Before he jumps into Afghanistan with both feet, Obama would be well advised to consult with another group of officers. They are the veterans of the Russian campaign in Afghanistan. Russian officers caution that Afghans cannot be conquered, as the Soviets attempted to do in the 1980s with nearly twice as many troops as NATO and the U.S. now have in the country, and with three times the number of Afghan troops as Karzai can deploy. Afghanistan never fell to the British or Russian empires at the height of the age of colonialism. Conquering the tribal forces of a vast, rugged, thinly populated country proved beyond their powers. It may also well prove beyond the powers even of the energetic and charismatic Obama. In Iraq, he is listening to what the Iraqis want. In Pakistan, he is simply dictating policy in a somewhat bellicose fashion, and ignoring the wishes of those moderate parties whose election he lauded last February.
This film is a must see. About an hour and ten minutes in length.
November 2, 2007
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman United States Senate Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Leahy,
In the course of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration of President Bush’s nominee for the post of Attorney General, there has been much discussion, but little clarity, about the legality of “waterboarding” under United States and international law. We write because this issue above all demands clarity: Waterboarding is inhumane, it is torture, and it is illegal.
In 2006 the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the authority to prosecute terrorists under the war crimes provisions of Title 18 of the U.S. Code. In connection with those hearings the sitting Judge Advocates General of the military services were asked to submit written responses to a series of questions regarding “the use of a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of drowning (i.e., waterboarding) . . .” Major General Scott Black, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General, Major General Jack Rives, U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General, Rear Admiral Bruce MacDonald, U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General, and Brigadier Gen. Kevin Sandkuhler, Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, unanimously and unambiguously agreed that such conduct is inhumane and illegal and would constitute a violation of international law, to include Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
We agree with our active duty colleagues. This is a critically important issue – but it is not, and never has been, a complex issue, and even to suggest otherwise does a terrible disservice to this nation. All U.S. Government agencies and personnel, and not just America’s military forces, must abide by both the spirit and letter of the controlling provisions of international law. Cruelty and torture – no less than wanton killing – is neither justified nor legal in any circumstance. It is essential to be clear, specific and unambiguous about this fact – as in fact we have been throughout America’s history, at least until the last few years. Abu Ghraib and other notorious examples of detainee abuse have been the product, at least in part, of a self-serving and destructive disregard for the well- established legal principles applicable to this issue. This must end.
The Rule of Law is fundamental to our existence as a civilized nation. The Rule of Law is not a goal which we merely aspire to achieve; it is the floor below which we must not sink. For the Rule of Law to function effectively, however, it must provide actual rules that can be followed. In this instance, the relevant rule – the law – has long been clear: Waterboarding detainees amounts to illegal torture in all circumstances. To suggest otherwise – or even to give credence to such a suggestion – represents both an affront to the law and to the core values of our nation.
We respectfully urge you to consider these principles in connection with the nomination of Judge Mukasey.
Rear Admiral Donald J. Guter, United States Navy (Ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Navy, 2000-02
Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, United States Navy (Ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Navy, 1997-2000
Major General John L. Fugh, United States Army (Ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Army, 1991-93
Brigadier General David M. Brahms, United States Marine Corps (Ret.) Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant, 1985-88
BadTux the Snarky Penguin @ Mockingbird’s Medley compares Adolf Hitler to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
Okay, so unlike Hitler, Ahmadinejad hasn’t invaded anybody. Indeed, he *can’t* invade anybody — the Supreme Ruler (Ayatollah Khamanei) is head of the Iranian armed forces and has sole power to declare war, the President of Iran only has power over limited internal affairs. So unlike Hitler he doesn’t have any armies under his control. Ahmadinejad hasn’t exterminated any Jews either, indeed there are Jewish members of the Iranian parliament. And because he has no power to declare war under Iran’s constitution, obviously he hasn’t declared war against anybody. But… but…Ahmadinejad has SAID MEAN THINGS ABOUT ISRAEL! And saying bad things about Israel MAKES BABY JESUS CRY! WAHHH!!!! So *obviously* he’s Hitler. Despite having no armies. Despite invading nobody. Despite exterminating nobody. Saying bad things about Israel is WORSE than all that, because saying bad things about Israel, like, HURTS THEIR FEELINGS! SOB!
As an ethnically Jewish American, I want Israel to seek peace. I want America to seek peace. I want all nations to seek peace, and to speak together peacefully.
What Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thinks about Israeli politics is his opinion. His opinion of America as a bully would not be disabused by invading his country.
There is no casus belli in Iran. It would be a war crime to invade. Now is the time that members of our armed forces must recognize that an invasion of Iran cannot be considered a defensive act, and refuse illegal orders.
Update: Charles @ Mercury Rising has more thoughts worth reading.
Mustang Bobby @ Shakesville:
By the way, in all of this, I haven’t heard a word of outrage or a tearful plea for mercy from General Petraeus himself. I’m pretty sure that he didn’t get to be a general in the United States Army by letting a schoolyard name-calling taunt get to him.
Watch MSNBC coverage of George Bush trying to be offended on behalf of his toady:
As for the Democratic members of the senate who voted with the idiots to condemn the first amendment, wake up.
The US is a powerful country that does not need to prove itself by beating up smaller countries.
There was no casus belli in Iraq.
Occupation will not pacify Iraq, nor should we have any right to expect a reward for our illegal invasion.
As a brave American once said, “You know, this war is so fucking illegal.”
