Thursday, December 23, 2004
I'll be away for a few days. Pray for the turkeys.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
High Crimes and Misdemeanors:
Let the impeachments begin
I'll admit, it's probably not going to happen. Not with this Congress. It would require a Congress that combines a sense of duty, a conscience, and a some backbone (too many women in Congress to use the other term). But elections are coming up again in 2006. And it's always darkest just before the dawn.
Let's cut to the chase. We're tailing about an administration of War Criminals. We're talking about the President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, and many of their key advisors. Time to cut the crap. They are criminals.
Publius says it pretty well:
Most conservatives -- especially George Will conservatives -- would tell you that there are few things more important than the rule of law. And to some extent, I agree. There are some truly admirable features about the Roman/Anglo-Saxon legal tradition from which our laws derive.Not sure why Publius stops at the Pentagon. The SecDef works for the President. At Intel Dump, Phil Carter wonders when the cascading reports of prisoner abuse will end, and why the administration doesn't just come clean with the whole dirty business. Phil surprises me. He's a former Military Police officer who is now an attorney. He should know that it is not in the nature of criminals to come clean unless they see some payoff in the process. Let's promise the whole administration reduced sentences (from 50 years down to, say, 25) and see what happens. Heck, I'd give them supervised probation if they'd all just agree to resign.
Ideally, if these conservatives disagree with a law, they will respect that law or seek to change it through the proper channels (right Brett?). That's Bork's whole schtick about liberal judges -- they seek to bypass the Article V amendment procedure to enact their pernicious "Happy Holidays" agenda. Above all, the rule of law must be respected. It's the foundation of society.
Fine. But I can't think of a more flagrant violation of the rule of law than what we're seeing by this group of, well, war criminals within the administration. If you disagree with the Geneva Convention, fine. If you disagree with the Convention Against Torture, fine. If you disagree with the federal statutes that ban torture, fine. Just withdraw from the treaty or revoke the statute. But you cannot unilaterally decide that you will no longer follow binding law. We have a name for people who do that -- criminals. And that's just exactly what some of the people in the Pentagon are, in the strictly literal sense of the term. They have violated laws, blatantly, and they should be punished for it.
If not, let the trials begin.
Monday, December 20, 2004
A Sense of Duty
Not necessarily connected to the post below, yet somehow related, I thought I 'd share this. It's part of an email about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, sent to me by one of those former comrades who is still serving. I've known him since he was a brand new 2nd lieutenant more than 20 years ago. He's now a lieutenant colonel who, I understand, just made the list for promotion to colonel.
I like this, not only for what it says about our soldiers, but for what it says about the leadership of our great country.
In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news it was reported that, because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, "No way, Sir!" Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a serviceperson.We can assume our beloved Congress, not to mention Flight Suit Boy and his brilliant team in the White House, stayed warm and dry.
The Warrior and the War
Phil Carter, who like me is a former soldier, has a very thoughtful post at Intel Dump. Inspired by a column by Rick Atkinson in Sunday Outlook section of the WaPo, he asks a very important question: When we say we support the troops, does that mean we also support the war?
It is a question with which I have grappled. I certainly don't buy into all that crap of opposition to the war being akin to support and comfort to the enemy. If I am to be the "loyal opposition" to the neo-fascist regime that is running this country, then I must weight "loyal" and "opposition" equally. Since the invasion of Iraq I have wished for a bumper sticker that says:
I love my country,But I still have friends in the military. And there are others who retired after doing their little tour in the desert. When I talk with them I am generally not the ranting liberal that I tend to be in writing this blog. For the most part, we don't discuss the war. The one exception is my old friend Del, who told me his stories after coming home. I wrote about them here (see Report from an Old Soldier).
I support the troops,
and the President is a dangerous idiot!
Untangling the warrior from the war, in both our hearts and our minds, can be an excrutiating process. While there is considerable agreement on our side of the political divide that invading Iraq was a stupid, tragic mistake that has led America into a quagmire with long lasting political, economic, social, and personal implications, there is certainly not any kind of universal agreement on what to do now that the Bush administration has created this ungodly mess.
And what do we, as a society, tell those troops, some of whom are going back for their second rotation in the Iraq War, this time fully aware of its terrible human toll? As one sergeant was quoted in the NY Times:
"The first time, I didn't know anything," Sergeant Garcia said. "But this time I know what I'm getting into, so it's harder. You know what you're going to do. You know how bad you're going to be feeling."There is the dilemma. How do we write about how truly misguided this war is without making Sergeant Garcia and thousands of soldiers and Marines like him feel like complete chumps. What do we say to the hundreds amputees that are overflowing Walter Reed and soon to be dumped upon an underfunded Department of Veterans' Affairs? Sorry about your sacrifice. It was all a big mistake.
As I wrote in concluding my series on Del:
Del believes that civil war in Iraq is inevitable, that in fact, it has already begun. And he knows that the middle of third world civil war is no place for U.S. soldiers to be.But we are still left with the painful dilemma of the warrior and the war. Phil Carter concludes:
For American politicians, it's a no-win situation. If we stay engaged in Iraq, we are a target for too many people -- people who view the U.S. Army as standing between them and whatever agenda they might have.
And if we pull out, many Americans, especially the families and friends of those who were killed or severely wounded, will be bound to ask, "What was it all for?"
Certainly the whole weapons of mass destruction rationale has been laid to rest. Likewise, the ties to Al- Qaeda. Brutal dictators are a dime a dozen. We don't depose all of them, and half of them we support, just like we supported Saddam two decades ago.
In the end, all that's left is the neocon wet dream of planting the flag of Democracy in the heart of the Muslim world, hoping it would create some kind of domino effect with one country after another succumbing to the siren song of freedom and Haliburton.
And now, that looks like it will slip away too, like so much Middle East sand through our fingers. Survivors don't like to think that their loved ones died for nothing at all.
On the domestic front, Iraq will be reminiscent of Vietnam. Those who served there will be irrevocably changed by the experience. And they, like the American people who sent them to fight, will be divided into two camps: those who say we never should have gone there, and those who say that if we had only committed the necessary resources, stayed a little longer, done a little bit more, we could have won.
Some will blame the liberals who were against the war all along. Others will blame the Bush administration for letting politics drive the mission and its deadlines, making success impossible, and constantly sacrificing the truth at the alter of the next election.
I'm still unsure about my answer. But increasingly, I have come to the conclusion that we owe it to our soldiers, as the citizens who exercise ultimate control over the politicians who send them into harm's way, to question the purposes and means of our wars. True loyalty to the soldier requires we bear witness to their sacrifice, and that we honor their sacrifice by ensuring that their efforts are not wasted, let alone their lives. Our democracy depends on the willingness of each generation of young Americans to put themselves in harm's way. But those young Americans depend on us, as citizens, to ensure they go into combat with the right stuff, and for the right cause.I believe that we have a contract with the men and women who serve our country. They agree to do whatever is necessary. We agree to never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary.
They have done their part. We have violated the agreement. Perhaps when each of us shows up at the Pearly Gates to claim our heavenly reward for living so righteously, we should have to face those hundreds of U.S. soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq, and the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, too. Before we get into heaven, each of us should have to explain exactly why we sent them to their brutal deaths.
Or we could save ourselves some time and just take a little trip to our nearest VA Medical Center. Perhaps we could stop the death if we would take the trouble to look into the eyes of the living.