OK

Geraldo Rivera's asshattery is certainly not news, but a statement he made about Michael Hastings one day after his death, and some of the responses to it are newsworthy.

Let's keep in mind the history of General Stanley McChrystal while we do it, shall we?





Update:  More responses

Of Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Blackwater (UPDATED)

Given McChrystal's alleged involvement in the torture of detainees at Camp Nama in Iraq, his primary role in the cover-up of Pat Tillman's death and other dark acts involving his time commanding the Joint Special Operations Command under the Bush-Cheney administration, McChrystal should have never been named commander in Afghanistan. When he was appointed, Obama sent a message about the kind of policy he wanted in Afghanistan--one which favored unaccountable, unattributable direct action forces accustomed to operating in secret and away from effective oversight. Indeed, in the Rolling Stone article, McChrystal appeared to admit his famous commitment to decreasing civilian deaths was a sham operation. According to Rolling Stone: "'You better be out there hitting four or five targets tonight,' McChrystal will tell a Navy Seal he sees in the hallway at headquarters. Then he'll add, 'I'm going to have to scold you in the morning for it, though.'"

 President Obama was right to fire McChrystal (technically he accepted his resignation)--it should have happened long ago. That McChrystal was fired for the Rolling Stone article, however, and not for the way he prosecuted the Afghan war speaks volumes about the administration's Afghanistan position and policy vision (not to mention that Dick Cheney's general, David Petraeus, was named as McChrystal's successor).
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There's no doubt, under the Uniform Code of Military Conduct, McChrystal was rightly relieved of his duties. But in the end, it was McChrystal's words--not his actions--that sunk his ship. Blackwater's ship of misconduct, crime and murder will apparently sail on for the foreseeable future, at least until their words, instead of their bullets, strike the wrong people.

The Secret US War in Pakistan

While JSOC has long played a central role in US counterterrorism and covert operations, military and civilian officials who worked at the Defense and State Departments during the Bush administration described in interviews with The Nation an extremely cozy relationship that developed between the executive branch (primarily through Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld) and JSOC. During the Bush era, Special Forces turned into a virtual stand-alone operation that acted outside the military chain of command and in direct coordination with the White House. Throughout the Bush years, it was largely General McChrystal who ran JSOC. "What I was seeing was the development of what I would later see in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Special Operations forces would operate in both theaters without the conventional commander even knowing what they were doing," said Colonel Wilkerson. "That's dangerous, that's very dangerous. You have all kinds of mess when you don't tell the theater commander what you're doing."

Wilkerson said that almost immediately after assuming his role at the State Department under Colin Powell, he saw JSOC being politicized and developing a close relationship with the executive branch. He saw this begin, he said, after his first Delta Force briefing at Fort Bragg. "I think Cheney and Rumsfeld went directly into JSOC. I think they went into JSOC at times, perhaps most frequently, without the SOCOM [Special Operations] commander at the time even knowing it. The receptivity in JSOC was quite good," says Wilkerson. "I think Cheney was actually giving McChrystal instructions, and McChrystal was asking him for instructions." He said the relationship between JSOC and Cheney and Rumsfeld "built up initially because Rumsfeld didn't get the responsiveness. He didn't get the can-do kind of attitude out of the SOCOM commander, and so as Rumsfeld was wont to do, he cut him out and went straight to the horse's mouth. At that point you had JSOC operating as an extension of the [administration] doing things the executive branch--read: Cheney and Rumsfeld--wanted it to do. This would be more or less carte blanche. You need to do it, do it. It was very alarming for me as a conventional soldier."

Exclusive Excerpt: The Operators by Michael Hastings
McChrystal, Petraeus and the inside story of America's war in Afghanistan
by MICHAEL HASTINGS
JANUARY 03, 2012

We started talking about larger issues within the media, which I felt he was in a unique position to discuss. McChrystal was a spokesperson at the Pentagon during the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, his first na­tional exposure to the public.

“We co-opted the media on that one,” he said. “You could see it com­ing. There were a lot of us who didn’t think Iraq was a good idea.”

