Browsing the archives for the War on Terror category.


Dick Cheney Is Jewish? Who Knew?

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War on Terror, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Mo Dowd is catching flak from some quarters, including some quasi-progressive quarters, for writing an “antisemitic” column. Let’s take a look.

La Dowd wrote of some recent hawkish statements from Paul Ryan,

Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Romney adviser has been secunded to manage the running mate and graft a Manichaean worldview onto the foreign affairs neophyte.

A moral, muscular foreign policy; a disdain for weakness and diplomacy; a duty to invade and bomb Israel’s neighbors; a divine right to pre-emption — it’s all ominously familiar.

You can draw a direct line from the hyperpower manifesto of the Project for the New American Century, which the neocons, abetted by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, used to prod an insecure and uninformed president into invading Iraq — a wildly misguided attempt to intimidate Arabs through the shock of overwhelming force. How’s that going for us?

After 9/11, the neocons captured one Republican president who was naïve about the world. Now, amid contagious Arab rage sparked on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, they have captured another would-be Republican president and vice president, both jejeune about the world.

That’s pretty much how it looks from where I sit, too. But Jeffrey Goldberg wrote,

Maureen may not know this, but she is peddling an old stereotype, that gentile leaders are dolts unable to resist the machinations and manipulations of clever and snake-like Jews. (Later, Hounshell wrote, “(A)mazing that apparently nobody sat her down and said, this is not OK.”)

So we can’t tell the truth about the necons because many of them are Jewish? Who writes these rules, anyway? Oh, right. Never mind.

I’m not sure I was consciously aware that Dan Senor was Jewish, but I looked him up, and it appears he is. I do remember that Jeffrey Goldberg was a major cheerleader for invading Iraq, however. He was beating the “Saddam is uniquely evil” drum for all he was worth in 2002. Bought the neocon lies hook, line, and sinker.

Goldberg may be consoling himself with the convenient lie that people who disagreed with him then and now are just antisemitic. Mr. Goldberg — stop being a schmendrik.

However, it does seem Dowd’s comments inadvertently struck a nerve. Ben Jacobs at Washington Monthly echoed some of Goldberg’s sentiments — “Dowd, in assailing neo-conservative influence in GOP foreign policy, veered dangerously close to anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish puppet masters.”

I’m sorry, but when somebody says “puppet masters” the first “trope” that pops into my head is an old Robert Heinlein novel about slugs from outer space that invade earth. I realize the metaphor has been used in anti-semitic speech, but it’s been used in lots of other speech as well and is too good a metaphor to retire because Some People want us to forget they helped get the United States into arguably the biggest foreign policy blunder of its history. Race, creed or ethnic heritage are irrelevant.

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Furlong’s Off-the-Books Spy Operation

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War on Terror

The New York Times just posted a story about a Defense Department official running an off-the-books spy operation with private contractors. It’s late and my brain has shut down, but this seems significant.

“While no legitimate intelligence operations got screwed up, it’s generally a bad idea to have freelancers running around a war zone pretending to be James Bond,” one American government official said. But it is still murky whether Mr. Furlong had approval from top commanders or whether he might have been running a rogue operation.

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Memory Lapses II: The Return of Dick the Dick

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Obama Administration, War on Terror

Recently I wrote about a particularly egregious bit of rightie revisionist history, in which Franklin Roosevelt was somehow an admirer of Mussolini and Hitler until “bullets and ashes started to fill the sky.” This is completely at odds with what’s called Actual Verifiable Historical Facts, which tell us that FDR opposed Hitler from the start. And before Pearl Harbor did as much as he could, at some political risk, to send aid to Britain and other nations under attack by Germany.

Every now and then I like to set records straight, even though I feel it’s a lost cause most of the time. Frankly, the most surprising thing about the “FDR loved Hitler” myth is that it contradicts the older myth that FDR somehow orchestrated the attack on Pearl Harbor so that the U.S. could get into World War II.

