Comments: Russ Feingold Basically Thinks Sky Is Blue

It is also not possible for a journalist to ask questions as to how Israel's occupation of the nation known formerly as Palestine could be the source of its conflict with the Palestinians.

Posted by Elise Mattu at December 7, 2009 02:50 PM

General Richard Myers published a memoir Eyes on the Horizon. In it he describes Israel as "nuclear-armed Israel", you can search it on amazon.com.

It made news, two google hits!

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22nuclear+armed+israel%22++%22Eyes+on+the+Horizon%22

Posted by abb1 at December 7, 2009 05:11 PM

A passage from George Washington's Farewell Address that seems pertinent:

"In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests."


Of course, sometimes it is the small nation that dominates the relationship. A focused application of money working in combination with either the approbation or the censure of the media forwards the acceptance of this inversion of the expected among the careerist politicians and the chattering classes. But this only works given the broader, uncritical acceptance of the hasbara emanating from Israel among the general mass of the citizenry. Whence this acceptance? The ubiquity of apocalyptically-minded evangelicals, predisposed to conflate the policies of right wing zionists with the will of God is the essential catalyzing agent. It is as Frank Herbert observed in an aphorism from the Dune trilogy: "When religion and politics ride in the same cart, the whirlwind follows."

Wish we had listened better, George.

Posted by JerseyJeffersonian at December 7, 2009 05:16 PM

"FEINGOLD: I basically think it is, but I’m not somebody who is privy to all the details on that. Pakistan clearly is, Pakistan concedes it, admits it."

That is strange! I guess Sen Feingold does not listen to NPR or read the NYTimes. In an interview with NPR, Benny Morris talked about existence of Israeli nuclear arsenal for 40 years!!!!! If Ha'aretz and even Jerusalem Post can write things about what is happening in Israel, why are our elected officials so shy about admitting it? And I thought, they were EXPECTED TO KNOW and if not, make it their business to find out about what is happening in the world and specially in Israel!
here

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92830822

Posted by Rupa Shah at December 7, 2009 08:23 PM

Feingold is waiting for Sharon to confirm it to him.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at December 7, 2009 11:58 PM

One thing I've often wondered about is why Ahmedinejad (seemingly) never talks about Israel's nukes. I realize comments he might make(in translation) to the Anglophone press might never get to us, but you'd think that if he has spoken about it in any interview with Western press, we'd hear about it at least indirectly.

Posted by Jonathan Versen at December 8, 2009 12:08 AM

Well, I guess Russ will have a long wait since, to all intents and purposes, Ariel has left the building. I suppose that Mordecai Vanunu has nothing to contribute towards the resolution of this mystery; at least not if he wants to stay out of prison, that is.

Posted by JerseyJeffersonian at December 8, 2009 12:09 AM

For Ahmedinejad to openly speak of the Israeli nuclear arsenal would only heighten suspicions (if that were possible) that Iran wants to use this as a pretext for the development of its own nuclear weaponry. Since they steadfastly maintain that they have no such intent, too many statements along those lines would be counterproductive in their efforts to catapult the propaganda.

Posted by JerseyJeffersonian at December 8, 2009 12:17 AM

no one has commented on his specific word-choice:
I am not *free* to comment on that.

just why not, russ?

Posted by anonymous at December 8, 2009 09:33 AM

Feingold isn't just somebody with an opinion. As a member of the Senate Intel Committee, he has surely received classified briefings that address this issue. He said "I am not free to comment on that" because of the severe restrictions now placed on release of classified information even to the members of the Congressional Intelligence Committees, and definitely by them once they have been briefed. Those onerous restrictions are absurd in a democracy, but they are there, because of course we don't have a REAL democracy. In practice, we have a sham.

Anyone who wants a well-written account of the origins of these secrecy laws can read the late Angus Mackenzie's book Secrets: The CIA's War at Home (1996). It is an excellent and illuminating book, and the developments Mackenzie traces from the mid 60s to just after the end of the cold war (when secrecy actually increased) is an important part of the explanation for how we have reached this dreadful state of affairs even though we have a Freedom of Information Act and elections and other formalities of democracy that don't get the job done.

Posted by N E at December 8, 2009 10:31 AM

"One thing I've often wondered about is why Ahmedinejad (seemingly) never talks about Israel's nukes.

