Archive for the ‘9/11’ category

GOP Debate – 1 Out Of 7?

September 18, 2015

The second GOP Presidential nomination debate was a huge hit with Americans. An estimated 1 out of 7 households were tuned to CNN. There must have been some important information covered that evening for so many Americans to tune in. The press has had a field day picking the various candidates who “won” the debate. Hmmm.

If you watched the three hours or if you have seen on any number of talk shows’ clips of what the candidates said, you know one thing – last night was not a debate and offered little or no insight into each candidate’s perspective on domestic or foreign issues. The debate was entertainment.

Imagine, Jeb Bush said that brother George kept America calm following 9/11 and helped the nation heal. Brother George looked petrified on 9/11 if you recall and when he spoke to firefighters with a bull horn, he told them America would find the perpetrators and bring them to justice without apparently knowing that Dick Cheney and friends were already planning their Iraq takeover.

America did identify Osama ben Laden and al Qaeda, tracked them to Afghanistan, and neutralized their operations (and their Taliban hosts) in a relatively short time. Jeb did not add that 12 year later the US is still mired in Afghanistan.

The debate message (later emphasized by Jeb Bush people) was that Jeb showed emotion and flashed a more dynamic style. The content of Jeb’s remarks were a side issue to them.  Hmmm.

The second debate had already been billed as a “get Trump” night. Each of the other candidates had prepared lines aimed at dirtying Trump. Many of their attempts were successful and at evening’s end, Trump had taken a lot of incoming. The country was not any wiser about what the great problems the next President would face nor even a hint on how these problems would be addressed.

Scott Walker’s enemy number 1 were the unions. A wide number of candidates felt defunding Planned Parenthood, even at the expense of a government shutdown, was a worthy, if not necessary step. Immigration was mainly about how high the wall should be. And anything involving foreign policy was the result of President Obama’s “failed policies”.

The TV viewership was never the less impressive.  I wonder whether the real take away is that a “reality show” look alike just might be the best game in town?

Where’s The Shame?

September 27, 2009

Obama Administration officials are saying that the deadline to close Guantanamo Detention Facility will not be met. The reason given was that there was not enough time to complete a careful review of each case. What do they think we are smoking?

Almost all the detainees have been in Guantanamo (or detention someplace) for over 5 years and many for 7 years. Do we not have a legal tradition of a “timely presentation of charges and subsequent trail”? Do we not have a tradition of enacting laws that apply to US citizens around the world? How then could any Justice Department allow individuals to be detained for 7 years and authorities not have an open and shut case to justify this detention?

The devastation of 9/11, for sure, caught the Bush Administration off guard. This Administration loved to wear its religious values on its sleeves and was understandably at a loss when a radical and religious group, citing authority from the great one in the sky (the same location of the Bush higher authority), could and would do so much damage. In an effort to eliminate this threat, and possibly to settle the score with the “higher authority” impostors, the Bush Administration encouraged the round up of as many radicals as they could find. Like so many other things the Bush people did, step one was accomplished without any idea what would be step two.

That is water over the damn so to speak. President Obama inherited Guantanamo and it is on his watch that it should be closed. There are undoubtably some very dysfunctional people there, and we are probably better off with them in detention. The only criteria should be a reason supported by evidence. No evidence, no detention. Other wise the shame will continue and the values of America’s past will be done a continuing disservice.

Three Blind Mice

September 19, 2009

Former CIA leaders, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, and George Tenet have sent a letter to President Obama asking him to reverse Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to investigate interrogation abuses allegedly committed by CIA personnel. (Joining these three were also former Directors John Deutch, James Woolsey, William Webster, and James Schlesinger.) These seven have expressed concern that the investigation will discourage CIA operatives from doing their job in the future. So I guess torture is ok if you are simply trying to do your job.

From an organizational morale perspective, these former CIA Directors have a legitimate point. Their subordinates are intentional put in the difficult position of gathering intelligence where the rules of the road are not always clear or at a minimum, vary greatly from what US law allows. In these post 9/11 suspected abuses, the CIA had, to its credit, consistently sought clarification from the Administration on what they could legally do. Thanks to patriotic chicken hawks like Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, and Jonathan Yoo, the CIA got the nod to stray way over the line. So there is a certain logic to the genesis of this letter.

Pursuing CIA operatives who may have tortured is pursuing the symptoms and not the disease. The investigation and prosecution should focus upon Goss, Tenet, and Hayden, and those who requested, formulated, or promoted enhanced interrogation. Waterboarding and violations of the Geneva Convention can not be justified as legal by any Executive Branch directive, and Goss, Tenet, and Hayden should have been expected to know this.

