Meh Culpa

Dear Barack

Part I

Yes, you.  I’m talking to you.

I don’t know who’s been advising you lately, but whoever they are, they’ve got their crania stuck up their behinds all the way to their solar plexi because that the only way they’ll see the light of day.  The speech about Iran aside, you’ve been pulling some lame stunts such that I cannot begin to convey to you how pissed off at you I actually am.

Oh, where shall I start?  Maybe I should work backwords?  I’ve got a few months to cover, after all.

Gay Rights

Man oh man, how stupid can you get?  I’m not gay but my brother is, and my neighbors are, and I’ve had gay friends for slightly over thirty years,  since I was nineteen.  (One of my children is bi so this goes triple for her. )  Most of us in the United States don’t need those However Many Degrees from Kevin Bacon to know how pathetic–what an obvious sop–it was to give the same benefits to gay government workers that straights receive.  And then your DOJ issues a brief, that might as well have been flung directly from your mouth, saying gays are comparable to child molesters and perpetrators of incest.  And then your DOJ Tool lied about whether you were “allowed”  to change a bad law. I have a word for you: RISIBLE with a long hiss on the ‘s.’ Except it sure as hell isn’t funny.

You promised to overturn Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,  you promised to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and this is what you give us? A passel of states across the nation have legalized same sex marriage. Does that not tell you something?  What, is the hard right holding you hostage? Are you afraid someone besides readers of tabloids are going to think you’re on the down-low?

Be a man, Barack.  Do what you were elected to do: lead. Get those unconstitutional laws (you remember Equal Protection, don’t you?) overturned.

Sincerely yours, etc. etc.–

P.S.  Contrary to your silly opinion that only Congress can attack the issue of gay rights, Senator Reid says there’s nothing doing and despite her constituency, Pelosi’s been mum. Great job, guys.

June 19, 2009 Posted by | Bill of Rights, Congress, Democrats, diplomacy, Equal Protection, far right, gay rights, human rights, Obama, Obama administration, political operatives, politics, Senate, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chas Freeman’s Withdrawal: AIPAC 1, Good Sense 0

Everyone probably knows Chas Freeman withdrew his appointment to NIC. What everyone probably doesn’t know is that the Original Bringer of Doom was none other than “accused spy and former AIPAC director Steve Rosen.”  Although it’s hard for me to believe after reading the indictment,*  Rosen may not have had criminal intent in the matter, which could get him off the hook, but you’ve got to  be a dolt not to know [Classified] National Defense Information (NDI) when you hear it, and pretty slimy and, ummm, traitorous to repeat it to someone else if you do.

You just can’t trust the word of someone who possibly conspired with a spy.  Until he’s cleared.  Which he hasn’t been.  (See below)

So why have we?

You got me.

Yet, despite appearance to the contrary, neither Israel nor AIPAC should be in charge of our foreign policy.   To think or behave otherwise is simply inane, if not criminal.  (I think it’s criminal, but that’s just me.) We expect idiocy from inveterate leaker and Senator “I”m Ready for My Close Up” Chuck Schumer,  but that people would take the word of Steve Rosen, who has not been acquitted, is beyond me.

I’m even more bothered by my senator’s, Diane Feinstein,** involvement in this brouhaha.   I was so  annoyed that Feinstein (or Di Fi, as she’s know elsewhere)  most likely bowed to AIPAC that I wrote to her asking that she start thinking a little more like Golda Meir, who hated the war of attrition between Jews and Arabs,  and less like Netanyahu, a former member of Irgun.   (Irgun: The same folks who brought us at least 60 attacks, culminating in the terrorist bombing of the King Davis Hotel in 1946 that killed 92 people.)  I wonder what’s up with Feinstein that she’d sacrifice the self interest of the United States on behalf of a foreign country.  ‘Cause Israel is a foreign country.  (I think Jonathan Pollard knows that now, don’t you?)

Anyhow, without further ado– Chas Freeman’s brilliant rebuttal to the smear against him:

“You will by now have seen the statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair reporting that I have withdrawn my previous acceptance of his invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council.

I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office.  The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue.  I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country.  I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.