In an interview on Aug. 18, General Petraeus said that with ill-equipped Iraqi security forces confronting soaring violence across the country in 2004 and 2005, he made a decision not to wait for formal tracking systems to be put in place before distributing the weapons.
“We made a decision to arm guys who wanted to fight for their country,” General Petraeus said.
But now, American officials said, part of the criminal investigation is focused on Lt. Col. Levonda Joey Selph, who reported directly to General Petraeus and worked closely with him in setting up the logistics operation for what were then the fledgling Iraqi security forces.
Hillary Clinton’s insistence on maintaining official silence might be to impress upon some adversary the fear that we might use them. The truth is, no one knows because the button goes to whomever it goes.
Even if we survive this administration and elect a Democratic candidate, there is no guarantee against a George Bush III in the future. Just as we have been cautioning Republicans that they should not give Bush II powers they wouldn’t want Clinton II to have, we should allow for the possibility, and cease this nonsense.
If America uses a nuclear weapon against anyone ever again, there will cease to be America. We will be torn apart inside and out; there would be no shelter from the storm. We cannot use these things. Let’s turn them to some peaceful purpose.
Update: Sifu Tweety Fish @ The Poor Man Institute has more.
I like Barack Obama, and I wish he would agree with his colleagues Hillary Clinton and John Edwards that the federal raids on California medical marijuana providers, dispensaries and patients must end.
Hat-tip Corpus Juris @ Watching Those We Chose for the video.
“I am the mother of the driver of the Bradley you see upside down and burning,” she wrote. “He was 19 years old and could see the futility of Iraq invasion and occupation.”
Another relative of a fallen soldier wrote, “For one moment, we captured the sense of fear, hate, anxiety, stress, depression that befell our beloved one. We miss him. I am so angry, because after all of this — the sacrifice — Bush and his supporters have not moved forward on this.”
There’s video too.
Hat-tip Ellroon @ Rants from the Rookery.
Do not follow illegal orders.
Do you favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months? (Republicans Only)
Do you favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months? (Democrats Only)
I just find the links Danny, I don’t post the video. Maybe I help you find the link so you can notify the poster by reproducing it here.
P.S. This video deserves to be spread widely.
Hat-tip Think Progress.
Faiz at Think Progress:
To recap, here are the previous faulty rationales offered by CBS for firing [Gen. John] Batiste:
Reason #1: Batiste was engaging in ‘advocacy.’ CBS VP Linda Mason said Friday, “We ask that people not be involved in advocacy.” But Greg Sargent revealed instances in which CBS News military consultant Michael O’Hanlon has engaged in advocacy for the Iraq escalation.
Reason #2: Batiste was ‘raising money’ for VoteVets. Mason later amended her statement, saying “It isn’t just that he took an advocacy position. … General Batiste took part in a commercial that’s being shown on television to raise money for veterans against the war.” But the VoteVets ad that Batiste appears is not a fundraising ad.
Reason #3: Batiste was taking part in the ‘partisan political process.’ In fact, Batiste consciously avoided engaging in partisanship. Newsweek reports, “Batiste says he remains a ‘diehard Republican’ and has no intention of wading directly into the presidential campaign. … He took part in the VoteVets.org campaign, he says, because it’s a ‘nonpartisan group.’”
Were CBS truly concerned about not allowing its consultants to engage in the partisan political process, it would not have a McCain presidential campaign aide currently on staff.
The administration appears to be seeking a Gulf of Persia Incident. We’ve been down this road before.
For a time, at least, the United States will have three carrier battle groups in the region. The USS John C. Stennis is the third. Each carrier is accompanied by a small flotilla of cruisers, destroyers, submarines, and support vessels, many equipped with Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles (TLAMs). Minimally, this gives modern meaning to the classic imperial term “gunboat diplomacy,” which makes it all the stranger that the deployment of the Nimitz is covered in our media, if at all, as the most minor of news stories. And when the Nimitz sailed off into the Pacific last month on its way to the Gulf, it simply disappeared off media radar screens like some classic “lost patrol.”
Rest assured, unlike us, the Iranians have noticed. After all, with the arrival of the Nimitz battle group, the Bush administration will be—for an unknown period of time—in an optimal position to strike Iran with a punishing array of bombs and missiles should the President decide to carry out his oft-repeated threat to eliminate Iran’s nuclear program through military action. “All options,” as the administration loves to say, remain ominously “on the table.”
Hat-tip Len Hart.
George W. Bush, 4/9/99:
“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”
And on the specific need for a timetable, here’s what Bush said then and what he says now:
George W. Bush, 6/5/99
“I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.”
What’s the exit strategy for Iraq?
Thanks to Think Progress for the quotes.
Melissa McEwan has more.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
So goes the second amendment to the constitution for the united states of America.
Let’s analyze this. A well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State — therefore the Militia must be well regulated. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, is their right to become part of the Militia. Which is to be well regulated, and so provide for the defense of the community.
Is this so hard? Regulate the Militia well, and we don’t even need a standing Army.
Update: It occurs to me that we’ve so forgotten how to speak English, as the writers of the constitution and bill of rights meant their words, that I have to explain what the Militia is — namely, all the citizens of the State who are in arms. You arm yourself, you are Militia, and subject to regulation as such.
How else to interpret the fact that he’s seeking a new Commander-in-Chief?
Hat-tip Brad Friedman.