The Real Reason for Obama’s Threat to Veto the Indefinite Detention Bill (Hint: It’s Not to Protect Liberty)

By Washington’s Blog

Obama Wants to Veto the Indefinite Detention Bill Because It Would Hold the U.S. to the Geneva Convention

I – like everyone else – am horrified by the Senate’s passage of legislation that would allow for indefinite detention of Americans.

And at first, I – like many others – assumed that Obama’s threat to veto the bill might be a good thing. But the truth is much more disturbing.

As former Wall Street Street editor and columnist Paul Craig Roberts correctly notes:

The Obama regime’s objection to military detention is not rooted in concern for the constitutional rights of American citizens. The regime objects to military detention because the implication of military detention is that detainees are prisoners of war. As Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin put it: Should somebody determined “to be a member of an enemy force who has come to this nation or is in this nation to attack us as a member of a foreign enemy, should that person be treated according to the laws of war? The answer is yes.”

Detainees treated according to the laws of war have the protections of the Geneva Conventions. They cannot be tortured. The Obama regime opposes military detention, because detainees would have some rights. These rights would interfere with the regime’s ability to send detainees to CIA torture prisons overseas. [Yes, Obama is still apparently allowing “extraordinary renditions” to torture people abroad.] This is what the Obama regime means when it says that the requirement of military detention denies the regime “flexibility.”

The Bush/Obama regimes have evaded the Geneva Conventions by declaring that detainees are not POWs, but “enemy combatants,” “terrorists,” or some other designation that removes all accountability from the US government for their treatment.

By requiring military detention of the captured, Congress is undoing all the maneuvering that two regimes have accomplished in removing POW status from detainees.

A careful reading of the Obama regime’s objections to military detention supports this conclusion. (See

The November 17 letter to the Senate from the Executive Office of the President says that the Obama regime does not want the authority it has under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Public Law 107-40, to be codified. Codification is risky, the regime says. “After a decade of settled jurisprudence on detention authority, Congress must be careful not to open a whole new series of legal questions that will distract from our efforts to protect the country.”

In other words, the regime is saying that under AUMF the executive branch has total discretion as to who it detains and how it treats detainees. Moreover, as the executive branch has total discretion, no one can find out what the executive branch is doing, who detainees are, or what is being done to them. Codification brings accountability, and the executive branch does not want accountability.

Those who see hope in Obama’s threatened veto have jumped to conclusions if they think the veto is based on constitutional scruples.

Police State Started Years Ago

Even if Obama’s threatened veto was for more noble purposes, the fact is that it would not change anything, because the U.S. government claimed the power to indefinitely detain and assassinate American citizens years ago.

For example, law school professor and National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn pointed out in 2006:

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 governing the treatment of detainees is the culmination of relentless fear-mongering by the Bush administration since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Because the bill was adopted with lightning speed, barely anyone noticed that it empowers Bush to declare not just aliens, but also U.S. citizens, “unlawful enemy combatants.”


Anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on Bush’s list of “terrorist” organizations, or who speaks out against the government’s policies could be declared an “unlawful enemy combatant” and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.

Glenn Greenwald and Fire Dog Lake’s Emptywheel have also documented that the White House has believed for many years that it possessed the power to indefinitely detain Americans. See this, this, this, and this.

I noted Friday:

The police state started in 2001.

Specifically, on 9/11, Vice President Dick Cheney initiated Continuity of Government Plans that ended America’s constitutional form of government (at least for some undetermined period of time.)

On that same day, a national state of emergency was declared … and that state of emergency has continuously been in effect up to today.

The Obama administration has also said for more than a year and a half it could target American citizens for assassination without any trial or due process.

In 2005, Chris Floyd pointed out that the ability of the government to assassinate U.S. citizens started the very week of 9/11:

On September 17, 2001, George W. Bush signed an executive order authorizing the use of “lethal measures” against anyone in the world whom he or his minions designated an “enemy combatant.” This order remains in force today. No judicial evidence, no hearing, no charges are required for these killings; no law, no border, no oversight restrains them. Bush has also given agents in the field carte blanche to designate “enemies” on their own initiative and kill them as they see fit.

