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Archive for November of 2005
November 27, 2005
November 23, 2005
And So It Goes . . .
Four recent developments prompt comment. Each one on their own is disturbing. Yet they are part of a larger mosaic. The larger picture shows an unmistakable drift further to Empire and Authoritarianism.
The question, of course, is what comes next?
Overly dramatic? Consider each item separately first:
First, as noted by Laura Rosen, Firedoglake and a few other bloggers, the United States Government officially got away with eviscerating the 4th Ammendment of the Constitution in the name of “Terror” and “National Security.” Jose Padilla, American citizen and the alleged “dirty bomber” that Ashcroft denounced breathlessly live from a hastily called press conference in Moscow, has been incarcerated for 3 years without being charged or allowed to see a lawyer.
Now, the U.S. Government drops the “dirty bomber” allegation and claims Padilla wanted to be a jihadist. Here's a good summary
of the long standing jurisprudence that the Bush Administration trampled in an eyeblink.
Second, the U.S. Government isn't just doing this to Padilla. There is an entire array of Star Chamber-esque proceedings where outside the view of the judicial system, the Administration is effectively judge, jury and executioner. As the NYT noted
, the Administration finally charged Padilla for things unrelated to the alleged “dirty bomb threat” to foreclose a Supreme Court review. This way:
Indeed, citing the need to combat terrorism, the administration has argued, with varying degrees of success, that judges should have essentially no role in reviewing its decisions. The change in Mr. Padilla's status, just days before the government's legal papers were due in his appeal to the Supreme Court, suggested to many legal observers that the administration wanted to keep the court out of the case . . .
The government says a secret and unilateral decision-making process is necessary because of the nature of the evidence it deals with. Officials described the approach as a practical one that weighs a mix of often-sensitive factors.
Third, the Defense Department is proceeding to expand rapidly its domestic intelligence and spying program
. The Post discusses the Counterintelligence Field Activity at DoD and the request for more authority. Although the CIFA is just the tip of the ice berg. WaPo does note that there has been almost no effective congressional oversight of this kind of DoD domestic intelligence activity as a safeguard. What the DoD seeks to do is meld its domestic monitoring activities with the FBI's actions. (See earlier blog entry on FBI “National Security Letter” abuse on right side bar.)
And Fourth? None of the above seems to raise an eyebrow. Individually, each is extraordinarily troubling. Collectively, the danger signals point to a system drifting closer to uncontrolled authoritarianism free and unfettered from the Rule of Law. The Bush Administration itself is a transition phenomenon. What comes next is the crucial question.
Read more »
November 22, 2005
To help Acolytes of Freedom stave off the sleep from turkey, we happily announce two additions to the Bunker Library. They are listed on the left sidebar.
First, Leon Hadar's Sandstorm
. Leon builds upon his presicent earlier writings and reporting to make the case for a complete conceptual rethink of U.S. policy in the Middle East. One of his provactive and thoughtful solutions is for the U.S. to adopt a policy of constructive disengagement from the region.
A full book review for the Stiftung is planned.
Second, Jennifer Sims and Burton Gerber's new book, Transforming U.S. Intelligence
. Gerber is the well-regarded Moscow Station Chief and 39 year intelligence veteran. Sims is a former staff member of the SSCI and served in intelligence-related positons at the State Depertment.
The title is somewhat of a misnomer as the book seeks to adjust U.S. intelligence rather than transform it. And both Sims and Gerber support the DNI infrastructure. But, the book offers insights grounded in operational realities. These realities are a glaring contrast to the sound bites and talking points bandied about on CNNMSNBCFOX. Too bad so much of our public discourse has little room for “reality-based viewpoints”.
Finally, after the jump is Leon Hadar's latest piece written for “Business Times” (dated November 22, 2005), comparing the mistakes of Lord North dealing with the American Colonies with the American experience in Iraq. Check it out.
Read more »
November 22, 2005
David Neiwert has a rigorous analysis of Malkin's latest “book”, beginning with “The Unbearable Lightness of Malkin”
via Atrios, Malkin gets called to justify some of her ad hominem attacks during a radio interview.
