The Rutgers University Faculty Council has approved a resolution calling upon the university’s Board of Governors to rescind its invitation to Condoleezza Rice to speak at commencement. It was just last month when the board unanimously picked Rice to receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and serve as its principal commencement speaker for the upcoming graduation ceremonies. Rice, who was George W. Bush’s second Secretary of State, will also be paid $35,000 for her efforts.
But the faculty council’s resolution has thrown a sizable wrench into the university’s graduation gears, plans and festivities. It has reminded us all of Rice’s distasteful war record, including her misleading of the public about the ill-advised and costly Iraq war. Recall her dire warnings against Saddam Hussein’s soon-to-come “mushroom cloud” which would destroy us all? ”Condoleezza Rice … played a prominent role in (the Bush) administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction,” according to the resolution. And she “at the very least condoned the Bush administration’s policy of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ such as water boarding,” the resolution read.
The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher. Washington increased military benefits in late 2001 as the nation went to war, seeking to quickly bolster its talent pool and expand its ranks. Those decisions and the protracted nation-building efforts launched in both countries will generate expenses for years to come, Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor, wrote in the report that was released Thursday.
“As a consequence of these wartime spending choices, the United States will face constraints in funding investments in personnel and diplomacy, research and development and new military initiatives,”the report says. “The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.” Bilmes said the United States has spent almost $2 trillion already for the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those costs, she said, are only a fraction of the ultimate price tag. The biggest ongoing expense will be providing medical care and disability benefits to veterans of the two conflicts.
As the Dalai Lama entered the room at the American Enterprise Institute, where he’d been invited to discuss the idea of “moral markets,” the crowd stood and kept still, in reverential silence. Then, though, everyone he passed began to laugh. Not at the idea that unencumbered enterprise might be the path to peace, but because His Holiness is the Melissa McCarthy of religious leaders: You look at him and can’t help it, before he even opens his mouth, and no matter what he says when he does. “We’re here,’’ said Arthur C. Brooks, the president of the conservative think tank, “to talk about what matters to us the most.” And although “as an economist it hurts me to tell you, money’s not on the list.’’
The presence of a self-described socialist and “simple Buddhist monk” as an honored guest of the enthusiastic capitalists here — Grover Norquist was in the audience, jokingly wondering if he’d worn the right thing, and real estate developer Harlan Crow was in the front row — suggested that even if it is on the list, we know it shouldn’t be near the top. That’s why, as Brooks said, “the system we believe is most able” to make success most widely available “is under question today. Have we become too materialistic? Do we need to reorder our priorities?”
Editor’s Note: John Bolton we all remember is a big neocon warmonger, and Oliver North served under Daddy Bush and Ronald Reagan, famous for being involved in Iran-Contra among other things. James M. Dubik is a former commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq, is a senior fellow a senior fellow the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). The ISW is a think tank founded by Kimberly Kagan, who is married to Frederick Kagan, a resident scholar at the neocon American Enterprise Institute. Frederick Kagan is the brother of Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century. Robert Kagan is married to Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the State Department, and is a member of the influential Aspen Strategy Group, an organization chaired by Brent Scowcroft and staffed with Bush era neocons like Richard Armitage and Eliot Cohen. The Aspen Group is funded by the usual collection of multi-national corporations and organisations like the Ford Foundation. Same as it ever was.
First some history…
Cheney’s daughter, Liz, is running for Republican Senate primary in Wyoming, a typically conservative state requiring a senator with suitably conservative views.
The other Cheney daughter, Mary, is a married lesbian with two children.
Liz said: “I love Mary very much, I love her family very much. This is just an issue on which we disagree”
Contents of key conversations between Tony Blair and a bellicose George W Bush, who declares he is ready to “kick ass”, are thought to be among documents relating to the Iraq war that the government is withholding from publication.
It emerged this week that the Cabinet Office is resisting requests from the Iraq inquiry, the body set up to draw lessons from the conflict, for “more than 130 records of conversations” between Blair, his successor, Gordon Brown, and Bush to be made public. In a letter to David Cameron, published on the inquiry’s website, the committee’s chairman, Sir John Chilcot, disclosed that “25 notes from Mr Blair to President Bush” and “some 200 cabinet-level discussions” were also being withheld.
The standoff between the inquiry and Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, has been going on for five months and has meant that the “Maxwellisation process”, in which politicians and officials are warned that they will be criticised in the report, is on hold.
As a result, a date for the final publication of the report has yet to be agreed, more than four years after the inquiry started.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney said on Monday that what the United States gained as a result of the war in Iraq was that Iraq now does not have weapons of mass destruction.