The existence of this universal death squad – and the total obliteration of human liberty it represents – has not provoked so much as a crumb, an atom, a quantum particle of controversy in the American Establishment, although it’s no secret. The executive order was first bruited in the Washington Post in October 2001 …. The New York Times added further details in December 2002. That same month, Bush officials made clear that the dread edict also applied to American citizens, as the Associated Press reported.

The first officially confirmed use of this power was the killing of an American citizen in Yemen by a CIA drone missile on November 3, 2002. A similar strike occurred in Pakistan this month, when a CIA missile destroyed a house and purportedly killed Abu Hamza Rabia, a suspected al Qaeda figure. But the only bodies found at the site were those of two children, the houseowner’s son and nephew, Reuters reports. The grieving father denied any connection to terrorism. An earlier CIA strike on another house missed Rabia but killed his wife and children, Pakistani officials reported.

But most of the assassinations are carried out in secret, quietly, professionally, like a contract killing for the mob. As a Pentagon document unearthed by the New Yorker in December 2002 put it, the death squads must be “small and agile,” and “able to operate clandestinely, using a full range of official and non-official cover arrangements to…enter countries surreptitiously.”

The dangers of this policy are obvious, as a UN report on “extrajudicial killings” noted in December 2004: ” Empowering governments to identify and kill ‘known terrorists’ places no verifiable obligation upon them to demonstrate in any way that those against whom lethal force is used are indeed terrorists… While it is portrayed as a limited ‘exception’ to international norms, it actually creates the potential for an endless expansion of the relevant category to include any enemies of the State, social misfits, political opponents, or others.”

It’s hard to believe that any genuine democracy would accept a claim by its leader that he could have anyone killed simply by labeling them an “enemy.” It’s hard to believe that any adult with even the slightest knowledge of history or human nature could countenance such unlimited, arbitrary power, knowing the evil it is bound to produce. Yet this is what the great and good in America have done. Like the boyars of old, they not only countenance but celebrate their enslavement to the ruler.

[Note from Washington’s Blog: 9/11 allowed those who glorify war to implement plans they had lusted after for many years (and see this), even though 9/11 happened because Dick Cheney was – at best – totally incompetent, and the government is now doing things which increase the risk of terrorism, instead of doing the things which could actually make us safer.]


This was vividly demonstrated in … Bush’s State of the Union address in January 2003, delivered to Congress and televised nationwide during the final frenzy of war-drum beating before the assault on Iraq. Trumpeting his successes in the Terror War, Bush claimed that “more than 3,000 suspected terrorists” had been arrested worldwide – “and many others have met a different fate.” His face then took on the characteristic leer, the strange, sickly half-smile it acquires whenever he speaks of killing people: “Let’s put it this way. They are no longer a problem.”

In other words, the suspects – and even Bush acknowledged they were only suspects – had been murdered. Lynched. Killed by agents operating unsupervised in that shadow world where intelligence, terrorism, politics, finance and organized crime meld together in one amorphous, impenetrable mass. Killed on the word of a dubious informer, perhaps: a tortured captive willing to say anything to end his torment, a business rival, a personal foe, a bureaucrat looking to impress his superiors, a paid snitch in need of cash, a zealous crank pursuing ethnic, tribal or religious hatreds – or any other purveyor of the garbage data that is coin of the realm in the shadow world.

Bush proudly held up this hideous system as an example of what he called “the meaning of American justice.” And the assembled legislators…applauded. Oh, how they applauded!

This is, of course, the real meaning of the famous Star Wars scene:

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About George Washington

George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander…


  1. Yata

    I’m taking this to mean that when Julian Assange is brought to the US we won’t have to be burdened with any legal details ?

    Just like the State dept. cables he exposed, the real truth behind what my government does isn’t fit to see the light of day.