And then goes ballistic about it on her blog, presumably part of the “Pajama Media”.
Laura Rozen's cover story on the end of the 9/11 presidency
is on newstands now.
RoxPopuli is prepping for the holidays but offers a banquet of interesting reading
. The Stiftung also wishes it could be as creative as Rox with some of the funniest pictures speaking volumes on current events. A must see.
Chaos Manor offers a thoughtful exchange with serving officers in Iraq on what comes next
. The money quote from Jerry:
You have given up on the Republic; yet you continue to argue that we should act like a republic, not a competent empire. Why?
David Brin offers a considered essay on themes important to the Stiftung, “The Urgency of the Lockean Revolution”.
UPDATE: 22.11.2005 6:50 PM
And Amy Goodman has a great transcript of her interview with James Bamford, author of “The Man Who Sold the Iraq War: John Rendon, Bush's General in the Propaganda War”
November 18, 2005
Few spectacles are more tawdry — or entertaining — than watching politicians like Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton and cranks like Jack Thompson posturing and preening over the alleged menace posed by videogames. Lieberman's original hearings on games in the 1990s now seem almost quaint, given their focus on “Night Trap”, one of the worst (and poorest selling) videogames of that era.
Today in 2005 and the twilignt of “moral clarity”, our political culture still rewards moral posturing. So when Clinton et al. condemn video games, no one should doubt that this is still smart politics. One can assume that Clinton has focus group tested this issue ad nauseum
before taking a stand.
Lieberman, Clinton and their critics are still in the spirit of the early 1990s. They remain woefully ingnorant about games. And they still give parents a complete pass regarding their children's video habits.
But America, even in an age of “moral clarity”, has moved on. Gaming is no longer a minority activity indulged in exclusively by socially maladjusted males. In fact, in 2005, more women then men play games online. By 2010, according to today's WaPo, the gaming industry will be a $42 billion industry.
This changing and expanding demographic may signal a time limit on how long politicians will benefit by show boating against video games and game players. MTV is already chasing gamers to avoid the bleeding away of their audience.
How soon before politicians court gamers?
Meanwhile, the hilariously much maligned Hollywood “subversive machine” is an equal partner here in fear mongering. According to Hollywood, all to often videogames and those that play them are portrayed as violent and socially maladjusted. Consider last nite's CSI: Miami
, which featured young criminals on a crime spree acting out a video game. The game was a thinly veiled reference to the landmark Grand Theft Auto games. The preview:
Here, young people rob a bank, try to rape a woman and kill a teller supposedly because they are acting out a video game. Are Hollywood/CBS bitter at losing viewership to videogames?
Read more »
November 17, 2005
The statement by John Murtha (D, PA) that U.S. troops should begin a wind down in Iraq shouldn't come as a surprise. Murtha is a former Marine and has a history of calling things as he sees them and saying what he means.
Far more interesting is the reaction he provoked.
The ideological “dead enders” in the Administration seeking to prop up the tatters of the Imperial Idea unleashed the predictable Mau Mau
against Murtha. Although the technique has lost its impact. The dog ain't hunting so good anymore in late 2005.
As Billmon noted in another context, there is a whiff of the end times of the Soviet regime in the air, say 1989-1991. The internal logic of the ideological regime requires, however, that the attacks increase in intensity and ferocity until the regime collapses. So get some popcorn.
UPDATE: 19.11.2005 9:00 AM
Here's an item from Reuters (hattip DailyKos) describing the upcoming RNC campaign-style political offensive
against the Democrats (and moderate Republicans) regarding the War.
More instructive is the confused reaction Murtha caused within the Democrat caucus on the Hill. Both Rahm Emmanuel and Nancy Pelosi evaded commenting on Murtha's statement yesterday, hiding behind verbose boilerplate. Murtha's stature within the defense community highlighted the Democrat's lack of any national leader with any qualifications remotely close on national security.
Murtha (and Chuck Hagel's earlier CFR speech) also reveal how much Colin Powell and the Democrats have in common. Both Powell and the Democrats lack the courage of their convictions. Both use tactical positioning and signalling in an effort to avoid the need for definitive stances. The paramount goal is to preserve personal viability and the right to declare when a success occurs they were always firmly on board. No doubt such tactical adjustments do keep possibilities open. But they are passive techniques, leaving both Powell and the Democrats ultimately at the mercy of agendas by others.
