Friday, March 16, 2007

The "C" Word

In a week that witnessed so-called Al Qaeda "mastermind," Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, at his military hearing at Gitmo insist that he was "responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z" and, indeed, claim responsibility for everything but sinking the Titanic, the letter "c" repeats itself like a bad case of acid reflux. Take, for instance:

" c" as in "criminal:" From London , this morning comes a stunning ruling by the Oxfordshire deputy coroner, Andrew Walker, that what was dubbed a U.S. friendly fire attack, which resulted in the death of a British soldier, in southern Iraq, nearly four years ago to the day, "amounted to an assault," and was "unlawful because there was no lawful reason for it." What's more, eleven lines of the American military's own 1100 line investigation into the incident, an aerial assault on the tank carrying Lance Cpl. Matty Hull, had been blacked out, or deleted. (AP)

Moreover, the British coroner's office that conducted the inquest made no bones about his dissatisfaction with the U.S. military's failure to
"c" as in "cooperate" with his investigation into the incident which suggests that the official Pentagon findings were spurious, and concocted. Lance Cpl. Hull, and his family, believe that the interrogation of a British air controller who witnessed the attack has been "c" as in "censored." In a statement to the press, the slain English soldier's widow urged President Bush "to release the 11 lines," in the report, that were deleted so that the "c," "coroner," can get to the truth of who, how, and why this 25 year old coalition serviceman was slain. The question, of course, is: onc e the truth has been obtained, will there be any "c"onsequences in that the American military is not subject to British law?

Oh, and speaking of consequences, what can be more ironic than hearing the word "criminal" applied to a military operation by our own government, especially when it comes on the heels of a ubiquitous confession, by a notorious member of Al Qaeda, in a hearing meant only to establish him as an "enemy combatant," and to pave the way for charges of war crimes? Apart from the obvious, namely that only the Bionic Man could have been involved in as many terrorist attacks for which Mohammed takes credit, his confession sets the stage for de facto exoneration of the remaining 550 "enemy combatants" who may now point the finger at him.

And, in her testimony before a Senate committee, the face behind the Libby trial, Valerie Plame Wilson, stated repeatedly that she was a "c" as in covert agent for the CIA working on clandestine operations. What's more, Ms. Wilson insists, her "cover" was blown by Libby and company, thus compromising not merely her job, but her personal security. Clearly, we live at a time in which concerns for "national security" supersede those of personal security.

But, arguably, the most daring use of what has increasingly become an essential, if surly, letter of the alphabet comes in remarks by the "c"hairman of a Senate committee investigating the egregious mis conduct, and abuse of power, in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys whose unprecedented midstream presidential termination has aroused the ire of key Democrats and Republicans alike who are now calling for a "c" as in controversial attorney general to step down.

Importantly, too, at least one high octane Senate democrat, Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, isn't willing to take White House blarney, and has authorized subpoenas for a handful of Justice Department officials. Yes, and Leahy intends to keep going until he reaches the "c" as in commander-in-chief, saying that it is his belief that the attorney general and his deputy "misled" the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is a serious "c"harge. Leahy asserts "Whether it was deliberate or not we're going to have to find out." (CNN) Refusing to be bullied, and humbled by a unitary executive branch, and its claims of executive privilege, the Vermont senator promises that his committee will "subpoena who we want." Good for him, and better for us!

Which brings me, alas, to those "c " words that have been missing in action since the onset of the present regime, one that censors scientific findings, military investigations, as well as the carnage of a cowardly, vindictive war:

Why is it that not merely truth, but "c" as in "character" has been the first casualty of the war in Iraq?

How is it that those who brought us counterfeit phrases like "family values," and "right to life," have usurped our trust in their contempt for the lives of those who struggle to provide food and shelter for their wives and children, those who come home maimed, and disfigured to join the ranks of the homeless, or waste away in dry rot V.A. hospitals ?

What happened to the kind of "c" as in "courage" that inspired the framers of the Declaration of Independence to board the Mayflower, change course, and venture away from "c"oronations to transparent leadership that is answerable to the people; leadership that doesn't hide behind dubious concepts like executive privilege, as well as immunity from charges of war crimes as legitimatized by the Military Commissions Act. What would folks like George Washington, and John Adams have to say about the "right makes might" attitude, and religious intolerance infesting their country today?

When, as a nation, we surrender our collective vision, and voice, we have lost the framework upon which this nation was founded. And, in the memorable words of one of the U.S . pilots involved in what a British inquest has now determined to be the criminal firing on a coalition tank, "We're in jail, dude." There's only one way out, and that is to commit to
"c" as in change.