Date: Sun, 21 Dec 2008
Subject: #389 The Pentagon Is Muscling In Everywhere
THE PENTAGON IS MUSCLING IN EVERYWHERE
DrugSense FOCUS Alert #389 – Sunday, 21 December 2008
Sometime an OPED catches our attention because it pulls together
information which may have been below the radar for many of us. Such
is the OPED below that was printed today on page B01 of The Washington
The author, Thomas A. Schweich served the Bush administration as
ambassador for counter-narcotics in Afghanistan and deputy assistant
secretary of state for international law enforcement affairs.
The OPED covers much related to the military and the war on drugs.
Near the end it references the Posse Comitatus Act. For more on the
Act please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posse_Comitatus_Act As
the wiki notes over the past dozen years the Act has been gutted.
We remember the death on May 20, 1997, of Esequiel Hernandez, Jr.
documented on this webpage http://www.dpft.org/hernandez/gallery/index.html
as the first known death resulting from the changes in the Act. Thus
we hope that the next administration follows the recommendations at
the end of the OPED.
Pubdate: Sun, 21 Dec 2008
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2008 The Washington Post Company
Author: Thomas A. Schweich
THE PENTAGON IS MUSCLING IN EVERYWHERE
It’s Time To Stop The Mission Creep
We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a lifelong
Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the
most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment
of the Department of Defense into a striking number of aspects of
civilian government. Our Constitution is at risk.
President-elect Barack Obama’s selections of James L. Jones, a retired
four-star Marine general, to be his national security adviser and, it
appears, retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair to be his director of
national intelligence present the incoming administration with an
important opportunity — and a major risk. These appointments could
pave the way for these respected military officers to reverse the
current trend of Pentagon encroachment upon civilian government
functions, or they could complete the silent military coup d’etat that
has been steadily gaining ground below the radar screen of most
Americans and the media.
While serving the State Department in several senior capacities over
the past four years, I witnessed firsthand the quiet, de facto
military takeover of much of the U.S. government. The first assault on
civilian government occurred in faraway places — Iraq and Afghanistan
— and was, in theory, justified by the exigencies of war.
The White House, which basically let the Defense Department call the
budgetary shots, vastly underfunded efforts by the State Department,
the Justice Department and the U.S. Agency for International
Development to train civilian police forces, build functioning
judicial systems and provide basic development services to those
For example, after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Justice Department
and the State Department said that they needed at least 6,000 police
trainers in the country.
Pentagon officials told some of my former staffers that they doubted
so many would be needed.
The civilians’ recommendation “was quickly reduced to 1,500 [trainers]
by powers-that-be above our pay grade,” Gerald F. Burke, a retired
major in the Massachusetts State Police who trained Iraqi cops from
2003 to 2006, told Congress last April. Just a few hundred trainers
ultimately wound up being fielded, according to Burke’s testimony.
Until this year, the State Department received an average of about $40
million a year for rule-of-law programs in Afghanistan, according to
the department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement
Affairs — in stark contrast to the billions that the Pentagon got to
train the Afghan army. Under then-Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld, the Defense Department failed to provide even basic security
for the meager force of civilian police mentors, rule-of-law advisers
and aid workers from other U.S. agencies operating in Afghanistan and
Iraq, driving policymakers to turn to such contracting firms as
Blackwater Worldwide. After having set the rest of the U.S. government
up for failure, military authorities then declared that the other
agencies’ unsuccessful police-training efforts required military
leadership and took them over — after brutal interagency battles at
the White House.
The result of letting the Pentagon take such thorough charge of the
programs to create local police forces is that these units, in both
Iraq and Afghanistan, have been unnecessarily militarized — producing
police officers who look more like militia members than ordinary beat
cops. These forces now risk becoming paramilitary groups, well armed
with U.S. equipment, that could run roughshod over Iraq and
Afghanistan’s nascent democracies once we leave.
Or consider another problem with the rising influence of the
Pentagon: the failure to address the ongoing plague of poppy farming
and heroin production in Afghanistan. This fiasco was in large part
the result of the work of non-expert military personnel, who
discounted the corrosive effects of the Afghan heroin trade on our
efforts to rebuild the country and failed to support civilian-run
During my tenure as the Bush administration’s anti-drug envoy to
Afghanistan, I also witnessed JAG officers hiring their own manifestly
unqualified Afghan legal “experts,” some of whom even lacked law
degrees, to operate outside the internationally agreed-upon,
Afghan-led program to bring impartial justice to the people of
Afghanistan. This resulted in confusion and contradiction.
One can also see the Pentagon’s growing muscle in the recent creation
of the U.S. military command for Africa, known as Africom. This new
command supposedly has a joint civilian-military purpose: to
coordinate soft power and traditional hard power to stop al-Qaeda and
its allies from gaining a foothold on the continent.
But Africom has gotten a chilly reception in post-colonial Africa.
