Saucers of Mud

February 14, 2008

A Bad Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — matt w @ 3:01 pm

It may not have been noted widely enough that Tuesday was a terrible day for democracy, as the Senate passed a bill retroactively immunizing telcom companies for illegally invading your privacy at the behest of the government, and as Antonin Scalia enthusiastically endorsed torture. Scalia, Constitutional Super-Genius, argues that it is silly to think the Constitution’s ban on punishment applies to “so-called” torture, because the people we torture haven’t been convicted of a crime yet! Of course the Founders were completely unconcerned with giving the government the power to do awful things without having convicted them of anything. You wonder why Scalia’s small intestine hasn’t leapt up and strangled him from within yet.

And we had this post from William Arkin, saying that withdrawal is “at least according to shrewd observers of the United States military and senior officers in the U.S. military command, [an] impossibilit[y]. One might say it doesn’t matter what the U.S. military wishes and that the new president will decide and issue the orders. Actual governance, of course, doesn’t work that way, and every sign and precedent point to a national security establishment that has already come to conclusions as to what is possible…. Come 2009 though, boy won’t the American public be shocked to find out despite what their candidates pledged, the powers that be in the national security establishment have other ideas of what will be.”

WTF? The military doesn’t have to obey the president’s orders? How is withdrawal impossible? Did the Army get locked out of America? I’d be happy to let them back in. Who the fuck is the national security establishment to have decided that we ought to keep fighting a war long after the American people have realized that its useless? Arkin is a good reporter, which just makes me angrier.

For today’s news, Republicans are all class. Though the contempt citation is one teeny step in the right direction.



  1. For today’s news, Republicans are all class.

    Don’t you see? We must pass the Senate’s version of the FISA bill as soon as possible before the existing law expires. Therefore we must defeat all attempts to extend the existing law and if anyone dares to introduce a contempt citation, we must force it to take as long as possible in protest of how much time it’s taking.

    Comment by andrew — February 14, 2008 @ 8:50 pm

  2. This seems like good news. I’m having trouble believing it. (The “all class” comment wasn’t so much in relation to the incoherent fearmongering as the disrupting a memorial service. If it worked for Norm Coleman, I guess.)

    I’m still ticked off about Arkin, though. I just watched the Battlestar Galactica remake miniseries (yes, I’m slow) and Commander Adama obeyed the president there. And not only were they in a much more dire situation, but he’s Edward James Olmos! Did any of the powers that be in the national security establishment star in Blade Runner? So where do they get off?

    Comment by matt w — February 15, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

  3. It’s definitely encouraging news. I admit that after following the Senate FISA bill very, very closely for the last few weeks, I wasn’t confident that the House would stand up.

    Comment by andrew — February 15, 2008 @ 11:27 pm

  4. I would cut Arkin a little slack here. I think it’s quite likely that the military thinks it would be impossible to get out of Iraq in one piece on a short timescale (under six months, say). That is, we have so much people and equipment in place that if the president said “Okay, we’re out,” the brass would say “Sir, we can’t do that without getting our asses kicked and leaving the Iraqis the keys to the Humvee. It’s going to take us a couple of years if you don’t want a repeat scene of the helicopters on the roof of the Saigon Embassy.” However, the brass should not get to set policy on the scale of Gates’s idea about a presence that goes through several presidencies. But Arkin quotes that as coming from Gates – I suspect the brass isn’t actually eager to be tied down in Iraq for another decade.

    Comment by Ben — February 17, 2008 @ 6:50 pm

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