My take on the last week-to-ten-days of news.
The Kid Who Got Tasered.
Is doesn’t matter if The Kid Who Got Tasered, formerly known as Andrew Meyer, did it as a jackass stunt or to get on TV/in the newspaper. Regardless, he was tasered and arrested for asking one too many annoying questions at a political forum and Q-and-A with Senator John Kerry (D-Ma). That’s a crime? Kerry said he’s answer the questions but the campus police swarmed in and physically restrained–then tasered, repeatedly, a 21 year-old kid (he’s a kid until he gets a job and moves out from Mom and Dad’s place for good). As I see it, the kid’s “crime” wasn’t a crime at all, merely the exercise of his CONSTITUTIONALLY-PROTECTED RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH AND TO PEACEABLY ASSEMBLE. End of story. Stop making him out to be a publicity hound taking the media spotlight off “real” news, Matt Felling (here), or a bad writer who took the cheap and easy way to a CNN interview by taking 50,000 volts to the gut (here). When I was 21 I cared about three things: beer and girls and gas money. I know The Andrew Meyer is WAY ahead of me at 21, and seemingly most of his peers. And if he interns with Greg Palast, he may learn a thing or two about craft and real journalism.
Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell says “In my view, the 9/11 tragedy should have been prevented. It was preventable.” I know its just parsing, but why did ABC News headline the story “U.S. Spy Chief: 9/11 ‘could have been prevented’ (emphasis mine). He said “should have and could have been prevented” (emphasis mine), not just could have. Could indicates doubt. Like: Maybe 9-11 could have been prevented. But there were so many dots to connect and we didn’t have the time, manpower, funding etc. etc. McConnell’s use of the word should indicates he thinks the spy agencies failed on 9/11–that they had the intel to stop the plot and they didn’t. Example: “We should have prevented 9-11, but for whatever reason, we didn’t.” Choose your words carefully ABC News, and if the man’s quote says “Should”, your headline should reflect that. From the story by Jason Ryan and Theresa Cook (read full copy here):
U.S. Spy Chief: 9/11 ‘could have been prevented’
Six years after the deadliest attack on U.S. soil, the head of U.S. spy operations admitted to lawmakers that “9/11 should have and could have been prevented.”
Director of National Intelligence, Michael McConnell, told members of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday that “it was an issue of connecting information that was available.”
. . .
Given the vast resources of the intelligence community, along with the FBI’s and CIA’s knowledge that al Qaeda had an interest in flight training, and had sent 9/11 hijackers Khalid al Mihdhar and Nawaf al Hazmi and terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui to undertake such training in the United States, McConnell said, “For whatever reason, we didn’t connect the dots.”
. . .
“In my view, the 9/11 tragedy should have been prevented. It was preventable.”
Should have been prevented. SHOULD HAVE.
Moveon’s Patraeus or Betray Us? Ad
Two words: Free speech. Two more words: The truth. Eight words: Report written for the General by White House. Eight more words: General wants to run for president in 2012.
Blackwater USA has no legitimate business being in Iraq–the function they mainly perform, guarding US diplomats, could be done by US Military with a higher degree of professionalism and for far less money. Blackwater personnel receive pay many times higher than our forces–even after their bosses in the Great Dismal Swamp skim lots off the top, and they enjoy a carte blanche to act however they deem appropriate to fulfill their primary role of protecting US diplomats. They literally have a license to kill. Blackwater personnel, thanks to legislation passed by the US Congress, operate outside the rules of engagement and wartime code of conduct our Military men and women follow. Additionally, thanks to loopholes in our legal system, they cannot be sued for alleged crimes in US courts. And since they are part of the US “total force” in Iraq, they can’t be sued internationally either. So they kill who they want when they want in the line of duty, consequence-free. In my opinion, having Mercenaries in Iraq doing a job that US soldiers or marines can do, while earning pay many times what our soldiers receive and operating outside all rules and laws, must be a tremendous blow to our troops’ morale and a dangerous influence on them.
In 2004, Blackwater operators sent into Fallujah w/o proper arms, intel and personnel were ambushed, murdered, mutilated, burned, and hung from a bridge. This resulted in a retaliatory US combat operation where Fallujah was heavily bombed by the USAF and shelled with white phosphorous artillery rounds (which are illegal under international agreements). The First Battle of Fallujah (as it is now known) is seen by many as a major cause of increased insurgency and anti-american sentiment. It rallied many Sunnis to the cause of killing American soldiers and killed an incredible number of Iraqi civilians. Blackwater management is partially responsible, as they sent in their men into Fallujah without proper maps and intel, lacking proper armament, and understaffed.
The most recent episode of Blackwater personnel killing civilians without justification seems like the straw that broke the camel’s back–at least as far as Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is concerned. The Iraqi government condemned Blackwater’s murderous behavior and barred them from operating in Iraq. However, since the Iraqi government isn’t really a sovereign entity, merely a puppet of the US, nothing will change. The State Department will lean on Maliki, and Blackwater will continue to engage in war profiteering in Iraq. And their continued presence will undermine the US military’s (now nearly hopeless) mission to “win hearts and minds.” These mercenaries, though some are former special forces and former regular U.S. Military personnel, are endangering our troops. Does that mean Senator Cornyn’s (R-Tx) sense of the Senate resolution condemns them? And if so, will he publicly say so?