I think back to when I first read one of his posts at Salon during the end of the Bush administration. He was railing against Bush at that time and I was certainly sympathetic to that sentiment. But as I read his pieces, I noticed that he exaggerated an awful lot and took leaps with his conclusions and that didn’t sit well with me. I was all for attacking Bush, but because I am a political junky and was pretty informed on things, I noticed the exaggerations and in some cases, blatant lies. I didn’t join in with others in praising his “journalism”.
It was many years later that I learned that Glenn Greenwald hadn’t always railed against President Bush. In fact, he supported Bush and the many horrible things he did in the wake of 9/11 including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as supporting Bush during the time when the Patriot Act was passed. In light of what he is saying now, it should speak volumes about his integrity. Glenn has written about those of us who point this out and his attempt to dismiss his support for Bush is pretty lame. Ben Cohen from The Daily Banter wrote about this, go read it and have a laugh at Greenwald’s expense. Ben gives Glenn way too much credit, in my opinion.
Like Ben, I’m happy that Glenn finally opened up his eyes and realized the error of his ways. A little context though, Glenn wasn’t exactly a young, naive lad when he “had not abandoned my trust in the Bush administration”, or “gave the administration the benefit of the doubt” or felt that President Bush was “entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to”. No, Glenn was 36 years old in 2003, when the bombs started falling on innocent people in Iraq, a war that I marched against.
So Glenn’s dishonesty and tendency to exaggerate and mislead his readers turned me off immediately. But that isn’t the main reason I write about Glenn Greenwald so frequently.
Glenn Greenwald is a bully. I hate bullies!
If you want to read more about his journalistic brutality, go read this post, or this one, or this one. Or just go to Google and search, there are many examples out there besides the ones I’ve written about.
How Can Greenwald Be So Wrong, So Much Of The Time
Glenn Greenwald loves hyperbole. Decades from now when scholars write about The Age Of Hyperbole that we are currently living in, Glenn Greenwald’s picture will surely be accompanying the journal articles.
“The objective of this is to enable the NSA to monitor EVERY SINGLE CONVERSATION AND EVERY SINGLE FORM OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR!”
“The National Security Agency is currently devoted to the objective of creating a worldwide surveillance net that allows it to monitor what all human beings are doing and how they’re behaving and interacting with one another.”
I know there are a lot of paranoid people in this world who love that kind of talk, it feeds their paranoia and makes them feel like they are not alone. Any thinking, reasonable person who isn’t consumed with hatred or paranoia can read those words and realize they are completely over the top and can not possibly be true.
How many NSA employees do you think it would take to “MONITOR every single conversation and every single form of human behavior”? You see, Glenn doesn’t just think that the NSA is gathering meta data on who is calling who, after getting a warrant from a the FISA court (as dysfunctional as it is) because of intelligence on a suspected terrorist. No, Glenn thinks that there are people monitoring “every single conversation and every single form of human behavior”.
Bob Cesca has been keeping track of Glenn’s NSA “journalism” better than anyone and has coined the term “the 24 hour rule”, which basically says we should wait for the other shoe to drop before believing what ole Glenn Greenwald says.
Last week, Glenn made several statements to Christine Amanpour in an interview. Here are two of his long-winded, never stopping for a breath, answers. (My transcription and emphasis)
Answer 1: Let’s just use our common sense when analyzing the claims of political officials when they say that. Ever since 9/11, British and American officials have screamed terrorism over and over and over every time they get caught doing bad things they shouldn’t do – from lying to the public about invading Iraq to setting up a worldwide torture regime to kidnapping people and taking them around the world to be tortured – they just want to put the population in fear by saying the terrorists will get you if you don’t submit to whatever authority it is that we want to do. And that is all they are doing here, it’s the same tactic they always use. Let’s just use common sense, every terrorist who is capable of tying their own shoes, has long known that the U.S. government and U.K. government is trying to monitor their communications in every way that they can. That isn’t new, we didn’t reveal anything new to the terrorists they didn’t already know. What we revealed is that the spying system is largely devoted not to terrorists but is directed at innocent people around the world. That is what was not previously known and that is why American and British officials are so angry because they wanted to hide what the true purpose of the spying system is from the people at whom it’s directed and that is the only thing that is new in what we reported.
Answer 2: Well first of all a lot of people like to ask why is there so much anti-American sentiment around the world all you have to do is listen to that tape of Mike Rogers to understand it. He basically is going around telling the world that they ought to be grateful that without their knowledge, we are stealing ALL THEIR COMMUNICATIONS data and invading their privacy (Amanpour nods in agreement) None of this has anything to do with terrorism. Is Angela Merkel a terrorist? Are sixty or seventy million Spanish or French citizens terrorists? Are there terrorists at Petrobras? This is clearly about political power and economic espionage, and the claim that this is all about terrorism is seen around the world as what it is, which is pure deceit.”
