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Edge Left Recalls Pearl Harbor by David McReynolds
December 24, 2014

It is hard for me to realize that 73 years have passed since December 7th. Three generations, and most of those who were alive on that day are now gone. I was 12. The  day is clear in my mind.  We were sitting in the living room of my parents' home in Los Angeles. My father, mother, my younger brother, Martin, and my sister, Elizabeth Ann.

We had just returned from church. Pearl Harbor had been hit at 7:48 a.m., Honolulu time - which meant early afternoon for us.  Radio was broadcasting the stunning news of an attack on Pearl Harbor - details not at all clear. My mother was very close to her three sisters, one of whom,  Mary, lived in Honolulu. Long distance phone calls were, in those days, a big deal - expensive and not immediate, as you had to go through a special operator. The phones to Hawaii were so overloaded that it was impossible for my mother to find out if her sister and her family had survived.

We went for a long afternoon car ride. When I tried to say something, my mother said to be quiet, our father was thinking. (He would, within a few days, volunteer for service. He had a Second Lieutenant's commission in the reserve but with a wife, three children. and well into his thirties, he would never have been called up).

On Monday, when I went to Jr. High School, I  watched with solemn pride as the flag was raised. By then word had reached my mother that her sister and her family had not been injured. Of course we were all glued to the radio when the President asked Congress for a Declaration of War.

People in Los Angeles had no idea if Pearl Harbor would be followed by an invasion somewhere on the West Coast. Our next door neighbors sold their property and moved East for safety. 

I did not realize that Japanese in California would soon be rounded up and sent to concentration camps. There were no Japanese living in our all white working class neighborhood - and none in our local schools.

There were, that first year, alarms when search lights lit up the sky at night, trying to locate rumored Japanese bombers. There were rumors that Japanese planes had been shot down. All of us knew someone who knew someone who had seen the wreckage. (It had never happened).

Ration books were issued. All the good things were rationed: butter, sugar, bananas, meat, gasoline. The things I thought, as a child, should have been rationed - honey and carrots - were not. Gasoline was tightly rationed - a real hardship in Los Angeles, with its weak system of public transportation. There were no cars or durable goods produced until the end of the war. (Not as great a hardship as it may sound - things in those distant days were made to last).

Some of the rationing may not have been absolutely necessary but it did drive home the fact we were at war. During the Korean or Vietnam Wars, the population could, for the most part, only observe. But during the Second World War we all took part - not just from the impact of rationing, but from the efforts every family made to collect grease, aluminum and newspapers, all of which were collected and put to some military use.

In Los Angeles the city was blacked out at night, with wardens in every neighborhood to check for stray light. (On the West Coast the need for the blackout was not that imperative, as few, if any, Japanese submarines patrolled the coast. But along the East Coast a heavy price was paid at first, as German submarines had an easy time picking off merchant marines which were clearly visible against the background glow of the city lights, until the whole Eastern seaboard went dark when the sun went down.

Of course we had only radio, no television, but there were frequent news broadcasts, at least once an hour, not resented by the public, eager for word. The movie theaters were our chance to watch the war itself, where the newsreels of The March of Time were exciting, stashed in between the double bill of films.  We could see the London Blitz, the war in North Africa, the Nazi advance into the Soviet Union (there was a general feeling the Soviets would be out of the war in eight weeks), the bloody struggles on the Pacific Islands.

We had odd little gadgets that came with the war and vanished with peace. Troops had  "V Discs"-  78's, produced for shipment to the front lines, so that troops could hear music from the home front on portable players. And there was "V Mail", single page letters on which the troops wrote, which were censored (there would often be black lines blocking out anything that might be strategic), the letters were photographed and sent home as small negatives, which were then enlarged and sent on to the families. V Mail made it possible for tons of letters to be reduced to one shipping bag

While as a child I wouldn't have noticed it, the unemployment rate, which had been 17.2% in 1939, dropped to 1.2% by 1944. One remarkable result was that the vast influx of Southern whites and Southern blacks, drawn to the West Coast by the aircraft and shipping industries, largely managed to avoid racial riots - everyone was too busy working. Women, of course, were drawn into the work force, their new (and temporary) status celebrated by the song "Rosie the Riveter." Wages and prices were frozen for the duration.

Every home or apartment that had a member in the service displayed a silver star in their window. The gold stars were displayed with pride and sadness - it meant the death of a family member in the war.

What is harder to convey to those who remember our later wars, from Korea on, was the virtually total support the war had.
On reason was the well coordinated propaganda effort run through the OWI, Office of War Information. This resulted in a slew of patriotic films from Hollywood including a remarkable one, Mission to Moscow, which was intended to soften the previously hostile image of Soviet Communism.

Dissenting voices fell silent, or supported the war. The pacifist movement did not feel it was right to try to disrupt the war effort - there was a realization that, between the Axis Powers and the Allies, there was a choice. And the left, which had tended to be anti-war, fell into line with full support of the war. This was true for almost all of the left, but particularly true of those influenced by the Communist Party because of the Soviet involvement.   There was an effort at a political trial of some far-right elements, but that fell apart and in the end the residual fascist elements weren't bothered. So far as I know there where no efforts from once-active Nazi supporters to engage in sabotage.

My sense was one of "consensual totalitarian support." I suspect the situation was much the same in Britain. I would be curious if those Germans who survived Hitler can recall the attitude there from 1939 on. I know that Hitler had, in the beginning, massive public support, but the concentration camps held more than Jews - they held socialists and communists as well.

This is perhaps the inevitable support when the nation has been attacked, its very survival a stake. I remember, when I was in Hanoi, in 1971, in the midst of that war,  no sense of a population living under military control. (When I asked our hosts if we could walk around the city the answer was, "Yes, just please don't get lost").

Compare this with the Korean War, where the pro-Soviet left went into opposition, the McCarthy period began, and (I know this from having been there as a radical student) dissent was possible even if pacifists and Communists were being jailed.  If one's memories only go back to the Vietnam War (which means if you were born not only after World War II, but also after the Korean War) your memory is hardly one any kind of "consensual support" for the war, rather a memory of riots and demonstrations.

There is another comparison to be made - we were spared the remarkable hysteria of World War I, about which we know only from reading, the last living links being long broken. It was known then as "The Great War" (no one thought we would be able to give them numbers).  There had been real opposition to that war - the Socialist Party, then a mass organization, voted against support,  its leader, Eugene Debs, was tried and sent to prison. It became "the war to end all wars . . . the war to make the world safe for democracy".  Sauerkraut became victory cabbage, hamburgers were renamed Salisbury steak, the teaching of German ended, German books were burned. In some sad cases  handsome German shepherd dogs were killed. The playing of German music was virtually banned - Bach, Beethoven!!

But there is a similarity with the end of the first World War, which dominated European and American politics. This was a profound reaction to war itself. If the British and French were slow to confront Hitler, it was because the pain of "The Great War" haunted them. And while the loss of life among American troops was much less, there was a widespread feeling the US had "pulled Britain's chestnuts out of the fire", (anti-British feeling  lasted until well into the Second Word War). The US public wanted to withdraw from the world - not to dominate it. Isolationism was the powerful reaction to the war.

After the end of the Second World War, punctuated as it had been by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no political leader in either major party would have dared to use the kind of military rhetoric so common today. There was the belief, with the founding of the United Nations, that war was part of the past. One cannot easily conceive of how little support the military had, how strong was the belief that peace would be a permanent condition. That was all to end, of course, as the Cold War began.

Those of you who want a sense of what life was like during the war can get a good feeling of it from the BBC series, Foyle's War, particularly the first episodes, when the English expected a German invasion at any moment, and when the restrictions of war began to touch every aspect of life. It may be strange to think a British series could recall the American experience, but as an American who saw our war in my childhood, I recognized the climate at once.

    What came later, the chill of the Cold War, and the conscious rise of the American Empire came soon enough and will be         taken up in a kind of "part two" - the rise and fall of an Empire.

Edge Left are occasional posts from David McReynolds,
and may be used and reprinted without further notice.

David McReynolds was the Chair of the War Resisters International and twice the Socialist Party's candidate for President. He is retired and lives on Manhattan's old Lower East Side. He can be reached at: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it   




 
Is US-NATO Preparing to Wage War on Russia? By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
December 20, 2014

Is US-NATO Preparing to Wage War on Russia? The Wales NATO  Summit in September has set the stage.

Several military initiatives directed against the Russian Federation have been launched in the last few months including the conduct of war games in Eastern Europe, military training and the deployment of special forces in Ukraine.

These military initiatives are led in coordination with media propaganda and a program of “economic terrorism” consisting of disruptive economic sanctions, the freeze of monetary and trade transactions,  the fraudulent manipulation of the oil and currency markets, etc.  The media campaign consists in presenting war as a humanitarian undertaking.

The endgame is to weaken the Russian Federation, undermine its institutions, impoverish its population.

Meanwhile, the US Congress has passed enabling legislation which provides a de facto green light to president Obama to declare war on Russia.

Reports have also confirmed that Washington is contemplating “regime change” in the Russian Federation with a view to installing a more compliant government in the Kremlin. According to President Vladimir Putin:

“We see the tragic consequences of the so-called color revolutions and ordeals survived by the peoples of the states that faced these irresponsible experiments of covert and sometimes even… overt interference into their lives…

This is a lesson and warning for us and we will do everything possible to prevent this from happening in Russia.” (quoted in Sputnik, November 20 2014)

Military threat combined with “economic warfare” are intended to create social and economic instability in the Russian Federation. Cyber warfare is also an instrument of intervention directed against an enemy’s communications systems.

The US-NATO military exercises conducted in recent months in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States were explicitly directed against Russia. According to Moscow, they consisted in “increasing operation readiness” as well the transfer of NATO “military infrastructure to the Russian borders”.

In mid-December, General James Stavridis, former commander of Nato in Europe called upon the Atlantic Alliance to”send arms and military advisers to Ukraine to help it fight Moscow-backed separatists.”

 “I think we should provide significant military assistance to the Ukrainian military. I don’t think we should limit ourselves to, non-lethal aid. I think we should provide ammunition, fuel, logistics. I think cyber-assistance would be very significant and helpful, as well as advice and potentially advisers.  .  .  I don’t think there needs to be huge numbers of Nato troops on the ground. The Ukrainian military can resist what’s happening, but they need some assistance in order to do that.” (quoted in the Guardian, December 14, 2014)

And on December 18th, President Barack Obama signed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act which allocates up to $350 million in military aid to Ukraine in support of its military campaign in Donbass.

