Archive | The Regime
President Dwight Eisenhower’s foreign-policy record was far from perfect (Exhibit A: Iran), but would he have allowed America to become mired in the disastrous Iraq and Afghanistan wars? Not blody likely. The man who was commander-in-chief of the Allied forces that landed in Normandy, unlike other post-WWII presidents, knew there is a big difference between being a president and a five-star general. It’s a distinction that George W. Bush, Barack Obama and others don’t seem to appreciate:
The Eisenhower portrayed by [Jim] Newton is more of a devotee of brinkmanship than a peacemaker. But because of a long military career, particularly his wartime experience, he could see danger posed by the generals, admirals and intelligence community and their allies in the arms industry. He saw through them.
In his farewell address, Eisenhower warned that this combination reached into “every city, every statehouse, and every office of the federal government.” Then in the most memorable passage of the speech, he said, “In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist…
Sure does make you wonder, doesn’t it?
Over 120 CIA documents concerning 9/11, Osama bin Laden and counterterrorism were published today for the first time, having been newly declassified and released to the National Security Archive. The documents were released after the NSA pored through the footnotes of the 9/11 Commission and sent Freedom of Information Act requests.
The material contains much new information about the hunt before and after 9/11 for bin Laden, the development of the drone campaign in AfPak, and al-Qaida’s relationship with America’s ally, Pakistan. Perhaps most damning are the documents showing that the CIA had bin Laden in its cross hairs a full year before 9/11 — but didn’t get the funding from the Bush administration White House to take him out or even continue monitoring him. The CIA materials directly contradict the many claims of Bush officials that it was aggressively pursuing al-Qaida prior to 9/11, and that nobody could have predicted the attacks. “I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released, because they paint a picture of the CIA knowing something would happen before 9/11, but they didn’t get the institutional support they needed,” says Barbara Elias-Sanborn, the NSA fellow who edited the materials.
[...] Many of the documents publicize for the first time what was first made clear in the 9/11 Commission: The White House received a truly remarkable amount of warnings that al-Qaida was trying to attack the United States. From June to September 2011, a full seven CIA Senior Intelligence Briefs detailed that attacks were imminent, an incredible amount of information from one intelligence agency. One from June called “Bin-Ladin and Associates Making Near-Term Threats” writes that “(redacted) expects Usama Bin Laden to launch multiple attacks over the coming days.” The famous August brief called “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike the US” is included. “Al-Qai’da members, including some US citizens, have resided in or travelled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure here,” it says. During the entire month of August, President Bush was on vacation at his ranch in Texas — which tied with one of Richard Nixon’s as the longest vacation ever taken by a president. CIA Director George Tenet has said he didn’t speak to Bush once that month, describing the president as being “on leave.” Bush did not hold a Principals’ meeting on terrorism until September 4, 2001, having downgraded the meetings to a deputies’ meeting, which then-counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke has repeatedly said slowed down anti-Bin Laden efforts “enormously, by months.”
[...] One last thing is worth mentioning from the documents published today: Anyone with any doubt that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dangerous to the United States is contradicting U.S. intelligence. “Violence between Israelis and the Palestinians, moreover is making Sunni extremists more willing to participate in attacks against US or Israeli interests,” the CIA wrote in February 2001. It is not the only piece of information revealed by the new documents that will be deeply uncomfortable for the Bush administration and hawks across the country.
Interestingly enough, these seven warnings dovetail with the descriptions by former CIA intelligence asset Susan Lindauer, who was held under the PATRIOT act for a year and publicly smeared in the New York Times (itself a publication known to be historically cooperative with the CIA) as mentally unstable. Lindauer says there were not only warnings, she believes there was controlled demolition of the WTC buildings to make sure the attacks were big enough to justify going to war. Again, it really makes you wonder.
Calling it an act of Congress that infringed on constitutional rights, a New York federal judge blocks NDAA, the bill that allows Americans to be held indefinitely on vague grounds. Yes, we still have some principled judges left:
A federal judge is blocking legislation authorizing the government to indefinitely detain without trial an “individual who was part of or substantially supported” groups “engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”
Tuesday’s decision by a New York federal judge halts a key terror-fighting feature of the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act and is a blow to the Obama administration. The government urged U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest not to adopt a nationwide ban on the measure, saying the move would be “extraordinary” and “unwarranted” (.pdf).
But the judge, ruling in a case brought by journalists and political activists, said the law was too vague and did not provide clear guidance on whom the government could indefinitely detain.
Wow. Remember when we were really shocked that Richard Nixon said “the president can do whatever he wants”?
The Obama administration is set to argue to a federal appeals court Friday that the government may breach, with impunity, domestic spying laws adopted in the wake of President Richard M. Nixon’s Watergate scandal.
From Rolling Stone:
Bob Dylan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, at a ceremony at the White House [Tuesday] afternoon.
At the ceremony, President Obama said of Dylan, “There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music,” adding that the “unique gravel-y power” of his voice helped redefine “not just what music sounded like, but the message it carried and how it made people feel.”
When the White House announced that Dylan would be one of this year’s recipients, they wrote in a statement that the rock & roll pioneer had “considerable influence on the civil rights movement of the 1960s and has had significant impact on American culture over the past five decades.”
Dylan also had considerable influence on the anti-war movement — you know, protests against the undeclared Vietnam war, the war that made it so easy for future presidents to send young Americans into equally unnecessary conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to keep them there long after it was obvious there was nothing to be gained.
Too bad Dylan didn’t get to sing a few verses of “Masters of War,” although I don’t think Obama would have been amused by the irony.
British court rules that he will be extradited to Sweden, who of course will ping-pong him back to the United States – which has its own vindictive payback planned. There’s a long shot that it won’t happen:
Today a British court ruled that wraithlike WikiLeaks editor and catastrophically unpopular memoirist Julian Assange will indeed be extradited to Sweden, where he had been charged with rape and sexual assault. However, in something of a victory for Team Assange (Non-Hacking League), the court also allowed his lawyers an extra two weeks to “to consider whether to challenge a central point of the judgment on the correct interpretation of international treaties,” according to The Guardian. Sounds like the best two weeks ever!
This deportation postponement is something of another chance for Assange to steer clear of Sweden. The New York Times reports: “In granting that request, the court effectively opened, at least for now, a fresh opportunity for Mr. Assange to delay—and what legal experts said was a narrow and improbable chance to avoid—his forcible removal to Sweden.”
Is anyone surprised that Mitt Romney, who seems to have stopped following what was happening in the world after the Cold War ended, is a fan of Dick?
On her show Wednesday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explained that although presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had distanced himself from George W. Bush, Romney had openly expressed his admiration for Dick Cheney.
She began the segment by outlining the history of Cheney, who had defended President Ronald Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal and argued an expansive view of presidential power.
“It is not surprising that the Republican Party would not be all that enthused with about the legacy of George W. Bush, but what do you make of the fact that they all are on board with the legacy of Dick Cheney?” Maddow wondered…
Hardly anyone in Congress ever asks why. From TomDispatch:
… Think of it this way: National security accounts for one quarter of every dollar the federal government is projected to spend in 2013. And if you pull trust funds for programs like Social Security out of the equation, that figure rises to more than one third of every dollar in the projected 2013 federal budget.
Yet the House recently passed legislation to spare the defense budget from cuts, arguing that the automatic spending reductions scheduled for January 2013 would compromise national security. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said such automatic cuts, which would total around $55 billion in 2013, would be “disastrous” for the defense budget. To avoid them, the House would instead pull money from the National School Lunch Program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, food stamps, and programs like the Social Services Block Grant, which funds Meals on Wheels, among other initiatives…