While professing that he’s not trying to blame Cheney or President Bush for doing anything wrong by invading Iraq, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly wondered what the U.S. got out of the whole thing. “They finger pointed you and Bush and I don’t want to do that,” O’Reilly said, “But we spent a $1 trillion on this with a lot of pain and suffering on the American military. What did we get out of it? Beside Saddam being out of there?”
While Cheney meandered for a few minutes, he finally settled on the main prize: an Iraq without weapons of mass destruction.
[...] It is not particularly clear how, or why, secretaries of state acquired this enduring immunization from the kind of polarization and criticism to which defense secretaries and other Cabinet officials are subject. While there is undeniably something about the office that lends itself to unjustified acclaim – ask an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter to name a few of her substantive accomplishments in her four years as America’s chief diplomat – Rice, Powell, Albright and Kissinger are all exceptionally skilled at playing the media and the public at large. The blame ultimately rests with anyone who tacitly supports or contributes to this culture of valuing personality over substance. This includes the likes of Stephen Colbert, who apparently sees nothing wrong in having a good time with someone who literally expressed indifference over the prospect of millions of people being put in gas chambers. Consider how we would react to a foreign tyrant saying what Kissinger said about Russian Jews or what Albright said about a half a million dead children. For now, though, it seems that only those of us on the “fringe” of the left are unwilling to forget Condi Rice’s fanatical fearmongering that helped sell a war that ended the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for no reason at all. Far be it for us to try to ruin the “real progress” of having her on the playoffs committee.
Former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney has cancelled an April appearance in Toronto citing concerns Canada is too dangerous.
“He felt that in Canada the risk of violent protest was simply too high,” said Ryan Ruppert, president of promotions company Spectre Live Corp., which had booked Mr. Cheney for an April 24 appearance at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
“They specifically referenced what happened in Vancouver,” Mr, Ruppert added.
In September, Mr. Cheney was speaking at a private club in Vancouver when protesters massed outside the front door harassing ticket holders and in one instance, choking a security guard.
The former vice-president was reportedly held inside the building for more than seven hours as Vancouver Police in riot gear dispersed the demonstrators.
Obama’s global terror campaign is not only dependent upon his drone assassination program, but increasingly it has come to rely upon the deployment of Special Operations forces in countries all over the world, reportedly between 70 and 120 countries at any one time. As Obama has sought to draw down the large-scale ground invasions of countries (as Bush pursued in Afghanistan and Iraq), he has escalated the world of ‘covert warfare,’ largely outside the oversight of Congress and the public. One of the most important agencies in this global “secret war” is the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC for short.
JSOC was established in 1980 following the failed rescue of American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran as “an obscure and secretive corner of the military’s hierarchy,” noted the Atlantic. It experienced a “rapid expansion” under the Bush administration, and since Obama came to power, “appears to be playing an increasingly prominent role in national security” and “counterterrorism,” in areas which were “traditionally covered by the CIA.” One of the most important differences between these covert warfare operations being conducted by JSOC instead of the CIA is that the CIA has to report to Congress, whereas JSOC only reports its most important activities to the President’s National Security Council.
New York Times reporter Peter Baker is out with a new book that reportedly reveals some eyebrow-raising details about the Iraq War.
A senior official from former President George W. Bush’s administration is quoted in “Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House” saying American troops went into Iraq because the U.S. was looking for a fight.
“The only reason we went into Iraq, I tell people now, is we were looking for somebody’s ass to kick. Afghanistan was too easy,” the anonymous official said, according to Politico.
Dick Cheney, former president George W. Bush’s right-hand man in the “war on terror,” has revealed that his heart implant was altered to prevent terrorists from hacking into it.
The former vice president, who has had a long history of heart troubles, called his current health a “miracle” in excerpts of an interview with CBS television’s “60 Minutes” program released Friday.
Prior to his heart transplant nearly two years ago, Cheney underwent a series of life-saving procedures, including an implanted defibrillator.
But his doctor, cardiologist Jonathan Reiner with whom Cheney wrote his new book “Heart,” had the device’s wireless function disabled when it was replaced in 2007 so that terrorists could not trigger a fatal shock to his heart.
In the final days of George W. Bush’s presidency, Dick Cheney lobbied the president and lobbied him hard—for the pardon of Lewis “Scooter” Libby. President Bush dreaded facing Cheney about it, and once he did, their relationship would never be the same, reports Peter Baker in the New York Times Magazine. To recap, Cheney was angry that his former chief of staff had been found guilty of lying in the “Plamegate” affair. The press had outed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent in 2003, ruining her intelligence career. But had officials leaked her identity to retaliate against her husband for criticizing Bush over the Iraq war?