In addition to the granting of military aid, the US military is directly involved in the process of military planning in close coordination with Ukraine’s Ministry Defense.

Its Called “Defense Cooperation”

While US involvement is officially limited to training, the sending in of special forces and support to Ukraine’s National Guard, mercenaries and private security operatives on contract the Pentagon and NATO have also been deployed within the ranks of the Ukraine military and National Guard in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

US Military Advisers at Work

In late November, the US State Department confirmed that it “will continue to send special teams to Ukraine to provide security assistance”, namely advising and military training.

As part of this program of security assistance, Brig. Gen. John Hort, chief of operations, U.S. Army Europe was dispatched to Kiev together with “his staff and members of the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation, located at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv”, Ukraine,

participated in a Global Security Contingency Fund — Ukraine planning requirements meeting with Ukrainian National Guard officials, here, Dec. 8-9, 2014.

The purpose of the requirements meeting was to identify Ukraine’s National Guard Unit organization, training readiness and unit end state conditions after training completion.  U.S. Army Europe, Ukraine defense officials share lessons learned

The Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC): Subsidiary of the Pentagon at the US Embassy in Kiev

The Office of Defense Cooperation which operates out of the US Embassy in Kiev

“works with the Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense to provide military equipment and training to support the modernization of Ukraine’s military.” http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/odc.html

US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, in liaison with Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland,  plays a key role in coordinating the activities of ODC-Ukraine. Defense officials at the US Embassy are in turn in liaison with the Pentagon.  The activities of the ODC broadly defined consist in:

  • The deployment of US military personnel inside Ukraine;
  • Military training and advisory functions;
  • The sale and procurement of US weapons systems;
  • Support to Ukraine’s National Guard through a protocal agreement with California’s National Guard

  1. The deployment of US military personnel in Ukraine is implemented under the so-called Joint Contact Team Program-Ukraine (JCTP). The mission of the JCTP is “to deploy US military teams to Ukraine to acquaint the Ukrainian military with various aspects of western militaries.”
  2. The military training program is implemented under the auspices of the International Military Education and Training (IMET). Under this program, Ukraine military personnel are sent to the US for training.
  3. The sale and procurement of weapons is under the auspices of  Foreign Military Sales/Foreign Military Financing (FMF).  The FMF program assists the Ukrainian military in conducting defense reform by providing funds for Ukraine to purchase US military equipment and services.  (http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/odc.html)
  4. Support to Ukraine’s National Guard is implemented through the California–Ukraine State Partnership Program (SPP). While the SPP mandate is to “promote democracy, free market economies and military reform, in practice the SPP is used to channel support as well as special forces and military advisers to Ukraine’s (neo-Nazi) National Guard battalions in Donbass.

The National Guard Azov Battalion in East Ukraine integrated by neo-Nazi recruits.

Of significance, the SPP Mission is coordinated jointly by the US Ambassador to Ukraine and the Commander of U.S. European Command (EUROCOM) General Philip Breedlove based in Stuttgart, Germany.




 
Senate Report on CIA Torture is a Whitewash By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
December 11, 2014

The words “possible criminal actions” by CIA employees are used in the report.

The terms unethical and immoral are mentioned. The criminality of those who ordered these actions at the highest levels of government, however, is not acknowledged.

The actions directed against alleged jihadists are categorized as ineffective in the process of revealing intelligence. This in itself is a red herring. The objective of torture was not to reveal  intelligence.

What of course is not acknowledged is that the alleged  terrorists who were tortured were framed by the CIA.

Known and documented the Al Qaeda network is a creation of US intelligence.

The jihadists are “intelligence assets”.

Torture serves to perpetuate the legend that the evil terrorists are real and that the lives of Americans are threatened.

Torture is presented as “collateral damage.” Torture is an integral part of war propaganda  which consists in demonizing the alleged terrorists.

And the Senate committee report ultimately upholds the legitimacy of the US intelligence apparatus, the US government, its military and intelligence agenda and its “humanitarian wars” waged in different parts of the World.

The term “legally misguided” is mentioned but the fact that these actions were “illegal” and “criminal” is casually dismissed.

According to Senator Feinstein: “The CIA plays an incredibly important part in our nation’s security and has thousands of dedicated and talented employees.”

The actions documented by the Senate report were undertaken from 2001-2009, namely during the Bush administration, overlapping into the Obama presidency. This inevitably raises  the issue of responsibility of the current US administration. There is no evidence that these practices were abandoned by the Obama presidency. In fact quite the opposite.

And the “Global War on Terrorism” prevails with new initiatives on the drawing board of the Pentagon.

The Role of 9/11

9/11 serves as a justification for the torture program in the same way as it served as a justification to wage war on Afghanistan and Iraq. According to Senator Feinstein:

“All of us have vivid memories of that Tuesday morning when terror struck New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

“Make no mistake, on September 11, 2001 war was declared on the United States.
“Terrorists struck our financial center. They struck our military center. And they tried to strike our political center and would have, had brave and courageous passengers not brought down the plane.

“We still vividly remember the mix of outrage and deep despair and sadness as we watched from Washington.

“Smoke rising from the Pentagon. The passenger plane lying in a Pennsylvania field. The sound of bodies striking canopies at ground level as innocents jumped to the ground below from the World Trade Center.
The tacit argument –which is contained in the Senate report– is that America was under attack. Evil folks are lurking. The security of the Homeland was at stake.

And these evil people knew things (namely intelligence) which were threatening our security. They were arrested by the CIA.  And the CIA had a mandate “to go after the terrorists”.

Yet we all know by now that the 9/11 official narrative is a fabrication.  The official 9/11 story is that Osama bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks. Lest we forget, bin Laden was hospitalized in a Pakistani military hospital in Rawalpindi on September 9, 2001.

9/11 was used as a pretext, a casus belli to wage an illegal war against Afghanistan.  What we are dealing with is the criminalization of the US State apparatus.

Jihadists were not behind the 9/11 attacks. The evidence points to a conspiracy at the highest levels of the US government including the involvement of the intelligence apparatus.

We must  ”learn from our mistakes”, says Senator Feinstein.

These decisions were from an administrative point of view “misguided”, according to the Senate Committee.

It was all a “big mistake”, according to the Senate report.

The evidence contained in the report, nonetheless, points to criminal wrongdoing at the highest levels of government. Yet the political statements underlying the report as well as the media coverage constitute a whitewash.

The September 11, 2001 attacks provided the green light to wage a “Global War on Terrorism”.  While the report acknowledges CIA brutality, it does not question the legitimacy of the “Global War on Terrorism”.  The acts of torture were all for a good cause.

The truth is that the CIA is a criminal entity within the US State apparatus.

Nobody is to be held responsible. The report is in essence a political whitewash.  In substance what the report says is:
We are clean and moral people, it was an administrative error to torture the terrorists.  But under the circumstances with our nation under attack,  it is understandable that we acted in that way. Let us learn from our mistakes. It will never happen again.  ”But history will judge us by our commitment to a just society governed by law and the willingness to face an ugly truth and say ‘never again.’”
Never again? The ugly truth underlying the “Global War on Terrorism” has not acknowledged.

The fact that torture has been routinely applied since the establishment of the CIA under the Truman presidency, extensively applied in Latin America, Africa and South East Asia, is casually dismissed.

President Bush is not alone. What he did was to implement a policy which was already firmly entrenched in the intelligence community. Blaming Bush is a convenient scapegoat. it avoids opening up a can of worms.

Every single administration since the end of World War II has endorsed the practices of torture.

What distinguishes the Bush and Obama administrations in relation to the historical record of U.S. sponsored crimes and atrocities, is that the concentration camps, targeted assassinations and torture chambers are known to the public and are openly considered as legitimate forms of intervention, which sustain “the global war on terrorism” and support the spread of Western democracy.

The Criminalization of Justice:  Will the Architects of Torture be Indicted for Crimes against Humanity?

Today’s legal system in America has all the essential features of an inquisitorial order, which supports torture and provides a green light to CIA atrocities.

The Senate report ultimately upholds clearly defined “guidelines” of the Department of Justice adopted in the immediate wake of 9/11.  Torture is permitted “under certain circumstances”, according to an August 2002 Justice Department “legal opinion” which had been requested by the CIA:
“if a government employee were to torture a suspect in captivity, ‘he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the Al Qaeda terrorist network,’ said the memo, from the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel, written in response to a CIA request for legal guidance. It added that arguments centering on “necessity and self-defense could provide justifications that would eliminate any criminal liability” later.  (See Washington Post, June 7, 2004)
What the above DoJ report confirms is that the CIA had received a green light to torture alleged “jihadists” inasmuch at contributes to preventing further attacks by Al Qaeda directed against the US.  It follows that “interrogation methods” bordering on torture do not imply an unconstitutional infringement according to the U.S. Justice Department:
“Even if an interrogation method might arguably cross the line drawn in Section and application of the stature was not held to be an unconstitutional infringement of the President’s Commander in Chief authority, we believe that under current circumstances [the war on terrorism] certain justification defenses might be available that would potentially eliminate criminal liability.” (Complete August 2, 2002 Justice Department Memorandum)
A legal opinion by the  Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel for Alberto R. Gonzales, who was counsel to President Bush does not imply that CIA actions are legal.  The Justice department cannot override the law  by issuing an enabling “carte blanche” legal opinion to the CIA. What this legal opinion entails is the de facto criminalization of Justice.

Under a criminalized judicial system,  the “Inquisitors” in high office cannot be indicted or prosecuted. In a twisted irony, anybody who doubts the legitimacy of the American inquisition (i.e. 9/11 and the “Global War on Terrorism”) is a heretic conspiracy theorist or an accomplice of the terrorists, who can be indicted on criminal charges.

Michel Chossudovsky, December 11, 2014

Read this statement very carefully.

Statement by Senator Feinstein (emphasis added)

“Today a 500-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s five and a half year review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program—which was conducted between 2002 and 2009—is being released publicly.

“The executive summary, which is going out today, is backed up by a 6,700 page classified and unredacted report (with 38,000 footnotes), which can be released if necessary at a later time.

“The report released today examines the CIA’s secret overseas detention of at least 119 individuals and the use of coercive interrogation techniques—in some cases amounting to torture.

“Over the past couple of weeks, I have gone through a great deal of introspection about whether to delay the release of this report to a later time. This clearly is a period of turmoil and instability in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, that’s going to continue for the foreseeable future, whether this report is released or not.

