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Archive for December of 2005
December 31, 2005
December 30, 2005
Happy New Year! We offer this. From Fusebox Galleries in the Imperial City
. (Recommended). As a means of cleansing the palate and renewal.
Because 2006 is likely going to be a bitch. The year Reality starts the trek home to roost. And it won't be pretty.
David Ignatius in WaPo can be surprising. Sometimes he serves up (inadvertantly?) some interesting observations. It's 30-70 with him we find. A good one is here
He notes that in 2005 the Administration's incompetence resulted in further de-legitimization of institutions. And loss of faith in their capacity to have positive impact.
The United States was a prime example of this global failure of governance. If we had a parliamentary system, George Bush's government might well have fallen in 2005. The administration struggled to cope with rising dissent on Iraq, on its response to Hurricane Katrina, even on its signature issue of the war on terrorism. Republicans in Congress, sensing Bush's unpopularity, began running for cover.
Unfortunately, Ignatius stops there. Perhaps he quails at the inexorable next steps of his diagnosis. So, Dear Reader, we carry it forward for you. What are the implications for the United States? Given the Administration's mobilization of the basest forms of emotion - fear, prejudice and hatred - in its politics? Delegitimation and the gasoline of mass anger and prejudice unleashed since 2001. Potentially explosive.
Post-Bush America's form is still up for grabs. One path a Post-Bush could take can be glimpsed here in this item from the Financial Times.
Anger and delegitimation combined.
Mr Kvachkov [a former KGB apparatchik and now member of the Duma], who called the attack on Mr Chubais the “first act of armed force in a national liberation war”, belongs to a militant nationalistic movement, backed by several political parties. After the attack on Mr Chubais, members of a similar radical party were charged with an explosion on a train from Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, to Moscow.
Not possible here? Not yet. But the Administration has created the space for this possibility. The mass — and base — emotions mobilized by the Administration's perpetual war of wedge politics will not go quietly into the night on their own. This is the supreme challenge for those who work, dream and fight for Regime Change here at home.
How to usher out this irresponsible and cancerous Presidency? To ensure its rejection and defeat are undeniable to the world. But also to preclude 'stab in the back' memes from widespread acceptance — to send the Administration to the ash heap of history *and* retire the politics of Irrational Belief and Emotion.
Because if Bush is not defeated, but merely replaced, (by either Party), he will have fullfilled his ultimate destiny as a transitional figure. The precursor. Let's deny him that legacy.
P.S. Pat Buchanan's brown shirt instincts come to fore yet again. On MSNBC this morning, he comments on and seemingly celebrates the process of delegitimation. Because he knows that this only helps his cause. And makes space available for his toxic authoritarianism.
As an aside, here's the WaPo item on DeLay and Abramoff's milking of foriegn (in this case Russian) money. As you know, the WaPo is not the Stiftung's favorite paper. But this is good, hard work. Check it out.
December 29, 2005
'Intelligent Design' and the Administration's Mainstreaming
of Radical Thought
How Creation of Doubt is the Wedge to Overthrow Reason
Celebrating Festivus in a bunker is always problematic. Although HDTV satellite helps. A bit.
So the Stiftung spent part of the holiday season reading all 139 pages of the Kitzmiller
federal district court decision. The Kitzmiller court recently rejected
the Dover County School Board's efforts to install 'Creationism' (remarketed as 'Intelligent Design') into school science classrooms.
What else does Kitzmiller
say about other trends in America 2001-2005? Is there any broader applicability?
Undoubtedly. The decision is a road map for how fringe ideologies seek to worm their way into mainstream discourse, hijack the meaning of words, and subvert institutions. As such, the decision is about more than 'Creationism'/'Intelligent Design'. It explains in a microcosm much that has occurred in America from 2001-2005.
The decision is rightly praised as well-written. Its constant reliance on the ample factual record makes it virtually appeal proof. This is no activist judge. The court lays bare in gory detail the complicity, duplicity and outright perjury by the School Board's militantly religious members. The facts linking the Board, the Thomas More Legal Center and the Discovery Institute in a broad and disingenous, covert religious agenda are clear.
But more is at play.
The court spent considerable time explaining “how” 'Intelligent Design' (ID) sought to undermine the meaning of the word 'science'. How the Discovery Institute seeks to turn words understood by the lay public to mean one thing upside down. And that attack, that methodology is not limited to ID. It is the same methodology all around us since the Administration claimed “9/11 changed everything”.
Negative Implication And Fringe Ideologies
The Discovery Institute's long planned attack on “science” uses the same techniques that the Administration and its water carriers employ on their attacks on skeptical “mainstream” media and “mainstream” government institutions. At core is the technique of 'negative implication'.
How negative implication works is laid out in detail throughout the Kitzmiller
decision. The record reveals how 'Creationism'/'ID' was designed to attack evolution. How it was planned to insinuate itself into the mainstream. The same technique is used daily by the Administration.
A 'negative implication' attack has three stages. At the initial stage, ID proponents seek to identify (or as the Court found, fabricate) gaps in the factual scientific record or evolutionary theory itself. Second, from these gaps, ID propnents create doubt by asking questions and placing the onus of refutation on others. Third, and finally, from those questions, proponents bootstrap ID as therefore an equally plausible explanation.
The goal is relativism. As any fringe ideological movement throughout history has found, it wins when the 'negative implication' trick escapes notice. Then the fringe ideology can be placed on an equivalent footing with the belief system it seeks to overthrow and destroy. (And yes, Dear Reader, ID proponents want to overthrow evolution, science and reason).
Read more »
December 27, 2005
Kos links to an item by Sandy Levinson over at Balkanization
Levinson expresses the belief that Alito was nominated because:
The answer, I suggest, is the belief by insiders in the Bush Administration that he would be better on the one issue they REALLY care about, which is the aggrandizement of Executive power. The events of the past two weeks, following the disclosures about literally unwarranted wiretapping and data-mining by the National Security Agency, bring into sharp focus the intent by the Administration, led by Dick Cheney, to assert almost unlimited executive powers linked to the “Commander-in-Chief” Clause of Article II of the Constitution.
Levinson sees the basic contours of the challenge. But using the narrow, technical prism of legal analysis limits understanding. The so-called 'internal' reasoning of law and the legal Academy is distinct from the 'external' or systemic prism of political science or philosophy.
The 'internal' view misses the dimensions of the challenge because such an internal legal analysis can not encompass ideological agendas that transcend legal norms. And the Stiftung believes this Administration the most radical and ideological in American political experience.
Alito and Carl Schmitt
Carl Schmitt, the NSA issue and Alito are linked. Beyond aggressive assertions of Article II power, what is the underlying philosophy and limits of Executive power? To what extent can the hearings on January 7th explore whether, where and how Alito has elements of Schmittean thought in his legal decisions, memos and philosophy?
Readers of this blog know our thesis: fundamentally, the Cheney/Addington radical views of Executive Power are part of the Administration's roll back of the liberal democratic experiment - the Counter Enlightenment 2001-08.
Alito, as Levinson notes, is merely a tool in that overall drive. But for more than Levinson suspects.
The Administraiton's radical nature remained cloaked for some time. And observers tended to notice only the elements that were exposed — such as the neocon embrace of the Iraq War. The EOVP's obsession with torture exposed more dimensions. But the overall tapesty has not been united into a full narrative of what is underway.
And the Administration has been good at using traditional American lexicon and discourse to describe their objectives. After all, asserting Executive Power — even in extreme form — is a familiar political meme to Americans.
What is not
familiar are the goal and purpose of such assertions. Steve Chapman's recent bewilderment as a conservative pundit is revealing. He asked (cited in earlier post), “What is the reason for this extreme assertion of Executive Power?” Dear Reader, we submit the answer is Carl Schmitt.
