Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cover ups and evasions

Gordon Rayner and John-Paul Ford Rojas (Telegraph of London) report yet another delay for the Iraq Inquiry, this one, as usual, is related to Tony Blair and secrecy.

The Iraq Inquiry long ago finished taking public testimony.  They explain themselves:

The former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown announced on 15 June 2009 that an Inquiry would be conducted to identify lessons that can be learned from the Iraq conflict. The Iraq Inquiry was officially launched on 30 July 2009. At the launch the Chair of the Inquiry, Sir John Chilcot, set out the Inquiry's Terms of Reference:
"Our terms of reference are very broad, but the essential points, as set out by the Prime Minister and agreed by the House of Commons, are that this is an Inquiry by a committee of Privy Counsellors. It will consider the period from the summer of 2001 to the end of July 2009, embracing the run-up to the conflict in Iraq, the military action and its aftermath. We will therefore be considering the UK's involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned. Those lessons will help ensure that, if we face similar situations in future, the government of the day is best equipped to respond to those situations in the most effective manner in the best interests of the country." 
The Inquiry committee members are Sir John Chilcot (Chairman), Sir Lawrence Freedman, Sir Martin Gilbert, Sir Roderic Lyne and Baroness Usha Prashar.
The Inquiry took evidence over a number of months, with as many hearings as possible held in public. The first round of hearings began in autumn 2009 and continued into early 2010. After a break for the general election, the Inquiry resumed its public hearings in June for a period of five weeks. The Inquiry held its final round of public hearings between 18th January - 2nd February 2011. The Inquiry intends to deliver its report as soon as possible (see the homepage). The Inquiry committee intends to include in the report all but the most sensitive information essential to our national security. The report will then be debated in Parliament.
For more information, see the following sections:

Rayner and Ford Rojas report that David Cameron's government is refusing to release certain documents that are likely to detail how then-Prime Minister Tony Blair made a deal with Bully Boy Bush to go to war on Iraq before he ever consulted Parliament.  Military Families Against the War's Reg Keys is quoted stating, "The report was supposed to be published in 2011, when it was still a very hot potato, but by the time we eventually see it people might think it was all a long time ago and it doesn't really matter any more."

In the US, Gregg Zoroya (USA Today via WTLV) reports approximately 50% of US service woman deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan self-disclose that they were sexually harassed while deployed and approximatly a quarter of the women also self-disclose having been sexually assaulted while deployed.  These numbers beyond appalling.  They weren't fixed or even addressed under Robert Gates.  As Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta has attempted to address the culture. More than Gates did.  He's made serious steps.  But the next Secretary of Defense needs to go even further.  And you need someone a lot younger with the energy to go for it and with the passion.  I was not joking (some thought I was) when I said Susan Rice could do the job in yesterday's snapshot.

Everything that made her wrong for Secretary of State makes her perfect for Secretary of Defense.  Some of her more drama-prone fanatics did her no favors screaming she was being treated unfairly.  She's not Meryl Streep, she's not right for every role.  That can be fine.  Jane Fonda is a highly regarded actress with two Academy Awards for Best Actress and while she can't play the wide range that Meryl can (few can), she can dig deeper in the roles she's right for than most people and she gave the finest performance -- male or female -- of the 20th century in Klute.  There's nothing wrong with playing to your strengths.

As Secretary of State, Rice would be hindered by a lack of tact but as Secretary of Defense she's not expected to be the smiling face of America.  She is suited for this post.

Another person who should be considered is former US House Representative Patrick Murphy.  At 39, he might strike some as too young.  I disagree.  The youth and zest he (or Rice) would bring to the post are necessary to shake things up.  The high suicide rate, the high assault rate, these are not going down.  It's past time that there was a Secretary of Defense who came in ready to shake things up, it's time to try something very different, very outside the convention.

Rice or Murphy could provide that.  The culture needs to be challenged, it does not need another reassuring hand -- not if the suicide crisis and the assault crisis are going to be dealt with. 

(If Rice were made Secretary of Defense, my endorsement here doesn't mean I wouldn't be objecting to whatever war Barack launches next.  The post is Secretary of War -- it will be at opposition with my own beliefs.  But the Secretary, whomever it is, will be carrying out Barack's policy.  I think most people can do that.  Addressing the cultural issues, however, requires a self-starter who's going to tackle the issue and Rice and Murphy both have the spirit and determination to do so.  Murphy is also a former Iraq War veteran, for those who don't know that, and he led the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- in the House, yes, in the Congress period.)

The following community sites -- plus The Diane Rehm Show, Chocolate City, Dissident Voice, On the Wilder Side, Susan's On the Edge,, Iraq Veterans Against the War, C-SPAN and the Guardian --  updated last night and this morning:

The e-mail address for this site is

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