Saturday, January 27, 2007

Self-evident truth

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

I've written about this before. If government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, the paramount crime that a government can commit is lying to the people, because it undermines the very legitimacy of the government and invalidating whatever consent it received from the people. This is especially true in matters of war, because the lives of thousands or millions, and the welfare of our country and other countries are put at risk.

This is what I keep thinking about when I read the two stories this week about the kidnapping and killing of American soldiers in Iraq this week.

The first story the government put out was that the Americans were killed trying to repel an attack.

As that story started falling apart, we have learned a new, and apparently true, version of what happened.

"The attackers went straight to where Americans were located in the provincial government facility, bypassing the Iraqi police in the compound," he said. "We are looking at all the evidence to determine who or what was responsible for the breakdown in security at the compound and the perpetration of the assault."

As the AP puts it, "The confirmation came after nearly a week of inquiries. The U.S. military in Baghdad initially did not respond to repeated requests for comment on reports that began emerging from Iraqi government and military officials on the abduction and a major breakdown in security at the Karbala site."

This attack happened on January 20, last Saturday.

Now let's see, what was happening this week?

Oh yeah, the State of the Union message. You don't think that lying about the attack to keep the focus on Bush's message on Tuesday had anything to do with it, do you?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Democratic response

I refused to watch Bush on TV, as I do pretty much every year. The Democratic response, however, is another story. I was very happy when Jim Webb defeated George Allen for the U.S. Senate seat from Virginia, although I think it's pretty clear that he's not really my kind of Democrat (too conservative). Still, you can't discount his eloquence here:

The President took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable – and predicted – disarray that has followed....

The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction. Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.

Here's the link to the video of his whole speech.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Remedial civics, register here

What are we trying to establish in Iraq? Democracy, right? American-style democracy, with due process of law and all that stuff?

Maybe, depending on what you think due process of law and all those other inconveniences mean.

Here's what Bush's people think it means:

“I think, quite honestly, when corporate C.E.O.’s see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those C.E.O.’s are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms, and I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out.”

Yup, that was Charles D. Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs. He's the guy in charge of detainees, and presumably in charge of the show trials they're getting. He's also a lawyer who graduated from George Mason University. Maybe while he was there he missed the day they talked about John Peter Zenger, and his court-appointed lawyer, Alexander Hamilton. So if there's any question in his mind, here's a little tip: you don't have to prove you're innocent in order to qualify for a lawyer.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote to President Bush on Friday asking him to disavow Mr. Stimson's remarks. They're trying to distance themselves from Stimson, but since they're the same people who fired a Navy lawyer for taking them to the Supreme Court on the Hamdan case, it's hard to take what they say very seriously.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

An Honest Conservative

Okay, I'm sure you think that this was some kind of test, and somehow my keyboard passed (or failed?) by letting me type the title of this diary. That would be a good hypothesis, but in this case it turns out not to be correct.

Actually, I'm writing to recommend another site. I've been a regular viewer of BloggingHeadsTV, a site that Robert Wright has been running for a couple of years now. It's like the video version of blogging, and the way it works is that Bob Wright and someone else (commonly, but not always, Mickey Kaus) sit at their computers, with their webcams and headsets, and debate issues. They call them diavlogs, and they do two or three a week, sometimes Bob and Mickey, sometimes two other people.

It varies. John and I have talked about it, and I suspect he doesn't watch BHTV because of how much he can't stand Mickey. This is entirely understandable, because Mickey is one of these guys (they seem to be legion, like Chris Matthews and Tim Russert) who like to parlay a long-ago staff job for some Democrat into some kind of Democratic bona fides, even though they have slipped irredeemably, or nearly so, into conservatism. Bob does challenge Mickey on his claims to be a Democrat, and I think he routinely has the better of the argument, but I still think some of the diavlogs can be enlightening.

Tonight I just watched one between Bob Wright and Andrew Sullivan, whom you may know as the former editor of the New Republic. I thought it was very good, largely because (here's the shocking part) Andrew Sullivan admits that he was wrong to support the Republican War in Iraq, and talks at great length about why. His comments are really way beyond the norm for former war supporters, and they seem to demonstrate that not only does he realize that he was wrong, but that he has understood that he has to rethink his whole way of looking at things.

You can certainly judge for yourself if you think that's true, but I think it's worth viewing the diavlog for that and other reasons.

One of the main reasons is that they talk about why, knowing what we know now about the runup to the war--excuse me, the Republican War in Iraq--it is more important than ever to talk about impeachment.

Most of us were against the war all along, and we were pretty convinced that Hussein didn't have the weapons that Bush claimed he had. Bob Wright points out in this diavlog, though, that Bush knew something we didn't know.

You remember that the UN was inspecting weapons sites, basically unhindered, and they kept coming up empty. It's pretty clear that they could have kept doing it until the camels came home and they still wouldn't have found any weapons. What Bush knew, and we didn't, was that the sites the UN inspectors were inspecting were not chosen at random, but were the top sites that the Americans were sending them to as the sites that we had identified as weapons sites. That's right, while our elected (okay, selected) representatives were telling us they knew were these weapons were, they were also sending the UN to those very places, and the UN was reporting back that the weapons weren't there.

Here's the quote from Terry Gross's interview of Hans Blix:

Mr. BLIX: No, not really. I mean, I feel more like an analyst, and I don't feel a grudge. I mean, I regret what happened. I think it's--it was tragic. I think that if the Security Council would have allowed inspectors to continue inspections for a few months, we would have been able to report that all the sites we'd gone to had no weapons of mass destruction, and since many of these sites were given to us by intelligence organizations, including the CIA, they would have realized that the tips they had, the sources they had, were unsatisfactory.

In other words, if there were any question before, it is now absolutely clear that Bush and his minions were knowingly lying to us and to the Congress about the basis for the war. Although there is no explicit definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors" in the Constitution, can we all agree that it doesn't include lying about blow jobs, and it does include lying to get us into a war that kills thousands of our own troops, and tens of thousands of innocent civilians?