liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Civilian Failure to Control the Military

Vicki Allen reported yesterday in a Reuter's article entitled, White House Threatens Veto On Detainee Policies, that the White House doesn't want the Senate
to regulate the Pentagon's treatment of detainees or sets up a commission to investigate operations at Guantanamo Bay prison and elsewhere.
The article quoted a "White House Statement" as saying that
"If legislation is presented that would restrict the president's authority to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack and bring terrorists to justice," the bill could be vetoed.
Apparently, three Republican Senators, McCain, Graham and Warner, have all told Cheney they want detainee and interrogation rules codified in amendments to the Defense bill. Furthermore, Kennedy and Levin -- both Democrats -- are looking to set up commissions to investigate detainee abuses at Guantanamo and elsewhere.

That's the good news.

The Pentagon, for their part, is quoted in the article as issuing anonymous "Talking Points" to the effect of
[T]he issue had been "thoroughly investigated" and "a new open-ended investigation" would add "nothing but political theater."

The talking points said reforms were under way, and the Pentagon "has the matter well in hand. The department and the services are doing everything possible to address this challenge."
The AP journalist, Liz Sidoti, today published another story on the issue, entitled, White House Threatens Defense Bill Veto.

In addition to the treatment of terror suspects, another Amendment to the bill, this one offered by Republican Senator John Thune, is crimping the Pentagon's goal to close bases.

According to Sidoti, Thune's amendment
would require the Pentagon to complete several operational reviews and return U.S. troops from Iraq before Congress signs off on the final version of the base-closing plan.

In its statement outlining its position on the Defense bill, the Bush Administration talked tough here, too.
In a statement, the administration said it would "strongly oppose any amendment to weaken, delay or repeal" the base-closing process and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld would recommend that the president veto any bill that includes such a provision.
Ironically, Warner, McCain and Graham don't like Thune's amendment, because it will "hold in limbo" the entire base-closing program. However, Sidoti claims that Thune's amendment has broad and bipartisan support.

Chalmers Johnson

In the Stealth Imperialism chapter of his 2000 book, Blowback, Asian scholar Chalmers Johnson says,
[C]ongressional control over military activities is by now so minimal that the Pentagon pays little attention to specifications that are displeasing.
This problem has numerous contributing causes, but no obvious solution. Johnson goes on to note that
Even should a U.S. president and Congress one day wake up to their constitutional duties and reassert authority over the Department of defense, that still might not bring JCET and similar programs under control. The Pentagon's most recent route around accountability is "privatization"... As investigative journalist Ken Silverstein has written, "With little public knowledge or debate, the government has been dispatching private companies -- most of them with tight links to the Pentagon and staffed by retired armed forces personnel -- to provide military and police training to America's foreign allies.

One reason privatization appeals to the Pentagon is that whatever these companies do becomes "proprietary information." The Pentagon does not even have to classify it; information on activities of such companies is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.


Given Chalmers Johnson's analysis of the Pentagon's prevalence in the power struggle between civilian and military authority in government -- especially in budget and foreign policy -- it will be interesting to see how this little issue plays out.

Bush may have stepped into more than a quagmire in Iraq. Because of the human rights issues that have been stirred up by the American public, not to mention the usual economic hardship refrain, the Pentagon chiefs seem to have marched President Bush into a shithole.

If anybody had any doubts that Bush was anything more than a "pretty face on the Pentagon," they may well see him unmasked before the end of Semptember. The corporate military empire will rear its ugly head before the world -- and for the first time, before the American public -- if President Bush caves in to popular support for the Amendments.

First of all, the Pentagon is never going to allow Congress to really establish controls over detainees and their interrogations. Not only would it subject them to criminal charges and obstructions, worse than the World Criminal Court, it would reveal just how out of control the armed forces have become. By "political theater," the Pentagon is referreing to a legal process laid open to the scrutiny of the American public. That is the exact spectacle they have so greatly avoided with privatization, secrecy and overseas detentions.

Second, the base closure program is essential to funding the exorbitant costs of the "war on terror." Bases are expensive and we don't need them. Furthermore, they invite public participation in the business of military affairs, which is the last barrier to world (and American) domination by the Pentagon chiefs.

Bush made the mistake of setting up Homeland Security and pumping up military intelligence and the special forces before the CIA was completely neutered. This Plame leak scandal could finish him off, and the Pentagon could sacrifice him, if they think he's unable to carry out the full militarization of government agenda.

In fact, Bush is a very weak leader. His power over Congress is at an end, even if there is a resurgence in the career of Tom DeLay. The war is a disaster, the finances of America are going down the toilet, we have no energy policy, we have no strong allies, except maybe Japan, and we're looking at probably a decade or two of terrorist blowback from the "War on Terror." Bolton is looking at an interim appointment and the Social Security program is dead in the water.

The Pentagon doesn't need Bush, or Cheney, any more. They are going to let them all go down in a bloody show of "political theater." Meanwhile, the Special Forces and the military higher-ups will get their agenda, and no one will even notice until it's way too late. We haven't noticed yet, have we?


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