And you know that in rightie mythology, conservatives — no matter how doughy — have a special affinity for all things soldierly and military even if they never spent a day in the service, whereas a liberal career military combat veteran doesn’t understand war and is probably a traitor.

And you also know that rightie mythology constantly spills over into mainstream media, and not just on Faux Nooz. So it’s not surprising there is a huge discrepancy between the way media treat President Obama after the Pants Bomb attempt and they way media treated George Bush after the Shoe Bomb attempt. What’s astonishing, however, is that someone at The Politico is actually pointing this out.

Josh Gerstein has actually written a fairly lengthy analysis comparing Obama’s and Bush’s responses to the perspective incidents, and finds that Obama is being treated unfairly.

Eight years ago, a terrorist bomber’s attempt to blow up a transatlantic airliner was thwarted by a group of passengers, an incident that revealed some gaping holes in airline security just a few months after the attacks of Sept. 11. But it was six days before President George W. Bush, then on vacation, made any public remarks about the so-called “shoe bomber,” Richard Reid, and there were virtually no complaints from the press or any opposition Democrats that his response was sluggish or inadequate.

That stands in sharp contrast to the withering criticism President Barack Obama has received from Republicans and some in the press for his reaction to Friday’s incident on a Northwest Airlines flight heading for Detroit.

All together now: IOKIYAR

Another difference is that President Obama forthrightly declared that the Pants Bomber revealed that “A systemic failure has occurred, and I consider that totally unacceptable.” When President Bush finally was prodded into saying something about the Shoe Bomber, he would not admit to a fault in his administration. He said,

This country is safer than it was prior to 9/11. We’ve taken a lot of measures to protect the American people. But obviously we’re still not completely safe because there are people that still plot and people who want to harm us for what we believe in.


Joan Walsh writes
, “Predictably right-wing gas bags are as hung up on Obama calling Abdulmutallab an ‘extremist’ and not a ‘terrorist.'” It’s beyond me why that’s important. It says something about rightie psychology, but I’m not sure what.

Dick the Dick has emerged, finally, from whatever nether region he inhabits to thump his chest and claim all the bananas.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney accused President Barack Obama on Tuesday of “trying to pretend we are not at war” with terrorists, pointing to the White House response to the attempted sky bombing as reflecting a pattern that includes banishing the term “war on terror” and attempting to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

“[W]e are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe,” Cheney said in a statement to POLITICO. “Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war?.”

However, if you read the Politico piece and compare the actual Obama Administration response to the Pants Bomber to the actual Bush Administration response to the Shoe Bomber, you see it was the Bushies trying to pretend nothing had happened.

Further, I don’t see President Obama “pretending” anything. Little George liked to put on his quasi-military costumes and strut around in front of troops and call himself a “war president.” President Obama is less into the strutting part and doesn’t go around clubbing people with the “w” word, reminding them that war presidents are special. What matters is whether the President is responding properly to volatile situations, and frankly he’s more of a “war president” than I’d like.

But I don’t see “pretending.” There is only an assumption of failure, based entirely on the fact that the President is not a Republican. You might think of it as a variation of “driving while black.”

But righties place enormous importance on what things are called. The other day Charles Krauthammer had a fit because President Obama refers to Iran as the “Islamic Republic of Iran” instead of just “Iran.” Krauthammer fumed that Obama had “conferred legitimacy” on the Iranian governing regime — as if the words of a President could do that. Personally, it seemed to me the President was reminding Iran that it’s supposed to be a republic, not a dictatorship. And the Islamic Republic of Iran is not the regime; it’s the entire country, citizens and all. And, anyway, it’s the proper name of the country. Details.

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More Sizzle Than Pop

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Terrorism, War on Terror, Weapons of Mass Destruction

When I heard about explosives on a Delta flight to Detroit, my first reaction was the same as Thers:

It means Greater Wingnuttia is going to get the very special happy Christmas they most desire, because what they like best of all is to wet their pants in an ecstasy of hysterical screeching;

I noticed the initial blogosphere reactions to the incident were almost all from the Right. I assume they spent yesterday stuffing Christ back into Christmas, but they took time out to comment on the near-atrocity. However, the reaction from the screechers seems to me a tad toned down from what it would have been two or three years ago. So far, for example, Little Lulu has not devoted even one exclamation mark to the story. Maybe she’s run through her yearly quota.