“There are those who will seize upon the report and say ‘see what Americans did,’ and they will try to use it to justify evil actions or to incite more violence. We cannot prevent that. But history will judge us by our commitment to a just society governed by law and the willingness to face an ugly truth and say ‘never again.’

“There may never be the ‘right’ time to release this report. The instability we see today will not be resolved in months or years. But this report is too important to shelve indefinitely.

“My determination to release it has also increased due to a campaign of mistaken statements and press articles launched against the report before anyone has had the chance to read it. As a matter of fact, the report is just now, as I speak, being released.

“This is what it looks like. Senator Chambliss asked me if we could have the minority report bound with the majority report. For this draft, that is not possible. But in the final draft, it will be bound together. But this is what the summary of the 6,000 pages look like.

“My words give me no pleasure. I am releasing this report because I know there are thousands of employees at the CIA who do not condone what I will speak about this morning, and who work day in and out, day and night, long hours, within the law for America’s security in what is certainly a difficult world. My colleagues on the intelligence committee and I are proud of them, just as everyone in this chamber is, and we will always support them.

“In reviewing the Study in the past few days with the decision looming over the public release, I was struck by a quote, found on page 126 of the Executive Summary. It cites the former CIA Inspector General, John Helgerson, who in 2005 wrote the following to the then-Director of the CIA, which clearly states the situation with respect to this report years later as well: ‘… we have found that the Agency over the decades has continued to get itself in messes related to interrogation programs for one overriding reason: we do not document and learn from our experience – each generation of officers is left to improvise anew, with problematic results for our officers as individuals and for our Agency.’ (Source: E-mail, John Helgerson to Porter Goss, Jan. 28, 2005)

“I believe that to be true. I agree with Mr. Helgerson. His comments are still true today. But this must change.

“On March 11, 2009, the Committee voted 14-1 to begin a review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. Over the past five years, a small team of committee investigators pored over the more than 6.3 million pages of CIA records the leader spoke about to complete this report, or what we call the ‘study.’

“It shows that the CIA’s actions a decade ago are a stain on our values and on our history.

“The release of this 500-page summary of our report cannot remove that stain, but it can and does say to our people, and the world, that America is big enough to admit when it’s wrong and confident enough to learn from its mistakes. Releasing this report is an important step to restore our values and show the world that we are in fact a just and lawful society.

“Over the next hour, I’d like to lay out for senators and the American public the report’s key findings and conclusions.

“And I ask that when I complete this, Senator McCain be recognized.

“Before I get to the substance of the report, I’d like to make a few comments about why it’s so important that we make this study public.

“All of us have vivid memories of that Tuesday morning when terror struck New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

“Make no mistake, on September 11, 2001 war was declared on the United States.

“Terrorists struck our financial center. They struck our military center. And they tried to strike our political center and would have, had brave and courageous passengers not brought down the plane.

“We still vividly remember the mix of outrage and deep despair and sadness as we watched from Washington.


“Smoke rising from the Pentagon. The passenger plane lying in a Pennsylvania field. The sound of bodies striking canopies at ground level as innocents jumped to the ground below from the World Trade Center.

“Mass terror that we often see overseas had struck in our front yard, killing 3,000 innocent men, women, and children. What happened? We came together as a nation, with one singular mission: bring those who committed these acts to justice.

“But it’s at this point where the values of America come into play — where the rule of law and the fundamental principles of right and wrong become important.

“In 1990 the United States Senate ratified the Convention Against Torture. The Convention makes clear that this ban against torture is absolute. It says: ‘No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, (including what I just read) whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.’

“Nonetheless, it was argued that the need for information on terrorist plots after 9/11 made extraordinary interrogation techniques necessary.

“Even if one were to set aside all of the moral arguments, our review was a meticulous and detailed examination of records. It finds that coercive interrogation techniques did not produce the vital, otherwise unavailable intelligence the CIA has claimed.

“I will go into further detail on this issue in a moment. But let me make clear, these comments are not a condemnation of the CIA as a whole. The CIA plays an incredibly important part in our nation’s security and has thousands of dedicated and talented employees.

“What we have found is that a surprisingly few people were responsible for designing, carrying out, and managing this program. Two contractors developed and led the interrogations. There was little effective oversight. Analysts — analysts — on occasion, gave operational orders about interrogations and CIA management of the program was weak and diffuse.

“Our final report was approved by a bipartisan vote of 9-6 in December 2012 and exposes brutality in stark contrast to our values as a nation.

“This effort was focused on the actions of the CIA from late 2001 to January of 2009. The report does include considerable detail on the CIA’s interactions with the White House; the Departments of Justice, State, and Defense; and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“The review is based on contemporaneous records and documents during the time the program was in place and active. Now, these documents are important because they aren’t based on recollection, they aren’t based on revision and they aren’t a rationalization a decade later.

“It’s these documents, referenced repeatedly in thousands of footnotes, that provide the factual basis for the study’s conclusions.

“The committee’s majority staff reviewed more than 6.3 million pages of these documents provided by the CIA, as well as records from other departments and agencies.

“These records include: finished intelligence assessments, CIA operational and intelligence cables, memoranda, e-mails, real-time chat sessions, inspector general reports, testimony before Congress, pictures, and other internal records.

“It’s true we didn’t conduct our own interviews. Let me explain why that was the case.

“In 2009, there was an ongoing review by DOJ Special Prosecutor John Durham.

“On August 24, Attorney General Eric Holder expanded that review. This occurred six months after our study had begun.

“Durham’s original investigation of the CIA’s destruction of interrogation videotapes was broadened to include possible criminal actions of CIA employees in the course of CIA detention and interrogation activities.

“At the time, the committee’s Vice Chairman Kit Bond withdrew the minority’s participation in the study, citing the attorney general’s expanded investigation as the reason.

“The Department of Justice refused to coordinate its investigation with the Intelligence Committee’s review. As a result, possible interviewees could be subject to additional liability if they were interviewed.

“And the CIA, citing the attorney general’s investigation, would not instruct its employees to participate in our interviews.  (Source: classified CIA internal memo, Feb. 26, 2010)

“Notwithstanding this, I am really confident of the factual accuracy and comprehensive nature of this report for three reasons:

“First, it’s the 6.3 million pages of documents reviewed, and they reveal records of actions as those actions took place, not through recollections more than a decade later.

“Second, the CIA and CIA senior officers have taken the opportunity to explain their views on CIA detention and interrogation operations. They have done this in on-the-record statements in classified Committee hearings, written testimony and answers to questions, and through the formal response to the Committee in June 2013 after reading the Study.

“And third, the committee had access to, and utilized, an extensive set of reports of interviews conducted by the CIA inspector general and the CIA’s oral history program.

“So while we could not conduct new interviews of individuals, we did utilize transcripts or summaries of interviews of those directly engaged in detention and interrogation operations. These interviews occurred at the time the program was operational and covered the exact topics we would have asked about had we conducted interviews ourselves.

“Those interview reports and transcripts included, but were not limited to, the following: George Tenet, director of the CIA when the agency took custody and interrogated the majority of its detainees; Jose Rodriguez, director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center (CTC), a key player in the program; CIA General Counsel Scott Muller; CIA Deputy Director of Operations James Pavitt; CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo; CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin; and a variety of interrogators, lawyers, medical personnel, senior counterterrorism analysts and managers of the detention and interrogation program.

“The best place to start, about how we got into this, and I’m delighted Senator Rockefeller is on the floor, is a little more than eight years ago, on September 6, 2006, when the Committee met to be briefed by then Director Michael Hayden.

“At that 2006 meeting, the full committee learned for the first time — for the first time — of the use of so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ or EITs.

“It was a short meeting, in part because President Bush was making a public speech later that day, disclosing officially for the first time the existence of CIA “black sites” and announcing the transfer of 14 detainees from CIA custody to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“It was the first time the interrogation program was explained to the full Committee as details had previously been limited to the chairman and vice chairman.

“Then, on December 7, 2007, the New York Times reported that CIA personnel in 2005 had destroyed videotapes of the interrogation of two CIA detainees: the CIA’s first detainee, Abu Zubaydah, as well as ‘Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

“The committee had not been informed of the destruction of the tapes. Days later, on December 11, 2007, the committee held a hearing on the destruction of the videotapes.

“Director Hayden, the primary witness, testified that the CIA had concluded that the destruction of videotapes was acceptable, in part, because Congress had not yet requested to see them. (Source: SSCI transcript, Dec. 11, 2007 hearing)

“Director Hayden stated that, if the committee had asked for the videotapes, they would have been provided. But, of course, the committee had not known that the videotapes existed. And we now know from CIA emails and records that the videotapes were destroyed shortly after senior CIA attorneys raised concerns that Congress might find out about the tapes.

“In any case, at that same December 11th committee hearing, Director Hayden told the committee that CIA cables related to the interrogation sessions depicted in the videotapes were, and I quote, “a more than adequate representation of the tapes and therefore, if you want them, we’ll give you access to them.” (Source: SSCI transcript, December 11, 2007 hearing)

“Senator Rockefeller, then chairman of committee, designated two members of the committee staff to review the cables describing the interrogation sessions of Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri.

“Senator Bond, then vice chairman, similarly directed two of his staffers to review the cables.

“The designated staff members completed their review and compiled a summary of the content of the CIA cables by early 2009, by which time I had become chairman. The description in the cables of CIA’s interrogations and the treatment of detainees presented a starkly different picture from Director Hayden’s testimony before the committee.

“They described brutal, around the clock interrogations, especially of Abu Zubaydah, in which multiple coercive techniques were used in combination and with substantial repetition. It was an ugly, visceral description.

“The summary also indicated that Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri did not, as a result of the use of these so-called EITs, provide the kind of intelligence that led the CIA to stop terrorist plots or arrest additional suspects.

“As a result, I think it’s fair to say the entire committee was concerned, and it approved the scope of an investigation by a vote of 14-1, and the work began.

“In my March 11, 2014, floor speech about the study, I described how in 2009 the committee came to an agreement with the new CIA director, Leon Panetta, for access to documents and other records about the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, so I won’t repeat that here.

“From 2009 until 2012, our staff conducted a massive and unprecedented review of CIA records.

“Draft sections of the report were produced by late 2011 and shared with the full committee. The final report was completed in December 2012 and approved by the committee by a bipartisan vote of 9-6.

“After that vote, I sent the full report to the president and asked the administration to provide comments on it before it was released.

“Six months later, in June of 2013, the CIA responded.

