I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Friday, June 16, 2006

More U.S. generals "surrender" - Specter's schizophrenia - book tour update

(1) Ever since Americans turned against the war in Iraq, proponents of the invasion have been desperate to find others on whom they could heap blame. Increasingly, they have been attacking American military leaders (i.e., those who actually have waged the war, rather than cheered it on from afar) as being insufficiently brave and resolute. Today, one of those fearless warriors, National Review's Michael Ledeen, shares with us a letter he wrote to General Michael Hagee, the Commandant of Marine Corps, in which Ledeen excoriates Gen. Hagee for taking action against the Marines responsible for the Haidatha massacre and for condemning the murder-celebrating Marine music video:

I'm dismayed by your recent behavior. . . .

It seems to me an outrage for you to brief the likes of Congressman Murtha before the investigation was complete, and even then you should have told him to wait, to let justice take its course.

It seems to me an outrage for you to reinforce the utterly false notion that your Marines are out of control by zooming off to Iraq to deliver sermons on proper ethics. . . .

This sort of preemptive surrender inevitably has a bad effect on the morale of the Corps, and does nothing to deter future political attacks. You have gained nothing except the contempt of the Corps' enemies, who know that if they can destroy the unique image of U.S. Marines, they will have taken a giant step toward defeating us in the current war.

So, Michael Ledeen, sitting in his office, accuses Gen. Hagee of "surrender" and helping "the Corps' enemies," whose goal is to "defeat us in the current war." And he thinks it's particularly outrageous that Gen. Hagee would consult with "the likes of John Murtha," a coward and traitor if ever there was one. If Hagee wants to talk about Marine discipline issues, he should do it with military heroes like Charles Krauthammer, Victor Davis Hanson and Ledeen, not "with the likes of" anti-military freaks like Murtha, who knows nothing about the Marines.

Ledeen obviously believes that Gen. Hagee needs an infusion of courage and a lecture on military values from the real warriors like Ledeen -- quite redolent of the time recently when Glenn Reynolds told us how no unique bravery is required to fight in combat; the true heroes are those who (like Reynolds, and Ledeen) exhibit "political courage."

It really is striking how so many war advocates insist that all sorts of military Generals and combat veterans are weak, spineless, and cowardly, and whose lack of fortitude aids our enemies. All of that is in contrast, of course, to the bravery and towering resolve of the war advocates, who alone are strong and brave enough to stand tall against our enemies, both foreign and domestic. Nobody has waged as vicious and limitless attacks on the character, integrity and bravery of American veterans and soldiers as the war proponents looking for people to blame for their own shortcomings and failures.

(2) Arlen Specter's schizophrenic relationship with the administration -- one minute he threatens them, the next he offers them full immunity for prior criminal behavior, and then threatens them again -- continues today:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter cranked up his dispute with the Bush administration over executive power on Thursday, threatening to subpoena documents on the White House's warrantless surveillance program.

Specter said he had not received a response to his request that Attorney General appear before the panel this month to answer questions about the surveillance program and other touchy subjects — such as the FBI raid on a lawmaker's office last month. "I will ask for authorization for a subpoena if we do not get an adequate response," Specter told the committee. . . .

The Pennsylvania Republican, who won the administration's goodwill by ushering two of its nominees onto the Supreme Court in the last year, has engaged in an increasingly tense standoff with the White House over matters he believes could amount to abuses of executive power.

We're all aware of Sen. Specter's shortcomings, lack of resolve, character flaws, inevitable inability to follow through on his rhetoric, etc. But as I have pointed out before, I would really like to know which Senator other than Feingold has done more to cause these issues to be kept in the spotlight and prevented these scandals from being quickly swept under the rug. As horrendous as I find Specter's behavior, it's difficult -- and, I think, inaccurate -- to depict him as the root of the problem unless one is able to point to other Senators who are doing what you think Specter should be doing. Other than Feingold, I don't know of any. While Specter does nothing more than make noise about the administration's abuses of presidential power, at least he does that. That stands in sharp, and I believe rather favorable, contrast to most other Senators, in both parties.

(3) The book events I have been attending for this entire book tour have been uniformly superb - well-attended and filled with people who are genuinely interested in the issues discussed on this blog and in my book, and highly knowledgeable about them. That makes for truly enlightening discussions about the administration's unique abuses of power and the ways in which Americans can invent ways to check those abuses, particularly in light of the profound dysfunction and failures of our institutions which are supposed to be doing that -- our Congress, courts and national media.

The next event, which I anticipate will be excellent, is this Saturday night in Manhattan, beginning at 8:00 p.m., at the Upper West Side YMCA (The George Washington Lounge -- 5 W. 63rd St. (between CPW & Broadway)). I am speaking as part of the Writer's Speakers Series, and a substantial part of the event will be the question-and-answer/discussion session after I speak. I hope as many blog readers who live in or near NYC can attend.

On Monday (June 19), I will be on the Al Franken Show at 1:30 p.m., and then in Philadelphia that night for a Drinking Liberally event (whose events for the book have been uniformly superb). It's from 6:00-8:00 p.m, at Higher Grounds Cafe -- 631 North 3rd St.Philadelphia, PA 19123.

(4) Peter Daou reports that Karl Rove hilariously complained about the "hate and anger" which liberal bloggers are devoted to spreading, and analyzes those attacks in the context of the media's truly reverent treatment of Ann Coulter, that grand literary genius and political analyst. As always, Peter's media analysis is astute and unique.

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