Archive for the ‘National security’ Category

By CFS

A favorite theory of mine about the fall of the Roman Empire states that centrifugal force (outward) eventually became too much for the centripetal forces (inward) to counteract in the whirling machine that was Roman society.  The costs of holding the Empire together became too much for the benefits of Empire to overcome and slowly portions of the Empire were abandoned, forgotten, or fell away from a lack of resources or will to keep hold of certain possessions.

I bring this up because I wonder… I wonder how far along America is down this road once trodden by Rome.

For almost a thousand years, Rome was the shinning city atop seven hills in whose direction her neighbors cast their glare with envy. Rome – at the founding of the Republic – was a revolutionary idea, an idea that  Romans delivered to the world at the tip of the sword, the base of a road, through amazing organizational skills, and a promise.  The promise that no matter how low a station a person might occupy on their birth to this world the rewards of Roman citizenship could be within one’s grasp.  Citizenship was a symbol,  not even a Roman freedman bowed to a foreign king.  A foreign king might have immense power, but was not the equal of even the lowest Roman.

The idea of Rome, more so than her machinery, was the true glue to which divergent cultures, when coming into contact with Rome, could not escape its inward pull.  The benefits from such technological innovations as voting, legal representation,  logistics, and roads helped a great deal.  But still, the idea that with every conquest, ever glory, every extension of Roman roads another mile from the heart of Empire would result in the improvement of the human condition was the true essence of Rome’s might. For centuries these forces helped the Romans to build perhaps the greatest empire in our short-lived history.

However, centrifugal forces eventually ate into the benefits that Rome could provide, and once the cost/benefit swung away from favoring Rome, her hegemonic status wavered and slowly fell.  Pressure from maintaining a standing army responsible for 1,930,511 sq mi, limits of state bureaucracy, the end of conquest as economic policy, public works that were not maintained and allowed to fall into disrepair, and many other factors put pressure on the state’s ability to maintain a machinery of such immense scope.  The greatest centrifugal force was perhaps the eventual establishment of the principate, an institution by its very definition originally put in place as a stop-gap measure against forces pulling the Empire apart.

Circumstances arose within the last century of the Republic that threatened to tear Roman power and society apart.  The accumulation of so much power  and wealth in the hands of so few had led to a wild escalation in a fanciful game known as politics.  To control Rome was to control the world and bestowed upon the ruling faction the ability to completely wipe out one’s political opponents.  Of course this happened multiple times and it was only through the principate that a cap on deadly political ambitions could be placed.  The principate worked as directed for some time, but eventually became the object of concerted and prolonged power-struggles.  Resources were pulled from investing in Rome’s future and protecting her holdings to fighting civil wars for control of the state machinery.

To bring this back to more modern times, we, like Rome, have found ourselves with an accidental Empire, and we, like Rome, find ourselves with an increasingly hectic political theater more interested in fighting over power than with investing in the future of our country.  And as Congress and the Senate become ever more dysfunctional we are blessed with an increasingly insular Presidency in the process of gathering an ever greater amount of power within its institutional walls.  And our greatest strength, that American sheen that draws people around the world to American ideals is starting to tarnish.

Maybe the stench of decay is especially pungent at the moment and the cliff on which we look over a precipitously steep drop to the jagged rocks below, but whatever the situation, it sure feels as if the Chevy V-8 is only clunking along on 2 cylinders.

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By CFS

This come from an AP story featured in the Missoulian today:

The revelation that intelligence gleaned from the CIA’s so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history.

“We got beat up for it, but those efforts led to this great day,” said Marty Martin, a retired CIA officer who for years led the hunt for bin Laden.

Get the full article here: http://tinyurl.com/4223ltt

So fuck it… Let’s shred the constitution as long as it makes us feel safe and gives us petrol prices below $4 per gallon.

And if these black sites and torture are so successful, why didn’t we capture Osama and send him somewhere to be interigated?

By CFS

It would seem that we in America are once again experiencing a kumbaya moment in which we all hug, hold hands, and say things like “America, Fuck Yeah!” and chant “USA, USA.” All because of the killing of one man. But in watching the news reports of celebrations taking place outside of the White House and where the twin towers used to grace the skyline of NYC, I couldn’t help but see parallels between how some Americans reacted and how some Muslims reacted after 9/11.