Ira Straus in his comments below on the Schmitt post makes valid qualifiers. Not everyone caught up in this debate is a Schmittean — directly or indirectly. An inquiry into the applicability of Carl Schmitt to the current American context will help draw bright lines and force the issue into the open. Exposing these questions and ideas to open discourse, we can set some clear parameters. A Schmittean agenda in the U.S., to be successful, must still be furtive. The majority of the American people are still largely not radicalized.
Exploring these issues with Alito beginning Janaury 7th would be a good place to start taking a stand.
Tags: Counter Enlightenment
, Carl Schmitt
December 25, 2005
A short break from musings over L'Affaire NSA
The NSA issue awaits new facts. The media is in recycle mode. A grim thing. Not Natalie-Holloway-All-The-Time grim. But still. (New statistics re FISA Court modifications to applications since 2002, while somewhat encouraging to the Stiftung, do not alter the 99% approval rate).
MSNBCNNFOX recipe: (1) start with Red Bull-infused partisans (on both sides); (2) sprinkle over hastily mixed Talking Points from “Bar Bri” cut and pastes of ConLaw I (Youngstown
or Curtis Wright
out of context); (3) pour in intelligence speculation from an “expert” who lacks knowledge like the audience; (4) for extra flavor, add 3/4 tea-spoon of a bad Will Smith movie.
Voila! 'Must See' Cable TV. Appointment sound byte.
Aesthetics, Power and the Technological Future
Dear reader, instead, let us travel a bit. And discuss a recent item from The Economist
, Japan's Robots: Better Than People.
Or as this writer put it, 'Why is Asia so digital, and the West, including the U.S. so analog?'
Both pieces ask why the Japanese (and Asia overall) embrace technology and robotics much more enthusiastically than the West and the U.S. in particular. (See “Inside the Robot Kingdom”
for one summary explanation). Why do Aibos, Sony's robot dog, above, join Japanese families as emotional additions, while those few sold in the U.S. serve mostly as technical hacking exercises? (Que link to hacking the staple of late nite tv, the 'Roomba'
Is this related to recent criticisms by the father of American robotics that Japanese efforts at domestication are 'frivilous'?
At the recent International Robot show in Tokyo [summer 2005], Joe Engelberger, the “Father of Robotics” and creator of the first robotics company, dissed the state of Japanese robotics as just do-nothing toys and dolls. He says their robots are pointless, expensive and unnecessary for Japan. Mr Engelberger believes the reason for the sad state of robotics in Japan is because their companies are immersed in needless research and derides them for making humanoid toy-like robots. Mr. Engelberger is now over 80 years old and is unsatisfied with the slow technical growth of Japanese robot companies and pleas for the robotics companies to “hurry up!”
What does Englberger's critique tell us? Why is graphic here the symbolic representation of the coming wealth, power and cultural shift from the West and North American to the Pacific Rim?
The Krikke article cited at the outset of this post asserts the theory that Japanese and Chinese culture are inherently binary, and thus predisposed to digital thinking and technology.
The story of Leibniz and his encounter with China illustrates that the digital revolution is not confined to information technology and digital media. It has technological, philosophical and cultural implications. Reconciling opposites, in the broad sense of the word, seems to be a theme of our time . . . The binary nature of East Asia's cultural traditions helps explain Japan's emergence as a trendsetter in the digital age. Its artistic traditions have proven a perfect match with digital technology. Up to the 70s, Japan's industry largely followed Western trends, but in the 80s, when the digital revolution gathered steam, Japanese aesthetics flowered. Japan's designers, graphic artists and architects, inspired by their own artistic traditions, have set global trends. Its industrial designers have taken the “machine” out of the machine. Japan has lost some of its luster in the past 10 years, but the country is gearing up for the next phase of the digital revolution — robotics.
Thus, to that point of view, Engleberger's critiques are a reflection of the Greek aesthetic of analogy in art (and philosophy) still dominant in the West thousands of years later. The functional robotic is a symptom of an inherent bias to the analog in Western culture. Compared to the Asian binary aesthetic/cultural one.
It is a novel theory. The Greek analogy ethos might be able to explain some difference in design and cultural attitudes. But what about differences in broader cultural and commercial embraces?
Read more »
December 23, 2005
Did the Germans really lose the war?*
One striking characteristic of the Bush Administration is how much it is a blend — wittingly in some cases — of German authoritarian political philosophies hostile to the democratic experiment. And instrumental in destroying the Weimar Republic and justifying What Came After.
An earlier post discusses the Administration's composite mix of several authoritarian strands. Some strands may be arguably characterized as American nativist. Others such as the neocon permutations, less so. Each authoritarian strand may have a different tactical political agenda, such as Christian Reconstruction. All, however, share a contempt for liberal democracy, rationality, empiricism, humanism and the Enlightenment.
It is in this sense — its rejection of empiricism and rationality and the embrace of the irrational — that makes the Administration the foremost political expression of post modernism since 1945. Left critique and its Rightist pre-1933 origins openly commingled.
Beyond Strauss: Carl Schmitt and the Administration
The Straussian element or strand in the Administration's intellectual heritage is widely noted and now morphed into a punchline. Nicholas Xenos described
almost 3 years ago how the Straussian lexicon of “regime change”, “tyranny” and so on is inherently Straussian. As is the Straussian covert authoritarian embrace of the “Noble Lie.” Straussian proponents still hide in open sight. Some still serve in the Administration or appear regularly in the media. Straussian is actually now a part of the political landscape.
Another authoritarian strand related to Strauss may be more important to our current crisis. (Note: This is riffing off an exchange on Michael Berube's site “On Production of Further Wingnuts”
in which I and others teased out some of these thoughts. I carry it further here).
And if Chicago syndicated columnist Steve Chapman is puzzled
why the Administration seems determined to accrue more power, Steve, read on.
The German legal and political theorist Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) likely eclipses Strauss as the most pernicious influence on the Administration - even if indirect. (And its apologists in Congress, the media and the blogosphere such as Pajama Media, et al.).
Schmitt was a determined enemy of liberal democracy. He would smile at the irony seeing those who parrot his memes today (whether knowingly or not, scienter
is not the issue). Schmitt is most famous for (a) his extreme hatred of America (a synonym for 'Jewish international capital', 'modernism' and the 'Enlightenment') and (b) his avid endorsement of the authoritarian overthrow of democracy culminating in 1933. Yet it is pure Schmitt that leaps out today in discourse from the Administration, particularly regarding the role of “emergency power” after “9/11 changed everything” and the “Executive”.
Schmitt, like the authoritarian strands in the Administration, was definitely “Movement”. The authoritarian strands which captured the Republican Party today call themselves “Movement” and have since the 1970s. The Republican “Movements” (and there are more than one strand) share the same basic outlook and view of their relationship to society as defined by Schmitt when he made the first effort to describe what exactly was “Movement” in the early 1930s. Giorgio Agamben has noted that under Schmitt's formulation (and applicable today)
, “The concept of movement presupposes the eclipse of the notion of people as constitutive political body.” The Movement intermediates for the politically inert “people” who are protected by the State.
Schmitt's Emergency Rule The New Normal
- “9/11 as the New Normal”
A major element of Schmitt’s political theory overtly prevalent in Administration discourse since 2001 was his concept of 'exception' (Ausnahmezustand
). Schmitt and those who talk of post-9/11 as “the new normal” are in sync. With the same potential for political outcomes.
Read more »
December 21, 2005
“Isn't he the coolest Emperor ever ?!”
Imperial City conventional wisdom doesn't get it. Look at Marshall Whitman.
He continues to believe that the NSA surveillance issue will backfire on Administration critics. The claim? Americans will choose fear over constitutional niceties.
