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Corporatism and Fascism
Corporatism and Fascism
By now you've likely seen the article explaining how the "United States expanded its role as the world’s leading weapons supplier, increasing its share to more than two-thirds of all foreign armaments deals."
The New York Times reported, "The United States signed weapons agreements valued at $37.8 billion in 2008, or 68.4 percent of all business in the global arms bazaar, up significantly from American sales of $25.4 billion the year before.
"Italy was a distant second, with $3.7 billion in worldwide weapons sales in 2008, while Russia was third with $3.5 billion in arms sales last year — down considerably from the $10.8 billion in weapons deals signed by Moscow in 2007."
Any doubt that "security export" is going to be our role in the global economy in coming years? We won't make clothes, shoes, cars, steel, etc.....we are going to build weapons, invade and occupy other countries, and keep our collective boot on the necks of the people of the world so that we can extract their oil, natural gas, precious mineral resources, their water, and their cheap labor. The US has become the military arm of corporate globalization.
In recent days I've seen several news articles from places like Colorado and New Mexico
heralding the "success" of the military takeover of public schools. This is all part of "security export" strategy as we must now funnel working class kids, who will have few other job prospects, into the military. The economic draft is working quite well.....but the public could care less because these are poor and working class kids and they don't count.
This of course indicates that we are not going to be able to stop the US proclivity toward war making unless and until the peace movement and the general public begins to understand and talk more about this new direction for our nation - security export.
What does weapons production and the need for endless war say about the soul of our nation? What does it say about us as a people that we have to keep killing people in order to provide jobs so people can feed their families? How long are we willing to hand over our children to this endless war machine? How can we expect to have peaceful relations with the world as we continue to militarize our culture and foist weapons on the rest of the world?
What is the peace movement saying about an alternative vision to this security export plan? What is our program for job creation? Why are we not leading on this?
US forces are not withdrawing from Iraq.
Well, its soldiers are. But not civilian contractors. Despite President Barack Obama's pledge to withdraw US troops from the war-torn country, the US is planning to award contracts to protect US installations at a cost to taxpayers that could near $1 billion.
In fact, the Multi-National Force-Iraq just awarded $485 million in contracts just last week, while Congress enjoyed its summer recess. Five firms will handle private security deals to provide security for US bases. It's a neat rhetorical loophole that will allow US officials to say that the country has withdrawn from Iraq, while its contractors remain. Read more.
The Supreme Court may be about to radically change politics by striking down the longstanding rule that says corporations cannot spend directly on federal elections. If the floodgates open, money from big business could overwhelm the electoral process, as well as the making of laws on issues like tax policy and bank regulation.
The court, which is scheduled to hear arguments on this issue on Wednesday, is rushing to decide a monumental question at breakneck speed and seems willing to throw established precedents and judicial modesty out the window.
Corporations and unions have been prohibited from spending their money on federal campaigns since 1947, and corporate contributions have been barred since 1907. States have barred corporate expenditures since the late 1800s. These laws are very much needed today. In the 2008 election cycle, Fortune 100 companies alone had combined revenues of $13.1 trillion and profits of $605 billion. That dwarfs the $1.5 billion that Federal Election Commission-registered political parties spent during the same election period, or the $1.2 billion spent by federal political action committees. Read more.
Will court surrender democracy to corporate interests?
By E. J. Dionne, Jr. | SF Chronicle
President Obama's health care speech on Wednesday will be only the second most consequential political moment of the week.
Judged by the standard of an event's potential long-term impact on our public life, the most important will be the argument before the Supreme Court about a case that could surrender control of our democracy to corporate interests.
This sounds melodramatic. It's not. The court is considering eviscerating laws that have been on the books since, in one case, 1907 and in the other, 1947 banning direct contributions and spending by corporations in federal election campaigns. Doing so would obliterate precedents that go back two and three decades.
The full impact of what the court could do in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission has only begun to receive the attention it deserves. Even the word "radical" does not capture the extent to which the justices could turn our political system upside down. Read more.