When we were surprised by this:

Some in the Muslim world reacted like this:

In many respects we couldn’t understand why there would be anybody in the world that would be happy with an attack on America. We collectively scratched our heads seeking answers to why people hated us. And because we have no understanding of history, of cause and effect, we smugly came to the conclusion that it was because they hate our freedom, or that Islam was simply a naturally violent and barbaric religion.

Yet when we final got revenge with this:

Some in America reacted like this:

Now, I’m not saying that the attacks that occurred on September 11th and the killing of Osama Bin Laden are equivalent acts of violence. The people in the Twin Towers were innocent, Osama had crimes to pay for. The deaths of 3,000 unsuspecting people on that morning can not be rationalized, while Osama had to have known what fate held in store for him, he knew he was a hunted man. Otherwise, he would not have been hiding out in a high security compound. Osama Bin Laden deserved to be punished for his actions, to be brought to justice for the atrocities he set in motion.

But what the two events share is their symbolism. The attacks on 9/11 weren’t so much aimed at the people in those buildings as they were the symbols of American strength, both financial and martial. Osama struck at the heart of our empire, attempting to unveil the corruption and moral degradation that lies at the core of our world spanning reach. Our strike this weekend, cutting off the head of Al Qaeda, was just as symbolic. We proved that no matter how long we have to wait or how far we have to go, America will hunt down every last terrorist and we will show no mercy. There will be no day in court for the likes of Osama Bin Laden. Others like him will be put down like the dogs that they are.

News that we got Osama was an emotional release… an end to a chapter in our current American story. But for all the celebrating there needs to be a more focused and inward reflection of what this event really means for our current situation. And my guess would be that beyond the symbolism, beyond the feel good moment, little will change. Our quest for hegemony will continue unabated and the world’s reaction to such a geopolitical reality will continue.

I’ll leave you with this somber reflection…

by jhwygirl

The latest meme from our bloviating Governor Brian Schweitzer is that the Canadian tar sands – slated for expansion – are (get this) “conflict free”:

“I would say this is conflict-free oil and I don’t want to send one more son or daughter from Montana to defend an oil supply from one of these dictators and become dependent on that energy supply,” he said in an interview with the Canadian Press from his office in Helena.

Really?

There are Canadiansordinary citizens, doctors and Fort Chipewyan tribal members – that would disagree with you.

Does the fact that they don’t have bombs and guns make it conflict free? Because I don’t agree with that. I know I’m not the only one.

Hypocrisy and ignorance barely begins to describe the irony behind Schweitzer’s comments to the Canadian press this past week. Governor Schweitzer is a guy who doesn’t want to see the Flathead mined, yet approved a coal mine next to a Class 1 air shed (tromping on Crow tribal rights) and an alluvial floodplain right in Montana’s Tongue River valley.

Governor Schweitzer is a guy – born in Montana – who doesn’t seem to know his history, or even the higher cancer rates we saw right here in the upper Clark Fork basin because of the rape and pillage by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company (think Atlas Shrugs by Ayn Rand) that polluted everything near it from Butte to Missoula and beyond.

Schweitzer’s comments were made all the more pornographic given they occurred 30 years from when corporate irresponsibility suffocated Anaconda Montana.

Maybe The Brian should read Anaconda native Patrick Duganz’s words?

If they aren’t enough to expose him to the conflict of corporate irresponsibility, perhaps he should try and learn the lessons so many others haven’t forgotten of the dirty filth that mining has layed upon our lands.

Schweitzer sure is oblivious to this stuff isn’t he – and consider he’s got 130 million or so dollars of Natural Resource Damage Protection Program funds to spend to try and buy back lands to mitigate that environmental disaster thrust upon our state 100 years ago.

Maybe he forgot where that money came from?

