Caesarism raises its head once again..

Defenselink_eric_edelman_195_eng_29 "In May, Mrs. Clinton wrote Defense Secretary Robert Gates with a reasonable question: Had the Pentagon done any planning for withdrawal from Iraq? What she got back was a belligerent brush-off. Mr. Edelman, who said he represented Mr. Gates, wrote that “premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq.” "  NY Times Editorial


Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution is clear in stating that Congress shall have the power:

"To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces."


Senator Clinton is a member of the Senate committee that exercises oversight with regard to the Armed Forces of the United States and the Defense Department. That includes Mr. Edelman. The Senate has the responsibility of deciding whether or not it will confirm the president’s "nominations" (constitutional language) in appointing and promoting officers and senior civilians like Mr. Edelman.  With the House, it legislates the organization and missions of the armed forces and the Department of Defense generally.  As we all know (I hope), the senate acts on the money bills that originate in the House of Representatives that fund everything in the government, including the Department of Defense.  There is nothing in the Constitution that requires the Congress to give the Executive Branch anything in particular it asks for in terms of budget and authorizations.

Mr. Edelman, like many in this administration do not seem to understand, or at least accept that the Congress is a branch of government equal to and independent from the executive branch.  This White House speaks of the Congress in such a way as to make it clear that it regards the legislature as an adversary in a contest for control of the government.  That tendency is much more apparent now that the Democrats control the Congress and the enthusiastic endorsement of White House wishes is no longer automatic.

Senator Clinton had every right to ask if there were serious contingency plans being made about HOW we would withdraw from Iraq.  A civil and constitutionally correct response to her question would not have required a public and unclassified answer.  So far as I know, she does not have a record of unauthorized disclosure of classified information.  Others do, (and not all of them in the Congress), but she does not. 

As she has observed, it would be a massive undertaking to safely withdraw our forces from Iraq.  Whether the withdrawal takes place in a benign condition following the victory that the administration still anticipates or in a hostile environment, the removal of our forces would require a level of systematic planning in detail that could not safely be made while trying to withdraw.  As Senator Clinton has observed, "You don’t snap your fingers, and begin to withdraw."  In fact, a prudent program of withdrawal would require many months.  Such contingency plans would rightly be kept secret for the reasons that Edelman mentions.  Secrets can be kept.  Edelman knows that.  It is not true that everything "leaks" to the media.

Skeptics will say that the administration has not had such plans drawn up because it does not intend to leave Iraq in the foreseeable future.  The continued egregious references to the US presence in Korea and Europe reinforce the skeptics’ view.  If the skeptics’ view is correct, then the same flawed understanding of the Middle East that underlay the intervention in Iraq must still persist.  The fact is that there will never be even relative peace in Iraq so long as our forces attempt to police hostile populations there.

We are going to have to leave as a pre-requisite for the bloody, messy process that will take place in Iraq before the warring ethno-religious nations there settle the question of who will rule and where.  The victors in that struggle will deal with the foreign jihadis.  They will have a lot of surreptitious help from outside Iraq.

If we are going to leave a training and supply presence behind and a much smaller force for protection of that effort, the protective force will have to be located among friendly people.  I have dealt with that question elsewhere in these pages. (Someone will show you where)

In any event, Senator Clinton was not, in any way, "out of line" to ask to be told what is being done to safeguard American forces in all contingencies.  Mr. Edelman should be disciplined for the outrageous answer that he gave her.

We live in an age in which the forces of anti-republicanism and anti-constitutionalism are strong. 

Franklin was right.  We can have a republic if we are strong enough to keep it.  pl

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60 Responses to Caesarism raises its head once again..

  1. J says:

    this current admin. at the helm of the executive branch, couldn’t find water if it were sprinkling on its face.
    sen. clinton needs to stomp a mississippi mudhole right in the middle of edelman, and not be gentle about it. the senate armed services committee membership needs to request that dod terminate mr. edelman’s employment as soon as possible. i’m sure that edelman could find a job sweeping floors somewhere else.

  2. Bernie says:

    I am afraid that this relationship between the executive and senate will persist until congress demonstrates that it has the will and the ability to push back. Unfortunately the executive is driven by an adolescent view of the world and they will continue to flex their muscles until someone delivers that punch to the jaw. What they will do then is anyone’s guess.

  3. taters says:

    Col. Lang,
    I am convinced now more than ever it will be those who served in VN, such as yourself, Webb, Zinni, Hagel or Clark that will lead our country to a solution in Iraq.
    Well done, sir.

  4. dan says:

    I dimly recall that Rumsfeld, a few months prior to his departure from the Pentagon, got similarly snippy when a foolish journalist posed the same question.
    My guess – and it really is just a speculative punt – is that there have been orders from “on high” that specifically ban the military from indulging in any concrete withdrawal planning.

  5. David W says:

    On the eve of the start of the Iraq war, my comment was, ‘Winning the ‘war’ is just the start–they had better have a plan worked out for governing Iraq.’ It took about a day to figure out this wasn’t the case.
    Given that this is the same bunch of partisan hacks, it’s no suprise that there is no contingency planning for the pullout–the only thing these clowns know how to plan are political PR events.

