Friday, April 20, 2012

Casualties in the ongoing war on truth tellers

chris hill

Again, above is trashy Chris Hill, while still US Ambassador to Iraq, parting in Iraq with other employees of the State Dept, excuse me, other employees of American citizens, for whom they work, and they decided nothing was funnier then a little Embassy get-together where they mock the national tragedy that was the assassination of JFK.


The White House profile on JFK (pictured above) opens with:

On November 22, 1963, when he was hardly past his first thousand days in office, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was killed by an assassin's bullets as his motorcade wound through Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was the youngest man elected President; he was the youngest to die.

Yet Chris Hill thought it was appropriate to mock the assassination.  As not just a government employee, but as the supervisor of multiple government employees, he thought turning the assassination of JFK into a joke was the way to go.

Peter Van Buren, author of  the book We Meant Well: How I helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People,  has posted the photo of Hill at his blog here and here.  (The caption on the Hill photo is Van Buren.)  He's rightly noting that he's being attacked -- by the administration -- for telling the truth.  But let Chris Hill make a mockery of the murder of JFK and that's okay?  It's not okay.

And it's yet another example of how the administration is not accountable, is either not providing oversight due to not caring or not understanding the concept.

And, no, we're not dropping this issue.  We covered it in yesterday's snapshot, we covered it last night.  It will be a piece at Third this weekend and it'll probably be up here in the snapshot today as well.  An e-mail notes that the topic was also covered last night at the right-wing Free Republic.

That, according to the e-mail, was supposed to scare me off the topic.  Oh, no! The right-wing is offended too!  I'm not Bob Somerby.  I don't pretend that every time the right-wing is offended it's due to faux outrage.  I'm offended by what Hill did (and by the administration's failure to hold Hill accountable).  I think it's appalling.  I'll assume whomever posted at Free Republic was genuinely offended as well unless the person declares otherwise. 

Yesterday, peace activist Cindy Sheehan and her attorney Dennis Cunningham appeared inJudge John F. Moulds' Sacramento court. Denny Walsh (Sacremento Bee) explains this was in regards to her refusal to pay taxes in objection to the wars of empire such as the Iraq War in which her son Casey died in 2004. Suzanne Hurt (Reuters) quotes Cindy stating, "No matter if the government says I owe a penny or $100,000, I'm not paying one penny to them." Hunt notes the prosecutor, US Attorney Adair Boroughs, argued that even if someone is sympathetic to Cindy's argument, the tax code cannot be violated (unless you're Big Business, of course). The law is the law, Hurt seemed to argue but that is not the case with regards to Cindy's stance.

"The law is the law" is something Cindy might have supported had it been enforced. But the same Iraq War that her son died in, the same Iraq war that she would point out so many died in, is an illegal war built on lies. But "the law is the law" did not apply to Bully Boy Bush or any of his many impeachable crimes. "The law is the law" has not applied to Barack who has continued and, yes, amplified Bush's crimes. Barack has done so not only by refusing to prosecute Bush's crimes but by taking the crimes and running with them. The war on Libya was illegal, the national shame that is the imprisonment at Guantanamo continues (despite campaign promises from Barack), the war on whistle blowers continues.  In fact, as awful as what was done to Paul O'Neill and (especially) Valerie Plame was in the Bully Boy Bush years, the current attacks on Peter Van Buren and (especially) Bradley Manning demonstrate an even greater disrespect for the law, for transparecy, for accountability, for the Constitution . . .

"The law is the law."  Except when it isn't.  Except when the highest office holders in the land aren't held accountable for their crimes.

Michael Walzer's Spheres of Justice is not a good book or argument.  (Judith N. Shklar's The Faces of Injustice is written as a refutation of Walzer's work.)  Walzer based a great deal of his argument on the Talmud (not credited or acknowledged in the book) but left out beth din, the rabbinical court.  There's no beth din for Cindy either.  If there was, there would be a body that would be concerned with not just what the law says but also with how it is interpreted and applied.   There is no one to act as an abritrator in the dispute over the supposed law and the premise of Cindy's argument.  There should be.

Of course, if the US government applied the law fairly and universally, there would be no need for arbitration.  But the Iraq War goes unpunished and more illegal wars arrive.

Bradley Manning?  Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted.  In December, an Article 32 and now a court-martial awaits.

On the topic of Bradley Manning, Russia Today notes that "the pool of presidential candidates have been slow to comment on the prosecution against the US Army private accused of providing government secrets to WikiLeaks. Except for Ron Paul, that is. President Barack Obama called Manning 'guilty' even before he was brought to trial for his alleged role with WikiLeaks, but GOP presidential hopeful Texas Congressman Ron Paul told supporters last week that he thinks it isn't quite as simple as that."

I'd have him protected under the whistleblowers act. I think this issue is a very important issue because I maintain that government becomes more secret and the people's privacy is being destroyed. We should protect the people's privacy and we should make the government much more open. We can start with the Federal Reserve system. [. . .] I imagine people ought to think it through, but from what I can do see from my viewpoint, is that his motivation had nothing to do with helping the enemy. You know that if anybody had ever suffered a consequence because of the release of those thousands and thousands of pages, we would have heard about it by now.

The following community sites -- plus, Susan's On The Edge, The Diane Rehm Show and CSPAN -- updated last night and this morning:

Senator Patty Murray chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes:

Thursday, April 19, 2012
Contact:  Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
Senator Murray's Statement on VA Hiring Announcement

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, made the following statement after the VA announced that it would be moving to hire 1,600 mental health care professionals.  The announcement comes just days before the findings of a major VA Inspector General report that Senator Murray requested on long wait times for VA mental health care are expected to be announced.  VA's action is welcome news to Senator Murray who has held multiple hearings over the past year on overcoming barriers to VA mental health care.  Murray will hold a third hearing on this subject in order to hear the Inspector General's findings on Wednesday, April 25th.
"I am pleased that the VA has taken this desperately needed step toward providing timely access to mental health care.  Too often we have seen staff vacancies, scheduling delays, and red tape leave those veterans who have been brave enough to seek help in the first place left with nowhere to turn. With suicide rates that continue to be high and an influx of new veterans into the system these barriers to mental health care are completely unacceptable.  I look forward to fighting for the resources needed to meet this staffing request as it is clearly a cost of the decade of war that has taken such a toll on our veterans and their families."
Matt McAlvanah
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct


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