The incident must have been genuinely terrifying for the passengers. On the other hand, if this is the best al Qaeda can do these days (assuming al Qaeda is involved at all, which I think at the moment is only being assumed) I’d say we’re winning the war on weapons of mass destruction-related program activities, although terror itself still has some of us on the ropes.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is telling people the man with the explosives has “significant terrorist connections.” This would be great news if it were true; it would tell us that significant terrorists are a pretty lame crew these days.

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More News That’s Not News

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torture, War on Terror

You can file this under the heading of “stuff we already knew.” Peter Finn and Joby Warrick write for the Washington Post that

…not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.

I already wrote a post about this same subject. It’s dated September 9, 2006. According to news stories then, what useful information came from Abu Zubaida was obtained through standard (e.g., Gevena convention-sanctioned) interrogation techniques. Once the “harsh interrogators” took over, no more useful information came from Zubaida.

Moreover, within weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida. President George W. Bush had publicly described him as “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations,” and other top officials called him a “trusted associate” of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and a major figure in the planning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. None of that was accurate, the new evidence showed.

In other words, the Bush Administration detained and tortured Abu Zubaida for the propaganda value.

This is not to say Abu Zubaida was not a player in the world of Islamic terrorism. He was, and there are good arguments for not releasing him, assuming he’s still sane.

But Abu Zubaida had strained and limited relations with bin Laden and only vague knowledge before the Sept. 11 attacks that something was brewing, the officials said.

Oh, I so miss the days when Ari Fleischer would tell us those cute stories about plots to take apart the Brooklyn Bridge with a chainsaw.

Anyway, Scott Horton, publius, and Marcy Wheeler all have insightful things to say about this mess.

There’s not much reaction from the Right yet, and I doubt there will be. There’s a story flying around that Joe Biden’s daughter was caught snorting coke, so you know the righties will be all over that for the next several days. It’s proof that liberals are bad parents, you know. The one rightie reaction I have seen dismisses the WaPo article as hearsay, and adds,

Once again we have a string of wild assertions made by the Washington Post via some “anonymous officials” and unrevealed “documents.”

Of course we are supposed to believe these anonymous sources over Mr. Zubaida’s own claims. (The Post helpfully notes that he has memory problems, due to a head wound.)

I’m assuming the writer has unique knowledge of what “Mr. Zubaida’s own claims” are that contradict the WaPo story.

But obviously this is just the Post once again beating the drum for show trials about the (entirely legal and ethical) interrogation of terrorists.

And we know the interrogation is legal and ethical, because we say it is!

It really is too bad that the terrorists Flight 77 hit the Pentagon instead of, say, 15th Street.

See, the problem is that the Washington Post wasn’t happy enough during the Bush Administration. Indeed, many of us were insufficiently happy and should have received political re-education and maybe some harsh interrogation until we were happy.

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Let’s Start a War on Nonsense

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War on Terror

The dreadful events in Mumbai are a reminder that during the time the U.S. has waged a “war on terror,” incidents of terrorism around the world have increased dramatically. Copious hard data back up this assertion.

The Status of George Bush's War on Terrorism

Look at the “fatalities” line on the graph above. I’m assuming the big spike after 2000 is 9/11. See what happens after. Which makes me wonder where peoples’ brains are when they write

America has been going after Al-Qaeda and the nations that harbor and fund terrorists for 7 years now. To blame the attacks in Mumbai on American policy in Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever is just wrong.

Righties can’t see how phenomena interconnect. It’s something like a learning disability. As far as this guy is concerned, because the U.S. “has been going after Al-Qaeda and the nations that harbor and fund terrorists for 7 years now,” then the increase in incidents of terrorism can’t possibly have been caused, directly or indirectly, by U.S. policy. That our “policy,” whatever its intentions, is failing, and in fact is making the problem of global terrorism worse, because it is a stupid policy being carried out by twisted people, is too subtle an idea for some brains to handle.

