Friday, October 28, 2005
The top two directors of Colombia's secret police were forced out this week as the government investigated allegations that the agency was mounting a money-making operation to sell intelligence and surveillance equipment to right-wing death squads.Our only ally in Latin America is a global drug merchant.
The scandal at the agency, the Administrative Department of Security, comes as human rights groups and some legislators have exposed heightened paramilitary activity, including infiltrations of Congress and the attorney general's office. The paramilitaries also continue trafficking in cocaine, despite disarmament talks that underpin President Álvaro Uribe's effort to pacify Colombia with billions in American aid.This story is not new, and under the Bush administration US foreign policy is deeply implicated in it. Early last June, two American soldiers were arrested for allegedly selling weapons to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a Right-wing paramilitary group who the US State Department has labeled a terrorist organization. While State Department spokesman Richard Boucher denied that the US was selling arms to an illegal organization, he would neither confirm nor deny whether the weapons were part of a $3.3 billion defense deal with Colombia.
Despite a twenty year, US funded "war on drugs," Colombia (one of the few remaining US allies in Latin America) remains one of the biggest producers of cocaine and traffickers of heroin in the world. Some think the drug war is a facade, a reason to aid the right-wing Colombian government in its on-going guerilla war against the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a communist group who have been blamed for the drug trafficking), because "the notion of a war against drug production is eminently more marketable to U.S. politicians and voters than a post-Cold War crusade against South American Communist guerrillas."
Now, let me get this straight: Colombia is our ALLY in Latin America, and Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and other left-of-center social democracies constitute a "New Axis of Evil,"TM do I have that right?
The Bush "war on terror" is a sham and a lie.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Patrick Fitzgerald is feeling the sting of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune--being assigned an investigation into the outing of a CIA agent by the Bush/Cheney White House. The mainstream and right-wing media are engaging in a rather gratuitous attack on the merits of the case against Rove/Libby/Cheney et al., and the character of the investigator, US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
The New York Times:
Ms. Hutchison appears to be having a "senior moment." On February 12, 1999, she addressed the Senate during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton:
With a decision expected this week on possible indictments in the C.I.A. leak case, allies of the White House suggested Sunday that they intended to pursue a strategy of attacking any criminal charges as a disagreement over legal technicalities or the product of an overzealous prosecutor....
On Sunday, Republicans appeared to be preparing to blunt the impact of any charges. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, speaking on the NBC news program "Meet the Press," compared the leak investigation with the case of Martha Stewart and her stock sale, "where they couldn't find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn't a crime."
Ms. Hutchison said she hoped "that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."
...the laws of our Country are applicable to us all, including the President, and they must be obeyed. The concept of equal justice under law and the importance of absolute truth in legal proceedings is the foundation of our justice system in the courts....Lying is a moral wrong. Perjury is a lie told under oath that is legally wrong....The President of the United States willfully, and with intent to deceive, gave false and misleading testimony under oath with respect to material matters that were pending before the Federal grand jury on August 17, 1998, as alleged in Article I presented to the Senate. I, therefore, vote `Guilty' on Article I of the Articles of Impeachment of the President in this Proceeding.Uh-HUH.
Carl Limbacher on NewsMax.com:
"That [Valerie Plame worked as a covert CIA agent] wasn't news to me," National Review Online's Cliff May reported way back in Sept. 2003. "I had been told that [Plame was CIA] - but not by anyone working in the White House. Rather, I learned it from someone who formerly worked in the government and he mentioned it in an offhand manner, leading me to infer it was something that insiders were well aware of."Also, NewsMax.com (they're having a conniption!):
The former deputy assistant attorney general who helped draft the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act blasted Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald on Wednesday, saying he may be getting "creative with law" in order to justify questionable indictments.The Conservative Voice:
Leaks said to have possibly come from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s office will, ostensibly, focus on “lapses of memory” surrounding conversations that occurred over 2 ½ years ago. If so, the supposed leaked information would support the claim by some that this will end up being a Martha Stewart-type case. The original indictment for insider-trading against Ms. Stewart was dropped. Instead, prosecutors brought charges against her for “lying” about charges that were never brought.NewsMax again(headline):
Patrick Fitzgerald Appointed by Longtime CronyThe New York Daily News:
"He's a vile, detestable, moralistic person with no heart and no conscience who believes he's been tapped by God to do very important things," one White House ally said, referring to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.