As those who know me are well aware, I have greatly enjoyed life since retiring from government.  Nothing was further from my mind than a return to public service.  When Admiral Blair asked me to chair the NIC I responded that I understood he was “asking me to give my freedom of speech, my leisure, the greater part of my income, subject myself to the mental colonoscopy of a polygraph, and resume a daily commute to a job with long working hours and a daily ration of political abuse.”  I added that I wondered “whether there wasn’t some sort of downside to this offer.”  I was mindful that no one is indispensable; I am not an exception.  It took weeks of reflection for me to conclude that, given the unprecedentedly challenging circumstances in which our country now finds itself abroad and at home, I had no choice but accept the call to return to public service.  I thereupon resigned from all positions that I had held and all activities in which I was engaged.  I now look forward to returning to private life, freed of all previous obligations.

I am not so immodest as to believe that this controversy was about me rather than issues of public policy.  These issues had little to do with the NIC and were not at the heart of what I hoped to contribute to the quality of analysis available to President Obama and his administration.  Still, I am saddened by what the controversy and the manner in which the public vitriol of those who devoted themselves to sustaining it have revealed about the state of our civil society.  It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as to our allies and friends.

The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful  lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East.  The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth.  The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.

There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel.  I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so.  This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.

The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues.  I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.

In the court of public opinion, unlike a court of law, one is guilty until proven innocent.  The speeches from which quotations have been lifted from their context are available for anyone interested in the truth to read.  The injustice of the accusations made against me has been obvious to those with open minds.  Those who have sought to impugn my character are uninterested in any rebuttal that I or anyone else might make.

Still, for the record: I have never sought to be paid or accepted payment from any foreign government, including Saudi Arabia or China, for any service, nor have I ever spoken on behalf of a foreign government, its interests, or its policies.  I have never lobbied any branch of our government for any cause, foreign or domestic.  I am my own man, no one else’s, and with my return to private life, I will once again – to my pleasure – serve no master other than myself.  I will continue to speak out as I choose on issues of concern to me and other Americans.

I retain my respect and confidence in President Obama and DNI Blair.  Our country now faces terrible challenges abroad as well as at home.  Like all patriotic Americans, I continue to pray that our president can successfully lead us in surmounting them.”

I have one question: where the heck was the allegedly liberal, dovish  J Street in all this? They don’t say.  Just another irrelevant PAC, I suppose.


* The indictment against Rosen is here in a .pdf file.

** Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, now an oxymoron if ever there was one.

All emphasis above is mine, by the way.

March 11, 2009 Posted by | Arab world, Congress, diplomacy, Executive branch, Foreign policy, Intelligence Committee, Israel, Middle East, National Security, Obama administration, political operatives, politics, Senate | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Dick on Torture: Jim Lehrer interviews Cheney

An excerpt from last night’s “News Hour” on PBS.

MR. LEHRER: A specific question related to that: Lead story in the Washington Post this morning is about a Bush administration official, Susan Crawford, who said, on the record, that she had recommended against charging one of the detainees at Guantanamo, a native of Saudi Arabia, because he had, in fact, been tortured at Guant

Meh Culpa: Susan Crawford was recommending against charging Qatani because once an individual has been tortured, the evidence gained is unreliable.  Or not worth admitting into evidence because it’s suspect.

And she made this comment, here – let me find it; here it is – this is Susan Crawford, who used to work for you, I understand, right?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: She worked at the department when I was there, correct.

MR. LEHRER: When you were at the Pentagon. She said, “I think someone should acknowledge that mistakes were made and that they hurt the effort,” meaning the whole effort in Guantanamo and dealing with the terrorists, quote, “and take responsibility for it.” End quote. Do you agree with her?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don’t know the specifics of what she’s talking about.

MR. LEHRER: You have never heard about this Saudi Arabia –

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I had heard about this individual before. This is Mr. Qatani, who was the 20th hijacker. He tried to get into the United States so he could get on one of the airplanes on 9/11 and fly into the Pentagon or the World Trade Center. He was stopped by an alert customs agent in Florida, I believe. I’m also, as I recall – I read the article this morning – that she said all of the techniques that were utilized were authorized.

Meh Culpa: In terms of the “value” of this “enemy combatant,” he’d be the last person you’d want to torture because you’d want good information.  Unfortunately, you might learn his knowledge was limited because he was part of a cell and perhaps had no contact with higher-ups. This could be frustrating, but it wouldn’t be worth torturing the individual and compromising American values.