Court "Conservatives" Suggest Readiness to Overturn 100 YO Democratic Principles: J. Sotomayor Suggests More Conservative Way
Court "Conservatives" Suggest Readiness to Overturn 100 year-old Democratic Principles: Justice Sotomayor Suggests More Conservative Approach | Press Release | Sept. 9, 2009
Argument Heard Today Suggest Precedents Limiting Corporate Political Influence Under Threat
Washington, DC--Today's argument in Citizens United v. FEC suggests that the Roberts Court is poised to sweep aside century-old restraints on corporate domination of the political marketplace--unless the wisdom of the Court's newest member proves persuasive when the decision is ultimately written.
As Justice Sotomayor listened to some of her colleagues encourage Ted Olson's argument for overruling key Supreme Court precedents preventing the use of corporate general treasury funds in elections, she intervened to ask a pointed question of Olson: "Are you giving up on your earlier arguments that there are narrower, nonconstitutional grounds for deciding your case?" And Mr. Olson had to say "no." This question by the newest Justice was a pointed reminder that if overruling key precedents is a form of judicial activism, doing so when there clearly are more narrow, statutory grounds for deciding the case is a truly extreme example of judicial activism.
“We Need a Better Change in this Country”–Mom of 17-YO Girl Who Died After Private Insurance Denied Claim for Liver Transplant
...we had insurance. We were covered. We thought we had insurance. So it’s like having insurance and not having insurance is the same thing. People who have insurance and don’t have it, they get the same care. But having insurance and knowing that you do have it, and you are recommended to a certain hospital, because the insurance company only pays if you go to that hospital, you go to that hospital, which in our case was UCLA. We were transferred there. By the way, that’s our fourth hospital within, I would say, three years, because they were jumping us around. And finally, you go there. My son gave her the perfect bone marrow transplant, perfect match. And my daughter needed a liver transplant. And so many requests, so many requests, and they were—the doctors were denied. We were denied, until the California Nurses Association stepped in, helped us out.
We had to get out and go to their headquarters in Glendale, make a scene with our family, the Armenian Youth Federation, our church. Why do we have to do that? I’m a mother who should have been next to my daughter. Only if I knew she was going to die that same day, you think I would have that energy to go out there and do that? I could have been holding my daughter’s hand and praying with her. This is not right.
We speak with Hilda Sarkisyan, the mother of Nataline Sarkisyan, who died two years ago at the age of seventeen after the insurance giant CIGNA denied her claim for a liver transplant. “We need a better change in this country, and I’m willing to help the President to do that…I want to meet him. I want him to feel how it feels not to have a daughter. He has two girls; he should know,” says Hilda Sarkisyan. “If we don’t stop this now, every family is going to have my story in their family.” [includes rush transcript and video] Read more.
...in California alone, 45 million claims since 2002, and in the first half of this year alone, their rates continue to skyrocket. Some of these rates ranged as high as 40 percent for UnitedHealthcare’s PacifiCare. And other large, giant insurers like Blue Cross, Health Net, CIGNA, Kaiser were all in the range of 30 percent. So it shows a clear pattern of very high denials by the very insurance companies that people depend upon to assure that they get care they need when they need it.
President Obama begins his final drive for healthcare reform tonight with a nationally televised prime-time address to a joint session of Congress. His speech comes after an explosive August recess consumed by raucous town halls and talk of government-run “death panels.” We take a look at California’s “real death panels.” That’s what the nation’s largest nurses group is calling private insurers, as new data reveals they denied one of every five claims over the past seven years. We speak with Charles Idelson of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. [includes rush transcript and video] Read more.
The Pentagon has made remarkable strides in militarisation of space this year, but its techno-schemes are built on the same sandy foundations as the rest of its defence policy, laments Eric Walberg. In April, Air Force Space Command activated a new unit -- the 24th Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas -- to keep pace with “the rapid changes in information technology and allow space and cyberspace capabilities to be more accessible to military ground commanders”, according to the Space Command’s top military officer General Robert Kehler. Kehler called the activation “the beginning of what will be a deliberate and focused effort to develop and evolve cyberspace forces and capabilities.”