  2. Jill

    Under the reign of Cheneybush, people remained largely silent as the secret govt. formed. Only civil libertarians and Democrats who objected to Bush because he is Republican spoke up. Once Obama came in, no illegality was too offensive for Democrats now that one of their own was championing it. This has left only civil libertarians and a relative few people of conscience (fewer still in either major party), to speak up.

    The truth is, this is a case of “First they came…” David Cole for one, warned of this as he tried to let others know what happened to Muslims after 9/11. For the crime of being Muslim, people were rounded up and put in the hole. They were tortured.

    The circle of those who are having their rights stripped away continues to widen. This will not end until our citizens stop being summer patriots, stop excusing Obama, stop going along with such horrific acts against other human beings.

    1. Maximilien

      Gore Vidal has been writing about and taking about and warning of this for at least 30 years. He knows history, he reveres the Constitution, and it distressed him to see what was happening. Yet he predicted it would happen anyway.

      For his efforts, he was dismissed, ridiculed, and even reviled, and ignored (of course) by the media. Alas, a prophet without honor…..

      The Last Empire: essays 1992–2000 (2001) ISBN 0-375-72639-X (there is also a much shorter UK edition)

      Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace or How We Came To Be So Hated, Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2002, (2002) ISBN 1-56025-405-X
      Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta, Thunder’s Mouth Press, (2002) ISBN 1-56025-502-1
      Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson (2003) ISBN 0-300-10171-6
      Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia (2004) ISBN 1-56025-744-X
      Also: his essays “The Day The American Empire Ran Out of Gas” and “We Are The Patriots”

    2. proximity1


      “Once Obama came in, no illegality was too offensive for Democrats now that one of their own was championing it. This has left only civil libertarians and a relative few people of conscience (fewer still in either major party), to speak up.”

      Utter rubbish. You should get out more.

      First, no honest person of conscience, seriously respecting genuine civil liberties, considers Obama “one of their own”. Certain Democrats (but hardly any real democrats ) consider Obama “one of their own.” So what? Once it’s recognized that in the U.S. there is only one real political party–the organized money party–with a Republican wing and a “Democrat” wing, then all this junk thought about Obama (or whomever) versus (blank) simply fall apart.

      1. sleepy

        I think you are misreading what Jill wrote. My understanding is that she said that democrats opposed Bush and his stomping of civil liberties out of pure political calculation, not out of any principled opposition.

        And she goes on to say that those same democrats now support Obama’s continuation–and extension–of those same Bush policies.

        As she says those democrats no longer care about civil liberties because Obama is a democrat, i.e., “one of their own”.

        I see nothing in her post that contradicts anything at all that you say. It appears that the two of you are in basic agreement.

        1. proximity1


          “I think you are misreading what Jill wrote. My understanding is that she said that democrats opposed Bush and his stomping of civil liberties out of pure political calculation, not out of any principled opposition.

          And she goes on to say that those same democrats now support Obama’s continuation–and extension–of those same Bush policies.

          As she says those democrats no longer care about civil liberties because Obama is a democrat, i.e., “one of their own”.”

          All I have as a guide to what Jill means are the views she wrote–and my interpretation of them.

          It seems to me that i your commnet above you point out exactly how her stated views are in conflict with the case I defend–and then you say she and I are on the same page, after all. I still don’t see that. Maybe I have misinterpreted her views but it seems to me rather that you have. “D” Democrats belong to a political party; “d” democrats are supposed to be defenders of democracy. Jill doesn’t seem to me to appreciate the difference. From reading your comment, I have to wonder if you grasp it, too.

          1. sleepy

            My apologies.

            You should’ve stated more clearly that your issue was a misunderstading based on the non-capitalization of the word “democratic” and how that led you to believe that Jill was referring to other than the democratic party.

            In context, I thought it was clear that was her reference.

