Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Speaking of "Patriots"

FRESNO, Calif. (June 23) - John McCain distanced himself Monday from a top adviser who said another terrorist attack on U.S. soil this election year would benefit the Republican presidential candidate. Barack Obama's campaign called the comment a "complete disgrace."

Were I able to make my mind live in OZ, I would be able to say that Black's comment surprises me. Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that winning the election is much more important than the well being of our nation and its people.

I have received all too many right wing e-mails that support this tortured logic. Stuff like "The terrorists are holding back only to get Obama elected.", or "If Obama gets elected, we deserve another 9/11."

I would not be surprised if these mutts haven't put together a campaign package ready to capitalize politically on any terror incident between now and Nov.

It is quite perplexing that one can be charged with a felony for discussing the impact of a bomb while in an airport, but not for discussing the political "benefit" of it in a magazine interview. How anyone can discuss a terror attack in terms of "benefit" is beyond me, unless, of course, you are the terrorist.

I would be so uplifted to hear anyone say, "Discussing human tragedy in terms of the political gain it can deliver is blasphemy."



bg said...

Ok, obviously, saying, "Another terrorist attack would be good for a candidate" is not a smart thing to say. But can we not argue there is some validity in these remarks?

It is easy to sniff out fearmongering when we see it, but it there any truth to it? I think there is a nugget of truth, and that nugget should not be discounted off hand just because of the political context it was placed in.

An argument can be made that UBL's statement days before the 2004 election had a small impact on the election (and a small impact either way could have changed the vote count). It doesn't matter if this argument is proven accurate, the truth is irrelevant. From UBL's perspective, the perception that his statement had an impact is all he needs to believe that he can continue to have an impact. Remember, perception is reality (truth is irrelevant to true believers of any faith).

Are terrorists holding back and waiting for Obama? Let's put on the red hat. If I were a rational, thinking person who wanted to attack the U.S., hell yes I would be waiting to see how the election will turn out. There is again, a perception. The perception is that McCain is more Bush like and, from the Terrorists perspective, Bush has been a tough enemy. If there is any perception that Obama would be more isolationist, less interventionist than Bush, then a terrorist hiding out in Pakistan or Africa might hope for a "change".

So 1+1=2

If terrorists perceive that their statements or actions can have an impact, and they believe that impact will push America more towards Republicans (as they believe it has happened in the past), then it is plausible that a thinking, rational terrorist may wish to impact the U.S. election, or better yet, attempt to not impact the election by inaction.

There is another school of thought that Iraqi insurgents will want to surge during the election process in hopes that increased US deaths will result in the vote going Obama's way because of his intent to withdraw to stop the casualties. (If I were an Iraqi insurgent, I would have stopped attacks a long, long time ago. The best way to end the US occupation in Iraq has always been to stop attacking and wait for them to leave.)

It is a logical and rational argument, IMO, and worth further debate. Is it still fearmongering? Perhaps. But plausible none the less.

So here is my question. If you are a believer that Terrorism is still a threat (as McCain is), but you want to avoid the label of "fearmonger", how do you express to the American people that the threat still exists?

Charles Gittings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Gittings said...


That's silly. They've been bellowing and beating people up for six and half years now -- are feeling safe and secure yet?

The worst thing about the Bush gang isn't the fact that they're criminals, it's that they're such incompent fools -- and they're the best weapons al Qaeda has too, becasue they are so predictibly reactionary and gear their military policies for domestic political effect ahead of any actual understanding of the strategic situation. They squander enormous resources to create new problems while the old ones fester and multiply, yet never exhibit the least concern they might be mistaken about anything becasue they trust in their ability to spin public opinion at home. The inevitable and obvious result of this is to divorce themselves from the actual business of prosecuting this idiotic war of theirs.

And they aren't winning, they're LOSING, for the very good reason that their strategic thinking is fallacious to whatever extent it isn't incoherent. Their very concept of the war is irrational.

What are the objectives bg?

What exactly does winning look like?

I keep asking, but there's never an answer.

You know what fighting looks like, and you figure as long as you're still fighting the other guy can't be winning, but all that gets us is the notion that fighting is winning and we all know that in a war you haven't won jack until the fighting actually stops, as so many wars have shown in the past.

Get real already.

The problem here is very simple: you are assuming that your efforts to date have been effective on the basis of exactly zero evidence, when the real evidence shows it's been FUBAR from day one.

Aviator47 said...

bg: So here is my question. If you are a believer that Terrorism is still a threat (as McCain is), but you want to avoid the label of "fearmonger", how do you express to the American people that the threat still exists?

Unfortunately, as the playing field has been developed, one cannot avoid such a label. The use of the "politic of fear" in the 2004 race has established the rules of this one.

Terrorism is always a threat. Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist. Abortion clinic bombers are terrorists. We can cower before the "threat", or we can live life to its fullest. If we surrender freedom because there is a chance of a terror attack, then the terrorist has won. OBL doesn't want to conquer us, he wants to make us miserable.

I posted, however, not an analysis of what a player on the world stage might be encouraged to do to influence the election, but a concern that a key campaign adviser used words that ascribe "advantage" to a candidate should a terror attack take place. Of course, my reading of anything "political" is jaundiced by the propaganda analysis training I received from the good folks at the Special Warfare Center decades ago. Spontaneous responses are often a look into the real views of the person making the remark.

My hope would be that anyone in such a position would not immediately offer up anything resembling a statement that a terror attack "certainly would be a big advantage to" a given candidate's aspirations to office. Rather, I would be more impressed with a comment such as, "There is no benefit to this country or any of its citizens from a terror attack." And, if the remark was in answer to a question posed to elicit whether or not an attack would "benefit" any candidate, a truly concerned individual would respond, "I would hope that no one in this country would accrue or wish to accrue benefit from the loss of lives at a terrorist's hands. If the death of innocent people is what it takes to get elected, then I would withdraw from politics."

But that is not what Black said. His words were that a terror attack would be a big advantage to his candidate's aspirations to the presidency. Either he had consciously considered that before or is simply loose with his words. Neither is a quality I admire in a major campaign adviser.

