Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: The Year of the Slow Reveal

Whether it was learning George W. Bush was a 'man of peace' or that media fakery only goes so far for so long, 2011 was not only full of surprises, it was the year of the slow reveal.

Take Bully Boy Bush. 'The Iraq War ended,' media wanted you to know. And withdrawals took place not because of Barack Obama but due to Bush. In November 2008, Bush rammed through the Status Of Forces Agreement with Iraq. Barack's administration spent most of the year attempting to negotiate a new treaty to replace or extend the Status Of Forces Agreement which would expire today if not extended. They failed. They failed, some argued, because of WikiLeaks and the exposure of War Crimes enraging Iraqis.


Iraqis needed WikiLeaks to know what was going on in their country? Iraqis needed WikiLeaks to know about the September 2007 slaughter in Baghdad by Blackwater?

As per usual, disinterested Americans tried to pass their own limited scope and view off as "universal." Surely, if they were only now learning of (or remembering) the Blackwater attack, then the same must be true of Iraqis, right?

Unlike most Americans, Iraqis never had the luxury of zoning out for months of Lost marathons. All humans practice escapism and certainly those in war zones need it more than others; however, you can only escape from reality for so long in a war zone.

Another reason offered for the refusal by the Iraqis to extend the SOFA or come to a new agreement came from US Senator John McCain. McAin's hypothesis is that Barack purposely tanked the talks (see the November 15th Iraq snapshot and Kat's report on the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing). Were that true (I personally don't buy that proposal), then the administration should be paraded before Congress due to the fact that, when the country was in three overseas wars (Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya), plus drone attacks of Pakistan and in an ever increasing economic mess, for Barack to have wasted some of the administration's most valuable players on negotiations that were intended to fail would be criminal negligence. Far more likely is that, as with his attempts to land the 2016 Olympics (for Chicago) which included traveling all the way to Denmark only to see the Committee rebuff him and select Rio instead. Barack's embarrassing failure was lampooned in Isaiah's 2009 "Dream Team Take Two" which found the players (Barack, Michelle, Oprah and Valerie Jarrett) attempting to bring the Mary Kay Convention to Chicago.

Dream Team

Barack failed, again, and yet negotiations continue. (Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testfiying before the Senate Armed Services Committee November 15th, "Uh, and I believe there will be continuing negotiations. We're in negotiations now with regards to the size of the security office that will be there and so there will be -- There aren't zero trops that are going to be there. We'll have, you know, hundreds that will be present by virtue of that office assuming we can work out an agreement there.")

Failure on renegotiating or replacing the SOFA was not intentional, it was just another example of bungled leadership. Yet after the very public failure, it was sold as "Barack Kept A Promise!"

The reality, as James Cogan (WSWS) observed, was, "The Obama administration and the US military agreed to remove all combat troops, as stipulated in the Status of Forces agreement reached in 2008, only after they failed to bully the Iraqi regime into allowing thousands of troops to remain under a blanket exemption from prosecution under Iraqi law."

Never one to deal with reality, Idiot of the Year Tom Hayden (or possibly one of his interns) wrote the pathetic "In Iraq, peace at least" (Los Angeles Times), a high-spin, low-fact concoction that was wrong in every way possible including the lie that Barack Obama was the first presidential candidate to be elected while campaigning on a promise to end a war. No, Tommy, not the first, you damn well should have remembered Tricky Dick ran on that promise as well.

And peace at last?

Hayden made that assertion December 15th. Two days later, December 17th, Liz Sly (Washington Post) was reporting that Iraq was "unraveling faster than had been anticipated Saturday." Adding, "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders." And so began the political crisis that has gripped Iraq.

Peace at last?

Somebody buy the old drunk a bottle of booze and send him staggering on his way.

Hayden claimed the peace movement was responsible for what was being called the 2011 "withdrawal." Yes, Leslie Cagan had gotten leathery over the years, long in the tooth and even sprouted a few chin whiskers; however, we didn't realize she actually was George W. Bush.

As Tom and other charter members of the Cult of St. Barack took to the airwaves, print and online to praise Barack, they were praising him . . . for following . . . a Bush agreement . . . and then only following it . . . after his attempts to replace it . . . failed.

So those hailing the 'end' of the war were hailing 'Man of Peace' George W. Bush.

