Freshman ’15

What is Tom Cotton’s actual damage over Iran? He’s obsessed with them, and I’d like to know why. He doesn’t know where Tehran is. Drafted the snotty look-down letter from the Senate Republicans informing Iran how our government works. Gets into a Twitter fight with their foreign minister. And now he’s going to take a giant shit on the Corker bill by forcing a vote on the 19,000 amendments that whacko Republicans have filed, to include one by Marco Rubio demanding that Iran recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

This begs another question: who the fuck is Tom Cotton anyway? His attention-grabbing antics began in 2006, when the New York Times published a story about the CIA and Treasury gaining access to international bank records to follow “terrorists”. Risen and Co. did good journalism, reporting on how far-ranging the program was and bringing attention to the potential for abuse of such a network. Tommy Cotton was in Iraq when that story broke. He did then what he is now infamous for. He wrote a letter to the Times. I’ll put it in full here, this was a long time ago and I think it is an important glimpse into the mentality of this character.

Dear Messrs. Keller, Lichtblau & Risen:

Congratulations on disclosing our government’s highly classified anti-terrorist-financing program (June 23). I apologize for not writing sooner. But I am a lieutenant in the United States Army and I spent the last four days patrolling one of the more dangerous areas in Iraq. (Alas, operational security and common sense prevent me from even revealing this unclassified location in a private medium like email.)

Unfortunately, as I supervised my soldiers late one night, I heard a booming explosion several miles away. I learned a few hours later that a powerful roadside bomb killed one soldier and severely injured another from my 130-man company. I deeply hope that we can find and kill or capture the terrorists responsible for that bomb. But, of course, these terrorists do not spring from the soil like Plato’s guardians. No, they require financing to obtain mortars and artillery shells, priming explosives, wiring and circuitry, not to mention for training and payments to locals willing to emplace bombs in exchange for a few months’ salary. As your story states, the program was legal, briefed to Congress, supported in the government and financial industry, and very successful.

Not anymore. You may think you have done a public service, but you have gravely endangered the lives of my soldiers and all other soldiers and innocent Iraqis here. Next time I hear that familiar explosion — or next time I feel it — I will wonder whether we could have stopped that bomb had you not instructed terrorists how to evade our financial surveillance.

And, by the way, having graduated from Harvard Law and practiced with a federal appellate judge and two Washington law firms before becoming an infantry officer, I am well-versed in the espionage laws relevant to this story and others — laws you have plainly violated. I hope that my colleagues at the Department of Justice match the courage of my soldiers here and prosecute you and your newspaper to the fullest extent of the law. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.

Very truly yours,

Tom Cotton
Baghdad, Iraq

The military can fry an enfeebled brain, and make its host do and say ridiculous things. It can make you posture up. It can make you think you are what we called a “subject matter expert”. He also thinks he is very sardonic, doesn’t he? The article did nothing to “instruct” anyone how to avoid detection. Besides, I am sure Al-Qaeda and any other organization worth being organized knows how to stay off the grid anyway. Most of the funding probably comes/came from hawala. Furthermore, securing a prosecution under the Espionage Act against a journalist has never been successful. They couldn’t nail Daniel Ellsberg, and what he did was orders of magnitude more damaging to the national security state. In the end, I sincerely doubt that Al-Qaeda read the articles and stopped doing whatever it was they were doing suddenly. I am sure that they are keenly aware that every move they make is being watched. But that didn’t stop Tommy Cotton from disparaging freedom of the press while serving in the military that is supposed to protect and defend the Constitution.

So, truth be told, what we have here is just one more dickhead from the service with half an education, a puffed chest and a big mouth. If you must, here’s a list of other wonderful things about our new senator. Good luck keeping this one on a leash, McConnell. Arkansas should be quarantined-first Huckabee, now this maroon.

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