Obama’s Torture Coverup

Does President Obama have a vested interest in covering up the crimes of the Bush administration?

His decision to block the release of photos of U.S. troops abusing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan is a reminder that the nation may still be running on “Cheney time.”

As long as the photos are not released, former Bush administration officials can control the narrative – if not the entire debate. They can continue denying that the US government engaged in torture – at the same time they make specious claims about the vast benefits from using ‘extreme interrogation.’

Obama will be damned by the torture masterminds regardless of what he does. His suppression of evidence of their crimes merely aids their efforts to vilify him and makes other Americans – and much of the world – distrust him.

Unfortunately, as with the torture scandal itself, it may be years until we know why the Obama team is colluding with people almost certainly guilty of war crimes.

Memorial Day: Burning Pols in Effigy

I stopped by the Visitors Center at Manassas Battlefield Park last month and was struck by a quote capturing Georgia private B. M. Zettler’s reaction to being enmeshed in the battle of Bull Run:

“I felt that I was in the presence of death. My first thought was, ‘This is unfair – someone is to blame for getting us all killed. I didn’t come here to fight this way…’

An excellent sentiment – one that should not be forgotten on Memorial Day. It would have been fairer if the politicians had been in the front lines on both sides at Manassas.

Sheldon Richman, the editor of the Freeman, proposes renaming Memorial Day as Revisionist History Day. General Patton said that an ounce of sweat can save a pint of blood. Similarly, a little reading and thinking this time of year can save a heap of grave digging in the future.

Sacralizing the war dead usually results in exonerating the politicians. Rather than parades, it would be better to celebrate this holiday like the British used to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day – by burning politicians in effigy, or a reasonable facsimile.
Too harsh?

Read the Pentagon Papers – and recognize the proper fate of all the politicians and political appointees who hatched and perpetuated that sham.

Likewise for the Iraq war – and a heap of others.

Rolling Thunder, War and Memorial Day

Originally Posted @TAC

I had always revered Rolling Thunder — the romantic vision of a Band of Brothers, refugees from a South Asian hellhole whose common experience, really, was the only thing separating them from a certain reckless breed of motorcycle gang. Their annual sojourn to the National Mall for Memorial Day, emblazoned in leather with the simple demand, “Never Forget,” insisted we remember the 58,000 who fell in Vietnam, how they got there and the countless others we pushed away from our consciousness when they came home.

This morning, as I hear the distant roar of their convoys traveling up Route 50 toward the nation’s capital, I am not thinking, as I usually do on Memorial Day, of my uncles and friends who fought in Vietnam. I am mulling over instead the scars of our present war in the Middle East and Central Asia, and how Rolling Thunder disappointed me so, when a large swath of their riders became so patently pro-war under the thrall of rightwing provocateurs like Michelle Malkin, who fueled unfounded rumors that war protesters planned to urinate on The Wall, and deface other war memorials during a 2007 rally on Washington. They proceeded to revel in intimidating Americans who came to the Mall that weekend in peaceful resistance, allowing in effect, Bush Apologists and warmongers to interchange today’s critics of the Iraq and Afghanistan operations with Jane Fonda, Cindy Sheehan and all manner of spitting hippies. Many became tools, wittingly or not, shedding the vestiges of their rebellious origins, for the sake of propping up the Republican Party at a time when most Americans had turned against the war. They allowed their honorable name to be dragged through the partisan muck.


I was at that protest, and watched as these burly guys — and gals — and their friends and followers lined up in menacing gauntlets outside of The Wall to intimidate activists, I was there when they waved the middle finger and screamed f–ck you! at protesters and told me personally, that it was not George W. Bush that got the country into such a mess, but weak-kneed lefties back home, badmouthing the war, not supporting the mission. Just like Vietnam.

Honestly, these guys always blamed Hanoi Jane, but I liked them better when they blamed Johnson and Nixon and McNamara too.

But I knew then, in 2007, that while the anger at hippies wasn’t forgotten, the mistrust of the government was. Probably still is — but I have a feeling, any problems with veterans and soldiers and future war policy, will certainly be blamed on President Barack Obama from now on.

That’s fine, because this weekend is for remembering. And reminding. As for this war:

U.S casualties:

Iraq (since 2003) — 4,300 deaths; 46,132 wounded (medical air transport only, doesn’t include illnesses or minor injuries, that would take the number over 80,000)

Afghanistan (since 2002) — 686 deaths; wounded — not available

Number of men and women who have served in either theater since 2002: over 1.8 million

Number of servicemembers returning with depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: 18.5 percent:

Number of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans seeking care at a VA since 2002: 350,000+

Estimated number of soldiers from Iraq/Afghanistan who have suffered a brain injury :  360,000

Number of U.S soldiers still in Iraq: approximately 134,000

Number of U.S soldiers in Afghanistan: 38,000 and counting

* Above photo provided by the Associated Press

War Criminal or Hero?

Former U.S. soldier Steven Dale Green was just sentenced to life in prison for his war crimes while “serving” in Iraq. It seems that Pfc. Green and three of his soldier friends went to the home of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, killed her family, gang raped her, shot her in the face, and then set her body on fire.

This is absolutely horrible, and I don’t excuse it in any way. I think he should get the death penalty, as do many in Iraq. However, it should be said that if he had dropped a bomb from the stratosphere or launched a missile from afar he would be lauded as a hero. Why is it that, to many Americans, killing from five feet is viewed as an atrocity, but from five thousand feet it is considered to be a heroic act?

Yes, but what about the rape? Well, if torture is okay, then why should anyone have a problem with raping female Iraqis? Aren’t all Muslims terrorists? Hey, if it saves one American life then it must be okay. Right? That, unfortunately, is the attitude of many “conservative” Americans, including too many Christians.