  6. Wayne White says:

    It is difficult for me to believe that the Pentagon–especially under the relatively more sensible Bob Gates–hasn’t engaged in some such planning, but is likely stonewalling in order not to admit that it might actually consider such action–something that it fears could undermine current strategy. But bearing in mind the track record of this Administration, one certainly cannot make that assumption.
    In fact, the Pentagon’s response in this instance probably is part of a disturbing pattern in which anything that might smack of withdrawal or raise the prospects of same cannot be either done or admitted.
    The disgraceful and tragic dirth of U.S. assistance for millions of displaced Iraqis–a result of our intervention in Iraq–almost certainly is based on the assumption that if appropriate amounts of humanitarian aid were provided, many more would follow, further undermining the current strategy. If I am correct regarding the rationale behind our treatment of the refugee issue, what a cruel and calculated posture this would represent–yet another new low in the U.S.-Iraq saga since 2003.

  7. Cloned Poster says:

    Gates shouldn’t fire him yet. Let the guy stay in the headlights for a while.

    In a column for the newspaper Yeni Safak, Karagul wrote: “Considering the range of his activities, his statements which violate the decorum of democracy, and his interest in Turkey’s internal affairs, Eric Edelman acts more like a colonial governor than an ambassador. Edelman’s actions have exceeded his diplomatic mission. His ‘interest’ in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the Turkish media, and ethnic minorities make him go beyond his role as an ambassador. His presence here has never contributed to Turkish-American relations, and it never will. If we want to address the reasons for anti-Americanism, Edelman must be issue one. As long as Edelman stays in Turkey, the chill wind disturbing bilateral relations will last.”

  8. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I agree that he should be allowed to “turn slowly in the wind” for a while yet.
    She seems to have asked when told that the armed forces were not being allowed to do such planning in secret. pl

  9. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes. pl

  10. Leila A. says:

    I just signed my name to a statement swearing to uphold and protect the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic. This is in preparation to teach freshman English at the local community college.
    Seems to me that I have a duty, under this oath, to discover how much my students understand about our government, and then fill them in on the separation of powers, checks and balances, and so forth. I used to be suspicious of discussing “current events” in Freshman Comp. Now I see it is my obligation. The course outline adopted by the college insists that I foster their critical thinking. Between that charge and the vow to uphold the Constitution, it seems I have no choice but to bring up these matters in class.
    This business worries me. I really don’t know how many Americans “get” the problem here, and how many actually care.
    Where is the Congress? Why aren’t they pushing back?

  11. Connie says:

    I say Edelman should be fired and Gates should apologize to Senator Clinton.

  12. webley webster says:

    “I am afraid that this relationship between the executive and senate will persist until congress demonstrates that it has the will and the ability to push back.”
    I’m frustrated too, but can’ think of many things that might be possible.
    What kind of (legal) actions do you think they should try?
    The best I’ve ben able to come up with is suspend the WH budget and the salaries of all no civil services ex branch employees.

  13. frank durkee says:

    The reason the congress is not “pushing back” is that on any ‘push back legislation the Republican cacaus is threatening a filibuster. That means that such actions need 60 votes not a simple majority of 51. it’s all legal. The mainstream press hasn’t made this clear so the Democrats get the blame for being unable to act. this is clearl political strategy played out before our eyes by the Republican cacaus. So the pressure belongs on the republicans to shift their stance.
    Only in the direct investigative functions can the Democratic party control the direction of inquirey. Even here the increasingly broad and unprecedented claims of ” executive privilige” are used to stonewall these investigations. The Republicans and this administration clearly have much to hide. they are usong the instruments available to them as powerfully as they can. Much of it is traditional, but not all. What is clear ablut this administration is that they are willing to stonewall, partially because they have things to hide and partially because they are seeking to increase the strength of the executive branch. Here in addition to Franklin’s comment, Lord Acton, the great 19th Century English historian’s comment is apro pro “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Bush et al seek inso far as they can absolute power mostly under the War Powers Act. Actons is perhaps a cliche and yet clearly it was the experience of the abuses of both ‘absolute power’ by kings and parlimentary power over colonies that led to the checks on power in our “Republican experiment”. whether they said it or not they understood the reality that Acton pointed to very clearly and sought to avoid itt’s occurrence and clearly understood the possibility of losing both the ‘Republic’ and freedom. they were after all trained in the classics and knew the downfall of representative government in both Greece and Rome from the forces of personal ambition, institutional drift and the ‘playing on the emotions of the demos by demagagues. clearly all three are at work in our present situation.
    It may simply be the nostalgia of age [74] but we could use the understanding, orientation, and awareness of limits of people like Truman, Vandenburg, and General Marshal very badly at this juncture of our history.

  14. PrchrLady says:

    col Lang, Thank you so very much for this analysis which helps me understand so very myuch more. I read here often, but rarely comment, as I am clearly in a group of people I should listen to, instead of speaking what is only my opinion…
    I come here today thanks to link on No Quarter, and I just have to say, the knowledge that Edelman has a ‘interest’ or ‘principle interest’ in Plamegate, should have been disclosed, and he should have recused himself, IMHO. but as you say above: ” We live in an age in which the forces of anti-republicanism and anti-constitutionalism are strong.
    Franklin was right. We can have a republic if we are strong enough to keep it.” pl
    Where are those Patriots in our Congress and SENATE who are willing to stand up to these (#$%$@#@^%)(fill in the blank) people who have silently and willingly destroyed so much that which all of us hold dear??? Where are they who will stand up with Joe and Val, all the VIPS, and more importantly, to the OATH they SWORE to Take??? I want to Stand with Them…
    Thanks for all your great work Col… I learned alot from some of the lectures on Islam that you have kindly shared thru the University… God Speed.

