Saturday, September 07, 2013

If DC Elites Can't Bomb Syria, Will They Bomb Grayson Instead?


The transpartisan Beltway elites do not appreciate some populist-oriented smarty pants like Alan Grayson coming into their claustrophobia, tightly shut little club house and shining a spotlight on their incompetence, their very profitable incompetence. The Establishment is fuming at a very independent-minded-- and very loud and very brilliant-- Alan Grayson. Remember when Boehner kicked Justin Amash off his committee for butting in? That was nothing compared to how angry the ruling elites are right now towards Grayson. They're especially angry at Grayson because he went to their schools (Harvard) and succeeded at transforming himself from someone who worked his way through college scrubbing toilets to a millionaire and still rejects joining the insider club-- and because he's right and effective in all his arguments... and is winning.

The confidential briefings the White House is conducting are actually losing them support, not winning over skeptics. Grayson has framed the debate in a way Obama and his team cannot win it. And the people are behind him-- or, at least-- his reasoning. Already two extremely electorally vulnerable Republicans, the Gambino Crime family's Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm and Colorado extremist Mike Coffman have publicly switched positions from their reflexive pro-war instincts to coming out against the bombing authorization.

This has left the DCCC cardboard cutouts running against them, respectively Dominic Recchia and Andrew Romanoff, scrambling for a position that doesn't kill their campaigns on the spot. A Democrat advocating an unpopular war is not going to beat a Republican talking sense about why not to get into war. Congressmen like Grimm and Coffman are seeing Grayson's (and Justin Amash's) commonsense approach. Recchia and Romanoff are just listening to rabid warmonger Steve Israel, chairman of the DCCC. Meanwhile, the Beltway media clowns whose heads are buried deep in the anuses of the power elites in town who throw them their worthless scraps-- take for example "Tommy Christopher" at the silly Mediaite website-- are barking furiously at Grayson, searching desperately for a way to attack him. Christopher accused him of cackling on Chris Hayes' show Thursday and not caring about Syrian victims of atrocities. Grayson, easily the most widely-travelled Member of Congress, who's been to every country in the entire world-- that's at least double what the average Beltway foreign policy "expert" could even name-- is instinctively sympathetic, particularly to underdogs. It's the kind of man he is and it's the kind of life's record he's amassed. I've never met a congressman with more genuine empathy-- and I've met over a hundred of 'em starting when I worked for Upper West Side Congressman Bill Ryan in 1964, the first congressman to publicly oppose the War in Vietnam.

Establishment shills like Christopher (not his real name) are doing whatever they can to savage Grayson. Christopher is a particularly nasty character, but no one takes him seriously, not even the people who agree with him. I suspect these sorts won't appreciate Grayson's NY Times editorial this morning.
The documentary record regarding an attack on Syria consists of just two papers: a four-page unclassified summary and a 12-page classified summary. The first enumerates only the evidence in favor of an attack. I’m not allowed to tell you what’s in the classified summary, but you can draw your own conclusion.

On Thursday I asked the House Intelligence Committee staff whether there was any other documentation available, classified or unclassified. Their answer was “no.”

The Syria chemical weapons summaries are based on several hundred underlying elements of intelligence information. The unclassified summary cites intercepted telephone calls, “social media” postings and the like, but not one of these is actually quoted or attached-- not even clips from YouTube. (As to whether the classified summary is the same, I couldn’t possibly comment, but again, draw your own conclusion.)

Over the last week the administration has run a full-court press on Capitol Hill, lobbying members from both parties in both houses to vote in support of its plan to attack Syria. And yet we members are supposed to accept, without question, that the proponents of a strike on Syria have accurately depicted the underlying evidence, even though the proponents refuse to show any of it to us or to the American public.

In fact, even gaining access to just the classified summary involves a series of unreasonably high hurdles.

We have to descend into the bowels of the Capitol Visitors Center, to a room four levels underground. Per the instructions of the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, note-taking is not allowed.

Once we leave, we are not permitted to discuss the classified summary with the public, the media, our constituents or even other members. Nor are we allowed to do anything to verify the validity of the information that has been provided.

And this is just the classified summary. It is my understanding that the House Intelligence Committee made a formal request for the underlying intelligence reports several days ago. I haven’t heard an answer yet. And frankly, I don’t expect one.

Compare this lack of transparency with the administration’s treatment of the Benghazi attack. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to her credit, made every single relevant classified e-mail, cable and intelligence report available to every member of Congress. (I know this, because I read them all.) Secretary Clinton had nothing to hide.

