Jeremy Scahill's new book, "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield," is as approaching a dark cavity in an old tree. One would instinctively say, "I don't wanna go there- there are creepy, crawly things, and, I'm better off not knowing."
Life is filled with shadowy foreboding places, but most Americans are conditioned to look the other way. They defend their ignorance with great vigor, especially as to national security and war.
But reporter Scahill has cared enough to look, probe, poke, peek, and examine the dark hollow of the Global War on Terror.
This book tells the story of the expansion of covert US wars, the abuse of executive privilege, state secrets, and the embrace of unaccountable elite military units who answer only to the White House.
The recent Boston events offer the simplest, but not encouraging answer; not easily. Twelve years of continuous war in which the full extent of US activities are just now being revealed by serious independent journalists as Scahill. Few would deny the vicious cycle from which there appears to be no ready respite.
Scahill's book takes a closer look at two of the most explosive themes. 1) The White House gave the military explicit permission to spy, torture, and assassinate with official cover-up where ever wanted. There were torture chambers where untold numbers of mostly innocent Muslims suffered at the height of these hyper-aggressive counter-terror operations.
Fuse that with 10 years of extra-judicial drone strikes. Then would it be so hard to imagine where these new elements of terror, the freshly minted martyrs and the al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Yemen, Pakistan, North Africa and beyond were coming from?
Iraq could serve as a lab for creating a new kill/ capture machine, centered on JOSC.
This would be held accountable to only a small group of White House, and Pentagon insiders.
In many ways, this was the vision of the war-type Rumsfeld and Cheney longed for. No accountability, maximum secrecy, and total flexibility.
A national magazine asked in 2009 about the responsibility for the torture and abuse allegations raised against Task Force 121 in Iraq, otherwise known as NAMA (Nasty-Ass Military Area).
At Camp NAMA was a "Soft Room" for cooperative and high-ranked detainees, Blue and Red rooms for medium-intensity interrogations. The Black Room was preserved from its days as a torture chamber under Saddam. For good measure, the Task Force kept meat hooks that hung from the ceiling during the Iraqi dictators reign of terror in place for their use. It was here that JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command).
Today, the Global War on Terror has been institutionalized by the Obama White House, using drone, cruise missile, and Special Ops raids. Future US presidents, of either party, will inherit a streamlined process for assassinating enemies American enemies, perceived or real. They will inherit an executive branch with sweeping power, rationalized under the banner of national security.
Author Scahill says,"I think we're living in a world where we're won't be immune to the payback for some of the things we've done. Unless we as a society, completely re-imagine what a national security policy would look like. It would be one that recognizes the dignity of other people around the world to practice their religion or determine their form of government. Unless Americans are willing to do this, they're doomed to see a repeat of a 9/11 attack, or something that's smaller scale, but constant.
Scahill's book tells the story of the expansion of covert wars, the abuse of executive privilege, state secrets, and the embrace of unaccountable elite military units who answer only to the White House. Five hundred and twenty pages later, he concludes with a simple question, "Americans must painfully ask, how does a war like this end."
To counter the down-side of Mr. Scahill's book there should be an up-side. Television, no matter which network, has yea-many minutes of bad stuff, and maybe one eighth good stuff at the end.