The Top Five Questions We Should Ask the Pentagon
by William J. Astore
hat tip: Tom Dispatch
When it comes to our nation’s military affairs, ignorance is not bliss. What’s remarkable then, given the permanent state of war in which we find ourselves, is how many Americans seem content not to know.
There are many reasons for this state of affairs. Our civilian leaders encourage us to be deferential toward our latest commander/savior, whether Tommy Franks in 2003, David Petraeus in 2007, or Stanley McChrystal in 2010. Our media employs retired officers, most of them multi-starred generals, in a search for expertise that ends in an unconditional surrender to military agendas. A cloud of secrecy and “black budgets” combine to obscure military matters, ranging from global strategy to war goals to weapons procurement. The taxpayer, forced to pony up about one trillion dollars yearly to fund our military, national security infrastructure, and wars, is sent a simple message: stay clear and leave it to the experts in uniform.
The powerlessness of ordinary Americans in military matters is no accident. Recall the one-word reply — “So?” — Dick Cheney offered in March 2008, when asked to comment on popular opposition to the war in Iraq. The former vice president was certainly far blunter than Washington usually is, and for that we may owe him a measure of thanks. By highlighting the arrogant dismissiveness of Washington’s warrior-elite when it comes to American public opinion, he revealed more than he intended.
Hat tip: Times Online
by Tim Reid, Washington
(Andres Leighton/AP) Two detainees are escorted to interrogation by US military guards at Guantánamo Bay
George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.
The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.
Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell’s chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was “politically impossible to release them”.
by Andy Worthington
hat tip: Campaign for Liberty
Republican Witch-hunters Embrace Dictatorship
Are there no depths to which conservatives will not sink in their ardent embrace of the war on terrorism? The latest monstrosity from the right came courtesy of Keep America Safe, a toxic organization headed by Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who recently put out a disgraceful TV ad, “Who Are the Al-Qaeda Seven?” The ad questioned the loyalty and patriotism of nine lawyers in the Justice Department who had represented prisoners at Guantánamo before joining the DoJ.
To be fair, Liz Cheney’s ad has backfired badly, drawing the ire not only of those on the left, but also of heavyweight conservatives, nineteen of whom signed a statement last week denouncing it, declaring, “We consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications,” and adding that the attacks on the lawyers “undermine the Justice system more broadly,” by “delegitimizing” any system in which accused terrorists have lawyers, whether that system is federal court trials or military commissions.
Those who signed the statement included former Solicitor General Ken Starr, former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, former White House lawyer Brad Berenson, John Bellinger, the former legal adviser to the National Security Council and the State Department, and two former detainee policy officials in the Bush administration, Matthew Waxman, and Charles “Cully” Stimson, who, ironically, was himself forced to resign from the DoD in 2007 after starting a similar witch-hunt against corporate law firms whose lawyers represented prisoners at Guantánamo.