“I directed then that if the CIA pointed out any error in our report, we would fix it, and we did fix one bullet point that did not impact our Findings and Conclusions. If the CIA came to a different conclusion than the report did, we would note that in the report and explain our reasons for disagreeing, if we disagreed.

“You will see some of that documented in the footnotes of that executive summary as well as in the 6,000 pages.

“In April 2014, the committee prepared an updated version of the full study and voted 12-3 to declassify and release the executive summary, findings and conclusions, and Minority and additional views.

“On August 1, we received a declassified version from the Executive Branch. It was immediately apparent that the redactions to our report prevented a clear and understandable reading of the Study and prevented us from substantiating the findings and conclusions. So we obviously objected.

“For the past four months, the Committee and the CIA, the Director of National Intelligence, and the White House have engaged in a lengthy negotiation over the redactions to the report. We have been able to include some more information in the report today without sacrificing sources and methods or our national security. I’d like to ask following my remarks that a letter from the White House dated yesterday conveying the report, also points out that the report is 93 percent complete and redactions amount to 7 percent of the bulk of the report.

“Mr. President, this has been a long process. The work began seven years ago when Senator Rockefeller directed committee staff to review the CIA cables describing the interrogation sessions of Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri.

“It’s been very difficult. But I believe the documentation and the findings and conclusions will make clear how this program was morally, legally and administratively misguided, and that this nation should never again engage in these tactics.

“Let me turn now to the contents of the study.

“As I noted, we have 20 findings and conclusions, which fall into four general categories:
“First, the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques were not an effective way to gather intelligence information.

“Second, the CIA provided extensive amounts of inaccurate information about the operation of the program and its effectiveness to the White House, the Department of Justice, Congress, the CIA inspector general, the media and the American public.

“Third, the CIA’s management of the program was inadequate and deeply flawed.

“And fourth, the CIA program was far more brutal than people were led to believe.
“Let me describe each category in more detail:

“The first set of findings and conclusions concern the effectiveness — or lack thereof — of the interrogation program.

“The committee found that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were not an effective means of acquiring accurate intelligence or gaining detainee cooperation.

“The CIA and other defenders of the program have repeatedly claimed that the use of so-called interrogation techniques was necessary to get detainees to provide critical information, and to bring detainees to a ‘state of compliance’ in which they would cooperate and provide information.

“The study concludes that both claims are inaccurate.  [but not criminal]

“The report is very specific in how it evaluates the CIA’s claims on the effectiveness and necessity of its enhanced interrogation techniques. Specifically, we used the CIA’s own definition of effectiveness as ratified and approved by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel.  (Source: DOJ Office of Legal Counsel memos)

“The CIA’s claims that EITs were necessary to obtain ‘otherwise unavailable’ information, that could not be obtained from any other source, to stop terrorist attacks and save American lives — that’s a claim we conclude is inaccurate.

“We took 20 examples that the CIA, itself, claimed to show the success of these interrogations. These include cases of terrorist plots stopped or terrorists captured.

“The CIA used these examples in presentations to the White House, in testimony to Congress, in submissions to the Department of Justice, and ultimately to the American people.

“Some of the claims are well-known: the capture of Khalid Shaykh Mohammad, the prevention of attacks against the Library Tower in Los Angeles, and the take-down of Osama bin Laden.

“Other claims were made only in classified settings, to the White House, Congress, and Department of Justice.

“In each case, the CIA claimed that critical and unique information came from one or more detainees in its custody after they were subjected to the CIA’s coercive techniques, and that information led to a specific counterterrorism success.

“Our staff reviewed every one of the 20 cases, and not a single case holds up.

“In every single one of these cases, at least one of the following was true:

“One, the intelligence community had information separate from the use of EITs that led to the terrorist disruption or capture; two, information from a detainee subjected to EITs played no role in the claimed disruption or capture; and three, the purported terrorist plot either didn’t exist or posed no real threat to Americans or U.S. interests.

“Some critics have suggested the study concludes that no intelligence was ever provided from any detainee the CIA held. That is false, and the Study makes no such claim.

“What is true is that actionable intelligence that was ‘otherwise unavailable’ — otherwise unavailable — was not obtained using these coercive interrogation techniques.

“The report also chronicles where the use of interrogation techniques that do not involve physical force were effective.

“Specifically, the report provides examples where interrogators had sufficient information to confront detainees with facts and know when the detainees were lying, and where they applied rapport-building techniques developed and honed by the U.S. military, the FBI, and more recently the interagency High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, called the ‘HIG,’ that these techniques produced good intelligence.

“Let me make a couple of additional comments on the claimed effectiveness of CIA interrogations.

“At no time did the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques lead to the collection of intelligence on an imminent threat that many believe was the justification for the use of these techniques. The committee never found an example of this hypothetical ‘ticking time bomb’ scenario.

“The use of coercive technique methods regularly resulted in fabricated information. Sometimes, the CIA knew detainees were lying. Other times, the CIA acted on false information, diverting resources and leading officers or contractors to falsely believe they were acquiring unique or actionable intelligence and that its interrogations were working when they were not.

“Internally, CIA officers often called into question the effectiveness of the CIA’s interrogation techniques, noting how the techniques failed to elicit detainee cooperation or produce accurate information.

“The report includes numerous examples of CIA officers questioning the agency’s claims, but these contradictions were marginalized and not presented externally.

“The second set of findings and conclusions is that the CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the program and its effectiveness to the White House, the Department of Justice, Congress, the CIA inspector general, the media, and the American public.

“This conclusion is somewhat personal for me. I recall clearly when Director Hayden briefed the Intelligence Committee for the first time on the so-called EITs at that September 2006 committee meeting.

“He referred specifically to a ‘tummy slap,’ among other techniques, and presented the entire set of techniques as minimally harmful and applied in a highly clinical and professional manner. They were not.

“The committee’s report demonstrates that these techniques were physically very harmful and that the constraints that existed, on paper, in Washington did not match the way techniques were used at CIA sites around the world.

“Of particular note was the treatment of Abu Zubaydah over a span of 17 days in August 2002.

“This involved non-stop interrogation and abuse, 24/7 from August 4 to August 21, and included multiple forms of deprivation and physical assault. The description of this period, first written up by our staff in early 2009, while Senator Rockefeller was chairman, is what prompted this full review.

“But the inaccurate and incomplete descriptions go far beyond that. The CIA provided inaccurate memoranda and explanations to the Department of Justice while its [Office of] Legal Counsel was considering the legality of the coercive techniques.

“In those communications to the Department of Justice, the CIA claimed the following: the coercive techniques would not be used with excessive repetition; detainees would always have an opportunity to provide information prior to the use of the techniques; the techniques were to be used in progression, starting with the least aggressive and proceeding only if needed; medical personnel would make sure that interrogations wouldn’t cause serious harm, and they could intervene at any time to stop interrogations; interrogators were carefully vetted and highly trained; and each technique was to be used in a specific way, without deviation, and only with specific approval for the interrogator and detainee involved.

“None of these assurances, which the Department of Justice relied on to form its legal opinions, were consistently or even routinely carried out.

“In many cases, important information was withheld from policymakers. For example, former Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham asked a number of questions after he was first briefed in September 2002, but the CIA refused to answer him, effectively stonewalling him until he left the committee at the end of the year.

“In another example, the CIA, in coordination with White House officials and staff, initially withheld information of the CIA’s interrogation techniques from Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

“There are CIA records stating that Colin Powell wasn’t told about the program at first because there were concerns that, and I quote, ‘Powell would blow his stack if he were briefed.’ (Source: E-mail from John Rizzo dated July 31, 2003)

“CIA records clearly indicate and definitively that — after he was briefed on the CIA’s first detainee, Abu Zubaydah — the CIA didn’t tell President Bush about the full nature of the EITs until April 2006. That’s what the records indicate.

“The CIA similarly withheld information or provided false information to the CIA inspector general during his conduct of a special review by the IG in 2004.

“Incomplete and inaccurate information from the CIA was used in documents provided to the Department of Justice and as a basis for President Bush’s speech on September 6, 2006, in which he publicly acknowledged the CIA program for the first time.

“In all of these cases, other CIA officers acknowledged internally — they acknowledged internally — that information the CIA had provided was wrong.

“The CIA also misled other White House officials. When Vice President Cheney’s counsel, David Addington, asked CIA General Counsel Scott Muller in 2003 about the CIA’s videotaping the waterboarding of detainees, Muller deliberately told him that videotapes “were not being made,” but did not disclose that videotapes of previous waterboarding sessions had been made and still existed. (Source: E-mail from Scott Muller dated June 7, 2003)

“There are many, many more examples in the committee’s report.

“The third set of findings and conclusions notes the various ways in which CIA management of the Detention and Interrogation Program — from its inception to its formal termination in January ’09 — was inadequate and deeply flawed.

“There is no doubt that the Detention and Interrogation Program was, by any measure, a major CIA undertaking. It raised significant legal and policy issues and involved significant resources and funding. It was not, however, managed as a significant CIA program. Instead, it had limited oversight and lacked formal direction and management.

“For example, in the six months between being granted detention authority and taking custody of its first detainee, Abu Zubaydah, the CIA had not identified and prepared a suitable detention site.

“It had not researched effective interrogation techniques or developed a legal basis for the use of interrogation techniques outside of the rapport-building techniques that were official CIA policy until that time.

‘In fact, there is no indication the CIA reviewed its own history — that’s just what Helgerson was saying in ’05 — with coercive interrogation tactics. As the executive summary notes, the CIA had engaged in rough interrogations in the past.

“In fact, the CIA had previously sent a letter to the Intelligence Committee in 1989, and here is the quote, that “inhumane physical or psychological techniques are counterproductive because they do not produce intelligence and will probably result in false answers.” (Source: Letter to the SSCI from John Helgerson, CIA Director of Congressional Affairs, Jan. 8, 1989)

“However, in late 2001 and ’02, rather than research interrogation practices and coordinate with other parts of the government with extensive expertise in detention and interrogation of terrorist suspects, the CIA engaged two contract psychologists who had never conducted interrogations themselves or ever operated detention facilities.

“As the CIA captured or received custody of detainees through 2002, it maintained separate lines of management at headquarters for different detention facilities.

“No individual or office was in charge of the detention and interrogation program until January of 2003, by which point more one-third of CIA detainees identified in our review had been detained and interrogated.

“One clear example of flawed CIA management was the poorly managed detention facility, referred to in our report by the code name “COBALT” to hide the actual name of the facility. It began operations in September of 2002.

