Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

Get Smart

April 24, 2009

It is Friday again, and you know what that means: assigned reading and listening for the weekend ahead.  If I don’t take responsibility for your enlightenment, who will?

This issue of torture is riveting because how we treat our enemies is, in a nutshell, the measure of who we are:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-atran/the-moral-measure-of-a-ci_b_188579.html

This torture dilemma is wrapped up in the dual questions of transparency/accountability and the possibility of prosecution, is in the forefront of the news and we all need to educate ourselves on the merits of taking steps to expose and possibly punish those responsible.   One thing is for certain:  Americans do not like any circumstance that is long, drawn-out and emotionally taxing and draining.  We are an impatient people, whether the specific issue at hand is a war, a recession or a scandal.  Furthermore, Americans, when faced with an obstacle, want to take immediate steps to remedy the situation.  Whether or not immediate action is wise, practical and useful is of less importance than just making the problem go away right now.

This is exactly what we are faced with on the torture issue and the question of whether or not the Justice Department should take the inquiry and possible prosecution up to the highest levels of government.  On one hand, we have those that say it is in the best interest of national security to avoid such public transparency.   Even President Obama himself would prefer to put this issue to bed now and focus more on the future rather than the past.  On the other hand, we have those who, knowing that these policies were immoral and illegal, insist that the very groundwork  on which this country was founded is on the line.  The Iraq war and its accompanying POW practices were illegal and for the United States NOT to prosecute the top people who condoned these practices is an illegal act in and of itself.  Our national security and international reputation actually suffered substantially from all this blatant nose-thumbing at national and international law.  Therefore, to go after these criminals would not hurt us further; quite the contrary.  We MUST prosecute the guilty to in fact redeem ourselves and return to those founding principles of our Constitution.

Here then, is an Op-Ed piece supporting the side that wants to put this torture issue behind us, without further investigation and possible prosecution of officials, i.e. Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/opinion/23iht-edcohen.html

I do understand Roger Cohen’s viewpoint.  Yes, our government, media and Justice Department all failed in their oversight of the tactics used during the last seven years with regard to the war in Iraq.  Cohen believes that these checks and balances are now back in working order.  He feels that Obama’s decision to “out” the offending memos is enough for us to assume the correct path.  Sorry: unless this process is taken to its natural conclusion, that being accountability and prosecution, enough is NOT enough.  I am a big believer in consequences.  Atrocious acts WILL happen over and over again unless the resultant consequences are appropriate, steep and effective in dissuading future copy-cat behavior.  To refuse to fully investigate and if necessary, suffer consequences, would be a repudiation of everything that is the United States of America.

On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of individuals who want this investigation to go as high up as necessary.  Paul Krugman today had an article in the New York Times focusing on the “soul” of America:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/opinion/24krugman.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

Read his words carefully.  You would have to be a horse’s ass to deny Krugman’s last thought that to prevent further invesitigation is to deny our future:

“We need to do this for the sake of our future. For this isn’t about looking backward, it’s about looking forward — because it’s about reclaiming America’s soul.”

A few other events of relevance  must be cited.  On the MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show earlier this week, she had a true coup of an interview with Philip Zelikow.  He was on board at the Office of Legal Counsel at the same time as Jay Bybee and John Yoo.  However, Zelikow took the opposite position on torture: he deemed such practices as water-boarding to be illegal.  Gutsy.  Of course, his memos have since disappeared.  Please watch the following video from Maddow’s interview with Zelikow:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#30335366

Then today, Zelikow had his own say in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/opinion/24zelikow.html?ref=opinion

Finally, President Obama, on April 15th, had a sit-down debate on the torture issue, listening to both sides.  Keep in mind that we are dealing with not only transparency of this issue, but also the content, and if this content demands prosecution.  Unlike John Boehner, who accused Obama of being unpatriotic because he released these memos to the American public, this panel assembled by Obama dealt with the whys and wherefores of future prosecution.  What kind of idiot is this Boehner?  No matter how illegal these acts were, Boehner believes that the public should have remained in the dark.  Does he not care at all about the content and substance of what went on, or is it all about covering up?  Has Boehner ever commented on the sheer illegality of these torture tactics?  No.  The content of the memos is not a worthy issue for Boehner;  it is the publication of the memos, informing the public, that is the total issue for him.  All looks, no substance.  But hey, he has a real nice tan.

Anyway, on one side of this debate were Leon Panetta, current CIA chief, and the immediate four previous  CIA heads.  These men were in favor of not prosecuting.  On the other side of the debate were Defense head Robert Gates, Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and White House counsel Gregory Craig.  I must tell you, I have been most impressed with the thoughts and actions of Robert Gates during these first few months of our new administration.  His comments at this particular meeting were wise because they were so simple and true.  Gates said that the publication of these memos that rationalized the legality of these torturous acts were “inevitable.”  How true; how prescient.  Remember: it is usually the cover-up, not the initial deed, that slams shuts the door on the acceptance of consideration and sympathy in any scandal.

