Petraeus’ Challenge to Obama

As I noted in this post, the front page NYT story putting Petraeus in charge of the paramilitary groups I will call “JUnc-WTF,” which are deployed in allied countries, reminded me of Eric Massa’s allegations that Dick Cheney and Petraeus were plotting a coup (though, as Massa describes it, it sounds more like an “election challenge”).

• Earlier in the year, long before the allegations had been made public, Massa had called me with a potentially huge story: Four retired generals — three four-stars and one three-star — had informed him, he said, that General David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, had met twice in secret with former vice president Dick Cheney. In those meetings, the generals said, Cheney had attempted to recruit Petraeus to run for president as a Republican in 2012.

• The generals had told him, and Massa had agreed, that if someone didn’t act immediately to reveal this plot, American constitutional democracy itself was at risk. Massa and I had had several conversation on the topic, each more urgent than the last. He had gone to the Pentagon, he told me, demanding answers. He knew the powerful forces that he was dealing with, he told me. They’d stop at nothing to prevent the truth from coming out, he said, including destroying him. “I told the official, ‘If I have to get up at a committee hearing and go public with this, it will cause the mother of all shitstorms and your life will be hell. So I need a meeting. Now.'”

The Esquire has a follow-up noting it would only be a problem if Petraeus starting running while still on active duty and Politico has a denial from Petraeus’ people.

Then there’s Jonathan Alter’s report of the tensions last year between Obama and Joe Biden on one side, and Bob Gates, Mike Mullen, David Petraeus, and Stanley McChrystal on the other. Alter describes the span of this confrontation as starting on September 13, two weeks before Petraus signed the directive for JUnc-WTF, until November 11. The confrontation arose when the Generals kept publicizing their demands for a bigger, indefinite surge in Afghanistan.

Mullen dug himself in especially deep at his reconfirmation hearings for chairman of the Joint Chiefs when he made an aggressive case for a long-term commitment in Afghanistan. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was enraged at Mullen’s public testimony and let the Pentagon know it. When Petraeus gave an interview to Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson on Sept.4 calling for a “fully resourced, comprehensive counterinsurgency campaign,” the chief of staff was even angrier.

From the start, the potential of a Petraeus presidential run was in the background.

Some aides worried at least briefly that Petraeus was politically ambitious and was making an implied threat: decide Afghanistan my way or I just might resign my command and run for president in 2012. It wasn’t a crazy thought. Rep. Peter King and various blogs were promoting him for high office.

Ultimately, presented with the choice of deferring to the Generals or undercutting them, Obama chose a third option: surging in Afghanistan, but sternly scolding them to make sure they would back a withdrawal in 18 months.

Obama was perfectly aware of the box he was now in. He could defer entirely to his generals, as President Bush had done, which he considered an abdication of responsibility. Or he could overrule them, which would weaken their effectiveness, with negative consequences for soldiers in the field, relations with allies, and the president’s own political position. There had to be a third way, he figured.

In the meantime it was important to remind the brass who was in charge. Inside the National Security Council, advisers considered what happened next historic, a presidential dressing-down unlike any in the United States in more than half a century. In the first week of October, Gates and Mullen were summoned to the Oval Office, where the president told them that he was “exceedingly unhappy” with the Pentagon’s conduct. He said the leaks and positioning in advance of a decision were “disrespectful of the process” and “damaging to the men and women in uniform and to the country.” In a cold fury Obama said he wanted to know “here and now” if the Pentagon would be on board with any presidential decision and could faithfully implement it.

In other words, Obama was trying to impress his authority over Petreaus at the same time as Petraeus was codifying JUnc-WTF, which implemented paramilitary units that were only subjected to NSC oversight if DOD felt like allowing that oversight.

In March, Petraeus made a much-noticed trip to New Hampshire.

Then, as Digby notes, Petraeus recently did the rounds at Cheney’s old lair stomping grounds, AEI. In his speech thanking the AEI for giving him the Irving Kristol Award, Petraeus injected a seeming total non-sequitur about Julius Caesar (?!?!)  and then paid special tribute to the role the Kagans had in the Iraq surge.

Earlier today, as I was talking with my wife about tonight’s speech, she reminded me of a story about a young school boy’s report on Julius Caesar. “Julius Caesar was born a long time ago,” the little boy explained. “He was a great general. He won some important battles. He made a long speech. They killed him…” I’ll try to avoid Caesar’s fate. But this is the Irving Kristol lecture–and I do need to say something meaningful.

Well, needless to say, it’s an enormous honor to be with you this evening especially given the many distinguished guests here this evening–Vice President Cheney, Governor Allen, Members of Congress, Ambassadors, serving and former cabinet officials, and many, many others–including a number of wounded warriors as well.

Indeed, I’m particularly pleased to have this opportunity because it gives me a chance to express my respect for AEI, an organization whose work I know not just by reputation–but also through first-hand experience.

One recent AEI effort, of course, stands out in particular. In the fall of 2006, AEI scholars helped develop the concept for what came to be known as “the surge.” Fred and Kim Kagan and their team, which included retired General Jack Keane, prepared a report that made the case for additional troops in Iraq. As all here know, it became one of those rare think tank products that had a truly strategic impact.

Petraeus described the development and implementation his counterinsurgency approach–including this description of the kind of oversight required by it.

Now, careful oversight should not be taken to imply micromanagement. Indeed, micromanagement is impossible when one is leading large organizations with many subordinate elements, as was the case in which I found myself in 2006. Instead, what we sought were leaders at all levels who understood the big ideas and then exercised the initiative needed to make changes in how their organizations helped prepare units getting ready to deploy. And so, the only sensible approach was to have a light hand on the reins and to encourage everyone involved to get on with it and do what they thought was necessary given the intent we’d mapped out.

Petraeus he ended by saying he hoped he had given a speech the father of Neoconservatism, Irving Kristol, would love, then giving  a tribute to the call he was hearing from his country.

Well, my goal tonight was two-fold: first, to explain the changes we made in our Army in 2006; and, second, to give a speech that I’d like to think Irving Kristol might have enjoyed.


Our first president once captured very eloquently the feelings of those who serve our nation: “I was summoned by my country,” he said, “whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love.”

And so it has been my great privilege this evening to accept the Irving Kristol Award on behalf of all those deployed in the CENTCOM area of responsibility–individuals who likewise have been summoned by their country, whose voice they can never hear but with veneration and love.

Which brings us back to JUnc-WTF, to today’s news that Petraeus was the one who put this entity–which evades Congressional oversight–into place in the middle of a big pissing match with the Administration over Afghanistan policy. And to a detail Jeremy Scahill pointed out via Twitter this morning.

interesting that the Petraeus directive for Junc-WTF is exactly what Erik Prince discussed in January

Scahill’s talking, of course, of the big Vanity Fair piece in which Prince revealed that Blackwater had been tasked with just the kind of mission that JUnc-WTF envisions. Update: Actually, Scahill was talking about this tape, which was January and not December like Prince’s Vanity Fair piece. Here’s Scahill’s description:

In the speech, Prince proposed that the US government deploy armed private contractors to fight “terrorists” in Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, specifically to target Iranian influence.


Prince painted a global picture in which Iran is “at the absolute dead center… of badness.” The Iranians, he said, “want that nuke so that it is again a Persian Gulf and they very much have an attitude of when Darius ran most of the Middle East back in 1000 BC. That’s very much what the Iranians are after.” [NOTE: Darius of Persia actually ruled from 522 BC-486 BC]. Iran, Prince charged, has a “master plan to stir up and organize a Shia revolt through the whole region.” Prince proposed that armed private soldiers from companies like Blackwater be deployed in countries throughout the region to target Iranian influence, specifically in Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia. “The Iranians have a very sinister hand in these places,” Prince said. “You’re not going to solve it by putting a lot of uniformed soldiers in all these countries. It’s way too politically sensitive. The private sector can operate there with a very, very small, very light footprint.” In addition to concerns of political expediency, Prince suggested that using private contractors to conduct such operations would be cost-effective. “The overall defense budget is going to have to be cut and they’re going to look for ways, they’re going to have to have ways to become more efficient,” he said. “And there’s a lot of ways that the private sector can operate with a much smaller, much lighter footprint.”

That’s the background, then, against which the military continues to build permanent prisons–at which we continue the abuse Cheney instituted–in Afghanistan and Obama prepares to ask Congress for more money to support the seemingly endless war there.

70 replies
  1. PJEvans says:

    Ultimately, presented with the choice of deferring to the Generals or undercutting them, Obama chose a third option: surging in Afghanistan, but sternly scolding them to make sure they would back a withdrawal in 18 months.

    He could have fired them, because they’re supposed to be taking orders from him, not giving them.
    I wish he could actually stand on his [possibly theoretical] principles when it’s called for.

    • timbo says:

      He should have asked for their resignation letters. That’s what the Bushies did to General Shinseki when he pointed out to Congress how inadequate the military occupation plans were for Iraq. All’s fair, etc.

  2. klynn says:

    I agree with PJ, he could have fired them.

    Scahill’s talking, of course, of the big Vanity Fair piece in which Prince revealed that Blackwater had been tasked with just the kind of mission that JUnc-WTF envisions.

    This point needs to be written about quite a bit. That is quite the road to a coup.

  3. JThomason says:

    Regrettably the coup d’etat is fait accompli. Its brand (or earmark): Bush v. Gore. We can put the BP execs in prison but the American siloviki will then just step in to fill the void.

  4. emptywheel says:

    The Julius Caesar thing concerns me a lot. A speech that Irving Kristol would like is one that employs the Neocon fondness for word games and facades. So to initiate this speech w/a seeming non-sequitur to Caesar–a general who initiated s civil war against the Senate faction–is pretty stomach-turning.

    • klynn says:

      I think my son has had it correct the last two summers in terms of our dear city’s 4th Fireworks finalé sponsored by Exxon. The music for the finale has been from the Star Wars Jedi Temple Massacre scene. Pretty sick music for a 4th finale. He has been angered by the messaging of it…

      However, a quite appropriate music allusion if you are a neocon playing with facacdes, toying with backing Caesar like players and flaunting the destruction of a Senate.

  5. alabama says:

    Caesar, unlike Alexander, knew better than to invade Afghanistan….Petraeus owns that war, and he will live to regret it.

  6. Spencer Ackerman says:

    He’s making a lighthearted joke about Julius Caesar, not saying he’s an American Caesar. If he was, he’d be, you know, foretelling his own assassination. ;)

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        What I got from it, and if you read it carefully you’ll see what I mean, is that his wife thinks of him as a Caesar, and that he was not averse to the comparison. That means he’s cleared his first hurdle for the run for office, and his MacArthuresque mission to transform the United States:

        Now, as anyone who has been involved in transformation knows, change can be hard. It can be challenging. And it can be frustrating. Inevitably, all institutions resist change to some degree–even when all recognize that change is needed.

        Petraeus used the word transform, or some permutation of it eight times in this speech.

      • Spencer Ackerman says:

        Actually I did. Will tell you a crazy story over a beer sometime.

        I used to think Petraeus was going to run for president. Had what I considered good reasons to think that. Even made a $100 bet about where in the process he would be by… June 1, 2010. Now that I’m about to be $100 lighter, I no longer think this is ever going to happen.

        Dude was invited to speak to AEI. He spoke to AEI. AEI has been very supportive of Petraeus, so he put some of his political prestige back on them. That’s it. He’s more conservative than we are. But he is not going to run for something, he’s not subverting the bureaucracy internally, and there shall be no nutty Massa-esque coup.

        • Petrocelli says:

          If Iraq had gone as per NeoCon plans, Petraeus would have run in ’08. With Afghan following the same road to disaster as Iraq, he has no foundation for a platform.

          It’s 90 Degrees in Toronto, there is a chilled Draft calling your name*g*

        • barne says:

          Well, there are only 6 1/2 days left in May, so …

          But seriously, you gotta admit it’s weird out there.

    • PJEvans says:

      I hope that if he does run, he’s very careful in who he chooses as his running mate. (He might want to choose one with no ambition. Or no chance of being supported by the next set of plotters ambitious generals and politicians.)

      • Petrocelli says:

        The only way to make the ’12 Rep primary more comical would be to add Petraeus to the mix.

      • rkilowatt says:

        Alan Greenspan wrote a letter in support of Chas. Keating and his scamfest. Later apologized for an error in judgement…and became our esteemed i/c of Fed money and financial policies.

        Petraeus and ilk aren’t bothered by Greenspan’s fate..among a plethora of other crazies.

        All of this is Control Fraud, something utterly alien to Prezidential misleadership and other dilettantisms.

        Control Fraud…the SEC was unable to confront counterintention to its agency mandate of ensuring fairness in financial activities…so they handled it like the medical profession does…they gave it a name !

  7. tjbs says:

    Who better to run the country of death’s department of death than a war criminal. Good thing they murdered Tillman first.

  8. bobschacht says:

    …in the middle of a big pissing match with the Administration over Afghanistan policy.

    This is the key, I think, especially because the Obama strategy is not working so well in Kandahar. It’s not even working all that well in the village of Marjah. McCrystal’s “government in a box” was a joke. They’re already talking about things will get worse before they get better.

    This raises the stakes on Obama’s gamble in Afghanistan. He needs to be able to start winding the wars down before November, just as things are getting worse. If he proceeds with the plans to wind down, which is what the public wants, the Republicans and the generals will portray Obama as weak on defense.

    Obama needs to fire some generals– but not Petraus. He’d do better to fire the most rabid elements of Petraus’ senior command. He can claim success, if he can still make the case that there are only about 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and shift the strategy to a “Three Cups of Tea” approach providing funds for schools, jobs and hospitals rather than bombs and military campaigns.

    Besides, he can say (truthfully) that the National Guard troops are needed for border control in Arizona, California and Texas.

    Bob in AZ

  9. scribe says:

    Not for nuthin’, lest we forget that whole neocon wet dream on the site, since scrubbed, of some foundation wherein Bush and Cheney would toss the restrictions on their terms (technically, as a matter of constitutional law, Cheney still could be elected president or vice-president, since the 22d amendment only applies to occupying the presidency) and rule as president-for-life, kinda Augustus-like. Don’t forget, one of the folks on the board of that foundation was former CIA Dir. Woolsey.

    I would put nothing past these folks. They will try to get away with anything they think they can get away with.

    And, for the record, I’ve often considered Bush-Cheney to have been more like Sulla, who took the license the Senate gave him to find and eliminate the pirates who raided the west coast of Italy and terrorized the City of Rome and turned it into the events which slid downhill into Julius Caesar about 20 or 30 years later. Someone had to take the turn he did, and the same applies to Bush/Cheney. Since we’ve made many of the same mistakes as/followed in the footsteps of the Romans as they destroyed the Republic and turned it into Empire (e.g., foreign-born troops to fill in where native-born couldn’t be induced to serve, restricting civil liberties, torture, enriching the patriciate at the expense of the populace as a whole, neutering the Senate and stuffing it with rubber-stampers, destroying established civil institutions and replacing them with executive whim/fiat, etc.)but at an increased pace (what took them 30 to 50 years we’ve done most of in under 10), I would not put it past Cheney and his crew to make a try at putting Petraeus in office.

    • PJEvans says:

      It feels like someone is pushing (possibly not very hard) to get Obama to go that route. (I suspect there are people who would then cheerfully claim that we should then overthrow him in favor of their guy, who would most likely be a straight-up president-for-life.)

  10. JThomason says:

    Aside from the politics, and with the camel’s nose already into the tent with private armies, 4th amendment intrusions, arcane jurisdictional theory and a unified neo-con agenda it seems unlikely that that the concept of the “rule of law” will check the new synthesis. A new body and a new idea is needed. The Fox News crowd has chimed in with their school yard mockery of the “rule of law” meme in a critique of the opposition to Arizona immigration policy. As always the motive is to confuse the ideology.

    The other factor driving Obama’s apparent capitulation to corporate interests has to do with the relative corporate economic power in administrative law rule making against the capacity of the federal government to marshal its tax revenues. The corporations are coddled because they theoretically at least can bargain with the chip of increased tax revenues arising of their activities but in the spirit of the rolling default none of these negotiations ever amounts to any thing more than political strong arming. Their ability to usurp the public interest in the environment of lobbying activities that sustains the status quo with regard to the electoral process colors the emergence of this power as well.

    There are other factors that are relevant here to in terms of the emergence of central power in making the bookkeeping emerge as a more significant than judgment. When 50 separate jurisdictions had clear authority to check corporate over reach the general welfare of the citizens held a much clearer standing. In this light it will be interesting to see how the changes in class action procedures enacted under Bush II effect claims arising of the oil spill.

    The allure of the grand strategy in the Mid East and Central Asia is increased natural resources in the perpetuation of the emergent oligarchical design. Some of you are probably better suited to recognize the emergent antithesis if it exists in any kind of noble form in American politics. Globally it has always emerged of increased opportunity among indigenous oppressed peoples.

    The turn history will take at this crossroads is an item that certainly arouses a curiosity. As always there is no turning back.

  11. b2020 says:

    “I just might resign my command and run for president in 2012.”

    Yes. We could get one in 2012 instead of both, first in 2012 then in 2016.

    Better yet – can we get BetrayUs to run in the Democractic Primaries instead?

  12. Riesz Fischer says:

    Does it bother anyone else that this story was broken by the weirdest politician in history? That just seems weird to me.

    • emptywheel says:


      That’s why I said in my last post that his claims to a coup were ludicrous.

      But what I’m pointing to are three different versions of issues, none of which (IMO) is tantamount to a coup, but all of which come back to a certain fondness for paramilitary actions that evade most oversight.

  13. DWBartoo says:

    As PJ says, Obama could have fired the generals, and were not ALL of his “considerations” political calculation of the “pragmatic” sort, he should have done.

    Right about now, the allegedly “smartest guy” in the eleven-dimensional room, does not appear so. Not by a long-short.

    Does Petraeus have presidential aspirations? Who might whisper such thoughts in his ears?


  14. JThomason says:

    The more I sit with this the more I see the difficulty of an active military commander scheming with the political opposition to the CIC. On the face of it it would seem he could plan a campaign, but there is something fundamentally unsound in this collusion if it has existed.

    • scribe says:

      Easier than you think. Look at the speech: can’t micromanage but have to rely on everyone knowing the common goal and working toward it.

      Obama understands that – it’s the essence of basketball, too.

      You just have to get your head around the idea that Petraeus’ goals might not (probably aren’t) the same as Obama’s, and surely aren’t the same as any of the readers’ of this site. Obama wants to be re-elected and live out his term. In general, I think the readers of this site are inclined to favor peace and constitutional governance – not the eternal war and effective-dictatorship of the last decade.

      All Petraeus has to do is scheme up some losers – battles, international incidents, whatever – where he his friends can plausibly (with the help of a complaisant media) lay the blame elsewhere. Remember the General Betrayus furor? Do you think that was an accident? Every Rethuglican in the world fell in behind him like fish in a school. They’ll do it again, b/c this article told them the Republcan Establishment Likes Petraeus And Wants Him.

  15. Professor Foland says:

    Now, careful oversight should not be taken to imply micromanagement. Indeed, micromanagement is impossible when one is leading large organizations with many subordinate elements, as was the case in which I found myself in 2006. Instead, what we sought were leaders at all levels who understood the big ideas

    WRT Junc-WTF, Obama can avoid micromanagement here by laying down the “big idea” that nothing shall be undertaken that could be considered an act of war were it discovered, and enforcing the “big idea” that any actions contrary to Big Idea #1 would be considered disobedience of a direct order.

    Sounds like he hasn’t done so.

  16. JasonLeopold says:

    A bit off topic…seems the Pentagon is looking for reporters to join the propaganda beat:

    Pentagon tries to steer media coverage on Iraq

    The Pentagon may be sharply reducing its combat forces in Iraq, but the military plans to step up efforts to influence media coverage in that country — as well as here at home.

    “It is essential to the success of the new Iraqi government and the USF-I [U.S. Forces-Iraq] mission that both communicate effectively with our strategic audiences (i.e. Iraqi, pan-Arabic, international, and U.S. and USF-I audiences) to gain widespread acceptance of core themes and messages,” according to the pre-solicitation notice for a civilian contractor or contractors to provide “strategic communication management services” there.

    …Another major effort for the contractor will continue to be “media monitoring, assessment and reporting.” Both Arabic and Western sources are to be monitored, including CNN, Fox News, and other U.S. and British television channels, plus the major wire services and the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. The assessments will cover the effectiveness of USF-I strategic communications as well as attitudes among the Iraqi population toward USF-I. Another element is to be the “attitude of pan-Arab/Western media and professionals” toward the government of Iraq.

    Here’s a link to the pre solicitation notice

  17. mullsinco says:

    I got some good news, and some bad news.

    The good news: Petraeus ain’t running for President in 2012.

    The bad news: Obama-Petraeus 2012.

    You read it here first. Oy.

    • b2020 says:

      Yep, that’s also possible. More likely than a republican run, in my book.

      The fixation on “BetrayUs will run as Repug” always left me a bit stunned. Why would the man burden himself with the TeaBag party, Palin, Beck, and all the assorted insanity, when he can be assured to be embraced with open arms by the party of Bygones, Rape Gurney, and the Spectre that haunts Pennsylvania.

      If he can’t figure that out, no wonder the COIN is loosing currency.

      • john in sacramento says:

        The fixation on “BetrayUs will run as Repug” always left me a bit stunned. Why would the man burden himself

        JMO, but it’s probably because Obama and The Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight (aka, Reid, Pelosi, et al) are showing that they’re worse corporate wh*res than the Republicans. Because at least it’s understood that that’s what Republicans do and that, they, are at least honest about it, and the Republicans at least get things done

  18. Sara says:

    Everyone seems to avoid the probability that the next hot war will be in Korea. US has a strong mutual defense treaty with S. Korea, meaning if N. Korea attacks S. Korea, it is more or less like the dance of mobilization in 1914. It could be equally as bloody.

    • boltbrain says:

      “it is more or less like the dance of mobilization in 1914. It could be equally as bloody”

      And equally as stupid too. The area where the incident occurred was just waiting for this. I have no idea why some people think poking a frightened animal with a stick is such a great idea.

      • DWBartoo says:

        It will be reasoned, with all due gravitas, of course, that North Korean lives are of no more importance than the lives of people in Afghanistan or Iraq.

        Consider it preparation for a bigger target, it may well become Obama’s, “You’re either with us or against us …” war of “convenience”.

        Who will join the coalition of the willing?


  19. moderateextremist says:


    With regard to the Afghanistan part of this story…

    What am I missing?

    Aren’t Bob Gates and Stanley McChrystal President Obama’s hand-picked guys?

    He clearly wanted their input…as POTUS, he can ignore it.

    It took him from August to December to decide on a policy for Afghanistan…when the facts on the ground there actually didn’t change much.

    I doubt he’ll be able to manage that time span in dealing with the BP oil spill.

    At least…I hope not.

  20. rmwarnick says:

    I wish I could remember this “big pissing match” over Afghanistan. It must have been great, with McChrystal fired and Petraeus humbled, ending with the Biden strategy in place. But what I remember is President Obama handing the Pentagon everything they wanted.

    Now General McChrystal is finding out the hard way that more U.S. troops don’t accomplish much in the absence of a functioning Afghan regime that could bring good governance to areas reclaimed from Taliban rule.

  21. NCGal says:

    I don’t see the big deal. If Petraeus retired, he could legally run for President. Couldn’t he? It wouldn’t be a coup. It would be another GOP candidate. If he wants to discuss the potential for this with Cheney, that’s his prerogative. He’s entitled to talk to former administration officials. It’s a free country, usually:-) And I don’t think Petraeus would win anyway.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, well, actually plotting that while in his current status, if true – proof of which has not necessarily occurred – would be a pretty big deal and would be incredibly improper and in violation of duties and ethics of position if you ask me. If Petraeus does indeed want to be concerned with such political things he can fucking retire immediately. If not, he should do his job and shut up and quit flitting around like a preening peacock

  22. aoyama says:

    Either Obama has no power, over corporations, banks, his generals, or he’s a Republican sympathizer. Either way, he shouldn’t get a pass because he’s a rookie. World is coming apart at the seams. He’s either up to the job, the real job beyond the public relations work, or he’s not.

    • skdadl says:

      I often wonder this about our own justice and foreign affairs people, as of the Brits’: are they all up for rent or something? You don’t scratch our backs; we won’t scratch yours? Is there a better expression for this than organized crime?

      • fatster says:

        Well, dear skdadl, there are two nouns we could use: Oligarchy (of the global sort) and Organized Crime. Merriam-Webster on-line seems to treat the two as synonyms:

        “a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes; also : a group exercising such control”

        sooooooooooo . . .


        • tjbs says:

          Don’t worry obama is a fricking genius … A FRICKING GENIUS 11 dimensional and all that. HE looks good, talks smooth he’s a GENIUS, everything about him and Rahm, Genius the hole in the Gulf, A Genius will take care of that. Iraq Genius, Afghanistan Genius, Health care GENIUS, bank fraud GENIUS what a GENIUS we found.

          Just a GENIUS. What a GENIUS, thank God for our GENIUS.

        • bobschacht says:

          And Obama’s now responded to the xenophobics by sending National Guard to the border, and spending some cool millions to support the effort.

          Actually, I consider this an appropriate role for the National Guard, especially Arizona’s NG. Sending AZ’s NG to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a war of choice is, IMHO, a terrible perversion of the proper role of the NG.

          Bob in AZ

          • Hmmm says:

            Oh, that reminds me: Is it a redeployment away from Iraq/Afghanistan, or new/different NG units that weren’t already over there? I ask because there’s always been a concern that having NG overseas left us more vulnerable to a coup at home.

          • fatster says:

            Apologies, Bob, but I seem to have misled you. I was thinking that with all the emergencies and issues current at the moment, Obama chose to respond to the hysteria rampant in AZ about brown people. Why didn’t he send the NG to the Gulf to help people trying to stop the oil from washing ashore instead, or is that not an appropriate use of the Guard? Corexit is extremely poisonous, attacking the endocrine system. Why aren’t educational and intervention campaigns being organized and deployed in the affected areas? And so on.


            • bmaz says:

              They didn’t do shit the last time they were sent down there; they won’t this time either. Lotta “support” for the Border Patrol, ICE and police. Only so much coffee and water they can fetch.

              • fatster says:

                Well, I guess if you can’t think of anything better to do, try a little PR. Shiny object and all that, doncha know.

                We are so screwn.

            • fatster says:

              Oh, look, Bob–everyone! There’s an ongoing account of what is being done. If you’ll scroll down to today, they have activated the Guard to help. Yay!!


    • Jeff Kaye says:

      This kind of pandering to racist demagogy on the immigration problem demonstrates that Obama’s pretense to thoughtfulness and rationality is a cover for same old game of partisan politics, with the eyes always on the prize, the prize being power, power and more power.

      He makes the disappointments of a Bill Clinton look like a golden age.

    • klynn says:

      And when is the Catholic church going to file as a foreign agent and drop their non-profit status to abide by the Administration’s claim?

  23. shekissesfrogs says:

    Patreaus coming out with a statement about the ongoing Palestinian/Israeli issue happened on March 15 IIRC. His AEI neocon buddies had to hate that I’m sure, but he still got the award.

  24. Leen says:

    Ew good thing a few folks in the progressive blogosphere are writing about what is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, drones, dead, injured, displaced in Iraq and elsewhere in the middle east due to our aggression because on MSNBC and elsewhere…not a whisper. All of these very serious and deadly issues buried under the oil disaster in the Gulf

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