In August, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) commenced its 12th annual Space and Missile Defense Conference in Huntsville, Alabama, at the shiny new Von Braun Centre, named after the father of Nazi Germany’s missile project and one of the creators of the US ICBM programme, who along with several German colleagues was sent to Huntsville in 1950 (Operation Paperclip) to work on the first live nuclear ballistic missile tests conducted by the Pentagon.
Von Braun -- sorry, I mean Kehler -- told the Space and Missile Defense Conference that global deterrence is necessary to encourage restraint, deny benefits and impose costs to those nations and non-nation states that threaten the Reich -- sorry, I mean the US and its allies. Read more.
Howard Kurtz is still playing water carrier for the Bush administration and their WMD lies used to justify invading Iraq and when called out for it by Daniel Ellsberg who says he'll name names as to who in the Bush administration knew better what does he do? Why try to change the subject of course!
Ellsberg is the subject of a new documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers which debuts this week in New York, Los Angeles and at the Toronto Film Festival. Read more.
Broader Strategy: West's Afghan War Targets Russia, China, Iran
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO
The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are expanding their nearly eight-year war in Afghanistan both in scope, with deadly drone missile attacks inside Pakistan, and in intensity, with daily reports of more NATO states' troops slated for deployment and calls for as many as 45,000 American troops in addition to the 68,000 already in the nation and scheduled to be there shortly.
The NATO bombing in Kunduz province on September 4 may well prove to be the worst atrocity yet perpetrated by Western forces against Afghan civilians and close to 20 U.S and NATO troops have been killed so far this month, with over 300 dead this year compared to 294 for all of 2008.
The scale and gravity of the conflict can no longer be denied even by Western media and government officials and the war in South Asia occupies the center stage of world attention for the first time in almost eight years.
The various rationales used by Washington and Brussels to launch, to continue and to escalate the war - short-lived and successive, forgotten and reinvented, transparently insincere and frequently mutually exclusive - have been exposed as fraudulent and none of the identified objectives have been achieved or are likely ever to be so. Osama bin Laden and Omar Mullah have not been captured or killed. Taliban is stronger than at any time since their overthrow eight years ago last month, even - though the name Taliban seems to mean fairly much whatever the West intends it to at any given moment - gaining hitherto unimagined control over the country's northern provinces.
Opium cultivation and export, virtually non-existent at the time of the 2001 invasion, are now at record levels, with Afghanistan the world's largest narcotics producer and exporter.
The Afghan-Pakistani border has not been secured and NATO supply convoys are regularly seized and set on fire on the Pakistani side. Pakistani military offensives have killed hundreds if not thousands on the other side of the border and have displaced over two million civilians in the Swat District and adjoining areas of the North-West Frontier Province.
Yet far from acknowledging that the war, America's longest since the debacle in Vietnam and NATO's first ground war and first conflict in Asia, has been a signal failure, U.S. and NATO leaders are clamoring for more troops in addition to the 100,000 already on the ground in Afghanistan and are preparing the public in the fifty nations contributing to that number for a war that will last decades. And still without the guarantee of a successful resolution.
[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Let me express my awe. The Tuesday before Labor Day weekend, I posted a striking piece by organizer and activist David Swanson, "Bush's Third Term, You're Living It." It was the day his new book, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, was published. Somehow, he organized websites, blogs, admirers, and friends into a campaign to buy the book at Amazon on that day and it soared to the #1 spot in nonfiction, knocking Glenn Beck's bestseller briefly off its perch. Now, that's organizing for you!