As to Bush being a "tough enemy", what if OBL's goal was to have us squander our national treasure in response to 9/11. You know, like run up amazing debt, restrict our historic liberties, and so forth. If we are putting on the "red hat", let's not limit it to the hypotheses offered by the current administration. What if GWB is doing exactly what OBL wanted him to do? What if OIF exceeds OBL's wildest dreams in extracting a toll from our country? Is not that "red hat" just as valid?

Charles Gittings said...

That's exactly right Al, and what it really proves is that:

1) Black thinks a lot of Americans are stupid enough to think that is a reason to vote for McCain.

2) He's dishonest enough and irresponsible enough to use such rhetoric to sway public opinion, in the grand manner of a Goebbels or Molotov.

Charles Gittings said...

And to put that in terms that are clear enough to get beyond bg's customary excess of skepticism and reserve, let me add:


Now find a faint clue already bg -- these people are CRIMINALS.

Let me remind you of the many previous occaisions when I have discussed that fact on Intel Dump, many of which you participated in. The legal cases have now been resolved to this extent:

All detainees have a right to habeas. They were not "given" that right by the court, it was determined by the court that they had that right all along pursuant to the Constitution, and that holding is now settled law in the courts of the US. 18 USC 2441(c)(2) makes it a federal offense to commit any violation of art. 23[h] of the Hague IV 1907 Annex which states:

"In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden * * * [t]o declare abolished, suspended, or inadmissible in a court of law the rights and actions of the nationals of the hostile party."

There isn't any doubt left, and the TJAG's tried to tell them it was all illegal back in 2002-3 but were "cut out of the loop" by Mr. Haynes acting at the behest of Cheney and Rumsfeld. Since then they have spit on the uniformed branches whenever it served their vile purposes, using both enlisted and commissioned as fall guys to conceal their own crimes, and wasting their lives and their service in a disgraceful war of aggression motivated entirely by ambition and greed.

The only real question left here is this bg:

Are you loyal to the United States or NOT??

And if the answer is YES -- as I even now trust it is against all the evidence to the contrary -- then it's time for you to quit making excuses for these people and giving them the benefit of the doubt -- THERE IS NO DOUBT.

Fasteddiez said...


As Charly and Al postulated, if you "Red Team" the argument that who wins for Osama (Bushism or Obamism), and you factor in what has been achieved versus not achieved, whose oxen have been gored and whose goat herds have been subjected to mass rapine, you have to give weight to the argument that Bushism is the greatest of the available gifts of the past and for the future.

You can't ignore Iran and Iraqi Shiism as clear benefactors as well as Osama Bin Laden. That even goes for Iran in the immediate future when they are bombed IMO.

The Deciderist is not so much a resolute Murrican defender, as a bumbling strategic dolt on all pertinent issues of the era (foreign policy, conflict, economy, American unity etc).

I fear you have too much of your ID emotionally invested in this goat rope, to look at life from both sides now.....Like our now departed buddy MSR (AKA SNLII). What say you?

Fasteddiez said...

I regret that my last post was general in nature. In keeping with my credo that you must Dazzle your audience with details prior to baffling them with Bullshit here goes.

Reasons for Bushism being good for Triumvirate of Evil (Bin Laden, President Armored Dinner Jacket, President of Green Zone Maliki & pro Iranian Musketeers)

1- War by deficit spending
2- Which causes Bernakite printing of fiat money
3- Which causes devaluation of dollar
4- Which causes Oil price/Gas at pump price to soar more than otherwise
5- Malikite governmental incompetence and corruption
6- Malikite inability to restore services to Saddamite levels (security, electricity, etc)
7- Hate and discontent continuation in Iraq
8- Hate and discontent continuation in USA
9- Two to three million Iraqi Diaspora in Jordan/Syria = untenable in long run
10- Continual killing and wounding of US personnel (even at present levels)
11- Long term cost of Vet services both mental and physical
12- Worsening of attitudes of US military, as tours become unending
13- Breaking of US Army/USMC…see McCaffrey for explanation
14- Military hard pressed to do anything else
15- Future pressure on Military budgets
16- Which might threaten Army/USMC fighting force expansion
17- US citizen belief that Goat Rodeo was unnecessary is not eroding
18- When US bombs Iran, Osama gains dead Shiites and dead Americans
19- Nato allies are even more negative towards US
20- New president, even if Dem, inherits reeking shite sandwich
21- Still no answer for IED/EFP’s
22- US/IA unable to stop mass casualty bombings in Iraq
23- Condition of Iraqi oil production infrastructure = delapitated
24- Which prevents primo Iraqi sweet crude to be pumped at desired level
25- Pak Army inability to gain upper hand in Tribal areas agin AQ/Taliban
26- Present lack of mil resources of US against those areas
27- Possible conflict between US-Paks over Tribal areas issue
28- Which could tip nuclear in worst case
29- Which enflames Muslim street.I know-I Know Who gives a fuck?
30- Present US mil equipment turning into junk in theater
31- US/Foreign contractors ripping off treasury
32- Which might lead to hearings, which = Hate/discontent in populace
33- No shortage apparent of suicide bombers for both theaters
34- Takfiris and Taliban gaining valuable training for survivors
35- Web based Takfiri propaganda w/YouTube tech remains popular.
36- Present ROE’s not conducive for mass Roman removal of MAM’s
37- Other side does not play by same rules
38- Victory cannot be explained. See below for LSD tinged answer
39- Defeat cannot be explained, as opposing forces cannot physically remove US
40- Future president inherits scorn and abuse
41- US might make a play for Iranian Khuzestani oil/land and off shore
42- Which for Osama = win win
43- What would Putin do?
44- What would Chinese do (they hold Iranian oil contracts)
45- Issue of bad generals not being solved, because of Wartime
46- This causes hate and discontent among bright field grades.
47- The 15 to 19 percent ratio of Army officers to enlisted is a problem
48- Which causes self licking ice cream cone effect & stifles mission orders
49- Many young officers leaving Army
50- Lower mental and moral recruiting for Army/USMC might reprise seventies
51- Moms and Dads most likely to lobby against Biff/Buffy joining up
52- Need I mention IRR man’s version of Army’s targeting of Southern Rurals?
53- Previous Empires were not Deadbeats who hand out questionable T-Bills
54- US populace too stupid to populate Emperor’s legions w/ sufficient feedstock
55- US military, as configured, not ruthless enough to go Roman/Waffen SS
56- Populace scorn for leadership’s piss poor war results bleeds into other areas
57- Which causes a malaise, which = bad morale, boy who cried wolf syndrome
58- So when you need Armed forces in future, populace might be all Peaceniky
59- Even to mid lower classes which supply feedstock to deadbeat empire
60- Modern war calls for smarter troops///No not just officers
61- Most educational institutions headed in other direction
62- Perception = US Govt treats Veterans in a shabby manner (as in Vietnam)
63- Causing further disrespect for military service (Vets = suckers)
64- Will future international Terrs feature many Iraqis, Afghanis, Paks?
65- GWOT = War on Islam to Muslims worldwide
66- US efforts at propaganda, winning hearts/minds is laughable
67- Us efforts to increase linguists is laughable
68- US leadership Protestant, Miles Standishian exclusivity not right for GloboWorld
69- Gotteburg Sweden accepts more Iraqi refugees than does the US