At any rate, the forces on the side for public awareness and follow-up investigation won the day.  The phenomenal aspect that I am in awe of though, had to do with the way President Obama handled this meeting.  First, he gathered members of opposing camps so that he could have a fair and honest overview.  Then, once he made up his mind, he dictated a memo right in front of all the participants.  I guess we know where exactly the buck stops.  We actually have an actively engaged, interested and responsible leader.  Glory be!  The link below is a much more detailed account of this meeting.  It was the lead article of the Washington Post today:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/23/AR2009042304718.html?nav=hcmodule

Finally, we must remember that the final decision to go forth in this investigation and possibly bring those guilty parties to justice is solely within the power of the Department of Justice, not President Obama.  So far, all our President has done in this matter is to fact find and release that information to the American public.  Imagine!  The outrage and accusations of “traitor” that have befallen our President are, above all, the ultimate violation of our Constitution.

So please forgive me for all this assigned reading.  If you value your freedoms and your right to speak and act on them, you owe it to yourself and your country to “get smart”.

A Liberal Patriot

March 30, 2009

Oh no!  Write this day down in history: I beg to differ with Paul Krugman.

Today in the New York Times, Krugman speaks of how “tarnished” the United States has become in the eyes of the world, especially Europe.  I will give that one to Krugman.  We deserve some dirt on our faces.  However, no one forced other countries and their corporate entities to follow suit.  Credit Lyonnaise, Societe Generale and RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) all had their own pigs at the helm.  Certainly, from their governments to their board of directors to each and every employee, they did not have  their hands tied above their heads and placed on a water-board to follow the same greedy, speculative path that the good ole’ USA had chosen.  There were ALWAYS options, such as assuming regulatory, corporate and individual responsibility.  So no, Mr. Krugman, this time you have gone overboard.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/30/opinion/30krugman.html

In my opinion, Europe has always shown a lack of guts and backbone, instead sitting by and watching whatever outrage (the Nazis marching in to Czechoslovakia in 1938, Poland in 1939, the monstrous murder of six million Jews right in their own backyard, the German occupation of France during WW II, the blitzing of London during that same time period, the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 —– should I go on or is that enough?) visited their lands.  Furthermore, I have observed that once Europe chose to be just a bystander to events happening on their continent, they then bitched and moaned, turned tail, and whined and cried that the U.S. needs to come save them.  And we did.

Well  Mr. Krugman, I take exception to that tack.  It is time for each and every country, corporation and individual to save themselves through intelligence, responsible policies and dedication to the fight for what is right.  By stupidity and greed, the U.S. almost brought down its own house.  Looks like our European counterparts blindly followed suit, and now want to blame our country for their sheep-like actions.  This time Europe needs to stand on its own two feet, not exemplify its typical cowardice, take the necessary punches and blame for allowing the same garbage that the U. S. allowed to get by them, all for the sake of personal enrichment.  Mr. Krugman, Europe, as well as our own nation, needs to pay the piper.

On another point, I believe that Krugman will be proven wrong.  Everyone and their mother are predicting an angry backlash towards President Obama and our nation once he hits the European shores for the G20 economic summit this week.  I foresee the people of Europe rallying around Obama, not trashing him.  They will turn on their own leaders who, like the null and void GOP and such companies like GM and Chrysler, have not done their homework and instead rely on their stunning good looks   (Ha!) to get them a huge infusion of government money to avoid any real work to change the financial particulars of their companies and the necessary innovative responsiveness that the future requires.  Taking public money to maintain the same old status quo does not a turnaround make.  In government as well as finance, we have seen a total abrogation of anything that resembles responsibility, both here and across the pond.

Good on ya’, Mr. President, for firing Rick Wagoner’s ass at GM.  He has had months to come up with a viable plan to save his company and place it in the running for future industry innovation and leadership.  Leadership begets leadership, and Wagoner has not delivered.

President Obama has delivered and will continue to do so on many fronts.  He has taken the mantra of responsibility from his and Michelle’s personal realm, by refusing the allotted $100,000 to renovate the White House’s living quarters and instead will spend their own money, to the corporate world by giving GM and Chrysler 30 to 60 days to get their act in gear or  undergo restructuring, to showing the world that yes, we have a leader, and a damn good one, in the United States of America.  He has guts and conviction, something historically missing from “the continent”.  Watch what happens when he makes his sojourn to Europe.  Obama will set the stage for global cooperation, economically and ideologically, by his example of sacrifice and vision.  Europe is going to have to take the same difficult steps we must to assure a fruitful recovery.   Krugman is wrong: there will be tremendous support for this man who will turn out to be not only our great hope, but also that of the world.

I am annoyed at Krugman for slamming our country so quickly and completely.  Who says a flaming liberal can not be a patriot?**

**The term “liberal patriot” is not an oxymoron.  Here is an example of what is an oxymoron.  Having lived in the D.C. metropolitan area for over two decades, I often drive by the CIA headquarters.  Years ago, that facility was renamed The George Bush Center For Intelligence, referring to the first President Bush.  That, my friends, is an oxymoron, equating George Bush with any degree of smarts.  However, little did I realize until his son, George W. assumed the presidency, that the CIA’s new name wasn’t so bad.  Everything is relative, and George the Second made his father seem like a genius.