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24 March 2015


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When are people going to be charged with war crimes?





William R. Cumming

Thanks Adam! WOW!

Ken Halliwell

Cee, The rule-of-politics often trumps the rule-of-law. Until this changes, it's doubtful that anybody will be charged with war crimes.


Off topic, but U.S. officials have made public that Iran has been spying on the Iran talks. Not unexpected, but the point is that the White House has made it known publicly.



I thought a lot of cool aiders or the way you put it recently: someone "feathering his bed".

Adam L Silverman

Cee and Ken,

It goes beyond that. Before the 2009 inauguration, because we were switching from a Republican administration to a Democratic one, there was a concerted effort to work the refs (as they say in sports) - the news media and most Americans - that the new administration shouldn't do anything to deal with any of the issues and questions over how their predecessors handled national security, foreign policy, and in a few cases some domestic politics issues. You might recall the demand not to politicize policy differences. This was done by supporters of the Bush 43 Administration, as well as some of its current and former members at the time, which was obviously self serving. Given the scope of the financial crisis, and the immense and opposing pressures to both do something transformative to fix the problem (as in significant and serious financial sector and banking reform) and to fix the problem without disturbing the financial and banking sector, the path of least resistance became President Obama's "look forward, not back" statement (and not doing anything transformative or significant either). This is important for a number of reasons. The first is that, as Americans, by allowing ourselves to be worked this way means that there is no way to get rid of advisors, staffers, appointed, and/or elected officials who have not only demonstrated that they're really not very good at what they do, but are also downright hazardous to our civic health. As a result we keep recycling the same folks over and over - from think tank to distinguished chair/academic appointment to corporate board to government position to member of news' commentary panels - and back again. The second is we never really learn anything, because we never really ever get what has occurred out in the open. The third real issue here is there is never a deterrent effect that would cause people to think twice before writing legal justifications that its not torture to crush a child's scrotum as long as no permanent damage is done (John Yoo - now safely back as a law school professor) or to have one's catspaw's leak contrived and cooked intel to a hand picked reporter (Judith Miller) at a major newspaper who then prints it as fact and then quote her newspaper report in your administration's answer's back to Congress to justify going to war (VP Cheney). The only person in this last bit that even remotely felt any heat was Ms. Miller, who lost her position at the NY Times, but is still working as a journalist and commentator. Every significant history of the Iran-Contra era makes it clear that one reason that the Democrats didn't actually push harder was the desire to preserve comity between the political parties and out of a fear that another impeachment over serious presidential misconduct could break the Republic. This was part of the same calculus that we now know LBJ - no stranger to using strong-arm tactics - used almost twenty years earlier when he found out that the Nixon campaign, using insider information provided by Henry Kissinger and working through Anna Chenault, was undermining the Paris Peace talks to end the war in Vietnam. LBJ was worried it would destroy the country, which was already under stress. Unfortunately, this also meant we got Nixon as president, the Vietnam War took another six years to resolve for almost the exact same agreement that LBJ's folks had been negotiating, and thousands more Americans and Vietnamese all died so that Nixon could be president. It also meant that Kissinger got to run around the globe leaving his fingerprints on things like the Bangla Massacre, Pinochet's rise to power and the political brutality of Chile, and a whole host of other absolutely horrible things that ultimately did little for the US in the long run. The final concern is that once these types of inquiries are done by one party, they become fair game for use by the other. Speaker Gingrich is on record indicating that President Clinton was being impeached, not because of anything that really amounted to a high crime or misdemeanor (and I'm not condoning or justifying lying under oath in a civil suit deposition - he should have known better, come clean, and dealt with the short term political fall out), but because they could do so. We are very good at lying to ourselves and we, apparently, like to be lied to by our elected and appointed officials and the news media. It is comforting to think nothing is really wrong and nothing bad really ever happens - at least not to good people... I remember watching an interview back in 2005 or 2006 with Keith Olbermann where he was talking about the coverage of the 2000 and 2004 elections; especially the attempts to invalidate votes through caging, purging of voter roles, inadequately resourcing precincts and voting locations, as well as the whole recount mess in 2000. He stated that every journalist in the US working for an American media outlet that he knew was afraid to actually cover any of this in any substantial way. His theory for this was that it was one thing to point out a silly irregularity here or a funky problem there, but to actually describe the totality of how poorly designed our election process is and to explain how its being manipulated by political officials for institutional gain, was too much for these folks to contemplate as it would mean there was something fundamentally and systemically wrong. That's ultimately where we're at with this: we have no interest, let alone ability, to face the fact that there is something fundamentally and systemically wrong and to actually try to fix it.


assume you mean ISRAEL is spying on the Iran talks.

IAEA is also doing some illicit intelligence disclosure, to the benefit of USA --



LeaNder: You mean like this: http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/congress/2015/03/23/tom-cotton-defense-budget-iran-gdp-withdraw-decline/70325826/

Over-hype threat. Over-hype threat.
Demand more funding.




I think we owe Adam a debt of gratitude for these cogent and compelling comments that highlight cardinal problems that are routinely overlooked

The Moar You Know

Never. Nuremberg and the Japanese equivalent were one-shot deals (although not presented as such, that would have caused some serious issues) aimed mainly at making sure that no troublemakers with influence or money were left to cause post-war havoc.

The number of people tried, sentenced and convicted of "war crimes" since then can be counted easily on two hands.

The number of people who committed such acts? Beyond counting.

Don't pretend that prosecution of the responsible persons for "war crimes" is an option for the country that won the battle. It will never happen. Find a better channel for your energy and efforts.

William R. Cumming

Great comment IMO!

Here is the news story on the new release of the NIE:


It also includes the text of the newly released document (some portions of which are still redacted).

David Habakkuk

Adam Silverman,

One of the most disappointing aspects of the past decade is the way that the cogent criticisms that Colonel Lang and others made in relation to the Iraqi shambles appear to have had zilch effect, and the same people simply going on making the same mistakes.

It is though in the United States (also I might add in Britain) the normal processes by which human beings learn from experience have been suspended.

So the incisive and wide-ranging discussion of some of the reasons why we find ourselves in this impasse is timely – indeed, would certainly have merited a separate post.

Is there anything that can be done to remedy this situation, in your view?


Matthew, feel free to add whatever pleases you. I assume it is a basic law over the centuries.

Your comment made me google Shakespeare + Power, since I realized that this is one of the topics I have never looked into. "googling" it I encountered a friend among Shakespearean.

But no. The last time I thought about "cool aid", or "feathering one's bed" was Harper's last article, or more precisely the unspoken link between two paragraphs:

"While whistleblowers like former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling were being prosecuted under the Espionage Act, Petraeus was given a slap on the wrist--and a consulting job with the Obama NSC.

One Washington insider familiar with the Petraeus saga put it simply: "He is politically harmless. The DOJ has him by the b___s."

Allen Thomson

> the path of least resistance became President Obama's "look forward, not back" statement

To paraphrase, "Oh, that's just history." In my days in the IC, I learned through unhappy experience to recognize that as a red flag that things were not going to go well. And they usually didn't.


And there's gambling at Rick's.

Charles I

What is need is a three strikes you're out kinda thing for these crooks.

Charles I

but they denied it already.

Charles I

W/r/t your last sentence - All those Think Tanks later this is Success.


As Mr. Silverman has again demonstrated, we live in an immoral system that will eventually collapse under its own weight. The only question now is how much of the planet it will take with it when it implodes.

The proximate cause is the willing suspension of any consideration of virtue and sin by the American people except in a highly stylised and totally irrelevant form and the utter abandonment of moral principles.

The net result is a series of contradictions that must one day destroy the country.

WIthout elaborating much, even an academic like Paul Krugman doesn't get it: "Economics is not a morality play" he says in reference to the Governments bailing out of "too big to fail" banks. Doesn't he realise that the virtues of prudence and thrift exist to prevent us from starving to death?

Adam L Silverman


I think a lot of the problem is what we've decided, as Americans, to reward. So that once someone makes it to a certain level as a success, it doesn't really matter what happens they're always a success. To take a non political example: see this at the elite level in the business community all the time. Take Donald Trump (no, please, really take him...). Okay, echoes of Groucho aside, Trump is terrible at business. There's not a development with his name involved that hasn't gone through multiple overruns, delays, failures, and/or bankruptcy. Sure, some of this is the way we do the property development process here in the US, so some of the is just standard operating procedure. But a lot of it is that he's just terrible at anything other than leveraging his name to get people to give him money. I can count three bankruptcies of his just off the top of my head, yet he'll have no problem raising funds for his next project because he's Donald Trump and what Trunp is selling is that Trump=Success. And he's gotten personally rich doing this. This goes along with a denigration of legitimate expertise, or of certain person's expertise, because it gets in the way of profits or the ability of others to ascend into the protected elite. Now all of that said, it's not all dark and depressing. A number of really good, smart, and dedicated folks do work very hard to get the right information to the right people to, at least, stir debate. It happens, but it seldom gets remarked on anywhere because it's not glamorous or sexy. And, often, because the people doing it aren't looking to become huge names. Would it be nice if some of them did? Sure, but then the incentives change and the quality probably would go down.

Adam L Silverman

Testify Brother Thomson, Testify!

Adam L Silverman


What's really needed is for proper vetting of credentials and performance to be done. You'd be amazed at how weak we are at doing this. The nightmare stories I could tell you are legion.

Adam L Silverman

Professor Brenner,

Thanks for the kind words. I can say that there are ongoing, let alone repeated efforts to try to do better for the Nation. These are being worked from the inside of the system, not just folks on the outside who feel locked out. There are still some SESes and flag officers who get the problem and want to ensure they aren't limited when it comes to having enough, quality information to make better informed decisions, develop better strategies, and establish policies.


Hear! Hear!

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