Well that’s all I can think of for now. I understand that we are where we are, and that the goat roping cannot be undone, so I do not condone dropping everything and fleeing within months. As for the victory scenario?

Take one magic wand, one M1A-3 Arab lamp and attendant genie, rub, Poof…tell the genie to spike everyone in the theatres’ Chai with the best Acid on earth, everyone stops fighting and skips merrily down the yellow brick road whilst swapping spit. Next arrange for the US to be the benevolent extractor of Iraqi oil, Afghan natural gas in a no bid environment (already in the works), No more violence, GI’s come home, and you sell that to the Drool Cuppers.

So I hope I have not left anything out. Feel free to add modify to the list or make an alternate case of Bushism being bad for our swarthy foes

R/S Fasteddiez

Publius said...

Bg, it's long been my belief that UBL showed up right on time for the 2004 elections specifically for the purpose of ensuring Bush got reelected. As has been pointed by Charly, Al, and, in excruciating detail by Fast Eddie, the reality is that the George Bush Republican Party has turned out to be the best friends that anyone wishing to weaken the U.S might ask for.

It's not just their abject incompetence in pursuing their phony war on terror, it's everything across the spectrum: deficit spending, rape of the economy, rape of the environment, economic policies that have resulted in the losses of TRILLIONS of dollars, and on and on.

The challenge for Obama and the Democrats is to somehow break through to those Americans like you who mistake rhetoric for action and are seemingly unable to separate the bullshit from the bull.

I'm not impressed with your red team work. Red team the actions of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party over the past seven years and you'll see what I mean. In fact, you can go back a lot further in examining this latter-day Whig Party.

bg said...

this is where things get tough. I will have to choose my words carefully in my reply. Please understand this, I do not base amy of my opinions on rhetoric of any politicians. I base my assessments on information I receive daily from more reliable sources.

For moment, I want to set aside the argument about who is "winning" because that is a more complex issue.


Aviator47 said...


One more clarifying attempt. Had an Obama camp spokesperson said something like, "Well, a terror attack would definitely be a blow to our campaign", I would be equally disgusted. In short, to me, a terror attack is not about the impact on any election. It is about the impact on the victims.

Does that make my concern clearer?


basilbeast said...

and it seems to me McCain has an excellent opportunity to show us the quality of his character.

Let Black go.

I don't think he won't.

On another topic, FISA.

If you haven't called your Senators on this issue, do it and ask them to honor their oaths to protect and defend the US Constitution.

My 2 Sock Puppets, Brownback and Roberts will not.


basilbeast said...

dammit, "I don't think he WILL!


Charles Gittings said...

I don't buy that bg: we all know what we know. It's obvious you're operating in a false paradigm, and the results speak for themselves.

It isn't about your reasons or your evidence, it's about your reasoning -- false premises give false conclusions no matter how good the evidence is. There isn't anything you could "know" that would justify the idiocy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And winning isn't complicated at all: you either know what you're doing or you don't.

I keep asking, but all I ever hear is you can't tell me now but maybe you'll all figure it out in six months or something.

WHAT BS: you people just have your heads up your ass.

FDChief said...

"So here is my question. If you are a believer that Terrorism is still a threat (as McCain is), but you want to avoid the label of "fearmonger", how do you express to the American people that the threat still exists?"

Well, first, you take it out of the context that Blakc intentionally placed it in, as a win/lose issue for one political side or another.

One of the HUGE problems that the GOP has had with "selling" this war - and I will for the moment elide Charles' argument about the war itself and concentrate on the GOP/Bushite complaint that the "problem" is that the American people aren't told the success stories enough to produce a sufficiently optimistic public opinion - is that it has ALWAYS been used as a wedge to push the Left off the public stage. From D-two-years the Bushies relentlessly mocked and bullyragged anyone who questioned not just their assessment that "Terrorism" was an existential threat to the U.S. but their response to that threat. If you so much as hinted that flooding South Central Asia with American ground troops and air power might be the teeniest bit counterproductive you were a hippie peacenick fag utterly unqualified to defend America and you might as well go knit legwarmers for Jane fucking Fonda.

So when a guy on McCain's team makes a remark like this, people like me (that is, pretty much anyone outside the Rush-sucking 27 percenters) is going to look at this and sneer "Gee, great, just what we need, another four years of Dopey McFlightsuit and the Attack of the Neocons..."

Plus, you'd need to do what the Bushies have never done: try and put this in perspective. Cut the "they'll fight us here" crap. Fight us here with what, the Al Qaeda navy? The Taliban Air Force? Put the Islamists where they belong: more threatening than purely local terror groups like LTTE or small cells like the Japanese Red Army/Baader-Meinhof of yore but nowhere near as scary as the old Soviet Union with its arsenal of nukes.

But...the problem with talking like this is it's just not scary. And ISTM that the whole point of Black's intemperate honesty was the reality that the GOP has been using this, not to advance a sensible national policy but to scare, divide and generally fuck over their opponents and the country.

