Thursday, July 28, 2005


The Bush administration has been modifying the way it talks about terrorism. This could be a welcome, more rational and realistic change in tone after the way the administration abused its power by "fixing the facts" (Downing Street Memos anyone?) around a policy to invade Iraq that was discussed well before September 11, conflating Iraq with 9/11 and the "global war on terror."

NY Times:

In recent speeches and news conferences, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the nation's senior military officer have spoken of "a global struggle against violent extremism" rather than "the global war on terror," which had been the catchphrase of choice. Administration officials say that phrase may have outlived its usefulness, because it focused attention solely, and incorrectly, on the military campaign.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the National Press Club on Monday that he had "objected to the use of the term 'war on terrorism' before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution." He said the threat instead should be defined as violent extremists, with the recognition that "terror is the method they use."

Although the military is heavily engaged in the mission now, he said, future efforts require "all instruments of our national power, all instruments of the international communities' national power." The solution is "more diplomatic, more economic, more political than it is military," he concluded.

Administration and Pentagon officials say the revamped campaign has grown out of meetings of President Bush's senior national security advisers that began in January, and it reflects the evolution in Mr. Bush's own thinking nearly four years after the Sept. 11 attacks.

One wishes Junior would have listened to his national security advisors before the Iraq invasion, or maybe after 9/11, or hey, how about before 9/11 when "red lights and bells should have been going off" but Junior was too busy clearing brush on his ranch to pay attention to the job of president.

So we've gone from the GWOT, to the GSAVE. Now, Tom Engelhardt suggests a new phrase in his TomDispatch article printed in Common Dreams, "La Dolce Vita War on Terror."

Aside from the very serious matter of U.S. agents seizing an Italian citizen, without approval from the government of Italy, it seems our intelligence agents could use a little more intelligence in how they hunt down possible terrorists, and in how they spend taxpayers' money. In the 2003 "extraordinary rendition" of a muslim cleric in Milan, the 19 implicated CIA agents were "like elephants stampeding through Milan," leaving "huge footprints" of their activities.

Among the footprints:
  • Agents stayed in some of the world's most luxurious hotels, choosing to use credit cards rather than cash, giving their frequent flier account numbers to desk clerks, using unsecured room phones, and ringing up a $144,984 tab.
  • Agents ate in 5-star gourmet restaurants, charging up to $500 a day per agent.
  • With their suspect transported out of Italy, the agents rewarded themselves by taking vacations to Venice and Mediterranean beaches (thanks taxpayers!).

Engelhardt concluded:
The nightly cost of a room in Milan's Hotel Principe di Savoia, $450; the cost of a Coke from a mini-bar in one of its rooms, $10; the cost of leasing a GulfstreamV for a month, $229,639; that feeling of taking the American taxpayer for a ride, priceless.


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