Whoa!!! Takes one to know one, eh?
Don't you just love it when they get desperate?
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
According to Sale, US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has asked the federal judge in charge of the case to empanel a new grand jury to continue the investigation when this jury's charge expires, after two years, on October 28.
Although most press accounts emphasized that Fitzgerald was likely to concentrate on attempts by Libby, Rove and others to cover up wrongdoing by means of perjury before the grand jury, lying to federal officials, conspiring to obstruct justice, etc. But federal law enforcement officials told this reporter that Fitzgerald was likely to charge the people indicted with violating Joe Wilson's civil rights, smearing his name in an attempt to destroy his ability to earn a living in Washington as a consultant.
The civil rights charge is said to include that "the conspiracy was committed using US government offices, buildings, personnel and funds," one federal law enforcement official said.
Other charges could include possible violations of US espionage laws, including the mishandling of US classified information, these sources said.
Sale is the Intelligence Correspondent for United Press International, a news service owned by right-wing religious leader and convicted felon Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. Unification Church-owned Washington Times and UPI have been very friendly to both the Bush administration and the GOP in the past. It is doubtful that Sale's story is "liberal media" mudslinging.
In the past, Sale has reported that Saddam Hussein was a CIA ally in Iraq as early as 1959, when he was part of a CIA-assisted squad charged with the assassination of Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim.
Israel, it seems, routinely guts and installs its own electronics systems in the F-16s it buys from the US. Presumably, the Isrealis believe they make better systems than the US (or we don't sell the same products overseas--even to our allies--that we use ourselves).
Under pressure from Washington, Israel has frozen a $100 million contract with Venezuela to make similar upgrades to that country's fighter jets. The pressure comes on the heels of a controversial Israeli deal with China to put Israeli electronics in a fleet of unmanned drones capable of carrying weapons.
An economic move or a political one?
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
2,000 dead for a series of lies. Nice work, Mr. President. Thanks, Howie. However, Steve Boylan, the chief spokesman for the American-led coalition force says not to worry--the 2,000th death should not be taken too seriously because it is an "artificial milestone."
There is no end in sight, and no strategy whatsoever to either win or get out. And this time next year we should be approaching 2, 750 deaths. But don't worry. That's not even a round number.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. William Webster Jr., the Commander of all coalition forces in Baghdad, said the Iraqi Army won't be ready to defend their country for two years.
God help us all for what we've done.
Howie says it was a "a few bad apples," and that there could never be approval from above for prisoner abuse (torture). But in the aftermath of the McCain amendment to a Pentagon spending bill that would explicitly outlaw "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" of prisoners in U.S. custody, the White House is looking for an exemption for the CIA.
Translation: It wants the CIA to legally be able to torture prisoners.
The White House proposal
states that the legislation approved by the U.S. Senate shall not apply to counterterrorism operations abroad or to operations conducted by "an element of the United States government" other than the Defense Department, the [Washington Post] reported, citing two unidentified sources.
This on the same day we see this story:
Autopsy reports on 44 prisoners who died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan indicate that 21 were the victims of homicide, including eight who appear to have been fatally abused by their captors, the American Civil Liberties Union reported Monday.
Howie will be upset with me because I am "picking on America" and not showing pictures of mercenaries being beheaded or hung from lampposts. Howie says I have "balls" for looking at US misdeeds and ignoring terrorists (as if). I am not picking on America, Howie, because America is not behind these things. America is not in favor of torture. This is the work of the Bush administration, and the neo-con overlords of the Project for a New American Century.
I want my country back from the Project for a New American Century. These anti-American thugs have perverted everything good about America.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Okay, Howie, are you ready?
Cheney outed Valerie Plame to Libby. Libby outed Plame to Judy Miller. Libby lied about the source of the info to a grand jury, saying he got Plame's identity from "a journalist" (this whopper was still circulating among the desperate right-wing media pundits this weekend). It is uncertain that either man knew of Plame's covert status with the CIA. But no matter, as it is the deliberate attempt to lure US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury investigation away from the Vice President that has Libby--and Presidential Aide Karl Rove--in hot water.
Howie is, of course, wringing his hands at the "criminalization of politics" going on in this case, indicting people for a crime that the grand jury was not originally charged to investigate.
Howie says I have a set of balls.