I’ll get to the latest “24 hour rule” moment in a bit, but first let’s take a look at his penchant for hyperbole.
As with most of Glenn Greenwald’s rants, it isn’t necessarily the broad, populist, quotable punch line that is the problem, but what he says leading up to it. Make no mistake, Glenn is probably a great trial lawyer, although I’m sure a good opposing lawyer would be screaming “I object” an awful lot.
What stood out to me in Glenn’s response to Christine was the tainting of the jury along the way. I laughed out loud when I heard him say “Let’s just use our common sense” as he started. See the above part about how many NSA people it would take to monitor “every single conversation and every single form of human behavior” as you listen to Glenn talk about common sense.
Glenn starts his twisted reasoning by appealing to common, shared perceptions to get people nodding…like Amanpour herself…by, among other things, saying that U.S. and British officials always “scream” terrorism when they get caught doing “bad things”. He lists some of these bad things, starting with “from lying to the public about invading Iraq”…whoa, whoa, whoa…Glenn was supporting that group that was lying at the time and I know he is oh so sorry about that, but he fell for the bullshit none-the-less. There were a lot of us who didn’t. It speaks to his judgement at the tender age of 36.
Greenwald then gets bold and says “to setting up a worldwide torture regime”, which is clearly directed at his paranoid, conspiratorial readers. Because it isn’t just a few places where our government and allies take prisoners to be held and questioned, and yes, sometimes tortured too…which of course, I don’t approve of, but to Glenn, it’s labeled a “worldwide torture regime”. Oh, that hyperbole must make him tingle.
A little bit further on in his rant, he uses a pretty slick tactic when he says that “Every terrorist…has long known that the U.S. government and U.K. government is trying to monitor their communications in every way that they can” and then claims that this is “nothing new”. Except, uh, Glenn…you told the terrorists “how” they are being monitored and that IS new.
Glenn then proceeds to his real thesis that the “spies” aren’t out to get terrorists, they are out to get innocent, little ole YOU! This thesis occurs frequently in his writings and is much more pronounced in his TV appearances, because he can’t go back and edit his words once they’ve flown out of his mouth and he can’t add “updates” to Christine Amanpour’s program like he is known for in his hyperbolic writing. This is what he said, “the spying system is largely devoted not to terrorists but is directed at innocent people around the world.” He really believes that the target of all this spying is innocent people. He has strayed from what most people probably think – that in the effort to get terrorists, innocent people are being “monitored” and having their rights trampled on. Glenn sees it as a fiendish plot to go after YOU, run hide, build a bunker, buy some guns…they are coming for you. A little later he claims that it is “because they wanted to hide what the true purpose of the spying system is”, once again, referring to “innocent” people, just like you.
In the final sentence of his interview, Greenwald says “This is clearly about political power and economic espionage…” in reference to the accusations of the NSA spying on Germany and France. Well the “24 hour rule” destroys Glenn’s hyperbolic proclamation. Turns out the intelligence agencies in each of those countries shared that information with the U.S. government and the cooperation was geared towards tracking down terrorists. From of all places, the Guardian…
The German, French and Spanish governments have reacted angrily to reports based on National Security Agency (NSA) files leaked by Snowden since June, revealing the interception of communications by tens of millions of their citizens each month. US intelligence officials have insisted the mass monitoring was carried out by the security agencies in the countries involved and shared with the US.
I’m sure all of that is appealing to the paranoid, conspiracists and the narcissists who think the whole damn world revolves around them and don’t have any problem thinking they are so damn important that the U.S. government is paying someone lots of money to monitor them and steal “ALL YOUR COMMUNICATIONS DATA”. Cue the Twilight Zone music!
Part of the problem with the current state of our politics and media is that it is loaded with narcissists, nihilists and conspiracy loons. Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Greenwald all know who their target audience is and Glenn has just sliced off a piece from the left flank of that crowd.
I wish more of the national media would listen more carefully to Glenn Greenwald or wait for the other shoe to drop before running with one of his stories, but I’m sure many of them just don’t want to deal with the other thing Glenn is good at…the bullying.
The Patriot Act was signed on October 26, 2001 and this is what Glenn Greenwald wrote in the preface to his own book – his words, not mine…(emphasis IS mine)
This is not to say that I was not angry about the attacks. I believed that Islamic extremism posed a serious threat to the country, and I wanted an aggressive response from our government. I was ready to stand behind President Bush and I wanted him to exact vengeance on the perpetrators and find ways to decrease the likelihood of future attacks. During the following two weeks, my confidence in the Bush administration grew as the president gave a series of serious, substantive, coherent, and eloquent speeches that struck the right balance between aggression and restraint. And I was fully supportive of both the president’s ultimatum to the Taliban and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan when our demands were not met. Well into 2002, the president’s approval ratings remained in the high 60 percent range, or even above 70 percent, and I was among those who strongly approved of his performance. [...]
