I am reading James Risen’s latest book on how the military-industrial complex has morphed into the military-homeland security-intelligence complex. Risen is a New York Times reporter and has been interviewing primary sources involved with America’s “war on terror” starting with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. You have all heard about the cargo planes loaded with cash that landed in Baghdad right after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Risen gives all the details right down to how many pallets of each denomination of bills went missing.
Folks, we are screwed. I’ve tried to find a silver lining for years and truly believed the American people would wake up and demand an accounting. NOT going to happen. Half of the latest budget bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama is going to the “defense” industry. Read Risen’s book, Pay Any Price, to find out how incompetent the agencies are that manage those billions and billions of dollars. Risen tells of one con artist who convinced the CIA that he had invented special computer software that could decipher hidden messages in Al Jazeera television news reports. It was a total fabrication, the CIA found out, hushed it up out of embarrassment, and the con guy went over to another agency and got a contract for the same nonsense.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human nature being what it is, no one wants to publicize stupid mistakes. So con artists can go from one agency to another and bring a big truck to haul away the money. E.g., the two supposed interrogation experts who were paid millions to devise new ways to torture prisoners. Thankfully, Sen. Dianne Feinstein had the guts to continue the investigation into our torture program and release a report. These are the kinds of reports, along with first account interviews by reporters like Risen, that will become the research materials for future historians.
We can blame the NRA all we want, but the enemy, as Pogo said, is ourselves. We are a violent society and always have been. From the European invasion and occupation of the Americas 500 years ago to the “war on terror” around the world today, we must love violence or we would stop it.
I took this quote from a novel by Joyce Carol Oates recently. A young woman is thinking about what happened to a dear friend wounded and disfigured during fighting in Iraq.
It came to her then: the wars were monstrous, and made monsters of those who waged them. The Iraq war, the Afghanistan war. In time, civilians too would become monsters, for this is the nature of war.