United States News Digest
Gates Proposes Permanent U.S. Bases in Iraq
June 1 (EIRNS)Visiting the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii on May 31, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates cited the South Korean model in announcing that the United States is looking to a long-term military presence in Iraq, under a mutually agreed arrangement. He also said that he is looking beyond the month of September, when the present "surge" strategy of the United States will be evaluated. "What I'm thinking in terms of, is a mutual agreement where some force of Americansmutually agreed with mutually agreed missionsis present for a protracted period of time," he said. U.S. troops have been in South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, with U.S. generals in charge of combined U.S.-South Korean forces in time of war. "The idea is more a model of a mutually agreed arrangement whereby we have a long and enduring presence but under the consent of both parties and under certain conditions," Gates said. "The Korea model is one, the security relationship we have with Japan is another," he added.
Since the Congressional Democrats capitulated on demanding a pullout from Iraq, the discussion of a permanent presence in Iraq has become more openly discussed in the Administration.
The comparison of Iraq and Korea was ridiculed the next day, during a conference call briefing sponsored by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. Retired Army Brig. Gen. John Johns, a veteran of the counterinsurgency campaign in Vietnam, said that, "There has to be some U.S. military force present [in the Persian Gulf region], but it must not be for maintaining U.S. hegemony in the region." He denounced the plan for permanent bases in Iraq, and said that the Bush Administration is arguing for precisely such regional hegemony. Johns ridiculed the statements by Gates and others in the administration as "an umbrella for staying the course." Johns also reported, in a response to a reporter's question, that the Bush Administration plans call for 13 permanent military bases in Iraq "to extend military hegemony over the Middle East."
Gonzales's Role Looks Like Obstruction of Justice
May 29 (EIRNS)Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), of the House Judiciary Committee, speaking during a press conference on May 24, noted that a conversation between Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his former top aide, Monica Goodling, held a week after the House Judiciary Committee requested that she testify, is only one example of "how often a whiff of obstruction of justice has reared its head in the course of this investigation.... So if we were to look more into the specifics of that conversation, and we found that it was, again, in the area of obstruction of justice, it would come as no surprise. There's been the cloud of that hanging over this entire investigation." Whitehouse is a former prosecutor.
Goodling had testified that the Attorney General had approached her with his recollections of "[s]ome of the process regarding the replacement of the U.S. attorneys. And hehe justhe laid out a little bit of it, and then he asked me if he thoughtif I had any reaction to his iteration. And I remember thinking at that point that this was something that we were all going to have to talk about, and I didn't know that it wasI justI didn't know that it was maybe appropriate for us to talk about that at that point, and so I just didn't. As far as I can remember, I just didn't respond."
Florida Guard Will 'Push Back' vs. Army Equipment Demands
May 29 (EIRNS)In a letter drafted in April, but never sent, Florida National Guard Maj. Gen. Doug Burnett wrote to his commanders that the U.S. Army was "adamant" that the Guard provide more gear and equipment to be sent to training stations and perhaps overseas. "WE WILL NOT do that and I ask each of you to keep me informed when requests for our equipment arise" (emphasis in original), wrote Burnett, according to the St. Petersburg Times of May 25.
The paper received a copy of the letter through a public records request. In interviews with the Guard, the Times reports that the Guard knows that it cannot legally refuse an Army demand, but that it will resort to political pressure through the state's governor, Charlie Crist, or the state's Congressional delegation. Burnett's letter continues, "It remains evident that Congress does not have the complete picture from the Army concerning ... equipment needed for the National Guard."
EIR has reported how diversion of National Guard equipment into Iraq, has left state units unprepared for disasters and other emergencies.
Students, Faculty Boo Bushie Andrew Card at UMass
May 28 (EIRNS)President Bush's former Chief of Staff Andy Card was lustily booed by hundreds of students and faculty members as he rose to accept an honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst May 25. The booing drowned out Provost Charlena Seymour's remarks as she awarded Card an honorary degree in "public service."
Faculty members on the stage joined in the booing, while one professor on the stage raised a sign, "CardNo Honor, No Degree." Another sign said, "War Criminals Go Home," according to Associated Press. More than 100 students and faculty sang anti-war songs and leafleted before the ceremony began.
Card's inverse ratings on the applause meter may be the result of much recent press attention to his role in accompanying the disgraced, then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to the intensive care unit of George Washington University Hospital on March 10, 2004, with the mission of getting the very ill and sedated U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to sign a broad order allowing surveillance of U.S. citizens. This was an unsuccessful end-run around Acting Attorney General James Comey, who had refused to sign it as "unconstitutional." Ashcroft agreed with Comey.
Senators Move To Restore Rights for Gitmo Detainees
May 28 (EIRNS)Senate Armed Services Committee Democrats, led by Sen. Carl Levin (Mich.), will present a bill that would give new rights to the terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay.
The proposal, approved by a 25-0 vote behind closed doors, according to Associated Press, would: 1) narrow the definition of an enemy combatant; 2) give every suspect detained a lawyer, regardless of whether a trial is set; 3) reject any testimony obtained by coercion, or hearsay evidence; and 4) require "status reviews" where defendants have a lawyer, a military judge in charge, and evidence against them is disclosed. More details of the bill will be revealed when the Senate returns from its recess on June 4.
Senator Levin included the new legislation in the $649 billion defense policy bill for FY 2008.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), after voting for the bill in committee, expressed concern that it may go too far: "I am open to making the process better, but it has to meet the test that we're in a shooting war."
About 380 detainees are now being held at Gitmo. Only two have been identified to stand trialunder current procedure, only those two have lawyers. The Defense Department says it plans to bring charges against about 75 more. About 80 prisoners are scheduled for release.
Cheney Ridicules Geneva Convention, U.S. Constitution
May 27 (EIRNS)Dick Cheney has added to the standard rant that "the terrorists" are dedicated to building a new caliphate from Spain to Indonesia. Now, he told the graduating class at West Point, "the terrorists" want the capital of the caliphate to be in Baghdad. He explained why we are in Iraq: "because that is where [the terrorists] have gathered."
In keeping with his disdain for the Geneva Convention and the U.S. Constitution under his "unitary executive" theory, derived directly from Hitler's jurist Carl Schmitt, Cheney told the graduates of the foremost U.S. military academy: "Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States. Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away."
Raw Story, citing the February issue of the New Yorker, noted that U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, dean of West Point, told author Jane Mayer that he had more and more difficulty convincing the cadets in his classes that torture of terrorists was wrong, as well as illegal. Cheney's jaunt up the Hudson won't help on that front.