        2. Jill


          Thanks for explaining what I meant. You added something very important. The policies of bushcheney have not only continued but been extended. Further, the Congress is now “legalizing” them.

          cheney was always working in the shadows. Under Obama what was once illegal is now systematically being made “legal” by a spineless, complicit Congress and the upper courts. It is not ambition countering ambition. It is ambition colluding with ambition.

      2. Jill


        I do think you are misreading what I wrote. I did not fail to make a distinction between Democratic party members and people who support democracy. My capitalization is in order!

        No need to tell me to get out more either! Please just stick to arguments. Now, here is what I base what I wrote on. Under the rule of cheneybush there were people who objected to both Cheney and Bush’s heinous crimes. They spoke out aginst their destruction of the rule of law. Many of these people were Democrats. However, to my extreme dismay, once Democrats elected a Democratic president, the same actions that cheneybush engaged in, (along with an expansion of those crimes) were implemented by Obama. At that point, far too many Democrats remained silent or even began to support actions which they had once complained about when done by a Republican president.

        What that tells me is that these Democrats do not have an actual set of ethical values. Instead, they are playing for a team. They allow atrocities when committed by their team. This is both ethically wrong and strategically a mistake.

        It is only when people stand up for each other’s rights, no matter who is violating them that we can have any hope of ending the destruction of our Constitution and the ruining of the lives of others.

        1. proximity1


          Let’s be clear:

          You wrote, asserted this, which I quote–

          “Only civil libertarians and Democrats who objected to Bush because he is Republican spoke up.”

          Now, what does that mean, please? Does it mean that you believe all those who, as Democrats or sympathizers of that party objected to the Bush administrations’ depredations of civil liberties acted only out of partisan motives?

          That is the clear implication of your assertion and, if that’s in fact your view, it’s factually flatly false, objectively false. Not only that, it’s an insult to everyone–millions–who’ve openly and strenuously denounced in Obama the same civil liberties violations they denounced when Bush and his cronies committed them.

          That’s why I take issue with your comment. It’s false in fact in its claim unless you mean something very different from what you’ve very plainly written.

    3. Woodrow Wilson

      It’s amusing that you think being a Democrat or Republican matters.

      Unfortunately, there’s about 300 million in the same boat as yourself. Which is why the looting, pillaging, and the U.S. Constitution being relegated to toilet paper status will continue.

      1. sleepy

        As far as dems go, it certainly does matter, at least to some, whether or not the civil liberties abuser is a dem or repub. If a repub prez pushes rightwing authoritarian policies, some dems are against it. If a dem prez does it–no such opposition. That’s what Jill said.

        And certainly Brand Obama is able to convince many, many dem voters of much of the same thing. Brand Gop likewise convinces their voters that the rightwing authoritarian dem is actually a socialist.

        1. proximity1

          RE: Sleepy’s post–

          “As far as dems go, it certainly does matter, at least to some, whether or not the civil liberties abuser is a dem or repub. If a repub prez pushes rightwing authoritarian policies, some dems are against it. If a dem prez does it–no such opposition. That’s what Jill said.”

          Right, that’s what she wrote, and that claim is sheer bullshit and it’s why I objected to it.

  3. Valissa

    “this is how liberty dies”… that about sums it up.

    I saw this post over at ZH, nice job. Of course Obama is vetoing because of prez power and not simply citizen rights. The Bill of Rights was created for a reason, by the elites of an earlier time… but the elites of today’s world seem to find them quite inconvenient.

  4. timotheus

    I have long fantasized that a Supreme Court nominee would get the following question: “Do you believe the President of the United States has the power to declare YOUR MOTHER an enemy combatant and lock her up for life?” If not, who would countermand that order, and what would be the procedures?

  5. Abelenkpe

    Gotta admit I started rolling my eyes at regime. But the star wars clip at the end? Did you have to remind me that piece of total crap was ever made? (prequels were horrible)

    Not denying we live in a police state. Just could do without the melodrama.

    1. Jesse

      I had the opposite reaction. That line is one of the only things I remember from those disastrous prequels because it was so apt for our times.

