Weekend reading – hot stories you may have missed

Contents

  1. Waxman: White House Knew Of Hunt/Kurdistan Oil Contract“, Matthew Blake, The Washington Independent (2 July 2008) — Disappointing news about our leaders for this 4 of July holiday weekend.
  2. China Inspired Interrogations at Guantánamo“, New York Times (2 July 2008) — Terrible news about our government.
  3. Guantanamo and the SERE schools“, Pat Lang (Colonel, US Army, retired), Sic Semper Tyrannis (2 July 2008) — Putting the above story in a larger context of good and evil, of America and its enemies.
  4. US military extends Afghanistan tour of 2,200 Marines after saying it would not“, AP (3 July 2008)
  5. How dare they rip the Fourth Amendment?“, Joseph L. Galloway, op-ed in McClatchy Newspapers (3 July 2008) — Commentary about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
  6. Prisoners of our own delusion“, Chuck Spinney, Defense and the National Interest (4 July 2008) — An important insight for this election year. 
  7. Obama May Consider Slowing Iraq Withdrawal“, Washington Post  (4 July 2008) — “Candidate Says He Remains Committed to Ending War.” Yes, just as is McCain.
  8. Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis“, The Guardian (4 July 2008) — “Internal World Bank study delivers blow to plant energy drive”

Excerpts

I.  Waxman: White House Knew Of Hunt/Kurdistan Oil Contract“, Matthew Blake, The Washington Independent (2 July 2008) — Disappointing news about our leaders for this 4 of July holiday weekend. — Excerpt:

Today the House oversight committee released a report asserting that the White House knew about an oil deal between the Kurdistan regional government and Texas-based Hunt Oil, though President George W. Bush had claimed he knew nothing about the contract before it was announced. According to the report, Ray Hunt, President of the company, talked to Bush administration advisers months before the deal was made. Also, officials at the Commerce and State departments encouraged the deal and even congratulated Hunt after obtaining the contract.

II.  China Inspired Interrogations at Guantánamo“, New York Times (2 July 2008) — Terrible news about our government.  Excerpt:

The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

III.  Guantanamo and the SERE schools“, Pat Lang (Colonel, US Army, retired), Sic Semper Tyrannis (2 July 2008) — Terrible news about our government. Excerpt:

SERE training was intended to prepare people for the illegal bestialities that it was expected would be inflected on American prisoners if they fell into the hands of the communist enemy.  … It was clearly understood that such methods were to be expected of an enemy devoid of decency.

IV.  US military extends Afghanistan tour of 2,200 Marines after saying it would not“, AP (3 July 2008) — Excerpt:

The U.S. Defense Department has extended the combat tour of 2,200 Marines in Afghanistan after insisting for months the unit would come home on time.

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is doing combat operations in the volatile southern region, will stay an extra 30 days and come home in early November rather than October, Marine Col. David Lapan confirmed Thursday.

… There are 32,000 U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan, 14,000 serving with the NATO-led coalition and 18,000 conducting training and counterinsurgency.  The NATO force includes more than 52,000 troops from as many as 40 countries.

V.  How dare they rip the Fourth Amendment?“, Joseph L. Galloway, op-ed in McClatchy Newspapers (3 July 2008) — Commentary about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  Opening:

Early next week the U.S. Senate will vote on an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with a few small amendments intended to immunize telecommunications corporations that assisted our government in the warrantless and illegal wiretapping it has grown to love.

That such a gutting of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution even made it out of committee is yet another stain on the gutless and seemingly powerless Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.

That a majority on both sides of the aisle – not least of them the presumptive nominees for president of both political parties – intend to vote for such a violation of Americans’ right to privacy and of the sanctity of their personal communications is a stunning surrender to those who want us to live in fear forever.

VI.  Prisoners of our own delusion“, Chuck Spinney, Defense and the National Interest (4 July 2008) — An important insight for this election year.  Excerpt:

To be sure, blaming the Bushies and neocons for the substitution of force for diplomacy is not without a lot of merit … as the past eight years of madness have shown. But this madness did not come about in a vacuum.

To assume otherwise misses the fundamental point that the militarization of grand strategy is deeply rooted in our political culture. The embedding operation evolved during the entire period of the Cold War. Looking back to the origins of the Cold War, for example, did not George Kennan, the father of the Containment Policy, complain later that the militarization of foreign policy warped containment theory into feeding an arms race that greatly intensified the Cold War? And, oh by the way, long before the Cold War ended, did not President Eisenhower warn us in his farewell speech to the American people about the dangers of excessive political influence posed by the military-industrial complex?

It is especially important to appreciate how the propensity to militarize grand strategy fed back on and magnified itself after we erroneously convinced ourselves that this strategy was responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

VI.  Obama May Consider Slowing Iraq Withdrawal“, Washington Post  (4 July 2008) — “Candidate Says He Remains Committed to Ending War.” Yes, just as is McCain.  “ Only the naive should be surprised esp. after reading Obama Adviser Calls for Troops To Stay in Iraq Through 2010“, New York Sun  (4 April 2008).  Excerpt:

Sen. Barack Obama raised the possibility of slowing a promised gradual, 16-month withdrawal from Iraq if he is elected president, saying that Thursday he will consult with military commanders on an upcoming trip to the region and “continue to refine” his proposals.

“My 16-month timeline, if you examine everything I’ve said, was always premised on making sure our troops were safe,” Obama told reporters as his campaign plane landed in North Dakota, a state no Democratic presidential candidate has carried since 1964. “And my guiding approach continues to be that we’ve got to make sure that our troops are safe, and that Iraq is stable. And I’m going to continue to gather information to find out whether those conditions still hold.”

… “Let me be as clear as I can be: I intend to end this war,” he said. “My first day in office, I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in, and I will give them a new mission. That is to end this war, responsibly, deliberately but decisively.”  Thus far, he added, he has seen nothing to contradict his belief that one to two combat brigades could be pulled out each month over 16 months.

VII.  “Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis“, The Guardian  (4 July 2008) — “Internal World Bank study delivers blow to plant energy drive”  Opening:

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% – far more than previously estimated – according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.  The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.

The figure emphatically contradicts the US government’s claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises. It will add to pressure on governments in Washington and across Europe, which have turned to plant-derived fuels to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce their dependence on imported oil.

Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

One thought on “Weekend reading – hot stories you may have missed

  1. These are all valuable posts. The FISA court rulings, the denial of habeas corpus, are challenges we can all take up immediately.

    The prominence of the military in forming policy, in the national budget, and in the minds of “strategic thinkers” as well as the general culture, is so deeply entangled in our public lives, its hard to know how to address it. It seems to be almost a direct by-product of our economic position in the world — as if great wealth necessarily leads one to be suspicious of and hostile toward everyone else. Boardwalk and Park Place, and Tennessee, are not enough — you have to have a nuclear arsenal to defend them!
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    Fabuis Maximus replies: I concur, and wrote about this in “America’s Most Dangerous Enemy.”

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