Sunday, January 23, 2005

Another Toy for the Donald

Not that Donald, although congratulations are in order for his wedding. No, it’s Rummy we’re talking about and his new sleuthing machine, something conjured up to set those CIA rascals back on their heels.


They call it the “Strategic Support Branch” and its focus is on emerging target countries like Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia, Philippines and Georgia. Indonesia? Soemadi Brotodiningrat, the Indonesian ambassador to the United States may just have choked over his morning coffee at that revelation. Emerging target country indeed. Condoleezza Rice may find the weather a bit chilly next time she visits steaming Jakarta.


One can almost hear Mikhail Saakashvili, the freely elected, Columbia Law School educated thirty-six-year-old president of Georgia . . . “we need investment, we need assistance, we need cooperation, we need to be an emerging target country.” But one must listen carefully, this Georgia is a long way from Atlanta.


The Philippines has endured a long love-hate relationship with the United States and President Gloria Arroyo, number 9 on Forbes’s list of world’s most powerful women, recently pulled her country’s troops out of Iraq . . . hence, no doubt, her nation’s listing on a smaller and more troublesome list than Forbes’s . . . Rummy’s short-list of emerging targeted countries. Call Imelda Marcos for advice, Gloria. We supported her scumbag husband for decades.


According to Barton Gellman’s Washington Post article, Rummy will deploy “small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces.” And here I thought we’d just recently had our tit in a wringer over the old empowered special operations forces. Interrogation of prisoners is on the list of responsibilities . . . bad thinking, Donald . . . been there, done that! A not-to-be-missed Pentagon memo mentions that certain recruited agents may include “notorious figures” whose links to our government would be embarrassing if disclosed.


What can they possibly mean? Is our link to Pervaiz Musharraf of Pakistan not already embarrassing enough? This administration (like all its predecessors) supports despots all over the globe to enhance its current political agenda and that of course puts the lie to any real change other than the narrow focus of the five. And what of a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who names such targeted countries in a document subject to freedom of information? Not very diplomatic, but then General Myers is not a diplomat as was his predecessor and how much good did it do him?


This little shop of horrors was financed with what is euphemistically called reprogrammed funds. That neatly ducks congressional oversight on the funding, but the Senate might want to check into what Rummy’s doing with his newfound toy for identifying emerging target countries. Wars and targets and despots seem these days to be warlike and targeted and despotic pretty much in the eye of the beholder.  The beholder for the next four years doesn’t have much of a track record for accepting the advice and consent of the Senate. Or even asking.


Senator McCain, are you listening?