“The facility kept few formal records of the detainees housed there and untrained CIA officers conducted frequent, unauthorized and unsupervised interrogations using techniques that were not — and never became — part of the CIA’s formal enhanced interrogation program.

“The CIA placed a junior officer with no relevant experience in charge of the site. In November 2002, an otherwise healthy detainee — who was being held mostly nude and chained to a concrete floor — died at the facility from what is believed to have been hypothermia.

“In interviews conducted in 2003 by the CIA Office of the Inspector General, CIA’s leadership acknowledged that they had little or no awareness of operations at this specific CIA detention site, and some CIA senior officials believed, erroneously, that enhanced interrogation techniques were not used there.

“The CIA, in its June 2013 response to the committee’s report, agreed that there were management failures in the program, but asserted that they were corrected by early 2003. While the study found that management failures improved somewhat, we found they persisted until the end of the program.

“Among the numerous management shortcomings identified in the report are the following:

“The CIA used poorly trained and non-vetted personnel.

“Individuals were deployed — in particular, interrogators — without relevant training or experience.

“Due to the CIA’s redactions to the report, there are limits to what I can say in this regard, but it is clear fact that the CIA deployed officers who had histories of personal, ethical and professional problems of a serious nature.

“These included histories of violence and abusive treatment of others and should have called into question their employment with the United States government, let alone their suitability to participate in a sensitive CIA covert action program.

“The two contractors that CIA allowed to develop, operate, and assess its interrogation operations conducted numerous ‘inherently governmental functions’ that should never have been outsourced to contractors.

“These contractors are referred to in the report in special pseudonyms ‘SWIGERT’ and ‘DUNBAR,’ they developed the list of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that the CIA employed.

“They personally conducted interrogations of some of the CIA’s most significant detainees using the techniques, including the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Shaykh Mohammad, and al-Nashiri.

“The contractors provided the official evaluations of whether detainees’ psychological states allowed for the continued use of the enhanced techniques, even for some detainees they themselves were interrogating or had interrogated.

“Evaluating the psychological state of the very detainees they were interrogating is a clear conflict of interest and a violation of professional guidelines.

“The CIA relied on these two contractors to evaluate the interrogation program they had devised and in which they had obvious financial interests, again, a clear conflict of interest and an avoidance of responsibility by the CIA.

“In 2005, the two contractors formed a company specifically for the purpose of expanding their work with the CIA. From ’05 to ’08, the CIA outsourced almost all aspects of its Detention and Interrogation program to the company as part of a contract valued at more than $180 million.

“Ultimately, not all contract options were exercised. However, the CIA has paid these two contractors and their company more than $80 million.

“Of the 119 individuals found to have been detained by the CIA during the life of the program, the committee found that at least 26 were wrongfully held. These are cases where the CIA itself determined that it had not met the standard for detention set out in the 2001 Memorandum of Notification, which governs a covert action.

“Detainees often remained in custody for months after the CIA determined they should have been released. CIA records provide insufficient information to justify the detention of many other detainees.

“Due to poor record keeping, a full accounting of how many specific detainees were held and how they were specifically treated while in custody may never be known.

“Similarly, in specific instances, we found that enhanced interrogation techniques were used without authorization, in a manner far different and more brutal than had been authorized by the Office of Legal Counsel, and conducted by personnel not approved to use them on detainees.

“Decisions about how and when to apply interrogation techniques were ad hoc and not proposed, evaluated, and approved in the manner described by the CIA in written descriptions and testimony about the program.

“Detainees were often subject to harsh and brutal interrogation and treatment because CIA analysts believed, often in error, that they knew more information than what they had provided.

“Sometimes, CIA managers and interrogators in the field were uncomfortable with what they were being asked to do and recommended ending the abuse of a detainee. Repeatedly in such cases, they were overruled by people at CIA headquarters who thought they knew better, such as by analysts with no line authority. This shows again how a relatively small number of CIA personnel — perhaps 40 to 50 — were making decisions on detention and interrogation, despite the better judgments of other CIA officers.

“The fourth and final set of findings and conclusions concern how the interrogations of CIA detainees were absolutely brutal, far worse than the CIA represented them to policymakers and others.

“Beginning with the first detainee, Abu Zubaydah, and continuing with numerous others, the CIA applied its so-called enhanced interrogation techniques in combination and in near non-stop fashion for days or even weeks at a time, on one detainee.

“In contrast to CIA representations, detainees were subjected to the most aggressive techniques immediately—stripped naked and diapered, physically struck, and put in various painful stress positions for long periods of time.

“They were deprived of sleep for days — in one case up to 180 hours — that’s 7 and half days, over a week with no sleep, usually standing or in stress positions, at times with their hands tied together over their heads, chained to the ceiling.

“In the COBALT facility I previously mentioned, interrogators and guards used what they called ‘rough takedowns’ in which a detainee was grabbed from his cell, clothes cut off, hooded, and dragged up and down a dirt hallway while being slapped and punched.

“The CIA led several detainees to believe they would never be allowed to leave CIA custody alive, suggesting to Abu Zubaydah that he would only leave in a coffin-shaped box. (Source: CIA cable from Aug. 12, 2002)

“According to another CIA cable, CIA officers also planned to cremate Zubaydah should he not survive his interrogation. (Source: CIA cable from July 15, 2002)

“After the news and photographs emerged from the United States military detention of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib, the Intelligence Committee held a hearing on the matter on May 12, 2004.

“Without disclosing any details of its own interrogation program, CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin testified that CIA interrogations were nothing like what was depicted at Abu Ghraib, the United States prison in Iraq where detainees were abused by American personnel.

“This, of course, was false.

“CIA detainees at one facility, described as a “dungeon,” were kept in complete darkness, constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste.

“The U.S. Bureau of Prisons personnel went to that location in November 2002 and, according to a contemporaneous internal CIA email, told CIA officers they had never ‘been in a facility where individuals are so sensory deprived.’ (Source: CIA e-mail, sender and recipient redacted, Dec. 5, 2002)

“Throughout the program, multiple CIA detainees subject to interrogations exhibited psychological and behavioral issues including hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation.

“Multiple CIA psychologists identified the lack of human contact experienced by detainees as a cause of psychiatric problems.

“The executive summary includes far more detail than I am going to provide here about things that were in these interrogation sessions, and the summary itself includes only a subset of the treatment of the 119 CIA detainees. There is far more detail, all documented, in the full 6,700-page study.

“This summarizes, briefly, the committee’s findings and conclusions.

“Before I wrap up, I’d like to thank the people who made this enormous undertaking possible.

“First, I thank Senator Jay Rockefeller. He started this project by directing his staff to review the operational cables that described the first recorded interrogations after we learned that the videotapes of those sessions had been destroyed. And that report was what led to this multi-year investigation. And without it, we wouldn’t have any sense of what happened.

“I thank the other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee — one of whom is on the floor today, from the great state of New Mexico, others have been on the floor — who voted to conduct this investigation, to approve its result and to make the report public.

“But most importantly, I want to thank the Senate Intelligence Committee staff who performed this work.

“They are dedicated and committed public officials who sacrificed, really sacrificed, a significant portion of their lives to see this report through to its publication.

“They have worked days, nights, weekends for years, in some of the most difficult circumstances, it’s no secret to anyone the CIA did not want this report coming out, and I believe the nation owes them a debt of gratitude.

“They are: Dan Jones, who has led this review since 2007. More than anyone else, today is a result of his effort; Evan Gottesman and Chad Tanner, two other members of the Study Staff. Each wrote thousands of pages of the full report and have dedicated themselves and much of their lives to this project; and Alissa Starzak, who began this review as co-head and contributed extensively until her departure from the committee in 2011.

“Other key contributors to the drafting, editing and review of the report were Jennifer Barrett, Nick Basciano, Mike Buchwald, Jim Catella, Eric Chapman, John Dickas, Lorenzo Goco, Andrew Grotto, Tressa Guenov, Clete Johnson, Michael Noblet, Michael Pevzner, Tommy Ross, Caroline Tess, and James Wolfe.

“And finally, David Grannis, who has been a never-faltering staff director throughout this review.

“Madame President, this study is bigger than the actions of the CIA.

“It’s really about American values and morals. It’s about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, our rule of law.

“These values exist regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. They exist in peacetime and in wartime. And if we cast aside these values when convenient, we have failed to live by the very precepts that make our nation a great one.

“There is a reason why we carry the banner of a great and just nation. So we submit this Study on behalf of the committee, to the public, in the belief that it will stand the test of time. And with it, the report will carry the message “never again.”

“I very much appreciate your attention, and I yield to Senator McCain.”



 
New Cold War - Dangerous Crossroads: US-NATO To Deploy Against Un-Named Enemy by Michel Chossudovsky
August 24, 2014


The World is at a dangerous Crossroads.

The Western military alliance is in an advanced state of readiness. And so is Russia.

Russia is heralded as the “Aggressor”. US-NATO military confrontation with Russia is contemplated.

Enabling legislation in the US Senate under “The Russian Aggression Prevention Act” (RAPA) has “set the US on a path towards direct military conflict with Russia in Ukraine.”

Any US-Russian war is likely to quickly escalate into a nuclear war, since neither the US nor Russia would be willing to admit defeat, both have many thousands of nuclear weapons ready for instant use, and both rely upon Counterforce military doctrine that tasks their military, in the event of war, to preemptively destroy the nuclear forces of the enemy. (See Steven Starr, Global Research, August 22, 2014)

The Russian Aggression Prevention Act (RAPA) is the culmination of more than twenty years of US-NATO war preparations, which consist in the military encirclement of both Russia and China:

From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders.  (Steven Kinzer, Boston Globe, March 3, 2014, emphasis added)

On July 24, in consultation with the Pentagon, NATO’s Europe commander General Philip Breedlove called for “stockpiling a base in Poland with enough weapons, ammunition and other supplies to support a rapid deployment of thousands of troops against Russia”.(RT, July 24, 2014). According to General Breedlove, NATO needs “pre-positioned supplies, pre-positioned capabilities and a basing area ready to rapidly accept follow-on forces”:

“He plans to recommend placing supplies — weapons, ammunition and ration packs — at the headquarters to enable a sudden influx of thousands of NATO troops” (Times, August 22, 2014, emphasis added)

Breedlove’s “Blitzkrieg scenario” is to be presented at NATO’s summit in Wales in early September, according to The Times of London.  It is a “copy and paste” text broadly consistent with the  Russian Aggression Prevention Act (RAPA) which directs President Obama to:

“(1) implement a plan for increasing U.S. and NATO support for the armed forces of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, and other NATO member-states; and

(2) direct the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO to seek consideration for permanently basing NATO forces in such countries.” (S.2277 — 113th Congress (2013-2014))

More generally, a scenario of military escalation prevails with both sides involved in extensive war games.

