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The End Of The Innocence

No more squirrelly half-truths and not-quite-fully-honest nondisclosures.  No more sitting back in silence and hoping to wait the bastards out of office.  No more failure on the backs of other people’s children without facing the costs of your piss poor decisions.

From Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway, professors at Yale law school, via WaPo:

Such agreements, the White House is quick to point out, are not usually subject to congressional approval. That is true. But this truth will not suffice, since the administration is still aiming for an agreement that moves far beyond the traditional scope of these limited military accords. We should not allow false advertising to serve as a cover for a constitutional fait accompli.

For example, the administration plans to exempt civilian contractors from prosecution under Iraqi laws. Military personnel also enjoy this exemption, but they can be court-martialed. These military tribunals have no jurisdiction over civilian contractors. Indeed, many of them will be immune from prosecution anywhere. Current federal law only subjects contractors working in support of the Defense Department to prosecution in American courts for felonies in Iraq. Yet those working for the CIA or the State Department could be left operating in a "no-law" zone if the president had the power to commit America unilaterally. If that happens, contractors could shoot Iraqi civilians without cause or commit sexual assaults against their fellow contractors without facing prison time. No existing status of forces agreement, including those used in such places as South Korea and Germany, contains anything like this wide-ranging exemption.

And for good reason. As commander in chief, the president has the constitutional power to make unilateral agreements concerning military personnel and those directly supporting them. But the Constitution only makes him commander in chief of the "army and navy" — not all Americans working overseas. He can’t reach an agreement with Iraq that exempts independent contractors without Congress getting into the act. At the very least, Congress should not give its consent without amending existing statutes to assure that all civilians granted immunity from Iraqi law can be held criminally responsible in American courts.

And further, from Ret. Lt. Gen. William Odom, via Nieman Watchdog:

Finally, the most questionable aspect of the surge concerns the consolidation of power by sheiks and other local leaders. Most weak states in the world have strongly consolidated local leadership. That is why their central governments remain weak. Once such enclaves of power are created by local strongmen, they almost never yield, or even share it more than temporarily, with the central government.

Political consolidation is achieved almost without exception through civil wars. Is that not the American experience? And the English experiences with their Welsh, Scottish, and Irish clans? In Iraq, even Saddam never succeeded in breaking the clan structure, only in buying them off from time to time. The Ottomans never tried. Can U.S. forces achieve the centralization that has eluded all previous regimes there?

Perhaps the president ought to be asked to explain why his answer is yes….

Withdrawing from Iraq will not turn the economy around, but the billions of dollars that would be saved could certainly defray the cost of an economic stimulus package, lessening the likelihood of ensuing inflation.

Accurate assessments of the war’s cost are not available, but the figure is most likely between a trillion and one and a half trillion dollars. What if that money were available for dealing with health care demands, public infrastructure underfunding, and the like? To talk about recession without tying it to the war is to give the administration a pass.

For good measure, add in this from Jack Balkin and this from Glenn on the FISA malarky.  Add in this from John Cole, from McJoan and KagroX and this from Hilzoy.   And just when you think you’ve had as much as you can possibly stomach, when you can take no more lies and idiocy and mendacity…read Scott Horton’s piece on the Valentine’s Day torture trifecta.  And feel your blood begin to boil.

The time for accountability is now. 

(A little Don Henley to ease you into the post…)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com