Co-opted the media. I almost laughed. Even the military’s former Pen­tagon spokesperson realized—at the time, no less—how massively they were manipulating the press. The ex–White House spokesperson, Scott McClellan, had said the same thing: The press had been “complicit en­ablers” before the Iraq invasion, failing in their “watchdog role, focusing less on truth and accuracy and more on whether the campaign [to sell the war] was succeeding.”

I rattled off a few names of other journalists. I named the writer who’d just done the profile on him for The Atlantic, Robert Kaplan.

“Totally co-opted by the military,” he said.

In Secret Unit's 'Black Room,' a Grim Portrait of U.S. Abuse

The secrecy surrounding the highly classified unit has helped to shield its conduct from public scrutiny. The Pentagon will not disclose the unit's precise size, the names of its commanders, its operating bases or specific missions. Even the task force's name changes regularly to confuse adversaries, and the courts-martial and other disciplinary proceedings have not identified the soldiers in public announcements as task force members.

General Brown's command declined requests for interviews with several former task force members and with Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who leads the Joint Special Operations Command, the headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C., that supplies the unit's most elite troops.
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In the summer of 2004, Camp Nama closed and the unit moved to a new headquarters in Balad, 45 miles north of Baghdad. The unit's operations are now shrouded in even tighter secrecy.

Soon after their rank-and-file clashed in 2004, D.I.A. officials in Washington and military commanders at Fort Bragg agreed to improve how the task force integrated specialists into its ranks. The D.I.A. is now sending small teams of interrogators, debriefers and case officers, called "deployable Humint teams," to work with Special Operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senior military commanders insist that the elite warriors, who will be relied on more than ever in the campaign against terrorism, are now treating detainees more humanely and can police themselves. The C.I.A. has resumed conducting debriefings with the task force, but does not permit harsh questioning, a C.I.A. official said.

General McChrystal, the leader of the Joint Special Operations Command, received his third star in a promotion ceremony at Fort Bragg on March 13.

Acts of Conscience

It was a point of pride that the Red Cross would never be allowed in the door, Jeff says. This is important because it defied the Geneva Conventions, which require that the Red Cross have access to military prisons. "Once, somebody brought it up with the colonel. 'Will they ever be allowed in here?' And he said absolutely not. He had this directly from General McChrystal and the Pentagon that there's no way that the Red Cross could get in — they won't have access and they never will. This facility was completely closed off to anybody investigating, even Army investigators."
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To Garlasco, this is significant. This means that a full-bird colonel and all his support staff knew exactly what was going on at Camp Nama. "Do you know where the colonel was getting his orders from?" he asks.

Jeff answers quickly, perhaps a little defiantly. "I believe it was a two-star general. I believe his name was General McChrystal. I saw him there a couple of times."

Guardian Lays Out Details of How Petraeus Organized Death Squads in Iraq

Yesterday, the Guardian published an article detailing how the US turned to the use of death squads in Iraq to quell the rise of Sunni militias. The article provides convincing evidence that this was an intentional policy and was in fact a central tenet of David Petraeus’ often-praised counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy. The key person in the Guardian’s reporting is James Steele, who was a veteran in organizing Central American death squads on behalf of the US during the Reagan years.
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Here’s the opening of the Guardian article:

The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents.
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Via email, my friend Kirk pointed out this report from Newsweek back in early 2005 where the concept of the Salvador option was floated openly by the Bush administration
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The most disgusting aspect of this apparent “trial balloon” floated by the Bush administration is that the program quite possibly was already underway when the Newsweek article came out. The Guardian article reminds us that Petraeus, the architect of this program,  was sent to Iraq in June of 2004 (this was his second deployment to Iraq) to begin training Iraqis, and the Newsweek article wasn’t published until January of 2005. Steele, who was reporting directly to Rumsfeld, first went to Iraq in 2003 (Rumsfeld delighted in running his own people separately from the chain of command; he did this at times with McChrystal as well).
Guardian documentary that accompanies the investigative journalism referenced above.
James Steele: America's mystery man in Iraq - Full Documentary
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