Also a reminder: If you click on any book link (or book-cover image) at TomDispatch and then buy anything at Amazon, TD takes home a tiny percentage of the purchase. So, if you're going to buy there anyway, consider doing it through this website. Also many thanks to those readers who have continued to contribute directly to TomDispatch, some of you, amazingly enough, via recurring donations. You're helping us upgrade the site, get a little extra help, pay a little more to young writers, and generally get by. Many thanks! Tom]
Here may be the single strangest fact of our American world: that at least three administrations -- Ronald Reagan's, George W. Bush's, and now Barack Obama's -- drew the U.S. "defense" perimeter at the Hindu Kush; that is, in the rugged, mountainous lands of Afghanistan. Put another way, while Americans argue feverishly and angrily over what kind of money, if any, to put into health care, or decaying infrastructure, or other key places of need, until recently just about no one in the mainstream raised a peep about the fact that, for nearly eight years (not to say much of the last three decades), we've been pouring billions of dollars, American military know-how, and American lives into a black hole in Afghanistan that is, at least in significant part, of our own creation.
Imagine for a moment, as you read this post, what might have happened if Americans had decided to sink the same sort of money -- $228 billion and rising fast -- the same "civilian surges," the same planning, thought, and effort (but not the same staggering ineffectiveness) into reclaiming New Orleans or Detroit, or into planning an American future here at home. Imagine, for a moment, when you read about the multi-millions going into further construction at Bagram Air Base, or to the mercenary company that provides "Lord of the Flies" hire-a-gun guards for American diplomats in massive super-embassies, or about the half-a-billion dollars sunk into a corrupt and fraudulent Afghan election, what a similar investment in our own country might have meant. Read more.
By Linda Milazzo
The extreme Right wing fringe, in desperate fear of their new Black president, are in a panic over the speech below. They believe this person who's the president who was born in Kenya and who may be the anti-Christ is bound and determined to indoctrinate their children and maybe make them Black by listening - or lefties - or parent haters - or Kenyans - or vegans - or environmentalists - or seekers of public assistance - or socialistcommunistfascist Hugo Chavez Fidel Castro Cubanezuelans - or readers - or lovers of science - or atheists - or lovers of education - or independent thinkers....
NO!! NOT INDEPENDENT THINKERS!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here's the speech:
Arlington, Virginia September 8, 2009
Even the least of us deserves justice and accountability starts with you. So why don't you send out a reminder. Even Cheney deserves all the justice he can get and we should ensure he gets his day in court.
Use these images as a 4 PAK and send 4 different cards to the same person; or, choose your favorite and send the same postcard to 4 different persons.
It's easy. Each individual postcard is formatted to the dimensions of 4.25"x5.5". Quarter a sheet of paper and combine the cards as you like. Don't forget to print the other side. Remember the postage stamps. Then mail one to your best beloved, your friends and neighbors, some acquaintance--your politicians and their parties. Show someone you care about them and about justice.
By Linda Milazzo
I was out last evening. I tried to escape, just for a while, back to the days of (Taking) Woodstock when we who worked to end the Vietnam war did so as a united, free-spirited force. I readily admit that in today's times of racism disguised as patriotism, religious perversion, rampant ignorance, unhinged media menaces, and growing hostility amongst Americans, I yearn for that long ago era of 'peace and love.'
Enroute home after my wistful evening, I glanced at my phone and saw a Washington Post alert saying Obama's Green Jobs appointee, Van Jones, had resigned. I was shocked. I knew Jones was being assaulted by the right, but I didn't think he'd resign, and I didn't think the Obama administration would so readily sacrifice this brilliant advocate for the environment and the poor. After all, Jones is a person in the Obama administration who personifies the term "public servant." For progressives, Van Jones' appointment was, and is, Obama's tour de force gift to America of a high level appointee free of corporate entanglements who cannot and will not be bought. Jones is a man for the people in an administration where for the corporation is the norm.
In a press release accompanying the report, PHR asserted that “the extent to which American physicians and psychologists violated human rights and betrayed the ethical standards of their professions by designing, implementing, and legitimizing a worldwide torture program is greater than previously known.”
A new report by the medical ethics group Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) charges that medical professionals attached to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) assisted in the torture of terror detainees.
CIA doctors also provided a pseudo-medical rationale for torture and used prisoners as human research subjects to determine the effects and efficacy of various methods of torture, the report states. These acts constitute war crimes according to the Geneva Conventions and are clear violations of medical ethics.
