29 Senate Democrats Help Trump Evade Law To Appoint Bloodthirsty General
When Congress passed the National Security Act in 1947, it did so to protect American democracy from the growing power of the U.S. military. World War II had just ended, and Americans saw the danger of fascist states in which national government, military power, and industrial power were combined. The idea behind the law was to ensure that the American military remained under civilian, democratic control.
The National Security Act was also designed to prevent corruption in the military and civilian government, by interfering in the revolving door as military officers moved into positions as lobbyists with corporate military contractors, and then into the Defense Department (originally and more honestly the Department of War) that was supposed to regulate both.
The National Security Act starts at the top, prohibiting the nomination anyone who has recently held a military office to the position of Secretary of Defense. Originally, this prohibition last ten years, but in 2008 this provision was watered down so that 10 U.S. Code § 113 now states “There is a Secretary of Defense, who is the head of the Department of Defense, appointed from civilian life by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. A person may not be appointed as Secretary of Defense within seven years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force.”
James Mattis, Donald Trump’s nominee to the position of Secretary of Defense, exemplifies what motivated Congress to pass the National Security Act in the first place.
Mattis has consistently displayed a reckless temperament as a general in the military. Mattis has declared that killing people is “quite fun”. He has said that war is “a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people.” Mattis has instructed his officers to “have a plan to kill everybody you meet,” and said that ““There is nothing better than getting shot at.”
These statements indicate a mental instability that makes Mattis unsuitable to serve as Secretary of Defense. In old-fashioned language, James Mattis is too bloodthirsty to be trusted as the civilian head of the U.S. military. No one who believes that war is fun should be given authority over nuclear weapons.
James Mattis isn’t just psychologically unstable, though. He’s also ethically corrupt.
After James Mattis left the military just a short while ago, he took a spin through the revolving door into a stint as a Director of General Dynamics, an international weapons merchant that has contracts with the U.S. military. If Mattis is confirmed as Secretary of Defense, it will be another spin through the revolving door of corruption, as Mattis will be granted considerable power to direct big contracts toward General Dynamics.
Donald Trump is nominating James Mattis from a position of weakness. Trump has no government experience, and he has earned no mandate to impose extreme changes in the administration of the federal government. Trump lost the popular vote by millions of ballots and barely won the Electoral College in an election that appears to have been thrown his way by a foreign power.
In these circumstances, one would assume that members of the opposition party, the Democrats, in the Senate would subject a nominee such as James Mattis to an unusual degree of scrutiny.
Instead, what happened yesterday afternoon is that 29 Senate Democrats rolled over on to their backs and submitted to Donald Trump. They joined the Senate Republicans to pass a special piece of legislation giving James Mattis an individual exemption from the National Security Act, so that he can be considered for the position of Secretary of Defense even though he doesn’t meet the requirements of the job.
Only 17 Senate Democrats had the backbone to vote no, and insist that Donald Trump find a Secretary of Defense nominee who actually complies with the law.
This vote is a very bad sign, indicating that most Senate Democrats have no intention of putting up any serious resistance to Donald Trump.
The cowardly Senate Democrats who voted to help Donald Trump advance an unqualified nominee toward becoming Secretary of Defense were:
Catherine Cortez Masto
Margaret Wood Hassan
Charles Schumer – the Senate Minority “Leader”, leading the retreat