Archive for category Disgrace to the Military

The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox


Ten Years Ago Today . . . And No It Was Not Worth It

I hate looking back.  Ten years ago today the US invastion of Iraq began. 

The push for war with Iraq felt like a time of public madness.  The American media has never been less absolutely incompetent than in those months.  Yeah, the media pretty much sucks now, but back then they were awful beyond the telling of it.  The largest peace rallies in history got no coverage.  American media has spent the last decade hoping no one reminds them how bad they were, how gullible, how insanely biased for the Bush administration they were and how they mindlessly lapped up any lie they were told. Read the rest of this entry »


NBC ‘Reality’ Show: War For Fun and Profit

I’ve seen the promos, and wondered out loud if this is an actual show or just a clever satire of corporate-sponsored “reality” TV. Turns out that NBC is truly going to air “Stars Earn Stripes,” an incredibly stupid faux-war celebrity contest co-hosted by retired U.S. general Wesley Clark. Bear in mind that NBC is owned by defense contractor GE, which profits from the normalization of permanent war.

Dean Cain, Dolvett Quince, Eve Torres, Laila Ali, Nick Lachey, Picabo Street, Terry Crews, and Todd Palin will compete in allegedly dangerous warlike activities — in which no one gets hurt. None of them have ever served in the real military. and Just Foreign Policy have set up a petition at challenging NBC to tell the truth about war.

Dear NBC,
Your entertainment show “Stars Earn Stripes” treats war as sport. This does us all a disservice. We ask that you air an in-depth segment showing the reality of civilian victims of recent U.S. wars, on any program, any time in the coming months. ( has provided a few resources to help you with your research.)

It’s not a revelation that American corporate media don’t tell the truth about war. However, this is ridiculous. “Reality” TV has never departed this much from actual reality. General Clark ought to be ashamed of himself — being a tool of the military-industrial complex is bad enough, but he’s gone too far now.

More info: NBC Invents War-o-tainment

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald weighs in:

It’s actually necessary that America have a network reality show that pairs big, muscular soldiers with adoring D-list celebrities — hosted by a former Army General along with someone who used to be on Dancing with the Stars – as they play sanitized war games for the amusement of viewers, all in between commercials from the nation’s largest corporations. That’s way too perfect of a symbol of American culture and politics for us not to have.

UPDATE: ‘Stars Earn Stripes,’ NBC Reality Show, Criticized By Veterans And Military Reporter


The Consequences of the Invasion of Iraq – Exactly the Opposite of What the Bushies Proposed

In a devastating article, Dan Froomkin observes:

Ten bloody and grueling years later, Iraq is finally emerging from its ruins and establishing itself as a geopolitical player in the Middle East — but not the way the neocons envisioned.

Though technically a democracy, Iraq’s floundering government has degenerated into a tottering quasi-dictatorship. The costs of the war (more than $800 billion) and reconstruction (more than $50 billion) have been staggeringly high. And while Iraq is finally producing oil at pre-war levels, it is trying its best to drive oil prices as high as possible.

Most disturbing to many American foreign policy experts, however, is Iraq’s extremely close relationship with Iran. Today, the country that was formerly Iran’s deadliest rival is its strongest ally.

In other words, the Neo Cons were not just wrong but absolutely 100% wrong, their predictions turned out exactly 180 degrees from what actually happened.

Predicting what’s next in Iraq is next to impossible. In virtually no scenario, however, do things turn out how the neocons intended.

“Whatever [the war] was about, which was never entirely explained, it hasn’t worked out terribly well,” said Freeman, “and in fact Iraq continues to evolve in ways that are, if not fatal to American interests, certainly negative.”

At this point, I’m even more certain the Iraq war was not worth what it cost.  It was a colossal waste of time, resources, lives – an exercise in imperial vanity and posturing that was so destructive in every imaginable way, more costly, more ruinous than anyone  predicted.

We need a national truth and reconciliation commission.  We need it now.

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Caller Knocks Over The Proverbial Water Cooler

sex scandal

Of course, at least one caller to the Diane Rehm show, on NPR, knocks the cooler over every day Diane Rehm is actually on her own show. A multitude of Americans have been asking this question ever since the invasion of Iraq. I just thought I’d add to the repetition, since the call happened this morning, in hopes of nudging my fellow citizens into some kind of conversation at the water cooler that isn’t about dancing with stars, or the latest sex scandal manufactured for the US.