Reality, when voters supported Barack in the 2008 election, they weren't electing him to follow Bush's lead. Nor was Barack claiming he would follow Bush's lead. In September of 2008, as McCain-Palin was rising in the polls, Barack insisted, "Now, the choice for the American people could not be clearer. John McCain has been talking a lot about change, but he's running for four more years of the same foreign policy that we've had under George Bush. Senator McCain will continue the overwhelming focus on Iraq that has taken our eye off of the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11."

The American people didn't want four more years of the same foreign policy that Bully Boy Bush had provided. That's why they went with Barack . . . only to discover he'd give them four more years of Bush.

When you campaign promising to have all troops out of Iraq in 16 months (qualifiers in lengthy interviews don't replace the generic and simplistic statements he delivered in tent revivals across the country -- always begun with his cry of "We want to end the war and we want to end it now!") and then lower that to 10 and swear up and down that the first thing you will do upon being sworn in is to start the withdrawal process with one brigade out each month starting in January, people believe they're getting something different. Yes, dirty little whores in Panhandle Media refused to tell the American public that (March 2008) Barack's chief foreign policy adviser told the BBC that this was not a promise and that Barack would decide his plans for Iraq after he was in the White House. But that's not what Barack promised the voters.

He promised to immediately end the war and that's what voters wanted. He got into office and followed Bush's plan and did so only after his attempts to extend it failed. He kept no promises made on Iraq and that's probably the year's biggest slow reveal.

The lack of promises kept may explain why so many 'independent' (Democratic Party organs) stayed silent on Iraq in the last months (such as The Progressive). Lesson for Team Obama? Even whores need rest.

Joseph Kishore (WSWS) provided the reality missing from the pages of The Nation:

Repeated attempts by the American people to put an end to the war were blocked by the Democratic Party, culminating in the election of Obama in 2008, whose victory was due in no small part to mass antiwar sentiment to which candidate Obama cynically appealed.
The official "antiwar" groups, having undermined organized opposition to the war by channeling it behind the election campaigns of the Democrats in 2004 and 2006, seized on the victory of Obama to wind up their protests. Far from representing a break from the policy of Bush, however, the Obama administration has continued it in all essentials. Not only did Obama maintain the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, he expanded the Afghan war into Pakistan and launched a new war in another oil-rich country, Libya.
The same organizations that proclaimed their opposition to the Iraq war supported the invasion of Libya. These middle-class organizations and publications such as the Nation magazine seized on the election of Obama to make their peace with imperialism.

Yes, the Libyan War. The illegal war that allowed a bunch of sad 'peaceful' people to make like the Bush groupies of 2002 and 2003 and foam at the mouth (and in their undergarments). Time and again, we saw a rush to reject the law, humanity and so much more all because a Democrat was in the White House.

Fortunately, not everyone on the left was an idiot, whore or groupie. The Libyan War, more than any other development, demonstrated lives were at stake. Another slow reveal which forced many to speak out and many others to raise the volume of their voices. Law and Disorder Radio, with hosts Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith, chose the rule of law, the Constitution and ethics over a cult of personality.

Michael Ratner: Well the use of military force by the president has to be authorized by Congress under the United States Constitution. That's very clear. And it's not just war, it's use of -- it's hostilities, it's really any military action anywhere in the world other than in self-defense. So we start from the premise that military actions, whether in Libya, killing people in Somolia or Yemen, etc., has to be authorized by Congress. In some cases the president claimed that the authorization to use military force passed in 2001 -- after 9/11 -- gave him authority. But in other cases, he's just asserting raw, naked power. He's claiming that because these don't amount to large wars that the Constitution doesn't apply and he doesn't have to go to Congress. Now then what happened because this is a common claim of presidents whether it's in Libya or Somolia, Congress after Vietnam built in a safety trigger. They said, "Lookit, you still need our consent to go to war, or to go into hostilities or bomb people, etc. But we're going to put in a safety trigger. If you do that, if you engage in hostilities and you don't come to us first like you're required to do under the Constitution, then you have sixty days to come back to us and get authority or within sixty days all troops have to be automatically withdrawn." So it's a safety figure because they knew the president would do exactly what Obama is doing, violate the Constitution. They put in a safety trigger that said you have sixty days to get authority, if you don't have authority then you then have 30 more days to get all the troops out, a total of 90 days. So in the case of Libya, of course, the 90 days have passed and the War Powers Resolution had required that all those troops be brought out. So we had a sort of double system.