So for Goss, Tenet, and Hayden to sign this letter and claim the basis as hurting morale, we are seeing disingenuous words at their best, These three blind mice are really concerned about any investigation and the possibility of being included in the sweep themselves.

The Big Three

December 14, 2008

I am not speaking of the automotive companies in this post.

As the days of the Bush/Cheney Presidency draw to a close, the legacy of George W Bush is being suggested by both the left and the right.  It will be only after a suitable break of time before real historians can assess these past 8 years.  Before then, however, it is open season for those of us who think we can tell the difference between bull shit and apple butter.

The Bush/Cheney years are truly like the gift that keeps on giving.  Every place one looks, one can see mismanagement, incompetence, malfeasance, mean spiritedness, failed policies, and disastrous results. How can anyone pick the top three and not have someone else argue that there is another event that should have been included.  Here, never the less, are my picks:

1.      Invasion and Occupation of Iraq – This ranks number one because

·        This military action was not necessary, and its cost in terms of dollars and human suffering were exceptionally high

·        The lost opportunity cost of Iraq (those other things a reasonable government could have done with the same resources) is huge and have been left undone.

·        The Muslim world is largely a world of “have nots” and this type of person is putty in the hands of “for profit” clerics.  Iraq has opened this Pandora’s Box.

2.      The collapse of the Banking and Investment System –

·        The collapse with its associated damage to pension plans, 401Ks, and personal savings has been more damaging than presented by any threat of terrorism.

·        The warning signs that the banking and investment firms were out of bounds (eating and offering others free lunches) could not have been missed by any well intended Administration.  Steps could have been taken far before the sub-prime loans began to fail that would have averted the crisis.

·        The collapse was not caused by the government or its agencies but rather by what the government and its responsible agencies did not do.  With the complexity of the global economy, Government should be like the referee in sporting matches.  The Government’s job is to ensure the players know they are being watched.

3.      The collapse of the real Economy (beyond the Banking and Investment community) –

·        Countries create wealth by mining, growing, and making (manufacturing, inventing, discovering).  The Bush Administration has done nothing to stimulate the scientific and engineering disciplines nor the basic manufacturing base, that could have produced (good paying) jobs.

·        Simultaneously there has been a steady parade of manufacturing jobs to China and other lower wage countries.  While this may be economically justified, not replacing them with equally good paying jobs was unforgivably naïve and ruinous to our Country’s ability to provide a better life for our children.

·        Also during this time frame, the wealthiest (top 1%) got even wealthier and the average of the rest, got poorer.  The most amazing aspect of this development is that the rich do not see that their wealth is unsustainable unless the average American is able to earn and spend more each year.  Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

There were other finalists that could have made the top three list.  Here is the rest of my top 10.

·        Disregard for US citizen’s right to privacy

·        Disregard for due process, human rights, and the Geneva Convention.

·        Playing ostrich with global warming and environmental policy

·        Dividing the country, in the face of danger, into red and blue, homo and heterosexual, document and undocumented workers, and creationists and godless.

·        Misuse of the Justice Department for political purposes

·        Wholesale mismanagement of Government Agencies thereby putting forth incompetent agency action as in Katrina and the Walter Reed incidents.

·        Showing a total lack of concern for the Government’s fiscal and monetary policy as seen in 7 of 8 unbalanced budgets and a doubling of the national debt.

Circular Argument

April 10, 2008

It was a sorry sight at the Congressional hearings on Iraq.  General Patraeas and Ambassador Crocker sat before both the House and the Senate and answered the same questions in the same evasive manner as we have come to appreciate.

1. Question:  How are things in Iraq now one year after the surge?

    Answer: Conditions in Iraq have significantly improved thanks to the surge.

2. Question: Can we begin bringing home the troops?

    Answer: The current situation is “fragile” and we strongly recommend holding the level flat for several months (like through the fall’s election).

3. Question:  So,it hasbeen a year, you say the surge was a big success but we can’t bring the troops home?

     Answer:  That’s correct.

4. Question: When do you think we can bring the troops home?

    Answer:  We can not say.  We will have to evaluate that in the future.

The American public must wake up to the fact that this set of question and answers is endless.  The next time Patraeas visits, he can use the same speech and same answers.  The deaf mute “Crocker” did represent the case well for the State Department.  No ideas, no action, and no results.

It is past time for a new strategy for both the Middle East and Iraq.  This new approach goes straight through Syria and Iran, both of whom the US does not talk with, and involves the Saudis and the Israelis.  There needs to be a new approach and that approach should require far less troops and far less money.

Florida is Not So Bad

April 4, 2008

Florida is a nice state but getting there and home again is a different story.  Of course if you choose to walk, run, or drive a car, it is a long way but without problems.  But if you choose to fly, then you are in for an experience.

