What Glenn Greenwald Said On American Terrorism Cowardice

Just go read it. Because every word Glenn Greenwald wrote in his post today, entitled Nostalgia for Bush/Cheney Radicalism, is the gospel truth. It is rare that you will see a post here just pointing you somewhere else because the other source says it all. This is one of those times. Here is a taste:

How much clearer evidence can there be of how warped and extremist we’ve become on these matters? The express policies of the right-wing Ronald Reagan — “applying the rule of law to terrorists”; delegitimizing Terrorists by treating them as “criminals”; and compelling the criminal prosecution of those who authorize torture — are now considered on the Leftist fringe. Merely advocating what Reagan explicitly adopted as his policy — “to use democracy’s most potent tool, the rule of law against” Terrorists — is now the exclusive province of civil liberties extremists. In those rare cases when Obama does what Reagan’s policy demanded in all instances and what even Bush did at times — namely, trials and due process for accused Terrorists — he is attacked as being “Soft on Terror” by Democrats and Republicans alike. And the mere notion that we should prosecute torturers (as Reagan bound the U.S. to do) — or even hold them accountable in ways short of criminal proceedings — is now the hallmark of a Far Leftist Purist. That’s how far we’ve fallen, how extremist our political consensus has become.

Now go read the rest and weep for your country.

  1. pmorlan says:

    bmaz, thanks for pointing everyone to todays Greenwald post. It was an excellent yet depressing post. Like you, I added a link to it on my Facebook page earlier today just to point others to it.

  2. PJEvans says:

    Maybe I should change my registration from ‘D’ to something appropriate for the lunacy we’re falling into. (‘Socialist’ sounds about right, but it doesn’t allow many choices in primaries.)

    (I am, incidentally, disgusted with politicians who trash the laws and the Constitution, and complain about us not being good citizens.)

  3. TheOrA says:

    Someone needs to draw up a pic of an elephant pissing the word coward down its leg and a donkey lapping it up.

  4. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Housekeeping request: I just saw that Marcy will host John Perkins next Sat for FDL Book Salon (“Hoodwinked“). Would it be possible to have a pre-book salon Seminal post, so some of us could start logging a few questions there this week?

  5. koshembos says:

    Actually, Greenwald misses the bigger picture. In our rush to “escape” the need to be a just and free country, we have started wars from Vietnam to Panama and then on to Iraq and Afghanistan and recently Yemen. We are in war with our latest invented enemy no matter what year it is. Terrorism is just one of our war flavors. Meanwhile, we the citizens are enslaved to Goldman/Sacks, Big Pharma, health insurance companies, gas companies and what have.

  6. Jeff Kaye says:

    Thanks for the link. GG is spot on. For me the worst is that those politicians who should be most accountable in Comgress, the Dem Party leadership, facilitate this (you might as well call it) militarization of the nation. Essentially, the U S is now run by an alliance of Wall Street execs and a coterie of Pentagon and intel insiders. DoJ is a rubber stamp, and soon the Scotus will be, too. Obama looks pathetic in his puppet role.

  7. JohnJ says:

    In a little over 230 years this experiment in democracy and capitalism have failed. I am ashamed to be among the living generation who let it die.

    Any one notice that it ended as the last of the WWII generation has passed?

    Interestingly it can be argued that the last generation fought and died to preserve both concepts in Europe and elsewhere, but the PTSD they brought home sowed the seed of their destruction here.

    This election and therefor Obama was our last hope. Too bad the ruling class was one step ahead of us.

    One side note: Rover talked about a permanent Repug majority and we all thought he meant through election fraud and manipulation of the gov to campaign. Could he really been talking about the (then) impending SOTUS ruling that destroyed democracy? Do we really believe that Roberts wasn’t installed explicitly for this purpose?

  8. prostratedragon says:

    Any one notice that it ended as the last of the WWII generation has passed?

    Yes. (Mostly passed; my octogenerian parents are still hanging in there and sharp of mind, for instance. But your point stands.) I’ve also noted around here that part of that generation formed the core of the Bill of Rights-thirsting Civil Rights generation as well.

    The 1945 to 1980 period, I guess, need to be understood as a unit. And something about the cohort between the GIs and the boomers.

    • JohnJ says:

      And something about the cohort between the GIs and the boomers.

      Good point. My feeling is that the attitude that carried after winning the WWII was a combination of nationalistic pride and a touch of paranoia from the shock of being attacked (Pearl).

      I see those feelings transferred to our generation without the underlying events to put them into context. That left a large (ly unthinking) number of us ripe to be exploited and manipulated by the ruling class to turn the country in on itself. (The thinking group tends to come here and FDL.)

      None of this is meant to be derogatory toward that generation; just trying to objectively explore how their experiences transformed to today’s situation.

    • bobschacht says:

      In some ways, our democracy peaked with the passage of the Civil Rights laws and Watergate, culminating in the resignation of Nixon.

      But that image is flawed, because the same leadership took us into Vietnam, pardoned Nixon, incubated Cheney and Rumsfeld, and elected Bush I.

      The Howard Zinn quotes are what I have left to hold onto:


      “The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth.

      Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson – that everything we do matters – is the meaning of the people’s struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back.”


      “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

      What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

      And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

      Bob in AZ

      • pdaly says:

        great quotes.

        Zinn also made the comment that throughout our history there have always been people there to oppose the bad policies. We are part of the group today. There will be more of us tomorrow.

  9. timbo says:

    Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Fortunately, the economic situation is likely to catch up with all the wishful thinking. Unfortunately, isn’t this how the Nazis came to power in Germany in the 1930s?

  10. Jim White says:

    Thanks, bmaz. I wasn’t even able to come up with a comment for Glenn’s post. The number of politicians on both sides of the aisle who now advocate going beyond Bush’s insanity is so staggering that I am left shaking my head, wondering how the political class has been allowed to become some disconnected from reality. The fact that there now appear to be enough votes in Congress to prevent funding of any Guantanamo prisoner trials anywhere in the US is simply sickening.

    • Mauimom says:

      I read Glenn yesterday and have been even more heart-broken and depressed than usual.

      I was just trying to watch KO, but had to turn it off because of repeated clips of Obama “listening to Republicans.”

      I really, really despair for my country. My husband gets mad at me when I say that this is worse than the time under Bush, but at least then there was opposition to The Madness. Now, The Madness is being cheered on by those we thought were our leaders.

      There is no one — no one — behind whom we can rally.

      Oh, and BTW, that “thermometer” on the Marcy Fund hasn’t moved in a while. Get with it, folks.

      • bobschacht says:

        There is no one — no one — behind whom we can rally.

        Well, we can rally behind EW, Scott Horton, Glenn Greenwald, and other truth-tellers. As Howard Zinn is supposed to have said,

        “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

        What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places ­and there are so many­ where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.”

        What we need is a new version of Profiles in Courage, to inspire us. I am inspired by the lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. Let us tell the stories of others, nearer to our own time and place.

        Bob in AZ

  11. tjbs says:

    Big lies rule 911, we are at war,except we’re not really at war as a country.
    And #15 I think we are facing the same or worse than Nazi Germany. Imagine the Nazis with total surveillance capacity, drones to strike at rumors, secret detention camps with secret camps inside for torturing human beings to death and 700+ military bases around the world and nuclear weapons.
    We face much worse than the Nazis until there’s a countervailing force to rein in these wackos.

  12. RAMA says:

    40 years ago, my views on law enforcement–criminal actions, even those done in a good cause, should be prosecuted–were considered right wing. But civil rights protesters were respected for their work because they accepted being arrested and took responsibility for their actions.

    Nowadays, those views are considered far left wing.

    I keep wondering how so many people could have been frightened so much so as to abandon respect for the law and the Constitution. I had high hopes that Obama, a professor of Constitutional law, would return us to the rule of law, but apparently politics continues to trump both the law and the Constitution.

    I no longer wonder how Hitler was able to rise to power in Germany, something that had puzzled me since my first U.S. History course. This really is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. Perhaps it never really was.

  13. wavpeac says:

    I really think this is akin to the kind of pressure that goes with getting peers to try meth, or a group of guys rationalizing the shove they gave their wife last night, or a gang discussing the “NEED” for retaliation. They want their lawless policy validated…the ones at the worst end of the spectrum and the only way they can get validation is to get Obama to “join them”. By “joining” he validates and he becomes culpable. Once you smoke meth with your pals, it’s harder to turncoat, the same with beating your wife or retaliating with violence against another group.

    And the really sad thing is that our current president exhibits personality characteristics closer to that of a people pleaser, than authoritarian. That means he is very likely to succumb to this type of pressure. (as we have seen). Most of us here, saw this, and knew this would be who he is. But it fits his codependent need to “get along”.

    You cannot take this path with authoritarians…and that doesn’t mean you won’t get a long in the long run…but you must stand up for principles and be willing to accept and weather the consequences when you do. You will never gain an authoritarians trust by giving in. In fact the more you do this the LESS you are respected.

    You must be able to let go of the control of consequences and give it up to a higher authority and get out of the way…stand aside and allow consequences. It is true, that notions of retaliation, or punishment must also go the wayside…you must leave it up to the laws, nature, other cooler less emotional heads. Obama is trying to “over control” the situation. You must align yourself with the truth above all else.

    He has aligned himself with a need to get along…which is the same as trying to control the outcomes, in that it’s a different path to the same end. The path to peace is a commitment to agreed upon principles, laws, and a higher authority. There is no other way.

  14. BoxTurtle says:

    I wish I could blame things on cowardice, but IMO it’s mindless hate that drives this.

    Anything that happens to a moslem is fine. Anything that happens to an Arab is fine. Certainly not worth wasting any time on, even if it happens to be wrong.

    Boxturtle (At least we’re not dipping bullets in pigs blood. As far as I know)

  15. Leen says:

    EW know this is one of your strong interest expertise.

    What they are talking about on the Diane Rehm show now
    10:00U.S. Auto Industry

    Toyota, the world’s largest car company, issues a massive recall and suspends production of some of its popular models. Ford posts a profit for the first time in four years. An update on safety issues and economic trends in the auto industry.

    David Shepardson, Washington bureau chief, The Detroit News.

    Paul Ingrassia, journalist and author of “Comeback: The Fall and Rise of the American Automobile Industry.”

    Bill Visnic, senior editor, Edmunds AutoObserver.com

    Jordan Ziprin, retired federal attorney

  16. BoxTurtle says:

    OT: For those who find the new ads displayed at the top of the comments annoying, you can block ’em with the following line in you hosts file: pagead2.googlesyndication.com

    If this information annoys the mods, consider that if the ads were less intrusive I wouldn’t be motivated to block them.

    Boxturtle (To our advertisers: Thanks for your support. Please don’t let our mods turn your ads obnoxious)

  17. Leen says:

    Glenn “So that’s where the American consensus now lies. The practices used by Britain, Spain, India and Indonesia (and the Reagan administration) of treating Terrorists as criminals and convicting them in normal courts — with due process — is too fringe Leftist for the United States, which has spent decades sermonizing to the rest of the world about the need for due process and the evils of arbitrary detention. Instead, our political and media establishment demands that we replicate the policies of Libya and Saudi Arabia: simply hold accused Terrorists without trials or, at most, invent special due-process-abridging military tribunals to ensure they are convicted.”

    From Glenn’s thirst for truth and justice to the pages of Salon to all of us. Zing!

    When the Reagan and Bush administration’s stands on trying terrorist are being framed as “fringe” the doo doo is even deeper than one could have imagined.


    Do terrorist trials held in “normal courts” receive more MSM coverage than terrorist trials in military courts? Are they trying to avoid wide spread coverage?

  18. knowbuddhau says:

    Thanks for the heads up, bmaz. But I doubt I’ll weep for my country over Greenwald’s words. I’ll bet he doesn’t raise the issue of how we got here.

    That didn’t take long. He’s repeating, in a much narrower context, what Chomsky wrote 2 years ago, about the “need” to violate our principles if we are to “survive.”

    Excerpted from Cold War II
    Noam Chomsky
    ZNet, August 27, 2007

    These are exciting days in Washington, as the government directs its energies to the demanding task of “containing Iran” in what Washington Post correspondent Robin Wright, joining others, calls “Cold War II.” [1]

    During Cold War I, the task was to contain two awesome forces. The lesser and more moderate force was “an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost.” Hence “if the United States is to survive,” it will have to adopt a “repugnant philosophy” and reject “acceptable norms of human conduct” and the “long-standing American concepts of `fair play’” that had been exhibited with such searing clarity in the conquest of the national territory, the Philippines, Haiti and other beneficiaries of “the idealistic new world bent on ending inhumanity,” as the newspaper of record describes our noble mission. [2]


    In the face of the Kremlin’s unbridled aggression in every corner of the world, it is perhaps understandable that the US resisted in defense of human values with a savage display of torture, terror, subversion and violence while doing “everything in its power to alter or abolish any regime not openly allied with America,” as Tim Weiner summarizes the doctrine of the Eisenhower administration in his recent history of the CIA.

    And now, Greenwald:

    In sum, there is clearly a bipartisan and institutional craving for a revival (more accurately: ongoing preservation) of the core premise of Bush/Cheney radicalism: that because we’re “at war” with Terrorists, our standard precepts of justice and due process do not apply and, indeed, must be violated. To relieve ourselves of guilt and of the bad lingering taste left from having such discredited and unpopular leadership for eight years, we collectively pretended for a little while to regret the excesses of the Bush/Cheney approach to such matters. But it’s now crystal clear that the country, especially its ruling elite, is either too petrified of Terrorism and/or too enamored of the powers which that fear enables to accept any real changes from the policies that were supposedly such a profound violation “of our values.”

    They’re terrified, or megalomaniacs. Nice psychologism ya got there, pal.

    Here’s another thought: In an effort to remake the world in our own image, just like our god did with formerly god-forsaken dirt, we’re here to assert full-spectrum dominance over the natural world. Just like our god does. I wonder if Greenwald ever noticed how every president ends every major address: “God bless you, and god bless the United States of America.”

    There’s a whole lot of myth-making and myth-jacking going on, but not in Greenwald’s world.

    Why are we torturing and not investigating? Because we can. Our nukes give us the might that makes it “right.” It’s a bipartisan consensus going back at least to WWII. The National Security State is now the real American government, with never ending cover stories of bogus holy wars spun as strategic domestic disinformation campaigns.

    Where does Greenwald mention that our official policy is full-spectrum dominance, not global good buddies? He doesn’t. It’s as if these political developments, going as far back as three whole decades, come out of a vacuum.

    So Greenwald complains that Obama is looking just like Bush/Cheney. Who do we think rules this place, public servants? Do we really think people, who will invade another nation based on lies, are going to place nice on their home turf? Can Obama switch off the MIC, even if he wanted to? Or would they just kill him and replace him with a chastened Joe Biden?

    ‘Wow, look where we are, everything’s backwards’–yeah, no shit, Sherlock. Tell it to the Indians, we’ve been getting this schtick for centuries now. See also “Manifest Destiny:”

    Manifest Destiny is a term that was used in the 19th century to designate the belief that the United States was destined, even divinely ordained,[1] to expand across the North American continent, from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes Manifest Destiny was interpreted so broadly as to include the eventual absorption of all North America: Canada, Mexico, Cuba and Central America. Advocates of Manifest Destiny believed that expansion was not only ethical but that it was readily apparent (“manifest”) and inexorable (“destiny”). Although initially used as a catch phrase to inspire the United States’ expansion across the North American continent, the 19th century phrase eventually became a standard historical term.

    There’s a mythological component to our efforts to assert full-spectrum dominance over the natural world, an effort centuries in the making, but you wouldn’t know that by reading Greenwald.

  19. Leen says:

    Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett


    The Race for Iran
    Notwithstanding the denials of “friends” of the Obama Administration at the time, we are now seeing public confirmation that U.S. policy is now going exactly in the direction we said it would. On the sanctions front, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared in a speech at the École Militaire in Paris late last week that China faces “diplomatic isolation” if it does not support the Obama Administration’s proposals for tougher sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. We have argued for a long time that the Obama Administration’s approach to dealing with China regarding Iran is incoherent, divorced from Beijing’s interests, and grounded in an assessment of the balance of power between China and the United States that no longer reflects reality. But Secretary Clinton’s speech put these deficiencies in the Administration’s approach in graphic relief, for all the world to see.

  20. R.H. Green says:


    Your invite to read and weep reminded me of a photo I saw as a boy depicting grown men and women weeping beside the road as German troops marched into Paris. I didn’t understand if they were agonized by the loss of their republic or dreading what they imagined was to come.

    While here, let me rant a bit about something that is commonplace and I regretably see repeated by Greenwald. That is this notion that we “give trials” to accused criminals. This allows some to question whether some accused actually “deserve” such trials. This way of thinking is sheer nonsense. The constitution limits the authority of governments to deprive persons of life and liberty without a standard exercise of due process. This is considered a human right, not a gift to be reconsidered, depending on circumstances. We do not give trials; we demand them.

    When Greenwald reads this, I’m sure he will agree. This way of talking about “giving someone a fair trial” is euphemistic, and for most of us, merely a shorthand way of talking about what we all take for granted, the right of due process. But that right obligates the state to prove it’s assertions in a regimented tribunal, not on a whim of generosity, not a quaint gesture of civility, that under some circumstance can be abridged when convenient. It is our standard of conduct demanded of our elected overseers.

    • bmaz says:

      Well said, and I doubt Greenwald would take issue in the least with that, I sure don’t. Glenn does not strike me as the type who would think otherwise, but sometimes in writing these kind of posts, you (at least I sure do) get wrapped up in the bigger message you are conveying, and that is exploding in your mind, and kind of assume people know where you are coming from on foundational or ancillary points.

      And the picture of France becoming occupied is a very apt and strikingly fitting one.

    • Leen says:

      “merely a shorthand way of talking about what we all take for granted, the right of due process.”

      You may believe this. But I have spent years as a peasant working for the Dems mixing it up with other peasants…and they do not believe that we have “due process” in this country for one minute. They don’t believe and when the upper level thugs are let off over and over again this only confirms what they all ready know. These people are above the law.

      Get out on the streets and ask the peasants if they believe in “due process” they do not

      • R.H. Green says:

        I think you misunderstand me. The issue is not what the “peasants” believe. If you ask people in the street whether they “believe” in the constitution, I imagine you’d get the same cynicism. Yet, as I wrote above, the constitution limits the authority of governments to deprive persons (that includes peasants and otherwise) of life and liberty without a standard exercise of due process. If this fails to happen, the people are faced with an abuse of power. What happens then falls on the shoulders and conscience of the people. If the people fail to act; if they allow some to rationalize that due process is not deserved, is too expensive, or too dangerous, then they have no basis to whine that “authority is above the law” and how they no longer “believe” in the standards they themselves are failing to uphold.

        • Leen says:

          I know you were not talking about the peasant class. Most of them have quit trying. Beat down, working at Wal Mart, go home after a long day and try to pay the bills on time.

          Hell no our Reps do not give a rats ass about what these people do or think. They have no power.

          I hear what you are saying about the middle class, if folks do not howl they should not complain. The situation is our Reps do not give a rats ass about what the middle class thinks until it is time to vote.

          The simple fact is the Bush administration did operate outside of the law and Holder, Obama, Leahy, Whitehouse etc are letting them slide

  21. knowbuddhau says:

    So, Glenn Greenwald: prophet of the “gospel truth,” or ignoramus of mythic proportions? Can’t help but rib you on that choice of words, bmaz. Obviously, he’s somewhere in between, just like the rest of us.

    He’s pointing out, in narrow terms, the national security consensus since the 50s, and the broader consensus, going back to the Founders, and placing it in a D v. R frame.

    Meanwhile, back on Plantation America, Manifest Destiny has never been renounced. So now it’s a Dem v. Repub thing? ‘Oh, if only Dems had balls, they could set things right.’

    HA! Greenwald might as well wear a white lab coat when he writes. It’s like the angry ghost of B. F. Skinner is his editor.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, his piece was about one topic, not the litany of everything else you term “broader consensus since the 50s”. I thought it was extremely well taken regarding the subject it was designed to address. Manifest destiny has nothing to do with it from my view; you may vary.

      • knowbuddhau says:

        Kind of you to say, bmaz. Laser-like focus on one topic, one symptom of our body politic, I’d say, sometimes misses the patient for the disease.

        If, as a public service, Greenwald is going to use his admirable logical powers, to focus our concerns down to the microcosmic political party world, might he at least look up once in a while, re-membering what it was that we’ve dissected to death?

        It’s like always seeing the world as reflected on the bloody edge of a bloody saber-like wit. The terms in which we choose to view the world, as we all here know so well, can determine the outcome of a debate before a word is spoken. Let’s talk about that. Let’s call it out by it’s name, the power of myth.

        Let’s look at those terms, let’s look across parties and decades and millenia and see WTF is really going on here, in terms of mythic, not partisan, proportions.

        It’s the same old story in every decent sci-fi movie: humans, you gotta love us not because we make sense, like automata, but because we can sidestep the juggernauts of our own imagination, like the juggernauts of party affiliations.

        I really don’t care for parties or partisans. Regarding US politics, I see two political party faces, one never-ending bogus holy war cover story for the same ol’ Plantation America that’s been governing things here for centuries.

        Extracting current events from their historical context, IOW, is exactly what I’m on about. It’s all dissect and analyze. Where’s the revivification of the dead and dissected body politic? What if some readers feel absolutely alienated from the affections that make others weep? I have no emotional ties to either political party. Neither move me one erg.

        Please remember, myth-making and mirth-making are inseparable opposites. “All in good fun,” I might say. Remember, you’re the one brought the myth-making (“…every word is the gospel truth.”) I seriously doubt that’s how how Brother G would describe his words. And now we’re supposed not to look up and see the bigger picture, not supposed to see this as an episode in American Exceptionalism, as if today’s events somehow can be extracted from their historical and ecological roots?

        Logical analysis, of course, is a two-edged sword, and I’m suggesting that, in this discussion, we can see the danger of cutting ourselves off from our own source. Would you trust a doctor who talked to you only in terms of parts and diseases, never as one whole organic being in an ecological field?

        I bow in your virtual direction.