      1. abelenkpe

        I do actually remember thinking the same thing when I saw the movie. Just really didn’t like the movie.

    2. Coldtype

      What’s “melodramatic” about a state that has declared and acted upon the “right” to kill anyone on earth–including American citizens–without due process based on “secret evidence”? If I make the banal observation that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west am I resorting to melodrama?

  6. Flying Kiwi

    “This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.”

    The Hollow Men – T.S. Eliot.

  7. SqueakyRat

    “Not denying we live in a police state. Just could do without the melodrama.”

    Yes, please, let’s all be very tasteful and hip about this, OK?

    1. Raymond

      Yes, and as we occupy Wall street we need to wear the proper suit and tie. And we must exercise freedom of speech at certain places and only at certain times of the day. We need melodram to wake people the F**k up!

      1. Raymond

        And I loved the clip, “So this is how Liberty dies, with thunderous applause.” Like sheep marched to slaughter they whimper nor do they complain.

    2. Yves Smith

      Hitler was elected, and my impression of Roman history is that the move from a republic to an empire was also generally well received (I’m hoping the experts on Classical history will start debating, I believe it was the usual restoration of stability being seen as a good thing, with that reaction being far from universal). Similarly, Napoleon’s Directorate was welcomed for putting an end to waves of leadership changes, each more bloody of the Revolution (although you can argue the dictatorship started with Robespierre, and Napoleon was simply a better dictator).

      And since I’ve studiously avoided Star Wars (I have not been able to escape seeing lots of clips), I wasn’t particularly bothered.

      1. proximity1


        “Hitler was elected,”…” & etc.

        So was Vladimir Poutine, just recently. Do we blame the frailties of democracy for Hitler’s “election” or Poutine’s?

        By the time Hitler was “elected,” democracy in Germany was already in a state of rigor mortis.

        As an astute person once observed (words to the effect of), “Before you can blame a deplorable state of affairs on democracy, you have to have a democracy. The Germans, in 1933, didn’t, the Russians, since forever, haven’t and don’t.

        We have enough troubles without inventing or furthering fantasies about the terrible things “democracy” brings. Democracy never promised freedom and prosperity to nations of ignorant and irresponsible people. There’s a minimum threshold comptetancy for democratic government to exist. In most places in the world, we don’t find it.

        The remedy is in a greater and more responsible public which is more intelligent, aware, informed and concerned and involved in its own political affairs. We don’t have that nor do many other societies. We’re too busy (as a nation) watching idiocy on television.

      2. ambrit

        Most Estimable Hostess;
        While clicking around trying to find some hard information about the Roman Empire edict enforcing sons following their fathers into trades, (as a result of the urban population moving back to the rural areas I believe,) I came across this Google listing for the Cato Institute; “How Excess Government Killed Ancient Rome.” As the smart folks in the room say, “You can’t make this stuff up!”
        On another front, something of an “Apologia Star Wars.” Consider how the mass of the population gets their information, and, as Chomsky et. al. demonstrate, form their opinions. Thus, Lucas enlisted the aid of Joseph Campbell, the Mythographer, to guide the development of the original “Star Wars” film. The intent, as far as my information suggests, was to replicate a Mythic story. One that affects the auditors at several levels, and thus influences world views. So, viewed from a “crazy conspiracy theory” vantage point, Star Wars and its progeny are the quintessential “Liberal Conspiracy.”
        Now, as a last gasp effort on my part to shift your view, look at the aims of the Blogosphere vs. the Mediasphere. The former, and I guess I’ll take a lot of flak for this idea, aims at a ‘niche’ of public opinion, thus being inheriently self limiting. (A lot of preaching to the choir, as it were.) The latter, absent its pecuinary dimension, aims to be ‘all things for all people.’ Even when ‘dumbed down’ and ‘mass consumered’ the MSM does the Journeyman work of establishing and maintaining the cultural consensus. “Liberal Conspiracies” like the dreaded “Star Wars” are helping to move Mr Overtons Window in a progressive direction. “Useful Idiots” or not, they do help mightily in getting the work done.
        Thanks for your time and patience.