  15. John Howley says:

    If Bush is allowed to hand power to his successor without a serious challenge from Congress to his violations of the Constitution, then it will amount to a de facto ratification of Caesarism by the legislative branch.
    Conservative attorney Bruce Fein made this point strongly on 13 July edition of Bill Moyers.

  16. Charles says:

    I don’t believe you’ll get your country back short of
    impeachment and revolution.
    The presidential election is a meaningless orgy of fundraising and deal making, fixed when necessary with increasing guile and subtlety. No future President no matter how wise and virtuous, is going to be allowed to willingly cede any of the vast power allegedly enjoyed by the executive branch. The suitably reconstituted Supremes will defend against backsliding.
    Your legislatures are gerrymandered to virtually guarantee incumbent majorities. A change in majorities can be meaningless, as we’ve seen – an intentional result. Legislation itself requires special majorities further impeding accountability let alone change. Partisanship screams treason to cover its crimes and reduce patriots. Corruption and intrigue abound in a miasma of ‘national security’ imposed by a reserve army of interchangeable and expendable minions of Power who follow an Orwellianly scripted secret program of domestic oppression, financial flimfammery and international expansion.
    Foreign powers great and small command the fealty of your military industrial complex and manipulate the national neuroses, as they acquire ever more of your citizen’s treasure.
    Religious Fundamentalism becomes a prerequisite to White House internships while powerful Fundamentalists seek to employ government to achieve their appallingly apocalyptic version of Heaven on Earth – with the approval of a huge % of the population. Government itself wages war on science and human nature, and on the idea of Government itself, ever seeking to widen the hidden ambit of private Power while reducing the liberty of the private Citizen.
    No, until there is either a legislature that pushes back, or a Red White and Blue people’s revolution – during which those parts of FEMA and Homeland Secuirty that were MEANT to function in an “emergency” will be rolled out – America is really in a crisis. A crisis which can only get worse and worse, politically, socially, financially, security-wise, because the imperative of private, secret government unfettered by outside correction now has a gigantic, fantastically profitable momentum of its own. A situation which assures that the financial architecture that supports your non-legislatures under a veneer of legality remains robustly in place, indeed, growing ever larger and stronger. That imperative by its very nature, no matter what fantastic feats it impels, can only make bigger mistakes with more disastrous consequences until, well, until the shite REALLY hits the fan.
    Because that imperative only stops when its thrusting knife hits steel Stalin’s metaphor goes – and to mangle another one even more, American steel, I recall, has either been bankrupted, sold abroad, or cowers behind the tariff skirts of the world’s biggest debtor and free trade advocate.
    It seems powerless to resist Power

  17. Montag says:

    The Busheviks seem to think that the U.S. Senate is merely a debate club that exists to sign blank checks and bestow Godhood upon dead emperors. Edelman is obviously one of those dodgy “recess appointments,” like the rabid John Bolton, who was never confirmed by said Senate–can’t think why.
    The Washington Post article, “Exit Strategies,” insists that there have been war games conducted with various scenearios. One fact that emerged is that Al Qaeda in Iraq will be roadkill in any post-occupation scenario.
    July 20 was the anniversary of the 1944 bomb plot against Hitler by German Army officers, which demonstrated how the “Fuhrer Principle” can destroy a nation without democratic constraints. There is of course much self-congratulation in Germany about the failed plot. But there was a great take on this in the old “Hogan’s Heroes” comedy series. Col. Hogan is handing the bomb to an aristocratic German officer who makes disparaging remarks about Hitler.
    “Don’t worry Colonel,” the officer assures him, “we will remove that Bohemian Corporal from office.”
    “You’d better,” Hogan replies with withering contempt. “You’re the same ones who put him IN office.”
    This is very true. The last chance to save Democracy in Germany came in 1934 when the Army foreswore their oath to defend the Weimar Constitution and took an oath of obedience to Hitler, who had combined the offices of President and Chancellor in a blatant breach of that Constitution. The soldiers took the new oath because their officers told them to. And now some of those officers were suffering buyer’s remorse.

