Check out this must-read post by a State Department worker who’s written a scathing book about our reconstruction boondoggle in Iraq — and is now being persecuted by the same State Department who claims to fight for the rights of bloggers (in far-away lands, natch) to report on the evils of their own regimes:
On the same day that more than 250,000 unredacted State Department cables hemorrhaged out onto the Internet, I was interrogated for the first time in my 23-year State Department career by State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and told I was under investigation for allegedly disclosing classified information. The evidence of my crime? A posting on my blog from the previous month that included a link to a WikiLeaks document already available elsewhere on the Web.
As we sat in a small, gray, windowless room, resplendent with a two-way mirror, multiple ceiling-mounted cameras, and iron rungs on the table to which handcuffs could be attached, the two DS agents stated that the inclusion of that link amounted to disclosing classified material. In other words, a link to a document posted by who-knows-who on a public website available at this moment to anyone in the world was the legal equivalent of me stealing a Top Secret report, hiding it under my coat, and passing it to a Chinese spy in a dark alley.
These are not people steeped in, or particularly appreciative of, the finer points of irony. Still, would anyone claim that there isn’t irony in the way the State Department regularly crusades for the rights of bloggers abroad in the face of all kinds of government oppression, crediting their voices for the Arab Spring, while going after one of its own bloggers at home for saying nothing that wasn’t truthful?
I’m nearly done with the book on neoconservatism that I previously described here and here. It’s going quickly now because I’m in the foreign policy section, and as a person who became politically engaged around 2003, much less of it is new to me. But there was a good little bit on why the neocons settled on Iraq rather than Iran as a test case for their theories: roughly, it was because everyone hated Saddam and the neocons figured people would get less bent out of shape if he were the target. All the other “national security” explanations, like the terror links and WMD, all applied as much or more to Iran. It was a purely pragmatic choice to push for conflict with Iraq instead, though one suspects it was merely a choice of ordering to these guys.
It occurred to me at this point that maybe part of why Iran wasn’t chosen to go first was because there are ideological complications. The neocons are obsessed with form over substance: they favor democracy in the sense of elections, not in the sense of liberal institutions like free speech, separation of powers, and so on. They favor religiosity but they don’t care what the religion is, just so long as it is peaceful (i.e. not anti-American) and complements the all-important civic religion. They favor finding “the center” of all public policy debates and sticking to it, which in effect means their politics are contentless. (Think about all the violent shifts in David Brooks’s politics since, say, 2005 as an example of this tendency.) It’s the neocon trademark, the closest thing they have to a universal principle, that there are no principles, just “principles” that are for the benefit of the filthy proles who need their religion to feel important, their democracy to feel in control, and their capitalism to feel like they can succeed. When you look at it that way, it’s clear what their gripes are with Saddam, a secular, quasisocialist autocrat. But Iran looks like a dark reflection of the society they want to build, one that satisfies their biggest premises while being fundamentally unacceptable in its final form. It sits there, quietly mocking their theories, day after day. It’s no wonder it drives them completely insane. Another way of saying all this is that it’s a refutation of their theories about political philosophy and human nature. Really, their only gripe with Iran can be its orientation toward America and Israel. They have no other basis for complaining about anything else. If we were living in a parallel universe where Iran was exactly the same in every way except that it accepted Israel’s right to exist and was nicer to America, not only would the neocons not consider Iran threat numero uno, but it would undoubtedly be held up as a model for the region, despite the oppression, thuggery and theocracy. After all, that stuff flies in Iraq and the neocons universally consider that a success story.
(P.S. The image is allegedly a political cartoon about Iran–supposedly what the Uncle Sam character is thinking in the speech bubble–caught my eye as strange and funny, but one which merely proves that political cartoons are inane in any language. We all know that George W. Bush would beat a drum and yell the name of a country he wanted to attack. The pertinent NSC meeting minutes will bear this out I’m sure, once they’re declassified around 2102 or so.)
Outgoing Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) told the Kansas City Star that President Obama deserves “a bad C” grade for his first two years in office.[...] As for rating other presidents, Bond gave Ronald Reagan an “A,” President George H.W. Bush a “B”, President Bill Clinton a “B-plus” and President George W. Bush an “A-minus.”Okay, I expect someone like Bond to give Reagan an A. And I wouldn’t expect him to give Dubya an F. But I am curious about the metric by which Bush 43 is better than Bush 41. If your only priority is upper-income tax rates and you literally do not care about any other issue out there, maybe I could see it. Says more about Bond than Bush, Obama, or anyone else, really. Oh, and in case you’re curious, the rest of the KC Star article is nearly as good. I particularly like this bit:
“The anti-earmarking crusade is too often a handy dodge for people who voted for the outrageous spending proposals of the stimulus, ‘Obamacare’ and other things,” Bond said. “Earmarks don’t add a cent to the budget. It’s a process of deciding where already appropriated funds will go.”Yeah, all those Republicans who voted for the stimulus and Obamacare and then try to cover it up with earmark bans! The nerve! Why, there’s…someone, maybe… And then there’s even better stuff:
But Bond, known for years as an intense partisan, saved his strongest remarks for Democrats and the Obama administration. He said the president’s economic policies and health care reform plan were contributing to the soaring budget deficit and hurting business expansion.