The rightie linked above was objecting to something Deepak Chopra (who, as a rule, annoys the hell out of me) said —

Ultimately the message is always toward Washington because it’s also the perception that Washington, in their way, directly or indirectly funds both sides of the war on terror. They fund our side, then our petrol dollars going to Saudi Arabia through Pakistan and ultimately these terrorist groups, which are very organized. You know Jonathan, it takes a lot of money to do this. It takes a lot of organization to do this. Where’s the money coming from, you know? The money is coming from the vested interests.

I don’t know that the attacks in Mumbai took all that much money, but his larger point is right. We can declare wars on terror and send troops all over the place to fight jihadists, and the fact remains that our support of people like Musharraf of Pakistan, who appeared to be using our tax dollars to play both sides of the fence, fuels “the perception that Washington, in their way, directly or indirectly funds both sides of the war on terror.” The ham-handed way the occupation of Iraq was carried out, and the obscene amounts of money shoveled to Dick Cheney’s private contractors for which there is no accounting, also creates “perceptions.”

Later in the same interview Chopra says the terrorist attacks in Mumbai are “not Washington’s fault,” a bit that the rightie blogger linked above missed.

A few basic points —

  1. Not everything is about America. There are all manner of feuds and enmities in foreign places that don’t involve us (except in a “six degrees of separation” kind of way), don’t directly affect us and of which most of us are ignorant. However,
  2. Item #1 is a big reason why sending troops into hot spots to make people behave isn’t always a good idea. Generally it just pisses people off more and sometimes forces our troops to take sides in conflicts they shouldn’t be involved in to begin with, because they weren’t about us until we poked out noses into them. This is pretty much what got 241 marines killed in Lebanon in 1983.
  3. Not everything bad that happens in the Middle East happened because the U.S. did something evil. First, see item #1 — not everything is about us. I doubt anything in the Middle East is entirely about us. U.S. policy is often a factor, but there are always myriad other factors. However, when we act in ignorance of those other factors, as if everything is just about us, we can make things worse.
  4. Sometimes stuff is in part about us, but saying that is not always “blaming America.” Bin Laden got pissed off at America because U.S. troops were stationed on Saudi soil, but that was not a “bad” thing. Bin Laden is a whackjob. Whackjobs get set off by just about anything. I remember reading about a guy in Europe who became a serial killer after watching Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments.” To say that our stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia was a factor in bringing about 9/11 is not “blaming America.” It’s just a statement of fact.
  5. Whenever we do something in a foreign country, we ought to stop and consider how we’d feel if some foreign power came along and did that same thing in our country. However that might make us feel, we should assume that’s how people in that other foreign country feel about us. Sometimes we have to take action in foreign countries, in our own self-defense, but there will always be messy repercussions.
  6. Because there will always be messy repercussions, messing around in foreign countries needs to be kept to a minimum. Sincere people will disagree on where that “minimum” line might be drawn. But military action requires a sense of reluctance. When people are fired up and eager to go to war, beware. This is a sure indication that emotions are overruling intellect.
  7. As far as righties are concerned, I propose an “automatic tax increase” amendment. Whenever we send troops to foreign soil, taxes (especially on capital gains) must be raised to pay for it. If the thought of a tax increase causes people to think twice about sending troops, we probably don’t need to be sending troops.
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Fantasy and Lies

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Bush Administration, War on Terror

Reuters is reporting a possible al Qaeda threat to the New York City transit system. DHS seems a bit ho-hum about it, but I can’t think of any political reason the Bush Administration would have for hyping imaginary threats now, unless they just wanted to do it one more time.

Dan Froomkin wrote last week,

When and if the curtain is fully pulled back on President Bush’s “war on terror,” how much of what he said will turn out to be true, and how much of it will turn out to be fantasy and lies?

The more we learn, the more it seems the appeals to fear that Bush used to rally the nation behind him were unfounded.