During the lead-up to the invasion, I was concerned that the hell-bent focus on invading Iraq was being driven by agendas and strategic objectives that had nothing to do with terrorism or the 9/11 attacks. The overt rationale for the invasion was exceedingly weak, particularly given that it would lead to an open-ended, incalculably costly, and intensely risky preemptive war. Around the same time, it was revealed that an invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein had been high on the agenda of various senior administration officials long before September 11. Despite these doubts, concerns, and grounds for ambivalence, I had not abandoned my trust in the Bush administration. Between the president’s performance in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the swift removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the fact that I wanted the president to succeed, because my loyalty is to my country and he was the leader of my country, I still gave the administration the benefit of the doubt. I believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to, and to the extent that I was able to develop a definitive view, I accepted his judgment that American security really would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country.
While I was screaming at my TV and marching in the streets in protest of the Patriot Act, the Afghanistan War and later the Iraq War, Glenn Greenwald “was ready to stand behind President Bush” and wanted to “exact VENGEANCE on the perpetrators.” And he “believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgement deferred to”, which of course included the passage of The Patriot Act on October 26, 2001.
So yeah, Glenn Greenwald, why exactly should I listen to him now?
The long and detailed New York Times piece entitled “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will” is causing a lot of stir on the left and the right.
As I was reading it, I didn’t have a hard time imaging what the reaction from some on the left would be. The person that always comes to mind is Glenn Greenwald, whose sentences almost always include “a noun, a verb and drones”.
As a liberal, I have a lot of problems with our country’s use of force, whether it’s a Democratic or Republican administration. I do, however, trust Democrats much more than Republicans when it comes to executing our foreign policy. And yes, I wish that Democrats were less militaristic, and I let them know that whenever I get a chance. I fill out their surveys and I write letters to Democratic leaders telling them so. I also protest new military actions when it looks like we are heading towards a war. But I’m still going to vote for Democrats, because I really don’t want Teapublicans getting their hands on our vast, powerful military again. We’re still cleaning up the mess left by the last group of Republican bullies.
In my advancing years, I’ve come to realize that all presidents are tasked with the thankless job of protecting America from those who want to do us harm. It’s incredibly easy for us keyboard warriors to opine about what the government should do, but we aren’t reading those daily briefings and aren’t privy to the intelligence that career officers are gathering. Because of that, I no longer have a knee-jerk reaction to all the actions our government takes when it comes to military action.
Can You Keep A Secret?
The title of the piece in the New York Times points to the first issue I will discuss in this post, the idea that the “kill list” is “secret”. Of course it’s secret, it’s based on sensitive intelligence that any person who is intellectually honest, knows hasto remain secret. If a person is so mired in ideology that they don’t appreciate the role of keeping sensitive intelligence secret, well then the conversation
is pretty much over at that point. I’m amazed at how many people think our foreign policy and intelligence should be an open book, as if our enemies reading it is no big deal. Often, it seems like some people don’t think we have enemies or they appear to be siding with our enemies by defending them.
The “secret kill list” to which the NYT piece refers is the list of terrorists that our intelligence services have deemed large enough threats to our nation, that they should be captured or killed when found. When President Bush created his morbid deck of cards with terrorists on them, I became sick to my stomach upon hearing it. It is one thing to keep a list of people, (the FBI has its top ten list) but it is quite another thing to put them on “playing” cards, which in my mind trivializes their importance and turns the very serious business of national security into a fun game for the masses. People actually started collecting them as I recall. That’s fucking sick.
Whereas the media had fun with that deck of cards, they now want to get serious and call it a “secret kill list” and I imagine they hear scary music when they write about it. The word “secret” is meant to trigger a specific response in some readers.
The Buck Stops With President Obama
Unlike his predecessor, President Obama takes responsibility for his decisions. From the NYT article:
Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be. [...]
“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”
So whether you agree with President Obama’s position or not, the man deserves credit for standing up and taking responsibility for what our military does when targeting terrorists and the potential collateral damage that our strikes may cause. I’m glad that the person we elected is making the call instead of some career military person who hasn’t gone through the grueling process of winning the presidency, during which candidates are put under the microscope and damn near every move they have ever made is analyzed. Would you rather John “bomb, bomb Iran” McCain was making that call? I didn’t think so.
I know that the people suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS) will find little comfort in the above, but really, do they ever feel comfort? That group seems to be able to find the black cloud in every silver lining.
Ignoring Congress Is So Convenient When Slanting A Piece Of Journalism
You may notice when reading the NYT piece that the authors slip in some memes that many on the Professional Left have nurtured and embraced. From the title of the piece, to the many memes sprinkled throughout, the authors knew exactly what buttons to push.