New polls show GOP control of Congress is in jeopardy. Whether it is because of their complicity in the Iraq war, their extremist positions on questions of "values," the various corruption scandals, or the over-all direction of the country, it looks more and more as though Republicans will--at the very least--lose control of the House of Representatives and, perhaps, the Senate.
According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll [Oct. 13-16, 2005], 45% of Americans polled believe the US would be better off if Congress were controlled by Democrats, 32% by Republicans. Both parties take note: 12% said the US would be better off if Congress were controlled by neither party.
A Diageo/Hotline Poll conducted by Financial Dynamics [Oct. 12-16, 2005] showed Democrats favored over the GOP by 38%-30%. In this poll, 22% said Congress should be controlled by neither party. However, in answering the question, "if the election for U.S. Congress were held today, would you be voting for the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate in your district where you live?" 40% said they would vote for the Democratic candidate, compared with 31% for the Republican. Only 10% said they would vote for neither party's candidate.
And an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll [Oct. 8-10, 2005] indicates that Democratic control of Congress is preferred by Americans over GOP control by 48%-39%.
And what happens when control of Congress shifts to the Democratic party? The answer is here.
In a letter asking the Justice Department to expand the scope of Fitzgerald's investigation, [Rep. Jerrold] Nadler [Dem., NY] says: "We now have reason to believe that high crimes may have been committed at the highest level [and] wrongdoing that may have led us to war and imperiled our national security.”We now have reason to believe? My God, have we all got our heads in the sand? I understand that the Democrats don't want to appear blood-thirsty, and have the impeachment effort come off as a partisan political move (it should never be partisan, but it is and must be inherently political). But, come on folks. It was clear from the opening salvo in the WMD campaign that we were basing our public motivations for invading Iraq on lies. Not "bad intelligence," but lies.
In quotes picked up by the Ithaca Journal, [Rep. Maurice] Hinchey [Dem., NY] said in August: "My greatest hope is that all of these things will be revealed, they will be revealed in a very direct and legal context, and that in 2006 a Democratic majority will be elected to the House of Representatives, and in February of  impeachment proceedings will begin.""The air is humming, and something great is coming..."
Friday, October 21, 2005
Thursday, October 20, 2005
And why are 68% of Americans dissatisfied with the way things are going in their country? Because their President is a liar and a hypocrite, and presides over one of the most incompetent and corrupt administrations in their lifetimes. But the chickens appear to be coming home to roost...
As I suggested yesterday, there may be justification here for a charge of obstruction of justice. Let's make some noise on this one, folks. Write your congressional reps, Senate and House, and let them know you want to know the TRUTH!
Democrats asked the White House on Wednesday for details of President George W. Bush's private conversations in 2003 with top political adviser Karl Rove after conflicting reports about whether Bush was aware of any role by Rove in the outing of a covert CIA operative. ...In a letter to Bush on Wednesday, Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, asked for details about the president's conversations with Rove after The New York Daily News reported that the president was initially furious with Rove when Rove conceded in 2003 that he had talked to the press about Wilson's wife. The Daily News account appeared to contradict assertions earlier this month by sources close to the case that Rove had kept his role from Bush, assuring him in a brief conversation in the fall of 2003 that he was not involved in any effort to punish Wilson by disclosing his wife's identity. The Daily News said those earlier reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.
From the Holy American Crusaders for the Culture of Life, we have the following:
Australian television aired video yesterday showing US soldiers in Afghanistan allegedly burning two dead Taliban fighters and using the charred bodies in an attempt to taunt other enemy forces in the area....the Taliban bodies were intentionally laid out on the ground to face Mecca, part of what the broadcast described as a deliberate desecration of Muslim beliefs. Two US soldiers, said to be specialists in psychological operations, were pictured reciting propaganda messages aimed at Taliban fighters in surrounding mountains, calling them too ''cowardly" to retrieve the bodies.From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article Five, 2300, we have this:
The bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection. The burial of the dead is a corporal work of mercy; it honors the children of God, who are temples of the Holy Spirit.I hate to start going all fundamentalist on you, dear reader. But did you ever think: If God is really sending us tsunamis, category 5 hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides, and viral pandemics because She is angry with us, could it not be because of things like this?
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak.So why hasn't Bush fired Rove? On Cotober 7, 2003, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said
If someone leaked classified information, the President wants to know. If someone in this administration leaked classified information, they will no longer be a part of this administration, because that's not the way this White House operates, that's not the way this President expects people in his administration to conduct their business.So, was Bush initially misinformed? Did Rove hide his involvement?
