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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Technical War

Posted: 11/16/05 15:57, Edited: 05/26/13 11:25

by Dave Mindeman

The latest in the administration's explanations of policy is, again, a technicality. A BBC reporter documented the use of white phosphorus by American forces at Fallujah. This was, at first, denied completely by the Pentagon; but then that denial was retracted when an Italian news documentary caught its use on video. The next round from Pentagon apologists is that this weapon is "not illegal".

White phosphous is an "incendiary" weapon. It bursts into flames when in contact with enough oxygen. It also turns out to be a powerful chemical weapon when it comes in contact with human flesh. It begins to burn on contact and quickly eats through all layers of skin, right to the bone. It is painful and hideous.

Again, our Pentagon at first talked of its use as only for "illumination" or "target marking"; then when confronted with the truth, it is "legal" to be used against enemy combatants as a conventional weapon -- but it is not classified as chemical.

The British defense policy states.."the use of white phosphorus was permitted in battle in cases where there were no civilians near the target area".

At the battle of Fallujah, the problem was civilians were completely mixed with the enemy; yet, white phosphorus was still used.

So, again, we are technically legal on use of chemical weapons. Just as we are technically legal on use of torture. We seem to be "technically legal" on a number of fronts. Technicalities abound for holding prisoners indefinitely; for our ways of extracting information; for counting the number of Iraqi troops ready for service; for the Iraqi definition of democracy; or for our legal excuses for invasion of Iraq in the first place.

Pretty soon, the technical assault will continue -- on our right to privacy, our right to dissent, and of course we already have a technical assault on the truth which has been going on since that "technical" election of 2000.

Excuses, for Bush's WAR

Posted: 11/13/05 12:46

by Dave Mindeman

Bush is fighting back...an innocent man, angrily defending himself against false accusations. Ah, give me a break!

The Washington Post analysis states that Bush's main counter points are thus:

"President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: 1. That Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that, 2. independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence."

Now, the first point has been the main administration assertion and like all Bush and Co. assertions, it is not accurate. Again, from the WP analysis:

"Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material."

The Congressional intelligence reports COME from the Pentagon and the White House. The NSA reports and the special daily Presidential briefings are for Executive branch eyes only. Congress could not get those, even with a subpoena. Now, the Senate Intelligence Committe can get their own testimony from the parties involved, especially from the Pentagon... but in the atmosphere created by the White House, how were they supposed to get through the clutter?

As for argument number 2, the commissions, the Post points out the ground rules the commissions were under:

"The commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions."

These appointed commissions are under tight restrictions to only investigate what they are mandated to. They often are not allowed access to information that would be relevant because it exceeds the scope of the specific area they are allowed to investigate.

It is complicated to the point of absurdity and seldom do we get any truly new information.

We can't let Congress off the hook either:

"The lawmakers are partly to blame for their ignorance. Congress was entitled to view the 92-page National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq before the October 2002 vote. But, as The Washington Post reported last year, no more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page executive summary."

There is plenty of blame to go around, but the White House controlled the argument, controlled the intelligence data, and they controlled the bully pulpit. This is still Bush's war...and we must not allow this "technicality" dodge to work.


Re-Writing Bush History

Category: US Politics
Posted: 11/11/05 13:40

In Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania, Bush said, "it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began."

Huh? It would seem that before we can "rewrite" history, we would have to know the truth. We don't. What Bush really means is that we must not change his version of how the war began.

From the beginning, there were fundamental failures in all the pillars of Democracy. Our government's intelligence system only passed along the information that led to the conclusion asked for. Our President used his office to instill fear in the American people. The press asked no questions and questioned no "facts". The opposition party demanded no accountability and the courts cowered in indecision, afraid to meddle with a President's war powers. The checks and balances that normally bring the truth to the surface were soundly defeated by a government clearly determined to go to war.

Finally, some of the questions that should have been raised a few years ago are being raised. Some of the administration's defense comes from the Silberman-Robb commission. In a nutshell, this commission is defined as:

A panel, formerly known as the Commission of the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, that submitted its final report to the president in March of this year.

The conclusion of this commission, that the administration now points to as their defense, stated:

"In no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments," the report states. "We conclude that it was the paucity of intelligence and poor analytical tradecraft, rather than political pressure, that produced the inaccurate pre-war intelligence assessments."

Excuse me. How do you prove or disprove political pressure? If your boss asks you to bring him a report which shows him how your department is doing -- which way do you slant?

Who knows how many buried e-mails are out there going up and down the intelligence network, cherrypicking the items that get passed to the Oval Office.

No, Mr. President, we aren't re-writing history because we still don't know how you got us to this awful situation in the first place.



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