The latest example came yesterday in a federal courtroom in Washington, where a Bush-appointed judge ordered the release of five Algerian men who had been held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp for almost seven years.

As we now know — well, as we’ve pretty much known for some time — the Bushies were not terribly discriminating about the men they scooped up and held at Guantanamo as “enemy combatants.” Our country has been holding innocent men in prison as showcase prisoners, so that the Bushies could point to something resembling progress in the war on terror.

Last night on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show, Jonathan Turley said that Bush was refusing to pardon officials involved in torture because he figures the Dems are too spineless to indict anyone. Probably, yes. I hope I’m wrong.

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The Deadly Democrats

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Obama Administration, Terrorism, War on Terror

David Ignatius’s column today explains jihadists’ reactions to the Obama election.

Before the election, the radical Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradhawi even issued a fatwa supporting John McCain: “Personally, I would prefer for the Republican candidate, McCain, to be elected. This is because I prefer the obvious enemy who does not hypocritically [conceal] his hostility toward you . . . to the enemy who wears a mask [of friendliness].”

Obama makes the jihadists nervous because he is an appealing new face whose ascension undermines the belief that Islam and the West are locked in an inescapable clash of civilizations. “The Democrats kill you slowly without you noticing it. . . . They are like a snake whose touch is not felt until its poison enters your body,” observes Qaradhawi.

Maybe the “like a snake” line was published before, but I didn’t see it. Although even I think Qaradhawi gives the Dems too much credit, it paints an interesting picture: The Dems are cunning and subtle; Republicans are hotheaded fools who react with their emotions instead of their brains.

The real danger of Islamic terrorism, which the war hawk Right is too foolish to see, is not what they can do to us. It’s what they can provoke us into doing to ourselves.

“Even in the Arab world, Obama is very popular,” explains Jean-Pierre Filiu, a French scholar of Islam. “The global jihadists leaned toward McCain because they hoped the confrontation would get worse.”

Four more years of Bush was just what they wanted, and they didn’t get it. On the other hand, the financial crisis is cheering them considerably. Part of Osama bin Laden’s original plan was to lure us into an expensive war in the Middle East that would topple our economy, remember.

Filiu says that among radical Muslims, there is a growing belief that we are entering an apocalyptic “Battle of the End of Time” foretold in a famous saying of the prophet Muhammad. This hadith predicted that the climax would come in the land known as Khorasan, which today includes Afghanistan, the tribal areas of Pakistan and parts of Iran. Filiu has gathered evidence of this Muslim eschatology in a new book called “L’Apocalypse dans l’Islam,” which will be published soon in English.

Maybe they and the extremist Christian fundies can build an apocalyptic theme park where they can act out their fantasies without killing the rest of us.

Unrelated, but a good read: Tod Lindberg, “The Center-Right Nation Exits Stage Left.” And Frank Rich is a hoot today.

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A Patriot Acts

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Democratic Party, War on Terror


Air Force veteran and former: social studies teacher, college professor, and organizational consultant John Nirenberg patiently explains why he’s walking 480+ miles from Boston’s Faneuil Hall to Speaker Pelosi’s office to encourage her to put impeachment “back on the table.”

Scott Ritter, explains below why there is so little overt opposition to an attack on Iran. His words might also explain why Nirenberg decided to hit the road to get an audience with Pelosi (in December, no less):

…very few Americans actually function as citizens anymore. What I mean by that are people who invest themselves in this country, people who care, who give a damn. Americans are primarily consumers today, and so long as they continue to wrap themselves in the cocoon of comfort, and the system keeps them walking down a road to the perceived path of prosperity, they don’t want to rock the boat. If it doesn’t have a direct impact on their day-to-day existence, they simply don’t care.

There’s a minority of people who do, but the majority of Americans don’t. And if the people don’t care — and remember, the people are the constituents — if the constituents don’t care, then those they elect to higher office won’t feel the pressure to change.

