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June 03, 2014

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I suppose you would have hoped for better legal justification, but what possible basis for such hope would you have?

They've reached the point where their legal reasoning doesn't go much beyond, "The President wants to do this, and there aren't enough votes in the Senate to convict." I don't think they even feel the need for justification any longer. He's not up for reelection, and won't be convicted, and Holder won't appoint any independent counsels or do anything but laugh at Congressional subpoenas and contempt referrals.

What reason does he have to care if the legal arguments are persuasive? There's nobody he needs to persuade anymore.

Anyway, they seem to have really screwed up this time, being in such a hurry to get it done before word of what was planned could leak, that they didn't bother with any due diligence. And ended up trading five terrorists for a deserter.

They've even lost Mad Magazine!

such a tiny little swirly tempest. lookit it whoosh around the teapot!

Another story that I haven't really followed, but what about the videos showing Bergdahl in poor physical shape? I've seen reference to the WSJ's article about behind the scenes, but I missed the window and it is now behind the paywall (it may just be behind a registration wall, but that's enough of a hurdle for me to pass)

In a teapot, maybe - and the policy itself ought to have been entirely defensible.

But I agree with Friedersdorf that it's another example of this administration's playing fast and loose with the rule of law (in this respect, at least, they are little better than the previous one):
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/06/president-obamas-fraught-prisoner-swap/372111/

The need to protect the life of a serviceman is a bad excuse for breaking the law. It is the duty of a military person to die if it is in the public interest. Thus, if the Congress, in it s infinite wisdom, has made it practically impossible to negotiate prisoner exchange with the Taliban, then it is the wish of the Congress that the US servicemen in Taliban custody die. This wish may even have a reasonable basis, because it can be argued that a US prisoner executed by Taliban increases the popular support for the war effort.

In reality, however, Obama has only bad choices. If he gave the advance notice required by the law, the prisoner exchange would fail, the prisoner would likely be executed and the president would be blamed by the same people who now blame him for breaking the law.

Somehow, both of these things ring true to me.

Brett: What reason does he have to care if the legal arguments are persuasive? There's nobody he needs to persuade anymore.

Lurker (who should comment more often, says me): If he gave the advance notice required by the law, the prisoner exchange would fail, the prisoner would likely be executed and the president would be blamed by the same people who now blame him for breaking the law.

What reason does he have to care if the legal arguments are persuasive? There's nobody he needs to persuade anymore.

and, after six years of absolutely non-stop, 24/27/365 cynical bullshit whining about "lawlessness", the GOP has wrung all the sting out of the accusation.

they've cried "impeach!" with every exhale for the past 1,960 days. they've beclowned themselves.

The unitary executive just ain't what it used to be.

I'm starting to read stuff now, and this Salon piece gives a different view.

I tend to think people have forgotten that the Taliban was, at one time, the government of Afghanistan and our 'allies' when the Soviet Union was there. The Taliban is not Al Qaeda, and as the Salon piece points out, they are a stakeholder in the process, as much as we wish they weren't.

This is not to say that I'm happy that the Taliban is gaining legitimacy. They first came on to the radar for me when they blew up the Buddhist statues at Bamiyan back in March 2001, which now seems like a prelude to 9/11. But I don't see any way for Afghanistan to have any kind of semi peace unless the Taliban participate in the process.

Yeah, cleek, it's been six non-stop years of Democrats crying, "Bullshit!" every time somebody points out Obama breaking the law. We understand: You don't CARE if he violates the law. You don't even care if he's got a good excuse for breaking it anymore.

It's enough that a conservative points out the criminal act, to justify it. You're that partisan.

it's been six non-stop years of Democrats crying, "Bullshit!" every time somebody points out Obama breaking the law.

no, it hasn't.

it's been six years of bullshit accusations from cynical political hacks and their cheering section.

you know how we know this? the thing the GOP would love the most would be to impeach and remove Obama from office. but they've never attempted it. they've been crying "fire" for six years, but have never once even tried to reach for an extinguisher.

It's enough that a conservative points out the criminal act, to justify it. You're that partisan.

Yet this doesn't seem to apply when Rand Paul criticizes drone bombings, for example.

You're that partisan.

said the pot.

"you know how we know this? the thing the GOP would love the most would be to impeach and remove Obama from office. but they've never attempted it. they've been crying "fire" for six years, but have never once even tried to reach for an extinguisher."

This, of course, proves there is a limit to their partisanship, despite your cries to the contrary.

This, of course, proves there is a limit to their partisanship

LOL! seriously: out loud laughing.

the frikkin GOP thinks impeachment is a step too far. L.O.L.

Wow. This thread went down the partisan drain even faster than I thought it would, which is saying something.

Is there anything - ANYTHING - on which we can have a reasoned discussion? Or is it time to pull the plug on ObWi?

just ignore the clown and we might be able to make a start.

Nah. We've always been an argumentative bunch. Just look back in the archives.

I really have not much opinion on this. I think Obama stepped on his crank a wee bit, here, in terms of putting on the appearance of knowing what he is doing. But the question of what becomes of Bergdahl is completely, utterly, full-stop up to the Army. Not to me, or Brett, or anyone at all who might wander in here to comment on this thread.

