Counterterrorism "expert" David Kilcullen discusses the rise of ISIS with historian Robert Manne. Kilcullen was a senior adviser to General David Petraeus in 2007 and 2008, when he helped to design and monitor the Iraq War troop "surge".
"The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West."
- The Secret Casualties of Iraq's Abandoned Chemical Weapons (SLNYT) [more inside]
For the last few weeks, the Twitter account @Homer_Marijuana has been publishing a bizarre piece of long-form fan fiction about The Simpsons, family, America's wars in the Middle East, and marijuana, vast amounts of all sorts of marijuana. Now, 5,015 tweets later, Marijuana Simpson has concluded, and is available to read on an easier-to-follow Scribd document.
This morning, the Veterans Affairs Chief Eric Shinseki tendered his resignation, following the release of an independent review detailing corruption in the reporting of wait times and scheduling practices, along with alleged patient deaths in the Phoenix Health Care system. [more inside]
Iraq: 10 Years After Invasion. "The United States invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003 on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. The mass destruction of the invasion, occupation, and civil war followed, and amplified the societal and health disintegration caused by the previous decade of sanctions. Iraqi lives and communities remain war-devastated ten years on. American military and contractor families struggle with the loss of loved ones as well as the emotional and economic burdens of living with long-term injuries and illnesses. Total US federal spending associated with the Iraq war has been $1.7 trillion through FY2013. In addition, future health and disability payments for veterans will total $590 billion and interest accrued to pay for the war will add up to $3.9 trillion." [more inside]
“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Cheney said. “There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.” Zinni, sitting right next to Cheney’s lectern, says he “literally bolted” when he heard the vice president’s comments. “In doing work with the CIA on Iraq WMD [weapons of mass destruction], through all the briefings I heard at Langley, I never saw one piece of credible evidence that there was an ongoing program.” Rachel Maddow hosts Hubris: The Selling of the Iraq War, a documentary special, based on the eponymous book by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, that will air Monday, February 18 on MSNBC at 9 p.m.
Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp., repeatedly lobbied Tony Blair to invade Iraq. In the days leading up to the invasion, Tony Blair's Director of Communications wrote that "(Blair) took a call from Murdoch who was pressing on timings, saying how News International would support us, etc. Both TB and I felt it was prompted by Washington, and another example of their over-crude diplomacy. Murdoch was pushing all the Republican buttons, how the longer we waited the harder it got." The phone call in question took place just days before a crucial vote on Iraq, and was one of three personal calls from Murdoch that Blair received in that week alone. Blair recently testified, admitting an "unhealthy" level of closeness with Murdoch, oftentimes communicating more with him than with his own ministers. In the first 19 days following the invasion of Iraq, Rupert Murdoch's Fox News averaged 3.3 million viewers, a 236% increase from the weeks preceding the war. Huge increases in newspaper sales were seen throughout his global media empire, with advertising revenue soaring to record levels. That empire now faces serious calls for it to be broken up.
Andrew Bacevich on the war: "So what tentative judgments can we offer regarding the ongoing [war formerly known as the global war on terrorism]? Operationally, a war launched by the conventionally minded has progressively fallen under the purview of those who inhabit what Dick Cheney once called “the dark side,” with implications that few seem willing to explore. Strategically, a war informed at the outset by utopian expectations continues today with no concretely stated expectations whatsoever, the forward momentum of events displacing serious consideration of purpose. Politically, a war that once occupied center stage in national politics has now slipped to the periphery, the American people moving on to other concerns and entertainments, with legal and moral questions raised by the war left dangling in midair."
Walt Harrington's profile of the 43rd POTUS, Dubya and Me.
Three days late, The War Nerd looks back on 9/11 and mourns.
“I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up … I finally wanted to speak the truth.”
Last year, the unofficial Dean of the White House Press Corps, Helen Thomas, spoke about the State of Israel on camera. (Previously) Her replies: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," and that the Jews "can go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else," sparked media outrage, prompted her to issue an apology and retire. After months of being out of the the public spotlight, she has now given her first long-form interview, which will appear in the April issue of Playboy Magazine. In it, she explains what she meant, tells us how she would like to be remembered and expands upon her positions regarding Israel, Jewish political influence, Presidents Bush and Obama, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cartoonist Tim Kreider (previously, previously) of The Pain talks about the last decade, our "disastrous decline" and his latest book of cartoons and essays, Twilight Of The Assholes. Part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
The Iraq War: was there even a decision? "Perhaps most revealing ... is what is missing--any indication whatsoever from the declassified record to date that top Bush administration officials seriously considered an alternative to war. In contrast there is an extensive record of efforts to energize military planning, revise existing contingency plans, and create a new, streamlined war plan." The National Security Archive at George Washington University has released a set of documents from the US and British archives related to the Iraq war: Part I, Part II, Part III. Political scientist Russell Burgos (who served in Iraq):
... there is indeed a kind of inevitability about the confrontation, but it was an inevitability created by domestic politics rather than 9/11. In my estimation, the origins of the "path to war" are found in the Republican Revolution of 1994; I will suggest that from 1996 to 2000, Iraq policy was not about Iraq - it was about an increasingly strident partisan attack on President Bill Clinton in which "Iraq" was not a subject of deliberate policy but was a synecdoche for "Clinton's failure."Historian Robert Jervis also comments. Via H-DIPLO.