We have been sold this over and over again. Especially since the hapless Kerry campaign. Americans will embrace the “strong” President. And forgive overzealousness. Americans will only punish weaklings [insert Democrats, gratuitous Michael Moore reference, civil libertarians] and those who oppose in this case, extra-legal activity. In fact, all those stuck in “pre-9/11 thinking” and speak out on this will likely suffer according to the CW.
The NSA surveillance issue is, however,just the tipping point. The proverbial straw and the camel.
The overacrhing theme is the growth of an increasingly unaccountable Executive.
And what its proper role is in a state of semi-permanent threat. And how Congress should fullfill its constititonal duties for effective oversight. In the face of 45 years of Soviet threats and subversion, we did not blink. We did not surrender the Constitution. We shouldn't do so now. And well past time to ignore the Marshall Whitman-neo-cons lite.
Read more »
December 21, 2005
22.12.05 See item below fold - Hagel Takes A Stand.
1) Dover Decision Routing Intelligent Design Fraud
2) Rule of Law is the New Black!
3) Patriot Act Getting Bi-Partisan Scrutiny
Thank you Senators Feingold, Craig and others.
4) NYT Finally Coughed Up NSA Special Collection Story
5) CIFA at DoD Under Review
6) Americans are Talking About the Constitution Again!
7) O'Reilly Caves and Says “Happy Holidays” Is 'Okay'
War on Christmas truce declared! O'Reilly Wonderwaffen
Freedom as an Alternative Fuel Gives 50 mpg!
9) The Fourth Circuit Takes A Stand Against the Administration re Padilla
It's the Constitution, not the bad actor Padilla.
10) Or Maybe You Have Your Own Private Joy!
Whether it is Fiztmas, Judy's walk of shame, Jack Murtha, Woodward exposed, as the kids say, “It's all good!”
Read more »
December 21, 2005
Bill Arkin wonders today if the 1980 Oversight Act briefings to the HPSCI/SSCI Chairs and Vice Chairs and leaders of both houses were treated as a special access program (“SAP” ) rather than a bastardized form of novel “special activity” — collection has rarely been considered a “special activity”. A SAP? Possible. Certainly reflects EOVP's preference for operating. (But see NYT piece below).
And a SAP framework fits in the Adminstration's hubristic Curtis Wright
misuse of non-binding dicta
. (Executive supremacists have always trotted out U.S. v. Curtis-Wright Export Corp.
(1936) as establishing the president has plenary and exclusive power as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations). The Court's precise holding, however, was not on this formulation. The above language, always cited, is non-binding, prefactory dicta
EOVP would argue the Administration had inherent power to do this program on its own. So the SAP briefing would be . . . a courtesy, as well as complicity briefing.
The result? Bill Arkin ends up agreeing with the Stiftung — and you, dear reader — Congress no longer acts and believes it is a co-equal branch of government anymore. Read it here.
21.12.05. 4:00 PM See this NYT article
that suggests that other members of Congress agree with the Stiftung's initial 1980 Oversight Act analysis as appropriate, not a SAP. And in the original Times reporting they were calling this a “special collection activity”. The “complicity briefing” has made its impact.
December 21, 2005
The unprecedented Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review opinion from November 2002, In re Sealed Case
famously overturned a seven judge FISC decision in 2001. There the FISA Court denied two FBI requests for wiretaps under FISA.
So the Stiftung dug up the decision again for a refresher. The dates now assume more meaning, given the extra-legal 2002 activities of the Administration. Things pop out now that did not catch the eye back then.
Read more »
December 20, 2005
“They just don't know if the product of wiretaps were used for FISA warrants — to kind of cleanse the information,” said one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the FISA warrants. “What I've heard some of the judges say is they feel they've participated in a Potemkin court.” (emphasis added and richly deserved)
WaPo article noting that Judge James Robertson just resigned from the FISA Court.
Homer Simpson's reply
See jump for why they are probably right
— as set out in USSID 18, in earlier post below.
The art here is not a demonization of the NSA. Although as famously said elsewhere, all art is political. The Stiftung believes the NSA, like the Agency pre-1975, is attempting to obey its Executive branch civilian masters. EOVP secrecy and radicalism, not the USSS, are the root causes of this mess.
Read more »
December 19, 2005
The current outrage eventually will turn (one hopes) into focused inquiry. And in that spirit, here are some thoughts about where it should go.
, this is not just about the NSA.
The United States SIGINT System (USSS) is involved. USSS includes but is more than the NSA. It includes the NSA, the miltiary signal intelligence entities, the CIA and others. Implications below.
, FISA is not the framework that will determine what has been done. The truth of what is underway may well be found in the current — or operative — version of a document called the United States Signals Intelligence Directive (USSID) 18
. USSID 18 as revised — or superseded — will set forth the rules for USSS surveillance of U.S. citizens. And thereby reveal exactly how or even if the Administration believes FISA applies. (1993 45 page PDF version (redacted) here
(right click, 'save as')).
, the inquiry needs to make clear not only what
is being intercepted but how that information is being handled, disseminated, and accessed. And by whom. Not only US intelligence entities can peer into and get access to NSA Operations Directorate product. Yes, dear reader, select foreign entities/Nations can, too. And possibly other non-governmental entities. It's the database, Stupid! would be the shorthand.
Given the extraordinary secrecy involved by the Administration and the patently disingenuous legal arguments offered by those Towers of Legal Acumen, Gonzales and Miers, it may well be that the current — or operative — version of the regulations set forth USSID 18, once revealed, may be even more ugly than imagined at the moment.
More to come shortly explaining all this . . .
Addendum: For a program of this extraordinary sensitivity, one assumes USSID 18 has been superseded by a more limited directive and that replacement SCI or above.
Read more »
December 19, 2005
It's as bad as we thought. TPM Cafe has this sad note from Rockefeller to Cheney. Get the whole thing
. As Laura Rozen
suspected earlier, it is in the end a technological approach (and obfuscation, btw).*
Why sad? 1) Rockefeller is a member of a co-equal branch of government. 2) By accepting the 1980 Covert Action notification framework (on steroids, it seems), SSCI and HPSCI essentially agreed to their own castration. 3) Our Constitution has been reduced to a plaintive CYA memo. 4) Roberts and the others didn't even do this.
See earlier note below
about how EOVP set this up as a “complicity briefing”. But the EOVP radicalism and viral authoritarianism corrupts and stains everything it touches. Ashes. Especially, now, Bush.
Here's asurprisingly good CNN piece (video)
describing the architecture of basic call/email set-up intercepts. What the video doesn't discuss but is alluded to by Rockefeller above, is whether by 2003, EOVP was integrating anticipatory/behavorial projections and extrapolations. Beyond call/email set-up of a specific target.
* If anyone remembers the old Soviet “Threat Briefings”, the ones that would make the hair stand up on the back of the head and turn a stoic like Marcus Aurelius white in shock, in order to get more funding, we should be sympathetic to Rockefeller. The technological complexity was most likely carefully choreographed to render all recipients mute and confused. At least his instincts and DNA told him the Constitution was in danger. For that, we thank you, Senator.
December 19, 2005
Gonzales channels Harriet Miers? He is saying something today that is astounding. Most charitably, Gonzales is repeating arguments crafted by others he doesn't understand. He said
There were many people, many lawyers, within the administration who advised the president that he had inherent authority as commander in chief under the Constitution to engage in this kind of signals intelligence of our enemy,“ Gonzales said in an interview with CNN.
[Stiftung note: ”within the Administration“ telling 43 what he wanted to hear. ”Many, many“ within makes it extra ”legal, legal“, in Gonzale's world. And note, we are talking about eavesdropping on American citizens. So drop the ”enemy“ stuff]
”We also believe that the authorization to use force which was passed by the Congress in the days following the attacks of September 11th constituted additional authorization for the president to engage in this kind of“ electronic surveillance, he said.