They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. [...]
When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”
In one sentence, the authors imply that POTUS is responsible for Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) still being open, which is one of the flagship memes of the PL and it isn’t true. Go read my post on it if you missed that whole mess when it happened. They go on to imply that the President has no moral reservations about “lethal action”. It’s one of those sentences meant to be plucked out by the likes of Greenwald and Scahill. Nevermind that the authors also go into detail about how seriously President Obama takes this task much later in the piece, after the ODS sufferers heads have already exploded. Here is the nuance surrounding the “American cleric in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki. (emphasis mine)
The president “was very interested in obviously trying to understand how a guy like Awlaki developed,” said General Jones. The cleric’s fiery sermons had helped inspire a dozen plots, including the shootings at Fort Hood. Then he had gone “operational,” plotting with Mr. Abdulmutallab and coaching him to ignite his explosives only after the airliner was over the United States.
That record, and Mr. Awlaki’s calls for more attacks, presented Mr. Obama with an urgent question: Could he order the targeted killing of an American citizen, in a country with which the United States was not at war, in secret and without the benefit of a trial?
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step, asserting that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.
Mr. Obama gave his approval, and Mr. Awlaki was killed in September 2011, along with a fellow propagandist, Samir Khan, an American citizen who was not on the target list but was traveling with him.
If the president had qualms about this momentous step, aides said he did not share them. Mr. Obama focused instead on the weight of the evidence showing that the cleric had joined the enemy and was plotting more terrorist attacks.
“This is an easy one,” Mr. Daley recalled him saying, though the president warned that in future cases, the evidence might well not be so clear
As you can see, the details of Awlaki’s case paint a picture of someone who had gone “operational” and was doing more than just talking. When the President said “[T]his is an easy one,” according to Daley, and then went on to say that in future cases, the evidence might not be so clear, the President was showing that this case was special. Smartypants has an excellent post that delves further into the details about what Awlaki was up to and the direct threat he posed to American citizens.
Let the Awlaki case be a warning to Americans, if you renounce your citizenship, move to Yemen, go on Youtube and call for violence against Americans and plot terrorist attacks against the U.S. — you might get visited by a drone. We have freedoms in America, but the freedom to plot and encourage terrorism isn’t one of them, from what I’ve read. And wrapping yourself in the “Freedom of Speech” argument makes no sense, we already have limits to that freedom, yelling fire in a crowd is the one everyone always cites. Something makes me think that encouraging and plotting terrorist attacks against Americans might be one of those exceptions.
The authors later in the article return to the Guantanamo Bay issue by first brushing past the real reason it didn’t get closed, lock-step opposition from Republicans and way too many Democrats. They moved right to the blame Obama game.
But it was too late, and his defensive tone suggested that Mr. Obama knew it. Though President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican candidate, had supported closing the Guantánamo prison, Republicans in Congress had reversed course and discovered they could use the issue to portray Mr. Obama as soft on terrorism.
Admittedly, the first couple of years of President Obama’s term were a learning curve. He learned that Republicans would abandon bills they once supported, and in some cases even sponsored, in order to not give the new guy any wins. With both the former Republican president and the 2008 Republican candidate supporting closing Gitmo, President Obama naively assumed it would happen. The unprecedented opposition from Republicans turned all politics in Washington on its head. Many people who were working off conventional wisdom and the word of Senators and members of Congress got burned in the first couple years, it wasn’t just the President and his people.
Recently, it was revealed that Republicans devised a plan on the day President Obama was sworn in to thwart any progress in the next 4 years.
Democrats have rounded on revelations about a private dinner of House Republicans on inauguration day in 2009 in which they plotted a campaign of obstruction against newly installed president Barack Obama.
During a lengthy discussion, the senior GOP members worked out a plan to repeatedly block Obama over the coming four years to try to ensure he would not be re-elected.
Do you remember the dire straights that our economy was in at the time. This event alone is enough to run every Republican out of town in 2012.
Using Former Bushies When It’s Convenient For Furthering The Meme
This next passage is very revealing of the techniques used throughout the piece to appeal to the “both sides are the same” crowd. It details the concern that President Obama has for innocent people.
Just days after taking office, the president got word that the first strike under his administration had killed a number of innocent Pakistanis. “The president was very sharp on the thing, and said, ‘I want to know how this happened,’ “ a top White House adviser recounted.
In response to his concern, the C.I.A. downsized its munitions for more pinpoint strikes. In addition, the president tightened standards, aides say: If the agency did not have a “near certainty” that a strike would result in zero civilian deaths, Mr. Obama wanted to decide personally whether to go ahead.
The president’s directive reinforced the need for caution, counterterrorism officials said, but did not significantly change the program. In part, that is because “the protection of innocent life was always a critical consideration,” said Michael V. Hayden, the last C.I.A. director under President George W. Bush.