The Democrats, one would hope, would live up to their rhetoric, that is, challenging the Bush administration’s imperial aspirations. Once it became clear Iraq was an unmitigated disaster, one would have thought that when the Democrats took control of Congress they would have sought to reimpose a system of checks and balances, as the Constitution mandates. But instead the Democrats have put their focus solely on recapturing the White House, and, in doing so, will not do anything that creates a political window of opportunity for their Republican opponents.

The Democrats don’t want to be explaining to an apathetic constituency, an ignorant constituency whose ignorance is prone to be exploited because it produces fear, fear of the unknown, and the global war on terror is the ultimate fear button. The Democrats, rather than challenging the Bush administration’s position on the global war on terror, challenging the notion of these imminent threats, continues to play them up because that is the safest route toward the White House. At least that is their perception.

…They don’t have the courage of conviction to enter into that debate and stare at whoever makes that statement and say they’re a bald-faced liar. They’re not going to go that route…

I don’t know what the last straw was for Nirenberg. Meanwhile, H.R. 1955, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act recently and quietly passed the House by 404 to 6, and is under consideration by the Senate. John Nichols of the Capital Times:

…H.R. 1955 would establish the framework for an Orwellian network charged with policing not the actions but the thoughts and statements of Americans. It would establish a commission with broad investigative powers and an official charge to propose legislation and regulatory moves to bar whatever thoughts or words the commission identifies as “homegrown terrorism.”

With its authority to call hearings and compel testimony, the commission would invite a return of the days of inquests into “thought crimes” by the likes of Wisconsin Sen. Joe McCarthy and California Sen. Richard Nixon….

Under H.R. 1955, investigators would be authorized to examine Web sites and online communications with an eye toward controlling the free flow of ideas and information that is the lifeblood of the digital age. Indeed, the National Lawyers Guild and the Society of American Law Teachers warn: This legislation “will likely lead to the criminalization of beliefs, dissent and protest, and invite more draconian surveillance of Internet communications.”

…Backers of the bill claim they only want to address what they describe as “threatened” force. But what they identify as a “threat” might be nothing more than an expression of the deep frustration Americans feel with politicians…who show so little respect for freedom of speech.

This legislation suggests that a danger that must be officially addressed — “violent radicalization” — is characterized by the embrace of an “extremist belief system.” But who defines extremism? Didn’t the British label Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine extremists? Didn’t the supporters of World War I attack anti-war campaigners such as Robert M. La Follette and Eugene Victor Debs as extremists? Weren’t supporters of women’s suffrage dismissed as extremists? Weren’t the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bayard Rustin attacked because powerful figures considered their advocacy on behalf of civil rights to be extremist?…

I don’t need to remind you, that the on-air "talent" of Fox News, as well as many voices on the AM dial routinely label many of us reading and writing blogs like this one as "extremists". Jeff Dinelli at the Left Coaster:

…The cleverly worded law would allow the government to arrest and imprison anyone who speaks out against the Bush administration, the Iraq occupation, the Department of Homeland Security or any other government agency, including the FDA….It is the latest in a long line of fear-mongering legislation that stretches back to the birth of our nation, as pointed out in a fine post by Phillip Giraldi at HuffPo.

Forget that this is going to be specifically aimed at Muslim organizations. This is the beginning of the end to Free Speech in America. If this law passes, every information source you know and trust could be shut down and its authors arrested…

Would you have believed thirty years ago that there would be Free Speech Zones in America? H.R. 1955 was co-authored by not by some far right nutcase, but by Jane Harman, a California Democrat, chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence. The fact that she’s considered mainstream, and that the bill passed while the news was occupied with massive fires in her home state, helped the bill dodge public attention. Harman’s district contains a number of defense contractors and borders the district that’s home to the RAND Corporation, which IMO would be a beneficiary of this legislation

You can feel what’s left of our democracy, "ossifying up", as the bill’s thought police will likely chill what’s left of Free Speech in America. Its intent and vague language is a step toward putting web sites like this one out of business.

Join John Nirenberg, either in person on US Route 1, or via his website March in My Name.

