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The Fascist Moses September 10, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in History.
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Roger’s note: A stroll down Memory Lane for those of us who lived through and survived the 60s, 70s, etc.

By David Glenn Cox

(about the author)
www.opednews.com, September 10, 2011

Let’s kick Richard Nixon, its great fun; we all did it at parties back in the 1970s. But that was the previous generation and this generation has missed out on the fun, like Woodstock. Unbeknownst to this current generation there would have been hundreds of fistfights and stabbings at Woodstock had it not been for three little words, “f**k Richard Nixon!”

All one had to do was simply step between the adversaries and say, “Come on now, guys, hey, look. f**k Richard Nixon!” Instantly the opponents would separate and begin to smile and agree, “Yeah, you’re right, man. f**k Richard Nixon!” The potential warriors would depart as buddies and would exchange bong hits until their eyeballs melted in their sockets and they would forget all about their conflicts.

That was in the twilight’s last gleaming of American democracy, when a President could still be removed from office for malfeasance. Let me rephrase that, Richard Nixon could be removed from office for malfeasance; it’s doubtful whether anyone else could be. I know all about George W. Bush and Bush was a drunken, coke-snorting, mean-spirited, frat boy. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the truest definition of a sociopath, but Nixon was just plain crazy.

Nixon had paranoid delusions that people were out to get him and so he responded with bile, tirades, enemy lists and dirty tricks. Because of his paranoid delusions he alienated everyone around him until even members of his own party would walk all the way across the street just to piss on Richard Nixon. Eventually these self-fulfilling, paranoid delusions gave to Richard Nixon a kind of an Eeyore quality.

Nixon’s most trusted advisor was Henry Kissinger and Nixon only trusted him while he was in the room. Kissinger’s first government job was as a translator for the head of the CIA, Allen Dulles. Kissinger was his protege and it was Dulles who helped to plan the Bay of Pigs invasion and Dulles who told Kennedy that he needed to launch an unprovoked, full-scale military attack on Cuba. Kennedy fired Dulles and his Deputy Director Charles Cabell, whose brother Earl Cabell changed the presidential motorcade route in Dallas.

Nice folks. It was Dulles who proposed a plan to fake an aircraft hijacking and to blame it on Cuba. This is where this cast of unknowns began their rise into the halls of corporate fascism. George Bush, E. Howard Hunt, Porter Goss were all operatives under Dulles, and after Dulles was fired their futures were in question. But when Richard Nixon chose Henry Kissinger as Secretary of State their meal tickets became safe and secure. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, CIA operative General Richard Secord was moving heroin on military aircraft in Vietnam and depositing the profits in banks in Australia. Then Secord began to sell pilfered US military hardware to friend and foe alike, and when this was discovered Secord was promoted!

Nixon ran for the presidency with the promise of a secret plan to end the Vietnam War. His secret plan, as it turned out, was this: get Richard Nixon elected President and then fight the North Vietnamese until they give up. Nixon authorized the secret bombings of neutral countries, as well as illegal invasions. Cambodia’s President Norodom Sihanouk was playing both sides so the CIA had him overthrown. Sihanouk had signed a secret pact with China in 1965 but was playing footsie with the CIA, so when the CIA disposed of him, China said, “Good riddance!”

Kennedy wouldn’t expand the Vietnam War, and well, he had an accident. So when Richard Nixon ended the Vietnam War without a victory he, well, he had an accident, too. After invading and bombing civilian areas in neutral countries and bombing civilian and humanitarian targets in North Vietnam, Nixon was removed from office because of a bungled burglary and financial campaign irregularities, and Americans with a straight face say the Catholic Church is in denial!

With Spiro Agnew’s departure due to racketeering conviction two chief executives of the country are removed from office within ten months and no one suspects anything is amiss. No one suspects levers behind the throne but Gerald Ford is elected President by one vote, Richard Nixon’s vote. Ford’s lone claim to fame was to pardon Richard Nixon to end the long national nightmare of Watergate. Nightmare is a good synonym for the coup d’etat that happened while America slept. Two attempts were made on Ford’s life in little more than two years and who was the director of the CIA then? Anyone? Why, it was good old George H. W. Bush.

The first Witch says, “When shall we three meet again, In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”

The second Witch, “When the hurlyburly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won.”

The third Witch says, “That will be ere the set of sun.”

The first Witch, “Where the place?”

The second Witch, “Upon the heath.”

The third Witch, “There to meet with Macbeth.”

All, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.”

Gerald Ford was lampooned in the press as a buffoon and even though he was a buffoon he never shot his friend in the face on a drunken hunting excursion or played golf with a Supreme Court Judge who might have to hear cases involving his administration. So either you’re in or you’re out. James Earl Carter was elected with on strong anti-Washington sentiment and Washington responded with a strong Anti-Carter sentiment. For four years Carter and his staff complained of phone calls not being returned and policies not being carried out. Riots and demonstrations were happening in Tehran; did anyone think of reducing the embassy staff or closing the embassy? That’s the job the CIA is supposed to do, and when the Iranians took Americans hostage, who took the fall?

When the military rescue mission failed, who took the fall?

The hostages were released twenty minutes after the swearing in of Ronald Reagan, but the story goes that no deals were struck. Sure, I believe. Somehow the Reagan camp came into possession of Carter’s national security briefings and even Carter’s debate notes. Richard Allen was Reagan’s foreign policy chief during the campaign and he said that he was told to report to Theodore Shackley. Shackley had been fired from the CIA by the Carter administration and it was Theodore Shackley who was the station chief in Miami during the Bay of Pigs invasion and the senior agent was E. Howard Hunt.

So who did the Carter administration suspect had been leaking the classified documents? Two national security officials named Donald Gregg and Robert Gates. That’s somewhat illuminating considering Gates was the lone holdover from the Bush administration. Shackley reported to Bush Senior on the campaign and Gregg reported directly to Shackley.

So Reagan gets elected and hell comes to breakfast: tax cuts for the rich, education cuts for the poor. The giveaways of national resources to coal and timber interests. Drug smuggling in South America, the looting of the savings and loans. For the CIA it was glory days until something went horribly wrong just sixty-nine days into Reagan’s first term. Another of America’s oh so famous lone nuts with a gun shot Reagan as he walked out the front door of the hotel where he was speaking.

I’ll repeat that, the President of the United States walked out the front door of the hotel. Does that sound like good security policy to you? Reagan and aide James Brady were hit with bullets and the hospital was immediately notified, but Reagan’s limo showed up at the hospital almost fifteen minutes after Brady’s and no stretcher was waiting. The excuse given was that the driver, a highly-trained ten year veteran of the Washington Secret Service, got lost in his own hometown. If you had told me that he got lost in Omaha, maybe I’d believe it. If you pulled a stunt like that in Stalin’s Russia, you and your family would be chopping wood in Siberia for generations to come.

During his short tenure as Secretary of State, Al Haig had complained that someone within the administration had been trying to undermine him in the eyes of the President. After hearing that the President had been shot it was Haig’s staff who notified Vice President Bush who was away giving a speech in Fort Worth. It was Haig who convened the cabinet for a status report and began an investigation into the shooter or shooters and then made his famous “I am in charge” statement, which meant that he was in charge of the White House until Bush returned. He later said that Bush had agreed to this over the phone.

When Bush returned to the White House he cancelled the investigation into the shooter or shooters and Haig was then vilified in the press. Al Haig had been hired by Henry Kissinger to serve in the Nixon administration in 1969. Secretary of state George Schultz was also a Nixon/Kissinger protege as were Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Bremer. Nixon begat Reagan, Reagan begat Bush, Bush begat son of Bush.

In the first one hundred and seventy-four years of American history there were three assassination attempts on chief executives and candidates, with only two being successful. Since 1963 there have been six assassinations or attempts: John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Gerald Ford (twice), George Wallace and Ronald Reagan. Interestingly when Wallace ran in 1968 he ran as a Democrat and was seen as taking votes away from Democrats. When he ran again in 1972 he ran as an independent and was expected to take votes from Republicans and was shot by yet another lone nut with a gun.

In one hundred and seventy-four years only one chief executive was ever impeached. Since 1968 one President was impeached, one President stepped down to keep from being impeached and one Vice President resigned upon conviction for racketeering.

It is tied and twisted like a Gordian Knot; the fiascos and failures of a generation of political leadership can all be tied to the tail of one delusional paranoid, but the names and numbers speak for themselves. It is impossible to say that it all happened because of Richard Nixon, but Nixon hired Kissinger and in doing so made himself the Fascist Moses.

We have wandered in the political desert for forty years and we cannot seem to find our way home. Maybe defense secretary Robert Gates knows the way; He was a Kissinger protege. Maybe Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner knows; he worked for Kissinger, too. Maybe CIA Director Panetta knows. He, too, worked in the Nixon administration. Funny, isn’t it? Defense, Treasury and CIA.