FDChief said...

So, ISTM that the issue here isn't whether a terror attack would be "good" for McCain, but:

1. Black's statement as a reminder of the divisive way the GOP has used this issue in the past,

2. The indication that at least one of McCain's people continues to think of this as a Dem-beating issue, and

3. The implication that has for the way a McCain Administration would be SSDD.

Charles Gittings said...

Now that's no BS FDC.

And who exactly do they think is confused about the threat of terrorism anyway?

It sure isn't me.

FDChief said...

"And who exactly do they think is confused about the threat of terrorism anyway?

It sure isn't me."

No, Charles, I'm not saying that.

My point was that I didn't intent to take on the whole issue of the legitimacy (or, rather, the illegitimacy) of the war(s) in general. You covered that pretty thoroughly. My point was and is only that the GOP is using the SPIN on the theme of the "War on Terror" as a club, distinct from the actual conduct of the war itself. They're not fighting Obama with the war (a good idea, frankly, since the war as a "success" is pretty much accepted as a fiction by all but the mouthbreathers) but with their smear of all war opponents as traitors and cowards. They're not arguing that the war itself is a good idea or is likely to succeed: they're just shouting that if you don't support the IDEA of A war (rather than, say, police work + intel + civic action + diplomacy) you are a Chamberlinesque appeaser.

I cannot argue that your assessment of the fundamentally illegal nature of - at the very least - the invasion of Iraq is, by any measure, correct.

Rick98c said...

Well, the thing is that the Bushites have actually somehow convinced a substantial number of Americans that the "Terrorists" are an even greater threat than the Soviet Union, with it's earth frying nuclear weapons. Such a great threat that we have to fight them constantly everywhere on earth before they destroy us utterly. Many of my work-colleagues subscribe completely to this notion and nothing will shake it. Terrifying.

bg said...

There were points made by Al and FDC in regard to my real point of the post, how does a McCain even talk about terrorism without sounding like a fearmonger? That is a tough task for McCain, no matter how he tries to play it. His staffer seriously hurt him in this regard no matter the truth, the perception is going to be disastrous.

But let's talk truth vs. reality. What did Black really say? Al points out that there is a difference in how this statement came about, as do I.

Was there a question posed to Black, "Would another attack have an impact on the election, if so, from a practical view, who would gain votes from it?" Or did Black just come out and say it? We have to be skeptical of the media just as much as the politicians, are we giving him the benefit of the doubt that he said those exact words, that the words were not placed in his mouth? Or do we know for a fact he said them?

We hate the Bushies, and all those who identify themselves with them that we've become prejudiced and terribly biased.

As a trained interviewer/interrogator (another word for a good reporter) I know that I can shape my questions to get someone to say what I want them to say, it is called manipulation. Interrogators do it to get a confession, reporters do it to get a story.

Before passing final judgement on Black and assume guilt, I would like to see the actual transcripts of what he said, in what context. I am one of those "innocent until proven guilty" types, call me crazy or simply deluded by the Bush BS.

As many of you point out, if he said what he is being charged with saying, or anything reasonably close, then he should be fired by McCain. But the damage is already done, no matter what he really said. Perception wins over reality.

Al, your concern is very clear, do you now see my concern?

bg said...

After reading everyones' replies, I had to go back a seriously look at what I wrote. It is clear that some of my comments were mistaken as my opinion (versus hypothetical). But I do want to focus on one or two things that I am sticking too.

Caveat: I am not, nor never have been thin skinned, so don't think I am taking this personal. I am just trying to format this response in such a way to respond to everyone.

First, here is a summary of the arguments made against me.

1. Bush and his policies are the best thing for AQ because of the strategic mess the U.S. is in today (many, many pieces of evidence was presented, thanks in part to fasteddy)

My Response:

Very, very true, and this has been my position for a long time. Feel free to read a paper I published on COIN by in 2004. I specifically state the UBL's true intent was to draw us into a fight, and to drain our resources.


In my original post I stated that Bush as been a tough enemy. I do not back down from this statement, but need to qualify and limit it to the tactical fight. With that qualifier gone, I am very open to fair and just criticism.

But, I will point out, and will not back down from this assessment without some serious evidence to the contrary, that from a tactical stand point, the AQ network is in shambles. Tactically speaking, AQ senior leadership is trapped in a small corner of the world, and the only thing keeping them alive is the fact that we are not allowed to go there. AQ no longer exists as the viable organization of pre 9-11.

There is no doubt about the cost of this war, and much reason to believe the cost will multiply over the years, I will not argue that point. And I will also not argue that the cost is going to far, far outweigh the potential gains.

2. Tough talk is inviting terrorists to conduct another attack, which is the Republican strategy to drum up votes

Possible theory that could be concluded based on inflammatory "bring it on" language. But I am perhaps to optimistic to think an American would openly invite an attack to further their career. If that person exists, may he rot in hell.

3. I have too much invested in this war to be able to see the truth. I am not able to see through the rhetoric and BS.

So emotional this one is. Look, this is just BS. I don't believe a word politicians dish out, period. If any one were to accuse me of being short sighted, too "target fixated" on AQ, I will admit guilt, but don't accuse me of listening to politicians for my world view. That is just low.

4. UBL wants Bush to win, and therefore we can assume that he would want "McBush" to win in order to continue the failed and costly policies

Interesting idea, I like Publius' assertion of UBL's intent to help out Bush. But I still argue that either candidate will continue most of the very costly strategies. Neither will leave AFG, in fact, both will likely increase troops and money. Both will leave Iraq, just a difference in how fast. I argue that McCain will leave Iraq quickly, but instead of doing it as a "defeat", he will redefine victory thanks to his Surge. Either way, both have declared they will leave combat troops to fight AQ in Iraq, or to support any other interests we have there.

Charles Gittings said...

What a crock.

Publius said...

"But, I will point out, and will not back down from this assessment without some serious evidence to the contrary, that from a tactical stand point, the AQ network is in shambles. Tactically speaking, AQ senior leadership is trapped in a small corner of the world, and the only thing keeping them alive is the fact that we are not allowed to go there. AQ no longer exists as the viable organization of pre 9-11."