Barack was insisting that the Libyan War wasn't a war. And much of the press -- Big and Small -- were letting him get away with it. Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network) refused to play. Among their segments was a conversation with Lucy Grider-Bradley about what she saw on her trip to Libya (on the July 4th show):

Glen Ford: We asked Lucy Grider-Bradley if what she saw felt like a war to her?

Lucy Grider-Bradley: Absolutely. I felt bombs, the effect of bombs dropping in the distance. I saw billowing clouds that came up after the horrible sound and the building that I was in shaking. Billows of white, smoke-like substance that turned black as if watching a horror movie. I saw the effects of that bomb. I saw a 30-fooot crater in the middle of a home that belonged to Muammar Gaddafi's son -- where his son was killed and 3 of his grandchildren also murdered from the effects of that bomb. I mean, how do you get a 30-foot hole in the middle of your house? Well I can tell you what I saw -- the results of a UN-US-NATO bomb. The delegation saw a lot. We saw people trying to go about their daily lives, not knowing when the next bomb was going to drop or knowing where the bomb was going to drop. But in spite of it all, they gathered ever evening at the place where the grandchildren and the son were killed to show their support for their leader. I wonder if that kind of thing was happening in the United States, if we would get out and rally behind a leader who was dropping bombs and murdering people -- Black people especially. I don't think I'd be part of that party. But the Libyans definitely support their leader and show it every night despite the fact that there might be bombs dropping. And I also want to say civilians have been murdered. Not just military folks. So the bombs aren't dropping just on what the UN calls military outposts, they're dropping in residential areas in Libya. I think it's important that that point is made over and over and over again.

Glen Ford: And when President Obama denied that he had to comply with the War Powers Act because he was not engaged in hostilities with Libya, how did you feel having just returned from there?

Lucy Grider-Bradley: Well can I just say that I don't listen to him so I didn't hear him say that so I really don't have an opinion. I think about him like I felt about President Bush: If you see his mouth moving he's probably lying.

Glen Ford could also be found at Black Agenda Report with Bruce Dixon, Margaret Kimberley and other truth searchers and tellers. But for every Ford (or for every Professor Francis A. Boyle, to name another who refused to tailor their opposition to empire just because a Democrat now occupied the White House), there were hundreds and hundreds of useless people trying to gain control of the narrative yet again for reasons other than truth.

For example, Elaine (rightly) called out John R. MacArthur for his attempts to resurface and bring a few gutter dwellers and lower level demons with him. Wow, the truth about Barack just isn't known, John? Well you run Harper's magazine so, on the eve of Barack's fourth year as President, whose fault is that? John never looked as much like the indecisive Should-I-vote-in-the-French-elections-or-the-US-elections dabbler (he holds dual citizenship) as when he thought he could get away with re-branding Bill Moyers and Barbara Ehrenreich as truth tellers.

Understand that this Cassandra -- who told the truth about Barack from the start and took boos from college audiences in 2009 but kept on telling it -- isn't about to pretend like the little whores of 2008 don't owe the world an apology. Babsie and Billy are two useless, dried up, mentally stunted, nut cases. Bill Moyers disgraced himself (and PBS) with Bill Moyers Barack Journal -- which is what the show became to promote Barack over and over throughout the 2008 primaries and general election. As for Babsie, she grew so unhinged in 2008 that she destroyed whatever was left of her tattered reputation in the mainstream. And her daughter went to work for the administration further disgracing the family as she advocated for the registration of journalists. (Rosa left the administration this year.)

John wanted to (a) promote the notion of a left challenge to Barack in the 2012 election and (b) redeem his fellow whores. Either aim was going to be a serious struggle. By combining the two, he reduced himself (yet again) to dilettante rich boy spending the family money and, at fifty-five, the spoiled little prince in short pants really doesn't play . . . except for laughs.

As 2009 drew to a close, John wrote:

Following President Obama's war speeches at West Point and Oslo -- two breathtaking exercises in political cynicism that killed any hope of authentic liberal reform -- I've got only one question: Have the liberals who worshipped at the altar of "change you can believe in" had enough?

Yet only two years later, he thinks he can pimp two whores from the Cult of St. Barack as ethical and trust worthy?

Let's put this into terms even Babsie can understand.

Ehrenreich, you know how you finger-bang yourself to fantasies of Stalin? Well, here's one you can live out in public with your clothes on: Re-enact The Great Purge by confessing to your sins and you can even pretend Stalin had you tortured beforehand. Then later on, you can fantasize about it all while declaring, "At night alone, I marry the bed" (Anne Sexton's "The Ballad Of The Lonely Masturbator").