In turn, the structure of US sponsored military alliances plays a crucial role in war planning. We are dealing with a formidable military force involving a global alliance of 28 NATO member states. In turn, the US as well as NATO have established beyond the “Atlantic Region” a network of bilateral military alliances with “partner” countries directed against Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Major US-NATO Naval Exercises

War preparations are invariably accompanied and preceded by major military exercises.

US-NATO multi-warfare naval exercises are to be conducted off the Florida coastline under operation FLEETEX, with the participation of the US, Canada, Germany and Turkey.

The underlying premise of these war games is “global warfare”. All four NATO member states are adjacent to strategic sea corridors, which are contiguous to Russian maritime areas, respectively the Bering Sea and straits (US), the Arctic Ocean (Canada), the North Sea (Germany) and the Black Sea (Turkey).

The Florida war games are predicated on multi-country integration and coordination of naval operations directed against an unnamed enemy:

FLEETEX are multi-warfare naval exercises designed to promote force integration and test multiple war fighting skill sets. Ships from the U.S., Canadian, German and Turkish navies will participate in the exercises. This port visit and FLEETEX are part of a series of training exercises in which SNMG2 will participate during its deployment to the Western Atlantic. This is the first time in several years that a NATO task force has conducted transatlantic operations in North America. These events offer multiple opportunities for training at the highest levels of maritime operations.

FLEETEX will feature anti-air, anti-submarine, live fire and ship handling scenarios designed to provide high-end warfare training and valuable experience through integrated task group training. SNMG2, CSG8 and Canadian forces will train together as a force to learn how to work as a cohesive unit in response to a variety of threat scenarios.

SNMG2 ships currently deployed to North America include the U.S. flagship, USS LEYTE GULF (CG 55), the German ship FGS NIEDERSACHSEN (F 208), and the Turkish ship TCG KEMALREIS (F 247).
….
During the port visit, SNMG2 will coordinate with representatives from the Canadian navy and Carrier Strike Group 8 (CSG8) to prepare for the exercises…

“Any opportunity we have to train with multiple NATO navies simultaneously is extremely valuable,” said Rear Adm. Brad Williamson, Commander SNMG2. “This period will allow us to build integration and teamwork, and I’m excited to train with and share experiences between Allied shipmates.”

SNMG2 is permanently available to NATO to perform a wide range of tasks, from real world operations to exercise participation. Composition of the force varies as allied nations contribute assets on a rotational basis. SNMG2 will be led by a U.S. Navy admiral and flagship until June 2015.

Black Sea War Games

It is worth noting that FLEETEX is one among several US-NATO naval war games directed against an unnamed enemy. In July, NATO conducted naval exercises in the Black sea, in an area contiguous to Russia’s maritime borders.

NATO’s “Breeze” formally hosted by Bulgaria took place from July 4 to July 13, with the participation of naval vessels from Greece, Italy, Romania, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S.

The underlying scenario was the “”destruction of enemy ships in the sea and organization of air defense of naval groups and coastal infrastructure.”

The exercises were “aimed at improving the tactical compatibility and collaboration among naval forces of the alliance’s member states…” (See Atlantic Council , see also Russia, U.S. ships sail in competing Black Sea exercises, July 7, Navy Times 2014)
Ironically, NATO’s July Black Sea games started on exactly the same day as those of the “unnamed enemy”[Russia], involving its Crimea Black sea fleet of some 20 war ships and aircraft:

Russia has made it clear they don’t welcome NATO’s presence in the Black Sea. Russia’s navy let it be known that it is following the exercises with reconnaissance aircraft and surveillance ships.

“The aviation of the Black Sea Fleet is paying special attention to the missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf which, though not formally the flagship of the ‘Breeze’ exercises, effectively is leading them,” a Russian naval source told NTV. (Ibid)

Deployment of Ground Forces in Eastern Europe

Since 2006, the US has been building up its weapons arsenal in Poland on Russia’s Western border (Kalingrad). The deployment of US forces in Poland was initiated  in July 2010 (within 40 miles from the border), with a view to training Polish forces in the use of US made Patriot missiles. (Stars and Stripes, 23 July 2010).

In recent developments, the Pentagon announced in early August the deployment of US troops and National Guard forces to Ukraine as part of a military training operation. US-NATO is also planning further deployments of ground forces (as described by NATO General Breedlove) in Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania as well as in Georgia and Azerbaijan on Russia’s southern border.

These deployments which are envisaged in the draft text of the “Russian Aggression Prevention Act” (RAPA) (S.2277 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)) are also part of a NATO “defensive” strategy in the case of a “Russian invasion”:

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine have alarmed Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania – like Ukraine, former Soviet republics with Russian-speaking minorities.

NATO’s 28 leaders are expected to discuss plans to reassure Poland and the Balticsat a summit in Wales on Sept. 4-5.

Germany’s Angela Merkel, during a short visit to Latvia on Monday, pledged NATO would defend the Baltic states, although it would not send permanent combat troops.

“Any country, including the Baltic states, also Poland, have to strengthen their infrastructure … so they can host additional troops for training and crisis situations,” Latvia’s Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis told Reuters.

In Latvia’s case that would mean investments in Adazi base for ground troops, Lielvarde air base and Liepaja naval base, he said, adding he hoped NATO would contribute to the spending.

Latvia and Lithuania spend respectively just 0.9 and 0.8 percent of GDP on defense but have pledged to meet the alliance’s target of 2.0 percent by 2020.

“There is no direct military threat at the moment, but we have to develop our armed forces, we have to create infrastructure, we have to be ready to host representatives of NATO countries if there suddenly is a military aggression,” the minister said. Baltics and Poland need more military infrastructure. (Reuters, August 22, 2014)

Deployments on Russia’s South Border with Azerbaijan and Georgia

Deployment on Russia’s Southern border is to be coordinated under a three country agreement signed on August 22, 2014 by Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan:

Following the trilateral meeting of Azerbaijani, Turkish and Georgian defense ministers, Tbilisi announced that the three countries are interested in working out a plan to strengthen the defense capability.

“The representatives of the governments of these three countries start to think about working out a plan to strengthen the defense capability,” Alasania said, adding that this is in the interests of Europe and NATO.“Because, this transit route [Baku-Tbilisi-Kars] is used to transport the alliance’s cargo to Afghanistan,” he said.

Alasania also noted that these actions are not directed against anyone. (See Azeri News, August 22, 2014, emphasis added)

Russia and Obama’s “Pivot to Asia”

In the Far-east, Russia’s borders are also threatened by Obama’s “Pivot to Asia”.

The “Pivot to Asia” from a military standpoint consists in extending US military deployments in the Asia-Pacific as well as harnessing the participation of Washington’s allies in the region, including Japan, South Korea and Australia. These countries have signed bilateral military cooperation agreements with Washington. As US allies, they are slated to be involved in Pentagon war plans directed against Russia, China and North Korea:

Japan and South Korea are also both part of a grand U.S. military project involving the global stationing of missile systems and rapid military forces, as envisioned during the Reagan Administration. (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Global Military Alliance: Encircling Russia and China, Global Research, October 5, 2007)

This Pentagon strategy of military encirclement requires both centralized military decision making(Pentagon, USSTRATCOM) as well coordination with NATO and the various US regional commands.

While Russia is formally within the jurisdiction of US European Command (USEUCOM), US war plans pertaining to Russia are coordinated out of US Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) in Omaha, Nebraska, which in turn is in liaison not only with US European Command (USEUCOM) but also with USPACOM and USNORTHCOM, both of which would play a key strategic role in the case of war with Russia.

US-Australia Military Agreement

On August 12, the US and Australia signed a military agreement allowing for the deployment of US troops in Australia. This agreement is part of Obama’s Pivot to Asia:

The U.S. and Australia signed an agreement Tuesday [August 12] that will allow thetwo countries’ militaries to train and work better together as U.S. Marines and airmen deploy in and out of the country.

“This long-term agreement will broaden and deepen our alliance’s contributions to regional security,” U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday. He described the U.S.-Australia alliance as the “bedrock” for stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Since 2011, the number of Marines there has grown from about 250 to more than 1,100 now. Australian Defense Minister David Johnston said the northern territory looks forward to the Marine presence growing to the 2,500 limit.

Ironically, coinciding with the announcement of the US-Australia agreement (August 12), Moscow announced that it would be conducting naval exercises in the Kuril Islands of the Pacific Ocean (which are claimed by Japan):

“Exercises began involving military units in the region, which have been deployed to the Kuril Islands,” Colonel Alexander Gordeyev, a spokesman for Russia’s Eastern Military District, told news agency Interfax. (Moscow Times, August 12, 2014)

The Dangers of a Third World War

While this renewed East-West confrontation has mistakenly been labelled a “New Cold War”, none of the safeguards of The Cold War era prevail. International diplomacy has collapsed. Russia has been excluded from the Group of Eight (G-8), which has reverted to the G-7 (Group of Seven Nations). There is no “Cold War East-West dialogue” between competing superpowers geared towards avoiding military confrontation. In turn, the United Nations Security Council has become a de facto mouthpiece of the U.S. State Department.

US-NATO will not, however, be able to win a conventional war against Russia, with the danger that military confrontation will lead to a nuclear war.

In the post-Cold war era, however, nuclear weapons are no longer considered as a  “weapon of last resort” under the Cold War doctrine of “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD).  Quite the opposite. nuclear weapons are heralded by the Pentagon as “harmless to the surrounding civilian population because the explosion is underground”. In 2002, the U.S. Senate gave the green light for the use of nuclear weapons in the conventional war theater.  Nukes are part of the “military toolbox” to be used alongside conventional weapons.

When war becomes peace, the world is turned upside down.  In a bitter irony, nukes are now upheld by Washington as “instruments of peace”.

In addition to nuclear weapons, the use of chemical weapons is also envisaged.

Methods of non-conventional warfare are also contemplated by US-NATO including financial warfare, trade sanctions, covert ops, cyberwarfare, geoengineering and environmental modification technologies (ENMOD). But Russia also has  extensive capabilities in these areas.

Western leaders in High office are Involved in a Criminal Undertaking which Threatens the Future of Humanity

The timeline towards war with Russia has been set. The Wales NATO venue on September 4-5, 2014 is of crucial importance.