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and the Old Fool Said to Push On November 13, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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(Roger’s Note: Pete Seeger’s singing “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” in 1967 was akin to an Old Testament Prophet’s indictment on the US bloodbath in Southeast Asia.  The “Old Fool” was Lyndon Johnson, and the Big Muddy was Vietnam. The song is as relevant today as it was then, only the names have changed.  The Old Fool is Barack Obama, and the Big Muddy is Afghanistan.

Plus ça change you can believe in.

What is different between Vietnam and Afghanistan, I believe, is that President Johnson was calling the shots during his presidency whereas President Obama seems to be completely in the hands of the generals.

I have little doubt that the promise to begin reductions in 2011 will be reneged.  Interestingly, Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is doing the same kind of “rethinking” about limits set for his country’s military commitment in Afghanistan.)

Report: Obama to Renege on Afghan Drawdown

Wednesday 10 November 2010

by: Robert Naiman, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis

photo
(Photo: Pete Souza / whitehouse.gov)

Remember what Vice President Biden told Jonathan Alter in “The Promise”?

At the conclusion of an interview in his West Wing office, Biden was adamant. “In July of 2011 you’re going to see a whole lot of people moving out. Bet on it,” Biden said as he wheeled to leave the room, late for lunch with the president. He turned at the door and said once more, “Bet. On. It.”

Let’s hope for Alter’s sake he didn’t put any serious money down on Biden’s wager. Because that “Promise” is starting to look pretty shaky.

McClatchy reports:

The Obama administration has decided to begin publicly walking away from what it once touted as key deadlines in the war in Afghanistan in an effort to de-emphasize President Barack Obama’s pledge that he’d begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011, administration and military officials have told McClatchy.

Why is this happening, according to McClatchy? Several reasons are cited:

“U.S. officials realized that conditions in Afghanistan were unlikely to allow a speedy withdrawal.”

“During our assessments, we looked at if we continue to move forward at this pace, how long before we can fully transition to the Afghans? And we found that we cannot fully transition to the Afghans by July 2011,” said one senior administration official.

On the face of it, this statement does not make sense. First of all, according to previous, repeated statements of US officials, including President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates, the date was not supposed to be conditions-based. The pace of the drawdown was supposed to be conditions based. So, if the McClatchy story is true, this is a big reversal of an Obama promise.

Second, the longstanding publicly stated policy that the Obama administration is, according to McClatchy, about to publicly walk away from, did not include a promise of a “speedy withdrawal.” So, what these US officials are really telling McClatchy is not “we realized that conditions don’t permit a speedy withdrawal,” since these officials were never intending to carry out a “speedy withdrawal,” but that according to them, conditions do not permit any meaningful withdrawal at all that starts in July 2011.

Third, it was never US policy to “fully transition to the Afghans” by July 2011; no human being on planet Earth, that I am aware of, ever stated or believed that that was going to happen. July 2011 was supposed to mark the beginning of the transition. So, this statement is like saying, “During our assessments, we realized that it is sometimes cold in parts of Alaska.” Instead, what these officials are saying is: according to our assessments, we won’t be able to transition to Afghan control by next summer to a sufficient degree to withdraw enough troops to plausibly call it a meaningful withdrawal.

What can we conclude from this?

First, the “surge” was a military failure. This should be openly acknowledged by everyone. Every US general and laptop bombardier pundit should have to write it on the blackboard 100 times: “The surge was a military failure.”

But more importantly, the political policy in which the surge was embedded was a political failure. By coupling his capitulation to the military on the surge with his insistence on a date to begin troop withdrawals, we were told, Obama had politically outfoxed the military. Regardless of whether the surge succeeded or failed militarily, the troops would begin to come home anyway, and the military had signed off on that. If the McClatchy report is true, this was all hot air and rationalization. The surge failed militarily, and the conclusion being drawn is that the troops have to stay.

A second reason is cited:

Pakistanis had concluded wrongly that July 2011 would mark the beginning of the end of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan.

That perception, one Pentagon adviser said, has convinced Pakistan’s military – which is key to preventing Taliban sympathizers from infiltrating Afghanistan – to continue to press for a political settlement instead of military action.

This is striking. Indeed, the Obama administration’s announcement that US troops would begin withdrawing next summer has been widely credited with pushing forward efforts to achieve a political settlement. What is striking about this is that the Pentagon is explicitly saying that from the Pentagon’s point of view, a political settlement must be prevented and, therefore, the timetable to begin withdrawal is bad because it was pushing forward prospects for a political settlement.

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It’s not shocking that Pentagon officials think this; it’s shocking that they say it openly. It imitates Robert Mankoff ‘s recent New Yorker cartoon in which a general says:

“Well, I’m an optimist – I still think peace can be avoided.”

A third reason is cited:

Last week’s midterm elections also have eased pressure on the Obama administration to begin an early withdrawal. Earlier this year, some Democrats in Congress pressed to cut off funding for Afghanistan operations. With Republicans in control of the House of Representatives beginning in January, however, there’ll be less push for a drawdown. The incoming House Armed Services chairman, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., told Reuters last week that he opposed setting the date.

It is beyond dispute that Republican control of the House is a big setback for pressure to withdraw troops. But several things should be noted.

First, Representative McKeon did indeed tell Reuters that he opposed setting the date. But he also told Reuters that he saw the date as a done deal and wouldn’t press to change it:

Reuters: But the actual deadline itself, you’re not going to press for that to be changed?

McKeon: No. I think that’s installed.

So, using Representative McKeon’s statement to Reuters as an excuse to throw away the drawdown date is pretty weak.

Second, while leadership of the House and House committees is obviously a very big deal, the actual composition of the House with respect to opinions on the war in Afghanistan hasn’t changed all that much. As I noted last week, 12 Democratic incumbents defeated last week were supporters of the McGovern Amendment which would have required the president to establish a timetable for military withdrawal from Afghanistan. 39 Democratic incumbents defeated last week voted against the McGovern Amendment. The overwhelming majority of the 153 Democrats in the House who wanted a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan are still in the House or were replaced by Democrats, joined by a new group of Republicans, some of whom – it’s not clear yet how many – may be skeptics on the war.

Third, Democrats still control the Senate, and Armed Services Chair Senator Levin has been a strong supporter of the July 2011 date, which he has said is needed to put pressure on the Afghan government. Sen.-Elect Rand Paul recently stated that the Senate and the House need to debate the Afghanistan war, and that the arguments and authorization of force from ten years ago cannot justify US policy today. He has also said that military spending has to be on the table for cuts, and that the wars have to be part of that discussion.

Finally, there is a wild card. If you were going to draw up a list of five things that President Obama could do that would be likely to draw a primary challenge in 2012, throwing the Afghanistan drawdown in the trash would surely be on that list. From the point of view of the White House political people, that’s a real political threat, even if they see Obama’s renomination as a done deal: they don’t want to see some Eugene McCarthy candidate take a third of the Democratic primary vote in New Hampshire or Iowa.

So, publicly walking away from the July 2011 drawdown is a “very big deal,” and the White House political people should be screaming.

UPDATE: McClatchy has updated its original story, to include the following paragraph:

The White House vehemently denies that there is any change in policy. “The president has been crystal clear that we will begin drawing down troops in July of 2011. There is absolutely no change to that policy,” said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman.

It’s very good that the White House has vigorously responded to this story. It’s very bad that “unnamed Administration officials” are allowed to publicly attack the president’s “crystal clear” policy. If these “senior Administration officials” misrepresented the president, why can’t the White House put a stop to “senior Administration officials” publicly attacking the resident’s “crystal clear” policy?

Pure Kafka May 30, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Torture.
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By Glenn Greenwald, www.salon.com, May 29, 2010 

    The first paragraph of today’s New York Times article by Charlie Savage:

    The 48 Guantánamo Bay detainees whom the Obama administration has decided to keep holding without trial include several for whom there is no evidence of involvement in any specific terrorist plot, according to a report disclosed Friday.

     

    The Report itself, in a matter-of-fact-tone, describes the individuals to be kept in a cage indefinitely without charges this way:

    They can’t even be prosecuted in the due-process-abridging military commissions we invented out of whole cloth for those who can’t be convicted in a real court.  In other words:  of course we’ll provide a fair tribunal for proving your guilt — as long as we’re certain we can convict you — otherwise, we’ll just imprison you indefinitely without charges.  All this even though 72% of Guantanamo detainees have been found to be wrongfully held since the Supreme Court compelled habeas hearings in 2008.  And then there are the numerous Yemeni prisoners who have been cleared for release but who will be kept in a cage anyway because we arbitrarily decreed that we’re not going to release even innocent prisoners back to Yemen

    Here’s one other passage from Savage’s article worth noting:

    Of that group, the 48 whom the administration has designated for continued indefinite detention without trial have attracted the greatest controversy, in part because many Democrats sharply criticized that policy when the Bush administration created it after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

     

    Yes, I also vaguely recall the days when Democrats criticized the policy of imprisoning people indefinitely without charges.  Harper‘s Scott Horton has more on all of this:

    The Obama Administration came to Washington promising to clean up the Bush-era detentions policy and make it conform to the clear requirements of law. Then it seems to have decided that the law wasn’t so convenient and that simply providing for unbridled executive authority à la Bush-Cheney wasn’t such a bad idea after all.  In terms of Washington power politics, that decision seems to have taken the form of letting Robert Gates make the call on all these issues. The two figures in the Administration who took the most credible stance for implementing the Obama campaign-era promises on detentions policy — Greg Craig and Phil Carter — resigned within a few weeks of one another, offering no believable reasons for departing. Then press reports began to appear about secret prisons, operated by JSOC and DIA and applying rules different from those applied in the “normal” DOD prisons, including plenty of torture-lite techniques under Appendix M of the Army Field Manual (PDF).

