No Comment — June 19, 2007, 8:07 am

No Blood, No Foul

Sy Hersh published a must-read story in the New Yorker over the weekend about the experience of Major General Antonio Taguba. The story prompts many questions, and in particular it supports a new analysis of the interrogation techniques approved by JSOC–the Special Operations joint command. Plenty of evidence has emerged to support the proposition that JSOC has its own brutal, illegal interrogation rules. I also suspect that JSOC has been engaged in a U.S.-media-targeted disinformation campaign, although that remains to be proved.

I’ve been studying these issues for some time, and found Spencer Ackerman’s ruminations particularly relevant. Ackerman is asking the correct questions and demonstrating that the situation is, at the moment, very uneasy. And Andrew Sullivan’s series of posts reviewing the Hersh piece examine what the Hersh-Taguba piece tells us about the roles played by Rumsfeld, Bush and Abizaid among others. It’s ugly stuff, but essential reading.

As usual, the Hersh story offers us a frightening look deep inside the Pentagon that Rumsfeld built. Taguba’s characterization of the new military culture as a “mafia” is very chilling, and matches descriptions we have heard from many other retiring senior officers. This is a coarsely politicized Pentagon, and exactly the sort of institution that James Madison described as an existential threat to democracy.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

At the time, Chomsky was still finishing his doctoral dissertation for Penn, where he had completed his graduate-school course work. But at bedtime and in his heart of hearts he was living in Boston as a junior member of Harvard’s Society of Fellows, and creating a Harvard-level name for himself.

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