Military

By Alex Fitzsimmons | April 26, 2011 | 4:21 PM EDT

The New York Times offered a distorted glimpse into the prison at Guantanamo Bay and the Bush administration's treatment of suspected terrorists in a series of reports published on Sunday and Monday.

Scouring hundreds of leaked military documents, Times reporters used emotionally-charged phrases and cherry-picked anecdotes to paint an unflattering picture of the facility that has jailed hundreds of enemy combatants captured in the War on Terror.

By Mark Finkelstein | April 25, 2011 | 6:23 PM EDT

Chrystia Freeland has called the US prison system an "American Gulag Archipelago."  The Global Editor-at-Large of Reuters made her comment during today's Dylan Ratigan show on MSNBC.  

The context was a discussion of the recent WikiLeaks document dump about Gitmo, but Freeland was clearly speaking of the domestic US prison system, not our military prisons.  Ratigan picked up on her theme, saying we could cut our prison costs in half if marijuana were legalized.

View video after the jump.

By Mark Finkelstein | April 20, 2011 | 10:19 AM EDT

Call him a NOW-hawk . . .

Of all the reasons to send our people to fight and die in Afghanistan, spending $2 billion per week in the process, Howard Dean has managed to come up with perhaps the worst: feminism.

On today's Morning Joe, Dean explained that "the whole reason" he used to support President Obama's waging of the Afghanistan war was that leaving the country would plunge its women back into "the Stone Age."  But now that Afghan President Karzai has showed insufficient support for women's right in Dean's eyes, it's time to get out.

View video after the jump.

By Matt Hadro | April 19, 2011 | 1:45 PM EDT

Former Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez is expected to be a Democratic contender in the Texas 2012 Senate race. However, when Politico's Mike Allen brought news of his probable candidacy to MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Monday,  he omitted the fact that Sanchez commanded the U.S. ground forces in Iraq while the infamous abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison took place.

Sanchez, when he retired from the Army in November of 2006,  told a local paper that the Abu Ghraib scandal was "the sole reason" he was forced to retire. The scandal occurred in the summer and fall of 2003, and involved humiliations, beatings, and sexual abuse of prisoners at the hands of U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Sanchez was the commander of coalition forces in Iraq during that time.
 

By Clay Waters | April 18, 2011 | 4:20 PM EDT

New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller’s latest Sunday magazine column, “Team America,” asks in the subhead: “Less than a decade after invading Iraq, the U.S. has rediscovered its missionary spirit. Should we be troubled by this?” Keller is not completely on board with Obama on what’s shaping up as “regime change” in Libya. But he also claimed that as editor he doesn’t take stands for or against wars, whether they are “old” wars in Iraq or “new ones in Libya.” A 2007 speech suggests differently. Keller wrote on Sunday:

 
Eight years ago, when I was an Op-Ed columnist for this paper, I aligned myself with something I called the I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-a-Hawk Club -- baby boomers whose distrust of foreign intervention, forged during the bloody mess of Vietnam, was tempered by the noble rescue of Bosnia and Kosovo, leading to a grudging sympathy for the invasion of Iraq. I’m sure the Bush administration did not need permission from the East Coast pundit chorus to go to war, but it was a high-water mark of the missionary impulse.

....

As editor of The Times, I don’t take stands for or against wars, old ones in Iraq or new ones in Libya, lest my opinions be mistaken for the guiding doctrine of our news coverage. But it’s fair to say the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan underscores the value of a certain humility about our ability to shape history.

By Ken Shepherd | April 15, 2011 | 2:54 PM EDT

Robert Redford's "The Conspirator" is a thinly-veiled political allegory warning against the danger of trying terrorists in military tribunals. And that's why his movie about the military trial of Lincoln assassination conspirator Mary Surratt is problematic.

That's not me talking, that's Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday in her April 15 movie review:

By Mark Finkelstein | April 14, 2011 | 9:03 PM EDT

Cenk Uygur can't figure out why accused Army leaker Bradley Manning isn't being treated like a "hero".  Seriously.

Uygur's guest on his MSNBC show this evening was P.J. Crowley, the former State Department spokesman who was forced out of his post for publicly criticizing the treatment of Manning while in detention awaiting trial.