And Kerry, who had 20 ways to win in 2004, used such a passive strategy of “playing not to lose”, to find the one approach that cost him the election.
P.S. Note to Colin Powell — no one is buying the tired line of “too loyal a soldier to criticize” when you backstab relentlessly (safely) all across town. Or use Wilkerson as a cat's paw. Murtha and Hagel are combat vets who take stands and shrug off the White House Mau Mau
machine. Join them, why don't you? For a change.
UPDATE: 18.11.2005 3:50 PM
Here's the link to Murtha's complete statement
UPDATE: 18.11.2005 4:00 PM
HOTLINE confirms that House Republicans are planning on forcing a vote at 7:00 PM tonite on a 'Murtha Amendment'. The Republican plan is force the Democrat Caucus to make a decision: decide if they stand with Murtha or repudiate him. Sadly, this was predicted by the post above. The Republicans know their foes and Democrat inability to take stands based on a clear agenda. And, ala Powell, this leaves Democrats vulnerable to ideological smash mouth politics.
If Pelosi et al. had an ounce of political acumen, they would take this challenge and as a caucus stand with Murtha and slam the vote united. If.
Here's the text of the Republican resolution from HOTLINE:
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
Murtha's version of the Resolution (in the jump)
UPDATE: 19.11.2005 8:30 AM
The Democrats showed encouraging unity and political will last nite. Rebuffing the Potemkin vote arranged hy House leadership successfully is encouraging. They remain essentially reactive and passive. But a good first step. There is potential.
Read more »
November 15, 2005
But in the last several weeks we have seen a wild departure from that tradition. And the suggestion that's been made by some U. S. senators that the President of the United States or any member of this Administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.
Vice President Richard Cheney
History gives examples of when ideological regimes exhaust the possibilities of psychological mobilization or manipulation and are overwhelmed by empirical reality. Those regimes succumbed to a reality that can not be surmounted by Will, by Belief or in the lexicon of America circa 2005, Resolve. We are witnessing another example today.
And ideological regimes, whether of the Right or the Left, require acquiesence or obediance, if not buy in, by the respective populations of the animating Idea. Absent this, an ideological regime will crumble when confronted with contrary empirical challenges to its Idea. History also shows that an ideological regime in its twilight often explores the extremes, and in some cases “irrational”, formulations in a bid to recover the legitimacy - or fearful respect of - the animating Idea.
Which leads to Chuck Hagel's speech
this past week to the Council on Foreign Relations (full text on the jump). A non-ideological approach to the Middle East, Iraq and renewed diplomacy is possible. There are alternatives. It just requires one to endure the twilight lashing out by the ideologicals, and being branded by them a “November Criminal” simply because one will not affirm Belief in the Idea of Empire and Total Victory.
Read more »
November 12, 2005
Retired Navy Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, who served as the Director of the Office of Force Transformation (OFT) at OSD died Saturday Nov. 12 at age 63.
Readers of this blog should know that the Stiftung worked and talked with Cebrowski and OFT regarding transformation projects and matters while he was in his role as Director, OFT. Cebrowski was as smart as they say, blessed with a “high bandwidth” mind. He was the ideal candidate to develop the intellectual foundations for force transformation at OSD.
In a conversation before he stepped down, he did share his pleasure over successes as well as rueful acknowledgement of where the bureaucratic beast fought back successfully. As he always emphasized, transformation is an ongoing process, rather than a static end state. By 2005, I think he would concede rapid prototyping is not where he would have wanted it, and I am sure he would be following the pico satellites development closely.
The point of rapid prototyping was at least two-fold. First, by constantly releasing prototypes for experimentation in the field, it would spur doctrinal and organization innovations and experimentation by forces simply by their “playing around” with prototypes. Second, the rapid prototyping would help maintain a healthy and effective defense industrial base by keeping design and manufacturing capabilities active across several market incumbents/allow for new entrants.