    This passage in the National Security Strategy makes clear that Barack Obama and his team have abandoned the promises they made to reform detentions policy in the 2008 campaign. Even the commitment to stop torture does not appear to have been fully implemented, given the unaccountable practices of JSOC and the DIA in Afghanistan. Barack Obama’s belief in the rule of law apparently takes the back seat to Barack Obama’s belief in his own ability to make the right call as executive. History will judge whether his confidence in his own abilities is warranted, but the distortion of the constitutional system presents a continuing challenge for those who believe in the older and more fundamental principle of accountability under the law.

     

    Yes — being as sentimental as I am — I, too, harbor nostalgia for that “older principle of accountability under the law”:  you know, that idealized time when everyone was entitled to be charged with crimes before being imprisoned forever (rather than only those for whom prosecution was “feasible”) and when Presidents weren’t actually allowed to target American citizens for murder without at least some due process being granted.  Anyway, did Sarah Palin post something to her Facebook page today?  And isn’t that Glenn Beck crazy?

     

    Look Out, Obama Seems to Be Planning for a Lot More War May 10, 2010

    Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, War.
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    Jack Smith, Asia Times, May 8, 2010

    Judging by the Barack Obama administration’s reports, pronouncements and actions
     in recent months point to even greater war-making across the planet.

    May 8, 2010  |  
     

    There’s more war in America’s future – a great deal more, judging by the Barack Obama administration’s reports, pronouncements and actions in recent months.

    These documents and deeds include the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Ballistic Missile Defense Report, the nuclear security summit in New York and the May 3-28 United Nations nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, as well as the continuing wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the 2011 Pentagon war budget request.

    The United States government presides as a military colossus of unrivalled dimension, but the QDR, which was published in February, suggests Washington views America as being constantly under the threat of attack from a multitude of fearsome forces bent on its destruction. As such, trillions more dollars must be invested in present and future wars – ostensibly to make safe the besieged homeland.

    The NPR says the long-range US goal is a “nuclear-free” world, but despite token reductions in its arsenal of such weapons, the Pentagon is strengthening its nuclear force and bolstering it with a devastating “conventional deterrent” intended to strike any target in the world within one hour. In addition this document, published in April, retains “hair-trigger” nuclear launch readiness, refuses to declare its nuclear force is for deterrence only (suggesting offensive use) and for the first time authorizes a nuclear attack, if necessary, on a non-nuclear state (Iran).

    Meanwhile, Obama is vigorously expanding the George W Bush administration’s wars, and enhancing and deploying America’s unparalleled military power.

    The Obama administration’s one positive achievement in terms of militarism and war was the April 9 signing in Prague of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia that reduces deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads each. It was a step forward, but all agree it was extremely modest, and it does not even faintly diminish the danger of nuclear war.

    The QDR is a 128-page Defense Department report mandated by congress to be compiled every four years to put forward a 20-year projection of US military planning. A 20-member civilian panel, selected by the Pentagon and congress, analyzes the document and suggests changes in order to provide an “independent” perspective. Eleven of the members, including the panel’s co-chairmen – former defense secretary William Perry and former national security adviser Stephen Hadley – are employed by the defense industry.

    Although the Pentagon is working on preparations for a possible World War III and beyond, the new report is largely focused on the relatively near future and only generalizes about the longer term. Of the QDR’s many priorities three stand out.

    The first priority is to “prevail in today’s wars” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and wherever else Washington’s post-9/11 military intrusions penetrate in coming years. Introducing the report February 1, Bush-Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued this significant statement: “Success in wars to come will depend on success in these wars in progress.” The “wars to come” were not identified. Further, the QDR states that military victory in Iraq and Afghanistanis “is only the first step toward achieving our strategic objectives”.

    Second, while in the past the US concentrated on the ability to fight two big wars simultaneously, the QDR suggests that’s not enough. Now, the Obama administration posits the “need for a robust force capable of protecting US interests against a multiplicity of threats, including two capable nation-state aggressors.”

    Now it’s two-plus wars – the plus being the obligation to “conduct large-scale counter-insurgency, stability and counter-terrorism operations in a wide range of environments”, mainly in small, poor countries like Afghanistan. Other “plus” targets include “non-state actors” such as al-Qaeda, “failed states” such as Somali, and medium-size but well-defended states that do not bend the knee to Uncle Sam, such as Iran or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and some day perhaps Venezuela.
     Third, it’s fairly obvious from the QDR, though not acknowledged, that the Obama government believes China and Russia are the two possible “nation-state aggressors” against which Washington must prepare to “defend” itself. Neither Beijing nor Moscow has taken any action to justify the Pentagon’s assumption that they will ever be suicidal enough to attack the far more powerful United States.

    After all, the US, with 4.54% of the world’s population, invests more on war and war preparations than the rest of the world combined. Obama’s 2010 Pentagon budget is US$680 billion, but the real total is double that when all Washington’s national security expenditures in other departmental budgets are also included, such as the cost of nuclear weapons, the 16 intelligence agencies, Homeland Security and interest on war debts, among other programs.

    Annual war-related expenditures are well over $1 trillion. In calling for a discretionary freeze on government programs in January’s state of the union address, Obama specifically exempted Pentagon/national security expenditures from the freeze. Obama is a big war spender. His $708 billion Pentagon allotment for fiscal 2011 (not counting a pending $33 billion Congress will approve for the Afghan “surge”) exceeds Bush’s highest budget of $651 billion for fiscal 2009.

    At present, US military power permeates the entire world. As the QDR notes: “The United States is a global power with global responsibilities. Including operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, approximately 400,000 US military personnel are forward-stationed or rotationally deployed around the world.”

    The Pentagon presides over 1,000 overseas military bases (including those in the war zones), great fleets in every ocean, a globe-spanning air force,  military satellites in space and nuclear missiles on hair trigger alert pre-targeted on “enemy” or potential “enemy” cities and military facilities. A reading of the QDR shows none of this will change except for upgrading, enlarging (the Pentagon just added six new bases in Colombia) and adding new systems such as Prompt Global Strike, an important new offensive weapon system, which we shall discuss below.

    The phrase “full spectrum military dominance” – an expression concocted by the neo-conservatives in the 1990s that was adopted by the Bush administration to define its aggressive military strategy – was cleverly not included in the 2010 QDR, but retaining and augmenting dominance remains the Pentagon’s prime preoccupation.

    The QDR is peppered with expressions such as “America’s interests and role in the world require armed forces with unmatched capabilities” and calls for “the continued dominance of America’s Armed Forces in large-scale force-on-force warfare”. Gates went further in his February 1 press conference: “The United States needs a broad portfolio of military capabilities, with maximum versatility across the widest possible spectrum of conflicts.” Obama bragged recently that he commanded “the finest military in the history of the world”.

    Evidently, the Pentagon is planning to engage in numerous future wars interrupted by brief periods of peace while preparing for the next war. Given that the only entity expressing an interest in attacking the United States is al-Qaeda – a non-government paramilitary organization of extreme religious fanatics with about a thousand reliable active members around the world – it is obvious that America’s unprecedented military might is actually intended for another purpose.

    In our view that “other purpose” is geopolitical – to strengthen even further the Pentagon’s military machine to assure that the United States retains its position as the dominant global hegemon at a time of acute indebtedness, the severe erosion of its manufacturing base, near gridlock in domestic politics, and the swift rise to global prominence of several other nations and blocs.

    The QDR touches on this with admirable delicacy: “The distribution of global political, economic and military power is shifting and becoming more diffuse. The rise of China, the world’s most populous country, and India, the world’s largest democracy, will continue to reshape the international system. While the United States will remain the most powerful actor, it must increasingly cooperate with key allies and partners to build and sustain peace and security. Whether and how rising powers fully integrate into the global system will be among this century’s defining questions, and are thus central to America’s interests.”

    At the moment, the QDR indicates Washington is worried about foreign “anti-access” strategies that limit its “power projection capabilities” in various parts of the world. What this means is that certain countries such as China and Russia are developing sophisticated new weapons that match those of the US, thus “impeding” the deployment of American forces to wherever the Pentagon desires. For instance:

        China is developing and fielding large numbers of advanced medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles, new attack submarines equipped with advanced weapons, increasingly capable long-range air defense systems, electronic warfare and computer network attack capabilities, advanced fighter aircraft and counter-space systems. China has shared only limited information about the pace, scope and ultimate aims of its military modernization programs, raising a number of legitimate questions regarding its long-term intentions.

