A Duck By Any Other Name: Obama and Terrorism, and the Terror of Infidelity

...it’s emblematic of an Empire’s logic: the deceit of family values exists side-by-side with massive crimes.

by Dennis Loo

Jack Goldsmith, former Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel from 2003-2004 and who is currently a Professor at Harvard Law School, writes on November 9, 2012:


One important consequence of President Obama’s re-election will be the further entrenchment, and legitimation, of the basic counterterrorism policies that Obama continued, with tweaks, from the late Bush administration.  We will have four more years of a Democratic president presiding over military detention without trial, military commission trials (at least for the 9/11 conspirators, if not for more), broad warrantless surveillance, drone strikes around the globe, and covert war more generally.  These policies will of course be scrutinized by the many watchers of the presidency.  But they will receive less pushback than they would have received under a republican president.  Not only does the public generally trust the former constitutional law professor and civil liberties champion more than a republican president to carry out these policies (this is the Nixon going to China phenomenon).  But in addition, many on the left (in Congress and the NGO community, and perhaps the press) who might otherwise be uncomfortable with these policies will give President Obama a freer hand than they would a republican president.  The paradoxical bottom line: aggressive counterterrorism policies will, as a general matter, become more entrenched as a result of Obama’s election, compared to a Romney presidency. [Emphasis added].

I post Goldsmith’s remarks - I say this partly in jest - because a former Bush official’s observations about how much better, effective, and convincing to those who would otherwise oppose those policies it is to have a Democratic President carrying out Bush’s policies than either Bush or Romney, is going to seem more credible to some people than such arguments coming from a firebrand radical such as myself.

Some might otherwise criticize me for harming the putative progressive Obama with unjust calumny instead of speaking the unvarnished – if uncomfortable - truth.

From the horse’s mouth, as the saying goes.

All In: the Education of the American People?

Speaking of which, we have the sex scandal du jour: Gen. David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell. As Glenn Greenwald delicately describes it, this affair between Petraeus and his fawning (but really, really fit!) biographer and mentee is merely the consummation of the more general phenomenon of the seduction of the press and scholars by the National Security State.

[T]here is something deeply symbolic and revealing about this whole episode. Broadwell ended up spending substantial time with Petraeus when she, in essence, embedded with him and followed him around Afghanistan in order to write her biography. What ended up being produced was not only the type of propagandistic hagiography such arrangements typically produce, but also deeply personal affection as well.

This is access journalism and the embedding dynamic in its classic form, just a bit more vividly expressed. The very close and inter-dependent relationship between media figures and the political and military officials they cover often produces exactly these same sentiments even if they do not find the full-scale expression as they did in this case.

What Paula Broadwell and David Petraeus did is simply take to its logical and literal conclusion what the National Security State and Scribedom have been figuratively doing for lo these many years. “We’re in bed together already, let’s do this!”

It seems the only way to bring someone down now is to have him or her caught flagrante delicto. Commit mass murder, torture people, kill women and children, and you will get promoted and adulated. But engage in adultery, well, that’s a whole ‘nother thing!

I was listening several months ago to a Talk of the Nation broadcast during the Secret Service sex scandal of April 2012 and a woman called in at one point saying that she was a long-time D.C. escort and that it was routine for men of high positions in the Pentagon and other government agencies to regularly enjoy the services of high priced escorts/call girls. This was simply a perk of the office and their power as these gentlemen saw it.

The sheer absurdity of the official morality code boggles the mind: sexual fidelity is sacred but killing children, such as 4-year-olds, as by the orders of President Obama with his drone attacks or Gen. David Petraeus in his Counter-Insurgency work, that is doing the tough work of defending our way of life.

And it’s emblematic of an Empire’s logic: the deceit of family values exists side-by-side with massive crimes.

(With thanks to Glenn Greenwald for his latest column). This article originally appeared on dennisloo.com on November 12, 2012.

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