1. You can not be sure up to the last minute whether your airline will fly that day.  Yesterday, United ground its entire fleet of 777’s for inspections.  If the truth be known they were inspections long over due but with Bush “I don’t care” FAA officials at the helm, many necessary inspections were overlooked in the interest of efficiency.  Once the news broke, all the airlines got religion again.  Also yesterday ATA airlines closed its doors and began the process of looking for bankruptcy protection.  The probable cause here was the out of control rise in fuel prices thanks to Bush’s weak dollar and failed Middle East policy.

2.  The “fun in flying” is gone in favor of a bureaucratically numb airport “security” system that adds costs and inconveniences as many travelers as possible.  After waiting in line, the agents check the elderly grandmothers ID as if she was Osama himself.  When the metal detector sounds due to a replacement knee or hip, they provide the lucky person with a full “pat down”, again as if you were a suspected felon. 

3. But the height of all indignities and abuses of federal power is when you first arrive at the airport.  That is when many learn or relearn that your name is on “no fly list”.  This is a product of the new age where technology rules.  If your name is the same as or similar to someone else and their name was placed on the list, you are treated as if you are the same person.  The airline agent search some list using your drivers license as their guide, and after some protracted period (and no new information), issues you a boarding pass.  It is mind boggling that anyone would think this adds security. 

But walking through a Florida airport and seeing the many elderly visitors, one is simply reassured that their Government is on duty fully applying all these procedures to the guests.

Why Troop Withdrawal is not #1 Priority

March 28, 2008

As the campaign grinds on, the issue of bringing the troops home gets center stage billing.  There are some who say that Iraq is not the most pressing issue and point to the failing economy, or to our failing healthcare system as more pressing.  I also do not think bringing the troops home is the number one issue and instead believe changing our Middle East and our “War on Terror” policies are together the most broken of our foreign policies.  If the next President fixes them, then the troops will come home quickly.  Here’s why:

1. Under co-Presidents Bush and Cheney, the US Middle East policy has been based upon a greedy grab for oil and a “biased broker” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The interests who are served well by big energy, are being aided by Bush and Cheney through their failed Iraq War disgrace.  Bush and Cheney could not care less about peace in the Middle East and only sought to stir up confusion so that their friends could get a disproportionate share of the oil.  The current mess in Iraq simply reflects the incompetence of Bush and Cheney as leaders and thinkers.  

The Israeli situation is a little more complicated in that the current stalemate is minimally acceptable to the Israelis.  While outright peace would be better, the necessary negotiations and compromises to bring about peace would not satisfy all the radical and fundamentalist groups in Israel and as a result, it is difficult to imagine a fair agreement coming from the Israelis.  Conversely, the Hamas faction (and before the Fattah group) are pawns for other nations such as Syria and Iran who prefer to have disorder in the region.   Disorder helps them control their own countries better.

The route to a quieter Iraq and a more peaceful Palestinian situation is the same road and it runs through Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.  The US must concentrate attention on these countries and bringing them to realize they are better off with a more moderate Middle East.  The Israeli Government must learn that our financial support will sharply decrease if they are not willing to abandon the settlements on the occupied lands and make some compromise on returning Palestinian refugees.  Both of these events will not happen overnight but should be put in play on day 1 of the next Administration.

2. The term “War on Terror” should be thrown in the garbage can on day 1.  It is a term without a proper definition and has served to bring fear and less critical thinking to the American people.  You can not have a “war” on “terror” anymore than you could have one on sunsets.  In a free and open society, there will always be the chance of someone acting violently.  Consider the many tragic shootings in our high schools and universities.  Is that not terror?  Should we institute check points at each intersection and search those on foot or in cars for weapons or other WMD?

When we invaded Afghanistan in “hot pursuit” of Al Qaeda, we acted against a State that was haboring these extremists.  This is a rationale foreign policy.  When we invaded Iraq, which had no connection with 9/11, US policy went off track.  The “War on Terror” was simply “spin” to dress up a shameful decision and confuse the American public.

Radicals and extremists are as much of a concern to Russia, China, Great Britain, France, and Germany as they are to the US.  Common sense would tell us that there needs to be a coordinated action to control these elements.  This change in policy could be announced day 1 also.

The problem in Iraq is a US policy problem, not a terrorist issue.  We may owe some continuing aid to Iraq, including military support, since we destroyed Iraq’s ability to govern itself with our regime change.  Be assured that this continuing support can be done at far less cost than the war today.

So, on Day 1 following the innaugeration, the next President needs to announce these policy changes.  Then on day 2, he or she can announce that the troops are coming home.