the right strategy, perhaps it need never be.
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Council for a Livable World http://www.clw.org/
Andrews, Johns, and Gard in New Hampshire
Former Rep. Tom Andrews, Brig. Gen. John Johns (USA, ret.), and Lt. Gen. Robert Gard (USA, ret.)
After the damage wrought by the Bush administration over the past six and a half years, the time has finally come to think about what the world will look like on January 20, 2009 ? the day we swear in a new President of the United States of America.
That is why last week, Council for a Livable World and other activist organizations sent Lieutenant General Robert G. Gard, Jr. (USA, ret.) and Brigadier General John Johns (USA, ret.) to New Hampshire to advocate responsible exit strategies from Iraq.
Watch the Generals' appearance on Political Chowder, a political talk show set to run on C-Span's "Road to the White House," by clicking here and skipping to minute 6:50 on the video.
Help us continue to spread the anti-war message to key states in the 2008 presidential election. Please consider a contribution of $25, $50, or $100 to Council for a Livable World to help us keep sending the Generals to critical battleground states. http://www.clw.org/r/3129/28443/
The Generals spoke at packed town hall meetings in Manchester and Keene, met with editorial boards of local newspapers, and were interviewed on several radio and television shows.
You can also listen to a podcast recording of General John Johns's appearance on WSMN radio's Woody Woodland Show by clicking here.
The trip resulted in newspaper articles in many of the major regional newspapers, including the Concord Monitor, Foster's Daily Democrat, Nashua Telegraph, Knox County Times, and Boston Globe. The message presented by the Generals, both of whom are affiliated with the Council for a Livable World and its sister organization, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, could not have been stronger.
"These troops are not expendable commodities to fulfill the pipe-dream vision of a group of people trying to remake the world in our image," General Gard said. "It's time for us to get the hell out of there."
We couldn't agree more with General Gard, a decorated combat veteran with 31 years of military service. But we need your help to spread our message of post-George W. Bush renewal to the key primary and caucus states of New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina.
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