Via Mark Kleiman, Jon Rauch: “Some optimists say that in Army Gen. David Petraeus, Bush has finally found his Gen. Grant. That may or may not be true, but it is beside the point. The problem is that Petraeus has not yet found his President Lincoln.”
Speaking of figuring out who to blame, Elizabeth Bumiller has an interesting piece in the Times where she went to Fort Leavenworth, where the Army does its thinking, and spoke to some mid-career officers:
Discussions between a New York Times reporter and dozens of young majors in five Leavenworth classrooms over two days — all unusual for their frankness in an Army that has traditionally presented a facade of solidarity to the outside world — showed a divide in opinion. Officers were split over whether Mr. Rumsfeld, the military leaders or both deserved blame for what they said were the major errors in the war: sending in a small invasion force and failing to plan properly for the occupation.
It seems to me that the idea that the military’s senior leadership didn’t do enough to warn against this looming fiasco is mistaken. The top brass’ opposition to Bush’s war plans was, after all, sufficiently well-known to prompt this scathing editorial from the liberal New Republic magazine slamming Bush for
leading the country headlong into a disaster that would kill hundreds of thousands of people undue hesitancy to fire dissenting officers.
If TNR what was happening, then so did Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. But this debate capped off an era in which it was widely believed by a bipartisan set of powers-that-be that America’s professional military officers were unduly hesitant to commit troops to battle. With the hindsight of years, of course, we can see that they hesitate precisely because they’re the ones — not magazine writers — who wind up bearing the costs when things go south.
This week, the House introduced FISA reform legislation that refused to grant immunity to telecommunications companies for their participation in potentially illegal spying activities. President Bush immediately warned that he would veto the legislation if it did not surrender on the immunity provision.
Early reports suggested that the Senate was prepared to back down on the immunity provision. FireDogLake reported that the Senate version of the FISA bill “does contain immunity/amnesty for the telecom companies.”
But this weekend on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) spoke out forcefully against granting unconditional immunity to the telecom companies for potentially illegal acts:
I’m not for blanket immunity until we understand what the program has been about. The day will come, maybe in my lifetime or later, when we’ll finally figure out what the Bush administration has been up to these years with this secret program.
I don’t want the embarrassment of history coming back saying what were they thinking of in Congress to give blanket immunity when they didn’t even know the circumstances.
“The administration says trust us,” Durbin argued. “It is hard to trust an administration which has failed to even tell Congress what the programs are about.” Watch it:
Transcript: Read more
Retired Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez is shrill:
The U.S. mission in Iraq is a “nightmare with no end in sight” because of political misjudgments after the fall of Saddam Hussein that continue today, a former chief of U.S.-led forces said Friday. [...]
Sanchez avoided singling out at any specific official. But he did criticize the State Department, the National Security Council, Congress and the senior military leadership during what appeared to be a broad indictment of White House policies and a lack of leadership to oppose them.
Obviously, there’s something self-severing about this “blame everyone but the commanding general” approach to the situation. Still, it’s very telling that a person in Sanchez’s position has decided that the self-serving thing to do is to explain why the disaster is someone else’s fault rather than sticking with the right-wing orthodoxy that it’s actually all fine and everyone would know it if only the liberal media would report some of the good news.
The liberal Boston Globe is good for at least one thing — showing us how deeply entrenched America-hatred is among the nation’s elite. It’s even buried into elements of the military:
All of the approaches to interrogation supported by President Bush as “nontorture” (head slapping, freezing temperatures, water boarding) qualify as torture under international law (Bush backs interrogation of suspects,” Page A2, Oct. 6).
During my last year in Vietnam, 1968 to ’69, I was in charge of US Air Force interrogation of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army prisoners. None of what Bush labels as legal was legal under the Geneva Conventions, to which the United States is still a signatory. US Army, Marine, and Army of Republic of Vietnam personnel were constantly amazed at the interrogation results produced by the Air Force, and we were never allowed to touch prisoners, let alone head-slap them. Every human being has needs, and we learned those needs and exploited them. Neither Bush’s bullying approach in the Mideast nor his unlawful interrogation program has worked. Sophisticated psychological methods are not being used by the Bush people, so the alleged “nontorture” bullying will continue.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, but systematic torture is not a policy you find associated with polities experiencing crime-fighting success (the FBI’s crackdown on the mafia, say) or war-fighting success (the US military during the second world war). Rather, when the ideological needs of the powers that be run in the direction of creating demand for false confessions (Stalin’s Russia, witch hunts, the Spanish inquisition) out comes the torturing.
UPDATE: Also see here where Mitt Romney’s campaign staff emails Marc Ambinder to brag that their man will be more cavalier in his disregard for Americans’ civil liberties than will his GOP rivals.
Matthew Duss makes a strong case that we should be even more frightened by Daniel Pipes’ association with Rudy Giuliani than we are by Norm Podhoretz or Michael Rubin. Duss notes, for example, that Pipes appears to regard the Israel-Egypt peace agreement that’s held up for over a quarter century now as some kind of ruse on the part of the perfidious Arabs.