  8. alexis

    Ok, so I was totally with you. You had me ready to pound my head against the wall. Ready to go read Glenn Greenwald until I wanted to jump out a window. Ready to yell and scream and cry from the top of my lungs at the injustice of this, our home, the United Police States of America.

    But, then?

    But then, you embedded a video from… STAR WARS EPISODE III. Look. Ok, just, look. If you’re going to quote from Star Wars, that is totally ok. It is encouraged! But! You. Must. Restrict. Quotes. To. Episodes IV-VI.

    And so now, I too, shall leave something for you. From one nerd to another:

  9. Fiver

    “Lynched. Killed by agents operating unsupervised in that shadow world where intelligence, terrorism, politics, finance and organized crime meld together in one amorphous, impenetrable mass.”

    And yet nobody wants to believe Europe was quite deliberately put in a nutcracker by essentially this same collection of hoodlums until it one way or other provided some very, very, very big money.

  10. Rcoutme

    For years I had searched for the answer to what happens when a democracy goes bankrupt. I wondered because the objective of both political parties in Congress seemed to be just that–to bankrupt the country. I came to that conclusion because I have always believed that in order to figure out the objective of someone, you need to follow the logical path of that person’s actions.

    I found out that when democracies go bankrupt they inevitably sink into dictatorship. So I wondered, why would both parties want that? I mean, when you listen to them, they don’t seem to want dictatorships–right? I figured that they must have assumed that they would be part of the oligarchy (assuming the dictatorship took that form).

    Now, with the legislation already on the books (well, much of it anyways), it looks more and more like both parties were, in fact, looking to create an oligarchy and eliminate democracy. I was being called a conspiracy theorist back in the 1990’s because of my conclusions. When the Patriot Act went through, people stopped calling me that. Now the NDAA bill is coming up. Meanwhile, the Democrats did nothing to repeal the Patriot Act (although, iirc, they did repeal some of the most egregious parts of it). In addition, I believe Habius Corpus has not been reestablished for non-citizens.

    If OWS people come up with any real demands and then go back to their protests, I actually fear for their safety. They have already been mistreated (left on buses for 7 hours, had hand restraints so tight that it cut off circulation, etc.). When I was in basic training (army) we were shown the film of “First they came for…” as a reason to be willing to fight to the death. I wonder if they still show it…

  11. LAS

    Liberty/justice is a process not a state of being. The ideal is never reached.

    There are actually a huge number of federal regulations and procedures about ethics, justice, respect for human persons, etc. that scientists and administrators have to understand and follow to get basic federal, state or other grant money. We should require top appointed/elected officials to undergo exposure to the same regulations upon taking of their positions. Maybe some of them are, only it doesn’t seem to be the case for economic regulatory and other agencies. I am appalled at the seeming disregard among some economists.

    In the course of WW II, it would have been great if someone had managed to assassinate Hitler earlier rather than later because of how he treated human persons. Hitler was so awful that individuals considered to be very ethical (like Bonhoeffer) tried to kill him and, when they failed in their efforts, were put to death. Assassination was attempted because there was no remnant of any other justice to apply.

  12. Aquifer

    Hmmm – so, in bits and pieces, through cracks and crevices, folks are beginning to realize that both major parties, the ones whose members hold office, who write these laws and make these policies, are fundamentally corrupt and full of schmucks (being charitable) and yet we continue, not only to support and vote for them, but to insist that we have no other choice, while claiming that we believe in a “democracy”.

    Does anybody else see the absurdity, cognitive dissonance, disconnect, or whatever you want to call it, here? Or is it just that we prefer to stay in Plato’s cave ….

  13. eric smith

    OK, I’ve read through this and followed some of the links. Am I mistaken that this constitutes treason on any number of levels? Is there any other possible conclusion/interpretation?

      1. eric smith

        Scott,LOL- very funny.
        However, there is no shortage of highly intelligent people who grasp the situation but no one seems to be willing to fulfill their obligations as dictated in the Constituion. Are we afraid here?