Meanwhile, U.S. competitors such as China are pursuing large African
development projects that are being welcomed with open arms. Since the
Bush administration has had real successes with its anti-AIDS and
other health programs in Africa, why exactly do we need a military
command there running civilian reconstruction, if not to usurp the
efforts led by well-respected U.S. embassies and aid officials?
And, of course, I need not even elaborate on the most notorious effect
of the military’s growing reach: the damage that the military
tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and such military prisons as Abu
Ghraib have done to U.S. credibility around the world.
But these initial military takeovers of civilian functions all took
place a long distance from home. “We are in a war, after all,” Ronald
Neumann, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, told me by way of
explaining the military’s huge role in that country — just before the
Pentagon seemingly had him removed in 2007 because of his admirable
efforts to balance military and civilian needs. (I heard angry
accounts of the Pentagon’s role in Neumann’s “retirement” at the time
from knowledgeable diplomats, one of them very senior.) But our
military forces, in a bureaucratic sense, soon marched on Washington
As military officers sought to take over the role played by civilian
development experts abroad, Pentagon bureaucrats quietly populated the
National Security Council and the State Department with their own
personnel (some civilians, some consultants, some retired officers,
some officers on “detail” from the Pentagon) to ensure that the
Defense Department could keep an eye on its rival agencies.
Vice President Cheney, himself a former secretary of defense, and his
good friend Rumsfeld ensured the success of this seeding effort by
some fairly forceful means.
At least twice, I saw Cheney staffers show up unannounced at State
Department meetings, and I heard other State Department officials
grumble about this habit.
The Rumsfeld officials could play hardball, sometimes even leaking to
the press the results of classified meetings that did not go their way
in order to get the decisions reversed.
After I got wind of the Pentagon’s dislike for the approved
interagency anti-drug strategy for Afghanistan, details of the plan
quickly wound up in the hands of foreign countries sympathetic to the
Pentagon view. I’ve heard other, similarly troubling stories about
leaks of classified information to the press.
Many of Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s cronies still work at the Pentagon and
elsewhere. Rumsfeld’s successor, Robert M. Gates, has spoken of
increasing America’s “soft power,” its ability to attract others by
our example, culture and values, but thus far, this push to
reestablish civilian leadership has been largely talk and little action.
Gates is clearly sincere about chipping away at the military’s
expanding role, but many of his subordinates are not.
The encroachment within America’s borders continued with the
military’s increased involvement in domestic surveillance and its
attempts to usurp the role of the federal courts in reviewing detainee
The Pentagon also resisted ceding any authority over its extensive
intelligence operations to the first director of national
intelligence, John D. Negroponte — a State Department official who
eventually gave up his post to Mike McConnell, a former Navy admiral.
The Bush administration also appointed Michael V. Hayden, a four-star
Air Force general, to be the director of the CIA. National Security
Adviser Stephen J. Hadley saw much of the responsibility for
developing and implementing policy on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
— surely the national security adviser’s job — given to Lt. Gen.
Douglas E. Lute, Bush’s new “war czar.” By 2008, the military was
running much of the national security apparatus.
The Pentagon opened a southern front earlier this year when it
attempted to dominate the new Merida Initiative, a promising $400
million program to help Mexico battle drug cartels.
Despite the admirable efforts of the federal drug czar, John P.
Walters, to keep the White House focused on the civilian
law-enforcement purpose of the Merida Initiative, the military runs a
big chunk of that program as well.
Now the Pentagon has drawn up plans to deploy 20,000 U.S. soldiers
inside our borders by 2011, ostensibly to help state and local
officials respond to terrorist attacks or other catastrophes. But that
mission could easily spill over from emergency counterterrorism work
into border-patrol efforts, intelligence gathering and law enforcement
operations — which would run smack into the Posse Comitatus Act, the
long-standing law restricting the military’s role in domestic law
enforcement. So the generals are not only dominating our government
activities abroad, at our borders and in Washington, but they also
seem to intend to spread out across the heartland of America.
If President-elect Obama wants to reverse this trend, he must take
four steps — and very quickly:
1. Direct — or, better yet, order — Gates, Jones, Blair and the
other military leaders in his Cabinet to rid the Pentagon’s lower
ranks of Rumsfeld holdovers whose only mission is to increase the
power of the Pentagon.
2. Turn Gates’s speeches on the need to promote soft power into
reality with a massive transfer of funds from the Pentagon to the
State Department, the Justice Department and USAID.
3. Put senior, respected civilians — not retired or active military
personnel — into key subsidiary positions in the intelligence
community and the National Security Council.
4. Above all, he should let his appointees with military backgrounds
know swiftly and firmly that, under the Constitution, he is their
commander, and that he will not tolerate the well-rehearsed lip
service that the military gave to civilian agencies and even President
Bush over the past four years.
In short, he should retake the government before it devours him and us
— and return civilian-led government to the people of the United States.
Prepared by: Richard Lake, Senior Editor www.mapinc.org