So to Gonzales, the congressional authorization to use military force against the Taliban was an ”Enabling Act“. This document gave the President, who Gonzales said, already claimed he had the authority to suspend the Constitution, what? ”Super duper“ grants to the President? What would the Harriet Miers phrase be? ”Way more cool power?"
Read more »
December 17, 2005
Not all briefings are created equal.
In the Imperial City, we see it all the time. How many ambitious Colonels, gunning for that star, faceless contractors seeking to close the contract, or self-absorbed policy entreprenuers would rather die than forego their Powerpoint slides? Some even with sound effects? (We think Barnett's abuse of the Law & Order wav file merits jail time).
But that is all sturm und drang
The Complicity Briefing
On a whole different layer are complicity briefings. What are they? There briefings are not about sharing knowledge. Although carefully staged to seem that way. The goal is to stain the audience with complicity — even if the recipient doesn't realize it at the time. To bind the recipient to the agenda disclosed. To muffle, not inform. To burn their bridges behind them. Forward or back.
These complicity briefings are morally and intentionally different than obliqueness. Casey and Dewey Claridge would obfuscate (or in the former's case, mumble) or even perhaps misdirect. Complicity briefings are different.
The most infamous of such briefings occurred in Poznan 1943, of course. It is not comparable to the present circumstances in scale, moral terms or significance
, but the process
is not unrelated. Lest some wingnut at Pajama Media take this out of context, let me underscore again, the substance of the briefing there is without parallel.
We are talking about process here. The complicity briefing as an art form is alive and well in D.C.
Read more »
December 16, 2005
Digby provides a chilling yet pathetic example
. [Hoax: the student in question has now retracted this particular story]
In all the furor, it is important to make clear distinctions about what is going on. Because the Devil, and the Administration, like to hide in the details.
There are four different legal frameworks involved and under seige at the moment.
The first and most obvious one:
The now-on-hold Patriot Act. This is involved in Digby's example, above.
: The 1980 Intelligence Oversight Act. This law governs covert action otherwise known as “special activity” for activity outside the U.S. The law streamlined the congressional oversight functions down to the two new-at-the-time Committees, SSCI and HPSCI. In essence, the President must sign a “Finding” authorizing a special activity, and then notify the SSCI and HPSCI via
a “Memorandum of Notification” (“MON”
that he/she has done so (or via
the new NDI or Director CIA).
Special activity has never been defined to include activities on U.S. soil directed at U.S. citizens.
: The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which seeks to govern the ability of the U.S. government to wiretap, physically search and monitor U.S. citizens. (Whether it does so or functions correctly is another matter).
: the broader effort by the Bush Administration to claim the outermost boundaries of Executive Power and Privilege. These efforts are not new. The arguments used in 2001-05 were advanced almost 20 years ago by Michael Malbin, David Addington (Cheney's current CoS) and others when they served with Cheney as minority staffers for the Joint Committee to Investigate the Iran Contra matter.
Much of what people today claim is “novel” or “audacious” and attribute to John Yoo isn't really his. The Minority Report on the Iran Contra Matter advanced almost all of these arguments in one form or another. The views encapsulated in the Minority Staff Report, the later struggle over the ABM Treaty in the late 1980s/early 1990s, all were part of the legal war to overturn Louis Henkin's Restatement on the Law Foreign Relations and reclaim untrammeled Executive power. Addington's role and Cheney's adherence to that cause — has been lurking around D.C. for some time.
What Is Striking About Bush on December 17,2005
The President's radio address today and other details in the press indicate that the Administration treated the extra-legal NSA wiretapping and surveillance activity essentially as a simple covert action
. In other words, like under the 1980 Act, the Administration believed that the President can sign an apparent “Finding” and then simply notify the Chairs and Vice Chairs of SSCI and HPSCI.
This is an amazing thing. And why the Administration needs such extreme boilerplate about the President's unhampered powers under Article II, yada yada yada trotted out again. (Trust me, if you have heard or had to work with this kool aid mantra before, it would be yada, yada, yada too — that is not flippant, but merely the fact that you can predict exactly what these people will say and conclude usually after hearing just the first 25 words. That formulaic).
Read more »
December 16, 2005
Details below the fold . . .
Read more »
December 15, 2005
One more dose
Surprise? Not really. The NSA has always circumvented the ban on domestic spying, as many know. Before, they at least pretended to obey the law and civil rights. One mechanism was the infamous “Mid Atlantic Swaps” with GCHQ in the UK. It is so widely known that commentators as diverse as Juan Cole
and those worried about Echelon, etc.
have now stumbled onto it. The swap allows each institution to trade intercepts on each other's domestic citizens.*
The practice has been in force for decades. It has been an open secret for at least half as long. Although many are distrubed that the NYT sat on this new story for “a year.”
There is something delicious about having this highly politicized Department of “Justice” fumble the ball. Even this clique could not hide completely the furtive and abusive practice from that eunuch of civil liberties, the FISA Court. (In fairness, the FISA Court showed surprising (and unprecedented) pulses of independence before being cut off at the knees in 2002. [Edit: Typo- 2001 corrected]
The Stiftung just notes in passing that the Court was largely a rubber stamp for most of its existance).
How far from the Republic have we gone in 5 short years? The obvious connections are there: the National Security Letters, sneak and peek, CIFA spying on Quakers of all people as terrorist threats, secret laws and regulations revealed by John Gilmore's lawsuit
, Liberty Group and so on.
But a larger phenomenon is at work. (The Democrats' inability to articulate these larger issues amounts to seppuku
. Their failings threaten us all now).
To: Professor Leo Strauss
Sent: Friday, December 16, 2005 4:39 PM
Subject: Re: An Empire of Men . . .
Hi Thanks for that.... obviously I cant say in what capacity I worked , but I think its all gone wrong regards [deleted]
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December 14, 2005
The Stiftung is often depressed for what passes for discourse in the Imperial City. One reason is the sorry state of the WaPo. And no. Not because of Woodward. Or John Harris' jealousy over Dan Froomkin. Or the latest meme du jour
sending the blogosphere a flutter.
The reason? The WaPo really is not a newspaper. It is an advertising circular, a gossip rag draped around 3/4 page advertisements for furniture, women's lingerie and cars.
So we are not surprised that little coverage is offered for items that won't move the furniture out the doors. One item we wished got more coverage is and was the implications of November 22, when the new government of Angela Merkel was sworn in at the session of the German Bundestag.
Merkel is famously seen by some as the neocons' ray of hope in MittelEuropa
. Some herald her as Germany's Margaret Thatcher, while others call her a cross between Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair
. (The mind boggles). And true to form, she is making the right noises, as expected, such as embracing neocon/Blair enthusiasms for the “one tax/flat tax” mantra
and pretending to believe Miss Foreign Affairs about CIA renditions.
One item that the Stiftung is watching is the role and performance of Ernst Uhrlau. Uhrlau has recently assumed duties as head of the German Foreign Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst
- BND). Before this appointment, Uhrlau was the Coordinator of German Intelligence Community (Geheimdienstkoordinator
) in the cabinet of the lamentable Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. (Technically, this is considered in some circles as a step down in prestige, but operationally the possibilities opened are much wider).
Uhrlau is generally seen as a technocrat and he carefully tends to this image with a low profile and minimalist press interactions. His highest profile role was his successful negotiations for the exchange between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah
of the bodies of the captured Israeli soldiers for the captured militants in January, 2004.
Read more »
December 13, 2005
Mr. Praline: Now that's what I call a dead Empire.
Owner: No, no.....No, 'e's stunned!
Mr. Praline: STUNNED?!?
