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Libby’s Political Stew: War-Torture-Drone Truthers & Liars

Ludwig Watzal in “U.S. Military Casualty Statistics Not the Senators’ Main Concern” calls out the Senate Armed Services' Committee hearing vetting former Republican Chuck Hagel for U.S. Secretary of Defense:

They only asked silly and irrelevant questions such as whether Hagel will be more subservient to the Israeli government in the future. Mainly, they were so obsessed with Hagel’s position on Israel and Iran as if both countries were the hub of the world. They performed like grand inquisitors. They asked Chuck Hagel to repent and to revoke his earlier statements about the “Israel Lobby”, its intimidation of Congress and his other realistic political judgments about U. S. American foreign policy towards its client state Israel. And Hagel behaved like a poor sinner. Lindsey Graham, John McCain and their ilk proofed by their inquisitorial behavior on whose orders they were acting. Their script was written by the Lobby and their neoconservative think tanks that dominate inside the Belt way.

Watzal indignantly asserts that the plight of the troops should have been the focus. Their demoralization and the social, psychological and physical costs to the troops after the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The increasing suicides “among military personnel,” the broken families, the epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder. The disabled enduring traumatic brain injuries and amputations.

Watzal tallies up the deaths and woundings of our troops. From 2001 to today, 6,656 soldiers died and over 50,000 were wounded. 130,000 have been officially diagnosed with PTSD. Between 2000 to 2012 253,330 have experienced TBI. 1,715, amputations.

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In reviewing William Blum’s book, America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy Gary Corseri:

In his chapter on “Patriotism,” Blum relates how, after a talk, he was asked: “Do you love America?” He responded with what we may take for his credo: “I don’t love any country. I’m a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, meaningful democracy, an economy which puts people before profits.”

Quotes Mr. Corseri highlights from Blum:

“War can be seen as America’s religion.”

“Obama is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the American left.”

“Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good.”

Corseri compares Blum to Zinn, Nader, Paul Craig Roberts, Sheehan, Manning in being committed to exposing truth for the proverbial “historical record.” Corseri:

... His book is dangerous. Steadfast, immutable “truths” one has taken for granted—often since childhood—are exposed as hollow baubles to entertain the un/mis/and dis-informed.

One such Blumism recollects Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez’s account of a videotape with a very undiplomatic Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and cowboy George Bush: “`We’ve got to smash somebody’s ass quickly,’” Powell said. “`We must have a brute demonstration of power.’ Then Bush spoke: `Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! … Stay strong! … Kill them! … We are going to wipe them out!’”

snip

.... He [Blum] juxtaposes the noble rhetoric of our professed values with the mordant facts of our deeds. The cognitive dissonance makes for a memorable, very unpretty picture of how an immensely privileged people lost themselves, while gorging on junk food, junk politics, junk economics, junk education, junk media. ...

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In Ray McGovern’s “Drone Memo Puts Brennan on Spot”, almost as an aside, McGovern has this to say about the bold mendacity of Nancy Pelosi:

I am reminded of the lame lament by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who — after an unusually long tenure on the House Intelligence Committee — complained that she had been lied to by the CIA about torture. But CIA’s Office of Congressional Affairs quickly dug out memoranda of conversations with Pelosi alleging that she had been let in on the dirty secret. The California Democrat suddenly fell silent.

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Amy Goodman in "Brennan and Kiriakou, Drones and Torture" writes of an American heroic whistleblower John Kiriakou about to go to prison:

John Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA as an analyst and a case officer. In 2002, he led the team that found Abu Zubaydah, alleged to be a high-ranking member of al-Qaida. Kiriakou was the first to publicly confirm the use of waterboarding by the CIA, in a 2007 interview with ABC’s Brian Ross. He told Ross: “At the time, I felt that waterboarding was something that we needed to do. ... I think I’ve changed my mind, and I think that waterboarding is probably something that we shouldn’t be in the business of doing.” Kiriakou says he found the “enhanced interrogation techniques” immoral, and declined to be trained to use them.



Since the interview, it has become known that Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times, and that he provided no useful information as a result. He remains imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, without charge. Kiriakou will soon start serving his 30-month prison sentence, but not for disclosing anything about waterboarding. He pled guilty to disclosing the name of a former CIA interrogator to a journalist, with information that the interrogator himself had posted to a publicly available website.

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Robert Scheer in “America’s Global Torture Network” on the Cheney legacy:

The unalienable human rights endowed to all by their creator—declared as a universal right in our Declaration of Independence—were replaced by the “dark side” declaration of Dick Cheney, quoted in the opening to the torture report: “We also have to work, through, sort of the dark side, if you will. … We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. … It’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.”

Cheney’s argument that the ends justify the means has long been the refuge of murderous scoundrels and rejected by civilized people because evil means inevitably corrupt the most noble of ends. But that truth is too easily ignored in the presence of threats from abroad. George Washington, aware of the dangers that had befallen Rome and other experiments in Republican governance, used his farewell speech “to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. …”

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In “Drones and Our National Religion” David Swanson considers average Americans and their cluelessness to the true nature of the drone assassination program:



Many U.S.ians have avoided knowing that U.S. citizens, including minors, have been targeted and killed, that women and children are on the list of those to be killed, that hundreds of civilian deaths have been documented by serious journalists including victims' names and identities, that U.S. peace activists went to Pakistan and met with victims' families, that the U.S. ambassador in Pakistan said there was a U.S. government count of how many civilians had been killed but he wouldn't say what it was, that the vast majority of those killed are not important leaders in any organization, that people are targeted and killed without knowing their name, that people are targeted and killed merely for the act of trying to rescue victims of previous strikes, that the wounded outnumber the dead, that the traumatized outnumber the wounded, that the refugees who have fled the drone strikes are over a million, that the drone wars did not replace ground wars but began war making in new nations so destabilized now by the drone strikes that ground wars may develop, that some top U.S. military officials have said the drones are creating more new enemies than they kill, or that what drones are doing to our reputation abroad makes Abu Ghraib look like the fun and games our media pundits said it was.

If our courts killed without trials there would be by definition a risk of killing the innocent.  The same should be understood when a president and his flying robots, or missiles, or night raids, kill without trial.

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