Do you see how that works? President Obama clearly wants to minimize and ideally eliminate innocent civilians being harmed by the pinpoint strikes and made major changes to accomplish that. Yet the authors very quickly pivot to a quote from a former Bush administration official, Gen. Michael Hayden (retired), who although better than his predecessor, was still working for a corrupt administration that led us into war on false pretenses. I actually do have some respect for Hayden for turning away from Cheney and his gang when he took over as Director of the CIA in 2006; my problem here is that the authors use Hayden’s quote to diminish the actions President Obama took to further minimize civilian casualties.
What The Hell, Let’s Throw In The “Caved” Meme Too
When they return to the Guantanamo Bay issue later in the piece, the authors push another meme of the Professional Left, the “OMG, he caved” meme. I’ll send you to my piece on Guantanamo Bay again, in case you didn’t click the first time. It shows the circumstances that the newly elected president faced from both the right and his own party in trying to close Gitmo.
No amount of waving his magic wand by President Obama was going to get these spineless politicians to let those scary terrorists be transferred to their states. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer was one of the people leading the charge against transferring Gitmo prisoners to his state along with many other Democrats. That put the Republicans in the drivers seat and created the odd coalition of former VP Cheney and Sen. Schumer. What’s wrong with that picture? Forget the fact that our maximum security prisons house some of the worst and most violent criminals the world has seen. These terrorists are, cue the scary music, “muslims”…dunt duh duh.
Here is one illustration of the “caved” meme that was sprinkled in the NYT piece.
When the administration floated a plan to transfer from Guantánamo to Northern Virginia two Uyghurs, members of a largely Muslim ethnic minority from China who are considered no threat to the United States, Virginia Republicans led by Representative Frank R. Wolf denounced the idea. The administration backed down.
That show of weakness doomed the effort to close Guantánamo, the same administration official said. “Lyndon Johnson would have steamrolled the guy,” he said. “That’s not what happened. It’s like a boxing match where a cut opens over a guy’s eye.”
The characterization of the Uyghur incident ignored a hell of a lot that transpired during that time. It wasn’t just a matter of ” Virginia Republicans led by Representative Frank R. Wolf ” who started jumping up and down about transferring those two prisoners. An assault began on the President and his attempt to dismantle Bush’s hideous practices. Once again, Republicans who once supported the release of the Uyghurs turned on the President, not wanting him to get any “win”.
The Uyghur’s high-profile champion in Congress, California Republican Dana Rohrabacher, wrote Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in June of 2008 requesting that the 17 Uyghur detainees be released from Guantanamo into parole into the US.
Rohrabacher also called on the US government to provide an apology and perhaps compensation for any abuse the detainees had endured.
The Uyghurs – and the Republicans’ principled position on the issue – fell victim to the conviction of top Republicans that it was of vital importance that the Obama administration suffer a conspicuous setback on an issue that the GOP still sees as political gold: terrorism.
In a recent newspaper column, Newt Gingrich, a key Republican strategist, burned the Republicans’ bridges to the Uyghur cause with an inflammatory and misleading attack on the 17 Uyghur detainees at Guantanamo.
It didn’t take me five minutes on Google to find the above reality of what happened with the case of the Uyghers; you would think a couple of New York Times writers would know how to use Google and find it themselves. But, of course, that wouldn’t fit with their “OMG, he caved” meme.
As my fellow blogger Rkref pointed out to me, Lyndon Johnson had a Senate with 68 Democrats and a huge wind at his back after the assassination of President Kennedy. The country pulled together and Johnson took advantage of it.
The idea that every time a president reaches a compromise or doesn’t succeed in achieving a goal is “caving” is just juvenile. Whenever I have an exchange with one the “cave dwellers” on Twitter, that immaturity is usually revealed pretty quickly. Context has no place in their minds, everything is black and white, for or against, with us or against us, he said, she said…pick your metaphor.
The Reality Of The Violent World We Live In
As I wrote at the beginning of this piece, I have a lot of problems with our government’s use of military force. I’ve always thought that violence begets violence. If you look at the long-standing conflicts in the world, many of them go back centuries and a revenge mentality gets passed from generation to generation. I’ve always tried to be a positive person and in my younger years — I’m 50 now — I was much more idealistic about what could be accomplished in our society. But over the years, I’ve witnessed a culture that keeps embracing and glorifying violence. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that doesn’t appear to be changing.
I can only imagine what it must be like for President Obama, or any president, to receive the daily and weekly briefings about threats to our nation. Having read both of President Obama’s books and watched and read almost all his speeches, debates and interviews, I am damn glad that he is the leader of our country. I know that he cares about people and wants all Americans to be safe and have opportunities to live happy, productive lives. He has done an amazing job of representing all Americans as president, much to the dismay of partisans on the left. As one of those people on the left, I accept it. And even though it sometimes means I don’t get exactly what I want, I’m happy that I have a president that is looking out for the safety of all Americans.
Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles
Official White House photos by Pete Souza
Anwar al-Awlaki photo by Muhammad ud-Deen, Wikimedia Commons
For the record, I didn’t support either the Afghanistan or Iraqi Wars and still don’t “support” any war. They are against what I believe in, peace, love and understanding. But I also live in reality and realize that once we’ve created a mess, we can’t just walk away without at least attempting to clean it up. At this point, I feel like I need to remind anyone on the right or left who was sleeping during the Bush Administration that President Bush started those two foolish ventures, NOT President Obama. It’s unfortunate that I have to remind people of that, but with so much revisionist history and subtle meme generation going on, I feel it’s necessary.
The head-in-the-sand critics on the left who seem to blame President Obama for everything, whether he was responsible or not (DADT), seem to think he should have just packed up all the troops on January 21, 2009 and brought them home, leaving much bigger messes for those two countries than when we invaded their world. The callousness of that thinking is astounding, really. How can these people really justify abandoning these countries that we ripped apart. Regardless of whether you were for ripping them apart or not, we couldn’t just leave them in the rubble. Part of me wishes that he had done just that, but the responsible part of me knows that we can’t just bomb the shit out of a country and then high tail it out of town. My preference, of course, was that we never go in to begin with.
I’ll post, once again, the speech by President Obama where he said what he was going to do as a candidate. It is for those on the left who have convinced themselves that he broke some promise when he ramped up the actions in Afghanistan. Isn’t it great that we have Youtube and Google so we can remember what he actually said, instead of the revisionist history so many use to their benefit.
The reason President Obama shows his strength and leadership with this decision is because unlike the Republicans who see any sort of winding down of a war as “losing”, this President has the confidence and maturity to know that “winning or losing” a war isn’t cut and dry. Especially when the enemy is some amorphous “ism” that can’t be identified at all. It is a concept, not an enemy, so it allows the Republicans who love to feed the military industrial complex with new wars, a way of having perpetual wars. Already this morning, I saw Sen. Cornyn on MSNBC wetting himself because we are actually doing what Republicans can’t seem to do, get the hell out of a war zone. He also spewed the nonsense that I’m sure the media will take and run with, that the President doesn’t have a plan. Give me a freakin break, the military loves them some plans, they draw up plans for imaginary wars, do they really think that we don’t have a plan? It’s a freaking propaganda game he is playing, he’s probably seen the plan himself.
So once again, our very qualified, measured, intelligent president has stepped up to the plate and made the tough decisions that a President of all the people has to make. He didn’t start those wars, but he sure as hell is going to end them in a responsible way. Bravo Mr. President for being the strong leader that you are and dealing with a mess that was handed to you.
Like many people with consciences, I have mixed feelings about cheering the death of an individual, it just doesn’t feel right in many ways. But when I look back on that day in 2001 when I was out painting the trim on my garage and my wife came out and said, “you better come in here” and I did. We had some contractors at the house too and invited them in to watch what was happening. I still remember talking to my wife as I was watching the television and seeing the first tower start to collapse, we all let out an audible gasp. I remember thinking, oh my god, how many people were still in that building. It was horrifying, a memory that will never fade.
I think about walking around in a daze for the next couple of weeks, how the campus I work at was somber, everyone walked around stunned. We had a vigil at the clock tower on that day and classes were optional for the next two days. Counseling was available to students, faculty and staff. I think about how I was glad my mother wasn’t alive to see this, she had passed just a year before. It would have been devastating to her, as someone who served her country in World War II and worked at the Pentagon, where one of the attacks occurred.
So as I think back to those days, I have a larger context for what is happening with the celebrations. As a country, we were all attacked on 9/11 and even though I have never been a person who thinks revenge is justice, I can’t help but feel closure as an American. I can’t help but feel joy for those families who watched the same live coverage that I did, knowing that a family member may very well be in those buildings. I can’t help but be relieved that this man will never order another attack, will never kill an innocent person, will no longer be able to put out a video tape our audio tape gloating about his killing of innocent people.
Remember this, jump to 1:20 for the meat of it.
Whenever I go over to Salon and read Glenn Greenwald, it seems like what jumps out at me is his naiveté about so many things. He is a very good writer in some ways, but if you really look at his words critically, it is quite amazing how shallow his arguments are. He uses innuendo, hyperbole and you might notice, has to update his posts several times to correct himself, or to defend his flimsy arguments or simply to berate critics of his shallowness. I went over this morning and found a post that I won’t link to, about Wikileaks and the big dump they did of working documents from the Bush administration. We all remember that, right. What sticks out to me as naive is the idea that Pentagon is in the propaganda business….NO SHIT GREENWALD. Did you just fall off the turnip wagon and it backed up over your head?