Owner: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! Norwegian Blues stun easily, major.
Tony Blair a while ago made an obvious but important warning to his Brothers In Evangelical Fervor on the Potomac. He observed that “Anti-Americanism was becoming a rival organizing force in the world”. Most metropoles do that — organize their own catalytic reaction.
Of course, this crew “doesn't do nuance”. So probably covert relief. All the easier to lump the rest of the world as “terrorists” “who hate freedom”, etc. Endless war indeed.
Meanwhile Miss Foreign Affairs prattles on about “a balance of power in favor of freedom”. Only a grad student would try and mish mash her diametrically inapposite Scowcroft tutelage and Wolfowitzian radicalism in a single empty bromide.
The world ignores all this. Too busy preparing itself for the post-American imperial world. The withdrawl from Iraq is likely not going to stop this self-organizing dynamic. The politics and mindshare have assumed a momentum now.
With hard power, the countervailing forces aligning against the U.S. are well documented: the Russian-Chinese rapprochement to escape U.S. encirclement across Central Asia, the NATO promenade and in the Pacific; the alliances of convenience to kill U.S. servicemen on the ground in Iraq soon to move to new killing fields, the incipient (if still inchoate) coagulation of anti-Americanism revealed recently in Buenes Aires, etc.
So it is something of a hat trick when dwindling American soft power can pull it off, too.
An item from Knight Ridder catches the eye. The Hollywood movie Memoirs of a Geisha
did the impossible — it bridged the nationalist antagonism between China and Japan and united them in their disdain for . . . America.
In Japan, the outrage is because none of the three lead actresses are Japanese; two of them are Chinese and another is an ethnic Chinese from Malaysia. Chinese outage is because the film's star, Zhang Ziyi, China's best-known actress, is depicted in the movie as having sexual relations with a Japanese man.
As one freedom-loving Chinese observed, “She deserves to be chopped into a thousand bits,” said this plucky Internet user, one of more than 1,000 people who posted on the subject at the Tianji (Sky's Edge) Web portal.
“Zhang is a shameless prostitute,” another posting said. “She should be deprived of Chinese citizenship.”
14.12.05 Rox Populii
has a link to an essay on the great cover story in Newsweek Japan entitled Nihon o goyaku suru amerika
(“Why Does America Mistranslate Japan?” ).
Read more »
December 12, 2005
The Stiftung visits the TPM Cafe now and then. Not that there isn't sometimes good or even great stuff. There is.
Witness Ivo Daadler's critique of Rice's Op-Ed
in the WaPo this weekend. Rice's largely thought-free piece was unintentionally radical. Because beneath the (Wolfowitz-inspired) slogans she parrots like a graduate student seeking praise from a PhD supervisor, Rice reconfirms a script of Endless Struggle (if not War).
Daadler begins by praising Rice's Foreign Affairs recital
in 2000 as an epitome of “Realism”. It was actually fairly mainstream. Unexceptional in almost all respects. High praise today in our denatured times. (But also classic Rice. She positively shines
when reciting back to her mentors what she has learned). She has new mentors now.
Daadler briefly teases apart four lazy slogans that preen as insight:
(a) “[The Administration is building] a more lasting and durable form of global stability: a balance of power that favors freedom”;
(b) failed states now pose “an unparalleled danger.” (Daadler notes correctly, compared to what — Nazi Germany? The Soviet Union? Hirohito's Japan?);
(c) “the greatest threats to our security are defined more by the dynamics within weak and failing states than by the borders between strong and aggressive ones”;
and (d)“the fundamental character of regimes matters more today than the international distribution of power.”
Think about this last one. Just as 43 courtesy of Michael Gerson, his speechwriter, would speak in apocalytpic (and subliminal) code to his Evangelical base, so this last one speaks to the Neocons. Daadler it seems doesn't fully understand Neocon speak. But this last point is a call to arms for regime change enthusiasts — perhaps not overtly with a nearly broken U.S. Army, but via a purged and “renewed” covert action/psyops capability. Certainly their calls for regime change in Riyadh in late 2005 are taking this tack.
The rest? Daadler and others would do well to read Thomas Barnett's power point presentation turned book, “The Pentagon's New Map of War”
. Rice largely cribbed from this OSD vision, but thankfully dropped the “Core” and “Gap” lexicon.
Some of the commenters at TPM Cafe congratulate Daadler for reading Rice twice. The Stiftung couldn't endure the pain and quit 1/2 way through the second try.
December 12, 2005
From the National Journal, a snapshot . . .
December 12, 2005
One of the more bemusing aspects about the faux reality conjured by the Administration and its apologists is the myth of Condoleeza Rice as a competent and first rate intellect. In fact, her career is a monument to how adriot careerism and use of race and gender stereotypes can propel a mediocre mind into the uppermost echelons of American national security power structures.
Two friends of the Stiftung have written excellent pieces about Miss Foreign Affairs, Condi Rice. Sid Blumenthal's item in Salon, Condi's trail of lies
, discusses Condoleezza Rice's contradictory, misleading and outright false statements about the U.S. and torture, [which] have taken America's moral standing — and her own — to new depths.
Leon Hadar's piece, Condi Please Call Home
reveals the calculated manipulation behind Rice's image, noting “But it seems that P.R. has become an end in itself as far as Condi and the State Department are concerned. In fact, the State Department has emerged as a huge P.R. machine, according to a recent piece in the New York Times, 'The Man Behind the Secretary of State Rock Star Image.'
As Leon notes, it is dangerous to criticize Rice as one would any other public figure. To do so automatically triggers axiomatic charges of (x) racism; (y) sexism; (z) hatred of piano players and all the other aspects of her carefully burnished “Life Story” (tm). And so Rice has gotten a free pass. The Stiftung has experienced this first hand from Ditto Heads of both genders. The ferocity of the attacks in defense of the Rice myth is eye opening.
She is undeniably an incompetent manager, having spectacularly bungled her role and purpose of national security advisor. (This despite her laughable claim to the 9/11 Commission that she was an expert on organizational change). One need not embrace the increasingly erratic and volatile claims of Larry Wilkerson in their entirety to know that he speaks truth about her failures.
Both Sid Blumenthal and Leon make the case for cutting her down to size. The Stiftung would like to add to this worthwhile and long overdue effort. There are some additional data that could and should be added that will add color, texture and flavor to how truly mediocre she is. But, we are working on a project at the moment that hopefully will send Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton and Bill Kristol into paroxyms of embarrassed rage, if we can pull it off.
And the thought of their sputtering incoherence warms our hearts in this Festivus season. So cher
Condi, we leave you to the capable scalpels of Sid Blumenthal and Leon Hadar. Until we get free and can pile on.
China overtakes U.S. as tech supplier
From the International Herald Tribune:
December 11, 2005
Data in the report, to be published Monday, show that China's exports of information and communication technology - including laptop computers, mobile phones and digital cameras - increased in 2004 by more than 46 percent to $180 billion, easily outstripping for the first time U.S. exports of $149 billion, which grew 12 percent from 2003.
The figures compiled by the OECD, based in Paris, also reveal that China has come close to matching the United States in the overall value of its trade in information and communications technology products. The value of China's combined exports and imports of such goods soared to $329 billion in 2004 from $35 billion in 1996. Over the same period, the value of U.S. information technology trade expanded at a slower rate, to $375 billion from $230 billion.
The evisceration of U.S. manufacturing, research and development and educational infrastructure accelerates. Yet aside from Lou Dobbs on CNN, is there a single media figure who even understands basic economics? This factoid represents actually the main long term geo-political development of our time. Can anyone imagine Tweety or Russert having a conversation about this without talking points and a desperately vacant look in their eyes?