    To counter this trend in China and elsewhere, the Pentagon is planning, at a huge and unannounced cost, the following enhancements: “Expand future long-range strike capabilities; Exploit advantages in subsurface operations; Increase the resiliency of US forward posture and base infrastructure; Assure access to space and the use of space assets; Enhance the robustness of key ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) capabilities; Defeat enemy sensors and engagement systems; and Enhance the presence and responsiveness of US forces abroad.”

    In addition, the US not only targets China with nuclear missiles and bombs, it is surrounding the country (and Russia as well, of course) with anti-ballistic missiles. The purpose is plain: In case the US finds it “necessary” to launch ballistic missiles toward China, the ABMs will be able to destroy its limited retaliatory capacity.

    According to an article in the February 22 issue of China Daily, the country’s English-language newspaper: “Washington appears determined to surround China with US-built anti-missile systems, military scholars have observed … Air force colonel Dai Xu, a renowned military strategist, wrote in an article released this month that ‘China is in a crescent-shaped ring of encirclement. The ring begins in Japan, stretches through nations in the South China Sea to India, and ends in Afghanistan’.”

    Compared to the Bush administration’s 2006 QDR, there has been a conscious effort to tone down the anti-China rhetoric in the current document. But it is entirely clear that China is number one in the QDR’s references to “potentially hostile nation states”.

    According to the February 18 Defense News, a publication that serves the military-industrial complex, “Analysts say the QDR attempts to address the threat posed by China without further enraging Beijing. ‘If you look at the list of further enhancements to US forces and capabilities … those are primarily capabilities needed for defeating China, not Iran, North Korea or Hezbollah,’ said Roger Cliff, a China military specialist at Rand. ‘So even though not a lot of time is spent naming China … analysis of the China threat is nonetheless driving a lot of the modernization programs described in the QDR’.”

    Incidentally, according to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, this year’s Chinese defense budget, for a country four times larger than the United States, is $78 billion, compared to the $664 billion for the Pentagon (without all the national security extras harbored in other department budgets). China possesses 100-200 nuclear warheads compared to America’s 9,326 (when both deployed and stored weapons are included). China is contemplating the construction of an aircraft carrier; the US Navy floats 11 of them. China has no military bases abroad.

    In our view, China appears to be constructing weapons for defense, not offense against the US – and its foreign policy is based on refusing to be pushed around by Washington while doing everything possible to avoid a serious confrontation.

    Russia as well is treated better in the new QDR than in 2006, but it is included with China in most cases. Despite Moscow’s huge nuclear deterrent and abundant oil and gas supplies, it’s only “potential enemy” number two in terms of the big powers. Washington feels more threatened by Beijing. This is largely because of China’s size, rapid development, fairly successful state-guided capitalist economy directed by the Communist Party, and the fact that it is on the road to becoming the world’s economic leader, surpassing the US in 20 to 40 years.

    It seems fairly obvious, but hardly mentioned publicly, that this is an extremely dangerous situation. China does not seek to dominate the world, nor will it allow itself to be dominated. Beijing supports the concept of a multipolar world order, with a number of countries and blocs playing roles. At issue, perhaps, is who will be first among equals.

    Washington prefers the situation that has existed these 20 years after the implosion of the Soviet Union and much of the socialist world left the United States as the remaining military superpower and boss of the expanded capitalist bloc. During this time Washington has functioned as the unipolar world hegemon and doesn’t want to relinquish the title.

    This is all changing now as other countries rise, led by China, and the US appears to be in gradual decline. How the transition to multi-polarity is handled over the next couple of decades may determine whether or not a disastrous war will be avoided.

    Jack A Smith is editor of the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter in New York State and the former editor of the Guardian Newsweekly (US). He may be reached at jacdon@earthlink.net

    Operation Enduring Occupation March 18, 2010

    Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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    (Roger’s note: you read it here first: the US government, regardless of what the golden tongued mendacious president tells us, HAS NO INTENTION OF LEAVING IRAQ for the foreseeable future.  In the Orwellian world we inhabit today, where war is peace, where failure is too big to fail, where we don’t escalate but “surge,” and where torture doesn’t hurt that much; we can add that WITHDRAWAL MEANS STAYING.) 

    [‘On March 4, 2010, as a guest on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show,” Thomas Ricks, who was the military correspondent for the Washington Post, referring to President Obama’s promises to withdraw from Iraq, said, “I would say you shouldn’t believe [it] because I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think we’re going to have several thousand, several tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq on the day President Obama leaves office.”‘]

    Thursday 18 March 2010

    by: Dahr Jamail, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

    photo
    (Photo: nukeit1)

    Plain Speak

    The 2008 National Defense Strategy reads:

    US interests include protecting the nation and our allies from attack or coercion, promoting international security to reduce conflict and foster economic growth, and securing the global commons and with them access to world markets and resources. To pursue these interests, the US has developed military capabilities and alliances and coalitions, participated in and supported international security and economic institutions, used diplomacy and soft power to shape the behavior of individual states and the international system, and using force when necessary. These tools help inform the strategic framework with which the United States plans for the future, and help us achieve our ends.

    It adds:

    … Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing or equaling the power of the US. To accomplish this, the US will require bases and stations within and beyond western Europe and Northeast Asia.

    In light of such clear objectives, it is highly unlikely that the US government will allow a truly sovereign Iraq, unfettered by US troops either within its borders or monitoring it from abroad, anytime soon.

    The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the Iraqi and US governments indicate an ongoing US presence past both the August 2010 deadline to remove all combat troops, and the 2011 deadline to remove the remaining troops.

    According to all variations of the SOFA the US uses to provide a legal mandate for it’s nearly 1,000 bases across the planet, technically, no US base in any foreign country is “permanent.” Thus, the US bases in Japan, South Korea and Germany that have existed for decades are not “permanent.” Technically.

    Most analysts agree that the US plans to maintain at least five “enduring” bases in Iraq.

    Noted US writer, linguist and political analyst Noam Chomsky, said, “Bases [abroad] are the empire. They are the point of projection of power and expansion of power.”

    Chalmers Johnson, author and professor emeritus of UC San Diego commented, “In a symbolic sense [bases] are a way of showing that America stands there watching.”

    Longtime defense analyst from George Washington University, Gordon Adams, told The Associated Press that in the broader context of reinforcing US presence in the oil-rich Middle East, bases in Iraq are preferable to aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. “Carriers don’t have the punch. There’s a huge advantage to land-based infrastructure. At the level of strategy it makes total sense to have Iraq bases.”

    According to Professor Zoltan Grossman of The Evergreen State College, who has been researching military bases and participating in the global network against foreign bases for several years, the US has no intention of releasing control of its bases in Iraq. The Pentagon, he believes, has many old tricks to mask a military presence and armed pressure.

    In an interview with Truthout he observed:

    Since the Gulf War, the US has not just been building the bases to wage wars, but has been waging wars to leave behind the bases. The effect has been to create a new US military sphere of influence wedged in the strategic region between the E.U., Russia and China. The Pentagon has not been building these sprawling, permanent bases just to hand them over to client governments.

    Grossman’s prediction for Iraq:

    Look for a Visiting Forces Agreement – of the kind negotiated with the Philippines – that allows supposedly ‘visiting’ US forces unrestricted access to its former bases. Similarly, constant joint military exercises can keep US troops continually visible and intimidating to Iraqis. Even after 2011, nothing in the Iraq Status of Forces Agreement prevents US bombers (stationed in Kuwait and elsewhere) from attacking Iraqi targets whenever they want, just as they did between 1991 and 2003. Nothing prevents the type of missile or Special Forces attacks like we’re seeing in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Nothing prevents CIA or contractors from participating in Iraqi missions or intelligence operations.

    Adding credence to this, we have Article 6 of the US/Iraqi SOFA discussing “agreed facilities,” Article 27 mentions “mutually agreed … military measures” after 2011 and Article 28 talks of a scenario where Iraq is able to “request” US security in the International Zone (Green Zone.)

    Gray Language

    Chapter six of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Report stated:

    In February 2009, President Obama outlined the planned drawdown of US forces in Iraq to 50,000 troops and the change in mission by August 31, 2010. By this time, US forces will have completed the transition from combat and counterinsurgency to a more limited mission set focused on training and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces ($2 billion has already been set aside for this for FY2011); providing force protection for US military and civilian personnel and facilities; and conducting targeted counterterrorism operations and supporting US civilian agencies and international organizations in their capacity-building efforts.

    The report further clarifies that US troop drawdowns “will occur in accordance” with the SOFA, but that “the pace of the drawdown takes into consideration Iraq’s improved, yet fragile, security gains” and “provides US commanders sufficient flexibility to assist the Iraqis with emerging challenges.”

    On May 15, 2006, Gen. John Abizaid, overseeing US military operations in Iraq at the time, said, “The United States may want to keep a long-term military presence in Iraq to bolster moderates against extremists in the region and protect the flow of oil.”

    On March 12, 2010, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, the commander of US troops in Northern Iraq, told reporters during a conference call that it might be necessary to keep combat troops involved in the security mechanism that maintains peace between Iraqi national and Kurdish regional forces beyond the August deadline.