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Iraq is Just a Comma

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Bush Administration, Iraq War, Middle East, War on Terror

When the final history is written on Iraq, it will look just like a comma.

– George W. Bush

You can hear it among the troops. The following email is from the political humor site BartCop, with the not-very-funny title We Are Going To Hit Iran…Bigtime:

[Update from maha: Per commenter PB, this was crossposted on Daily Kos and then taken down after its authenticity was questioned. I don’t know about its authenticity, but I confirmed that it was taken off DK. Read with a big grain of salt.]

I have a friend who is an LSO on a carrier attack group that is planning and staging a strike group deployment into the Gulf of Hormuz. (LSO: Landing Signal Officer- she directs carrier aircraft while landing) She told me we are going to attack Iran. She said that all the Air Operation Planning and Asset Tasking are finished. That means that all the targets have been chosen, prioritized, and tasked to specific aircraft, bases, carriers, missile cruisers and so forth.

I asked her why she is telling me this. Her answer was really amazing…

She started in the Marines and after 8 years her term was up… She…successfully changed from the Marines to the Navy. Her role is still aligned with the Marines since she generally is assigned to liaison with the Marine units deploying off her carrier group.

Like most Marines and former Marines, she is largely apolitical. The fact is, most Marines are trigger pullers and most trigger pullers couldn’t care less who the President is. They simply want to be the tip of the sword when it comes to defending the country. She voted once in her life and otherwise was always in some forward post on the water during election season.

Something is wrong with the Navy and the Marines in her view. Always ready to go in harms way, Marines rarely ever question unless it’s a matter of tactics or honor. But something seems awry. Junior and senior officers are starting to grumble, roll their eyes in the hallways. The strain of deployments is beginning to hit every jot and tittle of the Marines and it’s beginning to seep into the daily conversation of Marines and Naval officers in command decision.

"I know this will sound crazy coming from a Naval officer", she said. "But we’re all just waiting for this administration to end. Things that happen at the senior officer level seem more and more to happen outside of the purview of XOs and other officers who typically have a say-so in daily combat and flight operations. Today, orders just come down from the mountaintop and there’s no questioning. In fact, there is no discussing it. I have seen more than one senior commander disappear and then three weeks later we find out that he has been replaced. That’s really weird. It’s also really weird because everyone who has disappeared has questioned whether or not we should be staging a massive attack on Iran."

"We’re not stupid. Most of the members of the fleet read well enough to know what is going on world-wise. We also realize that anyone who has any doubts is in danger of having a long military career yanked out from under them. Keep in mind that most of the people I serve with are happy to be a part of the global war on terror. It’s just that the touch points are what we see since we are the ones out here who are supposedly implementing this grand strategy. But when you liaison with administration officials who don’t know that Iranians don’t speak Arabic and have no idea what Iranians live like, then you start having second thoughts about whether these Administration officials are even competent."

I asked her about the attack, how limited and so forth.

"I don’t think it’s limited at all. We are shipping in and assigning every damn Tomahawk we have in inventory. I think this is going to be massive and sudden, like thousands of targets. I believe that no American will know when it happens until after it happens. And the consequences… whatever the consequences… they will have to be lived with. Something inside me tells me to tell it anyway."

I asked her why she was suddenly so cynical.

"I have become cynical only recently. I also don’t believe anyone will be able to stop this. Bush has become something of an Emperor. He will give the command, and cruise missiles will fly and aircraft will fly and people will die, and yet few of us here are really able to cobble together a great explanation of why this is a good idea….

"That’s what’s missing. A real sense of purpose. What’s missing is the answer to what the hell are we doing out here threatening this country with all this power? Last night in the galley, an ensign asked what right do we have to tell a sovereign nation that they can’t build a nuke. I mean the table got EF Hutton quiet. Not so much because the man was asking a question that was off culture. But that he was asking a good question. In fact, the discussion actually followed afterwards topside where someone in our group had to smoke a cigarette. The discussion was intelligent but also in lowered voices. It’s like we aren’t allowed to ask the questions that we always ask before combat. It’s almost as if the average seaman or soldier is doing all the policy work."