Schweitzer is spouting off his newest talking point of “conflict free” as pressure mounts, nationwide, to stop the transport of the Korean-built Kearl modules up and over the Montana-Idaho border, adjacent to the Clearwater and Lochsa River, adjacent to Lolo Creek…through Missoula and next to the Blackfoot A-River-Runs-Through-It River, then up and over another mountain pass and on to the tar sands in Alberta.

Movie director and producer James Cameron? This Montanan thanks you.

Our Governor feigns to respect tribal peoples – yet the Nez Pierce, over who’s native lands these modules will travel – have objected to the modules.

Scientific journals are confirming high levels of carcinogens, mutagens, and teratogens such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium being thrust upon the native peoples of Canada. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America has published a paper explaining the pornography of the situation.

Discover Magazine has a pedestrian-friendly article on the issue.

Governor Schweitzer? You call yourself a scientist, don’t you? If cancer was reigning down in your watershed, would you call that “conflict free”?

Did Montana call that conflict free when it happened here?

by jhwygirl

One Cessna 172 Skyhawk, a full tank of fuel, 783 air miles, 7 hours, two F-16 Air Force fighter jets and one evacuated state Capitol: Priceless.

Priceless in all kinds of ways, huh?

I think it says somewhere in there that he looked right at those F-16 pilots and waved…..

by jhwygirl

Courtney Lowery, of Newwest, had a interesting piece up on the rising price of farmland in the west. There’s lots of links with information…and makes you wonder what happens to America when we’ve developed up all our farmland? Should maintaining a certain amount of farmland (Oh, I can hear the catcalls now) be a consideration in the concept of National Security?

The inherent danger of not having enough space to be self-sufficient for a most simplistic need? The huge sucking of energy resources it takes to travel this most basic need 1000’s of miles to our kitchen tables? Is 1,500 miles for lettuce reasonable? Wouldn’t be able to ensure that we can provide foodstuffs to third world nations make us more stable?

Or is the production of food just too untechnical and without big enough profit that we’re better off to do things like drill more oil? I do believe that the people who are pushing drill, drill, drill are not only very short-sighted, but that the electeds that think the same way are more beholden to ‘old energy money’ than to ‘new energy money’. See, those wind mills aren’t as profit-making for a huge infrastructure web of corporations as an oil rig.

Think of the same for coal….and hell, we’ve got electeds out there pushing for coal-to-liquid gasification and we’ve yet to perfect the technology?! We don’t even have the plants and that is our idea of moving forward? In 2008?!

We’re well out of the time range of my lifeline, even if we were to start an Apollo-like energy program – and I don’t envision that we’ll ever rid ourselves of using crude – but I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why anyone – anyone – can’t see the logic of wanting to take pressure off of the crude oil market by pushing for wind and hydroelectric and other alternative clean energy sources.

We’ve known for years that we’re loosing ranching to development pressures – to rising land values, that, when you pencil it out, ranching simply isn’t economical. But when you start using the word “farmland” like Ms. Lowery did, it really brings it home.

America can’t grow without food, but is there not a cost/security-effective balance somewhere? A tipping point where we’ve either got to develop smarter or risk security?

Once it’s gone – farmland – it’s gone. We aren’t going to get it back.

Maybe we should start thinking about that.

by jhwygirl

Bernie Mac, comedian and actor, dead at 50? WTF?!

Russia is attacking Georgia. Georgia is pretty much a democratic nation – and has been warning off Russia for years. Russia, on the other hand, sees the possibility of having Georgia become a NATO stronghold unacceptable. Georgia’s counting on the west to save them, saying that if we don’t, we show everyone that this path (democracy) doesn’t work. Only if you have oil, my friend, only if you have oil.

Some guys from Minot AFB in North Dakota overturned a truck, spilling unarmed intercontinental ICBM rocket boosters into a ditch. The neighborhood was apparently unfazed – at the local coffee hole, neighbors talked about everything but that missile: “I guess that shows that people aren’t worried about it,” said Mrs. Zacher. “I know I’m certainly not.”

The Air Force, apparently, has other problems too. Not good, boys….I’m not sure, but I doubt this fits the criteria for National Security.

