It would be natural for me, since it’s a Wednesday, to do my bit for the blogswarm against the war with a post on the numbers of the Iraq War. The official numbers say we’ve spent a half trillion dollars, that’s a 5 with eleven zeros behind it, but a Nobel prize winning economist says it is really three trillion dollars, a 3 followed by twelve zeros. A figure nearly everyone agrees on is that nearly 4,000 American soldiers dead from the war in Iraq, but that doesn’t include the over 1,000 contractors, mostly security contractors. “Security contractors” is a euphemism for mercenary. Our soldiers now fight in the same theatre of war on the same side as mercenaries. How does that fit in the American narrative?
Instead, I want to remember four people whose names aren’t at the top of the news anymore, or who have said or done things that we no longer are expected to remember. The news media aren’t just gatherers, they are selectors and editors, deciding which stories we need to know and which we don’t. Let me be my own editor and decide what I think is worth remembering.
Admiral William Fallon. It's hard to put a guy who was in the headlines just a week ago in the memory hole, but this guy's story is fading fast. He made headlines last week with his "resignation", only to be overshadowed by expensive hookers.
The admiral was against attacking Iran. The admiral wanted what Bush said he wanted a while back, that when Iraqi troops stood up, Americans would stand down. The difference between the president and the admiral on this point was that Bush made it sound like some wished for future event, while the admiral said it more like Hey, you fucking lazy and cowardly swine. Stand the fuck up already.
Let me be clear, that is not a direct quote from the admiral. He would never used salty language like that in a quote, would he? Well, he called Gen. Petraeus, his subordinate, "an ass-kissing little chicken shit" and added "I hate guys like that." Note that Petraeus still has a job, while Fallon is out.
Bush says he listens to his generals. That's half the truth. He listens, and when they say something he doesn't like, he fires their asses.
Remember Chaplain David Yee? He was the Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo. That our army even has Muslim chaplains is a sign to me of our basic decency as a people, and to have this guy stationed at Gitmo shows that even more.
But one day when he was on leave, the Pentagon decided to arrest Yee and charge him with treason. A chaplain charged with treason! A guy serving his country and serving his God put in jail with the possibility of the death sentence hanging over his head. Oh, how the right wing screamed for blood. God damned Muslim traitors in uniform! He was locked away without the right to see anybody for months, treated like the prisoners he used to minister.
And then... nothing.
He wasn't a traitor. He hadn't smuggled documents out of Gitmo. The most they found was porn on his computer. From treason to dirty pictures. Did Fox News or any news organization who printed the army's bullshit about this guy apologize for their libel?
Fuck, no. We're at war, remember? Better safe than sorry.
This is General Jay Garner.
He was the viceroy of Iraq. For about a month. Then Bush fired him.
How much did he fuck up in a month?
Well, he wanted early elections so we could hand the country back to the Iraqis. At the time, the war looked to be winding down, and he wanted U.S. troops to be pulled out of the cities and stationed in bases away from civilian populations.
He wanted no part of the draconian laws favoring foreign investors that his replacement Paul Bremer signed into law.
Bush listens to his generals. Then he fires them.
And that brings us to Dr. David Kay. Think back to when most Americans and almost all of the media thought the Mission Accomplished speech on the aircraft carrier was a high point of Bush's tenure. We won! Shut the fuck up, liberals! Ha, ha, ha, liberals! It sure sucks to be you!
The only thing we had to say that people listened to was "Where are the weapons of mass destruction?" That was about the only thing the Bush administration had to hem and haw about, shuffle their feet when the question was asked. The question gained traction and even in 2003, some people started to wonder and Bush's popularity started to slip.
Then came weapons inspector David Kay. Shut the fuck up, liberals! You don't know shit about weapons! This guy is the expert. When his report comes back, you will look like fucking idiots once again, liberals! Ha, ha, ha! You guys never get anything right, do you?
Then his report came back. He found nothing.
Then that miserable fuck Rumsfeld chuckled and said you couldn't prove a negative. Of course, he isn't a mathematician, and if math is the only place where you can truly prove things, you can prove a negative.
Here's the evidence that convinced Kay. We were offering a king's ransom for anyone who had a real lead, real evidence that would shows us where the weapons were, or even used to be. Not only was it cash, it was a ticket out of the country for the person who had the true info and that person's entire family. It was Willie Wonka's Golden Ticket, and nobody came forward to claim it.
That convinced Kay. Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, which he had during the Iraq-Iran war, which we sold to him back when St. Ronald Reagan was president, were long since gone and rusting.
Back in the seventies, when Mao was dying, the Communists had complete control of China, but they began to fight amongst themselves. This is the era of the infamous Gang of Four. In this decade, when Republicans controlled every branch of government, there were still cliques and cadres, and a new Gang of Four took power that wasn't theirs and lead this country on a dangerous and foolish path.
The next president has his or her work cut out for him or her. Obama promises a new beginning. McCain promises more of the same. God only knows what Clinton and her decades of "experience" promise. What I want is these people, this new Gang of Four and their toadies, tried for their crimes. I think they should be in jail, but I'm a mathematician, not a judge or lawyer. What I do know is this. If what we have seen for the past five years in Iraq and for the last seven plus years in Washington is "perfectly legal", then God save us from the next president who thinks he has a "good idea" and has to bend a few laws to make it happen.
Postscript: Here's a list of my blog buddies who have joined the blogswarm.
Impeachment and Other Dreams
I was Just Wondering
Cat in the Bag
Thanks to all who read this and the those who wrote the others.
Anthony Hernandez at SFMOMA
1 hour ago