- Bond said his final two years in the Senate also had been the most partisan he had ever experienced. “It’s because the Republicans were absolutely shut out,” Bond argued. “We had better solutions for all the problems the country was facing, but we were not able to offer those.”
- The younger Bush’s controversial decision to go to war in Iraq was the right one, Bond insisted. “We had to do it because we knew al-Qaida was looking to establish its headquarters at the confluence of the two rivers in Iraq,” he said.
LONDON – Wikileaks has been accused of endangering lives after destroying an Afghan village with an unmanned drone. Leading secret experts have determined that the attack by the online whistleblower was the most devastating since it killed tens of thousands of Iraqis in search of weapons of mass destruction that it secretly knew were all made up. The slaughter came just hours after the website, popular with paedophiles and smokers, published 250,000 secret documents that revealed, for only the 78 millionth time in human history, that governments are run by the sort of utter tosspots you wouldn’t have in your house. Former foreign secretary, Sir Malcom Rifkind, said: “I used to go to secret meetings with generals and ambassadors and people with codenames. Sometimes I would use a codename, but it really depended on how many other people in the meeting were using their codenames. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what my codename was because if I did I would be putting lives at risk in Norway and Burkina Faso. “Anyway, we talked about vitally important things that need not concern your decent hard-working little head. Suffice to say we are extremely clever and the things we do are so breath-takingly important that we have to keep them a secret or someone with a codename will be strangled by a man in a turban. Jafaz Al Jalali, a trainee suicide bomber from Rawalpindi, backed Sir Malcolm, adding: “I was going to blow myself up purely because of your mini-kilts and your Bacardi Breezers but now I know that Prince Andrew may have behaved inappropriately on some junket I have decided to blow myself up twice.” Julian Cook, professor of international news stories at Reading University, explained: “Everyone that America has been spying on would have already assumed that America was spying on them and if they didn’t then they are even more cretinous than these leaks confirm them to be.” He added: “Nevertheless, the point about Wikileaks undermining the safety of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan would have some validity, if only it wasn’t such a humongous vat of liquidised monkey-shit from start to finish. “Because – and you might want to write this down and keep it somewhere safe – the key thing that has undermined the safety of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is firing their big fucking guns at Iraqis and Afghans. Sources at the Ministry of Defence confirmed that Professor Cook’s comments had already put lives at risk in Belgium and Ecuador, and informed us that he’s also a rapist.
LAUER: Not everybody thought you should go to war, though. There were dissenters.Want some facts? Even though most of the zombie knuckle-draggers in this country could care less for such things?
BUSH: Of course there were.
LAUER: You know, there were questions at the Pentagon. Colin Powell had questions. Brent Scowcroft, your father’s former National Security Advisor, and dear friend, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, I’m paraphrasing here, saying, “It’s not a good idea to go to war in Iraq.” So there were dissenting voices.
BUSH: I was a dissenting voice. I didn’t want to use force. I mean force is the last option for a President. And I think it’s clear in the book that I gave diplomacy every chance to work. And I will also tell you the world’s better off without somehow in power. And so are 25 million Iraqis.[...]
Recall, in 2002, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators on how to approach Iraq diplomatically, Bush “poked his head into the office” and “neatly summed up” his take: “F___ Saddam. We’re taking him out.” In “talking about why we needed this war,” Bush later referenced an alleged Iraqi assassination plot against Bush’s father: “We need to get Saddam Hussein…that Mother ______ tried to take out my Dad.”
This “get Saddam” mentality was hardly a momentary craze. Recently declassified documents reveal that his administration were looking for a way to “decapitate” the Iraqi government since 2001. As Bush’s Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill — who Bush fired for “disagreeing too many times” with him — puts it, Bush was “all about finding a way to [go to war]. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this.’”
I guess we just swept it all up under the rug. The past is in the past, right?
I guess not:
A grim picture of the US and Britain’s legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.It should be pointed out that the paper that had the balls to call what happened to detainees “torture” is the Guardian in the UK. The NY Times? You guessed it: “detainee abuse“.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. [...]
The new logs detail how:
The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee’s apparent death.
- US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
- A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
- More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.
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