The caller refers to the latest BIG AMERICAN SEX SCANDAL before going where she really wants to go.

(listen here at about 42 minutes in)

All right. To San Francisco, Calif. Good morning, Denise.

Good morning, Diane. My question is going back to the GSA scandal…


…you know, with them going to Las Vegas. And my point is that where is the outrage over a manufactured war and the cherry-picked intelligence and the trillions of dollars spent and that hundred, maybe 200,000 Iraqi citizens and thousands of American lives and tens of thousands of young men and women living their lives as amputees or with head trauma. Where are the pallets of cash that went missing in Iraq? The bungles and irresponsible way that the Bush administration funded those wars, where does this debt come from? Where is the outrage about that?


It’s a great question. I do think one of the things that’s been really striking to me about this election year is how little Afghanistan and the on-going wars have been as part of the debate. And I think that may intensify as we get closer to the general election, but you have a president whose policy has more in line with Republicans. And I think Democrats thought — that they thought it was gonna be when he came into office.

He’s actually have been fairly hawkish about his foreign policy, and you have a progressive left that is not particularly organized or willing to go after the president in any kind of coordinated way. I think there’s been a willful silence in the Democratic Party of unity behind the president on this. And it has been surprisingly not an issue in this election year so far.

No doubt about it, $822,751 is a lot of taxpayers money to be spending on pleasure seeking, but trillions of dollars, crippled and dead soldiers are probably a little more noteworthy on the eve of memorial day, which most working Americans will spend – uh – working.

Did you notice how Susan Davis tried desperately to steer the conversation towards Obama and the progressive left’s failings. Well, I’ve learned not to expect much from “USA Today” and always turn off the radio whenever that other Susan from “USA Today” fills in for Diane.

The entire American media is a cesspool, except for NPR and PBS, which gives us a window of truth some of the time. I’ve been listening a lot more lately, and I, mostly, like the national and local fare.


Can George W. Bush Find a “one-legged Veteran” Who Won’t Beat Him?

Yesterday, Bush announced “I’m takin’ a bunch ‘o Vets mountain bike riding.” “I like mountain bike riding.”

And, I realize Chimpy was trying to be self-deprecating when he said, “what I don’t like is to be beaten on a mountain bike ride by a one-legged Veteran.”

All I could think is, how will he find a one-legged Veteran who won’t try to beat him on sight?

The Chimpster goes on to brag that his “Institute” is sponsoring a golf tournament for Vets. How thoughtful. And why not? Most of them have fairly flexible schedules nowadays (unemployed).

Except for the few lucky troops who found time to practice at the driving range when not dodging IEDs, I imagine most have never stepped onto a golf course, other than to pick up trash, turn on the sprinklers or to find a quiet spot to spend the night?

Yes, a golf tournament. What better to say I love you and avoid missing a day on the links?



“…deeply immoral act.”

If you have been paying any attention to the news at all today, you have likely already seen the video of American Marines urinating on corpses in Afghanistan. The number of levels on which this is disturbing is legion. I am mostly working out my thoughts on this as I write, so I may be unorganized at best, but feel this should be addressed.

First of all there is the most superficial reaction. These men are desecrating bodies. They are soiling once living beings in a way that causes a “yuck” factor. As a philosopher I am not particularly worried about this “yuck” factor, but I am also well aware of its existance and the reaction many have is a red flag that makes me want to look into the reaction. Perhaps at another time.

Read the rest of this entry »


Rocky Anderson vs Sean Hannity. Live Debate at University of Utah – Entire Show – Fox News

University of Utah, May 4, 2007. Two Hours. Moderated by Ken Verdoia.

Rocky laid out a bullet-proof prima-facie case for the impeachment of George W. Bush.

Hannity retreated into his hallmark pandering strategy refusing to address the facts in the case for impeachment of Bush. Not one word about Bush, the Constitution, illegal rendition, torture, wiretapping US citizens illegally, or the suspension of Habeas Corpus. Just personal attacks on Rocky as if labeling Rocky will somehow make the fact that Bush is impeachable go away.