All well and good, Bg, but I truly hope I'm not going to be the first person to break the news to you: This has never been about Al Qaeda. This is all about money, power and the soul of our nation. Al Qaeda and the like are minor players. There is a reason a lot of us term this the PWOT, i.e., "phony war on terror."

"I have too much invested in this war to be able to see the truth. I am not able to see through the rhetoric and BS."

Difficult as it is, you must somehow get beyond this. We all have a lot invested in this; rational, clear-eyed thinking is all that can save us. Emotional thinking is what gave George Bush two presidential terms. The margin of error for this nation is slimmer than at any time since at least WW2. We no longer have the luxury of indulging ourselves in wishful thinking or voting for someone we'd "like to have a beer with."

UBL is not your worst enemy. Your mortal enemy is the guy who looks just like you, went to Harvard Business School, wears a $2K suit, and is busily chiseling away at your birthright as an American, all so he can make more money. All UBL can do is kill you. The other guy is working on killing everything you've ever stood for and believed in, and he's doing it to your descendants as well.

That's why your suggestion of "I know something you don't know" won't wash. Good info about the minor league enemies may be highly classified, but that concerning the major foes is out there for everyone to see.

Fasteddiez said...


The paragraph that started with "UBL is not your worst enemy. Your mortal enemy is the guy who looks just like you...."

This is so excellent, so concise, so on point so like this-- "And then I realized . . . like I was shot . . . like I was shot with a diamond . . . a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God . . . the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure."

I suspect that Phil Carter and Ole' JD, in their daily ministrations as
barristers, probably rub elbows daily with said enemies without realizing their status as enemies.
Just a thought.

bg said...

Publius, you misread my comment. I usually don't defend this kind of stuff, but...

"I am too invested..."

that was the argument made against me that I was defending against. I actually don't feel like I have anything invested in GWOT, etc. It is simply the word I live in, the world which I constantly question.

About your classified comment, when I refer to "other reliable information", I am not talking about classified info. Classified reporting is often little more than rumor put down on paper (digits now a days). Every piece of classified info must be looked at extremely skeptically, and every assessment based on classified has to be doubly scrutinized.

The other info I refer to is ground truth assessments from people who are there, who work the problem every day. While these assessments can be deemed reliable, they are not without their own bias. I am aware of that.

"What a crock"

Charley, a "crock" is the black and white, prejudiced and politically bigoted world you live in. I am surprised you don't argue for legislation requiring all Republicans to wear a Yellow "WC" to forever label them as war criminals for their association with the war criminal political party.

Charles Gittings said...



Six and half years of investigation isn't prejudice. Facts are facts.


AS IF it were 'bigoted' to disapprove of murder, rape, or armed robbery. War crimes are worse than murders, but don't take my word for it -- read Justice Jackson's opening statement for the prosecution at Nuremberg.

You might also note that disapproving of someone's predatory crimes against others is not precisely the same as thinking they're inferior because of their race, religion, or class.

In point of fact bg, it was just the kindest thing I could say under the circumstances. So now you try to insinuate that I'm behaving like a Nazi for stating facts about the Bush administration's war crimes and neo-fascism.

I repeat: WHAT A CROCK.

bg said...

You know Charley, I really just can't help myself from liking you.

I may not agree with everything you say, but I do like the unabashed style in which you say it. I truly respect your passion.

Charles Gittings said...

Well that's nice, I've always liked you to bg, but if you get that much about me, you might try to get that my passion is driven by my understanding, not the other way around, and from where I sit, it look an awful lot like the situation is reversed on your side of this debate.

Rah rah and spin just ain't ever going to cut it with me. I keep asking, I keep raising issues, and I keep getting ignored and written off behind a smoke screen of excuses and rhetoric. It's not about personalities to me, it's about issues -- and nobody on your side of this debate ever wants to talk about anything but BS and CYA.

What are the objectives bg?

How many times do I have to ask before I get a straight answer?

basilbeast said...

This is so much like the old gang is back again.

Charles, since you seem to be hanging around, or JD, I'd love to hear your opinions on the FISA bill in the Senate.

I am, umm, disappointed, that this thing made its way from the House and that both Clinton and Obama have not come out against it as strongly as I'd like to see them to, like Dodd, Kerry, Feingold and others have.

I have followed this matter closely, especially in the blogosphere, but I still don't know what the hell is going on, or what the political strategy is.

John Dean will be talking about this Monday on Olbermann's CountDown, maybe that will clear it up.

And the bill has been pushed back to July 8th, after the holiday recess, appropriately enough as we celebrate the birth of our nation and the Constitution that governs it.

That might give us concerned citizens the opportunity to remind these so-called guardians of the Constitution of their sworn duty.

It is more than a bit depressing that we seem to be losing the battle to "solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion".

Your thoughts, please?


Charles Gittings said...


I actually consider FISA kind of a non-issue at this point.

Two things are obvious:

* There is no possibility of enacting a reasonable law with Bush in office.

* The Bush gang doesn't care what the law says in any case. How anyone could watch the Addington hearing and still doubt that is beyond me.

So while I oppose the pending bill for reasons which have been stated by the bills opponents such as Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Sen. Russ Fiengold (D-MI), I also consider it moot for all practical purposes. In big picture terms, the Republican Party and the Bush administration represent a criminal organization which is essentially waging a war on human civilization in the same sense that the Nazis and Soviets did. What happens next will be determined by the elections. If things go well, next year we will have a Democratic administration with solid Democratic majorities in both houses, and it's even possible that they'll have more than 60 seats in the Senate, in which case the Republicans won't even be able to filibuster a bill. In that event it will be possible to repeal the Bush-era legislation wholesale, and IMO that's exactly what they should do, starting with both AUMFs.

Otherwise, the struggle will continue in whatever setting emerges from the elections, and there is no alternative to fighting the Republicans: they are criminals, and that is all that they are. What it all boils down to is that we will either be in a position to prosecute Bush and Cheney for their crimes, or we won't, in which case the goal will remain what it is now -- to reach a point where we can.