Despite our recent tit-for-tat, I do so enjoy The Indy. And just to show it, make sure you check out Patrick Klemz’s week-in-review of the Hell’s Angels visit. I especially liked the inside info on their hill-climbing activities.

Obama’s “Tire Gauge Solution” is apparently no joke. Put it this way: Bush has said that off-shore drilling will increase our production by 1% by 2030. Meanwhile, checking the tire pressure will increase mileage by 3% immediately and then getting a tune-up would add another 4%.

With an instant faux boost to oil production like that, Obama should paint those facts on red, white and blue tire gauges, along with “Vote Obama” on them – and hand ’em out….just like Republicans did when they were trying to make fun of him.

by jhwygirl

May 25, 1961:

I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshalled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.

Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them many months of leadtime, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time to come in still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our own. For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last. We take an additional risk by making it in full view of the world, but as shown by the feat of astronaut Shepard, this very risk enhances our stature when we are successful. But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.

I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:
First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

JFK gave this speech (above is only a minuscule portion) to a joint Congress in what could effectively be described as his State of the Union assessment, having sized up American from inside the pearly white walls of the White House for four months. The Cold War was in its full glory; the economy, while strong, was showing sign of weakening; and social unrest driven by the civil rights movement was driving to its apex.

Kennedy felt that America’s security was threatened by the Russian space program – Sputnik, first, and then their success in launching a man into space. Kennedy decided that putting all of the United State’s resources behind beating the Russians in their space race, by landing a man on the moon – a tremendous challenge, considering how far behind we were – was best for the nation. The proposal was thought by many to be sheer lunacy.

Just 16 months later, on September 12, 1962, Kennedy gave a second speech on the race to the moon at Rice University, defending both the dedication of government resources and the enormous expense.:

And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this State, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space. Houston, your City of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year’s space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year–a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United Stated, for we have given this program a high national priority–even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun–almost as hot as it is here today–and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.

~~~~~
So here America sits, in 2008: in the throes of an illegal – what McCain has said will be 100 years – war in Iraq; the country divided maybe not by race, but by political and religious extremism; and our addiction to oil essentially, in a very backhanded way, funding the very terrorists that attacked our nation on September 11th.

Can we eliminate our need for crude? I don’t think so – at least my unscientific mind can’t imagine, realistically, a Jetson family-style world – but do I think that America can create a world where the bulk of our elementary carbon-fuel based needs (such as electricity and heat and small vehicle transport) can be met with alternative and more efficient means.

If a president can state an impossible goal, from a point so far behind the curve that many can call him crazy, we can harness the power of the wind and the sun to power our homes. If we can put a man on the moon and bring him back to earth in just over 8 years, we can build household transportation that efficiently uses a combination of fuels and newer technology. We can make oil a minor source of our energy need.

This is America. Where is the “can do” mentality from our government – from its citizens? The “can do” mentality that makes or breaks the corporate world and its inhabitants?

Go ahead and laugh. It’s that mentality that holds us back and keeps us beholden to Middle East interests.

America must begin to dream. Today. Tomorrow. Now.

Time’s a-wastin’.

by jhwygirl

I marked my calendar a little over a week ago for Scott McClellan’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, which will be looking into the leak which exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Valerie Plame was undercover investigating the trafficking of yellowcake uranium in Niger, and trying to keep the stuff out of Iraq. Her name was leaked out of the Whitehouse, and Scooter Libby was subsequently found guilty of obstruction of justice, for failing to reveal the source of the leak. Libby’s sentence was quickly commuted by President George W. Bush.

Shows the Whitehouse’s commitment to national security, huh?

Hearing begins at 8am (MST), and C-Span radio will be streaming. Go to C-Span for specifics.

by jhwygirl

Kucinich was just warming us up – on June 20th, former Bush Whitehouse press secretary Scott McClellan will be testifying before the House Judiciary Committee regarding what he knows about the leaking of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, who was working to prevent the underground trade in yellowcake uranium.

It’s my belief that Vice-President Dick Cheney was the source of the leak, and as such, committed treason. Libby Scooter, Cheney’s chief of staff, was sentenced to jail for obstruction of justice – for failure to reveal who told him that Plame was a spy – for failure to reveal the source of the leak. There’s way more to what has formed my firm belief that Cheney leaked Plame’s name – and anyone with time and motivation can go out and inform themselves. It’s not like there’s a dearth of information on the issue.

Last April, Kucinich had introduced a resolution of articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney. The resolution was killed, but only after Republicans voted in favor of taking up the measure to force a debate.

I know this all seems too radical for some, but the Constitution is the damned basis of our Government – and illegal torture, misuse of the FISA court, illegal surveillance, destruction of evidence, suspension of habeas corpus, war crimes, treason – at what point do Americans stand firm and say “No More”? At what point do our elected officials stand tall and speak up for our government? The government which our forefathers envisioned and put onto paper?

Scotty testifies on the 20th…and despite what I’ve thought about his need for a paycheck, maybe he really is seeking redemption. He might want to think about getting a bullet-proof vest and a bodyguard, though – they may come in handy.

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by jhwygirl

Monday night’s The Daily Show – which shows at midnight Tuesday morning here in the mountain west – had an extremely interesting interview with Douglas Feith, former Undersecretary for Defense Policy – the man who helped formulate the war in Iraq.

So there I was a midnight, trying to fall asleep. Stewart interviewing Feith about his book, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism. {yawn}

Boy, I was wrong.

Maybe he thought he’d get the cakewalk that McCain got last week when Stewart let the defacto Republican presidential candidate escape any question regarding his pastor problems (Pastor I-hate-Catholics Hagee and Pastor Rod Islam-is-a-false-religion-that-must-be-destroyed-by-America Parsley).

Far from it – Feith was but-but-buttin’ from the get go, but only after a deadpan “holy crap” look on his face from Stewart’s first real question out of the box, after first asking him what was his favorite baseball team. Video is best, really – like I said, the look on his face was priceless, but here’s some highlights:

Stewart: oh, man. we really disagree. mets. “war: indecision.” what if it boils down to that, i like the mets, you like the phillies. the whole thing falls apart. it seem like in reading it sort of the basic idea of the book– and tell me if i’m wrong– that a lot of what we know about the run-up to the iraq war, a low of the conventional wisdom is wrong. this idea that, i think it’s something that you might take offense to that we were misled into war somehow. (one person applauding)…
