Backtalk, January 27, 2009

Prosecute George W. Bush for Illegal Acts

Mr. Eland,

You have omitted, whether intentionally or not, one of the most significant impediments, from Obama’s point of view, to a full-scale investigation of Bushco war crimes and, in the Valerie Plame case, outright treason: The complicity of the Democrats. The illegal spying program was cleared with Jay Rockefeller, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, et al., and they passed on it. How hard would it have been to tell Bush to stop within a week or suffer exposure, alert the AG (for all the good that would have done), and then defend against any official secrets prosecution on choice-of-evils grounds? How hard would it have been to write to the AG and demand suspension of the spying program pending an internal investigation? …

~ Larry Olstad

Bringing the Arab-Israeli War Home

It’s a bit disingenuous for Michael Scheuer to be so cavalier about the slaughter going on in Gaza right now. Scheuer wants so very much to pretend that the murderous bombing of Gaza happened in a vacuum, entirely disconnected from American influence and decision-making. He knows full well that the slaughter in Gaza and the continued occupation of the Palestinians is a Made-in-America project from start to finish. The entire Zionist enterprise would have collapsed long ago if the U.S. hadn’t taken on the yoke of Israel’s protector back in the 1960s and even before.

Furthermore, while dozens if not hundreds of children and mothers are dying mercilessly from American-made tanks and jets and bombs, it’s totally insensitive of him to have written that it would be so much nicer if an uninvolved America could simply be “marveling over the madness of two religions fighting to the death over a barren sandpit at the eastern end of the Mediterranean.” Well, isn’t that what’s going on now? Passing on such historically inaccurate characterizations of that battle, though it isn’t the focus of his article, dehumanizes those who have paid with their lives for the crime of simply trying to live. …

~ Sellam Ismail

The Liberals’ Grand Bargain

What the current refinements to U.S. military projection demonstrate are two very important facts. First, the wars the former administration began are going to take a long time to sort out; they have emboldened both Iran and Israel in their recent actions, and the entire flirtation with chaos is likely going to expand beyond our means to control the outcome. Second, and most importantly, Washington, D.C., is Washington, D.C.-occupied territory. A government that willfully and determinedly creates a budget that is dominated by the Pentagon and Social Security is a nation that is marking time, concentrating on death, and ignoring the future. This devil-may-care concern for the future is underscored by a Treasury Department that considers the printing press to be a tool of fiscal management.

Bringing the sordid Guantanamo fiasco to a close is a positive development that is long overdue, and the president deserves praise for doing so. However, this leaves the larger issue about the diminishing returns of state militarism, and if we review first impressions, it does not appear that it will go away under this administration.

There is no conspiracy here, just good old-fashioned late-stage bureaucratic sclerosis, the kind that causes strokes and leaves the national body a cripple, unaware of who or where it is.

~ Dirk W. Sabin, Marbledale, Conn.

Calling Gitmo What It Is

[M]r. Arendt’s allegations are almost all completely speculative and exaggerated. While some of what he claims to have happened does indeed have factual overtones, it is my opinion that he is greatly embellishing an inaccurate picture.

I was a member of the 119th Field Artillery and was also in Guantanamo with Mr. Arendt, and remember him quite well. Unlike the two months he served on the block, I spent all of my deployment working on the cell blocks with other soldiers and military personnel, less the last three weeks due to a sports-related injury.

It is my opinion, if your publication did any kind of follow-up on such a serious accusation, by speaking with other members of the 119th who were there, you would get a different perspective.

Not once does Mr. Arendt speak of what it was like for the military men and women guarding these detained personnel. It was not a walk in the park for any of us either. Almost daily we were harassed by the detainees. Many detainees would make personal insults and tell us they were so glad to see the “twin towers” fall and other such anti-American comments. Beyond verbal abuse from many of the detainees there were also physical altercations. It was a very common occurrence for a guard to be doused with a detainee-made “cocktail” consisting of feces and urine. Also there were many instances in which detainees would head-butt, kick, scratch, and punch any guard when they got a chance. One detainee told me flat out as long as I wear an American flag I will always be the enemy. And even through all this, our commanders still taught and enforced fair treatment. Constantly our commanders would tell us our job is not to abuse or mistreat, but to protect and be responsible for the basic necessities of the detained personnel. Of course I cannot speak for every commander and soldier during my time in “Gitmo”; I speak only to my own experience during the year I was deployed there. The same year as Mr. Arendt.

I would totally support Mr. Arendt’s claims if they were factual. I am a two-time veteran, and I don’t always agree with my country’s policies and practices, but I still hold firm that despite our mistakes we are still one of the most fair and open-minded countries.

It is my job to protect the liberties of fellow Americans, such as Mr. Arendt’s, and I do it with pride. I believe all the attention he has received since voicing his constitutional right to free speech, however, has gone to his head. It would be beneficial for your publication to check your sources a little more thoroughly than what you have appeared to do.

~ John Herrick

A Republic, Not a Democracy

Hi, my name is George Phelps, and I live in League City, Texas, with my wife of 57 years. I’m a decorated Korean War combat veteran and a retired aerospace engineer.

There, now you know about me.

I think this article is wonderful! I have never been able to explain to my colleagues the difference between a republic and a democracy, except to say that a republic, by virtue of our Constitution, protects the nation against special interests, the corruption of government, and the people themselves.

This article says it all. I know this article is going on four years old, but it is just as valid today as it was then. It’s in my “save” file, and I often go to my save file to refresh my memory on the various issues and historical information. …

As old Ben Franklin said, “A republic – if you can keep it.” Looks like it’s slipping away from us. How sad!

~ George Phelps


Previous Backtalk