Thursday, January 27, 2011

Last Man Standing

From an article by David Freed in the Atlantic magazine entitled "The Last Stand of Ricardo Sanchez". This article recounts sad facts about guys in white hats and black hats:
But Sanchez, who prior to his retirement was the highest-ranking Latino to have served in the Army, has his own burden to bear. His year directing military operations in Iraq soon after the fall of Baghdad saw low-level enemy resistance erupt into full-blown insurgency and virtual civil war. And revelations of detainee abuse that occurred on his watch at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison forced him to retire from the Army in 2006.

Although an Army inspector general’s report cleared Sanchez of any wrongdoing, it found failures of oversight and execution at all levels, as did congressional and news-media investigations. Sanchez says his former superiors dodged his repeated requests for guidelines that could have helped to avert the Abu Ghraib scandal. Now, in a remarkable turn for a general who helped lead the prosecution of the war, he is calling for the creation of a “truth commission” to probe possible crimes involving waterboarding and other torturous interrogation techniques put into practice during the Bush years. For someone who has lived by the military code since joining the junior ROTC at the age of 15, it is something of a quixotic quest.


Before deciding to lambaste the White House’s prosecution of the war, Sanchez tells me, he went through three years of “tremendous soul-searching.” He sought advice from several four-star officers, who, he says, supported his decision to come forward and even helped him shape his message. But after he first delivered that message in a speech to military journalists in October 2007, when he accused the Bush administration, Congress, and the State Department of incompetence and of engaging in partisan politics at the risk of troop safety, “nobody wanted to get involved, because of potential fratricide across the board, and they began to very quickly walk away.”

Sanchez was working part-time as a paid consultant to the military, mentoring other generals in joint and interagency war-fighting operations as well as senior noncommissioned officers assigned to top leadership positions. The Joint Forces Command stopped calling Sanchez after this speech, he says, and his mentoring contract was not renewed—a decision he believes came straight from Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mullen’s spokesman, Captain John F. Kirby, said that his boss “was, in fact, troubled by some of the public positions” Sanchez took after leaving the service, but denied that Mullen played any role in ending Sanchez’s contract.

The lucrative consulting jobs that have come to many of his retired peers have eluded Sanchez: not a single company doing business with the federal government has ever contacted him about full-time employment. Fellow flag officers he once considered friends have shunned him, he says, as “radioactive.” The only general to lend him a hand in retirement, according to Sanchez, has been Wesley Clark, the retired four-star general and 2004 Democratic candidate for president, who helped him land a seat on the board of Asynchrony Solutions, an information-technology consulting firm headquartered in St. Louis.


In May of 2009, surrounded by the likes of Rachel Maddow and Ron Suskind at an event billed as a “Blueprint for Accountability,” Sanchez upped the ante by launching his call for a truth commission about the Iraq War. “If we do not find out what happened,” he told a reporter at the event, “we are doomed to repeat it.”

But given the political climate, Sanchez tells me in his kitchen, he doubts that any senior members of the Bush administration will be made to answer for their transgressions anytime soon.


I notice a chain around his neck and ask him if he still wears his dog tags. Sanchez gazes at me for a long moment, as though surprised anyone would notice, then reaches inside his shirt and produces them, jangling.

“I will always be a soldier,” he says, eyes misting. “I will go to my grave with these dog tags around my neck. It’s my whole life.”
The sad fact is that the guys wearing the black hats get to dance on, get the big money, get to thumb their nose a "the little people" and their quaint ideas about morality and justice. While the guys in white hats get to bite their tongue and twist in anguish knowing that they were screwed by the "golden boys" the "wise guy insiders" the ones who know "it is all a game" and "he who dies with the most toys wins". Guys who believe in honour, duty, justice, fairness, and hard work are chumps. They get to do all the work and never get the glory. While they are sweating the hard stuff, the guys in the black hats are taking the glory and plotting their next escapade.

George Bush was a spoiled frat boy his whole life. He's never been accountable for his failures. He's never been called to account for the harm and grief he has caused. When he got in trouble he could call his powerful daddy to get him out of the scrape. And Bush got to be top dog. For Bush that was a short jog up from his born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-his-mouth life. For a guy like Ricardo Sanchez to make it from the bottom of the labouring class up to a lieutenant general was a long hard climb. It was equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest from the bottom to within 1000 feet of the top. Meanwhile, Bush got up in the morning from the highest base camp only a couple of thousand feet from the top of Mt. Everest, breakfasted on the finest foods labouriously carried up the flanks of the mountain on the backs of sweating men. Finished his breakfast and took a short stroll to the top of the mountain, the presidency. He didn't break a sweat. He was "born" to be president.

Bush was perfect for the presidency because his morals were for sale. He was just what corporate America wanted as a leader. A born-again Christian who could sell his religion to the fools in the pentecostal movement to get the big numbers to win the presidency. But Bush is a funny kind of Christian. He never bothered with the "it is harder to get a rich man into heaven than it is to get a camel through the eye of the needle" kind of Christian. He never heard the "sell all that you have, give it to the poor, and follow me" call from Jesus. He just heard about the bit that if you put on a pious face, you can dupe a lot of people into supporting you. You could use your easy Christian morality to turn America into a "torture nation". You could use your power to invade Iraq in a "war of choice, not necessity" and kill hundreds of thousand and bankrupt the US. And do that with style. I still love your arrival in "fighter pilot" uniform on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln shortly after the troops got to Baghdad and you strode out to the microphones under the banner "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED".

Yep... I still chuckle about that. Good one! That's up there with Obama's "CHANGE THAT YOU CAN BELIEVE IN". I love it!

By the way... if you want to understand why Iraq will cost the American taxpayer 3 TRILLION DOLLARS, click here and look at this graphic.

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