If we all pattern our behavior after the worst examples available to us then all is truly lost.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Code of Military Justice
Gen. Stan McChrystal, United States Army, will leave active service with four stars instead of three because of a special waiver bestowed on him by President Barack Obama. One is supposed to hold four-star rank for three years before one can retire at that pay grade, something McChrystal obviously didn’t do, but Obama made nice and let him walk away with a full set of collar candy anyway. The extra star makes a staunch bit of difference in McChrystal’s retirement pay. He’ll start at $181,416 per year versus the measly $160,068 he would have received otherwise. But both of those amounts are chump change compared to what Mr. McChrystal is likely to knock down in his Beltway banditry career.
Noted counterinsurgency illusionist John A. Nagl, a retired Army light colonel and a Beltway bandit himself, says that “forcing” McChrystal to retire with three stars “would have sent a signal that he was out of favor.” Colleagues, according to the New York Times, say that because McChrystal kept his fourth star he’s not “radioactive,” so he can expect a bright future “as a well-paid outside consultant to the Pentagon or a government intelligence agency.” Don’t be shocked to see McChrystal named CEO of whatever Blackwater winds up calling itself next.
Retired three-star Beltway bandit Jack Keane, a key node in the war mafia’s AIPAC-neocon-Pentagon-Congress-White House connections, says of his protégé McChrystal, “Stan will land on both feet, make no mistake about that.”
Lynndie England, the marginally self-aware former private in the United States Army Reserve, was one of the few bad apples who took the fall for the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. She received no pension at all after she left the Army with a dishonorable discharge, and she couldn’t get back her civilian job as a chicken-plucker after she was released from military prison.
It took two trials by courts-martial to convict England. The judge in the first court-martial, Army Col. James Pohl, declared a mistrial because he doubted whether England was mentally competent enough to understand what a raw plea deal her incompetent military defense lawyers had wheedled her into. Pohl also questioned whether she possessed sufficient cognizance to discern right from wrong. The five officers on the second jury clearly had a more flexible conscience about making junior enlisted personnel the patsies for policies established at the four-star level and above; they sentenced her to a three-year term.
Torture was a key aspect of what “King David” Petraeus recently referred to as McChrystal’s “exceptional leadership” as commander of the infamous Joint Special Operations Command. As head of JSOC, McChrystal was directly responsible for the interrogation camp in Iraq known as NAMA, an acronym that stood for “Nasty A** Military Area.” The Camp NAMA motto was “No Blood, No Foul,” a slogan that reflected the interrogators’ philosophy that “If you don’t make them bleed, they can’t prosecute for it.” As one Pentagon official explained, “there were no rules there.” The Red Cross was never allowed into NAMA on order of Gen. McChrystal, who visited the place a number of times and who had a really darn good idea what was going on there.
Journalist Seymour Hersh called the JSOC part of an “executive assassination ring” that McChrystal ran under the direct control of Dick Cheney, who as vice president had no constitutional or legal authority in the military chain of command. Gen. Stan and his Howling Commandos, along with CIA hooligans, Blackwater yahoos-of-fortune, and other patriotic psychopaths, rubbed out God only knows how many “suspected” terrorists who were identified by intelligence beaten or bribed out of nefarious sources. There’s no telling how many innocent civilians were slaughtered in the process of these vigilante-style shoot-em-ups.
McChrystal has more blood on his hands than Macbeth and his wife put together, and he is as mendacious as he is murderous. His involvement in the cover-up of the Gardez Massacre, in which U.S. Special Forces destroyed evidence of collateral damage by digging their bullets out of the corpses of civilians, made his whitewash of the Pat Tillman fratricide affair seem venial by comparison, a petty sin that might be absolved with a fistful of Hail Marys.
By rights, McChrystal should be the gaunt, smirking face of American war atrocities, but he is far, far too special to be cast as a villain. Born of military nobility – his father was a two-star general – McChrystal learned early in life how to work his decoder ring and give the secret handshake. West Point Cadet McChrystal made his reputation as a bad boy, but he always knew just how far he could push things and still land on the safety network his father’s connections provided him.
It’s little wonder that he got away with MacArthur-magnitude insubordination when he used his 60 Minutes infomercial and other media tricks to corner Obama into going along with escalating the Bananastans* fiasco. And the Rolling Stone escapade was a stroke of passive-aggressive virtuosity. A diamond-studded parachute, it bailed McChrystal out of responsibility for the disaster he had created.
McChrystal is as made a guy as a guy can get made in the American war mafia. His bollixing of the Bananastans conflict has become the crown jewel of the Pentarchy’s** Long War strategy by making Obama’s July 2011 withdrawal date vanish like a wallet on a Chicago sidewalk. Will he ever go to trial for war crimes? Forget about it. A whole bunch of people in a lot of high places knew what McChrystal was up to and tacitly if not actively approved of it, and if he ever faces criminal charges, he’ll sing like Frank Sinatra.
Lynndie England grew up in a trailer park. In grade school she was diagnosed with severe learning disabilities. How she got into the Army Reserve is anyone’s guess. She doesn’t have friends in high places, or anywhere else for that matter. Upon her release from prison, she returned home with her son (by fellow Abu Ghraib felon Charles Graner) to West Virginia, where, according to a March 2009 Associated Press story, she “spends most of her days confined to her home.” She says she suffers from depression and anxiety, a claim one finds easy enough to believe.
She gets by on welfare and help from her parents. In 2007 she landed a spot on her local recreation board, but it was a non-paying position. Though she’s sent out hundreds of resumés, she can’t find a paying job. When one restaurant manager considered hiring her, the other employees threatened to quit.
People point and whisper, “That’s her.” England relates that one stranger sent her a note that suggested her mother should “shoot herself for raising somebody like me, and that I should kill my baby and kill myself, or give up my child for adoption, because the way I was raised they didn’t want him to turn into some evil monster, too.”
She has tried changing her appearance by dying her hair and wearing sunglasses and ball caps. “But it’s my face that’s always recognized,” says England, who never once directly or indirectly or on purpose or by accident caused the death of a single human being.
* The Bananastans are Afghanistan and Pakistan, our banana republics in Central Asia.
** The Pentarchy is the cabal of oligarchs who support and promote the Pentagon’s Long War agenda..