Dick Cheneys Speech

Dick Cheney gave a speech yesterday to the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington DC. I have attached the link.

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/21/AR2009052104387.html

 

I would like to think that open minded citizens would read it and consider its content as it relates to the current danger to the US from terrorists.

 

Cheney cautions the American People to remember that whatever we wish to call the war on terror and its villainous perpetrators……….it ain’t over.

 

He further challenges the incoming administration to quit playing politics with America’s safety. He makes compelling points about revealing not just half truths from the CIA’s methodology but reveal the entire story (now that the half story is in the terrorists training manuals); Let America judge for itself instead of carefully orchestrating the release of information through “terror memos” to present an almost criminal intent mindset of the previous administration. He points out that the interrogation worked and that supporting information is being kept classified for political gain, and that such behavior will ultimately enable terrorism.

 

 “It’s hard to imagine a worse precedent filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessor.”

 

President Obama’s remarks yesterday reiterated the mantra that water boarding and enhanced interrogation are recruitment tools for Al Qaida , but there is not one shred of proof to that assertion just rhetoric.  

 

I found Cheney’s remarks compelling and hope that logic and patriotism will compel those on the left to analyze and reflect on his words.

Pinocchio Is Alive and Well

Nancy Pelosi appears to be lying; it is a classic example of what is wrong in Washington. Despite clear signals from the White House that Obama wishes to move on and deal with the full plate of spaghetti he has introduced to Congress and is broadening The Speaker of the House doesn’t care. She flipped him off basically and called the CIA and Congress liars saying that she did not know of water boarding until 2003. The CIA says they briefed her. She has had numerous stories and it’s hard to keep them straight. The heart of the conflict is that both the CIA and members of congress agree that in 2002 both parties were still rocking from 911 and there was consensus in Washington that the CIA and the military had their blessing to prosecute the enemy.

 

Nancy’s true narcissistic personality is on full display as she attempts to deflect her true self and project the image of the leader she pretends to be. The Marionette still aspires to be a real person but it appears she still has several transformations left ahead of her.

 

  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036789/vp/30762226#30762226

 

Can anyone say Mav rick?

The Given Day

Pandemics, terrorists attacks, war, racial tensions, political intrigue, fallen sports idols…….sound familiar? Just like much of today’s headlines. But the year is 1918, the setting is Boston and the characters are lifelike toughs that tackle all of these cultural crucibles with passion and compelling human dignity. The Given Day is simply the best book I have read since Cold Mountain. Dennis Lehane is the rare writer that creates larger than life characters that really aren’t larger than life, they are alive and vibrant and the passion they bring to relationships is magnetic. The three protagonists in the story cut a roughish image and take on society’s prejudices with  proud determination, Irish, Immigrant, and Black become inseparable friends and fated companions.

 

Lehane does excellent research and brings the period to life, informing the reader what it was really like to live when The Volstead Act changed America. We get a very vivid picture of the Red Scare and of the power players on both sides. We see a young J Edgar Hoover and a rising, Babe Ruth. We feel the hopelessness of the 1918 Flu that killed millions.

 

The first chapter sets the underlying conflicts of the time with a pickup baseball game between an all white professional (world series caliber) team and a black team. It is a remarkable opening commentary of the times.

 

Lehane is better known for his hard boiled, conflicted detective team, Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, who operate “on the edge” throughout his popular detective  mysteries. Several have made it to film and fell short of the books in all cases. Most notably Gone Baby Gone, while the movie was OK the characterization of Kenzie as played by  Casey Affleck was poor casting by Director/Brother Ben.

 

Lehane writes like he has lived, with great understated passion and rich diversity. “Before becoming a full-time writer, Mr. Lehane worked as a counselor with mentally handicapped and abused children, waited tables, parked cars, drove limos, worked in bookstores, and loaded tractor-trailers. His one regret is that no one ever gave him a chance to tend bar. He lives in the Boston area.”

 

This book hit all my sweet spots, but it is not just a guy book my daughter loved it too.

 

 

http://www.dennislehanebooks.com/books/

 

Recommend it highly!

The Dark Side

Two of my blogging colleagues have posted on this book, and urged me to read it.

So I did, and now will write my own report which I may publish in several blog sites. As a minor American Scholar since College I find thoughtful provoking analysis on the “soul” of America interesting, an “attack on American Ideals” compelling. The Author, Jane Mayer is a journalist for the New Yorker, an “insider” of sorts due to her focus on politics and, most recently, the Bush Administration. She is well educated and well connected. The power of the Fourth Estate seems to have worked to her advantage in cultivating behind the scenes relationships.  

 

The book is about the US treatment of suspected terrorists both by DOD and CIA but primarily by the CIA as directed by the Bush Administration. The subject matter of torture is tough to read, so the book is not for the squeamish, if you don’t like Thomas Harris (Hannibal Lecter) you won’t like The Dark Side. The thesis of the book is that Bush and Cheney and their inner circle of lawyers have violated Constitutional and International Law in their pursuit of information after 911. It postulates that as a result, America’s stature as a “standard bearer” of human rights and the Rule of Law is tarnished and that Bush has alienated many other Nations and lost their support in the “War on Terror.”  