Cenk whined as to why Manning isn't being accorded the "hero" treatment that Daniel Ellsberg received from some for his leak of the Pentagon Papers back in the Vietnam day.  But P.J. presumably surprised Cenk, strongly supporting the prosecution of Manning, saying he "caused damage to the United States and our interests around that world," and that his "prosecution is quite necessary."

View video after the jump.

By Matt Hadro | April 11, 2011 | 3:49 PM EDT

Just hours before a last-minute deal was struck between Republicans and Democrats to prevent a government shutdown, CNN's Eliot Spitzer did some politicking of his own on Friday's "In the Arena."

The former Democrat governor of New York interviewed the wife of an army private and delved into the family's medical and financial information – a rather awkward spectacle – all to make the case against a government shutdown and cast a bad light on House Speaker Boehner's position on budget cuts.

After playing the father's good-bye message to his own family as he was leaving for Iraq, Spitzer thought that "John Boehner would cry if he saw that, no doubt," making an extra jab at the House Speaker's emotional temperament. "That's what he should be crying about, those army families not getting paid," Spitzer added for good measure.
 

By Clay Waters | April 6, 2011 | 9:47 AM EDT

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist, newly minted war-monger. On March 24 the Iraq war dove claimed the U.S. was being welcomed as liberators in Libya. On Sunday he applauded what the column’s text box admitted was “our inconsistent intervention in Libya,” headlined with a bleeding-heart plea: “Is It Better to Save No One?” He even called for "a SWAT team of Libyans and coalition forces" to swoop down and seize Qaddafi for trial in The Hague.

Critics from left and right are jumping all over President Obama for his Libyan intervention, arguing that we don’t have an exit plan, that he hasn’t articulated a grand strategy, that our objectives are fuzzy, that Islamists could gain strength. And those critics are all right.

But let’s back up a moment and recognize a larger point: Mr. Obama and other world leaders did something truly extraordinary, wonderful and rare: they ordered a humanitarian intervention that saved thousands of lives and that even Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s closest aides seem to think will lead to his ouster.

By Matthew Balan | April 5, 2011 | 6:55 PM EDT

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston touted Attorney General Eric Holder's reluctance to give detainees at Guantanamo Bay military trials during a segment on Monday's All Things Considered. Temple-Raston and host Michele Norris only featured sound bites from the Justice Department head, omitting clips from supporters of the military tribunals.

Norris began by noting the Obama administration's "major reversal" in their decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 suspects in military court. After playing a clip from Attorney General Holder's recent press conference, where he announced the move, the host turned to the correspondent and recounted how " in late 2009...Holder announced that these five conspirators will be tried in New York City in a civilian trial. So today's decision officially reverses that."

Temple-Raston, who conducted a sting operation against U.S. border agents earlier in 2011 by wearing a headscarf and posing as Muslim woman, mainly acted as stenographer for the attorney general, though she did acknowledge the mismanagement of the rollout for the civilian trials plan:

By Clay Waters | March 30, 2011 | 3:15 PM EDT

Barack Obama, war president?

The Times’s chief online political reporter Michael Shear gave the president, who ran on an anti-war platform, some militant reelection advice in his Wednesday morning “Caucus” post, “The Case for Obama Campaigning as a Foreign Policy President.”

In the past several weeks, events outside the United States have commanded as much of Mr. Obama’s attention as the nation’s domestic concerns. The upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa have provided a fresh reminder that the Oval Office is occupied by the nation’s commander in chief.

That alone might not be enough to displace the economy as the No. 1 issue for Mr. Obama. But as the president’s top advisers survey the field of potential Republican rivals in 2012, one other fact is glaring: Almost none of them have any serious foreign policy credentials.

By Matt Hadro | March 28, 2011 | 1:50 PM EDT

During Monday's "Morning Joe," Time's Mark Halperin and co-host Mika Brzezinski helpfully provided some spin for the White House to borrow as President Obama finishes his prepared remarks for Monday evening's address to the nation on the events in Libya.

President Obama has received sharp criticism for his foreign policy concerning Egypt and Libya, but Halperin threw cold water on that, calling Obama's strategy "extremely deft in a very tough situation." Brzezinski agreed with his premise, adding that his "deft" handling is also in accord with promises he previously made.

"He's pro-democracy, right? He's anti-violence. He's anti-unilateral U.S. intervention," Halperin noted of Obama, trying to connect his current policy with the peacemaker he claimed to be as a presidential candidate.

(Video below the jump. Comments begin at the 12:30 mark.)