Libby claimed that a journalist had told him about Plame. (We now know that Colin Powell’s deputy Richard Armitage leaked it, but that’s another story.) When Bush told Cheney face-to-face that Libby’s conviction was just, the VP snapped: “You are leaving a good man wounded on the field of battle.” The stinging remark punctuated a tense second term, in which Bush had grown cool with Cheney over his hawkish ideas. Even now, they rarely see each other, and Cheney seems to harbor a grudge, saying that Libby’s conviction “was wrong, and the president had it within his power to fix it, and he chose not to. … It was a huge disappointment for me.”
Dick Cheney is ready to laugh about waterboarding.
Conservatives gathered at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan Monday night to roast the former vice president at an event where many of the biggest laugh lines touched on the most controversial policies of a key architect of his administration’s war on terror. At the gathering, hosted by Commentary, figures including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey drew a mix of chuckles and winces with jokes that left few lines uncrossed, according to three guests.
Former Sen. Joe Lieberman “said something to the effect that it’s nice that we’re all here at the Plaza instead of in cages after some war crimes trial,” recalled one person who was there.
Other major targets included former Secretary of State Colin Powell, mocked for leaking, and President Barack Obama, who was mocked, repeatedly, for the relative strength of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The event, sponsored by Rupert Murdoch, Paul Singer, and other top conservatives (listed here) also starred Lieberman and Scooter Libby, the Cheney aide convicted of lying to investigators in a leak hunt. Two attendees said the edgy jokes were in appropriate spirit of a roast; the third found them in poor taste, even in that setting. The dinner was, to the surprise of some guests, punctuated by a live performance of Yiddish songs and by an video featuring Cheney’s face on others’ bodies, which emcee and Commentaryeditor John Podhoretz joked he would release only for $1 million in an email to BuzzFeed.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s speech Wednesday night drew praise from fellow Republicans, touching off speculation about a future run for political office, including governor of California in 2014.
Rice’s speech at the Republican National Convention, which waded into foreign relations, defense, education and energy, stirred some criticism about her role in the Bush administration. But several pundits suggested the Stanford University professor looked “presidential,” even outshining vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
- Schwarzenegger Says Karl Rove Wanted Rice to Run for CA Governor, Not Him (ABC)
- Mitt Romney Didn’t Pick Condoleezza Rice To Be VP Because She Is Pro-Choice & Supports Same Sex Civil Unions (Radar)
- Condoleezza Rice speech sparks 2016 speculation (Politico)
- Cindy Sheehan announces run for California governor (LA Times)
‘Abby Martin speaks with Kevin Ryan, co-editor of the Journal of 9/11 Studies and author of ‘Another 19′, a book that explores 19 alternative suspects that he alleges had the real means and motive to pull off the 9/11 attacks.’
Lawyers for a Florida man this week cited President George W. Bush’s pre-emptive war in Iraq and the “Bush Doctrine” as a defense after their client killed two neighbors and attempted to kill a third on Labor Day.
Florida Today reported on Wednesday that attorney’s for William T. Woodward had filed a motion asking for charges against him to be dismissed under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which says that gun owners do not have a duty to retreat in the face of an “imminent” threat.
The lobbying effort to convince Congress to authorize a planned war on Syria is heating up, and Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will be holding closed-door meetings with senators to try to get them on board starting Tuesday.
Congressmen are overwhelmingly suggesting it’s going to be a “tough sell,” and while there’s a whole week for them to try to change minds, the early counts suggest they’re not even close, particularly in the House of Representatives, where overwhelming public opposition has a large bloc leaning no.
With experts saying the administration’s “evidence” is flimsy, there is little reason to think they can coax the “on the fence” voters onto the pro-war side with these meetings, despite the administration’s official claims that they are confident of winning.
- Congress Seeks to Narrow Obama’s Syrian War Resolution (Antiwar)
- ‘Hands Off Syria!’: C-SPAN Callers Make Clear Americans Do Not Support Obama Attacking Syria (C-SPAN)
- Kerry Vows Obama Will Violate Constitution Ahead of Syria Group Meeting (Kurt Nimmo)
- Not bombing Syria would be catastrophic for America says John McCain (Telegraph)
- Political positions of John McCain (Wikipedia)
- Russian MPs want to fly to Washington to sway Syria vote (Reuters)
- Hagel, Kerry to Testify on Syria Before Senate Committee (ABC)
- ‘It’s Important To Remember The Syrian Regime Is Essentially The Iranian Regime’ (MSNBC)
- Bill PNAC Kristol: ‘Congress In Voting AGAINST Going To War Are In Effect Voting For President Assad’ (CNN)
- Congressman Pete King: ‘I Think Obama Should Strike Syria Even If Congress Votes No’ (CNN)
- Potential action against Syria reignites U.S. budget concerns (Reuters)
RECOMMENDED READING: With Liberty and Justice for Some by Glenn Greenwald
In court papers filed today (PDF), the United States Department of Justice requested that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz be granted procedural immunity in a case alleging that they planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law.
Plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a complaint in March 2013 in San Francisco federal court alleging that the planning and waging of the war constituted a “crime of aggression” against Iraq, a legal theory that was used by the Nuremberg Tribunal to convict Nazi war criminals after World War II.
“The DOJ claims that in planning and waging the Iraq War, ex-President Bush and key members of his Administration were acting within the legitimate scope of their employment and are thus immune from suit,” chief counsel Inder Comar of Comar Law said.
The nonpartisan, 577-page report concluded that the events of the “war on terror” following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks were “unprecedented” in American history. While the authors concede that some U.S. forces have committed brutal acts, they wrote that there has been no evidence that a U.S. president and top officials discussed the legality and effectiveness of “inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in custody.”
The report is a rebuke to President Barack Obama’s opposition to investigating torture under the Bush administration. As he said in an interview following his election in 2008, Obama has advocated ”a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward.”
“Task Force members believe that having as thorough as possible an understanding of what occurred during this period of serious threat — and a willingness to acknowledge any shortcomings — strengthens the nation, and equips us to better cope with the next crisis and ones after that,” the authors wrote. “Moving on without such a reckoning weakens our ability to claim our place as an exemplary practitioner of the rule of law.”
by Jason Ditz
With the end of Michael Oren’s term of service as Israeli Ambassador to the United States, the government has tapped Ron Dermer as his successor, and a more controversial pick is hard to imagine.
Dermer is a long-standing Netanyahu ally, which surely was the deciding factor in his getting the position, but he is also considered a neo-conservative with close ties to US Republican leaders, and a history of pushing Netanyahu’s rivalry with President Obama.
by Julian Zelizer
[...] The loss of a Democratic opposition to the framework of counterterrorism policy has been one of the most notable aspects of Obama’s term in office. Although Obama ran in 2008 as a candidate who would change the way the government conducted its business and restore a better balance with civil liberties, it has not turned out that way. Obama has barely dismantled any of the Bush programs, and sometimes even expanded their reach in the use of drone strikes and the targeting of American citizens. He has also undertaken an aggressive posture toward those who criticize his program.
Equally notable has been how silent many liberals, who once railed against Bush for similar activities, have become in recent years. Whenever Obama has encountered conservative pushback for minor efforts to change national security operations, there has been little pressure from liberals for him to move in a different direction. If there was any moment when liberals might use a scandal to pressure the president into reforms, this was it. But there is little evidence that this will happen.
Where is the outrage? Where has the Democratic opposition gone? Part of the story simply has to do with political hypocrisy.
by Coleen Rowley
The New York Times
WHEN President Obama nominated James B. Comey to lead the F.B.I., he lauded Mr. Comey as someone who understands the challenge of “striking a balance” between security and privacy, and had been “prepared to give up a job he loved rather than be part of something he felt was fundamentally wrong.”
High praise, but was it deserved? We may find out today, when the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on his confirmation.
Mr. Comey’s reputation for courage and probity rests largely on a dramatic episode in March 2004 when he and the current F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, tried to squelch the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. But that was just one night in the 20 months that Mr. Comey served as deputy attorney general.
And while it was not the only time he expressed reservations, Mr. Comey apparently did eventually sign off on most of the worst of the Bush administration’s legal abuses and questionable interpretations of federal and international law. He ultimately approved the C.I.A.’s list of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, including waterboarding, which experts on international law consider a form of torture. He defended holding an American citizen, Jose Padilla, without charges for more than three years as an “enemy combatant,” and subjecting him to interrogation without counsel to obtain information from him. (Mr. Padilla was ultimately convicted of terrorism charges in civilian court.)
Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey famously thwarted efforts by two Bush officials, Alberto R. Gonzales and Andrew H. Card Jr., to pressure a hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft to sign off on Mr. Bush’s warrantless monitoring order after the Justice Department found it illegal. But within days, Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey, having threatened to resign, spoke with Mr. Bush. Whatever assurances the president may have given them are not (and may never be) known — but we know that the surveillance program continued, perhaps with modification, and certainly without further public dissent from Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey.
I suggest that the senators ask Mr. Comey these questions…