Commentary

Epicenter of Mendacity: The Illegal War Against Afghanistan

obama071908Nobody in the corporate media mentions it, but the war in Afghanistan, which President Barack Obama just ramped up by 50 percent this year, with the dispatch, first of 17,000 troops last spring and now with another 30,000 troops, to begin deployment on Christmas, is being fought on the shaky legal basis of a hastily passed Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) voted by Congress back in October 2001, more than three years before Obama was even elected to the Senate.

That AUMF was the handiwork of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and it was rammed through House and Senate with almost no debate in the wake of the 9-11 attacks and then used to justify most of the subsequent assaults on the Constitution and Bill of Rights that are still haunting America and the world today.

While Congress saw the 2001 AUMF as an authorization to launch an attack on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan  (an attack that quickly toppled the Taliban government, but that famously failed to crush Al Qaeda, thanks to its being called off half a year later so troops could be shifted to a new war in the making against Iraq), Bush and Cheney interpreted it as a “declaration of war” in a “global war on terror,” which they claimed had no border, no end, and which they even tried to claim extended to within the boundaries of the US.

So anxious were Bush and Cheney to be permanent wartime generalissimos, unfettered by Constitutional constraints, that just minutes before the measure went to the Senate for a vote, according to then Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, they sought to add the words “in the United States” after the phrase “appropriate force” in the language of the resolution. As Daschle, who wisely refused their request, notes, “This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas—where we all understood he wanted authority to act—but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens.”

The point though, is that the 2001 AUMF was in fact an authorization to use military force to go after terrorism.  It was not an authorization to conduct a full-scale war against another nation, or to become enmeshed in a civil war in another nation, which is what is going on in Afghanistan today. That, in fact, is why even Bush felt he needed a second AUMF to authorize his invasion of Iraq.

President Obama is trying to finesse this by falsely claiming, with a straight face, that Afghanistan is the “epicenter or terrorist activity” in the world. He is deliberately trying—and getting full support from the complicit corporate media—to conflate the Taliban with Al Qaeda to justify his absurd claim, too, by also falsely claiming in his speech that several unnamed “terrorists” have been apprehended in the US who were sent here recently from some ill-defined terror central inside of Afghanistan.

The truth is that not one act of terrorism outside of Afghanistan has been attributed to the Taliban of Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban, while admittedly a brutal, reactionary, fundamentalist group of militant Islamists, are not global jihadis bent on wreaking havoc in the Western world or even in the rest of the Islamic world. They are a domestic Afghan military and political movement that is seeking to return to power in Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda, the organization that was the target of the Congressional AUMF resolution in 2001, has long since abandoned Afghanistan for safer, greener pastures.

This being the case, Obama’s war in Afghanistan, and especially his decision to intensify it dramatically, is being conducted illegally, without any actual authorization from Congress, as required by the Constitution.

If the president wants to mire the US further and more deeply in a civil war in Afghanistan at this point, aimed at defeating the Taliban in that country, he should at least be required to obtain a new resolution in Congress authorization that action.

As a constitutional lawyer, the president knows that he is acting illegally, which is why he was so careful in his speech to West Point cadets on Tuesday to make the bogus claim that Afghanistan remains the epicenter of terrorism. But governing by lies is no way to govern, and the American people will eventually realize that they have been lied to. Indeed, the fact that a majority of Americans, according to polls, want to see the Afghan War ended, shows that even given the biased pro-war media, most people understand this on some level.

The Bush/Cheney administration did much to undermine and wreck Constitutional government during their eight years in office. Many people had hoped that Obama was serious when he said during his campaign that he wanted to restore Constitutional governance if elected. But by his latest move, putting the US into a full-scale war in Afghanistan on the basis of a lie and without any genuine war resolution from Congress, he has joined his predecessor in further debasing both the Constitution and language itself.

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist. He is author of Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Penalty Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal (Common Courage Press, 2003) and The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). His work is available at thiscantbehappening.net

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8 Responses for “Epicenter of Mendacity: The Illegal War Against Afghanistan”

  1. Jesse Hemingway says:

    I need someone to tell me the story about the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the similarities of 9/11 attacks. Two separate incidents that went completely non-investigated with forensic technology and capacities at hand. The members of the 9/11 Commission have already distanced themselves from the integrity of the 9/11 Commissions findings they have historically cleared their conscious on that fictional report.

    I do not get the stock footage of the Al Qaeda members going across the monkey bars with hoods on does that really mean anything. Does that mean every play ground that has monkey bars is a potential Al Qaeda training site? The maximum number of Al Qaeda trained prior to 9/11 was 20,000 that is a pretty big operation if think about the logistic to maintain that operation. How many people reading this, work for a company with 20,000 employees? Now do you get the inherent problems associated with this entire concept? It was a religious operation so the 9/11 highjackers proved their religious faith by going out and getting fucked up the night before? Doesn’t seem too religious to me the night before you commit suicide for your God you defile God. Ok

    Why is it if you ask questions all get is ridiculed; to commit nation to war yet this simple questions have not been answered to me it is a clear indication its all bullshit. Yet if I interject the fact that it is nothing more the carving out a position to protect the oil companies future then it all makes sense.