When all those 70,000 documents were released by Wikileaks, most every expert on these matters said it wasn’t anything new. The information within the documents were well known by anyone who was paying attention during those years. The difference was that within those documents were all sorts of details that really didn’t serve any purpose except to confirm what we already knew, but according to the defense department also contained details that could hurt current operations in the middle east. Whether it is true or not, who knows, but the idea that the Pentagon would want their working documents kept under wraps isn’t exactly some massive conspiracy.
Greenwald is also very good at convoluting things into one big pile of hyperbole. In the post I’m writing about now, he makes no distinction between actions during the Bush years and those since President Obama took office and more importantly, since President Obama changed the mission in Afghanistan. The only acceptable solution in Greenwald and Hamsher’s minds regarding Afghanistan would have been to do exactly what they wanted, black and white, no greys buddy. They frequently try to say that the President went back on his word about Afghanistan, which only proves they didn’t hear a word he said during the campaign or they are just flat out lying. They were the ones with their hands covering their ears going “nah, nah, nah, nah”. President Obama was quite clear during the campaign about his intentions to go back into Afghanistan and try to clean up the mess that Bush left behind when they shifted to the stupid war in Iraq. Greenwald sets up his list of propaganda with this “and now we find a quite vivid illustration of this deceitful process in the context of WikiLeaks’ release of Afghanistan war documents:” and proceeds to list several blurbs including these, the bold text is his…
Top military official: WikiLeaks founder may have ‘blood’ on his hands
The top U.S. military officer said Thursday that Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was risking lives to make a political point by publishing thousands of military reports from Afghanistan.
“Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a news conference at the Pentagon. . . .
In equally stern comments and at the same session, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the massive leak will have significant impact on troops and allies, giving away techniques and procedures.
“The battlefield consequences of the release of these documents are potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies and Afghan partners, and may well damage our relationships and reputation in that key part of the world,” Gates said. “Intelligence sources and methods, as well as military tactics, techniques and procedures will become known to our adversaries.”
Now I guess in Glenn Greenwald’s angry mind, none of that could possibly be true. It is all propaganda I guess, pure lies…all of them. If it is propaganda, it is weak propaganda. Example, they “might already have blood…”. If it were good propaganda, would he have used the word “might” or maybe something a little stronger? Or how about “potentially severe and dangerous for our troops”, those are fighting words, huh..”potentially”. He then goes on to post several other examples of this horrible propaganda campaign.
LEVIN: Not yet. I think that’s being assessed right now as to how many sources of information that gave us information that was useful to us are now in jeopardy. That — that determination and damage assessment is being made right now by the Pentagon.But there quite clearly was damage.
Again, Carl Levin was pushing that strong propaganda when he said the damage assessment is being made right now, those are some tough words. Greenwald bolds the last sentence that says “But there quite clearly was damage”. If Greenwald thinks that releasing 70,000 plus internal, working documents of our military somehow didn’t cause any damage, he really needs a reality check. I really wonder if Glenn thinks we should run the Pentagon completely transparent. Similar to his arguments about a lot of things, he never says how it should be done, just criticizes everything with no solutions to propose.
Now when the Wikileaks release first happened, the White House made it clear that they were all from a time prior to the change of strategy in Afghanistan and that most of the information was already known. But of course Greenwald and Hamsher did their best to try to muddy the waters and put the blame on Obama, he isn’t Hillary, you know. That process continues with Greenwald’s latest post. Instead of criticizing the Bush administration for what is actually in the documents, he wants to paint the Obama defense department as the culprit. If he did actually dive into the documents, he wouldn’t be able to take aim at President Obama, his real target. I am a dove as much as anyone when it comes to wars, I don’t want any of them, ever. Just a reminder to Glenn, President Obama didn’t start either one of those wars, he was handed them on a silver platter. Thanks for nothin, Bushie Boy. The tactic of Greenwald to lay blame for everything that has happened in the last 10 years at the feet of President Obama is motivated by his hatred, pure and simple. Glenn and Jane may have a loyal following of haters that they feed red meat to on a daily basis, but the general population doesn’t know who the fuck either of them are….Glenn who, Jane who?
This is a critique of a column in the right-wing Huffington Post by Dan Froomkin and could qualify for “Misleading Headline of the Day” (located on the bottom right of your browser window). But it entails too much ‘splaining, so I’ve bumped it up to a post. David Patraeus is making the rounds to the media to give an update on the Afghanistan War and of course it has brought out the obvious criticism that can be made of any war, it sucks. But in reading Froomkin’s piece, I was amazed at how flimsy the support was for his bold statements. He even refers to his own reporting as if it were now chiseled in stone and a known fact. His column appeared even before Patraeus made his appearance on Meet the Press this weekend. Froomkin starts out with these bold pronouncements…
As Gen. David Petraeus kicks off an extended media blitz intended to make Americans feel better about the war in Afghanistan — or at least give him some more time to fight it — he faces a foe more implacable than al Qaeda, or even the Taliban: Reality.