OFT did not unfortunately achieve its goals in this area. And the related collapse of the spiral development process
helps explain why procurements are out of control — as evidenced by the new CVN-21 carrier doubling in cost to almost $14 billion.
Cebrowski nonetheless can legitimately take credit for a number of changes that are either in place or underway. OFT recently released case studies
that show where transformation has had an impact. But he would be the first to agree I suspect that the most important transformation was a change in mental outlook for fighting in a networked environment. Once that change occurred, the institutional, programmatic and training processes would follow.
He has had some success in mind share capture. And it may ultimately be question of demographics and inevitable changing of the guard, too.
Some tools for introducing “transformative” concepts are actually already in the hands of the future officer and enlisted cohorts - either in the service or sitting on a sofa. Consider this item from the UK Ministry of Defense (it is not
Called DIVE-2 (Dismounted Infantry Virtual Environment), it is based on the best-selling home computer game Half Life 2. British troops train with DIVE-2 before shipping out to Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defense is reporting success in improving unit skill sets with DIVE-2 training.
And on the other end, there is the mass market X-Box 360, with their Ghost Recon 3:
Ghost Recon is a playable demo of OFT concepts. And courtesy of the XBox, and particularly via XBox Live, the video game demographic gets schooled in transformation, netcentric warfare and jointness, without even realizing it.
The U.S. Army, like the UK MoD has serious videogame traning programs as well. Consider the Army's training game on the Future Combat System — Future FORCE: Company Commander.
This post is not an attempt to equate transformation with videogames or the like. But, the point is that Art Cebrowski had the heavy lifting of changing mindsets and then nudging along programmatic and resource reconfigurations to match. His successors can not only build on his work, but many of the basic concepts of netcentric warfare as a force multifplier and warfighting that he explicitly had to inculcate are now being absorbed as osmosis in the upcoming cohorts.
Regardless of how one views Rumsfeld's balancing of transformation with operations in Iraq, the Nation lost not only a first class mind, but a class act, too.
God speed, Admiral.
November 11, 2005
Posting may be slow over the weekend as we work on a long form essay which seeks to sketch out the fundamental aspects of 'Bushism' as a political phenomenon (and specifically why it is not -- and consciously so -- a fully articulated political philosophy).
UPDATE: 15.11.05 10:44 PM
Essay is coming along. Will be posted soon!
November 11, 2005
has a good wrap up of the black site issue as of today. As Laura notes, many long time career officials have noted that torture does not work, something that both sides realized even in the most brutal of all human conflicts on the Eastern Front.
Laura asks whether folks have noticed that the same people in and around the Administration are both advocates of a torture exemption for U.S. forces and also the spin-mongering during the Run Up. That question, and the reasons why those people are involved in both threads, goes to the heart of the MachtStat
dicussion here. It is one of the core raison d'etres
for this blog (it is okay to say that now, Condi and the French have kissed and made up).
November 09, 2005
November 08, 2005
(sometimes irony writes itself)
Herewith the original opening paragraph of the Presidential Proclamation on this Veterans' Day as drafted by the EOVP. It was changed before delivery today, after focus groups in Red States blamed President Bush for expected shortages of the new X Box 360:
To The Soldiers Of The Central Front
Of The War On Terror
November 11, 2005
"American People: While omitting warnings used to manipulate the Terror Alert System, the American homeland is not threatened, over one hundred thousand of our soldiers stand after almost three years of the heaviest battles against an enemy who is superior in willingness to die and use new lethal techniques. Victories such as the world has never yet seen were gained in 2003, thanks to the leadership and the heroism and valor of officers and men.
"Thus holds and fights now the greatest front of all time, from the polar regions to deepest Africa, from the Afghan snow fields to the mountains of the Balkans, so long until the hour of complete destruction nears for the most dangerous adversary.
"If now the American nation, at the occasion of the Veterans Day, desires to make a present to the American soldiers, then it should give up and do without all those things that exist in the warmest pieces of clothing, new iPods and latest X Box titles. All those things that can now be spared, and that later on in peacetime, will be obtainable any-how. Whatever the leadership of the army has provided and prepared in equipment, each soldier deserves much more. Here the homeland can help, but the soldier on the Central Front of the War on Terror shall thus realize that the unity of the people in our American Empire is no empty phrase.
