Monday, January 15, 2007

Calling In the Cavalry and Killer Whales

Turning from gunships to the Pentagon’s less lethal, but (again) precedent-setting intimidation of their perceived enemies, this time it’s civilian law firms. On the same news day as the above piece, a loose screw by the name of Cully Stimson, boldly encouraged a boycott of some of the nation’s top law firms.

Georgespatton There is of course no cavalry anymore. First to go were the horses, following the First World War. Then the boots and spurs finally were put to pasture as well, after WWII. It always amused me to see General George Patton spiffied up in boots and breeches, a tank-commander wearing spurs. Slow to drop the old ways, the modern Pentagon is quick to insert itself into new responsibilities.
Perhaps too quick.
Mark Mazzetti, in a New York Times article, talks about the recent attacks against insurgents in Somalia, as they fled Ethiopian troops;
Military officials said the strike by an American gunship on terrorism suspects in southern Somalia on Sunday showed that even with the departure of Donald H. Rumsfeld from the Pentagon, Special Operations troops intended to take advantage of the directive given to them by Mr. Rumsfeld in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told members of Congress on Friday that the strike in Somalia was executed under the Pentagon’s authority to hunt and kill terrorism suspects around the globe, a power the White House gave it shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

It was this authority that Mr. Rumsfeld used to order commanders to develop plans for using American Special Operations troops for missions within countries that had not been declared war zones.
This military incursion into a country with whom we are not presently at war is pretty chilly stuff. The Somali attack was carried out by the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, (an outgrowth of the old Phoenix program from Vietnam). This, on the strength of Rumsfeld’s post 9-11 directive, which was in turn empowered by the White House.
And that might be a good thing, to have a quick-strike force ready. But it would make me more comfortable if Congress were involved and ‘Rumsfeld authority from White House authority’ doesn’t sound like they were—or are.
Somalia. Do we care? Should we? Nah, maybe not. But the principle, so freely made precedent in Somalia, could as easily start a hot war in Iran. Taken to extreme—and this is an administration of extremes—why not U.S. military gunships surrounding and pounding a ‘terrorist’ enclave in France or Britain?
The Somali exercise was claimed to be ‘a blueprint that Pentagon strategists say they hope to use more frequently in counterterrorism missions around the globe.’ That escalation into dream-worlds might seem (and be) outrageously unacceptable, but the quasi-legal justifications fit just as perfectly whether it be Somalia, France or Britain. Certainly not something to get lost in the cracks.
Charlescullystimson Turning from gunships to the Pentagon’s less lethal, but (again) precedent-setting intimidation of their perceived enemies, this time it’s civilian law firms. On the same news day as the above piece, a loose screw by the name of Cully Stimson, boldly encouraged a boycott of some of the nation’s top law firms. Shoved to the edge of the political ice like a penguin, pushed in to see if there are killer-whales in the water, ol’ Cul told it like he was told to tell it. According to the Associated Press;
Stimson on Thursday told Federal News Radio, a local commercial station that covers the government, that he found it ''shocking'' that lawyers at many of the nation's top law firms represent detainees.
Stimson listed the names of more than a dozen major firms he suggested should be boycotted.
''And I think, quite honestly, when corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms,'' Stimson said.
Asked who might be paying the law firms to represent Guantanamo detainees, Stimson hinted at wrongdoing for which some explaining should be done.
''It's not clear, is it? Some will maintain that they're doing it out of the goodness of their heart -- that they're doing it pro bono, and I suspect they are,'' he said. ''Others are receiving monies from who knows where and I'd be curious to have them explain that.''
Stimson also described Guantanamo as ''certainly, probably the most transparent and open location in the world'' because of visits from more than 2,000 journalists since it opened five years ago. However, journalists are not allowed to talk to detainees on those visits, their photos are censored and their access to the base has at times been shut off entirely.''
He discounted international outrage over the detention center as ''small little protests around the world'' that were ''drummed up by Amnesty International'' and inflated in importance by liberal news media outlets.
Stimson holds down a deck chair over at the Pentagon as ‘deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs,’ and it’s gotta be a tough job. Detainee affairs haven’t been going all that well, public-relations wise, in recent years. Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Brian Maka, said Stimson was not speaking for the Bush administration.
In a more honest world, Cully might have been gobbled up by a killer-whale. Amazingly, he’s still at his desk, pondering the affairs of detainees.
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