Torture: …and it doesn’t work

April 25, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, Politics | 3 Comments
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Those who come down on the side of torture usually defend it by claiming that in a situation where time is of the essence to prevent loss of life, torture will get you good information far more quickly than normal interrogation techniques. Interrogation experts disagree, and repeatedly said so to the Pentagon, the CIA and the Department of Justice during the Summer of 2002.

In July of 2002, long before Abu Zabaida was interrogated, and while the CIA was planning its new interrogation program, the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) wrote a memo with a 2-page attachment.

The JPRA is an agency of the Pentagon that runs a program called SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape). It is the U.S. Government’s expert on torture. It has to be expert, because SERE teaches US military personnel how to resist torture.

JPRA forwarded the memo to the Pentagon’s Office of General Counsel, which sent it on to the CIA’s acting General Counsel John A. Rizzo and to the Department of Justice.

George Tenet, who was then CIA Director, briefed the National Security Council on the CIA’s proposed interrogation scheme, but did not discuss the issues raised in the attachment. “Slam-Dunk” Tenet provided no pros and cons, but described the program as being safe and effective.

It was neither. On August 1, the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department wrote a memo that authorized ten torture techniques, including waterboarding, for use against Abu Zabaida. They didn’t work: as former intelligence officials recently confirmed to The Washington Post, Zabaida lost control of his bladder during “enhanced interrogation,” but provided little useful information. And he still has difficulty controlling his bladder. No, it was neither safe nor effective, Mr. Tenet.

Why was it not effective? Well, if you’d like to read the attachment yourself, you can go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/pdf/JPRA-Memo_042409.pdf?sid=ST2009042403231. In a nutshell, torture is ineffective because the information you get is unreliable: as the attachment puts it, “a subject in extreme pain may provide an answer, any answer, or many answers in order to get the pain to stop.” (Emphasis mine.) Further, the subject’s physical and emotional responses to the pain will mask the responses that would otherwise be important clues to his veracity.

Torture is not only unsafe and ineffective, it’s counterproductive. According to the attachment, more than 90 percent of interrogations have been successful when the interrogators established rapport with the prisoner. That confirms my own belief, which is based on conversations with a number of police officers. And once you’ve “applied duress” to the prisoner, his resolve to resist cooperating will inevitably increase.

Further, our use of torture puts our troops and other citizens at risk. An adversary who uses torture would have no compunction about using it on our people if they’re captured or kidnapped. An adversary who is thinking about it but hasn’t decided may go ahead and torture our people because—after all—we used torture.

I have commented on the ethics and legalities elsewhere. But I think it’s important that we understand that the Bush administration ignored or suppressed information that did not match what it wanted to do. The result was in some ways worse than getting us into an unnecessary war, or failing to respond to a natural disaster, because it denied us intelligence that could have saved lives, and put our troops at additional risk. We must investigate; and where crimes have been committed, we must prosecute.

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The torture in our past

April 22, 2009 at 7:07 am | Posted in Bush Administration, Obama Administration, Politics | Leave a comment
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It’s not “enhanced interrogation,” it’s torture. It’s ugly, it’s immoral, it’s illegal, and as President Obama has said several times, we don’t do it.

That is to say, we don’t do it now. We used to do it: we did it at “black” CIA sites, at Abu Ghraib, at Baghram and Gitmo, and (via extraordinary rendition) at prisons in other countries. That’s not a theory, it’s established fact: the United States of America committed war crimes, broke the Geneva Conventions and associated treaties, and broke its own laws. The question is, what do we do about it?

We investigate, and—if the investigation reveals individuals who committed crimes—we prosecute the perpetrators. That’s not an option. It’s called the Rule of Law.

Of course justice ought to be tempered by mercy. I don’t think we ought to prosecute the grunts who actually did the torturing unless investigation shows them to have been aware (or uncaring) that their acts were illegal. Citizens of a country regarded as highly ethical, they were told that the acts of “enhanced interrogation” they were asked to perform were approved by their government; legal, necessary, and justified by the circumstances. They may have had doubts, but I think it’s expecting too much to ask them to refuse to carry out what they believed were lawful orders.

But the bigwigs? They decided to use torture, justified it, and wrote the policies that approved it. They must pay for their crimes.