  18. OutsSourced says:

    Mr. Edelman, of course, should be dismissed. He is a recess apppointment beholden to Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld and their network, to whom he almost certainly communicates daily.
    Mr. Gates is dancing on a trip wire; Mr. Cheney, no doubt, aggressively resents his presence. Even at the risk of further alienating Cheney, were that possible, it seems unwise for Mr. Gates to allow Edelman to remain. His presence must make it harder for Gates to establish relationships with his flag officers and top staff, and lead his troops without Edelman and company constantly working at cross purposes.
    Separately, Congress and the American people have an urgent need to understand that adequate plans are in place. Details can be left to the appropriate Congressional committees and the Pentagon. But the outlines are essential for many reasons, including the November 2008 election.
    Among other things, I bet 20:1 that none of Bush’s prior requests for funds includes a dime for withdrawal. So, Congress will need to know what these plans are and have estimates of their costs.
    No doubt, Mr. Bush intends never to use such plans – assuming there are any; he didn’t want plans for what to do when he got there, so why should he plan for how to leave? And even should he contemplate withdrawal, his style would be to force his plans down Congress’ throat via an emergency supplemental, denying it adequate time to review either the plans themselves or their cost.
    Equally without doubt, Bush would not want disclosed how these plans deal with residual forces, including most glaringly, the 180,000 odd mercenaries and other contractors now in Iraq. Plans that exclude them would be wholly inadequate. But then those forces have been contracted and accounted for separately – hiding their scale and cost – and Bush would not want either aggregated with the process and cost for dealing with acknowledged troop levels.
    All in, Mrs. Clinton has hit on a hot button that exposes strategic, tactical or political weaknesses of the White House. Not to mention possibly contentious, inadequate or catastrophic plans.
    I also bet 20:1 that Edelman got direction or sign off on the tenor of that response to Mrs. Clinton from Big Dick. Given its tenor, it seems unlikely Gates saw it at all. Did he see Clinton’s original?

  19. johnf says:

    Juan Cole today has a long account of Edelmann’s thuggeries and illegalities:

  20. Dave of Maryland says:

    So far as our dear Prez is concerned, and as much as I know about his life, it seems to me that he has lived it one day at a time, ever since he was a boy. He won yesterday. He wins today, he will win tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that. It’s not that he hasn’t any plans, but that he’s always had the same plan: To dare you to stop him. To date, no one ever has. Will he leave Iraq, will he leave office in January, 2009, or will he gamble on yet another dare? Is the answer not increasingly clear?
    (So far as hanging around beyond his January end date, decapitation of the newly elected leadership, hours ahead of the inauguration, is all that would be necessary. We must suffer Caesar’s whim.)
    Yes, petulant, bratty, self-centered, all of that. As are his adoring friends, of which he has many. The reason he cannot remember making a mistake, is that, for his entire life, he’s never lost. If he’s never lost, then by definition he’s never made a single mistake.
    George W. Bush smirks for a reason. If I were him, I would, too.

  21. michael savoca says:

    In his July `12 press conference the president lies to the amereican people saying that in iraq we are fighting alqaeda when the numbers show that less than 1/2 of 1% (135) of the captured insurgency are foreigners, and in fact we are fighting Iraqis for control of their own country.
    Paul Craig Roberts the undersecretary of the treasury under President Ronald Reagan warns us that it appears this president Bush is moving toward seizing control of the government with extra constitutional powers and the time left to save our government is fast running out.
    (must read last two paragraphs)
    Representative Peter DeFazio, a member of the house committee on homeland security was denied access by president Bush to a document that authorizes how the government will operate in the event of the next terrorist attack.
    You must contact your US congressional representative now and demand impeachment or risk loosing our representative form of government.

  22. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think you guys are reading too much into this – I doubt that the Constitutional Order in the United States is in any grave danger now. Was not US in more danger in that regard under LBJ? Or Lincoln? Or Jackson?

  23. zanzibar says:

    What we have is an Administration that is out of control and has no respect for the Constitution, the law, Congress or tradition. They are willing to flout all norms and laws and challenge anyone to stand up to them. They have demonstrated that they will take actions that are extreme and state they are above the law and no one can force them to do anything.
    The Administration has made it clear that will not respond to any subpoena issued by Congress which is a co-equal branch under our Constitution. They have further stated that they will order the DoJ to not prosecute any contempt citation voted by Congress. So effectively this Administration has stated that Congress cannot enforce any actions.
    So what will they do next? Will they just order the treasury to pay bills for which Congress has not appropriated funds? Who will prevent that from happening if the Treasury chose to obey Bush’s orders? Who will the military listen to – the Commander Guy or Congress? Is this what a coup looks like? Does America care?

  24. linda says:

    david shuster reported on msnbc friday night that it was ‘very likely and almost probable’ that gates read and signed off on edelman’s letter.
    so, in light of the comments that the pentagon is being restricted in its contingency planning, is it possible that gates gave edelman just enough rope to hang himself with — presuming the response to the letter would be outrage and condemnation leading to edelman’s ouster. result being the removal of a significant cheneyite from the pentagon.
    have we really reached thaat level of intrigue, or is it just too late on a saturday nite…

  25. Martin K says:

    Sir, you write: “She seems to have asked when told that the armed forces were not being allowed to do such planning in secret.”
    How is that possible? Who has the formal power to deny paths of contigency-planning? How is that technically possible, who has that power? Because, if real, that is a really remarkable decision wich makes it hard not to draw conclusions to other small corporals who decided that there would be no retreat on the eastern front, and damn the generals… How did that power get into politics, that politicans have the power to determine what the army is allowed to plan for?

  26. When all shall be said and done, there will be little to say about George Bush that Dr. Seuss has not said, earlier and better, about Yertle the Turtle.

  27. Bernie says:

    It seems to me that congress/senate will not be able to ‘push back’ on this administration until the citizens push their republican representatives harder. This will happen if they are threathened with their careers in the balance. It explains why a few of them are already comming around to the democrat’s way of thinking. I believe it is only a matter of time. It will happen in less than 18 months, unless of course something happens at that ‘tipping point’!