Her successor, John Kerry, has said repeatedly that this administration isn’t trying to manipulate the intelligence reports the way that the Bush administration did to rationalize its invasion of Iraq.

But by refusing to disclose the underlying data even to members of Congress, the administration is making it impossible for anyone to judge, independently, whether that statement is correct. Perhaps the edict of an earlier administration applies: “Trust, but verify.”

The danger of the administration’s approach was illustrated by a widely read report last week in The Daily Caller, which claimed that the Obama administration had selectively used intelligence to justify military strikes in Syria, with one report “doctored so that it leads a reader to just the opposite conclusion reached by the original report.”

The allegedly doctored report attributes the attack to the Syrian general staff. But according to The Daily Caller, “it was clear that ‘the Syrian general staff were out of their minds with panic that an unauthorized strike had been launched by the 155th Brigade in express defiance of their instructions.’”

I don’t know who is right, the administration or The Daily Caller. But for me to make the correct decision on whether to allow an attack, I need to know. And so does the American public.

We have reached the point where the classified information system prevents even trusted members of Congress, who have security clearances, from learning essential facts, and then inhibits them from discussing and debating what they do know. And this extends to matters of war and peace, money and blood. The “security state” is drowning in its own phlegm.

My position is simple: if the administration wants me to vote for war, on this occasion or on any other, then I need to know all the facts. And I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Do you want to say thanks?

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At 12:53 PM, Blogger Seeker said...

I love Grayson, but disagree with on this, this is not an easy issue.

Anyone who thinks this is an easy issue is mistaken. I'm going to trust the President on this.

If anyone thinks President Obama wants to use military force, you are mistaken. He would much rather send flowers and cupcakes and tea and everyone work this out over lunch.

Remember that.

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may choose to trust the president, but I have found that every time I've trusted the president, he has betrayed that trust. Therefore, I stopped trusting him a long time ago.

I also don't know what verifiable information you may be privy to that allows you to claim that the president "would much rather send flowers and cupcakes and tea and everyone work this out over lunch."

For whatever reason -- whether it is to prove his "commander-in-chief" bona fides, or to impress his Republican foes, or because he made the mistakes of a foreign policy amateur -- the president has been perfectly willing to use military force. I think he believes that by using drones and limited strikes, he may be able to accomplish political objectives without getting his hands too dirty.

I don't think there is much disagreement, even among those who support Obama's plan, that this nebulous, artificially limited strike will not accomplish much. It will not destroy the chemical weapons caches. It will not remove Assad. It can not punish the perpetrators since we still do not have definitive proof of who is behind the attacks, which brings us back to the issue of trust.

Frankly, I do not trust either the integrity or the competence of the Beltway apparatchiks managing our foreign policy. We have been operating like arrogant idiots for decades in the Middle East and Central Asia. We can't even begin to understand the cultures, the religious rivalries and tribal loyalties that go back more than a thousand years.

We are amateurs at court intrigue and we've been played over and over again. In Syria, we don't really know who is responsible for what. Take the incidents of snipers firing on the U.N. inspectors. Who did it? Assad? Al Qaida? Shadowy agents provocateurs? Other rebel forces we know nothing about? Foreign agents? No one knows, but the intent was surely to disrupt fact-finding.

In the absence of solid, verifiable information, we're still picking and choosing the intelligence that supports a favored course of action: strikes against Assad.

I do think there's one thing we can predict with a fair amount of certainty: missile strikes at Syrian targets will almost surely result in killing innocent civilians. It's long past the time we can refer to these unintended consequences as "collateral damage." Death and maiming from screaming missiles is every bit as terrifying as death from Sarin.

We must ask, why the rush to war? Why not wait for U.N. verifications and the international consensus that might be built from there? Why not aggressively pursue humanitarian relief and aid for refugees in the meantime?

The case for war has not been made. Chemical weapons may be particularly heinous, but we are certainly not innocents in that regard since we provided the aid to our then-proxy Saddam Hussein that enabled him to use the same weapons during his war against Iran. In the current case, neither side is our friend or ally.

To strike in the name of protecting Syrian civilians is hardly the way to protect them. To strike because a bunch of neocons or AIPAC or Bibi Netanyahu demand it, is contemptible. To strike because our president made an ill-considered threat about red lines, is pathetic.

At 11:58 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Hey estabishment screw you you've got a problem with Alan Grayson standing up for the truth well then tough he's doing the right thing we progressives stand behind him & we'd be happy to show your sorry carcasses on the way out during primary season & we're not going away either.

At 11:04 PM, Anonymous hyperhidrosis said...

Really comments...


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