Masturbation, public masturbation, replaced news as the sport for the semi-photogenic as viewers of network news discovered throughout 2011.

Stock footage was really all televised 'news' had to offer. And they went to great extremes creating ad copy for that footage. The slow reveal that the network evening news is even more shallow and fake than most Americans thought.

Even two weeks after the Iraqi political crisis started this month, you had the network evening news -- on ABC, CBS and NBC -- ignoring it, refusing to tell the American people what was taking place.

See, they'd spent a few bucks to get some 'last troops out' footage and they wanted rah-rah feel-good for the holiday week and -- We've heard of budgets effecting network news. Generally, that means that a story can't be pursued, it's too costly. But that money had been spent gathering rah-rah footage meant that the news had to go on hold, that the news had to be denied?

If it's happened before, I'm not recalling.

Try to grasp that during this two week period, they were happy to tell us of last troops out but not wanting to tell Americans that Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq, had declared Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi a terrorist and ordered his arrest. That alone was news. When the ruler of a country orders the arrest of a vice president, that's news whether the country's Iraq, Venezuela, Yemen or Spain. But that wasn't all. Nouri also demanded that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post. al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq are members of Iraqiya, the political slate that came in first in the 2010 elections. Nouri is the leader of the second place political slate State Of Law.

Operation Happy Talk was at work throughout the Bush administration. But that resulted in reporters usually soft-pedaling the truth (such as the vicious November 2004 assault on Falluja being turned into a moment of glory). Not in denying it, not in ignoring it, not in erasing it.

When the charges came down, Tareq al-Hashemi was in the KRG on official business. That's the Kurdish Regional Government, three Iraqi provinces that are semi-autonomous (meaning they don't answer to Nouri and his Baghdad-based government). al-Hashemi didn't just refuse to return to Baghdad, he became a house guest of Jalal Talabani. For those unfamiliar with the name, Talabai is President Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq.

Again, this would be news, actual news. But for two weeks, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams refused to tell the truth (see Ava and my "Media: Ashes, ashes, they all fall down" and "TV: News on the 'news'"). During this two week period, a series of Baghdad bombings claimed over 70 lives and left over 200 injured in one day alone. That did make the network evening news but, somehow, they 'forgot' to tell you this was in the midst of the political crisis.

While the evening newscasts on broadcast, commercial TV ignored the political crisis in Iraq, PBS' The NewsHour covered the crisis. It made the news on a Saturday (in the US with Liz Sly's report noted earlier) and three days later, they were offering two segments (here and here), the next day including it in the news wrap, then an ITN report by Inigo Gilmore, Jeffrey Brown moderating a discussion of whether or not the US should have remained in Iraq, and more.

In fairness, two things should be noted. First, Diane Sawyer was on vacation and others were responsible for running ABC World News at that time. Second, all three networks morning shows managed to cover what the so-called evening news wouldn't. (CBS' The Early Show deserves special credit for being the morning show leader on that story.) We should probably also note that my gripes here during this period were nothing compared to the gripes of network correspondents who saw the political crisis as news but were unable to successfully lobby the managing editors (anchors) to include the crisis.

It should never have been that way.

And not just because it was actual news.

But also because, mere days before the political crisis erupted, Ted Koppel had filed the best report on the state of Iraq and the state of the war.

Ted Koppel. With the death of Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather leaving CBS in disgrace, Peter Jennings passing away, there really are only two elder statesmen for network news currently: Koppel and Tom Brokaw.

So when Koppel files a important report on Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC), it's supposed to make a difference. Excerpt.

MR. KOPPEL: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?

AMB. JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.

[. . .]

Ted Koppel: If those Iranian backed militias were to launch a full scale attack on this consulate, would the US calvary ride to the rescue?

Ambassador James Jeffrey: We depend upon the Iraqis and if we need security support, we will turn to them and we will tell them, "I've got a problem in Basra and you need to help us.

Ted Koppel: The question is will they?

Ambassador James Jeffrey: I believe they will.

Ted Koppel: That's what an ambassador has to say about his hosts. This is the man who might actually have to deal with that nightmare, Lt Gen Robert Caslan. General, how are you going to get 1320 people out of there? I mean if you've 24 hours notice that something like this was going to happen, you're telling me the Iraqi government would evacuate immediately? Would get them all out of there?

Lt Gen Robert Caslan: I would argue that we do have, in theater, whether it's in Kuwait or elsewhere in theater, that we fall under the central command, Centcom, and I feel confident that Centcom has the necessary assets to take whatever measures they need to to counter that attack.