In fact, he has! And it is in the jewish magazine FORWARD!
"Ahmadinejad: As Long as Israel Has Nukes, So Will We"on October 27, 2009
here
http://forward.com/articles/117765/

Posted by Rupa Shah at December 8, 2009 10:34 AM

Unbelievable! Do they all go to the same PR people and image-makers? To stand there and lie in their teeth--HOW do they do it? How come they don't get all flustered and red in the face, as I would? And to "answer" with non-answers, then to WALK AWAY into a building! Scum of the earth is what they are!

Posted by Rosemary Molloy at December 8, 2009 10:43 AM

Feingold isn't just somebody with an opinion. As a member of the Senate Intel Committee, he has surely received classified briefings that address this issue. He said "I am not free to comment on that" because of the severe restrictions now placed on release of classified information even to the members of the Congressional Intelligence Committees, and definitely by them once they have been briefed.

This doesn’t wash. If the Intel Committee discusses drones targeting Afghans a Senator is then not free to voice an opinion? Feingold could have easily referenced information the whole world knows.

This is clearly a case of all-too-common self censorship in service of protecting Israel’s standing. Lesson: don’t expect anything from Congress on this issue.

Posted by Butch in Waukegan at December 8, 2009 10:45 AM

thanks butch. if the Jerusalem Post, Guardian, etc., etc., etc., can freely talk about Israel's nukes, then the "classified info" line is a bunch of BS. Russ knows who's making his matzah balls.

clearly war is not doing its job of teaching americans geography, either. someone please tell russ pakistan is not "in the middle east."

Posted by anonymous at December 8, 2009 11:06 AM

jerseyjeffersonian

There actually is no mystery. It is widely known that Israel has nukes and has had them since at least the early 70s, when apparently a little thought was given to using them as the Syrian tanks started rolling across the Golan. (When Sy Hersh writes a book about something, it has stopped being a secret.) Unlike most nuclear powers, which acquire the weapons precisely so they can brandish them about with menace to show how tough they are, Israel doesn't face an adversary with nukes, as Pakistan does in India, that would force it to claim its own nuclear deterrent. And Israel obviously doesn't want all the other Gulf states to claim entitlement to their own nukes, which would be dangerous AND take away its greatest military advantage AND risk messing up its relationship with the US, (which likes Israel but REALLY LIKES oil), so Israel tries to keeps Vanunu quiet and says nothing. All the governments of the world know the Israeli nukes are there, so the Israelis don't have to admit anything anyway. And we abuse our secrecy laws to keep anyone from blurting out what everybody knows because the American people can't know something just because everybody else in the world does. Heaven forbid, that might brown down this whole house of cards.

Posted by N E at December 8, 2009 12:19 PM

butch

feingold may want to hide behind the secrecy agreements for political reasons too, but they are there. Never having been given a briefing (Did you know even staffers can't be in the room under the present law?), I can't say why they classify one thing but not another, but they get to do that. I'd say they get to do whatever the hell they want.

I agree with your conclusion and advice about congress.

Posted by N E at December 8, 2009 12:27 PM

NE is correct, as far as he goes: "Feingold isn't just somebody with an opinion. As a member of the Senate Intel Committee, he has surely received classified briefings that address this issue. He said "I am not free to comment on that" because of the severe restrictions now placed on release of classified information even to the members of the Congressional Intelligence Committees, and definitely by them once they have been briefed."

NE doesn't mention the felony aspects of disclosure however.

What is interesting is that Feingold is being castigated for not replying to the effect that Isreal is a nuclear state. That wasn't the question however. I wonder what nuclear states in the Mid East Feingold is aware of. Then there is the question of what is a nuclear weapon.

Posted by NG at December 8, 2009 03:14 PM
HUSSEINI: Helen Thomas asked Obama at his first news conference if he knew of any country in the Mideast which possesses nuclear weapons. He said he didn’t want to "speculate." Senator, do you know of any country in the Mideast that has nuclear weapons?

FEINGOLD: I’m not free to comment on that.

—————————————————————

NG:

NE doesn't mention the felony aspects of disclosure however.

What is interesting is that Feingold is being castigated for not replying to the effect that Isreal is a nuclear state. That wasn't the question however. I wonder what nuclear states in the Mid East Feingold is aware of. Then there is the question of what is a nuclear weapon.

Too cute. The question was clearly about Israel.

So you are implying that it would be a felony if Feingold replied something like this:

“It has been reported by many news outlets, including many Israeli newspapers, that Israel possesses several hundred nuclear weapons, and has possessed nuclear capability for over 40 years.”

If it wasn’t a felony this wise Democrat would like to contribute an opinion. Is that what you’re claiming?