It will be argued that torture works. Wrong. You may occasionally get useful information by torturing somebody, but most of what you get is useless, because the person you’re torturing will say anything, literally anything, to get you to stop. Interrogation is like sales: you establish rapport, and you persuade the subject that it’s in his or her best interests to tell you what you want to know. You tend to get very good, very useful information that way. Just ask the detectives on your local police force: they do it all the time.

It will be argued that torture is used by national officials who are under very great pressure to get good information before some terrible thing happens. Pressure? They’re supposed to be able to handle pressure: that’s why we hired them. In a nation of laws, they are supposed to be able to make the right decisions; the morally, ethically, and practically correct decisions—even under very great pressure.

If they don’t make the morally and ethically correct decisions we become just like our enemies. We turn into a nation whose actions help terrorist organizations to recruit members. We turn into a nation that has lost the moral high ground, and whose forces (and other citizens) are subject to the same treatment we give our enemies. A nation that deplores and prosecutes war crimes in others—while committing them itself.

That is unacceptable. The Attorney General, Mr. Holder, must appoint a special prosecutor. The prosecutor must be independent, highly respected, and ethically above reproach. He must be able to conduct an investigation in a highly charged environment, to navigate the shoals of political pressure, and determine the truth. Then he must prosecute those who ordered and justified the use of torture, because they violated the law. They caused the United States to violate treaties and conventions that it proudly helped write. They are criminals under U.S. law, and war criminals under international law.

I hope you’ll write your elected representatives, and the Attorney General, on this issue. I already have.

Why, thank you, Mr. Bush

February 1, 2009 at 10:38 am | Posted in Bush Administration, Politics | 3 Comments

I’m sure you didn’t mean to do it, Mr. Bush, but you gave us our new president.

You sat there like a dummy, reading to children for ten minutes, after an aide told you that a hijacked airplane had crashed into the Twin Towers. You lied us into an interminable and costly war in Iraq, using cherry-picked intelligence as evidence. You illegally detained hundreds of people at Gitmo, denying them that basic pillar of our legal system, habeas corpus. You tried to justify torture, failed, and used it anyway. You used “extraordinary rendition” to have others tortured and imprisoned overseas, guilty or not. You eavesdropped on innocent American citizens with no oversight from the courts—or anybody else. You politicized the Department of Justice, firing competent professionals and replacing them with political hacks.

And that’s not all. You staffed FEMA with more political hacks, putting a horse-show manager in charge, to supervise the most inept response to a major tragedy in American history. You got the Pentagon to issue no-bid contracts to your friends, who wasted billions of tax dollars and killed Iraqis and Americans in the process. And your minions sat there with their feet on their desks while our financial system tottered and failed. Then you asked for a bailout, but failed to watch where the money was going. Remember AIG executives going on a boondoggle on our money? Banks paying bonuses and buying fancy new corporate jets? Banks using bailout money for everything but opening up credit?

Your administration was a monument to incompetence and malfeasance. You bent the Constitution out of shape, breaking it in several ways. You wasted the worldwide outpouring of sympathy after 9/11 and threw away our moral leadership, turning the U.S. into the most hated country since the Soviet Union. And you treated the citizens of this country with the utmost contempt, trying to manipulate us to your own ends—and nearly succeeding.

But you didn’t succeed, Mr. Bush. The result of your contemptuous maneuvering, your corruption and your incompetence, was that we elected Barack Obama to be the President of the United States. That’s why I thank you, Mr. Bush. Without your performance as president we might never have done that.

You left President Obama with a God-awful mess to clean up, Mr. Bush, but he has already started and I believe he will ultimately succeed. He has a very full plate, but there’s one thing he needs to be strong and unequivocal about: his administration should use all the tools available to investigate the actions of your administration. Illegal detention, eavesdropping on American citizens and using the power of the administration for political purposes are crimes under U.S. law, and torture is a crime under international law. If members of your administration committed these or other crimes they must be punished.

That is the way to restore public (and worldwide) confidence in our status as a nation ruled by law. It need not be divisive; it must be thoroughly and fairly done. You see, Mr. Bush, even if we don’t do it, somebody else will prosecute you as a war criminal. Mr. Bush, how would you like to see members of your administration, possibly you yourself, sitting in the dock at The Hague? Would you feel humiliated?

