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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The loaded gun

Obama looks safe enough (for the moment), so I'm going to allow myself to slip back into my usual cynical stance toward the president. The following appears on Juan Cole (and comes to our attention by way of Sky Dancing)...
President Obama’s personal involvement in selecting the targets of covert drone strikes means he risks effectively handing a ‘loaded gun’ to Mitt Romney come November, says the co-author of a new report aimed at US policymakers.

‘If Obama leaves, he’s leaving a loaded gun: he’s set up a programme where the greatest constraint is his personal prerogative. There’s no legal oversight, no courtroom that can make [the drone programme] stop. A President Romney could vastly accelerate it,’ said Naureen Shah, associate director of the Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project at the Columbia Law School.

The president ‘personally approves every military target’ in Yemen and Somalia and around a third of targets in Pakistan, the report says. The remainder of strikes in Pakistan are decided by the CIA, so are even further from formal decision-making processes and public scrutiny.
But deciding who is a militant and who is a civilian is fraught with difficulty – the very terms ‘civilian’ and ‘militant’ are ‘ambiguous, controversial, and susceptible to manipulation,’ the report says.

The US’s criteria for who is a civilian are ‘deeply problematic’, it adds. In May, a New York Times investigation revealed that all ‘military-aged males’ are held to be militants.
The Obama administration is so in thrall to drones’ technological potential that alternatives are barely considered, Shah said.
This is why we must follow the old lefty rule: "Vote on Tuesday; protest on Wednesday." But before someone tries try to sneak in a comment justifying a vote for Romney (ratfuckers of that sort are still barred from commenting on this site), please note this piece by the NYT's Charlie Savage. It begins with a description of the executive order against torture signed by Obama:
By contrast, Mr. Romney’s advisers have privately urged him to “rescind and replace President Obama’s executive order” and permit secret “enhanced interrogation techniques against high-value detainees that are safe, legal and effective in generating intelligence to save American lives,” according to an internal Romney campaign memorandum.

While the memo is a policy proposal drafted by Mr. Romney’s advisers in September 2011, and not a final decision by him, its detailed analysis dovetails with his rare and limited public comments about interrogation.

“We’ll use enhanced interrogation techniques which go beyond those that are in the military handbook right now,” he said at a news conference in Charleston, S.C., in December.
The Romney campaign document, obtained by The New York Times, is a five-page policy paper titled “Interrogation Techniques.” It was a near-final draft circulated last September among the Romney campaign’s “national security law subcommittee” for any further comments before it was to be submitted to Mr. Romney. The panel consists of a brain trust of conservative lawyers, most of whom are veterans of the George W. Bush administration.
Steven Bradbury was, as some of you may recall, the fellow who offered the legal justification for CIA torture during the Bush years. Bradbury is on Team Romney.

Marcy Wheeler has seen the actual memo. Here's a paragraph she considers key:
Governor Romney has recognized for years that the sounder policy outcome is the revival of the enhanced interrogation program. And a reluctance by the Governor to expressly endorse such an outcome during the campaign could become a self-fulfilling prophecy once he takes office by signaling to the bureaucracy that this is not a deeply-felt priority.
To which she adds:
First, note the language here. The advisors worry that if Mitt doesn’t explicitly endorse getting back into the torture business during the election, he might not do so. They want to force his hand before he’s elected to make sure he’ll carry through.

That is not the language of advisors. It’s the language of puppet-masters (though I’m sure the equivalent memos from inside the Obama camp aren’t much different).
Actually, the word is "advisers," but let that pass. I think Marcy is on to something here. Maybe the problem with Romney is the men behind Romney. Maybe he has been manipulated by "puppet masters" on a whole range of issues -- hence his wildly fluctuating stances. One string pulls him in one direction, while the other pulls him elsewhere...

