Sunday, March 26, 2006

'Unit's' military expert calls Iraq utter debacle!

'Unit's' military expert has fighting words for Bush
By David Kronke, TV Critic
Eric Haney, a retired command sergeant major of the U.S. Army, was a founding member of Delta Force, the military's elite covert counter-terrorist unit. He culled his experiences for "Inside Delta Force" (Delta; $14), a memoir rich with harrowing stories, though in an interview, Haney declines with a shrug to estimate the number of times he was almost killed. (Perhaps the most high-profile incident that almost claimed his life was the 1980 failed rescue of the hostages in Iran.) Today, he's doing nothing nearly as dangerous: He serves as an executive producer and technical adviser for "The Unit," CBS' new hit drama based on his book, developed by playwright David Mamet. Even up against "American Idol," "The Unit" shows muscle, drawing 18 million viewers in its first two airings.
Since he has devoted his life to protecting his country in some of the world's most dangerous hot spots, you might assume Haney is sympathetic to the Bush administration's current plight in Iraq (the laudatory cover blurb on his book comes from none other than Fox's News' Bill O'Reilly). But he's also someone with close ties to the Pentagon, so he's privy to information denied the rest of us.
We recently spoke to Haney, an amiable, soft-spoken Southern gentleman, on the set of "The Unit."
Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?
A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.
We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.
Q: What is the cost to our country?
A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we had. ... And I say "we," because the American public went along with this. They voted for a second Bush administration out of fear, so fear is what they're going to have from now on.
Our military is completely consumed, so were there a real threat - thankfully, there is no real threat to the U.S. in the world, but were there one, we couldn't confront it. Right now, that may not be a bad thing, because that keeps Bush from trying something with Iran or with Venezuela.
The harm that has been done is irreparable. There are more than 2,000 American kids that have been killed. Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed ñ which no one in the U.S. really cares about those people, do they? I never hear anybody lament that fact. It has been a horror, and this administration has worked overtime to divert the American public's attention from it. Their lies are coming home to roost now, and it's gonna fall apart. But somebody's gonna have to clear up the aftermath and the harm that it's done just to what America stands for. It may be two or three generations in repairing.
Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney ...
A: (Interrupting) That's Cheney's pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It's worse than small-minded, and look what it does.
I've argued this on Bill O'Reilly and other Fox News shows. I ask, who would you want to pay to be a torturer? Do you want someone that the American public pays to torture? He's an employee of yours. It's worse than ridiculous. It's criminal; it's utterly criminal. This administration has been masters of diverting attention away from real issues and debating the silly. Debating what constitutes torture: Mistreatment of helpless people in your power is torture, period. And (I'm saying this as) a man who has been involved in the most pointed of our activities. I know it, and all of my mates know it. You don't do it. It's an act of cowardice. I hear apologists for torture say, "Well, they do it to us." Which is a ludicrous argument. ... The Saddam Husseins of the world are not our teachers. Christ almighty, we wrote a Constitution saying what's legal and what we believed in. Now we're going to throw it away.
Q: As someone who repeatedly put your life on the line, did some of the most hair-raising things to protect your country, and to see your country behave this way, that must be ...
A: It's pretty galling. But ultimately I believe in the good and the decency of the American people, and they're starting to see what's happening and the lies that have been told. We're seeing this current house of cards start to flutter away. The American people come around. They always do.

Retired Supreme Court Justice warns of Dictatorship

Retired Supreme Court Justice hits attacks on courts and warns of dictatorship
RAW STORYPublished: March 10, 2006

Supreme Court justices keep many opinions private but Sandra Day O’Connor no longer faces that obligation. Yesterday, the retired justice criticized Republicans who criticized the courts. She said they challenge the independence of judges and the freedoms of all Americans. O’Connor’s speech at Georgetown University was not available for broadcast but NPR’s legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg was there.
Nina Totenberg: In an unusually forceful and forthright speech, O’Connor said that attacks on the judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms. O’Connor began by conceding that courts do have the power to make presidents or the Congress or governors, as she put it “really, really angry.” But, she continued, if we don’t make them mad some of the time we probably aren’t doing our jobs as judges, and our effectiveness, she said, is premised on the notion that we won’t be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts. The nation’s founders wrote repeatedly, she said, that without an independent judiciary to protect individual rights from the other branches of government those rights and privileges would amount to nothing. But, said O’Connor, as the founding fathers knew statutes and constitutions don’t protect judicial independence, people do.

POLITICAL: Iraq is Bleeding

"The Country Is Bleeding"
by georgia10
Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 08:39:01 PM PDT
It was less than a week ago that U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad stated that "the country is bleeding," though he insisted that the violence was not yet a civil war. Recent developments in Iraq reveal the country isn't just bleeding--it's hemorrhaging, and unfortunately, it appears there is little doubt that Iraq is suffering from an all-out civil war.
Politically, the process of forming a unity government has stalled. After meeting for just a half hour last week, the Iraqi leaders have failed to make substantial progress towards forming a government. While Bush and Rice make excuses about how difficult the process of forming a government can be, Democrats are calling on the administration to show some leadership and tell the Iraqis to either get their act together or lose our support.
On the security front, what is occuring in Iraq is nothing short of "sectarian cleansing," as one Kurdish member of the Iraqi Parliament put it. The New York Times reports "security is deteriorating by the hour." Thirty beheaded Iraqis were found today. Bodies are being found by the dozens and car bombs continue to explode. The leading Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr narrowly escaped getting killed in a mortar attack on his camp. American forces clashed with members of his militia today in/near a mosque (reports differ), killing 17 or 20 "insurgents." The police claim 22 bystanders died and al-Sadr's aides claim 18 innocent men were killed (after allegedly being tied up and shot). More on this story from the New York Times here. As the confusion and chaos escalates, Shiite politicians are accusing the U.S. of a "massacre." The incident, according to one source, has "injured the whole political process."
American forces also found a secret prison where prisoners were secretly held and apparently tortured by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. They arrested 40 policemen in the raid. An Iraqi police major was also arrested for heading up a death squad. The militias are out of control. Ambassador Khalilzad stated that "[m]ore Iraqis are dying today from the militia violence than from the terrorists."
The country is bleeding. In the heart of Baghdad, Shiite and Sunni militias are already fighting for control over districts, with scores of Iraqis killed as a result:
"The fighting will only stop when a new balance of power has emerged," Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader, said. "Sunni and Shia will each take control of their own area." He said sectarian cleansing had already begun.
Many Iraqi leaders now believe that civil war is inevitable but it will be confined, at least at first, to the capital and surrounding provinces where the population is mixed. "The real battle will be the battle for Baghdad where the Shia have increasing control," said one senior official who did not want his name published. "The army will disintegrate in the first moments of the war because the soldiers are loyal to the Shia, Sunni or Kurdish communities and not to the government." He expected the Americans to stay largely on the sidelines.
The American plan, according to Donald Rumsfeld, is indeed to stay on the sidelines as the Iraqi Army we trained disintegrates and the Iraqi people we promised to protect from terror see terror firsthand in their streets and in their homes. As reports stream out from Iraq, it appears that what we feared and hoped to never see is finally occurring: a complete breakdown in order, and an all-out civil war in Iraq. At last word, the Iraqi leaders are debating on having the entire Parliament chose Iraqi's new Prime Minister, in the hopes that the sooner a government is formed, the sooner the infighting in their country stops. Can a stabilized political process stop the chaos before it reaches a tipping point? Is the country already there? Can the bleeding, for the sake of Iraqis and our troops in harm's way, finally be stopped?