I would.

Big 3 Bailout: Congress Does It Again

December 12, 2008 at 9:47 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, Congress, Economy, Politics | Leave a comment

The Senate, led by Republicans from Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, shot down the bailout plan approved by the house and backed by the White House, cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Apparently they couldn’t see beyond their noses anyway, or they would have seen that the bailout—effectively a bridge loan until the next session—is necessary to prevent an economic disaster.

If the Big 3 (well, the Big 2, since Ford seems to be more or less solvent) don’t have the cash to continue, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is the next best hope. Under Chapter 11, debtor-in-possession financing would mitigate the effects to some extent by providing capital while the automakers reorganize. But with the current credit crisis, who but the government would be able to provide that capital? And without it, they’re headed for the dread (I’m serious) Chapter 7: liquidation.

Imagine what would happen if GM and Chrysler liquidated:

Your GM or Chrysler product wouldn’t be worth what you paid to put air in your tires. The dealership would probably be out of business, and so would the corner auto parts place and tire store.

Hundreds (maybe thousands) of suppliers in every state would see a sudden, disastrous drop in revenue. Many would go bankrupt themselves, leaving the remaining (domestic and foreign) automakers with problems finding parts. Parts prices would go up, and quality would go down. The industries that supply the suppliers would suffer too: like the proverbial pebble in the pond, the ripples would go on and on.

With liquidations and other bankruptcies going on, jobs would be lost. Not just the union jobs held in such contempt by the Republicans, but white collar jobs, management jobs, and even CEO’s jobs would go down the drain. And not just Big 3 jobs: suppliers would either go out of business or cut jobs. So would their suppliers. And the millions upon millions of jobless would stop buying, driving retail stores of all kinds out of business—with a resulting further loss of jobs.

The economy would crash.

Why do the Republican members of the Senate want to block the bailout, if that’s the result? Partly because they haven’t thought it through, and partly because they are philosophically opposed to labor unions, and see an opportunity to destroy the UAW. Partly because they are philosophically opposed to government subsidies for business. They seem to have forgotten that Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee have subsidized the foreign automakers to the tune of billions of dollars worth of “incentives.” And partly because they represent the states where those foreign automakers have their plants.

They want those non-union automakers to prosper. Fair enough: so do I. But they’re willing to bring down the major industry in the United States to do it. I wouldn’t agree with that even if their ideological stubbornness would work. But it won’t. It will destroy what’s left of our economy unless the Congress or (can you believe I’m saying this?) the White House does something major.

They had better do it soon!

Irrational Numbers

September 25, 2008 at 7:42 am | Posted in Bush Administration, Congress, Economy | 1 Comment

 

The Curmudgeon watched the president’s speech last night, hoping in vain for some substance. We didn’t catch him in any lies, but the speech was as superficial as Mr. Bush always is.

Without actually telling us how we got into this mess, he pointed out that credit is tight, saying that troubled financial institutions don’t have money to lend because their assets have declined in value. He agreed that the situation is hard on everybody, because us little people can’t get the credit we need to send our kids to school, or to buy that new, gas guzzling SUV we want. He claimed, in sad and almost hushed tones, that the economy is in such trouble that if the Congress doesn’t act quickly (read “immediately”) to adopt the plan advanced by Treasury Secretary Paulson and Fed Chairman Bernanke, the whole economy will go down the tubes.

The president didn’t tell us that it was the untrammeled greed of the financial community, unrestrained by the regulations the Republicans have spent the last decade busily dismantling, that produced the mortgage and housing crisis. He didn’t tell us that it was the greed and foolishness of managers (who should have known better) that led them to acquire risky financial instruments without any idea of their value or of the risks involved.

Using tactics reminiscent of the run-up to the war in Iraq, the President used fear—in this case, fear of financial ruin rather than of terrorist activity—to get his way. Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke used the same tactics when they spoke to the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The plan the administration is advancing is awesome in scope and unbelievable in its arrogance. The idea is that the Congress will appropriate $85 Billion to bail out AIG, $100 Billion each to bail out Fannie May and Freddy Mac, and $700 Billion to bail out the rest of the financial community. Do the math, folks: that’s a total of $985 Billion—nearly a trillion dollars, and a little less than twice what we’ve authorized for the Iraq war—so far.

The money would be spent, under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, to buy the bad securities of a number of financial firms. These firms would then, presumably, have money to spend making more bad loans and otherwise go about their business unburdened with the debt they should never have acquired in the first place. When (if) the economy recovers, Treasury would presumably sell these instruments at a profit and make us all rich. Um…make some of us rich. Um…rich-er.

The plan specifically excludes any oversight, either by the Congress or by the courts. “Trust me,” says Secretary Paulson. Yeah. Sure. Trust the guy who, with Mr. Bernanke, was in a unique position to warn us that this was happening (it didn’t happen over a weekend). He did not warn us, and now he wants us to trust him with nearly a trillion bucks.

The plan contains no sanctions against the CEOs and other executives whose cupidity and stupidity stands to cost the taxpayers large quantities of money. They may well keep their jobs and their bloated compensation packages. At worst, they’ll float down to the real world in their golden parachutes as a reward for running their firms into the ground.

The plan contains no help for the thousands who were conned into mortgages they cannot now afford, no relief for the people and businesses who suffered financial (as well as emotional) losses because their credit dried up when they needed it, no guarantee that the assets Treasury buys will ever be worth anything.

The plan is insane.

But before you run into the bedroom and hide under the bed, rejoice: there is hope! Instead of lying down and letting the administration walk all over it, the Congress is stepping up to the plate and demanding answers. House and Senate leadership—from both parties—has been asking tough questions and negotiating changes. Instead of giving in to the fear spread by the administration, the Congress is digging in its collective heels, asserting control, and working out a real plan. Senators McCain and Obama are going to Washington for a summit, to contribute their ideas and facilitate a solution.

You can help. Even if you know nothing about economics, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you can urge your elected representatives not to act from fear. Urge them to step back, think, and solve this problem, in conjunction with their colleagues across the aisle, at a measured pace.

If we don’t do that it will be a disaster; if we do, we will get through this.

The AIG Bailout: Bad. Necessary.

September 18, 2008 at 9:14 am | Posted in Bush Administration, Economy, Politics | 5 Comments

American International Group (AIG) is a massive company. Primarily an insurance company, it has businesses, to quote the New York Times, that “run the gamut from aircraft leasing to life insurance for Indians to retirement plans for elementary schoolteachers.”   It does business with individuals and companies in 130 countries around the globe. It is so big that if it failed the repercussions would be body blows to economies around the world. Monday, it was on the ragged edge of failure.

Let’s look at what happened. Mortgage brokers, urged on by mortgage companies, sold sub-prime mortgages knowing full well that the poor slobs who took the mortgages would probably default. The mortgage companies packaged these mortgages with “normal” mortgages and sold the packages to mortgage servicing companies. The mortgage servicing companies sliced and diced the packages to make up what are called derivative instruments—and sold them to other financial services companies.

It was virtually impossible to determine the risk of any given instrument. Yet AIG insured the value of these derivatives, putting up collateral to insure the owners against losses.

The value fell like a rock when the mortgage bubble burst. That meant that there was a lot less money available to lend, so the credit markets went west. More to the current point, it meant that the owners of these instruments called on AIG to fork over some cash, as called for by the insurance contracts. In over its head, AIG tried to borrow the money it needed, but potential lenders took a good look and said, “No.” Some said, “Hell no!” AIG was caught with its belt off, and just out of reach.  Gravity did its thing, and AIG’s trousers were lowered to half mast, with the imminent prospect of further lowering: in short, AIG tottered toward bankruptcy. We’ve already talked about the results of an AIG bankruptcy.

So the Fed huddled with Treasury, and with the greatest reluctance came up with a plan. The Fed would take over AIG (as it did Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). It would put in new management, and float an $85 Billion loan to oil the wheels of progress.

The Curmudgeon, like the congressional leadership, a number of important senators and congressmen, several financial leaders from the Clinton administration, and the candidates of both major parties, joins Fed Chairman Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Paulson in the belief that bailing out AIG is a horrible idea. If it works (and there’s no guarantee, as the stock market indicated yesterday) it will be an incentive for every other troubled firm in the country to come whining for a bailout, and there’s no way the government could do that even if it were a good idea. Which it is decidedly not.