Charles Gittings said...


Sen. Russ Feingold represents Wisconsin, not Michigan.

bg said...

Basil brought up the FISA legislation, which brings me to a question I would like to pose to the group. (I asked it on the Intel Dump site, but got no takers).

1. Does any one not agree that there is some need for secrecy in the government? For example, sources, methods for gathering intelligence on foreign threats.

2. Assuming we agree that there is need for some form of secrecy, what is the best way of having sufficient oversight?

I suggested that the best way is to read-on congressional oversight committees, which is how I believe we do it. Is this enough, not enough, effective or ineffective?

Charles Gittings said...

Well there obviously a need for secrecy in some things, but that doesn't include violations of law.

And it most certainly doesn't apply to the law itself.

As for oversight, it's been completely dysfunctional under Bush, and FISA is among the worst examples. I wouldn't assume that Congress has been fully briefed even now, and it's been very well established that they were operating this program in direct violation of a criminal statute.

Have you watched the Addington hearing bg??

These people have nothing but contempt for congress and the people of the United States.

Do you know what the word "implement" means in regard to an orders or regulations?

What would you say to a subordinate who answered "I know what I mean by it, sir, but I don't know what you mean by it"?

That's one example from the Addington / Yoo hearing. Did you listen to it?

Here are links for the video and audio...

House Judiciary Committee--

Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties


* KPFA audio HERE

* C-Span video (2:50:49):


* Documents submitted for the record by David S. Addington

Publius said...

"Does any one not agree that there is some need for secrecy in the government? For example, sources, methods for gathering intelligence on foreign threats."

Well, sure, Bg, no question about it. I spent a lot of years where my neighbors didn't know what I did for a living, and where my family, albeit sort of witting, didn't know where I traveled and what I did. I had no problem with that. I understood why we had the rules. But, with a few exceptions early in my career—back when we weren't so well versed in these things—I never broke the law or violated the Constitution. I broke the laws of several other countries, but, then, that was my job.

I supported the need for oversight principally because I believed one had to be pretty stupid or arrogant not to think that some double-checking might be valuable; it also turned out that oversight wasn't all that onerous. The fact was that although some overzealous overseers in some agencies sometimes went overboard, the laws weren't all that bad. We were able to do what we had to do. Legally.

FISA. I've worked with FISA. Didn't find it all that difficult. But the times have changed. You know the difference between a cop and a spook? The cop cleans up after the crime. The spook's job is to provide early warning in the hopes that the crime never occurs. I'm not a cop. I know exactly what these people are trying to accomplish through this big, contentious program. And I'm sympathetic. I want them to be able to provide the early warning, but I want them to do it legally. And, IMO, the president's "trust me" isn't sufficient.

Oversight is needed. And, by default, it almost has to be the courts. I trust neither the executive nor the legislative branch. Why? Well, because ISTM politicians have gone beyond the pale in their stewardship and safeguarding of certain necessary secret intelligence operations. Bg, in response to a posting of yours on IntelDump, I opined that the DIRNSA couldn't be trusted. I firmly believe that, just as I believe neither the DNI nor the DCIA can be trusted. The unfortunate reality is that these generals and admirals have all become political animals, and they pass information on to their superiors, other political animals.

Go a couple of levels down in any intelligence agency, and I will assure you that the random case officer, analyst or manager couldn't care less whether you like girls, boys or sheep. That's not their department. With rare exceptions, they really are about people attempting to harm the U.S.

Congress? Well, I share the outrage about the Addington/Yoo show, but, although I'd like to see both of these guys in jail, I understand where they're coming from. You know the old saying, "it takes one to know one"? Well, ISTM that Addington and Yoo are just operating in accordance with that: they know those congress critters whom they're disrespecting are every bit as bad as they are. Executive branch misusing intelligence information? Sure. But watch the legislative branch some time.

No one I know in the intelligence community trusts either the executive or the legislature to refrain from using legitimately secret information for political purposes. Unfortunately, the reporting chain is through the executive, which means they essentially get the first cut at abuse. But don't ever think that the Congress would do anything different if they got the first cut.

This is the pass to which our nation has come. The reality is that the courts are the slim reed upon which our freedoms rest. This is why we have "judicial activism": nobody else in the system operates from good faith.

Charles Gittings said...

I think that's pretty much right Publius -- and there was zero real oversight when the Republicans were in control of Congress. They literally shut it down on this stuff; everything was done behind a screen and the Democrats were excluded from most of the real stuff. They keep saying "we briefed them," but I've read too many of the briefs these people write.

Charles Gittings said...

A new article with some relevance to the discussion...

The New Yorker --

July 7, 2008 issue


The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran.

by Seymour M. Hersh

basilbeast said...


I know exactly what these people are trying to accomplish through this big, contentious program. And I'm sympathetic. I want them to be able to provide the early warning, but I want them to do it legally. And, IMO, the president's "trust me" isn't sufficient.

Oversight is needed. And, by default, it almost has to be the courts. I trust neither the executive nor the legislative branch. Why? Well, because ISTM politicians have gone beyond the pale in their stewardship and safeguarding of certain necessary secret intelligence operations.

Well now, isn't that a fine pickle we're in then, relying upon the last leg of this tripartite republic of ours, the courts. And what happens when that last leg goes bad?

What happens when SCJ Kennedy sides with the 4 conservatives and claims like Scalia did with the recent ruling on the Gitmo prisoners, that American lives trump upholding the right of Habeas Corpus or 4th amendment to the Constitution?

How can I not hold my nose when I go to vote for Obama and other Democrats when he and they will not stand unequivocally in support of the 4th? They want my money to support them, but will I get decent Constitutional government for it?

To me, this election is more about our system of government and law as it is about anything else. I don't want to see November degrade into a contest between TweedleDum ( McCain ) and Tweedle ( Obama ). That sort of decision should not come to exist, ultimately, between supporting our Constitutional government and enduring the whims of individuals in our government.

I know, Charles, what you will say, but rest assured, I will vote for Obama or whoever the Dems. put up.