Iraq? It will be seen from the world 20-30 years from now a sideshow and a fatally draining distraction, the American Syracuse Expedition. But as UPI's Martin Seiff
notes in this excellent summary of the dynamic on the ground in Iraq, when a leadership is in thrall to the ideology of absolutist Platonic forms, there is not much one can do absent a sudden attack of common sense in (a) the White House; (b) on Capitol Hill by Republicans; (c) discovery of a philosophy and backbone by Democrats.
Rove/Novak/Fitzpatrick? Only tactically important for Imperial City gossip. But insignificant in long term history. It is a soap opera for those who wouldn't be caught dead watching daytime soaps.
Do Americans understand how virtually everything about their self identity — from the cars they buy, the homes they covet, the media they consume, the toys they hoard, the countries they bomb, the governments they subborn, the “freedom” they onanistically embrace — everything is fundamentally dependent on American wealth and the capability it brings? Not Iraq. Not Rove/Novak.
The wasting away of American technology capacity will determine how your children live and the world we give them. Far more than if Rove is indicted or not.
P.S. It was remiss to ignore our friends in India. Microsoft announced a $1.7 billion investment in India last week. The other global information-technology giants that have announced mega investments in India's IT sector in the last two months are Cisco ($1 billion), Intel ($1.1 billion), AMD-Semindia Consortium (up to $3 billion along with other investors) and Vodafone ($1.5 billion).
December 09, 2005
Via Kevin Drum and Atrios, this article
about John Gilmore's lawsuit against the Feds requiring ID to board a plane. As Drum notes, most Americans would not object to showing ID nor be all that sympathetic to a lawsuit challenging it.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals seemed skeptical of the Bush administration's defense of secret laws and regulations but stopped short of suggesting that such a rule would be necessarily unconstitutional.
“How do we know there's an order?” Judge Thomas Nelson asked. “Because you said there was?”
Replied Joshua Waldman, a staff attorney for the Department of Justice: “We couldn't confirm or deny the existence of an order.” Even though government regulations required his silence, Waldman said, the situation did seem a “bit peculiar.”
“This is America,” said James Harrison, a lawyer representing Gilmore. “We do not have secret laws. Period.”
The Justice Department has said it could identify the secret law under seal, which would be available to the 9th Circuit but not necessarily Gilmore's lawyers. But any public description would not be permitted, the department said.
This is the real essence of the lawsuit for the Stiftung. The Bush Administration is arguing that it is entitled to enforce secret laws and/or regulations on American citizens that citizens and the judicial system have never seen. Nor be required to show the laws and/or regulations to the judicial branch, except in camera.
Atrios is actually too kind. It is not “kafka-esque”. This is not George Samsa waking up, but one of the real and alarming consequences of 'Bushism'. The gradual destruction of liberal democracy by the Macht Stat
. Part and parcel of the Patriot Act expansion and extension this year, CIFA at the Pentagon, the Liberty Group, etc.
This morning on Tweety's circle jerk, Howard Fineman was magnificently wrong again, saying that “Bushism will be defined by the Middle East and America's role in the Middle East”. Fineman has the cart before the horse. 'Bushism' is about the corrossive and permissive environment created for the Macht Stat
. Dick Cheney's Middle East “excellent adventure”? A symptom, a by product. The unilateralism of 2001-2005 and Sovietization of American power around the world? Same.
And as mentioned earlier, the Stiftung believes at this time, 'Bushism' will be viewed as a transitional phenomenon, an enabler, for What Comes Next. And we ask yet again, “When will they wake up?”
December 09, 2005
The National Security Archives is releasing two documents obtained by Jeffrey Richelson and Barbara Elias. (National Security Archives release at jump). They are generating alot of buzz yet are less than what they seem.
(1) The Tenet Memo - “We're at War” — 5 Days After 9/11
Stiftung friends and readers know that the Stiftung called for Tenet's resignation long before 9/11. The Stiftung argued Tenet should go because (a) his go-along, get-along Senate staffer mentality was ill-suited for re-thinking American intelligence post Soviet collapse; and (b) he was even before 9/11 clearly an ineffective manager, largely abandoning any pretense of community management and (like many of his predecessors) concentrating almost exclusively on the CIA in a nurturing and coddling way.
The memo Richelson obtained, copy mirrored here
[right click on link and “save as”](as well as at National Security Archives) was famously discussed by Bob Woodward in his fluff piece book, Bush at War
The memo offers sweeping language as one might expect after 9/11--
“bringing all of our operational, analytical, and technical capabilities to bear-not only to protect the US both here and abroad from additional terrorist attacks-but also, and more importantly, to neutralize and destroy al-Qa'ida and its partners” . . . [you must] “translate the urgency of the difficult tasks ahead to the men and women we lead by our behavior and actions.”
The memo echoes an earlier declaration of war Tenet made circa 1998. At that time, Tenet also told the CIA they were at war with Bin Laden. The Stiftung notes in an earlier post that Michael Scheuer, a smart and determined analyst, was the wrong man to run Alec (later) the Bin Laden Station for CIA. Nonetheless, in Scheuer's defense and those of his successors, despite Tenet's sweeping directive in 1998 that the CIA was “at War”, it took 9/11 and this memo to make the resources in manpower and budget commensurate with a war time directive.
(2) The State Department Cable
[right click on link and “save as”] warns the Saudis that Bin Laden, faced with improved Force Protection measures after the Khobar Towers, might turn to civilian targets as “targets of opportunity”. It is worth noting that the cable does not indicate anyone foresaw an airplane being turned into a weapon to attack another target (a poor man's cruise missile).
Read more »
December 08, 2005
Via Atrios, a terrific summary
of why Open Source Media/Pajama Media is a fizzle.
The Stiftung doesn't have alot to add. Good essay.
Only quibble? The Stiftung never found the people on the Pajama Media Roll of Shame particularly interesting, as bloggers or now as media personalities. “Heh” and “Indeedy” I suppose are riveting for some.
8th grade algebra is hazy, but iirc the expression for Pajama Media is:
x (reinforced in endless echo chamber
)z = bad gig. Where z = rage, anger and fear.
The NYT continues to prove it is a vapid shadow of its former self. It is set to publish an item claiming that “conservative” blogs are the most “effective”
because they stay on message as a cohesive whole. Pathetic. It is empirically untrue, of course. Witness Kaine in VA, Corzine in NJ, the collapsed faith in the Administration's war, etc. And thematically the premise is inaccurate as well — someone also tell author Michael Crowley that many of these blogs he lauds are not 'conservative' in the traditional sense but truly radical. The Times descent to mediocrity explores new depths weekly and is, as the kids say nowadays, Teh Suk
December 08, 2005
Negroponte named Elliot Jardines as the new Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Open Source.
Jardines, formerly President of Open Source Publishing, will attempt to exert control over Doug Naquin and the newly emboldened FBIS at the Open Source Center located at CIA. (See item in side bar discussing the sycophantic WaPo blather about Naquin and FBIS, 'Why Intelligence Is The Enemy'
Some, such as Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists, believe Jardines to be a relatively junior person. In purely bureaucratic terms that is true. But in terms of understanding how Open Source intelligence works and will in the future be as important if not more so to traditional intelligence community product, Jardines has actually been in on the ground floor. See DS&T Analyst Stephen Mercado's agreement with the importance of Open Source information at Reexamining the Distinction Between Open Information and Secrets
Word is that Negroponte and Hayden do not “get” Open Source intelligence. This does not bode well for the success of the position, Jardines or not Jardines. Negroponte is clearly a mainframe (abacus?) kind of mind. So that should be no surprise. Hayden, however, should at least be somewhat receptive — his tenure at NSA marked a breath of fresh air, fresh thinking, and a conceptual re-do about technology and its role at NSA.
Congrats to the Nation's first Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Open Source.