  2. Jesse Hemingway says:

    Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940), nicknamed “The Fighting Quaker” and “Old Gimlet Eye”, was a Major General in the U.S. Marine Corps and, at the time of his death was the most decorated Marine in U.S. history.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler

    “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

    WAR IS A RACKET

    CHAPTER TWO

    Napoleon once said,

    “All men are enamored of decorations…they positively hunger for them.”

    So by developing the Napoleonic system – the medal business – the government learned it could get soldiers for less money, because the boys liked to be decorated. Until the Civil War there were no medals. Then the Congressional Medal of Honor was handed out. It made enlistments easier. After the Civil War no new medals were issued until the Spanish-American War.

    In the World War, we used propaganda to make the boys accept conscription. They were made to feel ashamed if they didn’t join the army.

    So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill the Germans. God is on our side…it is His will that the Germans be killed.

    And in Germany, the good pastors called upon the Germans to kill the allies…to please the same God. That was a part of the general propaganda, built up to make people war conscious and murder conscious.

    Beautiful ideals were painted for our boys who were sent out to die. This was the “war to end all wars.” This was the “war to make the world safe for democracy.” No one mentioned to them, as they marched away, that their going and their dying would mean huge war profits. No one told these American soldiers that they might be shot down by bullets made by their own brothers here. No one told them that the ships on which they were going to cross might be torpedoed by submarines built with United States patents. They were just told it was to be a “glorious adventure.”

    Thus, having stuffed patriotism down their throats, it was decided to make them help pay for the war, too. So, we gave them the large salary of $30 a month.

    All they had to do for this munificent sum was to leave their dear ones behind, give up their jobs, lie in swampy trenches, eat canned willy (when they could get it) and kill and kill and kill…and be killed.

    But wait!

    Half of that wage (just a little more than a riveter in a shipyard or a laborer in a munitions factory safe at home made in a day) was promptly taken from him to support his dependents, so that they would not become a charge upon his community. Then we made him pay what amounted to accident insurance – something the employer pays for in an enlightened state – and that cost him $6 a month. He had less than $9 a month left.

    Then, the most crowning insolence of all – he was virtually blackjacked into paying for his own ammunition, clothing, and food by being made to buy Liberty Bonds. Most soldiers got no money at all on pay days.

    We made them buy Liberty Bonds at $100 and then we bought them back – when they came back from the war and couldn’t find work – at $84 and $86. And the soldiers bought about $2,000,000,000 worth of these bonds!

    Yes, the soldier pays the greater part of the bill. His family pays too. They pay it in the same heart-break that he does. As he suffers, they suffer. At nights, as he lay in the trenches and watched shrapnel burst about him, they lay home in their beds and tossed sleeplessly – his father, his mother, his wife, his sisters, his brothers, his sons, and his daughters.

    When he returned home minus an eye, or minus a leg or with his mind broken, they suffered too – as much as and even sometimes more than he. Yes, and they, too, contributed their dollars to the profits of the munitions makers and bankers and shipbuilders and the manufacturers and the speculators made. They, too, bought Liberty Bonds and contributed to the profit of the bankers after the Armistice in the hocus-pocus of manipulated Liberty Bond prices.

    And even now the families of the wounded men and of the mentally broken and those who never were able to readjust themselves are still suffering and still paying

  3. Jesse Hemingway says:

    9/11 the catalyst the propelled the United States into two wars so with a century between Major General Smedley D. Butler service and 9/11 the song remains the same. These wars were drawn up in Enron corporate office (Enron another faith based organization the media protected a sacred cow just like 9/11) you now understand why these plans were such a colossal misconceived failure fucking idiots planned them. Imbeciles in the media protect them still today. Really how fucking hard is it to look at known oil reserves 1990’s and the projected oil consumption rates of China and India 20 years into the future? Presently the United States military has surrounded the only untapped high-grade high-profit margin oil reserves left on the face of the earth.

  4. Jesse Hemingway says:

    Thursday, December 4, 1997 Published at 19:27 GMT

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/west_asia/37021.stm

    World: West Asia

    Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline

    A senior delegation from the Taleban movement in Afghanistan is in the United States for talks with an international energy company that wants to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan.

    A spokesman for the company, Unocal, said the Taleban were expected to spend several days at the company’s headquarters in Sugarland, Texas.

    Unocal says it has agreements both with Turkmenistan to sell its gas and with Pakistan to buy it.