But goddammit, I'm gonna raise a rancid stink about what I feel is an anti-American stance on FISA.

And here it is, the 4th, when we hear tons of slick syrupy platitudes each year about how great the USA is and the amazing experiment in democracy.

But it's time to see what will really happen in this country when our rubber tire politicians hit the hard road of reality.

There is quite the buzz among the left about this issue. Glenn Greenwald and Keith Olbermann are duking it out, and John Dean will have a special time to discuss this on CountDown this Monday night.

And as I've said before, I'd love to see our host JD set his legal butt down here to offer his thoughts.


bg said...

Charley, Publius and Basil,

I appreciate the comments from all. I will take time to digest them. I have near daily experience with some of the aspects of the new legislation in regards to SIGINT, and I have second hand knowledge of workings with FISA. For what it is worth, my personal experiences with both have, without exception, appeared both prudent measures and reasonably restrictive (but not so much to prevent us from doing our job).

But I intend to study both issues to a greater extent from the inside, just for myself (so I can better do my job as the rules apply to me), and so I can make my own judgement based on as much information as possible.

Publius, if you are still in the Meade area, we need to play some golf some day and swap stories, it sounds like we have some shared experiences.

Charles Gittings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Gittings said...


Well that's nice, but meanwhile, I have a question for you. On 2002.02.07 Bush issues the following order:

"I hereby reaffirm the order previously issued by the secretary of defense to the United States Armed Forces requiring that the detainees be treated humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva."


That order remains in effect today.

My question is simple: what does that order mean to you?

Charles Gittings said...

Well Basil, I did mention my agreement with Barbara Lee and Russ Feingold on the merits, and they haven't exactly minced words.

But democracy is fundamentally a decision-making process, and regardless of the pros or cons on any particular issue, it seems clear the most basic problem we have is simply that the process itself isn't functioning well. Do I suppose electing Obama will instantly restore optimum performance?

Nope --- I'm just a old programmer who knows spaghetti-code when I see it... and I know the cure for it too.

We have real work to do, and given the last 4,000 years of history, I'm not making any big bets on perfection any time soon. But you can't solve a problem that you don't understand, can't understand anything if you won't even try or don't have the skills, and it's hard to imagine how anyone can be confused about the corruption and incompetence of the Bush administration and the Republicans after six and half years of idiotic lying BS and demented murderous crimes. Confusion, dishonesty, and delusions are not a solution for anything.

I believe Obama is a good man who is genuinely open to reason, and that trumps every issue, because what matters the most is to restore the integrity of the process. The choice in the coming elections is a choice between two-worlds -- the demented neo-fascist loony-bin of Republican war criminals were stewing in right now, or one where something better is possible.

It's a no-brainer.

bg said...

"My question is simple: what does that order mean to you?"

I see two things that stand out:

Define military necessity. That makes it sound like the military can decide when it is important to take an action (and what is or is not appropriate). This, in my mind, is dangerous because we (the military) tend to think everything is a military necessity. Every time we rolled someone up, there was always that "24" feeling where we had to get information from the detainee know, or someone could be killed tomorrow. This is no excuse, but as a military leader, there is an overwhelming urge to do whatever it takes to protect the lives of the service members you are charged to protect. I've known commanders who say "damn the consequences" as long as those consequences do not result in the death of any of his men.

IAW Geneva Conventions: This the caveat, and almost like the subliminal license to do what needs to be done. The job of an Army (or any military) lawyer is to advise the commander what is legal or ethical. The unspoken job is to find a way to help legally justify what the commander wants to do. At the time, the precedent was set that religious extremists, insurgents, etc, were not uniformed combatants and did not take part in the Geneva Conventions, therefore, those rules did not apply.

That is how I took that order when I received it.

Fasteddiez said...

BG said:
"At the time, the precedent was set that religious extremists, insurgents, etc, were not uniformed combatants and did not take part in the Geneva Conventions, therefore, those rules did not apply."

This is not exactly true since the Khat fueled shitheads we found in Somalia met your description. Lt. Gen. Johnston's lawyer came up with a different conclusion on their status. In short, we did not warehouse them....Different strokes, different folks, We had enough willing HUMINT sources to do the job.

Charles Gittings said...


OK, that agrees with my basic analysis, except for one detail: "military necessity" is the caveat--

Geneva expresses the rule(s); "military necessity" expresses the exception(s); and while it is possible to disagree about specific provisions of Geneva, the Army has an established understanding of Geneva which is clearly stated in the FM on the Laws of War, and that view can be assumed in this context.

So the question goes to "military necessity", which is a term of art dating back to the Lieber Code (General Orders No. 100, US War Department, 1863.04.24), arts. 14-16:

"14. Military necessity, as understood by modern civilized nations, consists in the necessity of those measures which are indispensable for securing the ends of the war, and which are lawful according to the modern law and usages of war.

"15. Military necessity admits of all direct destruction of life or limb of armed enemies, and of other persons whose destruction is incidentally unavoidable in the armed contests of the war; it allows of the capturing of every armed enemy, and every enemy of importance to the hostile government, or of peculiar danger to the captor; it allows of all destruction of property, and obstruction of the ways and channels of traffic, travel, or communication, and of all withholding of sustenance or means of life from the enemy; of the appropriation of whatever an enemy's country affords necessary for the subsistence and safety of the Army, and of such deception as does not involve the breaking of good faith either positively pledged, regarding agreements entered into during the war, or supposed by the modern law of war to exist. Men who take up arms against one another in public war do not cease on this account to be moral beings, responsible to one another and to God.

"16. Military necessity does not admit of cruelty -- that is, the infliction of suffering for the sake of suffering or for revenge, nor of maiming or wounding except in fight, nor of torture to extort confessions. It does not admit of the use of poison in any way, nor of the wanton devastation of a district. It admits of deception, but disclaims acts of perfidy; and, in general, military necessity does not include any act of hostility which makes the return to peace unnecessarily difficult."

The DoD online dictionary gives a concise modern definition:

military necessity

"(DOD, NATO) The principle whereby a belligerent has the right to apply any measures which are required to bring about the successful conclusion of a military operation and which are not forbidden by the laws of war."