settle down. it will be a long ten minutes, lady. the idea we’re misled in a war is wrong. now, from this side of it, i always felt like we were misled. so, let’s bridge that gap in ten minutes. what makes you say we were not misled? what was so honest about….

Feith: i think the administration had an honest belief in the things that it said. some of the things that it said about the war that were part of the rationale for the war were wrong. errors are not lies. i think much of what the administration said was correct and provided an important argument that leaving saddam hussein in power would have been extremely risky even though the president’s decision to remove him was extremely risky.

Stewart: let me stop you there because the president’s decision to remove him was extremely risky. that’s not the sense, i think, that the american people got in the run-up. (applause) the sense that you got from people was not… the sense was, we’ll be greeted as liberators. it will last maybe six weeks, maybe six months. it will pay for itself. all these scenarios that were publicly proffered never happened. you said something that i thought was interesting. the common refrain that the post war has been a disaster is only true if you had completely unrealistic expectations. where would we have gotten those expectations? (laughing)

Feith: well, there were a lot of things that did not go according to expectations. we know that the war has been bloodier and costlyier and lengthyier than anybody hoped. but the president had an extremely difficult task. after 9/11, there was a great sensitivity to our vulnerability. and the president had to weigh– and what i do in the book is i look at the actual documents where secretary rumsfeld was writing to the president and powell and rice and the vice president and general myers and others. i talk about what they said to each other and what they were saying back to secretary rumsfeld. what you see is there was a serious consideration of the very great risks of war. i think that many of them were actually discussed with the public. but to tell you the truth, looking back one thing is absolutely clear. this administration made grocerors in the way it talked about the war. some of them are very obvious like the….

Stewart: that was all we had to go on. you know, that was… i guess the difference in my mind is if you knew the perils but the conversation that you had with the public painted a rosier picture, how is that not deception? that sounds like… when you’re sell ago product…. ( applause ) what it sounds like for me. sorry. the fact that you seem to know all the risks takes this from manslaughter to homicide. it almost takes it from like with the cigarette companies. if they come out and say, no, our products i think are going to be delicious. you go back and you look and they go, well, they actually did talk about addictiveness and cancer. isn’t that deception?

And so it goes – and that was only the beginning.

Every once in the while you see something on the television that makes you want to get up and cheer like you’re sitting in the endzone at Heinz Field and its 4th and 10 and Roethlisberger is earning his pay.

Stewart’s interview was one of those times.

Here is the full transcript.

There’s also uncut video – as I said, the look on Feith’s face is priceless. Part I and Part II.

by jhwygirl

A friend mentioned it, and I went looking. It’s real hard to prove that something doesn’t exist. After all – if it didn’t happen, how do you prove it didn’t happen?

And maybe that is the point of it all.

Two weeks ago I wrote that the Symbiotic Relationship of the Bush Administration and the Mainstream Media has No Boundary. That piece detailed the relationship between the mainstream medias so-called military analysts (retired Army General James Marks, retired Army Colonel John C. Garret, retired Air Force General Joseph W. Ralston, retired General Paul E. Vallely, retired Major General Bob Scales – hell, the list goes on…) and the Pentagon, which provided them with perks and inside scripted talking points. The Times article went on to expose the corporate connections these so-called analysts have, and the conflict of interest resulting from the inherent financial benefits they stood to gain from keeping the war machine moving along, irregardless of the dangers it posed for our troops. Irregardless of the truth it masked.

Has there been a mention of that extensive article by the New York Times on any of the television news outlets? No.

How many times has the New York Times article been mentioned since its publication two weeks ago? Twice. Two pieces, both being on the April 24th PBS NewsHour.News coverage in the week following the New York Times article

This illustrates, for me, why blogs are all the more important in today’s media. News sources – local and national – are failing us, folks. While blogs won’t replace traditional media, they can serve to keep important issues in the public’s eye, and they can serve to give attention to the issues that affect our everyday lives.

by jhwygirl

A New York Times article released yesterday but dated today – much of which was the result of having to sue the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of email messages, transcripts and records – goes into gory, disgusting detail of the relationship between the Pentagon, the Bush Administration and most (yep, most) military analysts on mainstream media outlets like Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and NBC.