Some still support Bush. They need to ask themselves:

Is your patriotism strong enough to hold a president you love accountable for his crimes and impeachable offenses? Or are you making an exception? Are you a full time American Patriot, or does it “depend?”

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3

Full Show Broadband (137mg) / Smaller Dial-up (37mg) version here
Play or download full high quality MP4 (525MG) here.

Thanks as always to Norm at OneGoodMove for providing this video.

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From the “What goes around comes around” File

Republicans are afraid to criticize the war in Afghanistan for fear of being attacked for being unpatriotic . . . by other Republicans.

Well, doesn’t that just break your heart?  They sat on their hands while Rove and Bush and their lackeys in the media savaged John Kerry and Max Cleland.  And now, they realize, that maybe, you know, criticizing an unnecessary war isn’t unpatriotic and isn’t a sign of lack of support for the troops.

Screwed yourselves but good didn’t you boys?


Not Every War is in Defense of our Freedom

Today’s D-News published the following letter:

Ken Halterman (Readers’ Forum, Sept. 5) writes that he mourns the loss of heroes Cory Jenkins, Kurt Curtiss and his friend Mike Hughes. All died fighting for our country. Then, he goes further, saying they died for “nothing except pride and bravery.”

The writer doesn’t understand that freedom … is never free. He doesn’t understand that his freedom to read and write to this paper has been purchased for him by the blood of countless, nameless heroes.

I’m grateful that I do understand and appreciate the price others have paid for me. My son, Zachary Lee Padron, is serving right now in Afghanistan. Every minute of the day, his mother and I worry about him. We pray and trust he will come home safe. But if Zachary dies fighting for America, like so many before him, he will have laid down his life for all of us. There is no greater good.

Lee Padron


I can in fact understand the fear of knowing a loved one is in harm’s way. Certainly, we want to believe that if our loved one dies in military service that their death had meaning, that their dying was truly in service of a greater good. We want to believe that if someone we know and love is in the military and they die in combat that their death makes us safer and freer.

But is the war in Afghanistan really in defense of our freedom? Is it truly a war that will improve our freedom? Is the war in Afghanistan even a war in defense of the United States?

From where I sit, it seems that the war in Afghanistan has failed in every one of its operational objectives. Al Qaeda has not been stopped. The people of Afghanistan continue to live amidst nearly constant violence. The nation is is still a chaotic patchwork of warlords and druglords and poverty and despair. I know it’s not pleasant to admit but at some level, I’m not sure our presence in Afghanistan is doing anything beneficial for our nation. Did Afghanistan ever even pose a threat to us?

It seems to me that the greatest failure of American foreign policy in recent years has been our ongoing inability to discern the real threats to the US and decide on appropriate action. It seems we have been trapped in the illusion of our own military might and we have come to believe a set of lies about our military’s greatness. We seem to have indulged in a mythology in which our ability to shape the world to our will is boundless and that we can do so anywhere and anytime we like. We spend more than any other nation in the world on our military but we seem never to ask is this a wise use of our wealth? We have tried to maintain our empire of consumption – a neverending supply of material goods to fill a hole in souls they will never – and have built a worldwide empire which drains our resources – moral and material.

Andrew Bacevich calls it the crisis of profligacy – the great unfolding crisis in which we spend ever greater resources to secure ever fewer rewards in the name of our chase for ever more material abundance, at the cost of ever more wealth and time and lives. And at the cost – here at home – of our freedoms. At some point, the American empire cannot be sustained and we must choose – will we abandon empire in the name of democracy or will we pursue empire and sacrifice democracy.

When the US invaded Afghanistan, then forgot about it to invade Iraq, it signaled a dire turning point, an inflection point if you will, of a spiral turning unremittingly downward as we lost the ability to discern real from imagined threats. At the cost of lives and billions of dollars and moral authority, we have pursued two wars without victory and stand alone before the world, a screaming colossus incapable of self discipline.

It is my hope that not one more American will die in Afghanistan or Iraq, that we will have strength of national character to end those wars and find a new way. And it is my hope for Lee Padron that his son comes home safe and sound and lives a very long life.


