Betray Us Report

By David Swanson,

“Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning…”

If you read the rest of The Trial by Franz Kafka you’ll find that K. is not just arrested, but also executed, and that his execution comes as the perfectly natural conclusion to a series of infuriating steps, stages, and shiftings of goal posts.

In the end, General David Petraeus will appear in Congress on Monday, ask each Congress Member to turn and kneel, and put a bullet in the back of each of their heads. At first, that sounds outlandish. But let’s review.

In 2003, Congress approved of a war based on a series of transparent lies. In 2006, the public voted an opposition party into power in Congress with the clear demand that it end the war which had now become an apparently permanent occupation of a foreign country with dozens of apparently permanent military bases constructed at enormous expense but not discussed and never approved. Of course the opposition party had already been in power in the Senate when it approved the war, but that was forgotten.

By 2006 all of the lies that had been told in 2003 were openly acknowledged as lies or at least “mistakes”, but it was considered impudence to mention it. Right up through 2005, people like Senator Jay Rockefeller played the role of uncoverers of lies. Once in power in 2006, they forgot all about it. There will be no “Phase 2” report from the Senate Intelligence Committee any more than there will be a “Petraeus Report.” In fact the leadership of the new majority party announced right away that ending the occupation and impeaching the president who had lied them into it were both “off the table.” The new power in town opened up with a “100 hour agenda” that did not even acknowledge that the war existed.

The hall of mirrors was just beginning. In March of 2007, a minority within the new majority party proposed to end the occupation through an amendment that would be proposed to a bill funding the continuation of the occupation. So, nobody lobbied against the bill, because they wanted the amendment. In fact, most of the well-funded backers of the new majority quietly opposed the amendment and backed the bill. On the day before the vote on the bill, the party leadership announced that no amendments would be allowed.

“And the case begins all over again?” asked K. almost incredulously.

Forgotten before it could even be thought of was the fact that you could end the occupation by simply not voting on any bills to keep funding it. With that firmly forgotten, the bill was passed and promoted as a way to gradually end the occupation through a series of steps. Now the steps could all be “waived” by the president, so forcing him to end his war would require his cooperation. And instead of bringing the soldiers home, they would be “redeployed” to occupy some other country. But there would be so many loopholes that actually they could all stay right where they were. Nonetheless, the bill required that the president meet certain silly goals (or claim to have done so) by July 1 and others by October 1or begin “redeployment” and be done in 180 days. Of course, the president vetoed this.

And the peace groups that had opposed the bill now protested its veto, because their televisions had told them for weeks it was a bill to slowly end the war. They completely forgot how enraged they had been when it passed, so enraged were they when it was vetoed.

Universally accepted was that we all needed a new bill.

Again, it had been firmly forgotten before even being thought of that you would end the occupation by not bringing up bills to fund it. So, on May 7, the minority for peace within the majority party for peace cut a deal with the leadership. If this time they could be allowed a vote on their proposal to end the occupation, even though they’d lose the vote, they’d be happy to vote again for an even worse bill that the president wouldn’t veto.

The new bill deleted everything related to “redeploying” the troops, but nobody was allowed to mention that topic on television or in a newspaper. Instead, the whole discussion was about the silly goals or “benchmarks” and how tough they were, even though the president was already known to approve of them. On May 10th, Congress voted on a bill to end the occupation, which failed, and then all but 10 of the same Congress Members who had just voted to end the occupation turned around and voted for the new bill to fund the occupation.

Congress Members Nancy Pelosi and David Obey turned against their own bill. They made sure it came up for a vote and passed, but voted against it. They were quite distressed. Obey remarked on the floor: “I hate this agreement. I’m going to vote against the major portion of this agreement even though I negotiated it.” Too confused to cover this nonsense, the media finally remembered that this new bill said nothing about ending the war.

The president signed the bill.

But even this bill did say something about a bunch of stupid “benchmarks” and actually required that the president report to Congress on his progress, even though Congress wouldn’t actually do anything about it, no matter what he said. The president was required by this law, which he himself signed into law, to produce two reports, one by July 15th and the other by September 15th . And the law requires that:

“Prior to the submission of the President’s second report on September 15, 2007, and at a time to be agreed upon by the leadership of the Congress and the Administration, the United States Ambassador to Iraq and the Commander, Multi-National Forces Iraq will be made available to testify in open and closed sessions before the relevant committees of the Congress.”

Thus was created the notion that Congress couldn’t get its act together and end the occupation until after September. That little fiction ate up four months. The White House announced that General David Petraeus, as the commander in Iraq, would produce the report. Then somebody leaked word that the White House would actually produce the report. Then somebody else leaked the content of an early draft of the report, and it conflicted with known facts. Then somebody else let it be known that there would be no written report at all, but that Petraeus would testify and might bring some “charts.”

Petraeus is still widely expected to show up and claim that violence is down in Iraq, although that would seem to be grounds for ending the occupation. But it is widely known that violence is actually up in Iraq, which might also seem to be good reason to end the occupation. The leadership in Congress has again made clear that it will provide yet more money for the occupation quite regardless of what Petraeus says. And again a minority of about 72 Congress Members is making a stand, but their position now is to “redeploy” the troops by 2009. However, they’re unlikely to stand by that.

Petraeus will come to Congress on Monday to murder it. After this, there can be no more pretense that Congress is an independent branch of government.

“A melancholy conclusion,” said K. “It turns lying into a universal principle.”