PHR called for an independent investigation of medical personnel in the CIA interrogation program. It is seeking to determine how many doctors participated in torture, and on what scientific and medical basis they conducted their work.
The study, “Aiding Torture,” analyzes the role of doctors, psychologists, and nurses in known instances of torture at prisons where terror suspects were held, including Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, and Bagram in Afghanistan. It is based on the 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report on torture, which the Obama administration released two weeks ago, in heavily redacted form and in compliance with a court order. Read more.
'Things went really bad' says British ex-soldier facing Iraq death penalty
Paratrooper turned security guard Daniel Fitzsimons tells of night in Baghdad that left him accused of shooting dead two men
By Martin Chulov | Guardian.UK
"We were ambushed in south Baghdad once by small arms and we made it through. I won't lie to you, I did enjoy it though. There's nothing nice about seeing limbs blown off. The smell of flesh stayed with me all the time and I couldn't taste my food for a couple of weeks, but the buzz was unreal. There is nothing else like that.
The British security guard facing the death penalty in Baghdad says he can remember little about the night he is accused of shooting dead two colleagues, except that things "went really, really bad, really quickly".
Former paratrooper Daniel Fitzsimons, 33, says he is haunted by the faces of Briton Paul McGuigan, and Australian Darren Hoare, who were both shot dead near a bar inside the compound of the British security company ArmorGroup in the early hours of 9 August.
"I have sat here trying to think through the whys and the wherefores," Fitzsimons told the Guardian in his first interview since then. "I see Paul and Darren's faces every night before I sleep and every morning when I wake up."
Fitzsimons is the first foreign national charged under Iraqi law since the 2003 invasion. "The only two people who can tell me what happened that night are both dead. All I know is that it went really, really bad, really quickly," he said.
From his prison cell in the heavily fortified Green Zone, Fitzsimons said he had been given a job with ArmorGroup after being unemployed for 13 months from the time he left prison in England where he had served a seven-month sentence. Read more.
DIEBOLD FINDS ELECTION DIVISION BUYER; ES&S TO CONTROL MOST U.S. ELECTIONS
Bargain-basement sale price; Anti-trust complaints to be filed; Dreadful history of failure by both companies
By Brad Friedman | BradBlog
The world's largest corporate e-voting supplier is about to become even larger. Today, TX-based Premier Election Solutions, the beleaguered and oft-failed voting division of OH-based parent company Diebold, Inc., announced they have been purchased by oft-failed e-voting goliath Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S). The move, if allowed to stand, would "consolidate most U.S. voting under one privately held manufacturer," according to one election watchdog who has announced plans to file an anti-trust complaint concerning the sale with the Department of Justice.
Diebold, facing lost money, lost reputation, lost votes and multiple legal battles, has been trying to unload its election division for several years. Having failed at first, the company created an "independent" entity, Premier --- same pig, damned near same lipstick --- in hopes of regaining money and reputation, if not votes. That failed too.
But somehow, as reported today, Diebold was able to convince Nebraska-based ES&S, the nation's largest election company and supplier of 100% unverifiable voting systems, to agree to the purchase. Read more.
CEO's Earning 300 Times More Than the Average Worker
By Dan Arnall | ABC Newser
The overall CEO-to-worker pay gap is exceptionally high; S&P 500 CEOs in 2008 earned 319 times more than the average worker.
The liberal think tank Institute for Policy Studies is out with a report on excessive executive pay in the biggest 20 TARP banks. The findings show that the top five executives at each of these big financial firms earned an average of $32 million each during the 2005 -- 2008 time period.
The study has been published for the past 15 years, but this year the authors decided to focus on the pay of executives at the financial firms which got exceptional government assistance as the economy melted down last fall. Some of the highlights: Read more.
