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If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Friday, February 17, 2006

NSA: The lessons of Iraq, Guantanamo, and Katrina

The NSA issue is a text-book RNC whitewash. You only need to look at Katrina for the template. The key is to see the common pattern:

  • A. When the law fails you, compromise on the law;

  • B. When the facts fail you, compromise on fact finding;

  • C. When your party fails, blame the other party; and

  • D. When you violate the law, blame those who didn't know, didn't stop you, and change the issue to "what someone else did or didn't do."

    [ For your convenience, there is an NSA Hearing Archive; Click here to read other content in the NSA Hearing Archive.]

    The common pattern crosses all issues: Iraq, Katrina, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and now the NSA. There's a common element: This White House and RNC.

    1. When you fail, hide reality

    The comments over the NSA and Guantanamo violations are consistent. Those who give undesired feedback -- whether it is in DoD, NSA, or from the FBI -- face retaliation.

    This does nothing to solve problems.

    2. Failure to make progress is the RNC justifcation to violate the law and make more blunders

    This RNC and White House rationalize violations of the laws of war and FISA because they have a pre-determined conclusion: That they know best, and the laws are irrelevant. When they find no evidence, they use that as an excuse for greater intrusions.

    This does not inspire confidence.

    3. Put Pressure on people, despite no facts or lawful justification

    The pressure to "find facts" was hot. So hot, Rummy pressured the torturers to commit abuses. The UN Report on Guantanamo confirms the widespread war crimes.

    The US abuse is pervasive. The US squeezed the information blood from those who had no information in Guantanamo, Iraq, and now stateside.

    This is unlawful.

    4. The RNC and White House have no credibility

    There's no reason to believe the White House or RNC is serious about reforms or they will "meet with Congress" to make needed reforms in NSA acquisition. The NSA knows it has a problem.

    The lessons are consistent:

  • A. The public has to solve the situations themselves; and

  • B. The US government makes things worse.

    When planning, the public has to include the US government as one of the risk factors.

    This is a waste of scarce capital resources. We can do better.

    * * *

    The big hint

    We can use the lessons of Katrina, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the Iraq WMD issues to assess the credibilty of White House and RNC statements about the unlawful NSA activity.

    1. The lessons of Katrina shed light on Rice's veracity

    Katrina shows us the limits of US organization, leadership, and effectiveness. There is no reason to believe Rice's assessments that things are going well in Iraq. The results in Katrina show us what the US military and leadership is capable of doing: Not much.

    In truth, the "Iraq security" is a function of one thing: The amount of propaganda the US can create. The US had a harder time covering up the truth in Louisiana.

    Apply this to the NSA: The leadership's statements are not to be believed. Any agreement to "not look at the matter" has no credible foundation and is premature. We need to know more before we know whether we should or should not dig deeply.

    2. Rice's statements on democracy are noteworthy

    Democracy is a good thing to justify invasions; Democracy is a bad thing when the results do not go your way.

    Notice the contrast. On one hand the RNC complains Hamas has obligations. Yet, the US leadership does not meet its obligations in Louisiana.

    The US leadership says Hamas cannot serve a minority but everyone. Yet, the record is clear: The RNC serves a minority -- those who do not respect the rule of law.

    Apply this to the NSA: Whether the rule of law is important depends on whether "the rule of law" is used to rally others to commit war crimes; or a standard the White House says doesn't apply.

    3. The US can't decide whether it is for or against the laws of war, or the laws for that matter. What is it fighting for in Iraq or defending in Guantanamo?

    The US has no solid position on the laws of war. In Guantanamo, they can't keep their story straight. First they say the laws of war do not apply, and that justifies abuse; then they say they were following the laws of war, and the ICRC has full access. Then the story changes again: The UN has no role, and the ICRC is to be belived.

    Curiously, the White House say it woudl be better if the ICRC had access to Guantanamo. The ICRC is reliable. This is progress. Now the US cannot explain why the ICRC is not given access to the American abuse facilities in Eastern Europe -- which are now in Morocco.

  • How many years did we hear the laws of war did not apply, but now they do?

  • How can the US have two standards on whether the laws of war do or do not apply?

  • How many times did the ICRC report about abuses in Guantanamo?

  • How many ghost detainees did the US hide from the ICRC in Abu Ghraib?

  • If the ICRC is "trustworthy" and "there's no problem" why isn't the ICRC given access to the Eastern European-Moroccoan detention centers?

    This White House leadership shifts arguments, because it has no argument: It simply acts without discusion or regard for the law.

    Apply this to the NSA: The White House cannot explain why it will not let others review the matters. It's time to stop asking, and start making adverse judgements.

    4. RNC leadership: "Go look somewhere else" for results

    The White House pattern is clear: For leadership, they want the world to "talk to someone else."

    But when we do, and the facts are not on the RNC side, they make up stories why that source should be ignored.

    If you are with the White House, you can engage in war crimes; if you are against the White House you get your food changed to "freedom" fries.

    Apply this to the NSA: Where do we go when "somewhere else" leads us back to the White House?

    5. RNC bad news gets worse

    The lessons of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are clear:

  • Initial concerns are substantiated;

  • The final solution appears to be distant, then never; and

  • The real accoutnability rests with the victims who assert the rule of law in court.

    This was the same pattern with Phase II.

    Apply this to the NSA: Notice how quickly they want to shut down the investigtion and move onto "something else."

    6. RNC and White House leadership are actively involved in war crimes

    The pattern is consistent. The leadership failed to review. They justified misconduct. They blame others. They pretend everyone else is causing the problem. The RNC likes to play victim, but are the culprit.

    Apply this to the NSA: The UN report shows us what to expect inside the NSA: Many excuses, a cover-up, and no real commitment to the rule of law.

    7. RNC and White House are more concerned about perceptions, not reality

    It is curious what Rice would have us believe: Things are fine in Iraq. Are we to believe that the American citizens are given less regard than Iraqis?

    No, the opposite: The Americans are treated no better than Iraqis. But in America, if you're Iraqi you can vote; if you're in Louisiana, the American government doesn't care if you can vote or have a home.

    Apply this to the NSA: Things aren't fine. The White House goal isn't to have lawful programs, but to hide illegal conduct, and change the rules.


    Yes, the American government, RNC, and White House are incompetent. And they do not care. The RNC membership sees this.