When the Military Times editorial calling for Rumsfeld's resignation made the news over the weekend, I wrote my fellow MojoWire editors privately to express my misgivings about predicting GOP retention of both houses of Congress. That single event seemed to signal to me that the military brass had privately brandished an extremely frightening set of teeth and claws to the civilian leadership of the Bush Administration, going all the way up to the President, making it clear that the midterm election had better not come up with official results that wildly diverge from independent exit polling numbers or there will be very serious Hell To Pay as a consequence.
My fellow editors didn't respond to my crazy tinfoil hat theorizing, so I still don't know what they think about that.
I didn't respond because I'm not sure what I think about that. It certainly sounds logical from what I understand of the available facts. There is just no way I can see to advance this notion beyond the hypothetical. Essentially, S9 seems to be suggesting the military, or a faction thereof, threatened the civilian leadership with some sort of retribution if they engaged in any kind of electoral hijinks beyond the usual dirty tricks. What those consequences are is the rub. In order to scare them more than losing Congress and possibly (if highly unlikely) going to jail or being impeached, it would have to be pretty harsh. I am clinging perhaps naively to the idea that military force was not on the menu.
I don't think it is beyond the realm of the possible or even likely that various people in the Pentagon, frustrated by the civilian leadership, have files or memos in their possession that could make life unpleasant for certain people. I have no doubt that what we know about the terrible actions of the Cheney Cabal is the tip of the iceberg, and that the truth would explode our heads like Pumpkins at a backwoods turkey shoot. People in the Administration are guily of War Crimes, at least in the Nuremberg sense, regardless of how many 1L legal rationalizations get scribbled down by Conservative legal pukes. And we know military lawyers have been less than thrilled about how the military's core values about torture and POW treatment embedded in the UCMJ was so casually and contemptuously dismissed by the Cheneyites.
Obviously the issue of the military or faction within the military threatening the civilian leadership in this fashion is a Faustian bargain, even if I like the outcome. And clearly the Pentagon is a political player that often leverages their direct supervisors through the same methods other people institutions do, most notably during the Clinton Administration where they bullied the White House some through their friends on the Armed Services Committees.
My take on the tension between this White House and military has been focused on the electoral consequences of the constant rotations in Iraq pressuring military families and eroding the loyalty of that consituency to the Republican party. It's not the largest constituency, but it has serious credibility among many other republican factions. If military people are unhappy, that unhappiness influences the GOP rank and file. I would also like to point out that MANY people in the military agree in large part with the destruction of many of the legal barriers to more aggresive action, particularly the covert kind.
I need more information before I really form a concrete opinion on this. If someone(s) in the Pentagon threateded disclosure or someother whistleblower activity to spook the Administration into better behaviour, I can live with that. If something of a higher order was threatened, that's in a different league, and that truly scares me.
On a related note, in light of the conflict between CIA and the White House/DOD/VP Axis, is the ascension of Gates, one of Poppy's lieutenants, the final laugh of Old School Langley, thier revenge for the insult of Porter Goss?