    The National Security Strategy for US Missions abroad proposes to “Ignite a new era of global economic growth through free markets and free trade and pressing for open markets, financial stability, and deeper integration of the world economy.” This fits perfectly with the policy outlined by the Quadrennial Defense Review Report, which says there is a stated ability for the US military to fight “multiple overlapping wars” and to “ensure that all major and emerging powers are integrated as constructive actors and stakeholders into the international system.”

    Such gray language and loopholes in policy documents have been common since the US invaded Iraq seven years ago. This has not changed with the SOFA.

    “The likelihood of the US planning to keep troops in Iraq after December 31, 2011 has to be measured in the context of the history of US violations of other countries’ sovereign territory, airspace, etc.,” Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, explained to Truthout. “At the moment, this is perhaps most obvious in Pakistan – where the US has been routinely attacking alleged Taliban or al Qaeda supporters with both air and [limited] ground troops in Pakistani territory despite the stated opposition of the Pakistani government which is nominally allied to the US.”

    “The early public discussions of ‘re-missioning’ combat troops, changing their official assignment from combat to ‘training’ or ‘assistance,’ thus allowing them to remain in Iraq after the August 2010 deadline for all combat troops to be removed from the country, provides the model for how such sleight of language will occur,” Bennis said, adding, “It may or may not be linked to a future ‘need’ for US troops to remain to protect the increasing numbers of US government civilians assigned to Iraq as the official number of troops decreases.”

    Bennis explained that the language of the SOFA is grounded in the claim that Iraq is a sovereign nation and that the government of Iraq is choosing freely to partner with the US government. But the reality, according to Bennis, is that the SOFA was negotiated and signed while Iraq was (and continues to be today) a country occupied and controlled by the United States. Its government is and was at the time of the SOFA’s signing dependent on the US for support.

    In Article 27 of the SOFA, the text stated, “in the event of any external or internal threat or aggression against Iraq that would violate its sovereignty, political independence, or territorial integrity, waters, airspace, its democratic system or its elected institutions, and upon request by the Government of Iraq, the Parties shall immediately initiate strategic deliberations and, as may be mutually agreed, the United States shall take appropriate measures, including diplomatic, economic, or military measures, or any other measure, to deter such a threat.”

    While the agreement is ostensibly binding only for three years, Article 30 permits amendments to the SOFA, which could, of course, include extending its timeframe – and with the Iraqi government still qualitatively dependent on US support, this appears likely. The same is true for Article 28, which states, “The Government of Iraq may request from the United States Forces limited and temporary support for the Iraqi authorities in the mission of security for the Green Zone.”

    She concluded:

    There is no question that the US has wanted for many years to establish and maintain military bases in Iraq, whether or not they are officially designated as “permanent.” I do not believe the Pentagon is prepared to hand them all over to Iraq, despite the language in the agreement mandating exactly that. Instead, I think the formal arrangement following expiration of the current SOFA may be through some sort of officially “bilateral” agreement between Washington and Baghdad, allowing for the US to “rent” or “lease” or “borrow” the bases from an allegedly “sovereign” government in Iraq on a long-term basis. The likelihood of this increases with the growing number of statements from US military and political officials hinting broadly at the possibility of a long-term presence of US troops in Iraq after December 31, 2011, “if the sovereign government of Iraq should request such an idea …

    Faculty Director of the Undergraduate College of Global Studies at Stony Brook University in New York, Professor Michael Schwartz, has written extensively on insurgency and the US Empire.

    He pointed out to Truthout that President Obama’s “… actions have made it very clear that he is unwilling to sacrifice the 50,000-strong strike force, even while he has also said he would abide by the SOFA and remove all troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. In the meantime, Gates and various generals have released hedging statements or trial balloons saying that the 2011 deadline might be impractical and that various types of forces might stay longer, either to provide air power, to continue training the Iraq military, or to protect Iraq from invasion. Any or all of these could translate into the maintenance of the 50k strike force as well as the five ‘enduring bases.'”

    That the Obama administration intends to maintain a significant military presence in Iraq after 2011 is obvious from its continued insistence that in Iraq “democracy” must be guaranteed.

    Schwartz explained:

    In Washington speak this means that the government of Iraq must be an ally of the United States, a condition that has been iterated and reiterated by all factions (GOP and Democrat) in Washington, since the original invasion. Given the increasing unwillingness of the Maliki administration to follow US dictates (for example, on oil contracts, on relations with Iran, and on relations with Anbar and other Sunni provinces), the removal of troops would allow Maliki even more leeway to pursue policies unacceptable to Washington. Thus, even if Maliki succeeds himself in the Premiership, the US may need troops to keep the pressure on him. If he does not succeed himself, then the likely alternate choices are far more explicit in their antagonism to integration of Iraq into the US sphere of interest … the Obama administration would then be left with the unacceptable prospect that withdrawal would result in Iraq adopting a posture not unlike Iran’s with regard to US presence and influence in the Middle East.

    His grim conclusion:

    All in all, there are myriad signs that withdrawal of US troops might result in Iraq breaking free from US influence and/or deprive the United States of the strong military presence in that part of the Middle East that both Bush and Obama advocated and have struggled to establish. Until I see some sign that the five bases are going to be dismantled, I will continue to believe that the US will find some reason – with or without the consent of the Iraqi government – to maintain a very large (on the order of 50k) military force there.

    Expanding the Base

    The US embassy in Iraq, already the largest diplomatic compound on the planet and the size of the Vatican City, is now likely to be doubled in size. Robert Ford, the deputy chief of mission in Baghdad, told reporters in January, “If Congress gives us the money we are asking for, this embassy is going to be twice the size it is now. It’s not going down, it’s getting bigger.”

    In 2005, The Washington Post reported:

    An even more expensive airfield renovation is underway in Iraq at the Balad air base, a hub for US military logistics, where for $124 million the Air Force is building additional ramp space for cargo planes and helicopters. And farther south, in Qatar, a state-of-the-art, 104,000-square-foot air operations center for monitoring US aircraft in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa is taking shape in the form of a giant concrete bunker … the US military has more than $1.2 billion in projects either underway or planned in the Central Command region – an expansion plan that US commanders say is necessary both to sustain operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and to provide for a long-term presence in the area.

    Lt. Gen. Walter E. Buchanan III, who oversees Central Command’s air operations pointed out, “As the ground force shrinks, we’ll need the air to be able to put a presence in parts of the country where we don’t have soldiers, to keep eyes out where we don’t have soldiers on the ground.”

    In 2007 in a piece titled “US Builds Air base in Iraq for the Long Haul” NPR reported, “The US military base in Balad, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, is rapidly becoming one of the largest American military installations on foreign soil … The base is one giant construction project, with new roads, sidewalks, and structures going up across this 16-square-mile fortress in the center of Iraq, all with an eye toward the next few decades.”

    It is so big that, “There is a regular bus service within its perimeter to ferry around the tens of thousands of troops and contractors who live here. And the services are commensurate with the size of the population. The Subway sandwich chain is one of several US chains with a foothold here. There are two base exchanges that are about as large as a Target or K-Mart. Consumer items from laptop computers to flat-screen TV’s to Harley Davidson motorcycles are available for purchase.”

    The report added, “Several senior military officials have privately described Balad Air Base, and a few other large installations in Iraq, as future bases of operation for the US military.” The term used is “lily pad,” a description of the military jumping from base to base without ever touching the ground in between.

    In September 2009 The New York Times reported about Balad:

    It takes the masseuse, Mila from Kyrgyzstan, an hour to commute to work by bus on this sprawling American base. Her massage parlor is one of three on the base’s 6,300 acres and sits next to a Subway sandwich shop in a trailer, surrounded by blast walls, sand and rock. At the Subway, workers from India and Bangladesh make sandwiches for American soldiers looking for a taste of home. When the sandwich makers’ shifts end, the journey home takes them past a power plant, an ice-making plant, a sewage treatment center, a hospital and dozens of other facilities one would expect to find in a small city. And in more than six years, that is what Americans have created here: cities in the sand…. Some bases have populations of more than 20,000, with thousands of contractors and third-country citizens to keep them running.

    Camp Anaconda, as the Balad base is named, also has an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The bottling company there provides seven million bottles of water a month for those on base. This base also contains two fire stations and the single busiest landing strip in the entire Defense Department.

    A 2006 Associated Press story, “Elaborate US Bases raise long-term questions,” gave the following account:

    [At Balad] the concrete goes on forever, vanishing into the noonday glare, 2 million cubic feet of it, a mile-long slab that’s now the home of up to 120 US helicopters, a “heli-park” as good as any back in the States. At another giant base, al-Asad in Iraq’s western desert, the 17,000 troops and workers come and go in a kind of bustling American town, with a Burger King, Pizza Hut and a car dealership, stop signs, traffic regulations and young bikers clogging the roads. The latest budget also allots $39 million for new airfield lighting, air traffic control systems and upgrades allowing al-Asad to plug into the Iraqi electricity grid – a typical sign of a long-term base. At Tallil, besides the new $14 million dining facility, Ali Air Base is to get, for $22 million, a double perimeter security fence with high-tech gate controls, guard towers and a moat – in military parlance, a “vehicle entrapment ditch with berm.”