  28. Rider says:

    This White House evidently thinks of Congress in much the same way that Saddam Hussein thought of the Iraqi Parliament in his day.
    We have learned more about “democracy” from Iraq than the other way around?

  29. robt willmann says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    Unfortunately, people are not reading enough into this statement by Eric Edelman and other acts by the executive branch. The constitutional order in this country is in grave danger.
    The key is that the destruction of the democratic republic is being done in a step by step fashion that makes it appear to be legal, through Congress and the federal courts.
    Congress has been passing laws that make conduct legal that previously was illegal and would indeed have gotten someone impeached and removed from office. But not now. And the Bush jr administration has deliberately taken actions that it knows will be challenged in federal court, but has been rolling the dice that the federal judges presently on the courts of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, as opposed to the federal trial courts (district courts), will not strike them down.
    To trace this would require a long article or even a small or not-so-small book.
    And also since this is late in the thread, here are some quick examples.
    The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 5122), which became Public Law 109-364 when signed by the the president on 17 October 2006, says in part, in section 1076, that–
    “(a) Use of Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies-
    (1) The President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to–
    (A) restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that–
    (i) domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order; and
    (ii) such violence results in a condition described in paragraph (2); or
    (B) suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such insurrection, violation, combination, or conspiracy results in a condition described in paragraph (2).”
    [Now here is part of paragraph 2]
    “2) A condition described in this paragraph is a condition that–
    (B) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.”
    There is no congressional limit imposed on the president’s exercise of this “authority”, which is not limited in duration (parse the tricky language below) and which is not subject to ratification by and with the consent of Congress.
    Subsection (b) says–
    “(b) Notice to Congress- The President shall notify Congress of the determination to exercise the authority in subsection (a)(1)(A) as soon as practicable after the determination and every 14 days thereafter during the duration of the exercise of that authority.”
    Notice that the president only has to notify Congress every 14 days under subsection (a)(1)(A), and does not have to under the vague section (a)(1)(B). Of course, subsection (a)(1)(A) is grossly vague itself.
    Note, too, that this new authority is not limited to deploying the National Guard
    domestically, but also includes the “armed forces”, meaning the military.
    Congress, in the Homeland Security Act of 2002, established a secret, internal security apparatus in this country for the first time, something that is an anathema to, and always unnecessary in, a free and stable society.
    The Real ID Act of 2005 (H.R.1268 and Public Law 109-13), which was buried in an emergency supplemental appropriations bill, makes your state drivers license or ID card a national ID card, under the legal gimmick that “a Federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver’s license or identification card issued by a State to any person unless the State is meeting the requirements of this section.”
    On the federal court side, Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was seized on U.S. soil, placed in a military jail,
    charged with no crime, denied access to a lawyer, and was subject to “no touch” torture.
    When the U.S. Supreme Court was going to review his case, he was transferred to the federal court system and charged with a crime, and that trial court has not dismissed the indictment for governmental misconduct.
    The practice of “rendition”, or detaining persons and sending them to foreign countries to be tortured, remains in place, as does the indefinite dention facility at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo)–not stopped by Congress or the courts.
    The list is long and is getting longer. All now made legal.
    To make this heppen required the PsyOp of September 2001 and the hype of mass media.
    That operation was extraordinarily successful. It prodded Congress to pass autocratic laws and adopt the impossible idea of a war on a technique or tactic, which is what the “war on terror or terrorism” propaganda device is. It has affected the attitudes of judges on the federal courts who, rather than blocking the autocratic behavior, meekly defer to it.
    You see, you cannot impeach and remove from office, or charge with treason, or even sue for money, a person in the executive branch of government who is doing something that a vague law passed by Congress says can be done, and that federal courts have not prohibited.

  30. rjj says:

    Ten years ago my ears twitched [metaphorically]when Dick Morris, referring to something innocuous, talked about proceeding by “little baby steps.” I “realized” that Little Baby Steps was a general MO.
    Thus they have been given their Enabling Act. Much of it anyway.

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    robt willman:
    Thank you for your detailed response.
    Are there any challenges to these laws in the Federal Courts?

