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Monday, July 29, 2013

Pentagon Refuses to Release Names of Enemies it's Fighting

Monday, July 29, 2013
Americans have been fighting and dying in a seemingly endless war since September 11, 2001, but the Department of Defense says we are not allowed to know exactly who we are fighting.

Like the Oceana Ministry of Peace in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, which kept the public confused by occasionally switching sides in the book’s three-sided, perpetual war among Oceana, Eurasia and Eastasia, the Pentagon is refusing to release the names of the enemies the U.S. is currently fighting on the grounds that the information is classified.

The pronouncement came in response to a request from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), at a May hearing during which military officials claimed that the war authorization passed by Congress just one week after the 9/11 attacks gives them the power to put “boots on the ground” anywhere in the world in order to fight “Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces.” Levin simply requested a list of the so-called “associated forces.”

Although the Pentagon gave the list to Levin, it told him it was classified and not to be shared with the public.

A Pentagon spokesman told the journalism website ProPublica that revealing the list could cause “serious damage to national security” by allowing listed organizations to use their inclusion to inflate their importance, “build credibility … [and] strengthen their ranks.”

But Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor who wrestled with key terrorism issues while serving as director of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department from 2003 to 2004, sharply criticized the Pentagon’s rather speculative logic.

“If the organizations are ‘inflated’ enough to be targeted with military force, why cannot they be mentioned publicly?” asked Goldsmith, implying that their identity is probably well-known simply by observing whom the U.S. military is attacking. He also argued that in a democracy there is “a countervailing very important interest in the public knowing who the government is fighting against in its name.”
-Matt Bewig

To Learn More:
Who Are We at War With? That’s Classified (by Cora Currier, ProPublica)