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Unless otherwise directed ...

Making this case is extremely difficult and frustrating because the deck is stacked against those who would seek to break the powerful momentum of war. Top-down power in America is constantly reinforcing itself and pushing the other way.

This week it was revealed that, in a secret directive, General David Petraeus, leader of Central Command, has ordered a significant expansion of US covert military action around the world. Unlike CIA covert actions, these covert military missions do not require presidential approval or congressional oversight.

Barton Gellman, in his book Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, describes Petraeus as a masterful practitioner of UNODIR, military shorthand for putting a scheme in practice and, at the perfectly timed moment, sending a communiqué to a superior saying, “unless otherwise directed, I will continue to…” Dick Cheney, a major fan of Petraeus as he rose in the ranks, was the undisputed master of UNODIR in the Bush White House.

Critical discussion and analysis of such secret decisions is kept from Congress and the American people. By the time a recalcitrant congress member or senator fashions a bill to cut funding for the war in Afghanistan, things like the Petraeus directive are already in process -- subject to the laws of UNODIR and the fact it’s harder to stop a train at full speed than to prevent it from leaving the station.

The legal realm works just as insidiously in keeping analysis and debate from the minds of mainstream Americans.

A federal appeals court just ruled that three detainees at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan have no recourse to habeas corpus, which is internationally considered a fundamental human right. The court ruled their detention by the US military on foreign soil was not reviewable because the detentions were on foreign soil.

Joseph Heller wrote the book on this kind of absurdity, and it’s called Catch 22.

The Obama administration was delighted with the decision, which legalizes the broad powers of detention they inherited from the Bush administration.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a former military JAG officer, said, to let these men review their detentions by the US military “would be the ultimate act of turning the war into a crime.”

If giving these detainees the fundamental human right to question their detention would make it clear our war in Afghanistan is illegal, then the court was in essence silencing the expression of ideas critical of the war.

Like the game of whack-a-mole, it’s all hands on deck to whack down inconvenient and dangerous ideas that call into question our endless state of war. Keep the ideas and the argument marginalized.

You can see this at work in the recent firing of Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who found himself at odds with his subordinate CIA Director Leon Panetta and, it seems, General Petraeus.

According to The New York Times, Blair “has been outspoken about reining in the CIA’s covert activities, citing their propensity to backfire and tarnish America’s image.” The escalating stealth CIA drone war in northwest Pakistan was reportedly part of his concern. It seems logical the Petraeus expansion of unaccountable covert activities also fit into these concerns.



story | by Dr. Radut