Watching the Shadows
All accounts indicate Porter Goss is being cycled out as CIA chief because he "butted heads" (Newsday, May 6) with National Intelligence Director John Negroponte. Goss, former head of the House Intelligence Committee, was appointed in September 2004 as an advocate of reconfiguring the intelligence apparatus following his probe of the 9-11 debacle. Significantly, this was also just as the Bush administration was starting to realize that Iraq was going seriously awry. He should have realized the dangers of being brought in for damage control. Such figures are always dispensible. The shake-up also indicates that the new post of National Intelligence Director is superior to that of Director of Central Intelligence. In a related point, it indicates that the permanent apparatus of "national security" (through which Negroponte came up) is now more central to real power in Washington than Congress and the institutions of elected office (through which Goss came up). Figures of the prior bloc traditionally view those of the latter with contempt, condescendingly humoring their illusion of power. This is doubly the case for the "special interest groups" which supposedly control Congress behind the scenes—they are increasingly useful idiots for the intelligence apparatus that increasingly runs the empire.
The US is under review by the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva, and spin control is the name of the game. State Department legal counsel John Bellinger testified out of both sides of this mouth today, saying the US upholds the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment—but that it doesn't apply in Afghanistan, Iraq or Guantanamo. He also denied that Justice Department memos had dumbed down the definition of torture—as if this cat wasn't already long out of the bag. From South Africa's News24, May 5:
It has now been reported everywhere that Zacarias Moussaoui, upon being sentenced by a federal jury to life imprisonment, shouted, "America, you lost... I won!" Obviously, he had been rehearsing the line for months, and was prepared to use it regardless of the sentence. Actually, the jury's rejection of the death penalty was a victory for the best values of the United States, and a defeat for the forces of pathological polarization, whether of the GWOT or jihad variety. The symbiotic, even incestuous relationship between al-Qaeda and the White House is illustrated (once again) by the fact that both Moussaoui and federal prosecutors were pulling for the death penalty: Moussaoui to finally acheive the glorious martyrdom he was cheated out of; Bush and the Justice Department to establish a precedent for a capital sentence in a terrorism case.
For all the unseemly obsession on the American left (and American right) with the notion that the recent paroxysm of hyper-interventionism is really more about Israeli national interests than US imperial interests, the actual global vision of the interventionists is spelled out explicitly in terms of US global dominance in two key policy documents released this year: the White House National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The NSS calls for the US to shape the world so as to maintain its status as a military power "without peer," while the QDR warns of the emergence of "near-peer competitors" in Eurasia--especially China, Russia and India. We recently noted that the QDR states: "The United States is a nation engaged in what will be a long war." The NSS makes clear that the next likely target is Iran: "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran... If necessary, under long-standing principles of self defense, we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur." (White House website, CSM, March 17)
Osama bin Laden's latest audiotape release is almost funny. Along with the usual swipes at the "Crusader-Zionist" war on Islam, he accuses the UN Security Council of being controlled by the "Crusader movement along with pagan Buddhists"--an apparent reference to China. (What, they aren't godless communists anymore?). Obviously, this rhetoric closely mirrors that of the Christian fundamentalist right. BBC did note the eerie symmetry of Osama's call for a long jihad against the West coming weeks after the Pentagon's new "Quadrennial Defence Review" which stated: "The United States is a nation engaged in what will be a long war." The most widely quoted line from Osama's statement is: "Your aircraft and tanks are destroying houses over the heads of our kinfolk and children in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Pakistan. Meanwhile, you smile in our faces, saying, 'We are not hostile to Islam; we are hostile to terrorists.'" Has it occurred to anyone that the case against Osama on what is called the "Arab street" would be a hell of a lot stronger if these charges didn't happen to be true!? (Are we allowed to say that?)
Another exercise in just how far off-base the supposed "left" has drifted. Greg Palast's latest, on the retired generals calling for Rumsfeld's resignation, is happly picked up by all the lefty blogs, like Smirking Chimp. None seem to have a clue how profoundly wrong-headed—indeed, downright sinister—his political prescriptions are. Palast takes the generals to task for aiming their ire at Rumsfeld for poor planning of the war, rather than Bush for ordering it in the first place. His analogy (or is it just an analogy?) about who the generals should be "shooting" at sounds (or does it just "sound"?) like a call for a military coup d'etat. Palast seems to have as much contempt as his nemesis Bush for the democratic principle of civilian control of the armed forces. Now obviously, Bush is not a legitimate president. His first election was blatantly stolen, and maybe his second one too, and his invasion of Iraq violated the Neutrality Act, the War Powers Act, the Nuremberg Principles and a host of other laws and treaties. But a progressive response would be a popular mandate for impeachment—not a generals' putsch!
No kidding! From the Washington Post, March 13
The Big News: Shrinking Reportage
An explosion of media outlets means we now have more coverage and carping about every conceivable event than ever before in history.
But we also have less reporting.
There's nothing new in this, except that it comes from scholars at Harvard, not cranks at Counterpunch. It's publication shows that the worm may be turning in the US against the supposedly privileged Jews. It greatly emphasizes "the Lobby" (guess which one) in the Iraq debacle, and poo-poos the notion of a war for oil. John Mearsheimer, University of Chicago professor and author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, and Stephen Walt, of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and author of Taming American Power: The Global Response to US Primacy, write for London Review of Books March 10: