The Zelig Of War Crimes
Bob Somerby picked up on something that I noticed this week as well: the rehabilitation of Colin Powell among progressives. It's quite irritating. He notes this particularly egregious example with Olbermann and Jonathan "time to think about torture" Alter:
ALTER (5/8/09): [Republicans] could make some gains if Obama—if he were to somehow hit a really rocky period, they can make some gains. But if you’re talking about any long-term comeback where they really become a significant force in American politics again, they’re going to have to change, have to update their message. And the smart Republicans understand this.
OLBERMANN: Well, how does this then fit into that? Because there was this ugly note that Mr. Hennen left out of the transcript which refers to General Powell’s political remarks and Hennen said he was tired of Powell’s “tea-leaf reading,” and he said he wished Powell would “stay in his lane.” And I don`t know who talks that way about a decorated veteran who also served as secretary of state. But even worse, Mr. Cheney said nothing in response to that.
Is that ultimately another Republican problem here, a sort of cultural problem, this disdain—that you’re not a real American, even if you’re a war hero—disdain they have for anybody who disagrees with them?
Colin Powell is not only not a war hero, he's actually implicated in war crimes from two different wars --- as one of the "White House Principals" who watched the CIA act out torture techniques for their approval and as one of the men who tried to cover up My Lai. (He was involved in Iran-Contra too.) And that's not even taking into account his pivotal role in energetically selling the Iraq war with bogus intelligence. Certainly, the man cannot be separated from Dick Cheney on that issue.
He was one of the most powerful people in the Bush administration and he failed time after time to step up and use his vast personal popularity to stop themor slow them down. He is, in fact, the worst chickenshit of the bunch since he had a separate power center and a special authority as an ex-general. Cheney may have been the chief architect, but Powell was the chief salesman and cover artist.
The Bush administration people are all running for cover now that they've been publicly exposed and repudiated. And it's fun to watch their circular firing squad. But the fact is that they were all culpable, as were their enablers in the press. It's clever to play them against each other, but it's short sighted. These are issues of state violence and fundamental human values and it's a mistake to not be consistent about such things.