Reading James Carroll's fine new book, "House of War: The Pentagon & the Disastrous Rise of American Power", I found an especially damning anecdote regarding Herr Rumsfeld (yes, I feel *that* wat about the man). I sought internet references to share so I wouldn't have to type it myself. My man, Chris Floyd, was already on top of it for me:
<begin excerpt> An anecdote from James Carroll's magnificent new book, House of War (which I'll be reviewing here soon) provides a brief but penetrating glimpse at the gutter politics and moral nullity that have marked the entire career of the Pentagon warlord -- and the rest of his cohorts in the Bush gang.
In 1963, John F. Kennedy nominated Paul H. Nitze as Secretary of the Navy. This was actually a demotion for Nitze, who, as Carroll notes, had been at the very heart of American power for almost 20 years by then. He was in fact one of the godfathers of the Cold War, a Wall Street blue-blood turned high-level bureaucrat who served several presidents but was always driven by the same vision: projecting American dominance to the four corners of the earth, using an ever-expanding nuclear arsenal as the tip of the spear. For Nitze, thoroughly marinated in the "paranoid school" of U.S. political thought, no Pentagon budget was ever too big, no policy was ever too aggressive (including first-strike nuclear attacks), no restriction on American liberty was ever sufficient to stave off the demonic, all-powerful "evil empire" of the Soviet Union, which threatened, at every moment, to destroy America and its "way of life."
Nitze was the author of NSC-68, the document that more than any other engineered the militarization of American society and constituted the re-founding of the country as a "National Security State," controlled by the military-industrial complex and driven by a nightmare vision of exaggerated threats, craven fear, secrecy and deception, bellicosity and brinkmanship. This vision has waxed and waned in intensity at various times over the years, but it has never been displaced as the central dynamic of American power. The demonic, all-powerful enemy has now morphed from the Soviet Union to Islamic extremism, but the paranoid rhetoric and "Pentagon uber alles" philosophy of the Cold War has been seamlessly transferred whole cloth to the supposedly transformed "post-9/11 age."
And in the Bush administration, this nightmare Nitzean philosophy has reached its apotheosis in the war-making, liberty-gutting dictatorship of the Commander-in-Chief that George W. Bush proclaims more openly every day. Thus Nitze is one of the Founding Fathers of the new Bushist State, and Rumsfeld is one of his most dutiful sons.
All the more ironic then, that Rumsfeld began his career with a vicious smear of Nitze during his confirmation hearings for the Navy nomination. Rumsfeld was then a rookie Congressman from Illinois looking to make a name for himself. Nitze, who had been one of Kennedy's top advisors, had fallen out of favor with the young president. During two flashpoints that brought the world to the very brink of nuclear war -- in Berlin and Cuba -- Nitze had urged Kennedy to take military action, including nuclear first strikes if necessary. He derided the "morality questions" involved in taking the world to nuclear war, and accused Robert Kennedy (and indirectly the president) of "appeasement" for seeking peaceful solutions. For some reason, Nitze thought all this would win him a much longed-for nomination as Deputy Secretary of Defense -- the same position held much later by Paul Wolfowitz. But Kennedy had other ideas. Nitze was too powerful, too well-connected to jettison outright -- as Carroll's book makes clear, by this time the presidency had become in large part a prisoner of the Pentagon -- so he was palmed off with the Navy job.
And here he came into the crosshairs of young Don Rumsfeld. Any confirmation hearing is a good opportunity for the political opposition to score points off the sitting administration, but what could a hard-right, rampant Cold Warrior like Rumsfeld find to say against one of the chief architects of America's bristling, ever-expanding nuclear arsenal and its policies of aggressive "rollback" that even then beginning to ensnare the United States in the bloody quagmire of Vietnam? Here was a man after Rumsfeld's own cold heart. But the budding Bushist knew just what to do in such a situation: you lie. You come up with the most ludicrous, unsupported, impossible lie that you can think of -- then you launch it in the most public way possible. Yes, it's the old "Big Lie" gambit, consciously perfected by Josef Goebbels in Nazi Germany and now the chief mode of political discourse used by the Bush Administration. And although George W. himself was just a prep school cheerleader at the time, Rumsfeld was already honing the skills he would need to serve the master to come.
Rumsfeld-- who as a House member was not on the Senate confirmation panel and thus had to find a really juicy charge to horn in on the action -- accused Nitze of all people of being a pinko wimp who supported nuclear disarmament in the face of the implacable Soviet foe. What was the basis of this outrageous charge, which made about as much sense as calling Gandhi a war profiteer? It seems that years before, Nitze had attended a meeting of the National Council of Churches. At this conference, some people had spoken in favor of disarmament; others opposed it. In fact, the keynote speaker at the event was John Foster Dulles, then Secretary of State and one of the most aggressive and military-minded figures ever to hold power at the State Department (until the arrival of Condi Rice). It was, in other words, a very Establishment affair, where the great and good gather to pontificate and eat prime rib; "hardly a gathering of pinkos," Carroll notes. Nitze himself had a copious public record of speaking out against disarmament.
But none of these facts stopped Rumsfeld from publicly slandering Nitze during the course of the hearings as a disarmer, a betrayer of national security, the kind of weakling who would cut and run in the face of the enemy. For Rumsfeld, the merest, fleeting association with any organization that so much as entertained the notion of pursuing peace over domination was enough to taint a nominee. Other Republicans followed the firebrand stripling's Big Lie and pounded Nitze -- one of the greatest champions of war, even genocidal nuclear war, in American history -- as a peacenik unworthy to head the Navy. Nitze survived the assault and won the confirmation vote, barely; but as Carroll writes, "the wound of the insult would never heal." As for Rumsfeld, his particular brand of ideological nastiness was noted -- and approved -- by powerful factions in the Republican Party, and when Richard Nixon brought the party back to power five years later, he found room for the hawkish hatchet man in the White House. Rumsfeld was a made man; he would remain entrenched in the bowels of the military-industrial, and often at the center of government, from that time until today. <end excerpt>
Par for the Rumsfeld course. More recent Rummifications:
<begin> It wasn’t all that long ago when a young conservative congressman from Illinois named Donald Rumsfeld spoke eloquently on the floor of the House of Representatives during the Vietnam War about the need for the Johnson administration to speak more truthfully about that conflict.
A 1966 article in the Chicago Tribune quoted Rumsfeld as saying the following: “The administration should clarify its intent in Viet Nam,’ he said. ‘People lack confidence in the credibility of our government.’ Even our allies are beginning to suspect what we say, he charged. ‘It’s a difficult thing today to be informed about our government even without all the secrecy,’ he said. ‘With the secrecy, it’s impossible. The American people will do what’s right when they have the information they need.” [Chicago Tribune, 4/13/66]
Rusmfeld entered into the Congressional Record an article from the Chicago Sun-Times entitled “Why U.S. Viet Policy Lacks Friends–Our Credibility Destroyed” Rumsfeld stated: “I do, however, believe it is important to the future of our Nation to recognize that there is a problem of credibility today.” [Congressional Record, 89th Cong. Pg. A1454, 3/15/66; Chicago Sun-Times, 12/5/65]
In entering a New York Times editorial into the Congressional Record, Rumsfeld said, “I believe the following significant and timely editorial which appeared in today’s issue of the New York Times and which discusses our involvement in Vietnam merits wide attention. I concur in the conclusion expressed therein that the people of the United States must know not only how their country became involved but where we are heading.” [Congressional Record, 89th Cong. Pg. 21081, 8/19/65; New York Times, 8/19/65]
Rumsfeld said the following in a speech on the House floor: “Accurate judgment is predicated on accurate information. Government has an obligation to present information to the public promptly and accurately so that the public’s evaluation of Government activities is not distorted. Political pundits speak of the ‘credibility gap’ in the present administration. Indeed, this appellation is so widespread that it has become a household word.” [Congressional Record, 90th Cong. pg A792, 2/21/67]
Don’t look now Rumsfeld, but “credibility gap” is becoming a household word again, and it’s directly related to your actions.