Some of these analysts were on the mission to Cuba on June 24, 2005 — the first of six such Guantánamo trips — which was designed to mobilize analysts against the growing perception of Guantánamo as an international symbol of inhumane treatment. On the flight to Cuba, for much of the day at Guantánamo and on the flight home that night, Pentagon officials briefed the 10 or so analysts on their key messages — how much had been spent improving the facility, the abuse endured by guards, the extensive rights afforded detainees.The results came quickly. The analysts went on TV and radio, decrying Amnesty International, criticizing calls to close the facility and asserting that all detainees were treated humanely.

“The impressions that you’re getting from the media and from the various pronouncements being made by people who have not been here in my opinion are totally false,” Donald W. Shepperd, a retired Air Force general, reported live on CNN by phone from Guantánamo that same afternoon.

The next morning, Montgomery Meigs, a retired Army general and NBC analyst, appeared on “Today.” “There’s been over $100 million of new construction,” he reported. “The place is very professionally run.”

Within days, transcripts of the analysts’ appearances were circulated to senior White House and Pentagon officials, cited as evidence of progress in the battle for hearts and minds at home.

Are you kidding me?!

Assistant secretary of defense for public affairs Torie Clark, a former public relations executive, cooked up the plan. Before 9/11, she had begun to build a system within the Pentagon to recruit key movers and shakers that could be counted on to generate support for Secretary of State Don Rumsfield’s priorities. She found them in military analysts who she saw as not only getting more airtime than network reporters, but were also viewed by the public as independent of the media – which we all know can be biased, right?

What the public got, instead, was a neoconservative brain trust which spoonfed Pentagon and Bush administration talking points to the public while raking in increasingly larger salaries from military contractors that supplemented their retirement incomes.

Neocons such as retired Army general Paul E. Vallely, a Fox News military analyst from 2001 to 2007. Vallely had specialized in psychological warfare and co-authored a paper in 1980 that blamed American’s loss in Vietnam on American news organizations failure to defend the nations from “enemy propaganda” during the war – a belief shared by many on Bush’s national security team.

Then there were defense profiteers such as retired Army general James Marks, a military analyst for CNN from 2004 to 2007, who worked as a senior executive for McNeil Technologies which pursued both military and intelligence contracts. Marks was also national security adviser for former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

There was also retired Army colonel John C. Garret, a military analyst for Fox News TV and radio & a lobbyist at Patton Boggs, which assists firms wishing to win Pentagon contracts. Or retired Air Force general Joseph W. Ralston, CBS military analyst and vice-chair of the Cohen Group, a consulting firm headed up by former defense secretary William Cohen, which represents agencies and firms wishing for entry into the aerospace and defense market.

The Times admits to having had at least nine of the Pentagon’s recruited minions writing op-ed articles for them.

Vallely is apparently having some crisis of conscience. In an interview with the Times, commenting on a September 2003 tour of Iraq with fellow military analysts, Vallely expresses remorse: “I saw immediately in 2003 that things were going south.”

Vallely had told Alan Colmes of Fox News, upon his return from that very same propaganda-filled tour, “You can’t believe the progress”

Fox news military analyst and retired Army lieutenant colonel Timur J. Eads had a crisis-of-conscience too – he told the times that he, too, had at times held his tongue on television for fear that “some four-star would call up and say, ‘Kill that contract.’ Eads believe Pentagon officials misled the analysts aboutthe progress of Iraq’s security forces. “I know a snow job when I see one,” he said.

Eads never mentioned that on Fox News.

You don’t say!

The Times story goes on to shine the light, in full disgusting brightness, on the self-serving criminal arrogance of the Bush Administration and Don Rumsfield and the Pentagon. In April 2006 the Bush Administration faced what is now known as the General’s Revolt – open criticism by Rumsfields’ former generals that his wartime performance was crap. His resignation was being called for and his days were beginning their downward spiral.

The day after that NY Times article, the Pentagon helped Fox analysts General McInerney and General Vallely write an opinion article for The Wall Street Journal defending Rumsfield. News of that meeting leaked, and was printed on the front page of the Times. By Tuesday, the Pentagon was in full defense mode, and had a larger group of analysts in its offices willing to propogate the spin necessary to help defend Rumsfield from his own Iraqi war generals:

“I’m an old intel guy,” said one analyst. (The transcript omits speakers’ names.) “And I can sum all of this up, unfortunately, with one word. That is Psyops. Now most people may hear that and they think, ‘Oh my God, they’re trying to brainwash.’ ”

“What are you, some kind of a nut?” Mr. Rumsfeld cut in, drawing laughter. “You don’t believe in the Constitution?”

There was little discussion about the actual criticism pouring forth from Mr. Rumsfeld’s former generals. Analysts argued that opposition to the war was rooted in perceptions fed by the news media, not reality. The administration’s overall war strategy, they counseled, was “brilliant” and “very successful.”

“Frankly,” one participant said, “from a military point of view, the penalty, 2,400 brave Americans whom we lost, 3,000 in an hour and 15 minutes, is relative.”