That reality, increasingly obvious to national security experts and the general public alike, is that no amount of good intentions or firepower is going to advance our fundamental interests in Afghanistan — and that as much as Petraeus might be able to achieve in the next six months, or a year, little to none of it is sustainable and most of it is, even worse, counterproductive.
I have to wonder how he defines “fundamental interests” and whether our military really is relying on the snarky “good intentions” and “firepower”. Our fundamental interests as defined by the Obama defense department is to stabilize the country, diminish Al Qaeda and get the hell out, in a nutshell. By all accounts, the increased drone attacks have been working to weaken Al Qaeda and in watching Rachel Maddow and Richard Engel’s reports from Afghanistan, the goal of stabilizing the country is proceeding on pace, with a hell of a lot to go. By setting up a false target of “good intentions and firepower”, he makes it easy on himself to shoot them down. Go read President Obama’s speech, which is here, and then comeback and tell me that the plan is “good intentions and firepower”. Is Froomkin a Republicans now or is he just taking a page from their playbook?
Froomkin also makes the bold prophetic statement that “none of it is sustainable and most of it is, even counterproductive.” Now you would think that as a writer, if you make that kind of bold prophetic statement you better be able to back it up. How does he back it up? He tells us how “Patraeus can’t say with any confidence that this ‘progress’ can be sustained.” So, because Patraeus can’t see the future, like apparently Dan Froomkin can, it becomes “little to none of it is sustainable”. That is one huge freaking leap from lacking confidence — to little to none can be sustained.
Rachel Maddow has some great reporting about how the mission really has changed and in many parts of Afghanistan, these changes are taking hold.
Of course our obsessive, negative, ratings-whore media have been focusing on the areas that are taking longer and give the impression of doom and gloom. The anti-war people, who I love and support, are doing what everyone seems to do, spinning things to their benefit. I saw General Patraeus on Meet the Press yesterday and as usual, I was very impressed with him. He didn’t say anything different than what the administration has said since the new strategy was formed. I just went back and read the President’s speech when he announced the new strategy and contrary to the spinners, it was a well reasoned, flexible plan that weighed all the potential pitfalls ahead and ways to respond to them. Some on the anti-war left and right are trying hard to rewrite history and to be honest, pronounced the strategy dead before it even began. They all seem to focus on this deadline for “beginning” to bring the troops home next summer. Their small-brain obsessiveness on this one point completely distracts them from weighing anything else. When I heard the strategy explained, I heard them say that they intended to begin withdrawing troops by July of 2011 but would re-access as things progressed. Everyone seems to want to make it a date-certain and are using that as the only benchmark in determining whether the new strategy is working or not. Watch the Rachel clip and others, she and Richard Engel did some amazing work and I trust that they are being truthful.
Here is where Froomkin cites himself as the source for – himself. He is of course obsessing over that date or “deadline” and mixing and matching “significant troop withdrawal” with the Administrations date to begin withdrawing troops. When the new strategy was announced, it was clear that the July 2011 date was for beginning troop withdrawal, no one said “significant” troop withdrawal, that’s just another straw dog that Froomkin sets up so he can shoot it down. Check this out…
Petraeus is said the be starting to hedge on President Obama’s promised deadline of July 2011 for withdrawing American troops.
That’s hardly surprising. As I reported two weeks ago, the timeline for an American troop withdrawal has steadily been growing longer for some time, with Obama’s deadline looking more and more hollow, and the real timeline for significant troop withdrawal — barring a change in course — now extending at least to 2014, if not far beyond.
If you click on that link where he sources himself and read it, you will see a paragraph that reads like this.
“All of these benchmarks are designed to pacify onlookers on the Hill, help to justify our presence in the country, and set unrealistic goals that everyone knows are not going to be met,” said retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, a respected military strategist and author. “You’re never going to achieve them. None of this is aimed at extricating American power and forces from anywhere.”
So I thought to myself, respected military strategist, let me investigate. This “respected” military strategist was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq. In fact, he consulted with ole’ Donald Rumsfeld in 2002 about an invasion of Iraq. Uh, he doesn’t have my respect, but apparently Dan Froomkin has a lot of respect for him…at least when it is convenient to bash President Obama.
In observing the reactions from mostly the Obama haters on the left, I see all sorts of playing loose with the facts, stretching things, exaggerating things, setting up false equivalencies and using Republican sources when it’s convenient for them…they sure can channel Republicans when they want to.