    Truthout contacted renowned journalist and filmmaker John Pilger for his views:

    Like Afghanistan, the occupation of Iraq is more a war of perception than military reality. I don’t believe the US has the slightest intention of leaving Iraq. Yes, there will be the “drawdown” of regular troops with the kind of fanfare and ritual designed to convince the American public that a genuine withdrawal is happening. But the sum of off-the-record remarks by senior generals, who are ever conscious of the war of perception, is that at least 70,000 troops will remain in various guises. Add to this up to 200,000 mercenaries. This is an old ruse. The British used to “withdraw” from colonies and leave behind fortress-bases and their Special Forces, the SAS.

    Bush invaded Iraq as part of a long-term US design to restore one of the pillars of US policy and empire in the region: in effect, to make all of Iraq a base. The invasion went badly wrong and the “country as base” concept was modified to that of Iraq indirectly controlled or intimidated by a series of fortress-bases. These are permanent. This is also the US plan for Afghanistan. One has to keep in mind that US foreign policy is now controlled by the Pentagon, whose man is Robert Gates. It is as if Bush never left office. Under Bush there was an effective military coup in much of Washington; the State Department was stripped of its power; and Obama did as no president has ever done: he brought across from a previous, discredited administration the entire war making bureaucracy and gave it virtually unlimited power. The only way the US will leave is for the resistance to rise again, and for Shiites and Sunni to unite; I think that will happen.

    Captain, My Captain

    On March 4, 2010, as a guest on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show,” Thomas Ricks, who was the military correspondent for the Washington Post, referring to President Obama’s promises to withdraw from Iraq, said, “I would say you shouldn’t believe [it] because I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think we’re going to have several thousand, several tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq on the day President Obama leaves office.”

    Gen. George Casey, the chief of staff of the US Army, stated last May that his planning for the Army envisions combat troops in Iraq for a decade as part of a sustained US commitment to fighting extremism and terrorism in the Middle East. “Global trends are pushing in the wrong direction,” he said, “They fundamentally will change how the Army works.”

    Senior CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who served under seven presidents – from John Kennedy to George H. W. Bush – explained to Truthout, “Since 2003 I’ve been suggesting that the Iraq war was motivated by the acronym OIL: oil, Israel, and Logistics (military bases to further the interests of the first two).”

    In January 2008, McGovern wrote of statements signed by George W. Bush when he was in the White House:

    Contrary to how President George W. Bush has tried to justify the Iraq war in the past, he has now clumsily – if inadvertently – admitted that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was aimed primarily at seizing predominant influence over its oil by establishing permanent (the administration favors “enduring”) military bases. He made this transparently clear by adding a signing statement to the defense appropriation bill, indicating that he would not be bound by the law’s prohibition against expending funds:

    “(1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq,” or

    “(2) To exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.”

    At the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on November 20, 2006, in a speech titled “A Way Forward in Iraq,” Sen. Barack Obama, who had not yet become the commander in chief of the US military, declared:

    Drawing down our troops in Iraq will allow us to redeploy additional troops to Northern Iraq and elsewhere in the region as an over-the-horizon force. This force could help prevent the conflict in Iraq from becoming a wider war, consolidate gains in Northern Iraq, reassure allies in the Gulf, allow our troops to strike directly at al Qaeda wherever it may exist, and demonstrate to international terrorist organizations that they have not driven us from the region.

    On March 16, 2010, Gen. David Petraeus, head of US Central Command, told lawmakers that the US military may set up an additional headquarters in northern Iraq even after the September 2010 deadline. Petraeus said that putting a headquarters in northern Iraq was “something we are looking at.”

    What reason is there to doubt our commander in chief ‘s assertion that there is need to maintain an (approximately 50,000 strong) US “strike force” in or near Iraq to guarantee US interests in the Middle East, to allow Washington to move quickly against jihadists in the region and to make clear to “our enemies” that the US will not be “driven from the region”?

    Bhaswati Sengupta contributed to this report. 

    George W. Obama January 15, 2010

    Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Torture.
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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    After his first year, Obama shows his true face

    By Nat Hentoff

    Tuesday, January 12th 2010 at 3:33pm

     

    “The Bush administration constructed a legal framework for torture, but the Obama administration is constructing a legal framework for impunity.”

     “Mr. Obama’s ratifications of the basic outlines of the surveillance and detention policies he inherited would reverberate for generations. By bestowing bipartisan acceptance on them,” Mr. Balkin said, “Mr. Obama is consolidating them as entrenched features of government.”

     “Throughout the world today there are men, women, and children interned indefinitely, awaiting trials which may never come or which may be a mockery of the word, because their governments believe them to be ‘dangerous.’ Our Constitution . . . can shelter us forever against the dangers of such unchecked power.”

    • Pat Benic/Newscom

      What a disappointment a year makes.

      What a disappointment a year makes.

    Before President Obama, it was grimly accurate to write, as I often did in the Voice, that George W. Bush came into the presidency with no discernible background in constitutional civil liberties or any acquaintance with the Constitution itself. Accordingly, he turned the “war on terror” over to Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld—ardent believers that the Constitution presents grave obstacles in a time of global jihad.

    But now, Bush’s successor—who actually taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago—is continuing much of the Bush-Cheney parallel government and, in some cases, is going much further in disregarding our laws and the international treaties we’ve signed.

    On January 22, 2009, the apostle of “change we can believe in” proclaimed: “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of my presidency.” But four months into his first year in command, Obama instructed his attorney general, Eric Holder, to present in a case, Jewel v. National Security Agency, a claim of presidential “sovereign immunity” that not even Dick Cheney had the arrant chutzpah to propose.

    Five customers of AT&T had tried to go to court and charge that the government’s omnipresent spy, the NSA, had been given by AT&T private information from their phone bills and e-mails. In a first, the Obama administration countered—says Kevin Bankston of Electronic Frontier Foundation, representing these citizens stripped of their privacy—that “the U.S. can never be sued for spying that violated federal surveillance statutes, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or the Wiretap Act.”

    It is one thing, as the Bush regime did, to spy on us without going to court for a warrant, but to maintain that the executive branch can never even be charged with wholly disregarding our rule of law is, as a number of lawyers said, “breathtaking.”

    On the other hand, to his credit, Obama’s very first executive orders in January included the ending of the CIA “renditions”—kidnapping terrorism suspects off the streets in Europe and elsewhere and sending them for interrogation to countries known to torture prisoners. However, in August, the administration admitted that the CIA would continue to send such manacled suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation.

    Why send them to a foreign prison if they’re not going to be tortured to extract information for the CIA? Oh, the U.S. would get “guarantees” from these nations that the prisoners would not be tortured. That’s the same old cozening song that Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush used to sing robotically.

    President Obama also solemnly pledged to have “the most open administration in American history.” Nonetheless, his Justice Department lawyers have already invoked “state secrets” to prevent cases brought by victims of the CIA renditions from being heard.

    In February, in a lawsuit brought by five graduates of CIA “black sites” before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, one of the judges, visibly surprised at hearing the new “change” president invoking “state secrets,” asked the government lawyer, Douglas Letter, “The change in administration has no bearing on this?”

    The answer: “No, your honor.” This demand for closing this case before it can be heard had, he said, been “thoroughly vetted with the appropriate officials within the new administration, [and] these are authorized positions.”

    Said the torture graduates’ ACLU lawyer, Ben Wizner: “Much is at stake in this case. If the CIA’s overboard secrecy claims prevail, torture victims will be denied their say in court solely on the basis of an affidavit submitted by their torturers.”

    Barack Obama a torturer? Not exactly. In this particular case, the torture policy had been set by George W. Bush. President Obama is just agreeing with his predecessor. Does that make Obama complicit in these acts of torture? You decide.

    What is clear, beyond a doubt—and not only in “rendition” cases, but in other Obama validations of what Dick Cheney called the necessary “dark side” of the previous administration—has been stated by Jameel Jaffer. Head of the ACLU’s National Security Project, he is the co-author of the definitive evidence of the Bush-Cheney war crimes that Obama is shielding, Administration of Torture (Columbia University Press).

    After the obedient Holder rang the “state secrets” closing bell in the San Francisco case, Jaffer described the link between the Bush and Obama presidencies: “The Bush administration constructed a legal framework for torture, but the Obama administration is constructing a legal framework for impunity.”

    It’s become an Obama trademark: reversing a vigorous position he had previously taken, as when he signed into law the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act that, as a senator, he had vowed to filibuster as a protest against their destruction of the Fourth Amendment. And now he’s done it again. His government is free to spy on us at will.

    For another example of the many Obamas, the shifting president had supported the release of photographs of Bush-era soldier abuses of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. (The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York had approved the publication of these “intensive interrogations.”) But Obama changed his mind, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates flat-out censored the photos. Not surprisingly, the Roberts Supreme Court agreed with Gates and Obama and overruled the Second Circuit.

