Sunday, December 03, 2006

Editorial: Return of the Toad, Robert Gates

"War planning should be done with the understanding that postmajor-combat phase of operations can be crucial. If confirmed, I intend to improve the department's capabilities in that area."

David S. Cloud reported ("In Statement, Defense Pick Is Critical of Iraq Planning," A24, November 29th, New York Times) Robert Gates answered his Senate questionnaire thusly. He also added that knowing what he knows now, "I might have done some things differently" had he been Defense Secretary. He might have?

The gas bagging and feel good crap over the election appears to be finally winding down but it may be too late as Gates' confirmation hearing arrives this week. (Pacifica will carry it live and KPFA is one of the stations that will be broadcasting it, start to finish.) [Jess note: info on the broadcast at the end of this editorial.]

Who is Robert Gates? Well, as far as anyone knows, he wasn't involved in ABSCAM so possibly that's why so much of independent media has taken a pass on him.

We heard one reporter say that Gates had an image now and his being confirmed would be fine because he wouldn't do anything to jeporadize that image.

Now being key. Now he wouldn't, the reporter offered.

Not much time to dwell on what had happened before because, as we were informed, " Look, you can spend a lot of time going over the past. . . Bob Gates was certainly in the middle of this, but I'll tell you right now, the issue for Gates, if you want to worry about the past, worry about the past. The issue for Gates now is, is he going to throw -- President of a major University, he's written a memoir, he's come out of it with his reputation pretty much intact, is he going to throw it away, by going into the tank?"

Heaven forbid we should worry about the past. It's not like it has any connection to today, right?

Wrong. Robert Parry's owned this story and that's partly due to the fact that he knows it better than any other reporter but it's also due to the fact that so little have bothered to weigh in. (Ray McGovern and Mel Goodman, whom we don't think of as reporters or journalists and doubt they do either, have addressed it seriously. Amy Goodman hosted a segment on this with Mel Goodman and Robert Parry as guests, click here.)

If you've been awake any in the last six years and are even slightly aware of Iran-Contra, you've no doubt noticed that the same players pop up in Bully Boy's circle. So wouldn't Robert Gates' actions during Iran-Contra be worth exploring?

Robert Parry thinks so (we agree) and has pretty much focused solely on the issue (at Consortium News) since the announcement. Parry's most recent piece, "Bob Gates & Locking You Up Forever," begins:

As the next Defense Secretary, Robert M. Gates will be in charge of a new star-chamber legal system that can lock up indefinitely "unlawful enemy combatants" and "any person" accused of aiding them. Yet, despite these extraordinary new powers, his confirmation is being treated more like a coronation than a time for tough questions.
Not since 2003 when Secretary of State Colin Powell wowed Official Washington with his United Nations speech on Iraq's WMD has there been such an awed consensus about any public figure as there has been for former CIA Director Gates, who is almost universally praised for his intelligence, experience and down-to-earth style.
But there are serious unresolved questions about Gates's past that the American people might want resolved before he is entrusted with the awesome new powers that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 puts in the hands of the Defense Secretary.

These American people would like to see them addressed. We'd also like someone to explain to us why CIA is heading to the Defense Department with little outrage over that since, during Vietnam and prior, the Defense Department was illegally spying as much as the CIA and FBI.

Now what's the popular, conventional wisdom that the administration pushes and many lap up on how the illegal war with Iraq started? Faulty intel. It was all the fault of faulty intell. If that's the excuse they're going to push, should they really be pushing Gates for Secretary of Defense when he politicized the CIA under the leadership of William J. Casey? [See Robert Parry's Lost History, pages 273-277.] Is the person who shut down discussions on the USSR and wanted only the worst (least verifable) info to go through the pipeline really someone who should be trusted as the new Secretary of Defense?

The idea that someone wouldn't risk their image ('throw it in the tank") depends upon many things including whether they fear being caught? Since Gates walked away with little damage from Iran-Contra and other events, it's not as though he's the child who's learned not to touch fire. In fact, it's very likely that the lesson he internalized from his previous era is that he can get away with pretty much anything?

Maybe, like one reporter, history's just not your bag? Read over the statements at the top of this entry.

Three years after the illegal war, he thinks he might, knowing how it all turned out, do some things differently if he were the Secretary of Defense. He might. David S. Cloud uses the term "obliquely." That's a nice way to putting it.

Donald the Rumsfled is gone for a reason. The way the mainstream press works is that new appointees get a honeymoon. Since Gates is already a DC insider, it could be a very lengthy one if confirmed. If confirmed, by his statements, we'll have someone who might, maybe, possibly, with three years of hindsight, do some things a little differently than Rumsfeld did . . . maybe. That's cause for members of Congress to roll over and fall asleep on the job?

As Robert Parry's noted, Gates has never been forced to answer certain questions and the hearing should be about him answering questions and being confronted with past responses and evidence that refutes his past responses.

In Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair write, "Bush's choise to head the [Central Intelligence] Agency was Casey's deputy Robert Gates, who barely survived a contentious confirmation hearing after senators were told by Iran/Contra prosecutor Lawrence Walsh's investigators that Gates probably lied to Congress about his knowledge of the Iran/Contra arms deals. Gates stood by as CIA-trained thugs overthrew the government of Haitian president Jean Baptiste Aristide and replaced him with a gang of military officers headed by Gen. Raoul Cedras. Gates called Cedras one of the most promising 'Haitian leaders to emerge since the Duvalier family dictatorship was overthrown in 1986.' Cedras and his colleagues proceeded to slaughter their political enemies and make millions from the drug trade" (p. 109).

So to put this into perspective, he "probably lied to Congress" before. And he's being considered for a position where Congress will need to depend upon his testimony and some people think this is a good thing?

Gates doesn't need to be confirmed and shouldn't be. He's a newer Rumsfeld and there's a reason Rumsfeld is finally gone. It their plate hadn't been full already with gas bagging about the elections and launching an assassination on Jack Murtha, independent media might have been able to address this. When independent media drops the ball, we all suffer.
Added by Jess. Community member Zach passed this announcement on to C.I. regarding KPFA's Tuesday broadcast and the time is PST:
Tuesday, December 5th, 06:00am
Live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Robert Gates Secretary of Defense confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. With Larry Bensky, Aaron Glantz and our guest experts.
You can listen over the airwaves or you can listen online. No registration and no fee to listen online. Nor any "word from our sponsors."
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