At any rate, you have a clear choice this year. You can vote for the liberal, President Drone-Warfare. Or you can vote for the conservative, Governor Drones-and-Torture. If you try to tell me that there's no difference between the two candidates -- well, that's easy for you to say. You're not the one being tortured, are you?
This post neglects to mention three immediate things that come to mind. The Trapwire program was possibly erected under Barack's governance or if it was not then it was continued and saw growth and evolution under him. Barack is STILL directly responsible for the murder of a 16 year old boy, who was NOT a terrorist and was killed because the US government was angry at his father, and here's the kicker, the boy was an AMERICAN CITIZEN. Oops. And last, but not least, next to not closing Guantanamo Bay, where torture STILL occurs as a routine part of their philosophy, this article doesn't mention the fact that the United States has places that are worse than Gitmo, prisons that are much worse. These prisons, some of which were managed directly by the CIA, have been called 'black prisons' and are a possible destination for you if you are rendition (kidnapped) by the PTB (powers that be). These 'black prisons', some of the conditions of which have been reported by NGOs, are truly as terrifying and horrific as you can imagine. And yes, torture goes on there and yes they are more scary and hellish than anything portrayed in fiction or films, ever. Either way, torture goes on with Barack's approval. And in that respect, there is no difference between these two sinister despotic as hell fuckers.
Also I want to mention that because SOPA and PIPA, two legislations that Barack supported, failed to pass and hand over absolutely power of the internet and cyber world to the government. Well Barack Obama is bypassing the entire legislative process and having DHS draft up an executive order that will serve the same function as SOPA/PIPA would have served. Why? Because of 'cyber terrorists'. So, as is usual, when Barack doesn't get an Orwellian security measure passed, he has an executive order composed and does it anyway. The final draft is being submitted to him soon from DHS and the internet will no longer be the last bastion of freedom.
Have you read the new article by Rebecca Solnit?

I have a whole lot of problems with it, not the least her condescending tone (critics of Obama are "grumpy grousers"? Puh-leeze. How about "grown up realists"?), but there is a great quote in the middle of it from an immigration activist, who says

“The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with.”

Which may be what I use to rationalize voting for Obama this year.
Perhaps you've forgotten this but pfc Bradley Manning was tortured.

So the choice is between President Drones and Torture and Governor Drones and Torture.

Tough choice!
The US government now claims the same powers that were granted to the gestapo by German courts during the 1930's. Torture and state-sanctioned murder were
"legal" because the courts had said it was. Now executive orders have streamlined the process, bypassing courts, congress, and the constitution.
Is the CIA our gestapo or our SS?
Perhaps it's both; at least our bureaucracy will be more efficient than that of the National Socialists, just as we have made the slide toward absolute fascism easier and quicker. It's the American way.
re: advisors vs. advisers

Both exist as words, and are correct usages, although perhaps the ers version is more common and/or somewhat preferred.

It appears the ors version is somewhat limited to cases of fancy kinds of advisers, meaning, to presidents, big corporations, and etc. People whose formal job description is giving advice, as opposed to those who may offer advice ancillary to their main job function. (?)

Oddly, looking up the CEA, the Council of Economic Advis*rs, I find credible sites spelling it either way.

On the subject matter in chief, I think any temporary holder of the office of the presidency is much at the disadvantage to the permanent national security state and its own perogatives. Too much insistence at rocking the boat can lead to the sudden death syndrome, or more polite but almost as effective political character assassination.

Maybe an Eisenhower, with his extreme gravitas from his career accomplishments in national security, could go up against them somewhat, but even he was frustrated at the Sisyphean struggle. A man with a more mortal CV? Not so much.


Jay -- If you're expecting to see your most recent offering here, think again. I knew I shouldn't have cracked the door open for the ratfuckers.

Seriously, how much do they pay you to fuck rats? Is it an hourly gig, or...what?
Thank you for flogging Jay.
“The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with.”

But why should they negotiate with you when you'll give them everything they want? "Capitulation" is not a negotiation position.

If I had my druthers, there'd be no problem deciding whether or not to vote for Obama, because he would've been impeached and removed from office for war crimes (and the extrajudicial murder of US citizens) already. We'd all be campaigning for a real Democrat instead.
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