Whether this particular trade was one worth making is for me kind of beside the point. It's already done and cannot be undone. The Israelis do this kind of asymmetric exchange all the time.

From what I have gathered, the administration did notify Congress, early in the year, that discussions were going on. It did not provide the 30 day notification that the deal had finally been struck, which strikes me as relatively minor, given the need to move quickly at that point.

And consider, just for a moment, the virtually certain reaction had the President failed to act quickly and get the trade done. The screams of outrage at having a deal to get an American serviceman back from captivity fall through would have been far louder than they are this way. No matter if the deal fell through due to a requirement that Congress had attempted to impose. Can you imagine the denunciations for failing to support our boys in uniform? I sure can.

As for Brett's complaint that the individual concerned may have been a deserter. First, so far there are merely accusations of desertion. Innocent until proven guilty and all that kind of thing. (Note, in passing, that the military apparently approved routine promotions for him while he was in captivity. Not the sort of thing, I would think, one does for someone known to have deserted.)

Second, the military can, and apparently will, be addressing the question of what the individual did or did not do. If he is found guilty of desertion (and I admit that it seems not unlikely from the bits of evidence so far available to the general public), that can be dealt with now that he is available for trial.

ok, ok. i'll dial it back.

Obama may have broken a very silly law by doing the absolute right thing. and i'm perfectly fine with it. anything beyond that is, IMO, political theater.

slarti, the Israelis not only make these kinds of assymetric trades routinely. They have been known to exchange a thousand Palestinian terrorists for one Israeli. Note also that they are exchanging for terrorists. The Taliban, while noxious in the extreme, are enemy combatants, not terrorists. (And have never been on the list of terrorist organizations.)

cleek: Obama may have broken a very silly law by doing the absolute right thing. and i'm perfectly fine with it.

I almost put in the post that an alternative approach would have been to do something along those lines, "Yes I broke the law and I'd do it again." But we can't have that, so we get this half-assed reasoning that doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

I agree with Slarti, some definite crank stepping here from a purely political perspective.

"the Israelis not only make these kinds of assymetric trades routinely. They have been known to exchange a thousand Palestinian terrorists for one Israeli. Note also that they are exchanging for terrorists."

I wouldn't assume that everyone the Israelis claim is a terrorist actually is a terrorist. Many are. As for who gets on the list of terrorist organizations, that's just politics, I'd much rather live under Hamas rule than Taliban rule, not that I'd want to live under either. But they both kill civilians. So does Israel, for that matter.

As for asymmetry, the Palestinians have no capability of arresting Israeli soldiers or officials with innocent blood on their hands, or Israeli settlers, violent or merely criminal trespassers, or Israelis in general for any reason, or there might be more parity in the numbers exchanged.

As for the post, I guess I should care, but if one is going to go after Obama, I'd rather do it on the basis of the drone policy . There's also a story in Harpers (not online) about some apparent murders at Gitmo (from before Obama's time) where there is an apparent coverup. Rule of law doesn't seem to apply down there. Here's a link to a paper which goes into detail. (I haven't read it.)

link to seton hall paper

The need to protect the life of a serviceman is a bad excuse for breaking the law. It is the duty of a military person to die if it is in the public interest.

It's also the duty of nations at war to return POWs to their homes at the end of hostilities.

And that goes back to something like the Treaty of Westphalia.

And, it's a law and a principle we are and should be *very* strongly motivated to uphold.

As far as the scope of Obama's culpability and the worthiness of Bergdahl, what slarti said at 11:42.

It is the duty of a military person to die if it is in the public interest.

I don't agree with this statement. In certain circumstances it's true, but as an unqualified statement, it isn't.

I'm with cleek on this issue. Thanks, cleek.

Letting the executive branch, the branch of government whose job is compelling everyone else to obey the law, to decide which laws applicable to itself are "silly", and can therefore be violated with impunity, does not strike me as very reasonable. Let's be clear: People are rotting in prison right now, at the hands of Obama's Justice department, for violating laws no more silly than this.

What standing does a lawless government have, to demand that others obey the law? Or is all that matters that it has the power to back up that demand, and nobody else has the power to similarly compel it?

"Is there anything - ANYTHING - on which we can have a reasoned discussion? Or is it time to pull the plug on ObWi?"

Posted by: dr ngo

Look at it without the 'both sides do it' goggles and be willing to name names, and I think that you'll find Brett and Marty are 75% of the problem. BTW, almost all of the time when a few people post a large share of the comments, they are the problem, and in the last few threads I've monitored, those two were posting a crapload. In both senses :)

Slart used to be a major PITA, but he's improved from what he was a few years ago.

If you want Obsidian Wings to be a garden, you have to weed.

"It is the duty of a military person to die if it is in the public interest. "

It is the duty of any military person to place herself in harms way when it is in the interest of defending America, its people and treaty partners. It is never their DUTY to die, it is a horrible possibility for bravely putting themselves at risk.

This is a case where I will give the President some slack, not leaving a man behind is in the finest military tradition. What I've seen says that they consider military rescue, but deemed it too risky for Bergdahl. The 30 days is just silly.

Time will tell if there was a reason NOT to trade for him. But there isn't a clear reason not to exchange POW's at this point.