What we are dealing with is a World War III Scenario, which is the object of the Wales NATO Summit, hosted by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron. The agenda of this meeting has already been set by Washington, NATO and the British government. It requires, according to PM David Cameron in a letter addressed to heads of State and heads of government of NATO member states ahead of the Summit that:

“Leaders [of NATO countries] must review NATO’s long term relationship with Russia at the summit in response to Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine. And the PM wants to use the summit to agree how NATO will sustain a robust presence in Eastern Europe in the coming months to provide reassurance to allies there, building on work already underway in NATO.” (See PM writes to NATO leaders ahead of NATO Summit Wales 2014)

It is essential to undermine the “military timeline”, namely to:

1) block the holding of the upcoming NATO Summit meeting at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales (image right) on September 4-5, through political pressure and mass protest.The objective of this NATO venue, is to “build a political consensus” for a war directed against the Russian Federation, which could potentially lead the World into a Third World War. It is therefore essential to break this “political consensus”.

2) In addition to the 28 NATO member states, represented by their respective heads of State and heads of government, NATO “partner” countries will also be represented. In all, the governments of 60 countries will be in attendance. It is therefore crucial to initiate a vast Worldwide antiwar campaign in all 60 countries to stall the NATO Summit meeting in Wales.*

3) block the adoption of the “The Russian Aggression Prevention Act” (RAPA) in the US Congress, through pressure on senators and members of Congress, it should be understood that the text of the NATO Summit communique (which already exists in draft form) is broadly similar to that of “The Russian Aggression Prevention Act”. RAPA is currently blocked at the committee level. Whether it is adopted or not, the substance of the proposed legislation is what is important because it sets the stage for establishing a ”political consensus”. 

4) initiate a broad anti-war debate and protest movement throughout the US and NATO member states.

5) undermine the legitimacy of the US-NATO-Israel military agenda through counter-propaganda directed against mainstream media coverage;

World public opinion must be made aware of these impending war plans.


Spread the word far and wide.






 
Cow Most Sacred: Why Military Spending Remains Untouchable by Andrew Bacevich
January 27, 2011
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In defense circles, “cutting” the Pentagon budget has once again become a topic of conversation.  Americans should not confuse that talk with reality.  Any cuts exacted will at most reduce the rate of growth.  The essential facts remain: U.S. military outlays today equal that of every other nation on the planet combined, a situation without precedent in modern history.

The Pentagon presently spends more in constant dollars than it did at any time during the Cold War -- this despite the absence of anything remotely approximating what national security experts like to call a “peer competitor.”  Evil Empire?  It exists only in the fevered imaginations of those who quiver at the prospect of China adding a rust-bucket Russian aircraft carrier to its fleet or who take seriously the ravings of radical Islamists promising from deep inside their caves to unite the Umma in a new caliphate.

What are Americans getting for their money?  Sadly, not much.  Despite extraordinary expenditures (not to mention exertions and sacrifices by U.S. forces), the return on investment is, to be generous, unimpressive.  The chief lesson to emerge from the battlefields of the post-9/11 era is this: the Pentagon possesses next to no ability to translate “military supremacy” into meaningful victory.

Washington knows how to start wars and how to prolong them, but is clueless when it comes to ending them.  Iraq, the latest addition to the roster of America’s forgotten wars, stands as exhibit A.  Each bomb that blows up in Baghdad or some other Iraqi city, splattering blood all over the streets, testifies to the manifest absurdity of judging “the surge” as the epic feat of arms celebrated by the Petraeus lobby.

The problems are strategic as well as operational.  Old Cold War-era expectations that projecting U.S. power will enhance American clout and standing no longer apply, especially in the Islamic world.  There, American military activities are instead fostering instability and inciting anti-Americanism.  For Exhibit B, see the deepening morass that Washington refers to as AfPak or the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater of operations.

Add to that the mountain of evidence showing that Pentagon, Inc. is a miserably managed enterprise: hide-bound, bloated, slow-moving, and prone to wasting resources on a prodigious scale -- nowhere more so than in weapons procurement and the outsourcing of previously military functions to “contractors.”  When it comes to national security, effectiveness (what works) should rightly take precedence over efficiency (at what cost?) as the overriding measure of merit.  Yet beyond a certain level, inefficiency undermines effectiveness, with the Pentagon stubbornly and habitually exceeding that level.  By comparison, Detroit’s much-maligned Big Three offer models of well-run enterprises.

Impregnable Defenses

All of this takes place against the backdrop of mounting problems at home: stubbornly high unemployment, trillion-dollar federal deficits, massive and mounting debt, and domestic needs like education, infrastructure, and employment crying out for attention.

Yet the defense budget -- a misnomer since for Pentagon, Inc. defense per se figures as an afterthought -- remains a sacred cow.  Why is that?

The answer lies first in understanding the defenses arrayed around that cow to ensure that it remains untouched and untouchable.  Exemplifying what the military likes to call a “defense in depth,” that protective shield consists of four distinct but mutually supporting layers.

Institutional Self-Interest: Victory in World War II produced not peace, but an atmosphere of permanent national security crisis.  As never before in U.S. history, threats to the nation’s existence seemed omnipresent, an attitude first born in the late 1940s that still persists today.  In Washington, fear -- partly genuine, partly contrived -- triggered a powerful response.

One result was the emergence of the national security state, an array of institutions that depended on (and therefore strove to perpetuate) this atmosphere of crisis to justify their existence, status, prerogatives, and budgetary claims.  In addition, a permanent arms industry arose, which soon became a major source of jobs and corporate profits.  Politicians of both parties were quick to identify the advantages of aligning with this “military-industrial complex,” as President Eisenhower described it.

Allied with (and feeding off of) this vast apparatus that transformed tax dollars into appropriations, corporate profits, campaign contributions, and votes was an intellectual axis of sorts  -- government-supported laboratories, university research institutes, publications, think tanks, and lobbying firms (many staffed by former or would-be senior officials) -- devoted to identifying (or conjuring up) ostensible national security challenges and alarms, always assumed to be serious and getting worse, and then devising responses to them.

The upshot: within Washington, the voices carrying weight in any national security “debate” all share a predisposition for sustaining very high levels of military spending for reasons having increasingly little to do with the well-being of the country.

Strategic Inertia: In a 1948 State Department document, diplomat George F. Kennan offered this observation: “We have about 50 percent of the world's wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population.”  The challenge facing American policymakers, he continued, was “to devise a pattern of relationships that will permit us to maintain this disparity.”  Here we have a description of American purposes that is far more candid than all of the rhetoric about promoting freedom and democracy, seeking world peace, or exercising global leadership.

The end of World War II found the United States in a spectacularly privileged position.  Not for nothing do Americans remember the immediate postwar era as a Golden Age of middle-class prosperity.  Policymakers since Kennan’s time have sought to preserve that globally privileged position.  The effort has been a largely futile one.

By 1950 at the latest, those policymakers (with Kennan by then a notable dissenter) had concluded that the possession and deployment of military power held the key to preserving America’s exalted status.  The presence of U.S. forces abroad and a demonstrated willingness to intervene, whether overtly or covertly, just about anywhere on the planet would promote stability, ensure U.S. access to markets and resources, and generally serve to enhance the country’s influence in the eyes of friend and foe alike -- this was the idea, at least.

In postwar Europe and postwar Japan, this formula achieved considerable success.  Elsewhere -- notably in Korea, Vietnam, Latin America, and (especially after 1980) in the so-called Greater Middle East -- it either produced mixed results or failed catastrophically.  Certainly, the events of the post-9/11 era provide little reason to believe that this presence/power-projection paradigm will provide an antidote to the threat posed by violent anti-Western jihadism.  If anything, adherence to it is exacerbating the problem by creating ever greater anti-American animus.

One might think that the manifest shortcomings of the presence/power-projection approach -- trillions expended in Iraq for what? -- might stimulate present-day Washington to pose some first-order questions about basic U.S. national security strategy.  A certain amount of introspection would seem to be called for.  Could, for example, the effort to sustain what remains of America’s privileged status benefit from another approach?

Yet there are few indications that our political leaders, the senior-most echelons of the officer corps, or those who shape opinion outside of government are capable of seriously entertaining any such debate.  Whether through ignorance, arrogance, or a lack of imagination, the pre-existing strategic paradigm stubbornly persists; so, too, as if by default do the high levels of military spending that the strategy entails.

Cultural Dissonance: The rise of the Tea Party movement should disabuse any American of the thought that the cleavages produced by the “culture wars” have healed.  The cultural upheaval touched off by the 1960s and centered on Vietnam remains unfinished business in this country.

Among other things, the sixties destroyed an American consensus, forged during World War II, about the meaning of patriotism.  During the so-called Good War, love of country implied, even required, deference to the state, shown most clearly in the willingness of individuals to accept the government’s authority to mandate military service.  GI’s, the vast majority of them draftees, were the embodiment of American patriotism, risking life and limb to defend the country.

The GI of World War II had been an American Everyman.  Those soldiers both represented and reflected the values of the nation from which they came (a perception affirmed by the ironic fact that the military adhered to prevailing standards of racial segregation).  It was “our army” because that army was “us.”

With Vietnam, things became more complicated.  The war’s supporters argued that the World War II tradition still applied: patriotism required deference to the commands of the state.  Opponents of the war, especially those facing the prospect of conscription, insisted otherwise.  They revived the distinction, formulated a generation earlier by the radical journalist Randolph Bourne, that distinguished between the country and the state.  Real patriots, the ones who most truly loved their country, were those who opposed state policies they regarded as misguided, illegal, or immoral.

In many respects, the soldiers who fought the Vietnam War found themselves caught uncomfortably in the center of this dispute.  Was the soldier who died in Vietnam a martyr, a tragic figure, or a sap?  Who deserved greater admiration:  the soldier who fought bravely and uncomplainingly or the one who served and then turned against the war?  Or was the war resister -- the one who never served at all -- the real hero?

War’s end left these matters disconcertingly unresolved.  President Richard Nixon’s 1971 decision to kill the draft in favor of an All-Volunteer Force, predicated on the notion that the country might be better served with a military that was no longer “us,” only complicated things further.  So, too, did the trends in American politics where bona fide war heroes (George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John Kerry, and John McCain) routinely lost to opponents whose military credentials were non-existent or exceedingly slight (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama), yet who demonstrated once in office a remarkable propensity for expending American blood (none belonging to members of their own families) in places like Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  It was all more than a little unseemly.