She had to hang up. She left by telling me that she believes the attack is a done deal. "It’s only a matter of time before their orders come and they will be sent to station and told to go to Red Alert. She said they were already practicing traps, FARP and FAST." (Trapping is the act of catching the tension wires when landing on the carrier, FARP is Fleet Air Combat Maneuvering Readiness Program- practice dogfighting- and FAST is Fleet Air Superiority Training).

She seemed lost. The first time in my life I have ever heard her sound off rhythm, or unsure of why she is doing something. She knows that there is something rotten in the Naval Command and she, like many of her associates are just hoping that the election brings in someone new, some new situation, or something.

"Yes. We’re gong to hit Iran, bigtime. Whatever political discussions that are going on is window dressing and perhaps even a red herring. I see what’s going on below deck here in the hangars and weapons bays. And I have a sick feeling about how it’s all going to turn out."

You can hear it among the intelligentsia. From Chris Floyd’s Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock: Countdown to Midnight in Persia:

…Juan Cole points us to the story by Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane, who reported on the study by two respected British academics on the likely course of the coming war. According to Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, former Director of the British American Security Information Council, the war preparations now being made by the Bush Administration bespeak something far beyond a quick punitive strike on Iranian Guards positions or lightning raid on Iran’s nuclear power facilities. Instead, what the Bush-Cheney junta envision is the complete destruction of the Iranian state in an aerial blitzkrieg aimed at up to 10,000 targets inside Iran.

The goal, says Plesch and Butcher, is to:

"destroy Iran’s WMD [capabilities], nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order…Any attack is likely to be on a massive multi-front scale but avoiding a ground invasion. Attacks focused on WMD facilities would leave Iran too many retaliatory options, leave President Bush open to the charge of using too little force and leave the regime intact. US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours. US ground, air and marine forces already in the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan can devastate Iranian forces, the regime and the state at short notice."

Chris continues:

The assault will most likely be made with conventional weapons, the authors say, as the political and environmental effects of a nuclear strike on Iran would not be worth the limited military value of such an attack. After all, the Bushists want to control Iran and milk it dry after they destroy the regime and slaughter a vast number of innocent people. Halliburton and Exxon wouldn’t be able to move right in and start gobbling up loot in a radiated land.

This is what is coming. This is what the Bushists will be selling to us soon. (Glenn Greenwald has a useful roundup of the growing madness here.) One sees comments here and there to the effect that "the American people will never accept this," that "Bush can’t get away with this kind of thing after Iraq," or that "this isn’t 2002, with everyone still raw and dazed after 9/11," etc., etc. But such declarations are pipe-dreams, foolish hopes. As we have pointed out here many times, Bush and Cheney are not interested in obtaining the "consent of the governed" for their militarist agenda — nor do they need it.

Congress has already given its overwhelming approval to the specious reasons for war that Bush and his minions have advanced. The corporate media is doing its part again too…..

Earlier this summer, I highlighted Milton Mayer’s They Thought They Were Free, which details how Nazism slowly took over Germany in the 30s and 40s. It came up so slowly that the masses of people simply adapted, and life went on. We Americans have been going through something very similar under Bush. All of us have been watching our country, as we knew it, slowly slip away.

There comes a point in this process where a discontinuity appears, where it becomes unmistakably clear to everyone that Things Have Irreversibly Changed and There is No Going Back. For Nazi Germany, this point of no return probably happened when it invaded Poland, and the Allies declared war. Attacking Iran, if it happens as described, IMO will be this point of no return for America. It will unleash unprecedented consequences both at home and abroad. Bush will be proven correct: Iraq was just a comma, a stop on the way to what they were really after.

Countdown to Midnight in Persia concludes:

But let us bear witness to the truth while we can still speak the truth: This is murder. And all those who do not speak out against it — and against all those in high places who do nothing to stop it — are fully complicit in this abomination. No excuses, no mitigation, not this time. Speak out — or be damned with the criminals who thrive on your silence.

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