Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Obama channeling Bush and Nixon on Afghan leaks

The Obama Administration's reaction to the Wikileaks publication of Afghan war documents has a familiar ring to it. The reactions are almost verbatim responses to that of the Bush White House as revelations that the Bush Administration might have lied the country into the Iraq war. And the Obama White House, just for good measure has added responses almost identical to those of the Nixon White House when the Pentagon Papers were published which, like the Afghan documents, also showed that the Vietnam war was going badly.

During the Iraq war every time new evidence contradicted Bush administration assertions, we were told that "this is nothing new". Every time evidence emerged that showed fabrication and dishonesty about Iraq we were told the information was "nothing new".And the press, as always, swallowed it. And they still are. Many news organizations are reporting the Afghan war documents are "nothing new". What isnt new are journalists again not doing their jobs and bowing to an administration as they did with Bush for 8 years.

The initial White House response to the revelations in the Wikileaks documents was virtually the same as the Bush White House on Iraq. In his press briefing Robert Gibbs said, "there weren't any new revelations in the material.". Time Magazine reported that Gibbs repeated the phrase four times during his press briefing. It is hard to believe that anyone in the White House had the opportunity to go through 91,000 documents and conclude there was nothing new. And the same is true of those of the press ( like the LA Times for one) who simply played "Polly wants a cracker" and just repeated Gibbs assertions.
In a press conference, Defense Secretary Gates seemed to undermine Robert Gibbs ho-hum-nothing new characterizations of the leaks by claiming they were serious, were appalling, outrageous, could undermine relationships within Afghanistan and for good measure, General Mullen added that the leakers could have blood on their hands.
And upon learning that Wikileaks had 15,000 more documents Gibbs said on the Today Show that all the government could do was "implore" Wikileaks not to publish the documents and "further damage US security". How documents that Gibbs had said contained "nothing new" could damage "further damage" US national security he didnt say. And naturally he wasn't asked.

During the Vietnam war, when the Pentagon Papers were published, the Nixon Administration responded angrily calling their publication illegal, a breach of national security and they tried to publicly discredit Daniel Ellsberg, the man who gave the documents to the NY Times.

The Obama Administration is doing the same. Obama angrily denounced the disclosure as illegal, and a breach of national security in publishing classifed documents, and the White House is also trying to discredit Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks and the person responsible for posting the documents.

It should be remembered that Nixon's attempts to discredit Ellsberg turned illegal by sending in a covert White House team to break into Ellsbergs psychiatrists office to find information that they could use to discredit Ellsberg. That indirectly led to the Watergate abuses and Nixon's resignation.

So far some Democrats in congress and the White House itself are sounding more like the Bush and Nixon White Houses and their Republican defenders. On one hand the Obama Administration is trying to minimize the documents by saying they contain "nothing new". On the other hand they rail against their illegality and worry about the impact on their policy and Obama's political standing, already weak and growing weaker and try to discredit the person who made them public.

Like Nixon in Vietnam and Bush in Iraq, Obama's policy is going badly. It is not only going badly it isnt even honest. Obama promised to start bringing the surge forces home next July. One of the major differences that McCrystal had with Obama, something the news media glossed over when McChrystal was replaced, is that the general felt it would take 10 years to accomplish the objectives he set out, not one. And Karzai has said that he thinks it would take until 2014 before Afghanistan would be able to take over the military fight against the Taliban.
So the question becomes, both politically and in policy decisions about the war, with the similiarities between Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam growing, is Obama going to learn from history or is he doomed to repeat it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TRANSPARENCY DESPITE Obummer's perennial reneging!