We think most people would agree that AIG needs new management and an infusion of cash. $85 Billion isn’t much, put perception is everything in the financial markets, and if even the government wouldn’t lend AIG money….

So the Curmudgeon reluctantly agrees with Treasury and the Fed that the takeover is necessary. The Curmudgeon fervently hopes that AIG’s tenure as an agency of the federal government will be brief, that it will be returned to private investors at the first possible moment. Ditto Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

What got us into this mess? At the risk of being called biased, the Curmudgeon believes that it is the result of eight years of a government that methodically destroyed the regulatory mechanisms that kept corporate management’s greed, cupidity, and stupidity from destroying our economy. The Curmudgeon believes that we have to upgrade and update the regulations to protect corporations from destroying themselves, their stockholders, and the general public.

We don’t need a committee to do that. We need strong, intelligent leadership. But that’s another story, for another day.

McCain picks…um…whatserhame for Veep

August 29, 2008 at 6:43 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, Politics | 1 Comment

OK, the Curmudgeon does know her name. The Curmudgeon does his homework. Her name is (give me a minute…) Sarah Palin. If you’re one of the few [billion] Americans who have never heard of her, here’s a short bio:

  •  She’s the Governor of Alaska, a state famed for its bridge to nowhere. She’s been Governor for two years.
  • She’s a 44 year old mother of five who in her youth was a beauty queen.
  • She’s an evangelical Christian.
  • She describes herself as “just your average hockey mom.” (No, we did not make that up.)
  • Her husband runs a fishing boat.
  • She was on the city council of, and became mayor of, a small suburb of Anchorage.
  • She went for the big time and ran for governor. She made it, because she called out her opponent for corruption—and she was right.

 She will, if Senator McCain has his way, become the next Vice President of the United States, a major player in the team that will (McCain hopes) decide the course of the country for the next four years.

 Well, now let’s see…. The Republicans, notably Senator McCain, have been screaming that Senator Obama doesn’t have the experience to be President. They don’t talk about his judgment, however: the Bush administration has recently adopted Obama’s idea that our diplomats ought to actually talk to Iraq. (Senator McCain has not.) In addition, the Bush administration has adopted the Obama plan to get out of Iraq in about 18 months. (Senator McCain has not.)

 Now Senator McCain picks a running mate who has no experience—and no judgment either, as far as we can see–but who differs from McCain’s positions on a few trifling details like the Alaskan gas pipeline.

 She will suck (if you’ll pardon our use of the term) some Clinton supporters away from Obama. They are the hard-core, naïve, one-issue feminists who will vote for Palin because she is female, and who don’t care about anything else. She will suck some evangelicals away from Obama. They are the evangelicals who are anti-abortion, against sex education, and against giving help to ignorant females who get pregnant. They are the evangelicals who don’t care about anything else—like the environment, health care, a sputtering economy, a ruinously expensive war that was an abortion from the beginning, energy policy, or almost any other issue.

 Senator McCain’s problem, as we see it, is that there are relatively few such people. Most women voters, and most evangelical Christians, care about a variety of issues, believe that the country is on the wrong course, and want to see the failed policies of the Bush administration changed. Therefore, my money is still on Obama.

 Oops! Did the Curmudgeon just endorse Senator Obama? Gosh! That was supposed to be a secret.

A Quaker Statement on Torture

June 6, 2008 at 8:12 am | Posted in Bush Administration, Iraq, Peeves | 2 Comments

I regularly attend the Quaker (Society of Friends) meeting in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Although I’m not a Quaker, I agree with them on most things. Like the Quakers (and most Americans) I’m horrified by the fact that our government uses torture. The following is the text of the statement:

Preamble:

It is the custom of Friends Meetings (Quakers) to write official statements, called Minutes, concerning current moral issues both as an exercise among ourselves to come to clarity and unity about them and as a public witness to our neighbors.

Because of our concern for prisoners, military service members, and civilian workers involved in the United States government’s alleged interrogation practices, the Fayetteville Friends Monthly Meeting has written the following Minute on Torture.

