These excerpts from the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on the AUMF held on May 16 may be seen as important historically, imo. Left unchecked, the testimony of these Defense officials will have signaled the basis of our foreign misadventures and the unitary executive unless outside forces stop them. You may have read about their assertions, but watching may cement them in your minds forever; at least I hope so.
On May 2, Reuters had reported that ‘amid new security threats, some in Congress’ were discussing updating the AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force). Reining it in a bit had been mentioned by a few Critters, as was the idea of giving Congress some input into the fact that those 60 words penned mere days after 9/11/2001 were being used to ‘justify U.S. counterterrorism efforts from the war in Afghanistan to warrantless wiretapping and drone strikes, all on orders of the White House’.
Senator Angus King is correct: their contentions are ‘astoundingly disturbing’. If anyone other than King went wild about the fact that so much of what atrocities are being committed around the globe by executive order is unConstitutional, I haven’t heard about it. John McCain did assert they need to be ‘updated’, but what he meant by that is unclear, even here. Sure the CIA might give drone-killing back to the Pentagon: on paper. Did you note the whispered conversations about ‘boots on the ground in Congo’? That exchange made a mockery of the fact that they even pretend to know what the fuck they or the CIA/JSOC/mercenaries are doing. Jeebus.
‘Twenty years from that day’ would mean that the drummed up ‘War on Terror’ would have lasted over thirty years by the year 2033. Perpetual war has become so normalized that this hearing has received scant notice; perhaps we’ve been immunized from outrage by now. We’re being ruled by sociopaths, and except for some Republican largely theatrical pushback, we collectively snooze. The putative Left is either mesmerized by tribalist loyalty, engaged in active apology, or stunned into quiescence by the fear that war propagandists in bought-and-paid for media ‘news’, entertainment, bigPharma-induced trance, or shopping and consuming to assuage their nagging feelings that something’s wrong with this picture. There are also many citizens who are in such dire financial straits that they can’t afford to pay attention to issues past where their families’ next meals might come from.
Glenn Greenwald brought up this stunning point: soon there will be an entire generation of young Americans coming of age for whom endless war is normal, not to mention all that accompanies it: unknown trillions of our tax dollars spent on so many wars that Congress itself likely doesn’t even know the entire list, and may not want to know, especially what the Shining City on the Hill’s Dark Armies are engaged in around the globe. Add in: austerity measures so strict that US infrastructure is crumbling; schools being closed and privatized at ungodly rates; fifty recent ones in Chicago’s Rahmville alone. Citizens are groped by TSA employees at airports, while free speech and dissent have been deemed criminal or even ‘terrorism’.
These young people will be so indoctrinated with media propaganda that they may come to believe that the prosecution and imprisonment of whistle-blowers really was all for the best, and that we should trust our government to know what should be revealed to us, and what should not. Hell, I read that sentiment on a front page FDL diary the other day, and it was made by an alleged ‘adult’.
As Angus King mentioned, expanding Al Qaeda (our friends when the US fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan) to ‘associated forces’ or ‘those providing safe harbor’ or ‘any male of military age in a certain locale’ as justifiable targets…is beyond the pale. Consider as well that many of our Empire’s former friends or ‘useful idiots’ can be turned into enemies as the need arises (Bin Laden, Ahmed Chalabi, many others as Sibel Edmonds names at the link) Hey, it’s just realpolitik, right? . Almost beyond belief is claiming the right to American nationals abroad without even the pretense of due process, and oopsie; it turns out there have really been four killed by drones, but hey – a few of them were accidental murders. We have no idea how many people the CIA may have killed around the world in order to make the world safe for American Empire, but…few of us would even care to know.
Yes, yes, the generals say the President has the domestic authority to do whatever the hell he wants in the name of ‘keeping Americans safe’ from terrorists’, but the hearing blew right on by ‘International Authority’, although most ‘host nations’ can be easily bought off with our filthy lucre and weapons.
Out in the open now is the policy that as long as it can be claimed that a nation is being ‘destabilized’ by radical Islamists, Al Qaeda associates, etc., that the US/ISAF or AFRICOM can ride to the rescue in aid of local rulers who want to do bidness with Western multinationals, and don’t mind trashing the folks at the bottom of the class wars. Libya again, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Congo, tra la la: Yahoo! Saddle up and ride! Heh, the Fed’s even keepin’ Mr. Market so high that he doesn’t have to dip when more wars are mentioned; that was in the bad ole days, remember? If you have to support death squads, purveyors of genocide, deposing duly elected leaders, damn; it’s just bidness.
Now, given the fact that it’s become all too clear that foreign occupations and drone assassinations and ‘civilian collateral damage’ are radicalizing more and more moderates in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, and that ‘double tap’ killings do even more, what better recipe for War on Terror Everlasting could there be than proceeding with these present policies? Talk about ‘self-perpetuating ‘war’! And meanwhile, the weapons manufacturers, the civilian contractors including reconstruction, construction (think Bagram air base, or the Mega-Fortress American Embassy in Iraq), contract mercenaries, Wall Street, resource profiteers, etc. are making veritable fortunes from the Empire’s War Machine.
Given all that, add in the lobbyists for the aforementioned groups *and* that objecting to military expenditures or killing the AUMF would open a Critter to charges of being ‘soft on terror’, who else besides the occasional persons like King or Barbara Lee might make their objections in full volume? Stay tuned, I guess, but it’s likely that the AUMF is here to stay, or even gets expanded.
The Prez is supposed to give a speech some time today that proves how and why his (well, John Brennan’s) drone program is legal; can’t wait to provide a rush transcript of that assholish chicanery, oh no…
Meanwhile, for all you historians, investigators, and legal beagles out there, the Guardian put up a piece yesterday on an online project called ‘The Rendition Project’ which tracks planes that in all likelihood were used in US extraordinary renditions from 2001-2006; it’s interactive, and they teach us how to use the maps and keys. Arrrgh. Good on them.
Here is Jeremy Scahill’s ‘The World Is a Battlefield’ for your viewing…,edification; no pleasure will be involved. Please note that this administration has *not* ended torture, and is doing more than just calling it ‘temporary’ as indicated by a NYT piece (I can dig it up if you really want it). My long admiration for Scahill knows no bounds.
And for later: you may want to watch this documentary from YourWorldNewsFilms: ‘The More Effective Evil: the Impact of Barack Obama’s Presidency on the Black Community’. I especially liked Dr. Joseph Richardson at about 33 minutes, who addressed obomba’s effect on the global black community, which is highly relevant, imo.
* (Note: the FATA is the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas of Pakistan)
(cross-posted at the (for now) Whistle Stop Café)