    In a December 5 editorial, The New York Times helped explain why Obama—who doesn’t want to “look backward” at Bush cruelties—changed his mind: “The photos are of direct relevance to the ongoing national debate about accountability for the Bush-era abuses. No doubt their release would help drive home the cruelty of stress positions, mock executions, hooding, and other ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ used against detainees and make it harder for officials to assert that improper conduct was aberrational than the predictable result of policies set at high levels.”

    Barack Obama may well go down in history as the President of Impunity for Bush, Cheney, and, in time, himself, for continuing the CIA “renditions.”

    But he will also be long remembered as the President of Permanent Detention. At the Supreme Court in 1987, in U.S. v. Salerno, Justice Thurgood Marshall, strenuously dissenting, warned: “Throughout the world today there are men, women, and children interned indefinitely, awaiting trials which may never come or which may be a mockery of the word, because their governments believe them to be ‘dangerous.’ Our Constitution . . . can shelter us forever against the dangers of such unchecked power.”

    Not forever. The Obama government is working to assure that its purchase of the supermax prison, the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois, will be the permanent forced residence of certain Guantánamo terrorism suspects who can’t be tried in our regular courtrooms because—gasp—they have been tortured, preventing the admission of “incriminating” statements they have made or—”state secrets” again!—a due process trial “would compromise sensitive sources and methods.”

    Like torture.

    I increasingly wonder whose Constitution Barack Obama was teaching at the University of Chicago. China’s? North Korea‘s? Robert Mugabe‘s? Glenn Greenwald, a former constitutional lawyer, whose byline I never miss on the Internet, asks: “What kind of a country passes a law that has no purpose other than to empower its leader to suppress evidence of the torture it inflicted on people?”

    You may not be surprised to learn that my next book—to be published by Cato Institute, where I’m now a senior fellow—will be titled, Is This America?

    I often disagree with ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero—though I’m almost always in synch with his lawyers in the field—but Romero is right about Obama creating “Gitmo North”: “While the Obama administration inherited the Guantánamo debacle, this current move is its own affirmative adoption of those policies. It is unimaginable that the Obama administration is using the same justification as the Bush administration used to undercut centuries of legal jurisprudence and the principle of innocent until proved guilty and the right to confront one’s accusers. . . . The Obama administration’s announcement contradicts everything the president has said about the need for America to return to leading with its values. American values do not contemplate disregarding our Constitution and skirting the criminal justice system.”

    If Dick Cheney were a gentleman, instead of continuing to criticize this president, he would congratulate him on his faithful allegiance to many signature policies of the Bush-Cheney transformation of America.

    But never let it be said that President Obama is neglecting the patriotic education of America’s young. On December 13, Clint Boulton reported on eweek.com, “The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Berkeley‘s Samuelson Clinic have sued the Department of Justice and five other government organizations (including the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence) for cloaking their policies for using Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to investigate citizens in criminal and other matters. [The plaintiffs] want to know exactly how, and what kinds of information, the feds are accessing from users’ social networking profiles.”

    Maybe Dick Cheney can ask Barack to confirm him as a friend on Facebook.

    Charlie Savage, the Times ace reporter of constitutional violations, chillingly shows how Yale Law School professor Jack Balkin got to the core of the consequences of our “yes, we can” president by predicting that “Mr. Obama’s ratifications of the basic outlines of the surveillance and detention policies he inherited would reverberate for generations. By bestowing bipartisan acceptance on them,” Mr. Balkin said, “Mr. Obama is consolidating them as entrenched features of government.”

    Do Congressional Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi give a damn about this historic legacy of the Obama administration that they cluelessly help to nurture by providing lockstep Democratic majorities for?

    Do you give a damn?

    Kucinich Plans to Force Vote on US Withdrawal from Afghanistan December 15, 2009

    Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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    Published on Thursday, December 10, 2009 by Raw Storyby Daniel Tencer

    For Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s announcement Tuesday that his country would need the US’s military support for another 10 or 15 years seems to have been the last straw.

    []

    The outspoken House representative says it was Karzai’s statement that prompted him to draft a resolution calling for a House vote on the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

    “We shouldn’t be there another 15 to 20 months, let alone 15 to 20 years,” Kucinich told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “When I’m in my district talking to people, nobody has come up to me and said we need to be in Afghanistan for the next 15 to 20 years. They do say we need jobs, we need to protect our basic industry, we need education, we need to protect retirement security. I’d like to see us start taking care of things here at home.”

    Kucinich is circulating a letter (PDF) among congressional colleagues asking them to co-sponsor his resolution.

    My bills, which would trigger a timeline for a timely withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Pakistan, invoke the War Powers Resolution of 1973 and are intended to secure the Constitutional role of Congress, as directly elected representatives of the people, under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, to decide whether or not America enters into war, continues a war, or otherwise introduces armed forces or material into combat zones.

    Despite the president’s assertion that previous congressional action gives him the authority to respond to the attacks of September 11, 2001, a careful reading of the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) makes cleat that the AUMF did not supersede “any requirement of the War Powers Resolution” and therefore did not undermine Congress’ ability to revisit the constitutional question of war powers at a later date.

    “We cannot afford these wars. We cannot afford the loss of lives. We cannot afford the cost to taxpayers. We cannot afford to fail to exercise our constitutional right to end the wars,” Kucinich said in a statement circulated among reporters on Wednesday.

    Kucinich told the Plain Dealer he expects his resolution to land at the House International Relations Committee early next year. If the resolution is voted down, he will ask to have it moved back to the floor of the House — a maneuver that earlier this year allowed him to debate the impeachment of former Vice President Dick Cheney on the House floor, the Plain Dealer notes.

    During a visit by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Kabul on Tuesday, President Karzai told the Pentagon chief that Afghanistan would need the US’s help in security matters for 10 or 15 years going forward. President Obama’s plan to start withdrawing troops in July 2011 has sparked concern in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan that the Taliban could sit out the surge and attack a pared down force in 18 months’ time.

    “For 15 to 20 years, Afghanistan will not be able to sustain a force of that nature and capability with its own resources,” Karzai told a news conference. “We hope that the international community and the United States, as our first ally, will help Afghanistan reach the ability to sustain a force.”

    With Agence France-Presse

    © 2009 Raw Story

    Bush-Style Military Spending Not Over Yet November 24, 2009

    Posted by rogerhollander in War.
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    (Roger’s note: the word “yet” in the title of this article suggests that we may be going in the direction of reducing military spending.  Unfortunately, Obama has shown absolutely no guts when it comes to dealing with the Pentagon and the generals, not to mention the war profiteers of the arms industry merchants of death.)
    Published on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 by CommonDreams.org

    by Miriam Pemberton

    Thought the Bush years were over? Not so fast.

    The main “accomplishment” of those years, apart from getting our country handed over to the big banks and corporations, was of course launching two wars. The cost of those wars so far is staggering, but these amounts are dwarfed by the so-called “regular” defense budget.

    Most of what we spend on the military-including hundreds of high-tech planes that are churned out every year and then sit idle-isn’t spent on the wars we’re actually fighting. And under cover of war, these “regular” budgets have risen right along with the war funding bills.

    Enter the Obama administration. It’s having trouble fulfilling its promises to end those wars. But it’s also having trouble bringing “regular” military spending under control.

    Every year a group I lead, the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget, looks at overall U.S. security spending. We analyze the balance between spending on what we call “offense” (military force), “defense” (homeland security measures such as screening baggage and cargo), and “prevention” (preventing wars through diplomacy, peacekeeping troops, and economic development).

    In the Bush administration’s last year, it devoted 87% of our security dollars to the military. In the first Obama budget that figure is: 87%. The needle hasn’t moved. At all.

    Why not? In his first speech to Congress, President Obama promised to “reform our defense budget so we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use.” To their credit, his administration did manage to knock off a few this year. Though short, it was a longer list than at any time since the period of defense cuts following the end of the Cold War.

    The biggest prize was the F-22 fighter jet. F-22s, which cost $350 million each, were designed to fight planes the Soviet Union planned to build and never did. The F-22 is too exotic and costly ever to have been used in the wars we are actually fighting. It deserved to die.

    It took a furious battle to keep this plane from coming back from the dead: The F-22’s contractor has craftily placed jobs building the plane in 44 states. The Obama administration had to threaten to veto the entire defense spending bill if Congress reversed its plans for the F-22’s demise.

    But while the Obama administration successfully cut about $10 billion in spending on such turkeys, it then added about $20 billion in additional military spending. He got a lot of deserved credit for increasing spending on the tools of prevention-diplomacy, peacekeeping, and economic development among them. But the end result was the same wildly out-of-balance security budget the Bush team handed off.

    Obama also took a stab at reforming the weapons-contracting “system” that hides billions every year in padded contracts and outright fraud. It won’t fix the problem-truck-sized loopholes remain-but it’s a start.