As an aside, if he did desert there may have been a different reason we wanted him

I tend to think people have forgotten that the Taliban was, at one time, the government of Afghanistan and our 'allies' when the Soviet Union was there. The Taliban is not Al Qaeda, and as the Salon piece points out, they are a stakeholder in the process, as much as we wish they weren't.

This is a very good point to bring up. I've seen a lot of cries that you can't negotiate with terrorists, but those folk seem awfully silent the rest of the time when we're negotiating with the Taliban. True, we don't exactly shout our negotiations from the rooftops, but yeah. This is hardly a unique and singular incident.

wj: "From what I have gathered, the administration did notify Congress, early in the year, that discussions were going on. It did not provide the 30 day notification that the deal had finally been struck, which strikes me as relatively minor, given the need to move quickly at that point.

And consider, just for a moment, the virtually certain reaction had the President failed to act quickly and get the trade done. The screams of outrage at having a deal to get an American serviceman back from captivity fall through would have been far louder than they are this way. No matter if the deal fell through due to a requirement that Congress had attempted to impose. Can you imagine the denunciations for failing to support our boys in uniform? I sure can."

I had a long paragraph written, but it comes down to:

1) Obama notified Congress.
2) This is not the sort of thing which could be done even through a far saner and less traitorous Congress, and which is usually done quietly and quickly (once the time to act comes).
3) The same motherfuckers[1] who are screaming now would be screaming the other way, if and when it turned out that Obama had either refused to negotiate, or that the negotiations broke down.

[1] Harsh, but fair.

What standing does a lawless government have, to demand that others obey the law?

a moot question since the government is not lawless.

if Obama broke a law, there is a procedure to remedy it. so, go ahead: advocate for impeachment. as a wise man once said: please proceed, guv'nor.

(As to the matter of SGT Bergdahl's eventual fate, Slarti at 11:42 stated it perfectly. The chain of command will deal with this as they deem necessary and appropriate, and will certainly be better equipped to do so than a roiling crowd reaching their conclusions based on partial evidence and assorted anecdotes.)

If you want Obsidian Wings to be a garden, you have to weed.

I don't want ObWi to be a garden. Gardens can get boring.
Also, it takes a certain amount of manure to make a flourishing garden.

--TP

Cleek, you're like a friend of the local mob boss, responding to complaints of his criminality with a sneering, "Go ahead and prosecute!", knowing he's bought the judge already.

As I say, one of the reasons Obama doesn't care if he breaks the law, is that he knows he has the votes in the Senate to be acquitted, no matter how guilty he might be. Just as he has an AG who won't stop stonewalling.

This is corruption, pure and simple. When the shoe is on the other foot, as it will surely be at some point in the future, you'll complain about it as bitterly as I do now.

But the only way we'll ever stop our slide into this morass of corrupt government, is if we can bring ourselves to care when OUR side is behaving criminally. Nixon was brought down when Republicans wouldn't defend him. Will we ever see the day when Democrats won't defend their own?

wj: "From what I have gathered, the administration did notify Congress, early in the year, that discussions were going on. It did not provide the 30 day notification that the deal had finally been struck, which strikes me as relatively minor, given the need to move quickly at that point.

If that's the case, I take back my previous comment.

I have serious problems with the current (and previous) administration's finagling with the law (NSA surveillance; drone assassinations; failure to prosecute torture etc), but there comes a point when it just doesn't really matter.

Nixon was brought down when Republicans wouldn't defend him. Will we ever see the day when Democrats won't defend their own?

...because this is just like what Nixon did.

Totally apert from this specific case, the claim 'The US do not negotiate with terrorists' is laughable and has always been. One might even argue that the 7 Barbary Treaties (1795-1836) are nothing but a variant of this. And it seems never to have mattered which party held the WH or Congress as far as this is concerned.

When the shoe is on the other foot, as it will surely be at some point in the future, you'll complain about it as bitterly as I do now.

Bett, are you saying that you wouldn't be complaining then, too? Because that seems rather at odds with your previous positions. So maybe I'm misunderstanding....

Cleek, you're like a friend of the local mob boss, responding to complaints of his criminality with a sneering, "Go ahead and prosecute!", knowing he's bought the judge already.

if the case is as clear and obvious as you seem to think it is, any Senator not voting for impeachment, and cowing to such blatant corruption, would be sure to lose his job in the next election.

or, does the conspiracy to commit these high crimes go all the way down to the average voter?

we'll never know unless the GOP actually tries to make it happen, which they could do by close of business tomorrow given that they control the House.

Will we ever see the day when Democrats won't defend their own?

clutch those pearls. clutch em good.

Nixon would have been impeached by the current crop of whatever-they-call-themselves for rampant RINOism, ya know, the EPA, commie school lunches, bowing to Mao, refusing Chuck Colson's proposal to blow up the Brookings, etc, etc.

The janitor who reported the break-in at the Watergate would have death threats (he had em anyway from right-wing filth back then but the zombies have reproduced exponentially since) sicced on him by FOX News viewers, armed Tea Party vermin, and the Redstate commentariat.

Hiding behind Nixon now.

Pathetically desperate.

Look, it's not about the law anymore, that ship has sailed a long time ago.

