S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008: U.S. still at war.

National Security and Risk," is a report worth noting if you have any influence over the Obama campaign. I believe that it is spot on. It comes from The Democratic Strategist, 9/9/08, and was written by Ed Kilgore. He says that, to win this election Democrats must change public perceptions that Republicans are best in national security. If they cannot no other issues will matter in the debate. To quote:

Third Way and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner have recently conducted a survey of public attitudes on national security issues that should be a bright red blinking light for Democrats. The bad news is that the ancient "credibility gap" between Ds and Rs on national security issues has reemerged during this presidential campaign. The good news is that is can be reduced or erased if Democrats continue to show they are willing to use military force when necessary, support the military in its essential roles, and have a "smart but tough" strategy for defending the country. And the present opportunity for Democrats is that Americans are open to the argument that Republicans, including John McCain, have "reckless" views on national security issues.

Here are your alternatives, should the Democrats fail to prevail in this election. Read "Rambo and Mean Girl*" @ Juan Cole 9/5/08: "Juan Cole's Rebuttal - McCain-Palin." It will remind everyone why we cannot let this happen. To quote Cole's conclusions:

Rambo and the Mean Girl will tell you that they are the squeaky clean Republicans, not like all those other Republicans, and we should focus on them, not on all the crooks.

The Republican Party has massively grown the size of the federal government, including especially of the Pentagon, but Rambo and the Mean Girl are all of a sudden promising to fire every other government employee.

The Republican Party oversaw the mortgage crisis. But won't admit it,and neither will these two.

You want a narrative, about a war hero tortured by the confession he signed, or about a feisty hockey mom who cleaned out the Augean stables of Seward's Ice Box, then you have got it.

You want real policy positions and a rationale for them that goes beyond "I will make my friends rich," then you won't find that in the convention in Minnesota.

Stock footage fronts the Pledge at the RNC in Minneapolis - Found @ CBS News, 9/6/08: "Fake Soldiers Used In RNC Video#." And people think the Republicans have the best national security credentials. Give me a break!

The real soldiers have fought bravely in Iraq and with fortitude and ingenuity. They and their families have sacrificed more than anyone should be asked to give. And the cost to the military has been far too high. "Not to be depressing," wrote betmo, as she sent me this link to a story at (9/4/08): "Army: Soldier suicide rate may set record again." To quote:

Soldier suicides this year could surpass the record rate of last year, Army officials said Thursday, urging military leaders at all levels to redouble prevention efforts for a force strained by two wars.

So far this year, there are 62 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers and Guard and Reserve troops called to active duty, officials said. Another 31 deaths appear to be suicides but are still being investigated.

If all are confirmed, that means that the number for 2008 could eclipse the 115 of last year - and the rate per 100,000 could surpass that of the civilian population, Col. Eddie Stephens, deputy director of human resources policy, said at a Pentagon press conference.

The war is still going on with no end in sight. The soldiers, who did everything we asked of them, were betrayed by their leadership. Geneva Conventions and basic civil rights were abandoned. In was not just a few "rotten apples" who were responsible for what came to be symbolized by Guantanamo. Here is a very good historical summary of the subject of "Detainee Treatment," from ProPublica (9/9/08). The article is thoroughly hot-linked. It also includes sections on "Essential Reading," and "Latest Stories."

Nor is it merely the CIA that practices rendition of detainees. Investigative journalist Eric Umansky, from ProPublica (8/28/08), wrote that the "Military Has Program Similar to Rendition." To quote:

Rendition has long been one of the most controversial aspects of the U.S.'s counterterrorism fight. At least four dozen terror suspects have been sent by the CIA to other countries, where many have said they were tortured.

Today's New York Times says the U.S. military has a similar program: It has "secretly handed over more than 200 militants to the intelligence services of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries, nearly all in the past two years."

. . . There do appear to be significant differences between the military’s program and the CIA's renditions. Citing "military officials," the Times says "prisoners can block their transfers to home countries." No word on what happens to the prisoners if they choose to exercise their apparent right to veto.

Still, there seem to be significant questions. The Times says many of the foreign fighters "are initially held, without notification to the Red Cross, sometimes for weeks at a time, in secret at a camp in Iraq and another in Afghanistan." International law also bars countries sending detainees to countries where they are likely to be tortured. U.S. officials told the Times that the military makes the countries promise the detainees won't be mistreated -- and won't be released. (Human rights advocates have viewed such assurances skeptically.)

The same kind of thinking that spawned Abu Ghraib was responsible for this story from the "Daily Muck" 9/8/08 at TPM Muckraker. To quote:

Iraqi leaders expressed surprise and disappointment at the recent revelation in a new book by Bob Woodward that the United States government has been spying on Iraqi politicians . . . Iraqi politicians suggested that the report could make ongoing negotiations about U.S. troop levels more difficult. White House press secretary Dana Perino had no comment on the allegations. (Washington Post)

The people of the United States elected Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress to get us out of Iraq. It will soon be two years that they have been squandering that opportunity. It is time to get out responsibly and soon. It has been time for a long time.

Hat Tip and ID key to regular contributors (#Jon) and (*"betmo") for these very useful links.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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