None of them were in violation of the basic fundamental tenets that we used out there. She was, as I understand it, complaining about the way in which – well, specifically, the way in which they were administered – I don’t have any way to judge that; I’m sure that the Defense Department has or will thoroughly investigate it and get to the bottom of it.

They’re very good at those sort of things. So it’s entirely possible there was a problem in terms of how one specific prisoner was handled. I can’t claim perfection. But what I can say is that in terms of what the policies of the administration were, both at the White House level and at the Defense Department, was that enhanced interrogation was okay.

Meh Culpa: The comment that “enhanced interrogation” was okay because White House and DOD policy said was, is disingenuous at best. At worst it is a bald-faced lie. I’m going with the bald-faced lie.  Moreover, Andrew Sullivan has repeatedly pointed out that “enhanced interrogation” was the term used by the Gestapo for their torture techniques–and the same used by the US and authorized by the Bush administration.

We had specific techniques that were approved by the Justice Department – but that we don’t torture and that we would not support torture from the standpoint of policy. It was not the policy of this administration.

We’ve seen evidence of the administration’s inestimably tortured logic on many occasions (i.e., Cheney is his own branch of government. Whew!).  Here we have doublespeak for “We have approved techniques that have been illegal for almost forever, techniques the Nazis used on their prisoners, but they aren’t torture because we say they aren’t. You believe us, right? Yay!”

Just because the president says it’s legal doesn’t mean it is. Remember Nixon?  And even though Addington and Yoo knew that almost every single interrogator would never “intend to inflict severe pain and suffering,” (which ostensibly would have gotten the interrogators off the hook in a war crimes trial) for them to study it, and say it is legal doesn’t mean it is.

MR. LEHRER: But just, for a general premise here, looking back, you don’t – nothing happened that you feel was over the line or that you feel that was a miscalculation or mistake of some kind?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, in terms of the treatment of a specific individual, I can’t say that. (Oh, yeah. Because there was only one…) We had Abu Ghraib, for example. In that case, I believe, based on what I’ve seen, that that was the result of some military personnel who were improperly supervised – weren’t given the right kind of guidance, weren’t managed properly.

As we dig in and look at hundreds of cases, we may well find a few people who were not properly treated. (A few, huh?) You know, I ran the Pentagon. I know that you can’t absolutely guarantee, at all times, that everybody’s doing it the way they’re supposed to be doing it.

(Oh, really. You can’t can you? So it’s just a few people lower on the totem pole who are responsible for torture?  The Word didn’t come from the top?)

I can tell you what the policy was; I can tell you that we had all the legal authorization we needed to do it, including the sign-off of the Justice Department. I can tell you it produced phenomenal results for us, and that a great many Americans are alive today because we did all that. And I think those are the important considerations.

Meh Culpa: Alberto Gonzalez doesn’t even understand the Constitution. Gonzalez is the same rat bastard who told G.W. Bush that the Geneva Convention didn’t apply to captured members of the Taliban because the group wasn’t recognized as rulers of the “failed state.”  This is the same bozo who thinks that because the war on terror–a phrase we’re not supposed to use anymore, unless we are–is a “new paradigm,” the Geneva Convention is “obsolete” and “quaint.”

That’s where you got your legal authorization, D I C K.

Sheesh.

Also, the “detainees” (a euphemism for POW) whom the US has released due to lack of evidence or because they’ve been tortured and the “evidence” they spewed isn’t admissable in court, whether they were innocent or guilty, are now  joining the resistance.  How is that saving Americans, D I C K?  How are those “phenomenal results”?

MR. LEHRER: And you’re personally very comfortable with that?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I am.

MR. LEHRER: For what happened and the reasons it happened and the end result?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: In terms of the interrogation, generally?

MR. LEHRER: Yes, absolutely.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: General policy?

MR. LEHRER: General policy.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Absolutely.

January 15, 2009 Posted by | Abu Ghraib, Bush administration, Cheney, corruption, Defense, Executive branch, Geneva Conventions, Iran, Iraq War, political operatives, politics, torture, US Constitution, war crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment