American military

George Milhous Bush

Last week the Bush administration reached its Nixonian climax, as CIA director Michael Hayden confirmed that the government had nearly drowned some people on purpose using techniques that American military men have long known as torture. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the Department of Justice could not investigate these alleged crimes. White House spokesman Tony Fratto explained why the President may authorize them again. Vice President Dick Cheney declared them a good thing.

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Blind Liberation

The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace By Ali A. Allawi (Yale University Press, 518 pp., $28)   Say what you will about the American experience in Vietnam, that war was well written. A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan had a character who could have stepped out of the pages of Graham Greene. John Paul Vann was an even more arresting figure than Alden Pyle in The Quiet American. "The odds, he said, did not apply to him," Sheehan wrote of the unforgettable man who embodied the war'shubris and the war's undoing.

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The Situation (Shadow) Mafioso (Rialto) A few months ago, the American documentarian James Longley gave us Iraq in Fragments, which looked under the big news stories to some strands of Iraqi life, less about the war than about living. Now Philip Haas, the American director of such intelligent fiction films as The Music of Chance and Angels and Insects, has made a sort of companion piece to Longley's film, called THE SITUATION. This is the first picture that, fictional though it is, tries to deal with some realities of the Iraq war itself. Familiarly, the first casualty of war is truth: Haas tr

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Military Offensive

10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military Edited by Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg (The New Press, 128 pp., $14.95) Click here to purchase the book. When it comes down to it, military recruiters are salespeople, and like good car salesmen, good military recruiters conceal the downsides of their product. Of course with military recruitment the ante is upped: Being swindled into buying a lemon will set you back a chunk of change; a bad experience in the military will lead someplace worse than an auto mechanic's waiting room.

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For a return visitor, Baghdad International Airport offers a fitting portal into the new Iraq. Unlike the military side of the airport, where U.S. transport planes and helicopters operate in an industrious roar, the civilian side, which USAID renovated in 2003, now languishes in disrepair. Iraqi Airways flights, on which it was possible to light up a cigarette until recently, still come and go. But, in the terminal itself, the rest room floors are smeared with excrement, wires hang from the ceiling, and pay phones have been ripped from the walls. An emblem of war and poverty? Not really.

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Island Mentality

Guantnamo Bay, Cuba The detainee, by all appearances, is resigned to his fate. Throughout his hearing, he remains stoic, not once even shifting in his chair, let alone jostling the restraints that bind his wrists and ankles. His tan jumpsuit indicates his compliance with the camp guards. (The infamous orange jumpsuits are reserved for "problem" detainees.) When the panel of American military officers asks if he wants to submit additional statements on his behalf, he declines.

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Officer Politics

Merrill "Tony" McPeak doesn't like George W. Bush. But it's more than that. McPeak has contempt for the president, which he freely expresses. Speaking from his home in Oregon, the John Kerry partisan describes Bush in terms usually employed by the likes of MoveOn.org. "Not even his best friends would accuse this president of having ideas," McPeak says. Mild stuff in the age of Michael Moore. Except that McPeak's first name is General. The former Air Force chief of staff is not the only general describing the president in such vivid terms.

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by Jeffrey Rosen

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Noise Pollution

In the weeks leading up to the October 12 bombing in Bali, warnings of pending terror flooded U.S. intelligence channels. Analysts from the National Security Agency (NSA), the CIA, and the FBI combed through threats suggesting that car-bomb attacks, hijackings, and kidnappings were planned against Americans on three continents. The volume of electronic and telephonic communications--what intelligence professionals call "chatter"--between assumed Al Qaeda operatives spiked in late September.

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  It's five miles from Northern Virginia, where the Pentagon sets military targets, and a mile and a half from Foggy Bottom, where the State Department cobbles together coalitions. To look at it, you'd never guess that the ten-story glass-and-steel building at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and T Street, nestled amid the town houses and cafes of Dupont Circle, serves as one of the headquarters for the U.S. propaganda war against terrorism. If it doesn't look like a government office building, that's because it's not. Rather, it houses a public relations firm called The Rendon Group.

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