Iraqi shoe-thrower sentenced to three years in jail. Can an internet campaign for his release be far behind?
"...relatives and fans of the shoe-throwing journalist, who has become a national hero, have staged a sit-in in a park adjacent to the Green Zone, and their numbers are growing. Army tanks and helicopters surrounded the 400 protesters and demanded they disband, but authorities were apparently persuaded that Iraq didn't need its own Tiananmen Square massacre, so the protest continues. Indeed, al-Zeidi has become a unifying figure for an Iraq split along a deep sectarian divide, with Sunnis from Samarra reportedly joining the predominantly Shi'ite supporters of the shoe-thrower. At last report, the two groups were sitting side by side eating lamb and vegetables, with the soldiers guarding them joining in." Via [more inside]
Shoes thrown at President Bush in Iraq. As America prepares to give him the boot, President Bush was forced to do some atypical sole searching during a press conference in Iraq when an Iraqi television reporter flung both shoes at him. HuffP has MSNBC video without ads and adds: "In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt. Iraqis whacked a statue of Saddam Hussein with their shoes after U.S. marines toppled it to the ground after the 2003 invasion." This is a "gross insult in the Arab world." Value added video.
What killed Sgt. Gray? "He survived the war only to die at home. An exploration of his death and his combat unit's activities reveals what can happen to soldiers who feel the freedom -- or the pressure -- to do things in war they can't live with later." -- An American Radioworks documentary.
Bob Woodward has a new book released today titled The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008. The Politico has a lengthy review by Mike Allen. Bloomberg also has an early, less flattering, review. [more inside]
Bush interview with Politico: "For the first time, Bush revealed a personal way in which he has tried to acknowledge the sacrifice of soldiers and their families: He has given up golf."
Television military analysts are wooed, courted, and privileged by the Pentagon. An in-depth investigative report by the New York Times uncovers logrolling, shilling, touting, back-scratching, and just plain bias on the part of the experts that television networks put on the air to talk about the war. Some of them appear to be as good as owned by the Defense Department. "The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air. Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves."
“You could almost see their dicks getting hard as they got new ideas." A Vanity Fair reporter investigates the chain of command that tossed out the Geneva Conventions and instituted coercive interrogation techniques -- some might call them torture or even war crimes -- in Bush's Global War on Terror. UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo's now-obsolete 81-page memo to the Pentagon in 2003 [available as PDFs here and here] was crucial, offering a broad range of legal justifications and deniability for disregarding international law in the name of "self-defense." Others say that Yoo was just making "a clear point about the limits of Congress to intrude on the executive branch in its exercise of duties as Commander in Chief." [previously here and here.]
In honor of the 5-year anniversary of the Iraq War, PBS' Frontline presented a fantastic 2- part special on the issue this past Monday and Tuesday. It is now available in it's entirety online along with interview transcripts from senior officials, a video timeline of the war, and battlefield stories from soldiers. Bush's War
While it may be old news the US was drawn into the Iraq War under false pretenses, a new report by the Center for Public Integrity documents 935 specific falsehoods in public statements by eight white house officials: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz, Fleischer and McClellan. [more inside]
Iraq was just the beginning. According to retired General Wesley Clark, a top-secret memo detailed a plan for “taking out” seven countries in five years, ending with Iran. [more inside]
Who's soft on terrorism? Surely not the Democrats, who are about to enable the National Security Agency to extend its secret domestic wiretapping program after saying otherwise for months. Surely not the Republican White House, determined to rush out a new Osama bin Laden video even if it burns an intelligence connection spying on Al Qaeda that has been carefully cultivated for years.
Allí, ese 16 de marzo, Bush, Blair y Aznar decidieron sustituir al Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas y usurparon sus funciones para declarar por su cuenta y riesgo la guerra contra Irak.
Bush and Aznar pre-Iraq Invasion-- Transcript of their private conversations in Crawford, Feb 22, 2003: "Quedan dos semanas. En dos semanas estaremos militarmente listos. Estaremos en Bagdad a finales de marzo", le dijo a Aznar. ("2 weeks. In 2 weeks we will be ready militarily. We'll be in Baghdad by the end of March", he told Aznar.) Consider this historical documentation. Full transcript here, and audio clips in first link. [more inside]
How George Bush became the new Saddam. "Its strategies shattered, a desperate Washington is reaching out to the late dictator's henchmen." [Via Firedoglake.]
shock doctrine at work
Fisk documents the dismantling of Iraqi culture - Klein exposes the history behind the destruction.
Fisk documents the dismantling of Iraqi culture - Klein exposes the history behind the destruction.
Lessons from Past Western Incursions in the Middle East. A speech by Juan Cole at the New America Foundation in which he discusses his new book, Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East, and the relevance and lessons of Napoleon's expedition in Egypt to the current American occupation of Iraq. A shorter version, covering many of the same points, is in this article: Pitching the Imperial Republic.
The Great Iraq Swindle: How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury
It's been said before that the US Army is broken: in April, last December by Colin Powell and Pat Buchanan, by the head of the Army Reserve in 2005, by several generals as far back as 2004. But now, even as another Republican senator, Domenici, joins Warner, Voinovich, and Lugar in abandoning support for Bush's War, Joe Klein in Time Magazine says the end is inevitable, regardless of what politicians want:
According to the Broken Army clock, troop levels will begin to wane in March 2008, no matter what Congress decides in September; the current 20 brigade combat teams will be reduced to 15 by August 2008. There is growing speculation in the military that Bush will try to pre-empt the Petraeus testimony by announcing a gradual drawdown from 20 to 15 combat brigades later this summer.
The UK media is like a "Feral Beast", and is undermining Britain, says Tony Blair. Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, responds. Some reasons why Blair might not be too keen on the press.
The US pays Pakistan $1 billion a year to fight al Qaeda, but Pakistan doesn't do much fighting. Iraq is a "a big moneymaker" for al Qaeda, and al Qaeda's leadership may be stronger than ever.
[more War on Terror inside]
[more War on Terror inside]
"War Czar" -- another term for "highly paid radio operator"? So the Decider in Chief wants to have a War Czar* in the White House. He appointed Douglas Lute after three other general officers turned him down. Note that Lute, a three-star general, is actually inferior in rank to David Petraeus, the four-star who's commanding the Multi-National Force in Iraq. Black Five had some thoughts on this, as did Jules Crittenden.
It began with an innocent-looking Valentine's Day card in 2005. Inside the card were several slips of paper, a hastily cut-up printout of names of 550 secret detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The human rights lawyer who received "this weird valentine" handed it over to authorities, and this week the court martial begins for JAG LtCmdr Matthew Diaz, facing 36 years for divulging state secrets.
Whither goest thou, American Jurisprudence?>
Whither goest thou, American Jurisprudence?>
congressman dennis kucinich has submitted a resolution to impeach VP Dick Cheney on charges of "high crimes and misdemeanors."
impeachy keen! learn why cleveland is the capital of polka, bowling and kielbasa.
Elizabeth Drew analyzes the current confrontation between the White House and Congress over continued funding for the Iraq war. Under Nancy Pelosi's leadership, Congress has reached an agreement to pass a bill which approves $124 billion in funding for the war, but sets a timetable for withdrawal. Following the passage of the Senate bill in March, Bush gave a more-than-normally petulant speech against the Democratic proposals—prompting Pelosi, like a mother scolding a teenager, to urge Bush to "calm down with the threats" and to "take a deep breath." This was the first public suggestion by a prominent elected figure that the President lacks maturity—a widely held view in Washington.
Thomas said he and his wife came up with the unprecedented idea to present the president with the Purple Heart over breakfast one morning a few months ago as they discussed the verbal attacks, both foreign and domestic, the commander in chief has withstood during his time in office. "We feel like emotional wounds and scars are as hard to carry as physical wounds," Thomas said.
"This is the message I took to the President" US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today in response to reporters questions about his meeting with President Bush. "I believe myself that this war is lost and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday."
Learning From Ike: What a Republican realist could teach George Bush. "If we hope to succeed, we manage evil. We minimize, mitigate, and manipulate evil. But efforts to pre-emptively eliminate evil are prone to end in overreaction and destabilization, with consequences that are often worse than the original problem."
Introducing... the iRack! (video, youtube)
I am sullied -- no more. Colonel Ted Westhusing was a soldier's soldier -- a multilingual West Point graduate, tough as nails, who was committed to the ancient Greek warrior's ideal of ἀρετή ("arete," excellence). He volunteered to go to Iraq, where he was commanded by another outstanding rising-star officer, counterinsurgency expert David Petraeus. (Westhusing's widow, Michelle, recalls that her husband thought his country was doing "a great thing" there.) After working with one of the shadowy contractors the US has relied on to train Iraqi security forces, USIS, Westhusing became increasingly despondent. In May 2005, investigators say, he put a 9mm bullet in his brain after writing a note that said, "Reevaluate yourselves, cdrs [commanders]. You are not what you think you are and I know it." Westhusing died, as was previously discussed here, and his former "cdr" is now running the war. Lots of new information in this article from the Texas Observer.
Retiring psychology professor Philip G. Zimbardo, who ran the Stanford Prison Experiment, gave his final lecture at Stanford this week, criticizing the Bush administration and saying that senior government officials responsible for Abu Ghraib should be "tried for the crimes against humanity." [Via MindHacks.]
The Redirection. "Is the Administration’s new policy aiding our enemies in the war on terrorism?" New article by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker.
Donald Rumsfeld, Revealed - Parts 1 and 2. A nice, brief historical roundup of the man who - in the words of John McCain - is "one of the worst secretaries of defense in history."
"I failed to disobey a meritless order, I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency. Instead, I intimidated, degraded and humiliated a man who could not defend himself. I compromised my values. I will never forgive myself."