Fayetteville (NC) Friends Meeting’s Minute on Torture

“Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.”

                            Hebrews 13:3 NRSV

                        (New Revised Standard Version)

Recognizing that of God in every person, we condemn the use of torture for any purpose by any person, group, or government. Torture by any means is immoral. It debases the humanity of the tortured, the torturer, and those who have knowledge of it.

For Fayetteville, NC Monthly Meeting, torture is not a distant issue. We are located near a major hub of a growing international torture complex. Hundreds of torture flights have taken off nearby; training for the brutal techniques takes place in the region at secretive military and other facilities. Our public officials have ignored protests.

The acceptance of torture is making our society an international pariah. We appeal to Friends and others everywhere to take up this concern and follow it through. Let us bear down into the work of bringing this immoral practice into the Light. Let us do all we can to bring about the day when torture is banished from our country and from our planet.

A Comment from The Curmudgeon

I urge you to write your elected representatives to let them know how you feel. (An easy way is to join Congress.org: see the link at the right.) You may also want to visit the National Religious Campaign Against Torture at http://www.nrcat.org/. For additional information on Quakers visit the Friends General Conference at http://www.fgcquaker.org/

Working: Hazardous to your health

May 27, 2008 at 8:55 am | Posted in Bush Administration, Congress | 1 Comment

An Op-Ed piece in the New York Times says it better than I could: the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) laws need major revisions, now. I urge you to read the article—which produced no comments indicating disagreement—and write your elected representatives. (There’s a link to Congress.org, a nonpartisan, free organization that makes it easy for you to write your elected representatives under Blogroll on the right side of the page.)

Here’s the link to the NY Times article:

Op-Ed Contributor:  The Working Wounded

Memorial Day: Support the Troops

May 26, 2008 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, Iraq, Politics | 2 Comments

I have two family members in the service, one of whom is home for R & R before going back to Iraq. The other is in danger of being deployed, but for now is in California. I earnestly pray that both survive this unnecessary and evil war with neither physical nor emotional damage. I want all of our troops to return as quickly as is safe and reasonable.

The Iraq war is notable in that it is being waged at a time when taxes, especially for the rich, have been reduced. We as a nation have not been asked to make any real sacrifices, although about 4,000 of our young folks have been killed and more than 25,000 have been injured. I was happy, therefore, to hear that Warlord George W. Bush has made the ultimate sacrifice: he’s given up golf.

In a May 13th interview with Politico magazine and Yahoo, Bush said he gave up golf in [August] 2003 out of respect for U.S. soldiers killed in the war. “I didn’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf,” he said. “I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”

Well…he didn’t actually give it up. He kind of tapered off, playing his last game on October 13, 2003. And it’s likely that he had to stop playing golf because he had leg problems. He had a minor muscle tear in his right calf, and aching knees, so in addition to giving up golf, he had an MRI in December on the advice of his physician.

‘Way to support the troops, W!

Of course Bush won’t be able to serve another term, knees or no. But the Republicans evidently have a replacement all lined up. Viet Nam veteran and former prisoner of war John McCain is the presumptive nominee, and he is (I am quite serious about this) a true American hero. That makes it all the more sad that he didn’t make it to the Senate to vote on the new GI Bill. The bill, which Bush has threatened to veto, would pay tuition and other expenses at a four-year public university for anyone who has served at least three years since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The bill passed anyway, by a 75-22 majority, so McCain’s vote wasn’t really needed. But if I were a veteran running for President on a support-the-troops platform I’d have been there and voted Yes—very loudly. Senator McCain was on the West Coast at a fund raiser. Got to keep your priorities straight, huh?  Oh yeah:  McCain opposes the bill.

By the way, in case you hadn’t noticed, McCain has changed his mind (I won’t say flip-flopped) about how long we’re going to have troops in Iraq. He used to say we’d be there for a hundred years if necessary. Now he says we won’t be there after 2012.

‘Way to support the troops, John!

Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton were in the Senate for the vote, and they both voted for the GI Bill. They have similar plans for getting the troops home: both would bring back one or two brigades a month for, says Obama, sixteen months. Clinton says a year.

You decide: who is supporting the troops?

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