Slaughter feels I mischaracterized the substance of the article, and argues as much in this “Blowback” column for The Los Angeles Times called “The case for collective force” which I thought I might draw your attention to. I’m going to post something in response to Slaughter on Monday.
After he was informed that the New York Times was about to publish an article on torture tape destruction, CIA Director Michael Hayden told his employees that the CIA destroyed the tapes in part to protect the identities of CIA interrogators:
[T]he tapes posed a serious security risk. Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served in the program, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qa’ida and its sympathizers.
The White House reiterated this line in defense of the tape destruction, claming, “The President doesn’t have any reason to doubt” Hayden’s response.
In a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee today, former CIA Assistant General Counsel John Radsan, who served under George Tenet, said this excuse is bogus since there are plenty of options for protecting intelligence. “It doesn’t make sense to me that the tapes needed to be destroyed to protect identities,” Radsan said:
There was no indication that they wanted to share this with anybody. If they are worried about a leak, the CIA protects a lot of classified information. If you have tapes in an overseas location, then have the tapes moved back to headquarters as Ms. Jackson-Lee said, put it in a safe in the Director’s office. If a tape is not safe in the CIA, in the office of the Director of the CIA, we’re in trouble.
Radsan said such methods have historical precedent. During the Bay of Pigs invasion, the CIA Director did not want a classified internal investigation from “leaking,” so the Director personally kept a copy of the report, put it in a safe, and it “was safe for a long period of time.”
Earlier this month on CBS, a “well-informed source” informed the network that the CIA destroyed the interrogation tapes to “protect CIA officers from criminal prosecution.” “You’d have to burn every document at the CIA that has the identity of an agent on it under that theory,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) of Hayden’s excuse.
Transcript: Read more
Great column from Rosa Brooks in The LA Times “Iraq today also still moves in darkness. We should be glad of the lull in violence, but if stability in Iraq depends on miles of concrete walls and an indefinite U.S. occupation, that’s not ‘victory.’ It’s defeat.”
Right. I should note that I mean that pretty literally: Having a large body of American soldiers bogged down in an indefinite occupation of Iraq is a huge strategic boon to al-Qaeda. I know that nobody cares about foreign policy anymore, and Paul Krugman assures me that “no Democrat is not going to end this war” even though some of them seem to be planning to continue it indefinitely but this stuff seems like a big deal to me.
Today on the Ed Schultz Show, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) discussed his effort to increase public pressure for the commencement of impeachment hearings against Vice President Dick Cheney. Wexler has launched a website — WexlerWantsHearings.com — to collect signatures in support of his call.
We laid out precisely why the House Judiciary Committee should open up hearings. … And we set out in an op-ed why we should do it, and none of the major newspapers in the country — the New York Times or the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the LA Times — they chose not to run it.
I thought it was a fairly significant statement by the mainstream media that when members of the House Judiciary Committee lay out a credible claim for why impeachment hearings should begin regarding the Vice President of the United States, and they refuse to run it, then we decided well we would start this website…and see what the feeling was in terms of mainstream America.
Listen to it:
Wexler said he has been “astonished” by the outpouring of support — over 100,000 have signed up in five days. He said he plans to write a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) in early January, asking him to begin start impeachment hearings.
“This is not the lunatic fringe — this is mainstream America,” Wexler said. These are “people that believe in the very patriotic vision, and they’re all very upset about what they see as the abuse of power by this administration and the failure of Congress to hold them accountable.”
Kevin Drum, aiming for some kind of wanker prize, posts the following missive from “[a] member in (extremely good) standing of the VSP community”:
One thing you might write about — if only because nobody else has, I think — is how that whole dust-up over the O’Hanlon/Pollack oped looks in retrospect. I mean, clearly they were on to something — the relative quieting down of stuff that has taken place in Iraq over the last several months, etc. Completely debatable whether that was due to the surge, or is sustainable, or is deeply significant, etc. etc., but it’s not like the caricature of them put forth in the blogosphere at the time — as paid lobbyists for the Bushies, reporting back what they were told to after checking out a Potemkin village — holds up, does it?
Well, of course, if you mischaracterize the critique that was made of them, then that fake version of the critique doesn’t hold up well. Pollack and O’Hanlon concluded:
How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.
This, it seems to me, was deliberately dishonest. Part of the effort to confused people about the nature of the choice facing us, by doling the war out in bite-sized morsels. They also managed throughout the course of their op-ed to obscure the fact that the “surge” hasn’t met its stated goals. It remains unclear whether or not they actually visited any portion of Iraq that wasn’t a “Potemkin village” of sorts. For some reason or other, for example, they seem to have not noticed that Baghdad had become a network of walled-off ethnically cleansed cantons.
Clearly, though, the summertime decline in violence has proven more sustainable than I thought it would at the time. Equally clearly, Pollack and O’Hanlon have a good relationship with General Petraeus and came back from Iraq speaking from a set of misleading talking points designed to advance the political sustainability of the Bush administration’s policies. I’m not shedding any tears for them.
Excellent report by Cara Buckley for The New York Times that shows just how far from normal the new, less spectacularly violent Iraq is:
The government’s widely publicized plan to run free buses from Damascus, Syria, to Baghdad was suspended after just two runs. Thousands of Sunni refugees get no aid because they fear registering with the Shiite-led government. While aid organizations are distributing emergency packets that include utensils, blankets and food, deeper structural issues, like securing neighborhoods, supplying housing and creating jobs, remain unresolved and largely unaddressed.
A small fraction of the millions of refugees who fled Iraq have come back. While the government trumpeted their return as proof of newfound security, migration experts said most of them were forced back by expired visas and depleted savings. Ms. Hashim, for one, pawned her wedding ring and gold jewelry to stay in Syria, but came back after her uncle’s visa application was denied.
Given that the West — and especially the USA — showed little inclination to do anything to help refugees (helping refugees, you see, would be like admitting that Iraq’s all screwed up; better to let people suffer in order to keep up appearances) returning home even under these conditions is probably the right move for many families. It’s a reminder, though, of the tenuous nature of whatever kind of security has been brought to Iraq. None of the underlying issues have been resolved, so the potential for further breakdown is constantly looking over the horizon.
During the last twenty-four hours I have probably experienced the greatest humiliation to which I have ever been subjected. During these last twenty-four hours I have been handcuffed and chained, denied the chance to sleep, been without food and drink and been confined to a place without anyone knowing my whereabouts, imprisoned. Now I am beginning to try to understand all this, rest and review the events which began as innocently as possible.
You see, in 1995 she overstayed a visa for three weeks. I remember standing in the Reykjavik airport on a security line with my shoes off, held in my left hand, ready to be placed on the conveyor belt for scanning once I got far enough in line for that to be possible. I stepped forward toward an Icelandic security guy who was checking passports and boarding passes who asked me: “Sir, why aren’t you wearing your shoes?” It was a stark reminder, to me, of how accustomed we’ve become to an ever-escalating series of irrational security measures. What this woman describes is, clearly, well-beyond asking people to take off their shoes, but it’s all on a continuum of panic and sheep-like submission to a culture of fear.
Having become accustomed to being accused of anti-semitism, I was interested to learn that anti-semitism is not, in fact, a defining characteristic of liberal fascism. Rather, “the white male is the Jew of liberal fascism”. Which, of course, is why they had to open all those concentration camps back when Bill Clinton was president.