    To his credit, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been lamenting that “America’s civilian institutions of diplomacy and development have been chronically undermanned and underfunded for far too long, relative to what we spend on the military.” The Obama administration’s good intentions to fix this are still mostly unrealized.

    © 2009 Distributed by Minuteman Media

    Miriam Pemberton is a research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive multi-issue think tank that transforms ideas into action for peace, justice, and the environment. She leads the task force that just published A Unified Security Budget for the United States, FY 2010.

    Gates Invokes New Authority to Block Release of Detainee Abuse Photos November 18, 2009

    Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Iraq and Afghanistan, Torture.
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    (Roger’s Note: here is just one more example of how Obama lied to the American people when he promised  transparency in government and change from the policies of the Bush torture machine. He re-appoints Bush’s Defense Secretary and uses his majority in Congress to authorize Gates to bury torture evidence — all, of course, in the name of the sacred cow known as national security.  Slowly what passes for the American left may be awakening to the fact that Obama is a fraud, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Much too slowly, however.)

    Saturday 14 November 2009

    by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report

    Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has blocked the release of photographs depicting US soldiers abusing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, invoking new powers just granted to him by Congress that allows him to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and keep the images under wraps on national security grounds.

    In a brief filed with the US Supreme Court late Friday, Department of Defense General Counsel Jeh Johnson, and Solicitor General Elena Kagan, said Gates “personally exercised his certification authority” on Friday to withhold the photos and “determined that public disclosure of these photographs would endanger citizens of the United States, members of the United States Armed Forces, or employees of the United States Government deployed outside the United States.”

    “Based on that determination, the Secretary has concluded that the photographs are ‘protected documents’” and are “exempt from mandatory disclosure under FOIA,” the government’s brief states.

    In his certification included with the filing, Gates said his decision to withhold as many as 2,000 photos was based “upon the recommendations of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff [Michael Mullen], the Commander of U.S. Central Command [David Petraeus], and the Commander of Multi-National Forces-Iraq [Ray Odierno]…”

    As first reported by truthout, the photographs at issue include one in which a female solider is pointing a broom at a detainee “as if [she were] sticking the end of a broomstick into [his] rectum.”

    Other photos are said to show US soldiers pointing guns at the heads of hooded and bound detainees in prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army’s Criminal Investigation Division investigated the matter and “three of the six investigations led to criminal charges and in two of those cases, the accused were found guilty and punished,” according to papers Kagan previously filed with the Supreme Court.

    The ACLU filed a FOIA request in 2003 to gain access to photographs and videos related to the treatment of “war on terror” prisoners in US custody and sued the government a year later to enforce the FOIA filing. The US District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the release of the photos in a June 2005 ruling that was affirmed by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in September 2008.

    The Bush administration challenged the Second Circuit’s ruling, and in March the court denied that petition. In its earlier ruling, the appeals court also shot down the Bush administration’s attempt to radically expand FOIA exemptions for withholding the photos, stating that the Bush administration had attempted to use the FOIA exemptions as “an all-purpose damper on global controversy.”

    The Obama administration indicated it would abide by the appeals court order and release at least 44 of the photographs in question, but, in May, after he was pilloried by Republicans, President Obama backtracked, saying he had conferred with high-ranking military officials who advised him that releasing the images would stoke anti-American sentiment and would endanger the lives of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    As Truthout previously reported, the Obama administration petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear the case last summer. The petition raised similar arguments related to FOIA exemptions in this case as those made by the Bush administration and later rejected by the Second Circuit.

    Justices were prepared to meet and decide whether to take the case, but the high court agreed last month to delay their decision at the request of Obama administration officials who wanted to wait and see if Congress would pass legislation authorizing the Defense Department to circumvent FOIA.

    In other words, the Obama administration wanted Congress to pass a law that would effective quash the Second Circuit’s decision. And that’s exactly what lawmakers did last month when they passed the Homeland Security appropriations bill, signed into law by President Obama, which included a provision to amend FOIA. The provision gave Gates the power to withhold “protected documents” he believes would endanger the lives of US soldiers or government employees deployed outside of the country if publicly released.

    The amendment was originally sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman, (I-Connecticut), and Lindsey Graham, (R-South Carolina). Obama sent a letter to the lawmakers last summer stating that he would work closely with Congress to help pass the measure to keep the abuse photographs sealed, according to a footnote in the administration’s Supreme Court petition.

    Rep. Louise Slaughter, (D-New York), who opposed the FOIA amendment, said in a floor statement in October as Congress was debating the provision, that the language, stripped from an earlier version of the bill, was quietly reinserted “apparently under direct orders from the [Obama] administration.”

    According to the bill, the phrase “protected documents” refers to photographs taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009, and involves “the treatment of individuals engaged, captured or detained” in the so-called “war on terror.” Photographs that Gates determines would endanger troops and government employees could be withheld for three years.

    The ACLU said Gates’ certification “is categorical with respect to all of the photos and fails to provide the individualized assessment that the amendment’s language requires and also fails to provide any basis for the claim that disclosure of the photos would harm national security.”

    The group intends to file a response to the administration’s brief next week.

    In an oped column published in the Los Angeles Times last month, Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said although the powers Congress granted Gates is meant to cover the abuse photos, it “could also cover, for example, video footage of aerial attacks that resulted in civilian casualties or photos showing the conditions of confinement at the Bagram detention center in Afghanistan.”

    “The legislation establishes a regime of censorship that would extend to many images of the military’s activities abroad.” Jaffer wrote.

    Obama’s decision to sign legislation into law that allows his administration to circumvent FOIA marks an about-face on the open-government policies that he proclaimed during his first days in office.

    On January 21, Obama signed an executive order instructing all federal agencies and departments to “adopt a presumption in favor” of Freedom of Information Act requests, and promised to make the federal government more transparent.

    “The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears,” Obama’s order said. “In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.”

    Instead of withdrawing its petition now that legislation has been passed, the Obama administration on Friday asked the high court to vacate the Second Circuit’s ruling, and then “remand to allow the lower courts to address the effect of the new legislation on the litigation.”

    “Given Congress’s enactment of intervening legislation resolving the present dispute by providing for withholding of the records at issue, the Court now has no occasion to address the proper construction of [FOIA] Exemption 7(F) as set forth in the government’s petition,” the government’s filing states. “The appropriate disposition, after these events, is for this Court to [pull the case up from the Second Circuit and take jurisdiction of the case and the issue], vacate the judgment of the court of appeals, and remand for further proceedings… in light of the intervening legislation” passed by Congress.

    In its earlier Supreme Court petition, the Obama administration argued that FOIA Exemption 7(F) allows for the withholding of information if it threatens the lives of individuals.

    The Second Circuit, however, disagreed. The court ruled that FOIA “mandates the public disclosure of such photographs – regardless of the risk to American lives – because FOIA Exemption 7(F) requires the government to ‘identify at least one individual with reasonable specificity’ and show that disclosure ‘could reasonably be expected to endanger that individual.'”

    The government argued that the Second Circuit misinterpreted the law when it ruled that the government had to identify specific individuals who would be harmed by the disclosure of the photographs

    The Obama administration maintained that the Second Circuit’s interpretation of Exemption 7(F), “is inconsistent with the text of Exemption 7(F), which broadly encompasses danger to ‘any individual,’ with no suggestion of the court’s extra-textual requirement of victim specificity. The history of drafting that exemption “underscores that conclusion. Congress did not mean for public disclosure of agency records to trump the life and physical safety of individuals – particularly in a case such as this, in which the government has already made public the underlying investigative reports revealing all relevant allegations of wrongdoing and the associated investigative conclusions.”

    “The President and the United States military fully recognize that certain photographs at issue depict reprehensible conduct by American personnel and warranted disciplinary action,” the government’s petition states. “There are neither justifications nor excuses for such conduct by members of the military. But the fact remains that public disclosure of the photographs could reasonably be expected to endanger the lives and physical safety of individuals engaged in the Nation’s military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The photographs therefore are exempt from mandatory disclosure under FOIA. Review by this Court is warranted to give effect to Exemption 7(F) and the protection it affords to the personnel whose lives and physical safety would be placed at risk by disclosure.”

    Alex Abdo, a legal fellow with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said the Obama administration’s argument for continuing to suppress the photos “sets a dangerous precedent – that the government can conceal evidence of its own misconduct precisely because the evidence powerfully documents gross abuses of power and of detainees.

    “This principal is fundamentally anti-democratic. The American public has a right to see the evidence of crimes committed in their name.”

    Abuse Photos Blocked November 15, 2009

    Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Iraq and Afghanistan, Torture.
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    http://www.commondreams.org

    11.14.09 – 8:56 PM

    A sketch by Thomas Curtis, former Reserve M.P. sergeant, showing how a detainee in Afghanistan was allegedly chained to the ceiling of his cell.

    Invoking newly granted powers allowing him to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has blocked the release of photos showing US soldiers abusing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. Alex Abdo of the ACLU said the argument against release “sets a dangerous precedent” that the government can conceal evidence of gross abuses of power.

    “This principle is fundamentally anti-democratic. The American public has a right to see the evidence of crimes committed in their name.”

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