Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Frist's strange passion for secret war
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   11/11/2005)

Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist wants to get to the bottom of something. He's so worked up he's calling for joint congressional hearings on the scale of the 9/11 Commission. He said as much in a letter to colleagues, a letter signed by him and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Good for them. It's time they got to the bottom of something.

In case you missed the story, I'll excuse you in advance for speculating about just what has Frist and Hastert so riled. In fact, I'd be speculating too. I'd be thinking, Hey, maybe they want to know whose bright idea it was to establish dozens of hell-hole prisons in at least eight foreign countries. If the Washington Post got it right, shady elements of our government concocted such prisons in order to get away with torture—or something like it.

Or could it be Frist and Hastert want Dick Cheney to come clean about who blew Valerie Plame's cover? Or why our government relied on forged documents from Italy when making its case for war. Or how top al-Qaida operatives—possibly including Osama bin Laden—were allowed to slip the noose at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, early in the war. (Google Tora Bora and Seymour Hersh for interesting reading). Maybe Hastert is hot to examine stock market anomalies related to World Trade Center companies just prior to 9/11. Could be Frist wants to learn how Halliburton lost track of billions in Iraq at the same time its stock began to soar. Is war profiteering still a crime?

Those legislators could be hot under the collar for any number of reasons. Just who profited from the UN oil-for-food scandal, they might ask How many lawmakers have fed at the trough of exploited Native American gaming interests? Who sat in on those secret energy sessions with Cheney? Maybe Frist and Hastert want to learn more about reports from Europe and the Middle East alleging that Americans used banned weapons at Fallujah one year ago. If such reporting ISN'T true, then who concocted those wrenching videos on the Internet showing naked children and young mothers running down the streets of Fallujah? Who faked those shots of caramelized and leathery corpses?

Maybe they'd like to know who paid to bring Ahmad Chalabi to Washington for toasts and teas this past Wednesday. Given his blood-and-oil stained hands, why isn't Chalbi undergoing tough questioning in some Third World prison? Or could it be Frist and Hastert want to understand how Bush can say, “We do not engage in torture,” when photographs proving otherwise stare us in the face?

Looking at the sad body-pile of naked scandal chronicled in the above paragraphs, I realize I've only panned the knobby surface. And I must admit I didn't include the answer I raised about just what has our senior senator and his pal from Illinois so worked up. For instance, if you jumped on the first idea mentioned there in the second paragraph, about prisons in foreign countries, for your answer, you'd be in the ballpark but you'd be running the bases in reverse, so to speak. Frist and Hastert are not worried about who had the poor taste to taint America's good name by placing torture within our embrace. No, they're coming at it from a quite different angle. What they want to spend your tax dollars on is to learn just WHO BLEW THE WHISTLE on our government. You see, they apparently don't believe in the Golden Rule—not when it comes to torture. Neither do they believe in Kant's Categorical Imperative. They probably regard such ideas as quaint. It's not clear the good Doctor Frist even believes “First, do no harm.” What he manifestly does believe in is Secret Government and Secret War.

It's no mystery why trained dogs and other tools and techniques leapt from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib and thence into hell-holes around the globe. Just look at a map. Our government seeded torture in Central America decades ago, as I can show you--most notably during the days of Iran-Contra--when the Reagan-Bush administration, against the will of Congress, funded secret armies. Bush-Cheney apparently thought the season was right for cloning torture and other secret practices from Central America to nearby Guantanamo, then on to the Middle East. That's why so many disgraced Iran-Contra figures have made new careers under Bush-Cheney.

Secret War requires Secret Government. Can't have one without the other, not on this scale. But don't worry your pretty little heads about it. We sleepy masses don't need to know what Uncle Sam's darker half does. Go back to sleep, child, it's all a bad dream. Rest assured your Secret Government is conducting Secret Wars to make the world safe for democracy--or something like it.