Meh Culpa

Take that, Peggy Noonan!

Some things in life need to be mysterious.  Sometimes you need to just keep walking. –Peggy Noonan

Unlike Peggy Noonan and the stable of pundits who have decried the outing of the USA’s use of torture this weekend, I’m glad about the publication of those torture memos and I hope there’s more daylight where that came from.  We’ve paraded our alleged superiority and exceptionalism for way too long.  What has happened in other countries–such as, Nazi Germany or Rwanda or Turkey or Serbia–can happen here.  Every human being is capable of appalling behavior.  Not all of us follow through, but that’s not the point. None of us are exempt from the capacity to do evil and we shouldn’t forget it.  Rather, we must be en garde, and all those words imply, against our moral and ethical frailties.

Did you miss me?  Yeah, maybe not.  I’ve been busy finishing up my last course and frankly I’ve felt loathe to discuss the subject because I was so angry and disappointed at Obama for wanting to let bygones be bygones, and for opining that he’s against prosecuting CIA operatives who doled out torture.  I didn’t think I could pull off a less than rage fueled post without giving myself an aneurysm.  But maybe I can now.  For the record, I think any prosecution should be from the top down, but I don’t believe the CIA should get off the hook so easily.  We didn’t tell Lt. Calley that we totally empathized with him for “following orders” at My Lai by ordering the massacre of 500 Vietnamese villagers in 1968, and we shouldn’t do anything similar now.  Not even close.

But  I digress.

Today  I’m happy.  Breaking News a la Jennifer Loven at HuffPo: Obama has said he’s open to prosecuting Bush administration for torture.  The article says “officials responsible for devising torture” but I doubt that means we’ll let officials who approved waterboarding off the hook.  There’s always gong to be someone’s who’s going to say, “Oh, well. We didn’t know the CIA was waterboarding Abu Zubaydah 183 times  in a month. That’s not our fault now, is it?”  Uhhh, yeah it is.  The Bush administration opened the floodgates by approving despicable acts, so th Bushies are to blame if entire towns and cities are washed away.  (Sorry, I got carried away with the water metaphor.)

I hope Congress is nervous, too, especially those politicians who were on the Senate Intelligence Committee during the era of torture.  I have a feeling that one of my personal faves, Di Fi (a.k.a., Diane Feinstein, a Democrat from California*), knew all along about the torture being perpetrated in our names and I think she may have gone along.  I don’t have any evidence. What I do have is suspicion: Di Fi has long been big on harsh punishments. I think she was influenced by the assassination of Harvey Milk as well as the shooting at the law firm of of Pettit & Martin at 101 California St. while she was there. The business with anthrax in DC shortly after 9/11 probably didn’t help any either. Anyone would have a case of PTSD after the first two incidents, if not the third.  At the very least, she’s entitled to feel afraid.

But Di Fi opposed Leon Panetta for head of the CIA and promoted Stephen Kappes for the job. Panetta kept Kappes on as one of his deputies, probably at Feinstein’s behest. Unfortunately for Kappes and maybe for Feinstein, “[a]t the time of the worst torture sessions outlined in the ICRC report, Kappes served as a senior official in the Directorate of Operations — the operational part of the CIA that oversees paramilitary operations as well as the high-value detention program.”  It’s unlikely he was kept in the dark.  And for that matter, the same goes for Di Fi.  After all, the Bushies liked to co-opt members of Congress by letting them in on the administration’s dirty laundry.

That’s precisely why Jane Harman, another California Democrat, couldn’t be approved for CIA director.  I believe it wasn’t so much that she’s a rival of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, although their poor relations might have contributed to the loss of Harman’s desired appointment, but that Harman knew about the administrations surveillance program when it was illegal, and she said nothing. And she criticized the NYT for revealing the program. Harman was also the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee from until 2006 and she was briefed on the ” harsh interrogations of terrorist suspects by the CIA,” but again said nothing.

Di Fi may not be culpable of anything, but  30 members of Congress have been briefed about CIA operations since 2002. I’d like to know who those 30 members are.  And specifically, what did Di Fi know and when did she know it?


* I was a lifelong Democrat until I became an Independent a few years ago.  Di Fi’s actions were responsible for my leaving the party.

Advertisements

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Abu Ghraib, Bush administration, California, Congress, Democrats, Executive branch, Guantanamo, Intelligence Committee, National Security, Obama, Obama administration, politics, Senate, torture, war crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Navy’s “Covert” Ops in the Gulf of Aden

Israel National News reported today that the US Navy aboard the USS San Antonio has  stopped a ship in the Gulf of Aden and set it on a course for Egypt for further inspection.  The  ship,  possibly flying a false Cypriot flag, was allegedly packed with Iranian munitions headed for Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post’s* source, Professor Raymond Tanter, was quoted as saying that the operation was probably “covert” because stopping a ship flying under the flag of a sovereign nation might provoke legal action against the perpetrator.  INN also claimed concerns in the intelligence community that Iran was using the boat to ship a so-called dirty bomb to Gaza, but which intelligence community the publication was talking about remains unclear.  (I’m betting on the Israelis, but what do I know from intelligence?)

If the Iranian  ship was indeed flying under a false flag, such an act could be considered not only ironic, but a rather tardy payback for the same strategy the CIA used in 1953  to stage a coup  against Iran’s then-democratically elected leader,  Mohammed Mosaddegh, who wanted to nationalize Iran’s oil industry.  (Blood for oil on a smaller scale, perhaps?)   In any event, the Shah returned from exile days later.  He was eventually overthrown in the 1979 Revolution which gave us Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, the predecessor of our current beloved,  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Unhappily–unless they’ve gotten a grip as I type–the US media remains mum.  But why?  This is a big H U G E story.  I don’t know about you, but I’d like to know whether there really are dirty bombs swimming up the Bab el Mandeb (anywhere near Somalia!) through the Red Sea before hitting the Suez Canal.  Is it just that the US media is too consumed with studying its collective navel, or does someone not want us to know?  Even if the intelligence were false–there have been rumors swirling ’round the Internet about a Yom Kippur plot–I’d like to know, thanks.

* Which news org I didn’t bother to check because I’m hackin’ up a lung here.  Pulled back muscles doin’ it, too. (Either that, or the  remaining lung is tunneling out below my left scapula.)

January 25, 2009 Posted by | Defense, Foreign policy, Gaza, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Obama administration, Palestinians, politics, US Navy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment