Friday, April 14, 2006


Some of the News
That may be True


Washington April 14 Sources close to Seymour Hersh, whose New Yorker article on military action against Iran raised such a stir, indicated that the leak of the contingency plan may have originated in the White House. Improbable as it may seem, given the Bush administration's condemnation of the disclosure, the actual leak of the secret plan may be traced to a source close to the oval office.

In response to questions from the press, Roger Felton , deputy assistant to the Secretary to the President, stated that he would never have disclosed material that hadn't been declassified by the president. He noted that President Bush had publicly labeled the article about the contingency plan "speculative".

While the White House remained highly critical of Mr. Hersh and his article, a highly placed administration advisor remarked in an off-the-record interview that the Hersh article might have a positive effect. The Iranians probably will not change course immediately, the release of the bombing plans may well scare China and Russia into joining worldwide sanctions. Thus, concern about impetuous action by Bush could bring about a desired long-term result.

Elsewhere, the Pentagon denied that Secretary Rumsfeld had called a meeting of Defense Department lawyers to explore legal ways to terminate pensions of retired generals. Earlier, Mr. Rumsfeld had wondered what credence should be given to recent criticisms by these generals, saying "After all, these guys are all retired; I'm still working."

Monday, April 10, 2006


Last week, the New York Times reported:

"Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales suggested on Thursday for the first time that the president might have the legal authority to order wiretapping without a warrant on communications between Americans that occur exclusively within the United States.

'I'm not going to rule it out,' Mr. Gonzales said when asked about that possibility at a House Judiciary Committee hearing."

Those who defend the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping, as well as its refusal to release pertinent information, often cite his powers as commander-in-chief during wartime.
But what is war and are we in it? Is a period of increased security alertness the same as wartime?

So, in what sense is this a wartime presidency? Is it the Iraq war? But, hurtful as it is for our troops, this is an occupation turmoil, not a war. Is it the war on terror? Yes, terrorist groups have staged attacks against us and other countries around the world. We must aggressively protect and defend against possible further incidents, but is it wise to consider this as a war? (Using the label of war on terror invites comparison with the war on drugs).

The danger of terrorist attacks may well go on for years and years. In addition to homeland defense, any long term solution lies in the realm of culture, foreign policy, and actions coordinated with other countries of the West. Considering this danger a war runs the risk of claims of presidential wartime powers lasting for decades.

As an aside, it does not seem like wartime in the U.S. Except for sacrifice by members of the armed forces and their families, life here is mostly business as usual. Tax cuts continue, no belt tightening, the mounting deficits to be the burden of our children and grandchildren.