Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Death Squads in Every Pot?

Seymour Hersh weighs in. And I love how they title the article: The New Yorker: Fact. That's saying something.
“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”
I'm sorry, are we living in "Dr. Strangelove" now?
Rumsfeld will become even more important during the second term. In interviews with past and present intelligence and military officials, I was told that the agenda had been determined before the Presidential election, and much of it would be Rumsfeld’s responsibility. The war on terrorism would be expanded, and effectively placed under the Pentagon’s control. The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.

The President’s decision enables Rumsfeld to run the operations off the books—free from legal restrictions imposed on the C.I.A. Under current law, all C.I.A. covert activities overseas must be authorized by a Presidential finding and reported to the Senate and House intelligence committees. (The laws were enacted after a series of scandals in the nineteen-seventies involving C.I.A. domestic spying and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.) “The Pentagon doesn’t feel obligated to report any of this to Congress,” the former high-level intelligence official said. “They don’t even call it ‘covert ops’—it’s too close to the C.I.A. phrase. In their view, it’s ‘black reconnaissance.’ They’re not even going to tell the cincs”—the regional American military commanders-in-chief. (The Defense Department and the White House did not respond to requests for comment on this story.)
Terrifying. Infuriating. Rummy running the operations "off the books," free from "legal restrictions"?? WTF??? RUMMY ALREADY DID THIS, AND WHAT DID WE GET?? ABU GHRAIB! AND STILL THESE CRIMINALS FORGE ON. (You expect me not to yell?) Despicable? Depraved? We report. You decide.
The new rules will enable the Special Forces community to set up what it calls “action teams” in the target countries overseas which can be used to find and eliminate terrorist organizations. “Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?” the former high-level intelligence official asked me, referring to the military-led gangs that committed atrocities in the early nineteen-eighties. “We founded them and we financed them,” he said. “The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren’t going to tell Congress about it.” A former military officer, who has knowledge of the Pentagon’s commando capabilities, said, “We’re going to be riding with the bad boys.”
Um. So now we're admitting that the death squads were ours?? How bad is it when the madministration's plans -- predicated on murderous, illegal, and previously disavowed policy --are so out there that spilling beans on decades of denial to shore up all new secret warmaking juntas seems like a good idea? Like, admitting to death squads, whatev. We've got all new killing machines now.

[pondering implications...]

I'm wondering if it would be safe to live out World War III in Vancouver. It's temperate, they've got great food, and nobody wants to bomb Canada, right? Is there some sort of community college class I could take to learn survivalist skills? Can someone teach me how to build a shelter? I'll have to learn how to identify mushrooms and find potable water and make my own clothes ...