 

The book is written in an expose style. Cognitive bias is the term that comes to mind about its tone. There is no doubt from the gitgo that Cheney is the bad guy as the books title is taken from remarks that Cheney makes about having to work on the dark side to extract information. The CIA in particular is framed as incompetent and evil, an extension of the dark side of the Bush Administration. The case is made, over and over again that the US tortured innocent and guilty suspects and that the results were mostly useless, providing false and misleading information; that there are better ways to get information and that it seems that the Bush insiders were more interested in hurting people in retribution and fear than in doing the smart thing and developing relationships with the suspects. It sometimes reads like a thriller depicting clandestine abductions through multinational venues. Ultimately it always comes back to the point that these guys violated the rule of law and endangered America’s soul.  I confess that I felt troubled by the role of America as the bad guy.

 

My conservative thinking normally takes me back to the basic questions of why are we here and talking about this? The answer is 911. This book had little advocacy for the victims of 911, their stories were not told, providing balance. The impact of 911 and its aftermath were largely glossed over and not given stature. The immediacy and uncertainty of what to do is understated considerably. Mayer offers virtually nothing in the way of proposing solutions, just indictments. All of her legalities led to the rule of law. Except that we didn’t have the rule of law, we were under attack by terrorists. Many elegant quotes are summoned to point out that a flawed short term approach to fighting a war can destroy the core values of America.

 

The Supreme Court had a far tougher time dealing with the proper branch of government to handle war that Mayer did i.e. regarding the Writ of Habeas Corpus:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boumediene_v._Bush

 

http://townhall.com/columnists/KenBlackwell/2008/06/17/america_will_regret_high_courts_decision?page=full&comments=true

 

Judge Scalia’s dissent in this case states my own thoughts, i.e. the military needs to be able to do what it takes to provide for National Defense. (The CIA serving the military by default since 911)

 

According to Justice Scalia, “the Court’s majority’s analysis produces a crazy result: Whereas those convicted and sentenced to death for war crimes are without judicial remedy, all enemy combatants detained during a war, at least insofar as they are confined in an area away from the battlefield over which the United States exercises ‘absolute and indefinite’ control, may seek a writ of habeas corpus in federal court”

 

 

“If we have reached the point where we cannot be bothered to think beyond rhetoric or to make moral distinctions, then we have reached the point where our own survival in an increasingly dangerous world of nuclear proliferation can no longer be taken for granted.” Thomas Sowell May 12

 

Mayer indicates that using anonymous sources is less than the perfect world but states that is the only way many people would talk to her. So what she offers as facts are often twice told tales, which is a risky business in establishing an evidentiary trail. I was often confused as to who she was quoting as source material and will still have to consult her end notes on a subject by subject basis. It would really have helped if she had a timeline and organizational charts at the end of the book. I found it difficult to determine who was reporting to whom. She also admits there is much she doesn’t know, much that hasn’t been revealed. Given that element, it is logical to deduce that some of what she has been given as source material is what people wanted her to have. She is not a CIA employee with top secret clearance and thus we truly don’t know what we don’t know. Why would we believe the CIA would reveal for publication how ineffective or effective they really are?

 

It is pointed out that we don’t really have metrics in place to measure how effective our response has been in preventing further terrorists attacks. The answers are not clear nor is the path. Benjamin Wittes, a fellow at the Brookings Institution sums it up in his book  on Bush’s  post 911 strategy, Law and the Long War, “the right way to deal with groups such as al-Qaeda is terrifyingly, dangerously, paralysingly non-obvious”.

 

 But it is entirely possible that Bush/Cheney did impact terrorists existing plans and thwart further immediate destruction. Certainly Bush allowed Cheney much leeway to carry out the dirty business thrust upon his administration and tried to rally the American People, while Cheney stayed on The Dark Side.

Another One Bites The Dust

It seems that selecting competent personnel to staff Obama’s administration is more difficult than expected. After a series of tax frauds in the first go round we see today that the person in charge of Air Force One has resigned in disgrace over a monumentally  defenseless mistake in judgment. Louis Caldera has bitten the dust after terrorizing the Manhattan survivors of 911 by buzzing them with AF1 and a chase fighter.

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/08/AR2009050803755.html?wprss=rss_politics

 

 

And…………wait……..there’s more. Perhaps the opportunities for “gross abuse of power” are alive and well in the Obama administration. He has chosen to retain the Bush/Cheney established military tribunals after all. Oh, and btw, we can’t release all those bad boys because we are still at war with them. Whoops………

 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30654216/

 

Perhaps the view of reality from inside the Whitehouse looks different than the rhetoric of the campaign trail. Perhaps the reality of fighting terrorists is not as black and white as winning an election. War from The Dark Side may be a necessary option after all. Someone help me out, I didn’t see the vetting process at work here. Is this being done behind closed doors without public approval?