Gen. Barry McCaffrey (Ret.), U.S. Army: “People are skeptical of what they’re hearing out of the Pentagon. I think Secretary Rumsfeld’s credibility has been damaged by serious misjudgments.” [MSNBC, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, 6/23/05]
“Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said it was obvious why public opinion polls were down. ‘We have a credibility gap here with the American people,’ he said.” [AP, 6/24/05]
Headline: “Bush’s Credibility Takes a Direct Hit From Friendly Fire” [LAT, 6/26/05]
Headline: “Bush’s Credibility on Iraq Undercut by Violence, Slow Progress” [Bloomberg, 6/27/05]
It’s time for Rumsfeld to follow his own advice. <end>
Elliot Abrams. The creature from the black la goons returns:
(During the Iran-Contra Affair, Abrams was indicted for giving false testimony about his role in the illicit money-raising schemes by the special prosecutor handling the case, but he pleaded guilty to two lesser offenses of withholding information to Congress in order to avoid a trial and a possible jail term. Quoted in a 30 May 1994 article in Legal Times, Abrams spoke of his prosecutors as "filthy bastards", the proceedings against him "Kafkaesque," and members of the Senate Intelligence Committee "pious clowns" whose raison d'etre was to ask him "abysmally stupid" questions. President George H. W. Bush pardoned Abrams along with a number of other Iran-Contra defendants shortly before leaving office in 1992.) [via wiki]
John Poindexter. Here's information about Poindexter's brief resurfacing in White House politics a few years back that makes even John 'The Gargoyle' Ashcroft seem sane and benign:
(Poindexter also faced immense criticism from the media and politicians about the Policy Analysis Market project, a futures exchange that would have allowed trading in, and profiting from, such events as the assassination of heads of state and acts of terrorism. The controversy over the futures market led to a Congressional audit of the IAO, which revealed a fundamental lack of privacy protection for American citizens. Funding for the IAO was subsequently cut and Poindexter retired from DARPA on August 12, 2003.)
<begin> At a July 28, 2003 press conference, Senators Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) revealed that PAM would allow trading in such events as coups d'état, assassinations, and terrorist attacks. This information caused a political uproar, with opponents of the program denouncing it as "grotesque", "bizarre", and "morally repugnant". Almost immediately afterwards (within less than a day) the Pentagon announced the cancellation of PAM, and by the end of the week John Poindexter, head of the DARPA unit responsible for developing it, had offered his resignation. <end>
And there's more of them where they came from. The neo-cons, heirs of Harman Kahn and the "nuclear Jesuits" and grandsons of the post-WWII atomic bomb Cold War clique,. ahve been our White House soup du jour of late.
I've said before but it bears repeating what William Gibson said toward the end of his career as a 'sci-fi' writer, a career which has now been replaced by writing contemporary suspense novels that nonetheless convey the sense of 'inheriting the future' by simply living long enough to see things become ever wierder. (Gibson has somewhat become Le Carr'e successor or heir apparent.)
In response to this question:
'Has it become more difficult to keep fiction ahead of the reality curve?'
'If fiction was ever truly ahead of the curve it wouldn't work. But I know what you mean. Michael Jackson married Elvis Presley's daughter. That made my job ever so much harder.'
Likewise, Bush the II reached the Oval Office, and the future reached into the sordid past and reclaimed Cold War paranoia, briefly abandoned during the 90s, and reaffirmed it via Islamc jihad, with Osama bin Laden replacing Lenin and Saddam Hussein replacing Stalin. As Catherwood, aacceleratedly aged mad scientist in the infamous NIck Danger -- Third Eye episode: "Head 'Em Off At The Past" said as he fired up his time machine:
"Forward! Into the past!!!!"
All that remains is for some either very brave and talented or very foolish and exploitative film producer to attempt a remake of Dr. Strangelove but focusing on preemptiver nuclear annihilation of NK and/or Iran instead of the USSR.
You know you're growing old when you see the same old sick **** that scarred your childhood return in different guise to haunt your old age...
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What's interesting, vis-à-vis the DARPA stuff, is how when these nasty little programs leak out, they don't go away. They go hide under a rock somewhere and then come back out with a new, cleaner sounding name... or just get developed under the rock so us little folk never know about it until it comes out and bites us. Poindexter is probably still working on it; just for an NGO or “OGA”, as we like to all the spooks these days.
For instance, I'm making what could be an ignorant statement, but I'll wager I'm on the right track: I'll bet you can pick apart the Patriot Act and see many pieces gave roots in failed legislation or ideas from the past 10 or 15 years.
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"I'll bet you can pick apart the Patriot Act and see many pieces gave roots in failed legislation or ideas from the past 10 or 15 years." Aye. The original drafts of the '95 Telecommunications Act had language reuiring all manufacturers of all telecom-related deivices (including, I believe, software) to build-in 'backdoors' that could be monitored surreptitiously.
Taken at face value, this meant the telephone at one's bedside could be listening to one shag one's ... well, whatever one likes to shag.
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I heard someone mutter under their breath once that cell phones already do this, which was quickly followed my "but no one's supposed to know that, so forget it" once they realized they were speaking out loud.
Kinda like that groovy GPS capability cell phones have these days - you don't think that's just so the ambulance can find you when you call 911, do you?
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