  32. Arun says:

    May be of interest:
    My representative Congressman Rush Holt (D- NJ 12th district) held a townhall meeting today, which I attended. There were many tens of people there. Troubling to me were that the number of incoherent (a PC term for scared sh*tless) people that were there for whom illegal immigration is the main source of terrorism – the build-a-wall-on-the border, fight-them-in-Iraq so they-don’t-fight-us-in-Freehold types. The Congressman was very adroit in disentangling their concerns into the separate issues and then talking about how one might address them.
    But I want to report here about what I remember of Rep. Holt’s thoughts on impeachment of the President. It is from memory only, I don’t even have notes, and is a composite of answers to several questions, and in my own words. So it is really what I heard rather than what he said.
    Holt believes that he won his election to Congress in 1998 at least in part because of reaction to the impeachment of Clinton which he condemned as a partisan affair. He fears that if a substantial minority – even 25% – begin to have the attitude that “we lost the last elections, but we have impeachment – the country is in trouble. So the second of the two conditions he thought necessary for impeachment was that it not be seen as a partisan issue. So far no significant slice of Republicans have signed up for impeachment.
    In short – impeachable though this President is, having a partisan impeachment would be worse than what we currently have. What happened with Clinton has to stop there, and not become a political custom.
    Holt thought that the suspension of habeas corpus, the warrantless wiretapping, the policy of torture all rose to the level of impeachable offenses. He said that probably most people in the room could compose a Bill of Particulars for impeachment. But he did not think that the vast majority of Americans had any sense of what is at stake. To them, we are talking about the rights of some stranger, an unfamiliar looking person with an Arab-sounding name. Unless they themselves feel threatened, they will not sign on to impeachment. Still far too many of them tell him in essence, I’ll sign away my rights if it makes me safer. So we have a job of education to do.
    He said that the Declaration of Independence was a Bill of Particulars, and its virtue was that everyone at that time understood them. Everyone today would have a different set of grievances in their version of such, and until it became one, “our Bill of Particulars”, (this is the first of the two conditions) impeachment would go nowhere.
    Holt thought that rather than having this neon sign “Impeachment” at which half the country would turn one way and half the other, it was important to firmly mark out that “Habeas Corpus cannot be suspended”, “Wire-tapping without a court warrant will not be allowed”, etc.; impeachment in the current political climate would only be a distraction.
    So as of now, Holt has not signed up on HR333 and is not considering impeachment as a real possibility.

  33. Poilu says:

    michael savoca: Agreed absolutely, and then some. If the “writing on the wall” regarding our forced march towards dictatorship were any MORE glaring, we might well be blinded by it!
    Here’s yet another insidious revelation to augmenr your own above. If these draconian diktats are not forcefully rejected, our time as a republic is indeed over:
    “Bush Executive Order: Criminalizing the Antiwar Movement”
    By Prof. Michel Chossudovsky [Global Research]
    ‘ The Executive Order entitled “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq” provides the President with the authority to confiscate the assets of whoever opposes the US led war. …’

  34. dano says:

    Joe Klein, (who I prefer not to read or quote) writes:

    Not sure if others have noted this yet, but the Pentagon official who strafed Hillary Clinton yesterday — Under Secretary Eric Edelman — is a former aide to Dick Cheney. I interviewed him in Ankara once when he was U.S. Ambassador to Turkey and his office was festooned with Cheney photos. I wonder what the SecDef, who is not a Cheneyite, thinks about all this.

    Festooned… Yet another vassal who took a loyalty oath not to Constitution but to Overlord.

  35. rjj says:

    “(i) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order, and (ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.”
    I read this to mean economic excommunication. Anyone doing business of any sort with someone whose property has been blocked risks having to defend themselves against a charge of violating this decree/dicktat.
    If that IS the case, such persons should be obliged to wear an emblem of some sort to warn people. [/bitter]
    Is there a legal definition of “act of violence” ???

  36. rjj says:

    Arun, doesn’t Holt realize that the loudest voices for impeachment are not Dems but palaeoconservatives?

  37. Montag says:

    On August 19, 1934, the German people voted in a plebiscite to ratify the combination of the offices of President and Chancellor in the person of Adolf Hitler as Fuhrer. Some 95% of the registered voters participated, and the measure passed with 90% of the vote. The next day all German government officials and all members of the Armed Forces were required to take a personal oath of loyalty to Hitler.
    The oath for officals: “I swear: I shall be loyal and obedient to Adolf Hitler, the Fuhrer of the German Reich and people, respect the laws, and fulfill my official duties conscientiously, so help me God.”
    The oath for soldiers: “I swear by God this sacred oath: I will render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, the Fuhrer of the German Reich and people, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and will be ready as a brave soldier to risk my life at any time for this oath.”
    This oath effectively made the German Armed Forces the personal instrument of Hitler. After the war some German war criminals tried to plead that their oath relieved them of any personal responsibility or culpability for their actions, since they were only “obeying orders.” They didn’t get very far with this.

  38. ked says:

    “Was not US in more danger in that regard under LBJ? Or Lincoln? Or Jackson?”
    No, Jackson represented a popular reaction to excess centralized power. Lincoln was a saint, a brilliant one at that, unlike most men. LBJ was a flawed man, & while everyone knew it, so did he. The Constitution was the rules-of-game within which they operated – to varying degrees of success. Bush doesn’t play games he knows he would lose, or obey rules he doesn’t like – it’s beneath him.

  39. Arun says:

    rjj, some of the municipalities in Rep. Holt’s district had grievous losses on 9/11, so I can understand but not condone their fearfulness. They don’t see the loss of habeas corpus, warrantless wiretapping, and endless foreign wars, etc., as things directed against themselves. Their primary urge is for safety. To them, this President is a Great Protector, and they do not understand why anyone would want to impeach him.
    Sorry to say, the Monmouth battlefield of the Revolutionary war is scarcely a mile north of where this meeting took place; and they don’t understand this “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety – Benjamin Franklin”.
    Since even an elementary regard for the facts and a little reasoning would show them how wrong they are, all I can conclude is that their fear has addled their wits.

