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JV
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 09:17 am:   

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/_/id/8798997?rnd=1133371120611&has-pl ayer=false
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Trashhauler
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 01:30 pm:   

One might suspect that Mr. Rendon is rather more successful selling himself than any war.
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sue
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 04:17 pm:   

As usual, attack the man rather than the content.
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AT
Posted on Wednesday, December 07, 2005 - 02:04 pm:   

I agree with Sue. Hey, this is a whole culture, and it's a huge part of what America, and the western world is today--the subcontracting of policy and government in a revolving door rewards-system way. The increased secrecy and lack of accountability are the fertiliser of its growth. It's obesically profitable, and it's also clandestically convenient for those who find democracy a means of support, but a burden when it comes to answerability. We don't need to go back in time. Let's go to what's happening now and unravel the system. It didn't used to be, and it doesn't need to be continued. The philosophy of these folks has almost successfully destroyed what this 'war' is supposedly being fought for. But going for personalities eliminates any responsibility on our part, as it all becomes an evil-celebrity game and we're just spectators. Impunity can only exist on a diet of general disinterest. Just read this little exchange about rendition
between two former US intelligence officials, one of whom is another Brennan. Nobody could write his lines better. He is such a model that it is terrifying to know that he is one of many, and that instead of dismantling the system, people are, if interested at all, getting hung up on the personalities of a few. The system as it is now, is, in the matter of individuals, just like Al Qaida. One person doesn't make any difference to the whole, since it is so attractive to new recruits. We've got that system here now, too. It is successfully undermining whatever morals once existed as to what a society should stand for. Will Australians care enough to spit the dummy? I don't know. Probably not.

As far as the US goes, I think that the most important priorities in the 'take control of our own government' should be given to the military/intelligence establishment. The privatisation of both has to be reversed. It is dangerous in the extreme to allow a nation's military and security to be managed and influenced by those whose profit from war.
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AT
Posted on Wednesday, December 07, 2005 - 02:50 pm:   

Also, at the risk of being a bore
1)the 'selling' was an old campaign, previously unsuccessful, but still actively looking for an opportune moment, as any scrutiny of Project for a New American Century shows.
http://www.newamericancentury.org/
2)the media's culpability is still not acknowledged, nor has its stance really changed, The New York Times' stance, the Washington Post's, the supposedly non-right media were all rugs, and still, to a large part, are. Personalities are entertainment and gain readership. Criticism of a system can hurt revenue from those who still advertise, in a shrinking-revenue world. So media is entertainment, and blogs fill the gap? Well, no, because we are left with ghettos of readership, where there is no assessing and perhaps mind-changing ground.
The revolving door problem and the whole mess with K Street BEING the government--where is the scrutiny of that, the condemnation and organising for change? Nowhere that I can see, other than the usual places that themselves, don't engage the public as such (and certainly not in the entertainmedia), even though, as the 9/11 Commission's Keane just complained, the nation's security expenditure has been based on lobbyists's success, not citizens' need.
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Trashhauler
Posted on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 09:05 am:   

Oh please, Sue, you would (and do) define any remotely contrary comment about someone as an attack. Unless, of course, what is being said corresponds to your viewpoint on things. My comment not an attack on Mr. Rendon.

In fact, my comment was based more on how things work in government than anything having to do with Mr. Rendon.

You can be assured that nothing he would say in public can be even remotely associated with what his company does, if it involves classided work. Security rules would forbid him from commenting on anything even remotely close to the subject. Having had a TOP SECRET clearance (and occassional SCI) clearance for about 35 years myself, I speak from some experience.

Also, it is very common for a firm to have a contract requiring TOP SECRET, SCI, etc clearances without the company president having the clearance himself. That's why companies so often hire ex-government people who can bring along their clearances. The clearance applies to individuals, rather than to a company. And one sure way of losing or being denied top clearances is to talk about oneself. It's also a good way to ensure your company never gets another such contract.

Note that none of this says anything against Mr. Rendon personally.
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Trashhauler
Posted on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 09:23 am:   

As far as accountability goes, one should note that the same rules of oversight and accountability apply to both in-house and out-sourced activities. Somewhere, for any defense or intelligence contract, there is a program office, a contract office, and a continual review process. All such contracts are subject to IG, GAO, and direct Congressional inquiry. This would be specified in the contract Statement of Work (SOW), which would also include the usual requirements for compliance with public law and applicable government regulations.
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AT
Posted on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 05:55 pm:   

"Given the recent difficulties in obtaining enough recruits for the Army, FRONTLINE asked the Pentagon for a high-ranking official to discuss if there are plans to place greater reliance on private warriors and to address other questions about accountability and costs. The Pentagon declined to provide anyone to be interviewed after acknowledging this was a sensitive issue." - Frontline, "Private Warriors",PBS, June 2005
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/warriors/etc/synopsis.html
'Sensitive' is a great word, isn't it? Accountability? When even the nation's energy policy is secret, from even the GAO, http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0906-06.htm reality mocks assurances of oversight and accountability.
This government has taken secrecy and doublespeak to new heights, and if the fact is not even recognised, that is more the tragedy.

This discussion is eerie, considering the current our-hands-are-clean charade with prisoners shuffled around the globe.
just a small bit of reading:
"Contractors as Interrogators" - The Baltimore Sun
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.contractors04may04,0,6476999 .story
"Soldiers of Good Fortune" - Mother Jones
http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2003/05/ma_365_01.html
and an excellent organisation and site:
POGO - Project on Government Oversight/ Contractor Accountability
http://www.pogo.org/p/x/2004contractormisconduct.html





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Trashhauler
Posted on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 12:08 am:   

AT, can you cite the applicable public law that requires the Pentagon to provide someone for an interview on a particular subject upon demand? Of course, there isn't one. Your cite about the Frontline program misses one crucial thing - the rules about speaking to the press about some things haven't changed. Future plans about forces and capabilities fall under the security heading of "essential elements of friendly information" (EEFI) and are to be carefully guarded as classified information. That hasn't changed since WWII, so far as I know. Likewise, details about government contracts are, by regulation, treated as "acquisition sensitive," i.e., not to be discussed by anyone save a government attorney or contract officer. And they are free to say, "No comment." It has always been true that people who speak on such things without proper authorization can be punished under public law. Congress established the FIOA request system expressly to handle such issues.

As a bit of clarification, the formal national energy policy can be readily found at: http://energy.gov/engine/content.do?BT_CODE=AD_AP

What the commondreams cite refers to, of course, are the details about White House meetings regarding the energy policy. Without venturing an opinion about the proper use of Executive Privilege, it is still fair to point out that such privilege and such disputes between the branches of government existed long before this Administration. I haven't seen any cites giving evidence that this Administration has used the Executive Privilege argument more than previous ones did. As a matter of curiosity, I wonder how anyone could tell if they did. For that matter, has anyone kept track of energy meeting details from previous Administrations?

Regarding the use of contractors as interrogators and interpreters, the debate can go both ways. Contracting for such work is one way to get people of appropriate abilities quickly. Certainly, the government could be rightly criticised if it did not try to get enough language-trained people. Whether they should be in or out of uniform is a good question. With few exceptions, the contract employees are all former military or intelligence members. Regardless of what clothes they wear, such people are still subject to US law and DOD policy. In DOD, at least, legal accountability for their actions remains the same, whether contracted or not.

One can generally sympathize with private efforts to encourage greater public oversight of government. But citing evidence of increased interest in oversight is not the same thing as proving that this Administration is any more secretive than most. Mind you, that's not a defense of unwarranted secrecy. It's just that our understandable interest in knowing more doesn't necessarily mean anyone's been improperly keeping it from us.
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AT
Posted on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 01:04 am:   

Trashhauler, I understand your point about answering future plans about forces and capabilities, something that any reporter would. The Pentagon has hardly been answering 'on demand', nor would anyone expect that. I guess it is a matter for the citizens of a nation as to the satisfactory accountability - being seen to be accountable and answerable.

As for executive privilege, you're right that all administrations would rather keep as much secret as they can. Forgetfulness can be helpful to some, but here's a bit of a canned history that shows previous sins.
http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dorf/20020206.html
and a report for Congress done by the Congressional Research Service in 1999
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/secrecy/RL30319.pdf.
Problems are compounded, as can be seen, when there is contracting out. Commercial confidentiality is always convenient as is national security, and when they meet, accountability suffers.

Many members of the government itself are not happy with the level of secrecy in this administration. Some places that discuss this are:
The Project on Government Secrecy from the Federation of American Scientists (a detailed site for sources and documents)
http://www.fas.org/sgp/bush/

The above is discussed in this article in Slate:
"The Age of Missing Information"
http://www.slate.com/id/2114963/

or you can go to
http://www.bushsecrecy.org/
which quotes another wartime president
"Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix." - Harry S. Truman
and a great Supreme Court Justice
"Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." - Justice Louis D. Brandeis

How will Bush's appointees to the Supreme Court view these sentiments? Will they call them quaint?

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Trashhauler
Posted on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 05:45 am:   

It's hard to know how new SC appointees will view anything. Not that'm I'm certain it matters as far as secrecy goes. (Most Supreme Courts avoid the topic of public disclosure as a matter for the other two Branches.) It is, of course, the default position for many to think that this Administration is worse than any that has ever existed. It tends to color all subsequent beliefs and statements.

As it happens, I've had occassion to work with ISOO on a matter of classification. It took pretty high level intervention to get that organization to move at anything faster than a snail's pace. But since I work for the Defense Department, I'm pretty certain the Administration wasn't to blame for the slow response.

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