Patriotism, once a simple concept, had become both confusing and contentious.  What obligations, if any, did patriotism impose?  And if the answer was none -- the option Americans seemed increasingly to prefer -- then was patriotism itself still a viable proposition?

Wanting to answer that question in the affirmative -- to distract attention from the fact that patriotism had become little more than an excuse for fireworks displays and taking the occasional day off from work -- people and politicians alike found a way to do so by exalting those Americans actually choosing to serve in uniform.  The thinking went this way: soldiers offer living proof that America is a place still worth dying for, that patriotism (at least in some quarters) remains alive and well; by common consent, therefore, soldiers are the nation’s “best,” committed to “something bigger than self” in a land otherwise increasingly absorbed in pursuing a material and narcissistic definition of self-fulfillment.

In effect, soldiers offer much-needed assurance that old-fashioned values still survive, even if confined to a small and unrepresentative segment of American society.  Rather than Everyman, today’s warrior has ascended to the status of icon, deemed morally superior to the nation for which he or she fights, the repository of virtues that prop up, however precariously, the nation’s increasingly sketchy claim to singularity.

Politically, therefore, “supporting the troops” has become a categorical imperative across the political spectrum.  In theory, such support might find expression in a determination to protect those troops from abuse, and so translate into wariness about committing soldiers to unnecessary or unnecessarily costly wars.  In practice, however, “supporting the troops” has found expression in an insistence upon providing the Pentagon with open-ended drawing rights on the nation’s treasury, thereby creating massive barriers to any proposal to affect more than symbolic reductions in military spending.

Misremembered History: The duopoly of American politics no longer allows for a principled anti-interventionist position.  Both parties are war parties.  They differ mainly in the rationale they devise to argue for interventionism.  The Republicans tout liberty; the Democrats emphasize human rights.  The results tend to be the same: a penchant for activism that sustains a never-ending demand for high levels of military outlays.

American politics once nourished a lively anti-interventionist tradition.  Leading proponents included luminaries such as George Washington and John Quincy Adams.  That tradition found its basis not in principled pacifism, a position that has never attracted widespread support in this country, but in pragmatic realism.  What happened to that realist tradition?  Simply put, World War II killed it -- or at least discredited it.  In the intense and divisive debate that occurred in 1939-1941, the anti-interventionists lost, their cause thereafter tarred with the label “isolationism.”

The passage of time has transformed World War II from a massive tragedy into a morality tale, one that casts opponents of intervention as blackguards.  Whether explicitly or implicitly, the debate over how the United States should respond to some ostensible threat -- Iraq in 2003, Iran today -- replays the debate finally ended by the events of December 7, 1941.  To express skepticism about the necessity and prudence of using military power is to invite the charge of being an appeaser or an isolationist.  Few politicians or individuals aspiring to power will risk the consequences of being tagged with that label.

In this sense, American politics remains stuck in the 1930s -- always discovering a new Hitler, always privileging Churchillian rhetoric -- even though the circumstances in which we live today bear scant resemblance to that earlier time.  There was only one Hitler and he’s long dead.  As for Churchill, his achievements and legacy are far more mixed than his battalions of defenders are willing to acknowledge.  And if any one figure deserves particular credit for demolishing Hitler’s Reich and winning World War II, it’s Josef Stalin, a dictator as vile and murderous as Hitler himself.

Until Americans accept these facts, until they come to a more nuanced view of World War II that takes fully into account the political and moral implications of the U.S. alliance with the Soviet Union and the U.S. campaign of obliteration bombing directed against Germany and Japan, the mythic version of “the Good War” will continue to provide glib justifications for continuing to dodge that perennial question: How much is enough?

Like concentric security barriers arrayed around the Pentagon, these four factors -- institutional self-interest, strategic inertia, cultural dissonance, and misremembered history -- insulate the military budget from serious scrutiny.  For advocates of a militarized approach to policy, they provide invaluable assets, to be defended at all costs.





 
Obama Can't Stand Up to His Generals—And That's Dangerous by Andrew Bacevich
October 5, 2010

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"The President is an elected king," wrote Randolph Bourne nearly a century ago, "but the fact that he is elected has proved to be of far less significance ... than the fact that he is pragmatically a king."

Bourne thereby identified a central truth of modern American politics: Stripped to its essence, our democracy has become an elaborate process of conferring enormous power on a single individual. What we choose to call an inauguration is more accurately a coronation. Nominally a chief executive, the president today occupies a position more akin to that of emperor, and Americans both expect much and demand much of their emperor.

To be "the most powerful man in the world" is to be simultaneously worshiped and despised. To occupy the Oval Office is to become the modern-day equivalent of a Sun King, commanding deference, while also becoming the subject of endless gossip, envy, jealousy, and intrigue, all to be reported at length and ad nauseam by Bob Woodward.

What lends this arrangement a semblance of legitimacy is the expectation that our president-monarch knows how to wield power effectively. Through the exercise of royal prerogatives, the king demonstrates his worthiness for high office.

Should a president demonstrate an absence of mastery—if he comes across as a weakling or a ditherer—profound dysfunction results. Recall the Carter era. Jimmy Carter's inability to resolve the Iran hostage crisis reduced him to a figure of contempt and left Americans with a sense that the country itself was adrift. In short order, they stripped Carter of his crown.

Yet presidential weakness—even an inkling of weakness—can have international as well as domestic implications. This is notably the case in matters related to national security. If the occupant of the Oval Office appears less than fully in command, friend and foe alike will wonder who exactly is in charge.

Confusion about American priorities and intentions can thereby result. Out of confusion can come miscalculation, as allies revise downward their estimate of American reliability and adversaries persuade themselves that they can get away with mischief. In other words, the implications of weakness extend beyond the who’s up, who’s down preoccupations of garden-variety politics. This confusion describes where we find ourselves today. There is no doubting that President Obama is smart, talented, well intentioned, and smooth as they come. Yet whether he possesses the temperament to govern is fast becoming an open question. Put simply, the question is this: Does Obama have sufficient backbone?

The release of Bob Woodward's new book Obama’s Wars has raised this question to new heights. It depicts a president who not only gets rolled but who knows when he is getting rolled and still allows it to happen. With regard to how to proceed on Afghanistan—the most important foreign policy decision to cross Obama’s desk thus far—the president last year demanded that the Pentagon present him with distinctive policy options. The king didn’t want to be handed the solution; he wanted to choose.

In fact, however, the members of his court offered him three variations of a single course of action, the one that the Pentagon itself preferred—a textbook example of how the theory of “civilian control” differs from actual practice.

Particularly disturbing is the fact that our very smart president understood exactly what was happening. Woodward shows Obama complaining loudly. Having registered that complaint, the president more or less meekly rubber-stamped the policy that the Pentagon was foisting on him. In effect, on Afghanistan he thereby forfeited to others the power to decide. Once Obama endorsed choices made by unelected subordinates, the office of commander-in-chief had acquired additional tenants.

That was back in December 2009, of course. Here in October 2010, the Pentagon's preferred plan for Afghanistan shows little sign of succeeding anytime soon. Obama's wariness about escalating the war there—now about to enter its tenth year—looks increasingly sound, which makes his complicity in going along with that escalation all the more damning.

Yet perhaps all is not lost—at least not entirely so. The president may yet have one last chance to retrieve the situation and to reverse the impression that he is less than fully in control of his administration. The next Afghanistan "milestone" is a strategic assessment promised for this coming December, one full year after Obama announced his (or the Pentagon's) Afghan surge. The military—General David Petraeus in the vanguard—will exert itself to minimize the importance of this mid-course review. So too will members of the Petraeus Lobby, currently challenging AIPAC, the trial lawyers, the pharmaceutical industry and all the rest of the powerful interest groups vying for preeminence in Washington.

You can take it to the bank: The military backed by militarists in mufti will press for more time. They will argue for postponing any serious decisions until July 2011, intending in the mean time to chip away at the president's vaguely stated promise to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan next summer.

If Obama wishes to salvage his presidency and demonstrate his capacity to lead and to govern, he will reject that effort. He will instead seize the opportunity presented by the mid-course review.

December is the time to render a verdict on the Afghanistan war. If the Afghan surge is still not showing clear signs of success by year's end, waiting another seven months won’t make a difference.

December also presents Obama with an opportunity—perhaps his last one—to reverse the impression that he is not fully in control of his own administration. Decisive action just might enable the president to reassure Americans and the rest of the world that he is, after all, up to the job.

Should he squander this last opportunity, however, the king is likely to find himself soon thereafter seeking new employment.
 
Afghanistan - the Proxy War by Andrew Bacevich
October 12, 2009

NO SERIOUS person thinks that Afghanistan - remote, impoverished, barely qualifying as a nation-state - seriously matters to the United States. Yet with the war in its ninth year, the passions raised by the debate over how to proceed there are serious indeed.
 
Bananas by Uri Avnery
July 4, 2009

NOT EVERY day, and not even every decade, does the Supreme Court rebuke the Military Advocate General. The last time this happened was 20 years ago, when the Advocate General refused to issue a proper indictment against an officer who ordered his men to break the arms and legs of a bound Palestinian. The officer argued that he considered this to be his duty, after the Minister of Defense, Yitzhak Rabin, had called for “breaking their bones”.
 
NATO scuttles US plan to encircle Russia by F. William Engdahl
NATO ministers in Brussels have decided to ignore US wishes and to delay the admission of Ukraine and of Georgia in effect indefinitely in what the Washington Administration is sheepishly trying to claim is a positive 'compromise.' The decision, following EU member state alarm last August over the prospect of European states having to go to war at some point against Russia over an incalculable despot in the Caucasus or in Kiev who decided to provoke Moscow to react, was simply too much.
 
Petraeus and Presidential Politics by Michael Carmichael


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From 1964 until 1968, General William Westmoreland presented a constant stream of shining, buoyant and uplifting assessments of the potential for American victory in Vietnam. When Westmoreland became Commander of US forces in Vietnam, there were a mere 15,000 troops with boots on the ground. After four years of Westmoreland’s misguided optimism, 535,000 troops had their boots ankle deep in the quagmire of the Vietnamese jungles. In an age long before the internet, Westmoreland’s positive messaging for increasing America’s commitment to military intervention in Vietnam received massive media attention and bolstered public support for what would become an abysmally depressing war.

 
World War W by Michael Carmichael - October 10, 2006

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North Korea’s detonation of a nuclear device reveals the latest failure of the foreign policy of the George W. Bush and Richard Cheney administration.