  40. Dana J says:

    If Bush is allowed to hand power to his successor without a serious challenge from Congress to his violations of the Constitution, then it will amount to a de facto ratification of Caesarism by the legislative branch.
    John: Change Bush to Cheney and you have it right, Bush is just the figurehead. Now I have long felt that the way this administration is consolidating power in the executive that they either planned to pass the executive on to a candidate of their choosing, or create the circumstances to keep it, i.e. stay in office. Since the last election showed that Karl Rove’s planned “Permanent Republican Majority” (PRM) won’t happen, this leaves Cheney with only a couple of options for the next election. One is to assure that the Republican candidate of his choice wins, even if it means the opposing candidate is eliminated permanently. Or if that can’t be accomplished, create some excuse to postpone the elections due to a crises. I think if they wait until after the elections, there will be too much chaos and they will be forced to use military means here at home, and with the N.G. and reserves all in Iraq, that won’ be as easy. I mean just think about it, can you see Dick Cheney handing over all the power that he has spent his life accumulating up to this point to Hillary R. Clinton (&Bill)? I don’t. Dick never planned to have to hand over the power to someone not of his choosing, especially HRC, but with Rove’s PRM not happening, they can’t afford to have a Democratic administration & Congress conducting investigations after they leave office, even with the shredding and hard disk wiping, there will still be evidence that can be used against them for whatever the investigations uncover. Dana J.

  41. Dave of Maryland says:

    Hello Dana,
    You’re right. I can’t see Dick handing over anything to the next Prez. If you’ve followed the independent 9-11 investigations & if you’re comfortable with the increasingly clear conclusion that something indeed smells in the Kingdom of Denmark, then it may be time to jump ahead a bit.
    If you combine 9-11 (which included the total destruction of a perfectly undamaged building: WTC7) with American-made anthrax & the original Patriot Act into one main event with one single group behind them all, then their “encore” could go something like this:
    If the president-elect, the vice-president elect & maybe two or three others were murdered, in Washington, in the hours before their inauguration, it would go like this:
    Blame would immediately be placed on a motley group from Iran, Hezbollah & Hamas. They would be found to have worked out of some Democratic Congressional office. The military would be called out to garrison the White House, and to encircle the Capitol. Lacking any incoming leadership, the existing prez & VP would carry on as “caretakers” until some sort of arrangement could be made. With troops in the street, and Congress forcibly disbanded, do you think those arrangements would happen anytime soon?
    The net effect of such murders, hours before the inauguration, when hopes were running so high that the end of this nightmare was now at hand, would be a deep, deep shock.
    Whoever is elected must exercise the greatest caution until well-after they are officially installed in office.
    This, to me, is a far more likely scenario than the widely anticipated crisis that cancels the elections outright, or the widely anticipated attack on Iran. We’re expecting those. If Bush & Cheney go that route, the entire country will call them on it.

  42. Arun says:

    News from tpmcafe
    “Ratcheting up her war with the Pentagon, Hillary Clinton is joining with Senators Jim Webb, Evan Bayh, and Robert Byrd to demand that the Senate Committee on Armed Services hold hearings to determine the status of the Pentagon’s contingency plans for withdrawal with Iraq.”

  43. Montag says:

    Dave of Maryland,
    The 20th Amendment to the Constitution has that evenuality covered. Bush and Cheney are OUT “at noon on the 20th day of January,” 2009. The new Congress is sworn in on the 3rd of January. “…and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.” The same applies for the deaths of the candidates during selection. It’s still up to Congress.
    There’s also the happy fact that the terms of office of the Cabinet members don’t expire until they’re actually replaced. So Defense Secretary Gates would be a stumbling block to any such plot.
    Any attempt by Bush or Cheney to wield power after Noon of Jan. 20, 2009 would be an act of treason and insurrection against the government of the United States, unless Congress was so stupid as to authorize it. I don’t think they’d be in the mood to authorize the renewal of such a Confederacy of Dunces.
    Any military officer who obeyed their orders would be sticking his head in a noose. There’s that famous story that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was asked what he would done if Nixon had called to give him an order AFTER he had resigned. The General thought for a moment and replied, “Sorry, wrong number.”

  44. Poilu says:

    ‘ The oath for officals: “I swear: I shall be loyal and obedient to Adolf Hitler, the Fuhrer of the German Reich and people, respect the laws, and fulfill my official duties conscientiously, so help me God.” ‘
    Montag: Sounds very much like the oath Sara Taylor (and several other loyal Bushies) must have taken in lieu of the more traditional swearing of Constitutional allegiance.
    I always wondered whether Bush and Cheney would eventually seek to institute a Fuehrer Oath all their own. Now it strongly appears they have — “on the sly”, of course, as always.

  45. Montag says:

    Well, that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? How many Americans have bought into the notion that Bush is the reincarnation of Louis XIV insisting, “L’etat c’est moi.” I am the state. Many see nothing wrong with any of his shennanigans.
    Rudyard Kipling had an apt verse in his poem “If:”
    “If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools….”

  46. Dana J says:

    Dave of Maryland: No, I don’t see things playing out quite like that, Dick Cheney is more subtle. I think that there might be more something along the likes of an accident, plane crash or such just prior to the election. Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but look at the democratic candidates that had odd plane crashes in the past ten years (and the dead guy STILL won the election). I also think that if one of the candidates was Obama and he was assassinated just before the inauguration, the resulting riots across the country would make the Rodney King riots look like a boy scout parade, do you remember what that was like? There were riots in major cities across the US, I recall living in SF at the time an hearing this loud roar coming from the downtown area and thinking that it might just get a lot worse, which fortunately it didn’t. But there is a lot of pent up rage out there that I wouldn’t want to see let loose.
    Dana J.