So with that additional context, I want to ask again: what is your understanding of the Geneva Order?

[ Aside:

Lieber is a figure who deserves to be better remembered. He was a first-rate legal scholar during the 19th century who taught at the U of South Carolina and Columbia and wrote many influential books on the law. He was also a Prussian from Berlin who served as a volunteer in the infantry under Blucher during the Waterloo campaign, where his regiment was in the thick of the worst fighting at Ligny. He got through the major battles OK but was severely wounded in the subsequent mop-up operations. He later fought in the Greek War of Independence. He also wrote an account of his experiences at Waterloo that's well worth reading...


Charles Gittings said...

One further note:

My own analysis of this point is essentially linguistic, and begins with two premises:

1. It is a fundamental breach of military duty to either issue or obey an unlawful order.

2. It is a fundamental breach of military discipline to act on an order which you do not understand.

The first is clear. The second simply observes that you can't do a thing unless you know what it is you're supposed to do; and if you don't understand an order, you're supposed to ask for a clarification.

For example, if you're ordered to attack some particular target, but the identification of it is ambiguous, it might be the case you would make your best guess if you knew the attack was expected in support of further operations which couldn't be delayed or recalled; but in that case, you are acting on the part of the order you do understand in the belief the risk of attacking the wrong target is out-weighed by the risks of not attacking at all; in an alternative, the intent of the attack might be diversionary, leading you to suppose the precise target didn't matter.

What I'm driving at here is how you as a serving officer analyze that order in practical terms, and I'm especially interested in any disagreement or elaboration you might have regarding those two premises.

bg said...


I can tell you this for certain. In 14 years, I've never seen any of these definitions or really had this level of dialogue about it (maybe that is what they teach at the War College). Let me digest and I will give you my take.

Of note, my War College statement is important, because no Company Grade officer or NCO gets this training. And in this type of fight, guess who makes a majority of the decisions on day to day stuff?


Publius said...

"Publius, if you are still in the Meade area, we need to play some golf some day and swap stories, it sounds like we have some shared experiences."

Bg, I regret to so inform you, but I'm now in Hilton Head, SC, and I avoid the D.C. area like the plague. I was around Meade a couple of times last summer and hooked up with some old reprobates who still work for a living; we met at the Golden Flame, a place I've been going to off and on for more than 30 years. Also played a round of golf at Meade. I understand both courses will close soon, to be replaced by two new ones.

I don't like D.C. I don't like the traffic and I don't like what's going on in the government. While I was there last year, it was suggested that I might want to re-up with the boys; I declined. And, then in the past month, I've gotten two calls from old friends. One guy wanted me to move to D.C. to do something. No. The other guy, California-based, and a guy I'll do anything for, might want me to travel there occasionally to represent him. That I'll do, although I hope he doesn't need me.

I would like to hook up with you, Bg. We do have a lot in common and I think you're on the right track. If you get to South Carolina, look me up.

Basil, I've been remiss in not sending some good words in your direction. You've made some posts on Intel-dump, and your latest here is excellent. Good to see you're still out there, old friend.

Charly, you are outdoing yourself on this thread. The link to Lieber is wonderful. I hadn't seen that in years. You are a great researcher and an invaluable asset. Thank you very much for your diligence and dedication.

Bg, the Lieber Code has been around forever (obviously). You won't see it at the War College or anywhere else in the military. I had to find it in a library years ago; now it's on the Internet. There is some amazing history about our military out there, but you won't get it from "official" sources. Lieber tells you there is nothing new under the sun. Lieber tells you just how long our military has grappled with these issues and how seriously our military has taken them. And how it's generally always striven to do the right thing.

basilbeast said...

Well Publius, you're still your usual quotable self.


Some sad Army news today, a veteran known more for his portrayal of an Air Force general and other officers died a couple of days ago.

RIP, Don S. Davis, Captain of the US Army.

And commanding officer of StarGate SG 1.


Charles Gittings said...

Here's an article with some relevance...

July 2, 2008
By Scott Shane

[ article includes links for pdf documents ]


Thanks for the kinds words... high praise coming from you.


Well OK, you think about it -- and I hope we can continue this conversation -- but I'm going to add some comments...

I get what you say about this stuff being somewhat outside the operational concerns of troops in the field etc -- that's why units have Staff Judge Advocates, who, as I understand it, are trained in the Law of War. I also understand that LoW issues aren't that high in the day-to-day concerns of a staff JA. The picture I get is they do a lot of stuff analogous to what lawyers do in corporations, PLUS act as the local "district attorney" and "public defender". That's a hell of a job description if you think about it.

OTOH, JAG corps has a hierarchy just like the rest of the military, and that includes a considerable amount of institutional expertise on Law-of-War issues.

The Geneva Order issued from the White House to the VP and SecDef among other cabinet-level officials. It went down the chain of command from there. You seem to have some direct awareness of the order, and for the order to have effect, it would obviously have to be communicated all the way down the line to anyone dealing with detentions or interrogations.

At every step of the way, everyone involved in communicating that order had a military duty to do so clearly, and everyone on the receiving end had a military duty to understand it clearly. That doesn't require everyone involved in the process to do an analysis like the one I've been elaborating here, but it does require somebody in the chain to do it at some point in order to give the folks on the front lines practical guidance consistent with the order.

So my problem with all of that is simple: there isn't any way to develop practical guidance consistent with the order because the order fails to state any definite object. What it boils down to is "we will obey Geneva except when we violate it" or "we will treat detainees humanely except when we treat them inhumanely."

That's not any sort of an order, it's fraudulent BS being used as an alibi for war crimes, and anyone who actually attempted to figure out what that order requires in practical terms could not possibly conclude that it was anything else.

It follows that in practical terms, nobody much bothered trying. The specific procedures were approved at the highest levels, and the order was issued as a magical incantation to bless them with the appearance of legitimacy. In short, the order was itself intended to provide cover for committing war crimes against prisoners. That's equally true of the PMO and the two AUMF's, it just isn't so transparently obvious in those documents as it is in the Geneva Order, which is nonsensical on it's face.