Posted by: quiscus | July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

1.  “The War Drones On

The fact that it won’t is due in no small part to the tepid, morally inert reportage of the mainstream media, as typified by that sentence, which entombs the humanity of all who read it: “Complaints about civilian casualties have also stirred concern among human rights advocates.”

When we bomb children, we garner “complaints,” same as we would if we trample on someone’s flowerbed. These complaints then “stir concern” — you know, like when the milk goes sour — not among people in general, but specifically among professional do-gooders, “human rights advocates,” who monitor and fuss over dead civilians anyway.

Nothing in this language presses on the conscience or interrupts America’s daily business. There is no hint of the value of the lives we destroy, no laying of those lives in our laps. There is only fog and numbness, and the war drones on.”

2.  “Hope and Change Fade, but War Endures

And don’t forget the seductive power of beyond-worse-case, doomsday scenarios, of the prophecies of pundits and so-called experts, who regularly tell us that, bad as our wars may be, doing anything to end them would be far worse.  A typical scenario goes like this: If we withdraw from Afghanistan, the government of Hamid Karzai will collapse, the Taliban will surge to victory, al-Qaeda will pour into Afghan safe havens, and Pakistan will be further destabilized, its atomic bombs falling into the hands of terrorists out to destroy Peoria and Orlando.

Such fevered nightmares, impossible to disprove, may be conjured at any moment to scare critics into silence.  They are a convenient bogeyman, leaving us cowering as we send our superman military out to save us (and the world as well), while preserving our right to visit the mall and travel to Disney World without being nuked.

The truth is that no one really knows what would happen if the U.S. disengaged from Afghanistan.  But we do know what’s happening now, with us fully engaged: we’re pursuing a war that’s costing us nearly $7 billion a month that we’re not winning (and that’s arguably unwinnable), ”

3.  “European Court Halts ‘Terror’ Extraditions to US, Citing Human Rights Concerns

Briton Has Been Held for Six Years Without Trial Awaiting Extradition”

4.  “Former Top CIA Spy: How US Intelligence Became Big Business

The Obama administration has continued the US policy of overwhelming reliance on private contractors at every level of the US national security apparatus and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the administration has dramatically increased the number of contractors from Bush-era levels. In Iraq, while the overall US presence is decreasing, the percentage of  contractors within the total US force continues to rise. But it is not just on the battlefield. According to a recent Congressional investigation, some 69 percent of all Department of Defense personnel are private contractors. The CIA’s recent $100 million contract with Blackwater for “security” services globally is a clear sign that this trend continues unabated at the agency under Leon Panetta.

The Commission on Wartime Contracting recently examined the issue of the use of contractors in sensitive operations at a hearing called, “Are Private Security Contractors Performing Inherently Governmental Functions?” One of the experts who testified, Dr. Allison Stanger, professor and director of the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs at Middlebury College, said that the government use of contractors has become a necessity, rather than a choice, but she painted a sober picture of the implications of the United States using such forces. It “blurs the line between the legitimate and illegitimate use of force, which is just what our enemies want. Al Qaeda’s operatives have no country and are private actors waging war on the United States. Terrorists may receive funding from states, but they are by definition non-state actors,” Stanger said. “If the United States can legitimately rely on non-state actors wielding weapons to protect our interests, why can’t Al Qaeda or the Taliban, especially when contractor misdeeds appear to go completely unpunished?”

5.  “CNN’s Objectivity Questioned in Sacking of Mideast Reporter

“The standard here is based on nothing that Nasr reported for CNN. [Her Twitter post] was barely a one sentence expression of sympathy. Firing her was a decision that was completely disconnected from her work so it’s a decision that’s very troubling. Lou Dobbs’s thoughts about immigrants were on CNN every night and CNN stood by him as the criticism mounted and the factual inaccuracies piled up,” said Hart.

“In this case, a stray comment is enough to terminate someone’s role at CNN almost overnight,” he said. “The discrepancy is rather revealing and CNN would have a very hard time revealing precisely what their policy is on this.”

6.  “New CentCom Commander: It’s ‘fun to shoot some people’

“Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot,” Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience. “It’s fun to shoot some people. ”

7.  “Government Trying to Sweep Size of Oil Spill Under the Rug, Just As It Has Tried to Sweep the Economic Crisis, 9/11 and All Other Crises Under the Rug

Of course, the government’s response to the economic crisis, torture, the anthrax attacks, and just about every other crisis has been the same: try to sweep it under the rug.

It almost seems as if the main activity of government these days is trying to cover up criminal negligence and fraud … instead of actually solving problems, firing – let alone convicting – the folks who caused the problems, or changing things enough to prevent future crises.”

8.  “Washington Post and transparency: total strangers

I’m amazed that journalists wonder why leading media institutions are held in such low esteem.  How else would a rational person view a media outlet which constantly demands transparency and accountability from others yet — using heavy-handed Cheneyite decrees — explicitly declares that it will not respond to any inquiries about what it chooses to disclose and conceal?  And the Post‘s posture is hardly aberrational.  As NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen documented, newspapers such as the NYT and The Post have long refused to account for their conduct or provide any transparency.”


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