And pair that with the November 15th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing -- specifically, this exchange between Chair of the Joint-Chiefs Gen Martin Dempsey and Senator Kay Hagan (see the November 16th snapshot and Third's "Gen Dempsey talks "10 enduring" US bases in Iraq").

Senator Kay Hagan: Well with the drawdown taking place in less than two months, what is your outlook for the ability to continue this training process to enable them to continue to do this on their own?

General Martin Dempsey: Well they will be limited. They don't have the airlift to deliver them to the target that we might have been able to provide. They don't have the ISR target to keep persistent surveillance over the top of the target. So they'll be limited to ground movement and they'll be limited to human intelligence and we'll keep -- But part of the Office of Security Cooperation provides the trainers to keep the training to develop those other areas, but we're some time off in reaching that point.

Senator Kay Hagan: We'll, as we continue this drawdown of our military personnel from Iraq, I really remain concerned about their force protection -- the individuals that will be remaining in Iraq. So what are the remaining challenges for our military personnel in Iraq in terms of managing their vulnerabilities, managing their exposures during the drawdown?

General Martin Dempsey: Senator, are you talking about getting from 24,000, the existing force now and having it retrograde through Kuwait?

Senator Kay Hagan: The ones that will remain over there.

General Martin Dempsey: The ones that will remain --

Senator Kay Hagan: Their protection.

General Martin Dempsey: Yes, Senator. Well, they will have -- First and foremost, we've got ten Offices of Security Cooperation in Iraq bases. And their activities will largely be conducted on these bases because their activities are fundamentally oriented on delivering the foreign military sales. So F-16s get delivered, there's a team there to help new equipment training and-and helping Iraq understand how to use them to establish air sovereignty. Or there's a 141 M1 Tanks right now, generally located at a tank gunnery range in Besmaya, east of Baghdad and the team supporting that training stays on Besmaya so this isn't about us moving around the country very much at all. This is about our exposure being limited to 10 enduring, if you will, Offices of Security Cooperation base camps. And doing the job of educating and training and equipping on those ten bases. Host nation is always responsible for the outer parameter. We'll have contracted security on the inner parameter. And these young men and women will always have responsibility for their own self-defense.

Senator Kay Hagan: So we'll have contracted security on the inner-paramenter?

General Martin Dempsey: That's right.

Yet, this somehow became "ALL" US troops were coming "HOME" as mis-reported over and over. No, they weren't. And at this site and Third, we heard about that from military families. We wrote about it and covered it and called out the repeated lie that "ALL" were coming home. If it were your child, spouse or parent remaining in Iraq as a 'trainer' or embassy guard or remaining in a surrounding country, you wouldn't appreciate the media lie that "ALL" were coming home. Starting in the last week of November, we repeatedly called this out. And yet the lie persisted.

Friday, Geoff Ziezulewicz (Stars and Stripes) reported on Andrea Thune who's husband remains in the region, who had to explain to their child that Daddy wasn't part of the "ALL" coming home yet: "It has also been painful to see news articles in the past week touting the fact that all U.S. troops are home from Iraq, Thane said." May Ziezulewicz's article start the next slow reveal: No, "ALL" aren't coming home.

In addition, US Sgt Ahmed Altaie isn't part of the "ALL." He's classified Missing In Action. The "all" doesn't include those who were sent to Iraq and died there while serving. Cindy Sheehan (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox) observed this week:

The President and Vice President of the U.S. may be celebrating the "end" of the Iraq War, but on Monday, December 19, 2011, that war of choice for profit claimed another innocent victim: handsome, sensitive, and compassionate, beautiful soul, Brian Arredondo.
How many more will suffer? The country of Iraq is spoiled with depleted uranium and babies are being born with birth defects and children are dying from leukemia and other war-related illnesses every day, still. How many years will it take the Iraqi people to recover from the decades’ long devastation the U.S. has caused?
How many of our veterans will commit suicide, or die from long, painful deaths from DU poisoning, emotional scars, or other wounds?
Wars never truly end, so the best thing to do is never allow them to begin in the first place.

The war didn't end for Iraq. The political crisis could be resolved tomorrow and it still didn't end. The US occupation didn't end either. 16,000 US staffers (some contractors, some diplomats, some military) will be working for the US State Dept. This in addition to the forces Ted Koppel noted in his interview with the US Ambassador to Iraq. That's not the end of anything. This in addition to the expectation by Panetta that, early in 2012, the administration will be able to close a deal with Nouri al-Maliki allowing more US troops to be sent back into Iraq.