Pfizer to Pay Record $2.3B Penalty for Drug Promos
Repeat offender Pfizer paying record $2.3B settlement for illegal drug promotions
By Devlin Barrett, Associated Press | ABC News.com
As part of its illegal marketing, Pfizer invited doctors to consultant meetings at resort locations, paying their expenses and providing perks, prosecutors said. "They were entertained with golf, massages, and other activities," said Mike Loucks, the U.S. attorney in Massachusetts....Under terms of the settlement, Pfizer must pay $1 billion to compensate Medicaid, Medicare, and other federal health care programs.
Federal prosecutors hit Pfizer Inc. with a record-breaking $2.3 billion in fines Wednesday and called the world's largest drugmaker a repeating corporate cheat for illegal drug promotions that plied doctors with free golf, massages, and resort junkets.
Announcing the penalty as a warning to all drug manufacturers, Justice Department officials said the overall settlement is the largest ever paid by a drug company for alleged violations of federal drug rules, and the $1.2 billion criminal fine is the largest ever in any U.S. criminal case. The total includes $1 billion in civil penalties and a $100 million criminal forfeiture.
Authorities called Pfizer a repeat offender, noting it is the company's fourth such settlement of government charges in the last decade. The allegations surround the marketing of 13 different drugs, including big sellers such as Viagra, Zoloft, and Lipitor. Read more.
Berkeley Demonstration Against War Criminal Yoo Tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009, Noon-1 PM at Sproul Plaza
More Protest at UC Berkeley: Demonstrators Call Law Professor a War Criminal | Press Release
Event: “Information in Action" (Speak Out Against Torture – Fire John Yoo!)
Where: UC Berkeley, Sproul Plaza
When: Noon to 1 PM, Thursday September 3, 2009
BERKELEY– As debate flares over the newly-released CIA Inspector General’s report from Dick Cheney and the halls of Congress to the radio talk shows, World Can’t Wait has announced another protest at the UC Berkeley campus on Thursday, September 3 to challenge UC’s employment of former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo. World Can’t Wait will be joined by other protesters from religious and progressive organizations; they will again call for Yoo to be fired, disbarred, and prosecuted for war crimes as “the legal architect of the Bush-Cheney torture state.”
The “information in action” event on Sproul Plaza will begin at noon.
In August on the first day of classes at UC Berkeley Law, a press conference and protest drew over 60 people to the steps of Boalt Hall, where Yoo currently teaches Civil Procedures. At that press conference, prominent lawyers and psychologists representing four generations of alumni of UC and its law schools denounced the presence of John Yoo on the UC faculty. [Audio of statements by attorneys Dan Siegel, Anne Weills, Sharon Adams, Ann Fagan Ginger, Marc-Tizon Gonzalez, and psychologist Ruth Fallenbaum can be found here.
The units of measure for losses due to health care fraud and abuse in this country are hundreds of billions of dollars per year. We just don't know the first digit. It might be as low as one hundred billion. More likely two or three. Possibly four or five. But whatever that first digit is, it has eleven zeroes after it. These are staggering sums of money to waste, and the task of controlling and reducing these losses warrants a great deal of serious attention.
In the early 1990s, the Congressional Government Accounting Office estimated that billing fraud accounts for 10% of health care spending annually. That would be about $250 billion this year. In 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno declared that health care fraud was the number two crime problem, after violent crime in the country.
After several weeks of protests at Senate hearings and health care events by single payer advocates (visit Single Payer Action.org), six physicians from Oregon, with 191 years of combined real-world medical experience, are crossing the country in a 27-foot Winnebago making stops in nearly 30 cities, to debate, educate and advance full medicare for all. Everybody in, nobody out.
Calling themselves "Mad as Hell Doctors," these physicians are already drawing crowds and expect thousands to turn out at each city that they visit, culminating in a large arrival demonstration in front of the White House around October 1. (Visit Mad As Hell.com).
They have written President Obama asking for a meeting "to discuss the future of health care as well as the moral, social, and fiscal imperative of enacting a single-payer system for America at this moment in our history."