  14. barrisj

    The unchecked expansion of the “unitary executive”, which went into warp-mode during the Cheney-Bush years, has placed an enormously secret “hidden government” accessible to their successors, and Obama and his advisors have indeed taken advantage of these “tools”. More worrisome is the growth of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command), a mixed military-civilian “special projects” force reporting directly to the President, and responsive to classified Presidential directives. These people conduct the “midnight raids” in Afghanistan (and had done so previously in Iraq), allegedly targeting “high-value insurgency leaders”, but in many cases resulting in the deaths or incarceration of innocent civilians. JSOC personnel are on the ground in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, wherever US “national security” requires, and their operations (and funding) are completely opaque to public – or even Congressional – scrutiny. These deployments are a quick-and-dirty finesse of the “War Powers Resolution”, whereby acts of war cannot be ordered by the President without authorization by Congress – but the Resolution has been DOA for decades now, dishonoured most recently in the Libyan “intervention”. The US President today has virtually rolled back all efforts by Congress to check unrestricted use of military force, and all so-called “reforms” , for example, those stimulated by the Church Committee hearings in the ’70s, are now dead-letters. Get used to it, people, the planet is the battlefield, and the US will always have the means to conduct low-intensity warfare everywhere it sees apposite, without fear of restrictions of any sort. “Blowback”? Not a problem, we’ll deal with it at the time.

  15. ScottW

    It is impossible to get a negative reaction from the plebs because the vast majority believe since they will never be declared “enemy combatants,” the abuse of executive power is just dandy. Just like the folks who hate Miranda, due process, right to an attorney, etc., believe civil liberties only protect the guilty. Years and years of brainwashing by the biggest, most pervasive propaganda machine in the World–the U.S. Government and Media. Any anyone who argues against our Supreme Ruler’s right to declare anyone he wants an “enemy combatant,” is, you know what? It just keeps getting worse and worse.

    1. Blissex

      «It is impossible to get a negative reaction from the plebs because the vast majority believe since they will never be declared “enemy combatants,” the abuse of executive power is just dandy. Just like the folks who hate Miranda, due process, right to an attorney, etc., believe civil liberties only protect the guilty.»

      Usual Financial Times quote at the end on the popularity of retail fascism of this sort. Here just the usual link to a book about the subject: “The Authoritarians”

      «Years and years of brainwashing by the biggest, most pervasive propaganda machine in the World–the U.S. Government and Media.»

      While I recognize the power of propaganda (I recently discovered that the first “slutwalk” was organized by American Tobacco, search for “Torches of freedom”), this statement taken at face value is politically unacceptable.

      Because if the plebs are ready to be bamboozled, too bad for them (and their fellow citizens). Democracy is about holding the voters accountable for their choices, and if voters who are legal adults choose to let themselves be bamboozled, oh well. Jefferson addressed this issue in a more positive way than “oh well” though:

      «I know of no safe depository of the ultimate power of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise that control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not take it from them, but to inform their discretion.»

      It is surely hard word though.

      My usual “better safe than sorry at any cost to someone else” quote from the Financial Times in 2006:
      «But is clear leaders of both parties lack the confidence to challenge the mood of xenophobia that exists outside Washington. Instead they are fuelling it. In some respects the Democrats are now as guilty of stoking fears on national security as the Republicans. Their logic is impeccable. A majority of Americans believe there will be another large terrorist attack on American soil.
      Such is the depth of anxiety that one-fifth or more of Americans believe they will personally be victims of a future terrorist attack. This number has not budged in the last four and a half years.
      «Mr Bush has consistently received a much higher public trust rating on the war on terror than the Democrats.
      Without this — and without the constant manipulation of yellow and orange terror alert warnings at key moments in the political narrative — Mr Bush would almost certainly have lost the presidential race to John Kerry in 2004.»
      «In other words, the Democrats have found an effective way of neutralising their most persistent electoral liability: they are out-Bushing Mr Bush.
      It is easy to see why key Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, have adopted this strategy. It is easy also to see why their Republican counterparts are following suit. As Peter King, the Republican representative for New York, said last week: “We are not going to allow the Democrats get to the right of us on this issue.” This left Mr Bush holding the candle for the left, as it were.