"Now watch this drive . . ."
November 08, 2005
From the The Revealer
7 November 2005
12:05 PM: Last fall, when church-state watchdog groups warned politically-active churches that overt campaigning for one candidate or another might cost them their tax-exempt status, conservative talking heads such as Jay Sekulow cried persecution at the hands of "left-wing thugs" selectively targeting conservative churches. A year later, the issue has resurfaced, but not as Sekulow so flamboyantly predicted. Instead, now that the IRS has gotten around to its political investigations, a liberal Episcopal church in California is the target and at risk of losing its tax-exempt status, though interestingly, not for endorsing a candidate from the pulpit, but rather for a sermon opposing the Iraq war, as well as tax cuts, on religious grounds. The church, the All Saints Episcopal Church of Pasadena, strongly rejects the claims of the IRS, which were based on a New York Times report on the sermon, arguing, "'It seems ludicrous to suggest that a pastor cannot preach about the value of promoting peace simply because the nation happens to be at war during an election season.'" The IRS has offered to drop the investigation if the church admitted to "intervening in an election," but All Saints declined the offer.
The MachtStat in action . . .
November 07, 2005
Help Rox Populi plan her Thanksigiving Dinner menu!
Rox Populi has some of the funniest caption contests around. A great source of information and fun. We at the Stiftung visit Rox Populi every day -- you should, too.
Laura Rozen tracks the continued focus on the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group at OSD as the stovepipe channel to circumvent vettting by the wider IC. (Important! Remember that when you see Stephen Haynes from the Weekly Standard bloviating on TV on intelligence subjects, he was "Useful Idiot" No. 1 for the Feith leaks, etc.).
War and Piece
Steve Clemmons has excerpts from the Nelson Report
on the White House's latest thinking on torture, responding to congressional criticism and the denials of the Eastern European American GULAG allegations ( Главное Управление Исправительно Трудовых Лагерей и колоний
. They have not been turned into worker camps, yet. So they are more akin to Butryka Prison, perhaps.
Nelson Report excerpts
David Neiwert asks a question related to the Culture of Empire thread here:
Monday, November 07, 2005
Ask yourself which is the more important principle:
-- the right of American citizens to vote, or
-- preventing those who are ineligible to vote from doing so.
Now, think of this as a kind of Rohrschach test: The answer you give is neither right nor wrong. But it does tell us a great deal -- about your politics, about your priorities, and about what kind of American you are.
As they say, read the whole thing
November 06, 2005
The issue of "National Security Letters" (NSL) abuse highlights the abdication of congressional oversight of Executive branch national security activities. And it confirms what many suspected, that the Executive branch is uninterested in safeguards to protect American civil liberties from obliteration. Serious stuff.
But the NSLs are a symptom of a far darker and more ominous development.
Recent news accounts as discussed by Firedoglake here set forth the extent of the abuse of NSLs by the FBI and the dereliction of duty by both Congress and the Executive. (See the underlying 2005 decision by Judge Hall striking down the NSLs issued under the Patriot Act in Doe v. Gonzales). The matter is now pending before the Supreme Court.
Far more troubling, however, is the relative acceptance of this state of affairs in many quarters across government and even in American civil society at large. The willingness to accept that (or sullen resignation to) the United States is now a MachtState or SekuritatState is a remarkable testiment to political engineering to change consciousness.
And bodes ill for the Future. As long time visitors to Stiftung Leo Strauss may recall, we have long believed that 43 is himself a transitional figure.
Read more »
November 05, 2005
The Director of National Intelligence released "The National Intelligence Strategy of the United States of America"
in late October. It purports to establish the strategic objectives for the Intelligence Community. A copy of the 32 page document is at StiftungLeoStrauss Arkhiv here
According to the transmittal letter from the Office of the erstwhile new National Director of Intelligcen (OenNDI), This strategy is a statement of our fundamental values, highest priorities and orientation toward the future, but it is an action document as well. And therein lies the rub.