The White House turned them down flat, not even leaving the door open for reconsideration. Mr. Obama has met countless times with the CEOs of large corporations, whose greed and callousness causes so much of this crisis. Though he believes in single payer "if we started from scratch," he has yet to meet with any single payer delegation. Read more.
By Linda Milazzo
It's a GREAT DAY in America when heralds of hate, specifically Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin, are booted from their Amazon best seller slots on DAY ONE of the publication of progressive leader David Swanson's breakthrough tome, DAYBREAK - now at Number One on Amazon's non-fiction best seller list. From this terrific response to Swanson's new book arises my sincere hope that DAYBREAK attracts a good many of Beck and Malkin's readers, so they, too, will have the opportunity to absorb the depth of information and dedication to solutions that David Swanson offers.
Pentagon worried about Obama's commitment to Afghanistan
By By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers
he prospect that U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal may ask for as many as 45,000 additional American troops in Afghanistan is fueling growing tension within President Barack Obama's administration over the U.S. commitment to the war there.
On Monday, McChrystal sent his assessment of the situation in Afghanistan to the Pentagon, the U.S. Central Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and NATO. Although the assessment didn't include any request for more troops, senior military officials said they expect McChrystal later in September to seek between 21,000 and 45,000 more troops. There currently are 62,000 American troops in Afghanistan.
However, administration officials said that amid rising violence and casualties, polls that show a majority of Americans now think the war in Afghanistan isn't worth fighting. With tough battles ahead on health care, the budget and other issues, Vice President Joe Biden and other officials are increasingly anxious about how the American public would respond to sending additional troops.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk to the media, said Biden has argued that without sustained support from the American people, the U.S. can't make the long-term commitment that would be needed to stabilize Afghanistan and dismantle al Qaida. Biden's office declined to comment.
"I think they (the Obama administration) thought this would be more popular and easier," a senior Pentagon official said. "We are not getting a Bush-like commitment to this war." Read more.
RISE OF MERCENARY ARMIES MENACE WORLD, HELP WHITE HOUSE THWART PEACE MOVEMENT
By Sherwood Ross
Stiglitz notes that in 2007 private security guards working for firms like Blackwater and Dyncorp were earning up to $1,222 a day or $445,000 a year. By contrast, an Army sergeant earned $140 to $190 a day in pay and benefits, a total of $51,100 to $69,350 a year.
Since U.S. taxpayers are underwriting private soldiers’ paychecks, where’s the savings? It is money from taxpayer’s pockets that has made these shadow armies great.
The growing use of private armies not only subjects target populations to savage warfare but makes it easier for the White House to subvert domestic public opinion and wage wars.
Americans are less inclined to oppose a war that is being fought by hired foreign mercenaries, even when their own tax dollars are being squandered to fund it.
Bad Advice: Bush’s Lawyers in the War on Terror
by Harold H. Bruff | Reviewed by Stephen F. Rohde | Los Angeles Lawyer September 2009
In William Shakespeare’s historical drama, King Henry V asks his trusted advisers, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, whether “with right and conscience” he may make a claim to the crown of France. In their response, the king receives the advice he wants, instead of the advice he needs, and his ensuing invasion of France leads at first to victory but in the end to great tragedy.
Harold Bruff, author of a new and engrossing book Bad Advice: Bush’s Lawyers in the War on Terror, uses
the test of “right and conscience” to judge the wisdom and ethics of the lawyers who advised President George W. Bush. Did John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, David Addington, Jay Bybee, and others at the Justice Department and in the White House meet the fundamental standard of the American Bar Association to “exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice”? Based on his sober and comprehensive study, Bruff convincingly concludes that to a man, “[i]gnoring the need for detachment
and lacking a willingness to consider constitutional claims of the other branches, President Bush’s lawyers manipulated the law for political ends.”
After tracing the history of the relationship between presidents and their lawyers from George Washington to the present, with particular emphasis on critical episodes when national security was at stake, Bruff, who himself served as a senior attorney-adviser to the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Justice Department from 1979 to 1981, focuses on key decisions made by the Bush administration since September 11, 2001.