December 12, 2012

Pentagon's General Counsel, Zakaria Falsely Suggest End of the War on Terror

Excellent counterattack by Bob Adelmann against Fareed Zakaria, a high-level media propagandist at CNN and Time:
A writer at the Washington Post took a snippet out of a speech by President Obama's Defense Department general counsel and concluded that he saw an end to the War on Terror. He was wrong.
Washington Post writer Fareed Zakaria characterized the speech by Jeh Johnson (shown on left) as “thoughtful,” and Zakaria was inordinately hopeful that it signaled the beginning of the end of Washington’s 12-year-old War on Terror. He wrote:

For the first time since Sept. 11, 2001, an administration official has sketched a possible endpoint…. 

Phasing out or modifying these emergency powers [given to the president by Congress to prosecute the war against al-Qaeda] should be something that would appeal to both left and right. 

Zakaria agreed with ending the war — to a point — and he invoked the warning James Madison gave about the dangers of unending eternal warfare:

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes….

No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Zakaria reviewed some of the impact that the war has had on America: bloated military budgets, new unconstitutional agencies (especially the Department of Homeland Security, which now employs a quarter of a million people), the building of 33 new intelligence facilities in the Washington, D.C. area alone (equivalent to three Pentagons), an Afghan war that has cost trillions of dollars, and nearly 60,000 American casualties.
Unfortunately he didn't read the rest of Johnson’s remarks. The essence of those remarks was that the War on Terror was going to continue indefinitely, but under a different name. This name change is merely in keeping with Obama's rhetoric on the war. Less than two months after his first inauguration, President Obama ordered the Defense Department to refrain from using the phrase “War on Terror” and instead start calling it the "Overseas Contingency Operation” (OCO).

Johnson’s credibility should have come into question within minutes of his opening remarks. After he noted that he favored a quote from the pro-war Brookings Institution that he said motivates his public service: “The Founding Fathers believed in a democracy" (they didn't), he celebrated the success the military has had in putting into effect that unconstitutional “blanket wartime authority”:

We ended the combat mission in Iraq.

We increased the number of combat forces in Afghanistan and have reversed much of the Taliban’s momentum in the country….

We banned “enhanced interrogation techniques,” consistent with the calls of many in our country, including our own military, that great nations simply do not treat other human beings that way….

And, finally, we have, in a manner consistent with our laws and values, taken the fight directly to the terrorist organization al Qaeda, the result of which is that the core of al Qaeda is today degraded, disorganized and on the run. Osama bin Laden is dead. Many other leaders and terrorist operatives of al Qaeda are dead or captured; those left in al Qaeda’s core struggle to communicate, issue orders, and recruit.

At this point in his speech, Johnson might have suggested that it was time to pack up and go home: Job One is done.

Not a chance.

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