  47. Cold War Zoomie says:

    The tinfoil hat virus is spreading.
    These Bushie knuckleheads are bad, but not that bad.
    We’ll have a peaceful transition to a new admin in January 2009.

  48. Poilu says:

    A starkly compelling analysis offering profound revelations about our own national psyche. The parallels to 21st Century America are in a great many instances devastatingly clear.
    “Why Germans Supported Hitler”
    By Jacob G. Hornberger
    [The Future of Freedom Foundation]
    ‘ It has long intrigued me why the German people supported Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime. After all, every schoolchild in America is taught that Hitler and his Nazi cohorts were the very epitome of evil. How could ordinary German citizens support people who were so obviously monstrous in nature? …’

  49. Poilu says:

    Perhaps an even more fitting couplet from Kipling regarding our current ‘leadership’:
    “If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers lied.”
    [“Epitaphs of the War 1914 – 18”]

  50. Comment says:

    Col – The Cheney bio writer Stephen Hayes was on MTP last Sunday and suggested that Cheney indicated he was wrong about the insurgency being in “last throes” because he hads been reading Intel reports about Zarqawi being on the run, etc.
    If Hayes is being honest – this would suggest that Cheney sincerely believed that Zarqawi and the foreign jihadis were the dominant force of the insurgency. In other words – they were so deeply misled ar that point by their reports.
    A cyncical view might sugest that Cheney and Hayes and Co are spining and lying so as to excuse a past lie whilst trying to link AQI to Qaeda and 9-11.
    In any event – how can you plan for a withdrawl if you are so misled as Cheney implies he was?

  51. Arun says:

    Cold War Zoomie, there apparently was a plot to overthrow FDR in 1933, as per the BBC.
    Who would have thought it?

  52. Arun says:

    Dear Col. Lang,
    A friend is asking the seemingly reasonable question – why should it take much longer to get of Iraq than it took to get in?
    My brief answer is that we went in light, we are leaving heavy. But any insight into what precisely makes a withdrawal a long-drawn-out affair I’d really appreciate.

  53. W. Patrick Lang says:

    If we wished to abandon our equipment and completely “wash our hands” of the situation in Iraq, we could leave very fast. Chaos would result and we would never get replacements for a lot of the tanks, etc. pl

  54. dan says:

    Iraq has turned into something of a black hole for US military equipment – stuff gets sent in, but, aviation assets apart, rarely comes out intact these days.
    18 months back there was a suggestion that Iraq and Afghanistan were generating equipment reset costs for the army alone of $2 billion per month; I doubt that there is a literal decimation of army kit – but at a 5% attrition rate we’re looking at an installed capital base of some 1/2 trillion dollars deployed in/sustaining Iraq. This may be “manageable” if you’re looking at a long-haul presence over 10-20 years – if you have to leave at short notice, it means abandoning a large chunk of the army’s equipment assets, some of which will end up in Syria and Iran.
    It’s the “Macbeth” conundrum.

  55. Arun says:

    That $500 billion of military assets moved into Iraq is not something most people realize – I certainly did not. Most discussions about the cost of war center around expenses, not capital (expenses).
    Yes, evacuating $500 billion worth of assets while having fewer and fewer feet on the ground for security does make a withdrawal difficult.

  56. Montag says:

    More like the ancient Spartan admonition, “Return with your shield or on it.”

  57. PrchrLady says:

    Excellent comments, as always. I have a question, on the part of the discussion of quick vs. prolonged withdrawal. Most of the equipment there will probably not be of a great deal of value, considering we sent most of the old Nat. Guard equipment, if I am not mistaken. None of it is worth the powder to blow it up, but don’t we at least owe it to the Iraqis who will need it to defend themselves once we do leave??? one last thought, we could also sell it to Haliburton or KBR, or one of those other corporate war profiteers, and let their mercenaries use them… of course, we should remove all sensitive military secret info first…

  58. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Prchr Lady
    I think you greatly undervalue the equipment. In particular, the tanks, Bradleys, Strykers, marine LAVs, artillery, aircraft and other high value end-items that can be put in factory re-build. The Abrams tank bodies and turrets alone are worth a fortune and will be hard to replace given all the “revolution in military thinking” baloney out there. pl

  59. Montag says:

    Your are correct. I saw a news report on the Red River Army Depot which said they have a THREE YEAR backlog of wrecks to recondition, even if the war ended immediately.
    PrchrLady’s suggestion of selling off our assets in-country reminded me of this item from “A Wargamer’s Guide To The Crusades:”
    “1150–The Franks abandoned the remainder of the County of Edessa, selling its major fortresses to the Byzantines, from whom the Moslems had captured them all by the middle of 1151.”
    Not a very encouraging precedent.

  60. searp says:

    While we are on the subject of equipment, I talked to an AF COL that told me the C130s being used in theater are getting four times the number of hours they are supposed to get per year. “Flying the wings off” was the colorful phrase.

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