The Bush administration has extended secrecy to unprecedented levels, covering virtually every aspect of government and concealing documents and actions heretofore available to Congress and the public. The claim is made that this secrecy is needed as a matter of national defense on one hand, and in order to provide the President with a wide range of opinions on the other. The result is a dramatic loss of freedom and democracy.
Erik Prince looks like the all-American boy but don’t let the good looks fool you.
The trim, articulate 38-year-old served in the Navy SEALs, an elite commando unit. Ten years ago, Prince decided the particular set of skills used by himself and others could be put to more lucrative use on the private market, so he started Blackwater USA, a firm of mercenaries for hire, killers for profit who have profited extremely well in President George W. Bush’s illegal and immoral war in Iraq.
With these fateful words, today’s New York Times article on Blackwater finishes off another tawdry, bloody, and very disturbing tale.
It is well worth reading, although get ready to weep at the end.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, there are three distinct battles being played out, in three very different locations.
The US House of Representatives on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to require President George W. Bush to tell Congress how he plans to eventually extricate US troops from Iraq.
Though the measure does not include the timetables for withdrawal that Bush has long resisted, it does require him to lay out how much contingency planning is being done for an eventual pull-back of American soldiers.
The bill, which passed by a vote of 377 to 46 after securing the support of lawmakers from Bush’s Republican Party, would not require the president to change his Iraq strategy.
The boss of US security contractor Blackwater Tuesday denied his staff ran riot like “cowboys” and said they acted appropriately in a Baghdad shootout which left at least 10 Iraqis dead.
Company founder and chief executive Erik Prince, an ex-Navy SEAL who had previously shunned the limelight, warned lawmakers there had been a “rush to judgment” over the deadly September 16 shooting.
Prince, wearing a suit and close cropped hair, confronted hostile Democratic lawmakers determined to put his firm, which has reportedly scooped one billion dollars in US government contracts, in the dock.
Hillary Rodham Clinton defied the usual slow flow of summer money, tapping 100,000 new donors and outpacing all other presidential candidates in the chase for campaign cash over the past three months.
The New York senator raised $27 million in the quarter — $22 million for the primaries and $5 million for the general election — while other candidates fell victim to the traditional third-quarter dip in fundraising.
Domineering Donald Rumsfeld may be gone from the Pentagon, but his legacy lingers.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was often compared to a predecessor, Robert McNamara, another strong personality with a habit of making up his mind in advance of events. As the Vietnam War unfolded in the 1960s, McNamara, an accountant and statistician, fixated on quantitative measures of progress. Attrition was the order of the day, enemy body counts and weapons captured the measure of progress.
Nationalism is perhaps the most interesting delusion of modern times. Its power is illustrated by the fact that lots of otherwise sensible people are unapologetic nationalists, even though nationalism requires its adherents to subscribe to various bizarre beliefs.
Theodore Roosevelt is much on our minds in Newport, R.I., with the centennial of the Great White Fleet’s epic world cruise fast approaching. (The fleet departed Hampton Roads in December 1907.) But the Roosevelt era can also inform the strident debate over Iraq. In recent weeks, President Bush proclaimed that abandoning Iraq would set in motion a bloodletting comparable to the one following the Vietnam War.
Similarly, Army Gen. David Petraeus cautioned Congress against an abrupt pullout.
In all likelihood, TR would echo these warnings.