"In short, Obama's global 'war of terror' has expanded to roughly 100 countries around the world, winding down the large-scale military invasions and occupations such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, and increasing the "small-scale" warfare operations of Special Forces, beyond the rule of law, outside Congressional and public oversight, conducting "snatch and grab" operations, training domestic repressive military forces in nations largely run by dictatorships to undertake their own operations on behalf of the 'Global Godfather.' "

novakant, quoting the famous Andrew Gavin Marshall, to sum up the complexities of U.S. foreign policy in a paragraph.

Simplistic is always popular. Maybe if you edit a bit more, you can sell a bumper sticker.

Are you disputing any of the facts in the well-sourced article I linked to?

You can't, they're not even trying to hide it anymore, they're proud of it, the new policy is extremely popular (cf. e.g. "Zero Dark Thirty") - which was part of my point.

So it's down to your evaluation of these matters, which - let me go out on a limb here - will likely be very similar to that of the Obama administration.

"Look, it's not about the law anymore, that ship has sailed a long time ago."

I agree that Presidents are above the law and it's a problem, at least for the victims of our foreign policy. Americans in general don't seem to care. At best it can be a partisan issue, when convenient.

In this case, the one Ugh writes about, Obama broke the law to help free a POW. Unlike torture and our endless hypocrisy about who gets to kill civilians and who doesn't, it's a little hard to get worked up about this.

To be fair, some criticisms in this case are aimed at the Taliban for not killing Bergdahl thus burdening the US with the costs for prosecuting him (ideally with a death sentence at the end) and also allowing Obama again to wallow in tyranny. ;-)

Are you disputing any of the facts in the well-sourced article I linked to?

"In short", I don't believe that the paragraph adequately sums up the 31 articles cited in the footnotes of the polemicist (wanna be pundit) Andrew Gavin Marshall (many of which I've read before). I'm pretty sure that each of the articles can be read and judged on their own merits, with much conversation ensuing. Not a good strategy to Cliff Notes them in a blog comment.

I did some westlaw research, and it seems the "make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water" power is effectively a dead letter here: apparently the majority reading is that such power is limited to captures of property only. See Aaron D. Simowitz, The Original Understanding of the Capture Clause, 59 DePaul L. Rev. 121 (2009) (available at http://lawlib.wlu.edu/CLJC/index.aspx?mainid=49&issuedate=2010-03-12&homepage=no ). The article I just mentioned critiques the majority view and has a lot of good historical to the contrary, but it doesn't seem to have much traction elsewhere. Jack Goldsmith writing at Lawfare, for example, didn't even mention the Captures power (http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/06/the-president-pretty-clearly-disregarded-a-congressional-statute-in-swapping-gtmo-detainees-for-bergdahl/ ).

If you accept the majority view, there's another interesting point, namely, what's the source of congress's power to require notification before Guantanamo detainees are transferred? If congress doesn't have constitutionally-conferred power to dictate rules of capture of persons, then maybe the notification requirement is void not merely here (where it conflicts with the President's warfighting powers), but also in all cases, because I don't see how any of Congress's other sources of legislative power can support it.

Thanks, Julian. The links didn't work for me; I'll look further later. The question you raise is interesting.

As to people who are skeptical of the "unitary executive power" as enunciated under Bush/Cheney: sure, I am too. But the Executive does have certain powers in course of a war - obviously, if every decision were subject to Congressional approval, we would be unable to function in an armed conflict.

I'm pretty sure that each of the articles can be read and judged on their own merits, with much conversation ensuing.

I guess I need to get out more, because I've never heard of Andrew Gavin Marshall, and am therefore unable to make any snap judgement about his credibility.

I do know that I am, personally, both curious about and concerned about what is done, in secret, by our government. Especially when arms are concerned.

I also know that you, sapient, appear to be reflexively supportive of Obama to a degree that prevents me from taking your point of view on things like this on faith.

If you would like to explain what you find incorrect or objectionable in Marshall's piece, I'd be interested. You've read many of the articles before, you consider some of them worth discussing on their own merits. Kindly share with the rest of us.

russell, I think that a one-paragraph summary of American foreign policy under Obama is suspect. There are a lot of articles cited in the linked article, many of which are worth of discussion.

But let's start with the proposition that " Obama's global 'war of terror' has expanded to roughly 100 countries around the world".

Just look that up, and let's discuss what that sentence means. Are we dropping drones in 100 countries? Are we having diplomatic relations with 100 countries?

When someone defends that statement as a "negative" against the Obama administration, I'm all ears.

The claim, in the first paragraph, is that we have Special Ops forces deployed in 70 to 120 countries at any one time.

I would say a common-sense reading of that would not be that he is including diplomatic relations in that count.

Are you saying that is not so?

I'm not defending Marshall's statement, I'm asking you to defend your claim that it is false.

I would guess that means the NSA is spying in 100 countries.

Notably ours. But we're not the only ones we're pissing off by surveillance activities.

From the Nick Turse Salon piece, cited in the Marshall piece:

Recently, however, U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told me that on any given day, America’s elite troops are working in about 70 countries, and that its country total by year’s end would be around 120. These forces are engaged in a host of missions, from Army Rangers involved in conventional combat in Afghanistan to the team of Navy SEALs who assassinated Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, to trainers from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines within U.S. Special Operations Command working globally from the Dominican Republic to Yemen.

That's a pretty specific statement, and unless Turse is plainly lying, it comes from the horse's mouth.

To slarti's point, I think military Special Operations is distinct from the NSA.

To get to 100 countries, he has to be counting every country where they are engaged in military-type operations. And every country where we have a base where one of those groups is stationed at between missions. Which is great for inflating the numbers, but detracts somewhat from the accuracy.

your claim that it is false.

I didn't make that claim.

If I were a good lawyer, I'd stop with that statement.

But instead of lawyering, what I'm saying is that the one-paragraph summary of Obama's foreign policy that novakant reprinted is simplistic and misleading. I'd be happy to be enlightened that all U.S activities in the 100 countries mentioned, that are allegedly part of the "war on terror", are a waste of resources.

If you're an isolationist, that's a point of view that you should embrace. If not, you should spill the beans on what's appropriate, and exactly what we're doing that's not.

Well, accuse the Obama administration, in those countries, seriatim, folks.

"I think they're spying" or "I think they're meddling" is not really enough.

Also for reference, depending on how you count, there are just under 200 countries in the world.

So, per Turse, we have Special Operations forces in about half of them.

That seems like a lot to me. It makes me wonder why they are there, and what they are doing.

Maybe they're all posted as diplomatic security at embassies. Although that isn't cited as typical duty for them in any of the articles I've read so far, and my general impression is that diplomatic security is mostly private firms.

I don't know what they're doing, or why they are there, or if it's a good idea or not, or if Congress deserves some degree of oversight.

Congress presumably is paying the bill, so they have at least some degree of interest in knowing what's going on, even if just in broad terms. Do they have even a basic idea of what's going on?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions. Do you?

To get to 100 countries, he has to be counting every country where they are engaged in military-type operations. And every country where we have a base where one of those groups is stationed at between missions. Which is great for inflating the numbers, but detracts somewhat from the accuracy.

Thanks, wj.

is not really enough

We know they're spying on us. We know they're spying on some other countries. It takes a special kind of apologist to demand that we produce actionable proof of spying in multiple countries in order to merely suggest that we're doing so.

If you doubt that, I urge you to read what has been released from the Snowden files, or Greenwald's book, or both. Which I doubt that you will do, sapient, because nanananananananaIcanthearyou.

Spying? &^%$ spying. Of course, we're spying. Who isn't spying? I'm spying. Is that what we're talking about? Intelligence?

russell: I don't know what they're doing, or why they are there, or if it's a good idea or not, or if Congress deserves some degree of oversight.

Really? Let's just not have a State Department, or a Defense Department, unless russell is doing personal oversight. Or unless he's gotten on CSPAN and has his finger on the pulse.

Don't you guys get that some people have jobs doing this stuff, and that you have to spend a hell of a lot of time managing them, if that's what your personal interest is? My guess is that we all have jobs, that we vote for people, and that they do theirs. I don't have the freaking time to micromanage the state department. Do you? If so, I wish I had your day job.

Of course we're spying. Spying on US citizens, here and abroad, has always been completely unobjectionable.

Spying on US citizens, here and abroad

In what way, and to what effect. By the way, I saw on facebook that ..

"Brett, are you saying that you wouldn't be complaining then, too? Because that seems rather at odds with your previous positions. So maybe I'm misunderstanding...."

My previous position on impeaching Republican Presidents.

"I'm perfectly willing to go after him, indeed I'd be delighted if you started impeachment hearings next Monday. If nothing else, it would keep Congressional Democrats from accomplishing anything on the legislative front, and I think that Bush has committed acts with are perfectly justifiable cause for impeachment. As has every President from Reagan on.

I just don't think you can do it, given Congressional trust levels that are, incredibly, lower than Bush's, limited time, and a total lack of bipartisan support.

But, try. Please. Who knows, lightning might strike, you might encounter something that would enrage Republicans enough to make impeachment feasible."

If not, you should spill the beans on what's appropriate, and exactly what we're doing that's not.

Look sapient, the burden here is not on me. I am not making claims of any kind.

novakant posted an article. You took exception to it, based on your opinion of the author.

I took exception to that.

You came back with:

But let's start with the proposition that " Obama's global 'war of terror' has expanded to roughly 100 countries around the world".

Just look that up, and let's discuss what that sentence means. Are we dropping drones in 100 countries? Are we having diplomatic relations with 100 countries?

I read some of the articles, and discovered that "diplomatic relations" is probably not what's going on.

I offered my opinion that Special Ops forces in half the countries of the world seemed like a lot, and that I'd like it if someone other than a very closely held circle of folks in the executive knew what was up.

wj replied with:

To get to 100 countries, he has to be counting every country where they are engaged in military-type operations. And every country where we have a base where one of those groups is stationed at between missions. Which is great for inflating the numbers, but detracts somewhat from the accuracy.

Which is a reasonable and substantive comment.

You reply with:

Really? Let's just not have a State Department, or a Defense Department, unless russell is doing personal oversight. Or unless he's gotten on CSPAN and has his finger on the pulse.

Don't you guys get that some people have jobs doing this stuff, and that you have to spend a hell of a lot of time managing them, if that's what your personal interest is? My guess is that we all have jobs, that we vote for people, and that they do theirs. I don't have the freaking time to micromanage the state department. Do you? If so, I wish I had your day job.

Which earns you my very first hearty "fuck off", in lo these many years of commenting here on ObWi.

Not even the good old RedStaters could get me there. Here on ObWi, not Brett, not McK, not Marty. Not DaveC, not BrickOvenBill, not even whatever the hell the guy's name was (he had several) with the horse farm.

Just you. You're a special guy.

Fuck off, sapient. You're bringing nothing but smart-assed sneering bullshit.

if somebody says something you don't agree with, you can't simply discuss it. You can't even engage the substance. All you bring is snotty punk asshole bullshit.

Who needs that shit? Not me.

Actually, I think I might have told the horse farm guy to fuck off, in which case sapient is #2.

I'd have to go look it up, though, and I have better things to do with my time.

Brett's comment,

I've been saying for some time that I'd support impeaching Bush: It can only distract Democrats from doing anything substantiative, and, after all, I can't argue that he hasn't done anything impeachable, even if I tend to disagree with Democrats about the specifics of the charges.

Emmett Kelly has nothing on you.

Thanks, russell.

Not sure what you're getting at here, except for the weekly cutting me off, and telling me that I'm worse than the worst.

My guess is that the many millions of dollars funding the many people at the State Department and the Department of Defense are not being completely wasted. Some people actually do this stuff for a living, and maybe russell doesn't know about each and every little thing. Not to say that they're doing everything right. But just that maybe we need more than one para by novakant, citing one article by some Canadian 26-year-old person who wrote a paper, to object to the entire foreign policy of the United States.

Just my humble opinion.

Respectfully yours,

Sapient

Not sure what you're getting at here

What I'm getting at is that you present yourself here as a rude supercilious jerk.

What part of that wasn't clear?

For instance:

Some people actually do this stuff for a living, and maybe russell doesn't know about each and every little thing.

This reply has nothing whatsoever to do with anything I, or anyone else, has said on this thread. It utterly fails to engage the substance of anything in the piece novakant cites, or any of the questions I had about it.

It's dismissive, rude, crap.

And you're right, I'm in the habit of "cutting you off" periodically, because I get fully sick of your rudeness and obnoxious tone.

I won't do that anymore, I'll simply reply to your snide bullshit by inviting you to fuck off.

Each and every time, if need be.

If you want to hang out, don't be an asshole.

But just that maybe we need more than one para by novakant, citing one article by some Canadian 26-year-old person who wrote a paper, to object to the entire foreign policy of the United States

And yes, we do need more than that.

Since you stated that you had likely read some of the articles, I invited you to contribute some of that "more".

You declined to do so, and instead decided to give me a ration of shit.

So fuck off.

telling me that I'm worse than the worst.

No, he's telling you that you are not adding anything whatsoever of interest to this discussion. It's just white noise, it's not anything that is going to move the conversation forward. That people have to tell you this weekly might be a hint. I agreed with your comment about novakant's reduction of the issue, but I'm left with the impression that you were furiously googling rather than actually reading anything. I'm generally more sympathetic to your arguments, but I imagine that I feel like McT or Marty feel when Brett starts off and I want to tell you what I'd like them to tell Brett-stop being an argumentative jerk.

Really, you don't have to do this. Please stop.

And yes, we do need more than that.

Yes, thanks. We do. In fact, that's what I was saying.

If you want to hang out, don't be an asshole.

You apparently don't like me as a person, so good. I actually wanted to meet you once when I was up in Boston. So glad that I backed off from that. How horrifying it would have been to be abused in person.

No, he's telling you that you are not adding anything whatsoever of interest to this discussion

And doing so with remarkable rudeness.

Perhaps we might close comments on this thread for 24 hours. Just to give everybody a chance to calm down a little.

You apparently don't like me as a person

I don't know you as a person, I know you as a commenter on a blog.

If you are concerned about "abuse", then you should read your own stuff.

I'm not sure why this is unclear to you, but your tone and style of exchange is frequently in really freaking bad form. You are rude.

If you think I'm picking on you, you are wrong. I'm responding to your rudeness.

Formerly I was in the habit of "cutting you off", as you say. I'm really not interested in doing that, because I'd like to continue participating in the discussion on the thread, so instead, when you make replies to me that are rude, dismissive, apparently deliberately off-point, or otherwise simply bad online manners, I'll bring it your attention.

If that gets tiresome, don't reply to things I say.

If someone asks a question, it's polite to respond to the question. If you don't know the answer, say "I don't know". If what someone says is not on-point to something you said, explain why.

Just drop the snotty tone. Then I can stop "abusing" you, and we'll all be happy.

Perhaps we might close comments on this thread for 24 hours. Just to give everybody a chance to calm down a little.

No need. I'll take a break though. Thanks, wj.

Perhaps we might close comments on this thread for 24 hours. Just to give everybody a chance to calm down a little.

Don't worry about it, I'll go do something else for a while.

To get to 100 countries, he has to be counting every country where they are engaged in military-type operations. And every country where we have a base where one of those groups is stationed at between missions. Which is great for inflating the numbers, but detracts somewhat from the accuracy.

I would assume this is, as he actually said in passing, mostly counting ongoing training missions moreso than "random SOCOM reset sites". Wikipedia puts it at 120 "annually". There's conflicting claims out there, which is hardly surprising given it's SOCOM. Last year the SOCOM commander threw out the number 75 "on a daily basis" when addressing the Senate Armed Services Committee... and he threw out 100 annually at the end of that same statement. So, um, yeah. Lack of clarity, but Marshall doesn't appear to be inflating numbers. If inflation is going on, it's pretty official, and it's not clear that there is inflation. If open source data is admitting 100 countries, it's kinda hard for me to feel confident that it's only the (unspecified) 100...

(If you can deal with something published on TomDispatch, I thought Nick Turse's commentary on his efforts to answer this question were of more than passing interest.)

Oops, there were supposed to be italics on the first paragraph.

If inflation is going on, it's pretty official, and it's not clear that there is inflation.

It occurs to me that, if you are a Pentagon official, you have an incentive to talk about how you are working in as many places as possible. Just to encourage Congress to keep funding high.

Different motivation than those decrying how many places we are active. But perhaps a similar incentive for inflation.

Well, they're throwing out the same numbers in open-source commentary to journalists, so they're being consistent, anyway. I'd honestly suspect the number of countries where non-training/diplomatic missions (IOW, what people tend to immediately think of when they hear SOCOM deployments discussed) is probably a bit higher than the difference between the "daily" and "annual" numbers above, but that's just (poorly informed) speculation.

Hard for me to post much, I'm traveling, but wanted to second Donald:

As for the post, I guess I should care, but if one is going to go after Obama, I'd rather do it on the basis of the drone policy .

I like to think I care pretty strongly about the rule of law, and I don't think the administration crossed their ts and dotted their is, but of all the things to go after them on? This isn't a great one.

Getting someone home, even if he is a deserter (and I agree with Slart and others that that will be handled separately) is a noble goal. Noone deserves to rot in a taliban prison for the rest of their life. Or as Gen. Odierno put it:

“It was always a high priority that every soldier deployed to Afghanistan would return home,” Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army’s top officer, said in a statement Wednesday. “We will never leave a fallen comrade behind.”

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2014/0604/Bergdahl-for-Taliban-swap-why-Pentagon-officials-think-it-s-not-a-bad-deal-video

It's important to note (not that it enters into my calculus on this), he hasn't been convicted of anything. We have courts and factfinding for a reason, and so does the military.

And I'm not a fan of Gitmo, so anything that gets us closer to closing it is gravy in my book. I view the exchange as win-win.

Politically? I'm surprised this has any legs at all. I also think it is in incredibly poor taste to protest his homecoming:
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0604/Caught-in-the-controversy-Bowe-Bergdahl-s-hometown-cancels-celebration

Ultimately, I think the president probably broke the law, and their arguments as to why the law is invalid are weak at best. And if they felt the law was invalid, they probably should have gone to court at some point prior to this to challange it, rather than just deciding to ignore it.

But overall, this strikes me as the jaywalking of the imperial presidency. Technically a crime, but I'm not going to tackle somebody in the middle of a street and perform a citizen's arrest.

What strikes me in the Bergdahl case, as with the signing statement issue discussed a while back, is that the POTUS (and other officials) operate in an environment where they are accountable to many different, overlapping, and possibly conflicting laws, responsibilities, and requirements.

On any given day, certainly in the course of any given week or month, there are probably a handful of things that somebody, somewhere in the executive does that violates some law, or procedural rule, or can be construed as malfeasance of some sort.

So, I take Brett's point that The Rule Of Law Must Be Upheld, but it also seems to me that it's nigh unto impossible to do so to a degree that would satisfy him.

I generally agree with thompson and others that this is, politically, a poor place for the (R)'s to draw a line in the sand.

Politicking aside, I'd be happy to see the (R)'s focus on something other than finding new and creative ways to try to kick Obama in the shins.

The scary thing is that people are talking about the "30 day notification requirement of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014" and not about the provision contained in the same act that permits detaining individuals indefinitely and without charge:

"Meanwhile the troubling NDAA provision first signed into law in 2012, which permits the military to detain individuals indefinitely without trial, remains on the books for 2014. Efforts to quash or reform the provision (especially with regard to the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens) have failed and have been fiercely fought by the administration. Most notably, a lawsuit filed by plaintiffs including journalist Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg against the provision has been aggressively fought at every turn by the president’s attorneys."

http://www.salon.com/2013/12/27/obama_signs_ndaa_2014_indefinite_detention_remains/


I have a question, for those who object to this action because The Rule Of Law Must Be Upheld. Last time you were driving on a freeway, did you confine yourself to driving no faster than the posted speed limit? (Assuming traffic conditions didn't make doing so a necessity rather than a choice.)

Also, have you considered that, on a road where everybody else is going well above the posted limit, you should be cited for "obstructing the flow of traffic" if you only drive at the limit? You see, you can actually be ticketed twice for the same action. You can be illegally driving too fast, while simultaneously illegally driving too slow. The majesty of the law is truly awe-inspiring.

Without bothering to go looking, I'd put money on Brett's having complained that the law, as written, gave him no choice to but to break it, no matter what reasonable course of action he took - presented as evidence of big, incompetent and rights-trampling government putting good citizens into catch-22s, just because.

You'd think he'd be more sympathetic to Obama's plight, no?

and violence - something about violence

"Last time you were driving on a freeway, did you confine yourself to driving no faster than the posted speed limit?"

You'd probably be better off asking this of somebody whose last ticket wasn't in 1978.

Since I'm picking on Brett, I'd like to go back to this from Tony P.

I don't want ObWi to be a garden. Gardens can get boring.

I don't know what this blog would be without Brett, McKinney and Marty - Sapient, too, but from a different angle.

As frustrated as some of us may get with them, they're the fuel that the majority of the threads run on. They're intelligent people (who also happen to be terribly, terribly wrong the vast majority of the time ;^)) disagreeing with almost everyone else here, making their cases with passion in the face of very strong resistance, forcing everyone else to address arguments they otherwise may not have even thought of (who could dream up such crazy logic and wrong-headed premises - again ;^)).

I mean, what the fnck would we do without them? Seriously...

wj:

A couple of things:

did you confine yourself to driving no faster than the posted speed limit?

No, and I was trying to get at a similar thing by comparing it to jaywalking. Of all the heinous crimes the presidency can commit, this is pretty small.

However, I think the simile doesn't entirely hold true. There is a large difference in my mind between me speeding (or even my friends smoking pot) and the *president* ignoring the will of *congress*.

Again, I don't think the administration had many options, they would have been crucified politically if they had screwed up the deal. And, a soldier would spend more time as a POW, which I like to think (although am not convinced) was at least as important to their calculus as the politics.

But I get very uneasy when the president ignores laws, because executing the law (starting with the constitution) is pretty much their job.

This falls into the same family as signing statements for me. The president is interpreting the law in a questionable way, in a manner that never gets run through the courts. The major mouthpiece of the people (congress) has pretty much one recourse: impeachment. And that is a huge, disruptive, politically fraught, etc etc ordeal. In short, small breaches by the executive have to be pretty much ignored.

All together, the executive branch deviating from statute (without judicial review) worries me. Even the little deviations, although not enough to call for impeachment. I view it as corrosive to the separation of powers, which is something me speeding isn't. If I get caught, I get punished, and society functions pretty much the same.

You can be illegally driving too fast, while simultaneously illegally driving too slow. The majesty of the law is truly awe-inspiring.

Man, it almost seems likes we have so many laws, they are conflicting in unpredictable ways. If only there was a political philosophy that wanted to trim down the number of laws, we could solve that problem :P

"Ultimately, I think the president probably broke the law, and their arguments as to why the law is invalid are weak at best."

See my post at June 04, 2014 at 06:55 PM for why the president might not have broken the law. Keep in mind that congress is as capable of breaking the law as the president: if that notification requirement was unconstitutional, then the president would have been breaking the law by obeying it.

"And if they felt the law was invalid, they probably should have gone to court at some point prior to this to challange it, rather than just deciding to ignore it."

Courts are not referees for every dispute between the legislative and executive branches. There are large swaths of cases courts will simply refuse to hear on the grounds that those cases are "political questions" not susceptible to resolution by a court.

The major mouthpiece of the people (congress) has pretty much one recourse: impeachment.

I would add money to that list.

Congress owns the purse.

if that notification requirement was unconstitutional, then the president would have been breaking the law by obeying it. or

Courts are not referees for every dispute between the legislative and executive branches. There are large swaths of cases courts will simply refuse to hear on the grounds that those cases are "political questions" not susceptible to resolution by a court.

is kind of having it both ways

thanks hsh.

Given that prominent Republicans were in quoted as being favour of this deal some months back, the fuss is a little puzzling:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/03/1304186/-McCain-was-For-the-Bergdahl-Swap-Before-he-was-Against-It#

I mean, what the fnck would we do without them?

Seconded.

Having gotten into it with sapient, specifically, on this thread, I'd like to emphasize that I have no issue with, or animus toward, sapient, or anybody else here, at anything like a personal level.

FWIW, my argument with sapient upthread is, from my side, purely about commenting style, how arguments are presented, and whether or not that demonstrates good faith and respect for the other party.

And, all of that as perceived by me.

I have zero, zip, nada interest in anyone currently commenting here being "weeded out".

I've been known to wear the "weed" hat myself from time to time. If folks are going to be excluded from the conversation because they annoy other folks now and then, or even often, then we might as well all turn out the lights and find new hobbies.

Peace out.

Congress owns the purse.

Good point.

You'd probably be better off asking this of somebody whose last ticket wasn't in 1978.

Note, however, that the question wasn't when you were last charged with breaking the law. It was when you last broke it. Whole different question.

In my state, at least, the Highway Patrol rule of thumb for when to give a ticket is somewhere around 13 MPH above the speed limit. Simply because otherwise they would be ticketing every driver on the road. They try to reserve their efforts for the most egregious problems.

But I suppose that it's too much to expect the Congress to do likewise. Especially when there is political point scoring and pandering to be done.

"is kind of having it both ways"

Completely wrong. Not all lawbreaking can be addressed by a court. Notwithstanding that fact, it is possible for Congress to be in the wrong here, and for the President to be in the right, for the reasons I've raised. If you have a reason for disagreeing I'd love to hear it.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Whatnot


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