May. 23rd, 2009

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David Brooks: Cheney Lost to Bush/Rice, not to Obama

Condoleezza Rice, unsung hero of the Bush administration?
The Bush-Cheney period lasted maybe three years. For Dick Cheney those might be the golden years. For Democrats, it is surely the period they want to forever hang around the necks of the Republican Party. But that period ended long ago.

By 2005, what you might call the Bush-Rice-Hadley era had begun. Gradually, in fits and starts, a series of Bush administration officials — including Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, Jack Goldsmith and John Bellinger — tried to rein in the excesses of the Bush-Cheney period. They didn’t win every fight, and they were prodded by court decisions and public outrage, but the gradual evolution of policy was clear.

From 2003 onward, people like Bellinger and Goldsmith were fighting against legal judgments that allowed enhanced interrogation techniques. By 2006, Rice and Hadley brought Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in from a secret foreign prison to regularize detainee procedures. In 2007, Rice refused to support an executive order reviving the interrogation program. Throughout the second Bush term, officials were trying to close Guantánamo, pleading with foreign governments to take some prisoners, begging senators to allow the transfer of prisoners onto American soil.
[...]
Cheney and Obama might pretend otherwise, but it wasn’t the Obama administration that halted the practice of waterboarding. It was a succession of C.I.A. directors starting in March 2003, even before a devastating report by the C.I.A. inspector general in 2004.

When Cheney lambastes the change in security policy, he’s not really attacking the Obama administration. He’s attacking the Bush administration. In his speech on Thursday, he repeated in public a lot of the same arguments he had been making within the Bush White House as the policy decisions went more and more the other way.
[...]
As for the treatment of terror suspects, Jack Goldsmith has a definitive piece called “The Cheney Fallacy” online at The New Republic. He lists a broad range of policies — Guantánamo, habeas corpus, military commissions, rendition, interrogation and so on. He shows how, in most cases, the Obama policy represents a continuation of or a gradual evolution from the final Bush policy.
[...]
Obama has taken many of the same policies Bush ended up with, and he has made them credible to the country and the world. In his speech, Obama explained his decisions in a subtle and coherent way. He admitted that some problems are tough and allow no easy solution. He treated Americans as adults, and will have won their respect.
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Tamils in Toronto


I spent a short amount of time at the Tamil vigil at Queen's Park last night... It was eerie and impressive. Thousands and thousands of people (they covered the entire Queen's Park front lawn) dressed in black and holding candles. From the stage, plaintive singing could be heard. I took some pictures which I will post a bit later. There was barely any coverage, other than the Star mentioning that traffic on University Ave. had re-opened after being closed for a couple hours.


How Sri Lanka's military won [BBC]

Today, Sri Lanka is among the few nations that can say it has successfully quelled a nearly three-decade insurgency by military means.
[...]"So many factors have contributed to the success of the Sri Lankan forces. There was a clear aim and mandate from the political level to the official level and to the military level to destroy the LTTE at any cost. There was no ambiguity in that," Gotabaya Rajapaksa told the BBC.

A massive recruitment drive for the armed forces was launched (it increased from about 80,000 to more than 160,000). New weapons, including fighter jets, artillery guns and multi-barrel rocket launchers were bought from countries like China, Pakistan and Russia and new military strategies and tactics were evolved.

"That was the time when the international community was totally disappointed with the rebels because of their insincerity in peace talks. So countries like India and the US gave their tacit support for the all-out offensive against the LTTE," says Sri Lankan analyst DBS Jeyaraj.
[...]
One of the main reasons for the rebels' eastern debacle was the split in 2004 - when the Tigers' influential eastern commander, Col Karuna, broke away because of differences with the leadership.

"The LTTE could never recover from that. Thousands of fighters went away with Karuna and the LTTE could not recruit fresh cadres from the east, dealing a severe blow to their manpower. They struggled hard to replace fallen cadres in the subsequent northern battle," says Col R Hariharan, former chief of military intelligence of the Indian Peacekeeping Force in Sri Lanka from 1987 to 1990.
[...]
"The Sri Lankan military juggernaut cruised ahead despite mounting civilian casualties. The rebels thought the international community, especially neighbouring India, would intervene looking at the civilian suffering and bring about a ceasefire in the final stages. When that did not happen, they ran out of options," says Mr Jeyaraj.

India? Did they forget who is the leader of the Congress Party? One of the mistakes Col. Karuna has been widely quoted saying he had a huge disagreement with was the killing of Rajiv Gandhi.

UN's chief apologist visits refugee camps and find nothing wrong with them

CHEDDIKULAM, Sri Lanka (AFP) — UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Saturday came face-to-face with the despair of Sri Lanka's war-hit civilians as he toured the main refugee camp and flew over the devastated war zone.

Just days after Colombo declared victory over Tamil Tiger rebels, he toured the sprawling Menik Farm camp, 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of the capital, which was jammed with 200,000 civilians displaced by the fighting.
[...]
The camp, referred to by Sri Lankan authorities as a "welfare village," was surrounded by barbed wire and under heavy guard.

Tamil activists have likened "welfare villages" to concentration camps, while UN and aid agencies have complained about restrictions on vehicle access to the shelters.

Asked whether the security was there to stop people leaving, Ban replied: "I don't think they are holding them (the civilians) back for any particular purpose.

"They're trying to resettle them, to reintegrate them," he said. "That is the Sri Lanka government's commitment."
[...]
The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called for a war crimes probe, a call backed by former colonial power Britain.

Tamil Tiger leader cremated: Sri Lanka army chief

"We cremated the body in the same area and threw the ashes into the (Indian) ocean," Fonseka said. "Even before Prabhakaran was killed, I knew we had won the war, but I was overjoyed when I had confirmation of his death."
[...]
Prabhakaran's former deputy, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan [Col. Karuna], who defected in March 2004, and a former Tiger spokesman known as Daya Master were flown to the northeast Tuesday and they positively identified their former boss.

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