President Obama Lied About U.S. War Crimes

According to Major General Antonio Taguba, the Army officer who investigated the torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, unreleased prisoner abuse photos “show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.” Allegations of rape were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was not revealed.

President Obama made a huge mistake by not obeying the court order to release these photographs, and is now shown to have lied when he claimed that “these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib.” In fact, these photos are worse than the Abu Ghraib images from 2004.

In an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Major General Taguba went on to say that he supports the decision not to make these photos public. “I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops,” he suggested.

But the Bush administration already argued against the release on national security grounds — and lost.

“It is plainly insufficient to claim that releasing documents could reasonably be expected to endanger some unspecified member of a group so vast as to encompass all United States troops, coalition forces, and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the three-judge appeals panel wrote in September 2008.

The ACLU is seeking the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. The photos relate to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 in Abu Ghraib and six other prisons.

About 60 of the unreleased Abu Ghraib photos were leaked to the Australian media in 2006, and have been shown widely on television throughout the Middle East.

UPDATE: On HuffPo, Martin Garbus argues that these torture and abuse images are going to leak anyway, so why not get it over with all at once?

Trickling them out is the most dangerous and irresponsible thing we can do. We can remind people for years what we have done. And as these people are either not prosecuted or rarely prosecuted, it sets up a wall of protection for further torture and reminds our enemies what we did.

UPDATE: Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Daily Telegraph article “completely mis-characterized the images.”

UPDATE: In a surprisingly broad denial, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cast doubt on the entire British media:

“If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I am not entirely sure [British papers] would be the first stack of clips I picked up,” deadpanned Gibbs.

Gibbs then confessed that he hadn’t seen the pictures himself. I couldn’t help but notice that neither the Pentagon nor the White House spokesmen attacked the credibility of Major General Taguba.

Today’s Obama administration denials are contradicted by past statements from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and others who have seen some of the censored torture and abuse photos. According to the Los Angeles Times, 1,600 of the unreleased images were shown to members of Congress during classified briefings in May 2004.

UPDATE: On The Daily Beast, Scott Horton confirms the existence of the images that the Pentagon and White House say don’t exist. “[T]he effort to suppress the shocking photographs is already failing, as they leak to the public and reliable sources verify their authenticity,” Horton writes.

UPDATE: In related news, General David Petraeus just gave an interview on Faux News Channel in which he described U.S. treatment of detainees as a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and reiterated his support for closing Guantanamo.

General Petraeus on President Obama’s decision to end torture of detainees (emphasis added):

What I would ask is, does that not take away from our enemies a tool, which again they have beaten us around the head and shoulders in the court of public opinion? When we have taken steps that have violated the Geneva Convention, we rightly have been criticized. And so as we move forward, I think it is important to again live our values to live the agreements that we have made in the international justice arena and to practice those.

UPDATE: According to a clarification from General Taguba, it’s possible that the specific set of photos at issue in the ACLU lawsuit don’t depict U.S. soldiers raping and sexually abusing Iraqi detainees. However, there are other images that do, and General Taguba and some members of Congress have seen them.

McClatchy is reporting that anonymous sources claim Iraqi PM Maliki warned that Iraq would erupt into violence if the years-old detainee abuse pictures were made public. Maliki said, “Baghdad will burn” if the photos are released, according to an unnamed military official. Maliki’s warning was said to have been relayed to President Obama by ambassador Christopher Hill and Iraq commander General Ray Odierno.


Desiree Fairooz and Medea Benjamin: Two of the Greatest American Hero’s of Our Time

Thank you Desiree Fairoo, Medea Benjamin and Code Pink for your unflinching pursuit of justice and you guardianship of the highest American principles.

It is utterly surreal that any of the Bush administration, especially Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush are walking around free men.  This is our national embarrassment.

All of them are directly responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis as well as the deaths of over 4000 American soldiers, victims of Iraqi terrorists fathers and sons protecting their homes and families.

The sickening, uncomfortable smile on Rummy’s face as he is confronted by these great Americans betrays the underlying truth that Rumsfeld remains a free man only by virtue of our collective national shock and the broken and still paralyzed culture of justice and law in the homeland.

Code Pink is become a great American institution producing brave heros of the peace movement on the order of  the Tim DeChristopher.

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