Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 1 (1 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   No comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

McChrystal's Rise: More Secrets, Less Daylight

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

- Advertisement -
May 13, 2009

All along there were two US wars in Iraq. There was the public war, in which the Pentagon tried to manipulate the mainstream media into being a "message amplifier," while some intrepid reporters and bloggers fought back. Then there was the secret war carried out by the Special Operations forces, whose existence was denied even by the Pentagon.

Now the secret operations threaten to completely compromise what remains of the public war in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the ascension of Gen. Stanley McChrystal to top commander from his classified role in running Special Ops in Iraq for five years.

When questioned by the media or senators presiding at his confirmation hearing in a few weeks, Gen. McChrystal may have a simple answer to anything troubling: sorry, that is classified.

The mystique of secrecy may come to shroud all public inquiry about Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are questions to be answered, however.

One is framed on page 380 of Bob Woodward's book The War Within, in which the author describes a top-secret operation in 2006 that targeted and killed insurgents with such effectiveness that it gave "orgasms" to Derek Harvey, a top aide to Gen. David Petraeus and longtime tracker of Iraqi dissidents. The secret program was led by McChrystal, then a lieutenant commander, using signals intercepts, informants and other tools of what McChrystal calls "collaborative warfare" through Special Access Programs (SAPS) and Special Compartmented Information (SCI.) McChrystal, according to the New York Times, conducted and commanded most of his secret missions at night. These missions were consistent with the proposals of Petraeus's top counterinsurgency adviser at the time, David Kilcullen, to revive the discredited Phoenix Program used in South Vietnam.

This expanding secret war is crucial to understand for three reasons. First, according to Woodward's claim, it was "more important than the surge" in reducing insurgent violence in Iraq. Second, the Special Ops units served as judge, jury and executioner in hundreds of extrajudicial killings. The targeted victims were from broad categories such as "the Sunni insurgency" and "renegade Shiite militias" or other "extremists." Third, and most important, the operation was kept secret from the American public, media and perhaps even the US Congress.

Woodward himself agreed to self-censorship, choosing to accept the Pentagon's argument that to disclose any details "might lead to unraveling of state secrets that have been so beneficial in Iraq."
- Advertisement -

And there the matter has been left, without a single follow-up story, investigation or Congressional inquiry.

Three years later, Iraq is far from being a pacified US ally, raising the question of whether the secret killing campaign was partly a desperate effort to get through the 2007-2008 political cycle in the United States.

The prospect of contending with secret counterinsurgency programs is not a secret but a well-known challenge to those on the receiving end in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The real point is that Special Operations allows the Pentagon to pull the wool over the eyes of the American public, media and Congress. Nothing requires an explanation, including the actual causes of American deaths.

If that seems a harsh conclusion, consider the one public "blot" we already know about concerning Gen. McChrystal's war record. An investigation by the Pentagon itself found him guilty of fabricating false information in the drama surrounding 2004 death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, an Arizona Cardinals football player who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. In 2007, McChrystal was held accountable for a Pentagon cover story that Tillman died from "devastating enemy fire," when in fact he was killed by accidental rounds from his own unit.

What kind of military leader would falsify the details of a soldier's death in order to create a patriotic legend for public consumption?
- Advertisement -

His rise can only mean an intensified campaign of secret--and dirty--warfare in the remote villages of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The public, the media and the Congress are entitled to know whether and how Gen. McChrystal will become transparent, accessible and accountable as he steps out of the shadows, or whether he will be committing America's future to the night.

About Tom Hayden
Tom Hayden is the author of The Other Side (1966, with Staughton Lynd), The Love of Possession Is a Disease With Them (1972), Ending the War in Iraq (2007) and Writings for a Democratic Society: The Tom Hayden Reader (2008). more...

Next Page  1  |  2

After fifty years of activism, politics and writing, Tom Hayden still is a leading voice for ending the war in Iraq, erasing sweatshops, saving the environment, and reforming politics through greater citizen participation.

Currently he is writing and advocating for US exiting Afghanistan. (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
Google Content Matches:
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Tom Hayden on Mark Rudd

Why Is a Progressive Think Tank Telling Obama to Escalate the War in Afghanistan?

Congress Votes for War, 65 Dissent

Has Bratton's LAPD Really Reformed?

Torture Now an Afghanistan Issue

Bernie Sanders Could Be the 2016 Democratic Candidate We've All Been Waiting For


The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
No comments


Tell a Friend: Tell A Friend

Copyright © 2002-2015, OpEdNews

Powered by Populum