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PARIS, THE NEW NORMAL? — Diana Johnstone files an in-depth report from Paris on the political reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shootings; The Treachery of the Black Political Class: Margaret Kimberley charts the rise and fall of the Congressional Black Caucus; The New Great Game: Pepe Escobar assays the game-changing new alliance between Russia and Turkey; Will the Frackers Go Bust? Joshua Frank reports on how the collapse of global oil prices might spell the end of the fracking frenzy in the Bakken Shale; The Future of the Giraffe: Ecologist Monica Bond reports from Tanzania on the frantic efforts to save one of the world’s most iconic species. Plus: Jeffrey St. Clair on Satire in the Service of Power; Chris Floyd on the Age of Terrorism and Absurdity; Mike Whitney on the Drop Dead Fed; John Wight on the rampant racism of Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper;” John Walsh on Hillary Clinton and Lee Ballinger on the Gift of Anger.
Ruling By Decree

The Fraud of the War on Terror

by JACOB G. HORNBERGER

Immediately after he denounced Fidel Castro for being a dictator, President Bush unilaterally decreed new sanctions against Iran, moving the United States closer to war against Iran. Would someone please tell me how it is that Bush exercises such omnipotent power, without even a peep from both Congress and the mainstream press? How is he able to take such serious and ominous action against a sovereign and independent country without going to Congress for permission? Weren’t we taught in civics classes in our public schools that Congress enacts the laws, the president enforces them, and the judiciary interprets them? How can the president now rule by decree, enacting and enforcing laws whenever he wants, especially ones that are likely to send our nation into war? How is that different from what a dictator does?

Bush also recently labeled a branch of the Iranian military, the elite Quds unit, to be a "terrorist" organization, again without congressional approval. That seems to me to be a rather ridiculous notion. Either the Iranian government is a terrorist organization or it’s not. To separate out a branch of the Iranian government for being a terrorist organization makes as much sense as saying that the CIA and the Pentagon, but not the U.S. government, are terrorist organizations.

Consider, for example, Syria. It’s a country whose regime has been labeled "terrorist" by the U.S. government. That’s why President Bush says that he won’t talk to Syria, which is itself an odd claim, given that the CIA cut a secret deal with Syria to torture a Canadian citizen named Maher Arar. The deal was cut after the CIA kidnapped Arar on American soil and whisked him off to Syria for torture pursuant to the deal that the CIA cut with Syria.

But maybe President Bush is deliberately lying when he says the U.S. government won’t talk to Syria because maybe he’s thinking the same thing about the CIA as he apparently does about Iran’s Qud unit – that the CIA is a separate and independent organization bearing no real relationship to the U.S. government.

Yet, implicitly conceding that the CIA is a core part of the U.S. government yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a congressional hearing that "We do not think the case was handled as it should have been." According to MSNBC, "When asked whether the United States relied on diplomatic assurances from Syria that the engineer, Maher Arar, would not be tortured, Rice said she would respond later because her memory of certain details ‘has faded a bit.’"

Unfortunately, like the mainstream press, the members of Congress missed the opportunity to ask Rice the critical questions: How is it that the CIA cut a torture deal with a terrorist state that President Bush says the U.S. government hasn’t talked to? Who was the CIA official who cut the deal? Who was the Syrian official with whom he cut the deal? Was the deal put into writing? What were the exact terms of the deal? Were the means of torture agreed upon? Did they agree that Arar would remain incarcerated for a year? Was President Bush aware of the deal prior to the time it was cut, and if so, wouldn’t that mean that President Bush has been lying to the American people about not talking to Syria? What are the implications, moral and otherwise, of cutting a torture deal with a regime that President Bush says is a terrorist organization and with whom he says the U.S. government hasn’t talked to?

All this just goes to show what a fraud and a sham the "war on terrorism" is and how it is nothing more than a cover for the U.S. government’s own wrongful conduct.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.