An analyst said at another point: “This is a wider war. And whether we have democracy in Iraq or not, it doesn’t mean a tinker’s damn if we end up with the result we want, which is a regime over there that’s not a threat to us.”

“Yeah,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, taking notes.

But winning or not, they bluntly warned, the administration was in grave political danger so long as most Americans viewed Iraq as a lost cause. “America hates a loser,” one analyst said.

Much of the session was devoted to ways that Mr. Rumsfeld could reverse the “political tide.” One analyst urged Mr. Rumsfeld to “just crush these people,” and assured him that “most of the gentlemen at the table” would enthusiastically support him if he did.

“You are the leader,” the analyst told Mr. Rumsfeld. “You are our guy.”

At another point, an analyst made a suggestion: “In one of your speeches you ought to say, ‘Everybody stop for a minute and imagine an Iraq ruled by Zarqawi.’ And then you just go down the list and say, ‘All right, we’ve got oil, money, sovereignty, access to the geographic center of gravity of the Middle East, blah, blah, blah.’ If you can just paint a mental picture for Joe America to say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t imagine a world like that.’ ”

Even as they assured Mr. Rumsfeld that they stood ready to help in this public relations offensive, the analysts sought guidance on what they should cite as the next “milestone” that would, as one analyst put it, “keep the American people focused on the idea that we’re moving forward to a positive end.” They placed particular emphasis on the growing confrontation with Iran.

“When you said ‘long war,’ you changed the psyche of the American people to expect this to be a generational event,” an analyst said. “And again, I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job…”

“Get in line,” Mr. Rumsfeld interjected.

The meeting ended and Mr. Rumsfeld, appearing pleased and relaxed, took the entire group into a small study and showed off treasured keepsakes from his life, several analysts recalled.

Read it if you dare. I’ll just leave you with the image above: Rumsfield, appearing pleased and relaxed, showing off his little trinkets.

by jhwygirl

I read Doug regularly. Don’t always agree, but I certainly don’t always disagree.

Scary stuff.

I’m talking about his post.

by jhwygirl

Who’s been keeping us safe for the last 6 years? Not Republicans.

An independent panel, headed by commission chairman Arnold Punaro, told Congress on Thursday in its submitted report that the U.S. is not able to defend itself adequately from a homeland attack.

Major General Arnold Punaro is retired USMCR, with a distinguished career in both military and civilian life. He worked in the Senate on national security matters for Senator Sam Nunn for 24 years, and served as Staff Director for the Senate Armed Services Committee from 1987 to 1995, and Staff Director for the Minority of the Senate Armed Services Committee from 1983 to 1986 and 1995 to 1997.

Stating that the military has not dedicated sufficient time or resources to prepare for such a role, the panel’s report says that this is partly due to the historic historic tension between the federal government and the states.

Defense officials say that the military sees its role in domestic emergencies in large part as supporting civilian agencies.

“Tension” you say? How about institutionalized malfeasance?

And lest you not like the link I gave you above, how about this one from the Arab Times?

by Jay Stevens

Yesterday Jeff Mangan had some harsh words for the Missoulian — actually it was more like harsh implications – over the yanking of 50 missiles from Malmstrom’s mission.

Mangan is understandably upset about the loss of jobs in the Great Falls area that’s associated with those missiles.

But — and now I’m forced into the uncomfortable position of defending the Missoulian editorial board — I think they’re right when they say it’s not a bad thing that those missiles are gone. Here’s the rub:

Triggering [Dennis Rehberg’s] ire was the Pentagon’s decision to press ahead with plans to eliminate 50 of the 200 Minuteman III nuclear missiles based in Montana. The decision follows an extensive Defense Department review concluding that the nation’s nuclear arsenal can be maintained more effectively in the decades ahead by scrapping 50 of the Montana missiles that have “unique configuration” requiring different maintenance, operation, parts and training than the other 450 missiles scattered across Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota.

The sentence missing from the bottom of Jeff Mangan’s selected quote?

National defense ought to transcend pork-barrel politics and even local economic considerations.

Apparently these missiles were obsolete and exceedingly expensive to maintain. That is, this is not a question of national security. These missiles are Montana’s Bridge to Nowhere. Getting rid of them represents the kind of fiscal responsibility that most of us want the Pentagon to display.

Yes, it’s a hit to Great Falls’ economy, but I don’t think the people of Montana want what would amount to be a handout from the federal government.

Yes, it would be nice to win another and useful mission to Malmstrom (another fighter wing?), but if we’re interested in fiscal responsibility from our government, we must be prepared to withstand the consequences.

Don’t be fooled by faux conservative Dennis Rehberg’s support of the 50 missiles. They represent all that’s wrong with wasteful government spending. The thing is, the issue revolves around military spending, so the issue gives our spendthrift Representative the illusion of being tough on defense, when in fact he’s leading the state to the public teat of big government.




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