Press release after the jump.
Read more »
December 08, 2005
The United States took another step towards being a conscious Power State (the MachtStat
) today. The Patriot Act is now out of conference between House and Senate. Ready for presidential signature. [Edit: See Comments - Reader MC-A correctly notes that the Conference Report must still be ratified by each chamber. My point was that it is all but a foregone conclusion.]
A chance at restoring a balance between security and civil liberties has been lost. UPDATE 09.12.05
Conference report text is here
Radicalization abroad of American foreign policy (and covert activity) inevitably drives and feeds off of radicalization of the home front. History teaches us it is ever so.
The EOVP's imposition of revised torture directives on the US government and then taint by complicity those involved is part of the tapestry of foreign radicalization having a domestic counterpart.
Now the expansion of the Patriot Act. The Republican Party used to espouse a belief in limited government. Dick Armey, former House Majority Leader, placed sunset provisions in the original Patriot Act. Armey and others worried about civil liberties. He required that 1/10th of the Act's 150 provisions would sunset by December 31, 2005.
Yet today, 6 Republican senators signed off on the Conference Report that will send the Patriot Act renewal to both Houses, presumably then to Presidential signature. This renewal will make it nearly impossible to challenge “National Security Letter” gag orders, affirm that the FBI does not need any connection between a subject it chooses to investigate and terrorism, and extends outward a 7 year provision for surveillance powers.
More in the jump.
(1) New art to replace the Yagoda/National Security Letter graphic; (2) Russ Feingold is threatening a fillibuster
. Larry Craig and John Sununu are said to oppose, too.
Oh it gets worse. It seems that Cheney intervened to get the conference report signed. “The vice president helped out a little yesterday and after a lot of haggling, I signed the conference report at 9:00 p.m.,” Specter said in a statement sent to CNET News.com. “They brought it to my house.”
One can see the scene:
Cheney: “These aren't the civil liberties you're looking for . . .”
Specter: “. . . these aren't the civil liberties . . .”
Cheney: “The FBI can go about its business . . .”
Specter: “. . . they can go about their business. . .”
Cheney: “Move along”
Specter: “ . . . move along . . .”
Addendum: 11:00 PM — National Journal is reporting details that Leahy is pushing a plan to extend the December 31, 2005 sunset provisions by 4 months. This would allow the Senate more time to consider the Conference Report rather than be forced in approving bad legislation by the arbitrary December 31, 2005 deadline. (Subscription required, sorry).
Read more »
ARMY SELECTS MCCANN FOR $1.35 BILLION ADVERTISING ACCOUNT
December 07, 2005
WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) — The U.S. Army tonight awarded its advertising account, the government’s largest, to Interpublic Group of Cos.’ McCann Erickson, New York. The army said the contract could be worth up to $1.35 billion over five years.
Hagel, Murtha, and others who have served talk about the “broken Army”. In addition to missed recruiting goals, the Pentagon announced today units slated to go back to Iraq for their third tour will not be sent. (AFP article on the jump).
Perhaps McCann will consult with NSC's Feaver and emphasize “victory”. Americans who don't sign up, like Jonah Goldberg? Why do they hate Freedom and deny Victory?
10:00 PM AFP article added to jump
Read more »
December 06, 2005
From the mouths of babes . . .
Israel: We prefer Assad
Israel told the United States it fears the outcome of regime change in Syria.
At a strategic-dialogue meeting this week among senior officials, Israel laid out for the United States three scenarios if Bashar Assad is toppled: chaos, an Islamist regime or another strongman from Assad’s minority Alawite sect. Israel fears all those options, saying Assad provides a measure of stability.
U.S. officials told their Israeli counterparts that toppling Assad could be “transformative” and dismissed concerns about an Islamist regime taking his place. Israel and the United States favor pressure on Syria to force it to stop hosting Palestinian terrorist groups and supporting Hezbollah, a Lebanese terrorist organization.
Interestingly, the Israelis may not fully grasp the full dimensions of their erstwhile colleagues in and around the Imperial City. Syria is very 2004 as they say. The topic du jour
with that set
is now Riyadh.
Oh the irony of having the Israelis utter the dreaded Scowcroft “stability” word to the New Centurions in the Administration. Who said God doesn't have a sense of humor?
But one can understand the Israelis' fears. According to reports quoting the Financial Times
. . . the Bush administration is already discussing who should replace Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with the White House leaning toward sponsoring an internal military coup. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley—the fellow who brought us the Niger-Iran uranium fairy tale—is in charge of the operation.
Read more »
December 06, 2005
Again from the ever observant Wolcott, comes word of John Derbyshire's despair at NRO's “The Corner”
. Derbyshire has discovered that Gertrude Himmelfarb, mother of Bill Kristol and wife of neocon lion Irving Kristol, is a liar. As usual, Wolcott is devastating.
The lie this time is about religion. Both Himmelfarb and her husband Irving Kristol are Straussians. A key tenet of Strauss' embrace of Plato was the need for the 'Noble Lie' — i.e., for the philosophers to profess myths they believe and know to be untrue in order to govern and rule the ignorant masses in the polis
Himmelfarb and Kristol are avid supporters of religion. Not because they believe in it. Kristol famously said long ago that he didn't. But they support religion because they believe manipulating religion is necessary to govern the untermenschen
, i.e., The Believers.
One should be clear, however, that their embrace of lying is not just about religion. The embrace of the lie is a cardinal principle of the philosophy. It seems Derbyshire is crestfallen to realize that “yes, Virginia, there are Straussians”. He has come across an excellent essay in Reason entitled “Origin of the Specious: Why do the neocons doubt Darwin?”
Consider these grafs from the Reason piece:
At the heart of the neoconservative attack on Darwinism lies the political philosophy of Leo Strauss. Strauss was a German political philosopher who fled the Nazis in 1938 and began teaching at the University of Chicago in 1949. In an intellectual revolt against modernity, Strauss focused his work on interpreting such classics as Plato's Republic and Machiavelli's The Prince.
Kristol has acknowledged his intellectual debt to Strauss in a recent autobiographical essay. “What made him so controversial within the academic community was his disbelief in the Enlightenment dogma that `the truth will make men free.'” Kristol adds that “Strauss was an intellectual aristocrat who thought that the truth could make some [emphasis Kristol's] minds free, but he was convinced that there was an inherent conflict between philosophic truth and political order, and that the popularization and vulgarization of these truths might import unease, turmoil and the release of popular passions hitherto held in check by tradition and religion with utterly unpredictable, but mostly negative, consequences.”
Kristol agrees with this view. “There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people,” he says in an interview. “There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn't work.”
Poor Derbyshire. Straussians are very real. The impact of their philosophy is all around us. Wolcott asks if the fraudulent Fox News campaign about 'saving' Christmas is related to the Straussian 'Big Lie'. Perhaps, although the Stiftung thinks here, it would be a second order effect.
As important, Ailes, Hannity, O'Really [sic], Snow et al. are deeply enmeshed with the economics of the hate-filled, intensity-driven world of talk radio demographics. A wedge issue now is desperately need to re-mobilize the flagging ratings of the demoralized talk radio audience. Coincidentally, that same audience is Fox News' demographic, too.
The 'Big Lie' of course really is Iraq and the GWOT. Wolfowitz conceded this years ago, noting that WMD was manufactured as a causus belli
to get consensus for war in the bureaucracy.
But this does put in perspective how the neocons and Straussians view Bush, doesn't it? Imagine the Boy King's rage, when he realizes he was played like a cheap fiddle from beginning to tragic, gotterdammerung
UPDATE: 07.12.05 8:00 AM
The Boy King did not get the memo from O'Really. WH cards wish “happy holidays” and the base is in an uproar for hostility to Jesus
. Gertrude, Irving, your illusions of control are quaint.