      I think I posted this quote on only two days ago, but I like to repeat myself because of love of repetition of what I quote.

      1. Fiver

        But that’s the same sort of thinking about the perfect autonomy of the individual that gave us perfectly rational agents in economics. There’s no such thing.

        History is replete with accounts of individuals who despaired at the state of their society and how it had fallen from some prior peak. Some had prescriptions for renewal, some not. But true renewal from a state of real decay is the rarest of things. It has historically taken centuries, if it occurs at all.

        This has been a very, very serious, multi-generational deterioration. Most of the population is worse than un-educated (though there are too many tens of millions who’ve been completely abandoned), including a great many with university degrees. They’ve been trained NOT TO THINK, and of those who DO THINK, at least in the narrow sense of technical problem-solving, again a substantial majority have essentially gone over to the “dark side”, in that they expend all their efforts in service to a system that rewards them at the expense of their fellows, who of course are no longer regarded as fellows. And if in another country, they don’t count at all.

        We repeatedly fail to recognize how RARE real courage and real leadership is, and rarer still a victory for the “Good”.

        Which is why, after a century of intense social conflict culminating in the madness and blood of WWI/Depression/WWII, having at last secured the opportunity for real human betterment, and having made a reasonable start on that road for a couple of decades, it was VITAL that it not be just pissed away by elites in one long, mindless self-indulgent binge – which is precisely what happened.

  16. Doug Terpstra

    Thank you, GW. There is sinister synchronicity in this descent into fascism at home and the inexorable drive toward war with Iran, Netanyahu’s next domino caught between the pincers of Iraq and Afghanistan. Coinciding with yesterday’s links is an article in the Atlantic about the escalating tit for tat, which seems certain to end in a pretext, very likely a false-flag incident, for Obama’s next Likudnik war. And of course, for a sinking incumbent, nothing beats a new war for electioneering.

    “Has a War With Iran Already Begun?”

    Does anyone really believe the Obama regime, that a stealth drone merely wandered off course into Iran? Anyone still believe that Obama is the lesser evil?

    Fear is the mind killer (Frank Herbert) that has transformed the US into a police state and a rogue militarist empire, the very antithesis of its professed essence. Fear begets anger; anger begets hatred; hatred begets the horror and suffering of war. And fear—what FDR quite rightly called our real enemy—is precisely what America’s new leaders and its primary Middle East client state are knowingly, methodically stoking in their twisted power-lust for winning the great game.

    This campaign of state-sponsored terror here and abroad is the clear and present danger foretold by Prophet Orwell, the terrible weapon we need to be most mindful of and alert to. Fear we must consciously counter, first within ourselves and our communities, with the far more powerful forces of love and courage. They will be sorely needed in the darkening period ahead.

    1. Jill


      I always like what you write. Your last paragraph is particularly important and true. It is fear that is doing us in and it will be courage that gives us a chance for justice and a kind world.

    2. Fiver

      Could not agree more. That sort of damage pattern is clearly not the result of some “accident”. The place was bombed or blown up.

      If the American people do not reclaim ownership of their own foreign policy, their own government, and do so immediately, the only outcome globally is incessant convulsion and war, and only a matter of time domestically until those drones are in the skies and ready to obliterate any and all Americans who dare challenge this burgeoning despotism.

  17. ondelette

    Read SEC. 1206 of this bill people.

    It’s about the “Global Security Contingency Fund.” It gives Congressional authorization for military force anywhere in the world for the price of written notice by the Secretaries of Defense and State to the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee. Military force, prison operations, intelligence, you name it, all authorized, explicitly, “consistent with U.S. foreign policy or national security interests.”

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