Establishment thought and the War on Terror

The bin Laden killing is used to justify an acceleration, rather than winding down, of the War on Terror

Published May 29, 2011 1:30PM (EDT)

PBS' News Hour conducted a discussion of the Obama-supported, reform-free Patriot Act extension with conservative David Brooks and "liberal" Mark Shields, and it magnificently highlights conventional establishment thought on such matters (h/t reader DM).  First we have this from Brooks:

If you cover politics on the campaign trail, the Patriot Act is extremely unpopular, and can -- people running for office rail against it.

Once they get in office, especially those in charge of the national -- nation's security, they tend to support it. So, I assume, once they get in office and they understand what it's doing behind the scenes, they tend to think it's probably a good idea.

And this is what's happened to President Obama. It's what's happened to most people who are privy to how it actually works.

Our Leaders know secret things that we don't that make them know better, and justify their complete abandonment of what they promise when campaigning (and as I've said many times, if that's really what happened -- if Obama got into office and learned Secret Things that showed him that his criticisms of Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies were misguided -- then don't he and his defenders owe the GOP a serious apology for the inaccurate harsh criticisms they spewed all those years?).  Then Shields offered this "counterpoint":

I think the indispensable part that intelligence played in the capture and [sic] -- of Osama bin Laden probably strengthened the case for the Patriot Act's -- Patriot Act's reinstatement. And I would say intelligence remains the cornerstone of the exit strategy from Afghanistan and to Iraq to a considerable degree. And I think that neutralized some of the opposition.

Now that we killed bin Laden, we need civil-liberties-eroding measures like the Patriot Act more than ever.  The notion that the death of bin Laden would trigger a winding down in the War on Terror -- as though bin Laden was the cause of those policies rather than pretext for them -- will prove to be one of the more absurd notions advanced on such matters.  Speaking of which:

At least 14 civilians, including women and children, have been killed in a NATO air raid in the Afghan southern province of Helmand, local authorities say. . . .

The statement said the dead included five girls, seven boys and two women. . . .

Afghan authorities said on Sunday NATO had killed 52 people, mostly civilians, in air strikes against fighters, as violence picked up in recent weeks with the start of the fighting season.

Separately, the governor of Nuristan on Sunday said that 18 civilians and 20 police were killed by "friendly fire" during recent US-led air strikes against al-Qaeda-linked fighters in his troubled northeastern province.

More Afghans liberated by the U.S. . . . from their lives:  because, as we know, the killing of bin Laden changed everything.  When it comes to the absurdity department, one of the few things that can compete with the claim that the bin Laden killing will restrain the War on Terror is this event.

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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