The OenNDI document is clearly an exhortational exercise ala Ballmer (Windows! Windows!) rather than an intellectually substantive effort to address our acute challenges. In the intelligence context, a conversation of strategy must begin with recognizing that all human contests, and especially intelligence activities, are mental and psychological. They can be won or managed successfully only by those who understand the mind-set of the counter-player (the "Other") while being absolutely certain also of who we are and what we stand for.
This "double-knowing" is a prerequisite for all intelligence activities, from the strategic to the operational to the tactical. And America has been poor at "double-knowing" in many respects since our creation. The failures of 9/11 and in Iraq are only the most recent manifestations.
We have historically relied on technology and resource management to overcome our deficiency at understanding the Other. Turner's moves and the purges at the DO in the late 1970s, and Wolsey's tech fixations are thus not really departures from the norm.
And it is not enough to expand incoming classes, jettison a paralytic reliance on official cover, and begin belated recognition that language skills are critical. How will those redeployed resources be used for double-knowing?
The OenNDI and its document do not even address intelligence strategy in this context. The document really (one will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it was intentional) deploys largely process and organizational concepts. The document would be familiar to George Steiner, a professor of management and one of the founders of The California Management Review. Steiner's work is considered seminal and his book, "Strategic Planning", was hugely influential in business academia such as Wharton, Stanford, etc. Students of Michael Porter's more recent efforts would also recognize the process and organization focus.
As such, the document would sit comfortably on the shelves of an airport bookstore along side other business reform paperback books. (The One Minute Manager's Guide to the Intelligence Community, anyone?)
And this perhaps highlights the genetic flaw at the heart of OenNDI itself. It began life through the prism of process. Although seen as the result of the 911 Commission, the OenNDI is the culmination of reform proposals calling for a NDI since at least the late 1970s. And the root of all these proposals is the belief that organizational change will give the American people the intelligence community that they and policy makers require. (Put aside for the moment whether policy makers will listen to unvarnished and inconvenient intelligence).
Read more »
November 05, 2005
RE: Acolytes Shaping The World
AEI PROMOTES CHALABI SCHWERPUNKT
AEI continues to set the Gold Standard for Acolytes deploying the vast array of AgitProp expertise developed by StiftungLeoStrauss. Those seeking to see first hand how fanatical Will and Belief can shape reality will witness our best work often on display at AEI.
Here below, noted Realist and Leader of Reality-Based Thinking, Steve Clemons of The Washington Note, alerts his readers our AEI Rehabilitation Campaign. Mr. Clemons obviously hates Freedom and continues to cling to detritus of the Old Thinking, citing facts and consequences of our asset Chalabi's activities.
Reality, facts and consequences? Or Unshakeable Will and dreams of Freedom Triumphant? This is the Struggle of Our Time. And dear Acolyte, we shall all wage War Eternal without mercy against the Reality-Based Community in the name of Peace.
----- Original Message (edited for space)-----
From: Steve Clemons
Subject: FYI/Alert from The Washington Note -- Outrage about AHMED CHALABI Speaking at AEI 9 November, 2:30 p.m.
Dear Friends & Colleagues:
I am sending this note to alert some of you that AHMED CHALABI is returning to Washington after a 2 ½ year hiatus to speak at the American Enterprise Institute. Though I believe that non-profit public affairs organizations should host very diverse voices on all sides of these debates the return of Chalabi to AEI deserves a critical look.
Chalabi has not been held accountable for his deceit of American government officials and the nation as a whole. In my view, AEI has a right to have him speak but civil society has an obligation to make his appearance one that holds this person accountable for the false, deceitful, and illegal things he has done.
I will be posting much more on Chalabi these next few days and I plan to be at the AEI event, constructively participating and asking questions.
Read more »
Padron our appearence. Organization KBR is implementing an urgent reconstruction program to harden the Bunker against Realist insurrectional activities. Realist wreckers are forcing Stiftung Leo Strauss to ensure overblast survival hardening through increased structural use of Wotan steel.
OrganizationKBR will complete these Deep Earth Penetrator improvements during the weekend of 5-6. November.05 while the Realists are distracted.
We will return to the offensive and crush the enemies of Freedom shortly. Apologies for the inconvenience.