    The Afghan economy has been devasted by 20 years of civil war
    But, despite the civil war in Afghanistan, Unocal has been in competition with an Argentinian firm, Bridas, to actually construct the pipeline

    Last month, the Argentinian firm, Bridas, announced that it was close to signing a two-billion dollar deal to build the pipeline, which would carry gas 1,300 kilometres from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, across Afghanistan.

    In May, Taleban-controlled radio in Kabul said a visiting delegation from an Argentinian company had announced that pipeline construction would start “soon”.

    Last month, the Argentinian firm, Bridas, announced that it was close to signing a two-billion dollar deal to build the pipeline, which would carry gas 1,300 kilometres from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, across Afghanistan.

    In May, Taleban-controlled radio in Kabul said a visiting delegation from an Argentinian company had announced that pipeline construction would start “soon”.

    Taliban in Texas: Big Oil hankers for old pals

    May 18, 2004

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/FE18Aa03.html

    HOUSTON – The Taliban must have had a ball in this Texas city when they came to visit the control tower of Planet Oil in the late 1990s to negotiate the Trans-Afghan Pipeline (TAP). One can imagine Mullah Omar’s finest, in full black-turbaned regalia, at the Houston Galleria – amid all those blond, dermatologically sublime trophy wives credit-carding their way to the Valhalla of conspicuous consumption at Saks, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. Not to mention all those steak houses! And all those sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) – not only Kandahar-friendly Toyota Land Cruisers but Durangos, Silverados, Pajeros, Discoveries and even BMWs!

    Of course this was ages before the cluster-bombing of the Taliban back to Jurassic Park became the secret casus belli for the “war on terra” after September 11, 2001. And it was before those gas-guzzling SUVs had to deal seriously with soaring oil prices, or at least not to the heights we are seeing now. On Monday a barrel of US light crude hit US$41.65, the highest price since the New York Mercantile Exchange launched its crude-oil contract in 1983.

  5. Ian Banks says:

    I’ve long been disapproving of either the latest Iraq or Afghan wars, simply because I don’t see how either countries were significantly or solidly antagonistic toward the United States at the time of the declaration.

    Prior to this weird new and abstracted concept of “terrorism” ( A pathetic and unfounded means of assigning blame to an outside force, for the 9/11 “attacks.”)

    I have a very real and serious objection to both, due to the fact that they have been being “funded” for nearly 10 years each, now.

    Regardlessly of the below excerpt of our own U.S. Constitution;

    Section 8. Article L

    “To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;”

    Basically, sounds to me like we’ve long been breaking our own law. For, not just one, but two worthless wars…

  6. Rob Grace says:

    The international legal basis for the war is disputable as well. I wrote about the legal and strategic problematics of the evidentiary issue here:

    http://lawandsecurity.foreignpolicyblogs.com/2009/12/10/the-war-in-afghanistan-that-nagging-evidentiary-question/

  7. Jesse Hemingway says:

    The corruption of the American two party political systems is so rancid that the only people that can still breathe are the members of the fraudulent media getting paid to pimp it. The people going into the military now were 11 years old when 9/11 occurred how much longer can the United States government keep selling that line of bullshit? Do you really think the members of the United States military are idiots that they’re immune from recognizing our corrupt political system spare me? The only reason they had to join the United States Military is because they can’t get a descent job in the United States. So basic logic would indicate that they sure would not place their life on the line for that corrupt lost cause the good old USA; remember they are at ground zero of the corruption that is where they are forced to live for a year in Afaganstan or Iraq. Yes my beloved members of the military they get their faced rubbed in the corruption every day they know what it’s all about the oil or the pipeline.

    Our government is just as corrupt as the corporations using our military for their gains. Nothing manifests the pus-oozing corruption of the United States political system more recently then the healthcare reform spectacle. Obama’s miracle, health care reform; to call that health care reform is no different then me telling you that caviar comes through a canine digestive system. The point I am getting at is this, if that is the best the elected representatives of the United States can achieve with respect to health care reform. Then our military should not have to go to Afaganstan or Iraq just say they went; let’s be real here for once; the job performance standards have been set by the elected representatives.

  8. Mac Mcdonald says:

    We may Laugh but it’s not Funny
    In reading this article”

    We Laugh at Our Peril: Fox News as an Information Operation ”

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/12/11/813329/-We-Laugh-at-Our-Pe.

    It occurred to me there’s a much larger issue.

    The main stream TV media boosting on the minute news as its happening there’s a whole lot not to getting reported.

    Our TV’s may be getting clearer pictures and sharper sound but the information we receive is being increasingly edited picture of unclear information & unconfirmed sources.

    http://www.topix.com/forum/uk/birmingham/T01225450DIADM1G4

    http://privateattorneygeneral.ning.com/profiles/blogs/we-may-laugh-but-its-not-funny

    Please take the time to listen to the calls

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