December 05, 2005
A new site went live today, a blog by Leon Hadar. His blog is “Global Paradigms”
. Leon wears a number of hats which helps lend his analysis and commentary rare perspective and trenchant bite.
First, the bio. He is a research fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, which is a D.C.-based think tank with a libertarian reputation. His specialties are the Middle East and East Asia. (See his book on the side bar to the left. As the Amazon reviews make clear, his work reflects thorough research and is also accessible to the non-specialist). Leon also works as a journalist, having been the former United Nations bureau chief for the Jerusalem Post. Currently, he is the Washington correspondent for the Singapore Business Times.
Second, now the good stuff. Leon leads off today comparing the Bush Administration's “Empire” ethos with the Democrat's “Empire Lite”
. His observations and conclusions are sobering for those who revel in 43's collapsing public opinion standing. The alternative waiting in the wings may be right out of the coda to that overplayed Pete Townshend anthem from Who's Next
Check out “Global Paradigms” — if you add it to your RSS feed, you will be in for a treat.
UPDATE: 06.12.05 6:00 PM
I think Leon has adjusted the blog since this post. The link above now refers readers to his excellent “Washington in Lucid Dreamland” post instead.
December 05, 2005
Tis the season to be jolly. And John Negroponte, the head of the Office of the erstwhile new National Director of Intelligence (OenNDI), is finding lumps of coal in his stocking.
Two tests are being watched. Each is being used to determine how effective he will be controlling the fractious intelligence community. The grumbling within the Community and on the Hill indicates he is running out of time.
The Stiftung believes he is likely to pass these particular tests. The question is, at what price?
, Negroponte seeks to exert control over the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and its satellite procurement for the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA). FIA is the NRO's effort to design and deploy our next generation of imagery satellites. The selling point for this multi-multi-billion dollar initiative was that FIA would be cost-effective and give the U.S. more capable imagery satellites this decade.
In September 2005, Negroponte decided to switch contracts awarded to Boeing, CA as the prime contractor to Lockmart. Boeing, he decided, was performing badly. FIA is already $4 to $5 billion over budget.
A change of this magnitude naturally pits Boeing, its industry allies and those in Congress and in the bureaucracy against Negroponte. It is unlikely that Boeing can reverse this decision now. But Negroponte may pay for this decision via the Hill starting with authorization bills in January. Watch this space.
lump of coal, as written up by UPI's Shaun Waterman
, involves Negroponte's choice for General Counsel for the OenNDI, Benjamin Powell. Senator Carl Levin has put a “senatorial hold” on the nomination, requesting that the Administration provide Congress information about detainee interrogation.
Read more »
December 04, 2005
The NYT reports
that Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who joined the N.S.C. staff as a special adviser in June and specializes in public opinion and war, crafted the “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” and our Leader's Naval Academny speech. On the PDF of the 'plan', using the reveal code unveils Feaver as the author.
Feaver specializes in the psychodynamics of war and mental conditioning of the American electorate. Hence, under his direction, 'freedom' is mentioned over 20 times and 'victory' 15 times in the Naval Academy speech. Feaver claims his research is that Americans will support war as long as they believe in victory. Repetition is his weapon.
The Stiftung site overall obviously is tongue in cheek. But we are deadly serious about the underlying diagnosis of the ideological agitprop foundations, motivations and techniques of the Administration. Feaver's techniques and the Administration's ideological genetics are in harmony with approaches used by mass ideological regimes from Europe, Asia and South America in the 20th Century.
Welcome, N.Y.Times. Only now, in December 2005 do you report what has been obvious to everyone else for years.
December 02, 2005
The rumor continues to swirl around the Imperial City that Senator Joe Lieberman is slated to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Andrew Sullivan gave voice to it again this morning on Tweety's bleat-fest talk show.
Who knew the “secret” annex to the White House “National Plan for Victory in Iraq” was to carpet bomb the insurgents with some white phosphorus Joementum?
This move, if it happens, makes sense, of course. When Manstein was relieved, the words were “the time of grand maneuver are over”. The regime replaced him with the Models and the Schorners. They were commanders whose main qualifications were Belief in Victory and commitment to Fanatical Resistance.
This rumor has been resurrected many times over the past year. What gives it new life? Lieberman's fullsome embrace of the “Plan for Victory” this past week.
Harry Reid on Joementum: “I’ve spoken to Joe Lieberman and he knows he’s out there alone. I mean, literally alone. Joe is a fine man, he has strong feelings, but he’s just alone. Even Republicans don’t agree with Joe.”
December 01, 2005
The Stiftung highlights the “Freedom Index” today. The FI will be used periodically as one measure of the political exhaustion and intellectual bankruptcy of this ideological Administration.
Today, the Freedom Index is: 25
Desperation rising, with periodic showers of stridency.
As a loyal Acolyte of Freedom, you dear reader understand this Administration rules and wages war through exhortation to shape consciousness at home and abroad. This is similar to the tradition and techniques of the mass ideological regimes of the 20th century in Europe, South America and Asia.
The famous comment to Suskind by Bartlett about disdain for the “reality-based community” would be at home in that context. Paying Iraqi newspapers to run U.S. propaganda is part of the process.
In warfare there is a need and use for propogranda. But here, the blowback from Iraqi papers to the domestic audience was an integral part of the plan, just as use of the Rendon Group had domestic implications, etc.
Mindshare through manipulation.
The word Freedom of course is one of the Administration's favorite intellectual soporifics. To paraphrase Aldous Huxley, Alphas only talk to Alphas who love freedom. Psychological novacaine works, unfortunately. Such slogans shut down critical thinking.
In this Time of Troubles, the Administration's recourse to the freedom bromide is all the more obvious. Our President's speech about “Victory in Iraq” in Annapolis tripped over itself, using the word 'freedom“ over 20 times.
When lighting the Christmas tree yesterday, the Leader slipped in ”freedom“ twice
. 2 mentions of 'freedom' in remarks at the Christmas tree lighting.
And in case anyone forgot, the United States Navy lauching an entire class of warships, the Littoral Combat Ships, christened as the ”Freedom class“. The first ship is, naturally, the ”U.S.S. Freedom". (DoD Press Release after the jump).
Hapless Democrats and ratings helots in the media have emabled the Administration to substitute sloganeering for governance for 5 years. So it is, in a way, unfair to criticize the Administration to resort to the hoary freedom chestnut in its Time of Twighlight.
You can join in! Stiftung operators are standing by at 1-707- 924-2545
, 24 hours a day in the undisclosed bunker location.
Tell them, what won't you do for Freedom??
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Via James Wolcott
, an interesting discussion — what will the exit/drawdown/retreat/victory/bugout by the American expeditionary forces in Iraq look like? He cites Martin Van Creveld
, the justly respected Israeli military historian (and intellectual antidote to the Victor Davis Hanson fluff so rampant in EOVP and elsewhere).
Van Creveld's graf cited by Wolcott:
Whereas North Vietnam at least had a government with which it was possible to arrange a cease-fire, in Iraq the opponent consists of shadowy groups of terrorists with no central organization or command authority. And whereas in the early 1970s equipment was still relatively plentiful, today's armed forces are the products of a technology-driven revolution in military affairs. Whether that revolution has contributed to anything besides America's national debt is open to debate. What is beyond question, though, is that the new weapons are so few and so expensive that even the world's largest and richest power can afford only to field a relative handful of them.
Therefore, simply abandoning equipment or handing it over to the Iraqis, as was done in Vietnam, is simply not an option. And even if it were, the new Iraqi army is by all accounts much weaker, less skilled, less cohesive and less loyal to its government than even the South Vietnamese army was. For all intents and purposes, Washington might just as well hand over its weapons directly to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
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