As the year came to a close, McClatchy Newspapers and NPR closed their Baghdad bureaus. The broadcast TV networks did that at the end of 2009. (CNN didn't and CNN is not, at this time, planning to close its bureau, I'm told.) It's a real shame because the war has not ended. And because some of the best reporting -- such as this by Tim Arango, Jack Healy and Michael S. Schmidtt (New York Times) -- was emerging.

One of the most annoying trends of 2011 was writing about Iraq.

'How can you say that? You write about it!'

Yes, I do. I write about what's going on in Iraq. I'm not talking about that or what Chris Floyd or others are producing. I'm talking about the people who did nothing for the last three years and now think that their pieces on the start of the Iraq War, dusted off and placed in a shiny new binder, are somehow helpful or informative.

As with the US press withdrawal, those pieces really don't say a damn thing about war or peace. Iraqis continue to live in misery and poverty (most, anyway). Your stale columns on what Bush did nine years ago does not illuminate the devastation today. But it's easy to write, right?

You just grab an over-gasbagged topic from eight years ago, re-write it and call it "new." And pretend like you did a damn thing.

As much of the US press retreats and simple minded fools churn out the WMD pieces all over again, no one seems to notice that what they're doing is exactly what they criticized in 2003.

They're focusing on themselves.

What was the big complaint about the war coverage? 'They showed the bombs going off but not where they landed.'

It's where they landed, it's where the illegal war landed, that matters. And that's what won't be covered. The effects of this war will be felt every day in Iraq for years and years to come. Real coverage would show these effects of war. Instead, a lot of lazy fools rush back to when the war started, ignoring everything that's taken place and that will take place because of the illegal war.

Deborah Sweet and others with World Can't Wait didn't need a slow reveal to motivate them to get active. They treated the changing of the guard at the White House in 2009 as the empty ceremony that it was and stay focused on what mattered.

They're not surprised by what Ruth's dubbed the "Continuity You Can Believe In." Nor is Michael Ratner who bears quoting again:

Both Bush and Obama have claimed the right to kill and capture alleged terrorists anywhere in the world or hold them in military detention indefinitely -- ie Guantanamo.
In their view the world is a battlefield -- not just Afghanistan and Iraq.
Their claim is that alleged terrorists -- at least those related to al Qaeda, Taliban and associated forces (whatever that means) are at war with the United States and that the US can make war on them which includes capturing them and holding them forever without trial -- no matter where they are: Yemen, Somalia, United Kingdom, South America or anywhere.
The determination of whom to capture and/or kill is made by the President without any court.
Bush and Obama have always claimed that US citizens can be so treated as well -- so that is why under Obama we saw the killing of an American citizen by a drone in Yemen -- al-alwaki.
Both Presidents have also acted as if they can kill and capture alleged terrorists that have no relationship to 9/11 -- the new law confirms this practice.

The slow reveal is that there is no respect for the Constitution on the part of the administration or for rule of law. That was made even more clear today by how Barack elected to celebrate the last day of 2011. Amanda Simons (ACLU) explains:

President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today, allowing indefinite detention to be codified into law. As you know, the White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA but reversed course shortly before Congress voted on the final bill. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration would use it and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations.
The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.
Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress now assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again.

That's monumental and you better believe future occupants of the White House will eagerly use that tool. As Grace (Debra Messing) once put it, "Oh, oh, and by the way, once you let Jeannie out of the bottle, there's no way she's going back to that little circle couch.*"


(*From Will & Grace's season one episode "Alley Cats" written by Jhoni Marchinko and Alex Herschlag.)

The Common Ills year-end coverage included C.I.'s "2011: The Year of the Slow Reveal," Ruth's "Ruth's Radio Report 2011," Martha and Shirley's "2011 in books (Martha & Shirley)" and Kat's "Kat's Korner: 2011 in music." In addition, community coverage of 2011 also included Ann's "2011 best in film (Ann and Stan)" & Stan's "2011 in films (Ann and Stan)", Cedric's "Barack finally gets something right!" & Wally's "BARACK BEST 2011 MOVE!," Rebecca's "best of fall tv 2011" and Trina's "New Year's Parties."

rock center with brian williams
nbc news
ted koppel
the new york times
jack healy
tim arango
michael s. schmidt