The context for this question is the US government and Israel want to maintain a simple fictional narrative, and the reporter was trying to expose the contradictions. What Feingold is doing by declining, for whatever reason, to straightforwardly answer the question is to shield Israel. Iran (unlike Israel), is a signatory of the IAEA non-proliferation treaty. Acknowledging this undermines the narrative.

The bipartisan Washington consensus is to never, never admit this fact.

Posted by Butch in Waukegan at December 8, 2009 07:08 PM

To NE's point about briefing rules:

Staffers were in the room when the CIA briefed on torture (according to the CIA report purporting to show that members of Cong were briefed on torture, which granted was a self-serving, after-the-fact, recreated list full of inaccurate dates).

On one level, it's hand-waving to cite the law on intel briefings, give the extent to which the agency has made it customary to violate it, and Congress' failure to do anything about it.

The 'Gang of Eight' (House Speaker and minority leader, Senate Majority and minorit leader, chairs and ranking members of the two chambers' Intel committees) exception has swallowed the rule that all the members of the Intel Committees have to be briefed. During Bush-Cheney regime this was further abused with separate briefings for only one or two members of the Gang of Eight at a time, and often not even complete then (more than once only Republicans were briefed).

Posted by Nell at December 8, 2009 07:11 PM

Shocking, that N E would pretend to know all about what moral imperatives would cause Russ "AIPAC's Boy" Feingold to stay mum.

Yeah, N E. Congressional Procedure rules trump humane behavior every time. Rules are always more important than the spirit behind them. The meaning of laws, rules, regulations is irrelevant. What matters is STRICT ADHERENCE to their exact letter, and/or the most cramped and authoritarian interpretation thereof.

N E doesn't know his ass from a whale's blowhole on this subject, but he sure does post authoritative-sounding bullshit aplenty.

Posted by the anti-federalist at December 8, 2009 08:14 PM

Now NG talks of "felony aspects of disclosure".

Oh holy shit. Now the real sycophants are here.

What's next? The accusation that if someone mentioned Israel's nukes on an open floor in the Rayburn Building, he'd be "assassinated like Paul Wellstone"?

Jesus, you slimy apologists don't know a damned thing about laws and regulations apart from the most narrow, fettered readings to justify imperialism. Y'all should be working for Midget Dennis.

Posted by the anti-federalist at December 8, 2009 08:18 PM

"anti-federalist" - be more polite, please

In the spirit of Jonathan's "crock" photo, on an adjacent post, I would like to share a nineteenth century poem about those who are very firm in their opinions - and as an exercise for the reader, one of the following verses was actually written by myself, during the twentieth century. See if you can pick it out.

John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

BLIND MEN AND AN ELEPHANT

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
I see, quoth he, the Elephant
Is very like a snake!

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain, quoth he;
'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: Even the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!?

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
I see, quoth he, the Elephant
Is very like a rope!

The Seventh blind man, staff in hand,
Upon his bare feet goes.
I clearly sense, he calmly said,
And wish for all to know
The Elephant is warm and squishy
In between the toes!

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Moral:

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

-- John Godfrey Saxe

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at December 9, 2009 08:20 AM

" the way 99.8% of D.C. journalists have somehow agreed never to ask politicians about it?"
that is frustrating as hell. we need to institute a system where the public can get their questions answered in a formal and regularly scheduled Q & A sessions.
I show a clip of Chomsky talking giving another example of the media REFUSING to report something about Israel. (video)

Posted by Tom Murphy at December 9, 2009 10:15 AM

I certainly don't defend Congress as it presently functions in our system, let alone the Gang of Eight, but the CIA can't be believed, and the briefing rules and law related to disclosures of classified information have evolved and are in both instances intended to minimize leaks, punish and intimidate leakers, muffle Congress, and generally keep the citizenry in the dark. I don't know why pointing that out is construed as some sort of sycophancy or a defense of Feingold. I guess the emotion behind that view is that saying anything other than "Feingold sucks!" is letting him off the hook. Whether or not that's so, the problem goes well beyond that.

Of course criticizing Israel is dangerous for a politician, and politicians aren't commonly courageous, but that really doesn't mean every politician is always motivated by the fear of Israel alone. There are other wolves in the forest.

Posted by N E at December 9, 2009 04:36 PM

Russ needs to take some lessons from the Brits, who know how to phrase such things.

When asked whether Israel has nuclear weapons, he should say, 'You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment.'

Posted by NomadUK at December 10, 2009 07:27 AM