Security and Peace Initiative Democracy Arsenal

« July 2, 2006 - July 8, 2006 | Main | July 16, 2006 - July 22, 2006 »

July 14, 2006


The Secret about Secrecy
Posted by Michael Signer

This is a day when you'd expect Democracy Arsenalists to  blog about Israel and Lebanon -- but I have nothing brilliant to say, other than that I'm worried because my little sister is there traveling and volunteering (but safely, we hope and pray, in Jerusalem), and that, like every non-expert, I'm simply concerned about radical instability erupting in a region that we've already done our part to destabilize. 

Perhaps due to the enormity of this story, the WaPo buried an important domestic story on page A19 today -- a recently-released GAO study of the Department of Defense's haphazard and too-frequent practice of classifying documents.  The story's lede:

The Government Accountability Office has criticized the Defense Department for sloppy management of its security classification system, including the marking as "Confidential or Secret" material that Pentagon officials acknowledged was unclassified information.

The GAO said in a report June 30 that one of the major questions raised by its study was "whether all of the information marked as classified met established criteria for classification." The GAO also found "inconsistent treatment of similar information within the same document."

Continue reading "The Secret about Secrecy" »

July 13, 2006


Cops on the Metro
Posted by Michael Signer

In the blog-as-actual-reportage vein, there were tons of transit police on the Orange Line of the D.C. Metro this morning.  By my count, there were at least eight in the Courthouse station near where I live -- three (with dogs) walking out of the stop as I entered the station, six on the platform, and then another two riding on the car next over from mine.

I guess it's either scary or secure-feeling, depending on your perspective.  I'm not sure what this means, if anything, but figured it would be worth noting.  Anyone out there notice anything similar?

Capitol Hill

National SecurityTradeoffs--Its not Just the Left Anymore
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

Last month, Congress weenies got excited when the Senate unanimously voted to make supplemental spending for our ongoing wars part of the regular budget --and several House Armed Services Members agreed that this was an important discussion. This news is good and bad. Good because it will improve the oversight process (which has nearly broken down completely in the realm of national security)  Bad because, barring new revenue sources (like taxes)  we will completely bust out of our budget caps with war spending stuffed in there (it could be hundreds of billions of dollars more in coming years).  Supplemental spending is deemed emergency, so doesn't have to be offset by reductions in other federal spending.  If this comes to pass and the current gang stays in power--a distinct possibility given gerrymandered districts, sketchy voting machines and astonishingly--citizens who would continue to vote for them--we can kiss every other piece of public service and infrastructure that we take for granted goodbye. Its the government hater/public sector privateer dream. (short aside, I just received an invite  from Heritage Foundation  about "moral reconstruction" post Katrina--the blurb posits that derelict human spirit was responsible for the hurricane's aftermath. Um. No. How about a stripped and demoralized federal government staffed by fraternity cronies?)

But a new and unusual voice has thrown down the glove on national security priorities.  Rep. John Murtha, a "pro-defense" Democrat and hawk has put forward a formidable statement of priorities.  This might be the legitimizing action that will create the sort of guns vs. guns debate we've been waiting for. His July 11th letter to Capitol Hill Colleages begins:

We are spending $8 billion a month in Iraq.  That equates to 2 billion dollars a week, or 267 million dollars a day, or 11 million dollars AN HOUR.

Attached are some comparisons between what we are spending in Iraq as we "stay the course" indefinitely and what those funds could be used for instead.

Here are some of the first tradeoff items:

$33.1 billion/yr    Department of Homeland Security FY 07 budget
(4 months in Iraq)       

$10 billion (1-time)    Equipping commercial airliners with defenses against shoulder fired
(5 weeks in Iraq)        missiles    

$8.6 billion/7 years    Shortage of international aid needed to rebuild Afghanistan
(one month in Iraq)       

Read the rest of the document and dollar comparisons here .  Just as Murtha's statements on Iraq last winter changed the flavor of the debate on ending the war, this sort of document might really help jump start the discussion we need to look at real threats and resources for the post 9/11 world we're in.

July 11, 2006

Progressive Strategy

Lieberman Head-Butts Ned Lamont? (or the tragic story of an independent, principled Democrat)
Posted by Shadi Hamid

His voice is at once sonorous, didactic, and difficult to listen to for extended periods of time. He is occasionally funny. Most of the time, he is not. More proof, if proof was needed, that one can be a relentless v-chip pusher and a Democrat – simultaneously. This is an important message.

In their first and only debate, I thought for a brief moment, that Joe Lieberman was going to thrust up like a burgeoning tsunami and head-butt Ned Lamont, hater of earmarks. As Lieberman has thankfully made clear to us, he is in full support of earmarks. Oh, voters of the humble state of Connecticut, you do indeed have a choice, and a clear one. You want your freakin’ earmarks don’t you?

I like independent thinkers, so props to Lieberman for showing off his independence. “I’m not George Bush,” he assures us. I hope that puts that to rest. He is also not, presumably, Ned Lamont. Good on both counts.

Maybe it’s the slavish praise of our commander-in-chief that bothers me or his calibrated misuse of JFK’s legacy. If you care so much about liberty, there’s a few other regimes you might care to liberate on your way out, hopefully this time, without water-boarding and Rumsfeldian grandstanding.

But I have a confession to make. I have a soft-spot for people who go out of their way to destroy their favorability ratings in the name of principle. Democrats often get the wrap of being insincere flip-floppers with big ambitions but small ideas. Not Joe Lieberman. If someone’s willing to sabotage his career, legacy, and reputation for an idea, you can bet that he probably believes it. Too bad it’s the wrong idea.

July 09, 2006

Progressive Strategy

The Crux of Lieberman's Problem
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Lieberman_joe_smiling I have reluctantly gotten sucked into caring about the fate of Joe Lieberman's quest to hold on to his Senate seat.  What interests me is how the contest ties into a larger debate underway about how big the progressive tent should be when it comes to foreign policy:  where should boundaries be drawn so that we can compete in moderate and even conservative strongholds, yet still energe the base and stand for something that is clear to voters.  This is shaping up to be one of the principal dilemmas progressives will face leading up to 2008.

Reading through the transcript of Lieberman's debate last Thursday with challenger Ned Lamont, here's where I come out:  Lieberman's problem is not that he supported the Iraq invasion, nor that he thinks we need to stay in and finish the job.  He has lots of mainstream Democratic company in both those positions.   Kiss aside, his problem is also not simply being too close to Bush or disloyal to the Dems.  As he points out, he's voted the Democratic party line 90 percent of the time.

The crux of Lieberman's problem is his unwillingness to acknowledge the severity of what's happened in Iraq, and to demand accountability for it.   Iraq has now replaced 9/11 as America's "prism of pain" - - the trauma-tinged lens through which everything else is viewed.  Everyone from Chuck Hagel to Richard Holbrooke to Ret. General William Odom has judged Iraq worse than Vietnam.   Against that backdrop, its just not enough for Lieberman to quickly state that he's previously been "critical" of the Administration's post-invasion errors, and then move on to an impassioned plea about why we can't leave Iraq now. 

Continue reading "The Crux of Lieberman's Problem" »

Guest Contributors
Sign-up to receive a weekly digest of the latest posts from Democracy Arsenal.

www Democracy Arsenal
Powered by TypePad


The opinions voiced on Democracy Arsenal are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of the Security and Peace Institute, the Center for American Progress, The Century Foundation or any other organization or institution with which any author may be affiliated.
Read Terms of Use