A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.So why hasn't Bush fired Turdblossom? In 2004 Bush stated that he did not know of "anybody in my administration who leaked classified information."
If Bush knew and did nothing, doesn't an argument exist for obstruction of justice charges?
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Why aren't Americans taking their President to task for breaking his promises (to say nothing of the law)?
Why have they put so much faith in someone so transparently dishonest?
Can anyone explain to me what has happened to the America I grew up in?
I couldn't agree more.
We need more human intelligence. That means we need more protection for the methods we use to gather intelligence and more protection for our sources, particularly our human sources, people that are risking their lives for their country. (Applause)
Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors.
(Hat tip to Duncan Black)
Will Bunch in the Philly Daily News raises some great questions about Miller's recent resume: how, despite being a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter, she "forgot" which high White House source broke federal law and leaked to her the name of a CIA agent; how she got a security clearance and had access to secret information; how, despite being taken off the beat by NYT editor Bill Keller after the Iraq WMD fiasco, "she kept kind of drifting on her own back into the national security realm," etc.
But there is another piece of the story little noted, John Bolton was a regular source for her during the reporting on Iraqi WMDs, he visited Miller in prison, and Miller was one of the main reporters, nationwide, driving the storyline on the UN Oil-for-Food "scandal."
From Barbara Crossette, former New York Times UN bureau chief (1994-2001), writing on Poynter Online (a web service for journalists):
Obscured behind the large issues of weapons of mass destruction and Joseph Wilson's links with the CIA is another story. Over the last year or so, Judith Miller also wrote a series of damaging reports on the "oil for food" scandal at the United Nations -- in particular, personally damaging to Secretary General Kofi Annan because the reports were frequently based on half-truths or hearsay peddled on Capitol Hill by people determined to force Annan out of office. At the UN, this was interpreted as payback for the UN's refusal to back the US war in Iraq.
Liberal media, Howie?
Venezuelan Attorney General Isaiah Rodriguez says that the CIA was responsible for the death of Judge Danilo Anderson, who at the time of his death was investigating alleged CIA involvement in the attempted coup against President Hugo Chavez.
We took a look at this rumor earlier, but the rumblings barely below the surface seem to indicate that Vice President Dick Cheney might be a target of US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury investigation into the "outing" of Valerie Plame.
Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch.Stay tuned...
- He lies about our motivations and intentions in invading and occupying Iraq.
- He emasculates the CIA, and allows his defense secretary to create a new super-secret spy agency beyond the oversight of elected representatives.
- He shows utter contempt for the press, and the people feel that contempt.
- He appoints an Attorney General who supports the use of torture by American GIs.
- He ignores, then tries to emasculate the United Nations.
- He claims to oppose terrorism, but allows the US to harbor terrorists.
- His administration breaks federal laws and endangers intelligence operatives to get revenge on its enemies.
Is it any wonder that only 39% of Americans approve of the job he is doing?
Monday, October 17, 2005
Washington is abuzz with rumors and projections that the Democrats are heading back to power. Polls show that when a generic ballot is offered, Democrats outperform Republicans by 11 percentage points.Last week's NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll bears that out.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
"The special counsel has not advised Mr. Rove that he is a target of the investigation and affirmed that he has made no decision concerning charges," Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, said. "The special counsel has indicated that he does not anticipate the need for Mr. Rove's further cooperation."
But William Kristol, editor of the neo-con Weekly Standard, and chairman of the Project for a New American Century (the real architects of the Iraq invasion and occupation) believes that both Rove and Kristol will be indicted. (Note: Bill O' Reilly thinks that if Rove is indicted, it will be "bad for the country." Not that Rove might have broken federal law, but that he might be indicted for breaking federal law.)
Miller says "she forgot" which high White House source exposed Valerie Plame's identity as a covert CIA operative. Okay. Sure. Fine. But we all read her reports on Iraq's WMDs, their links to Al Qa'ida, and their complicity in the attacks on September 11, 2001. And we believed them. Now, we believe she forgets? I think not.
Reports say that Libby and/or Rove were angry that
a dissident faction inside the US spy agency...appeared to work even behind the back of the CIA director to debunk the notion Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.In other words, some part of the CIA was trying to tell the truth, and were actively opposed by Rove, Libby, Condoleeza Rice and the rest of the White House Iraq Group. Judith Miller's testimony to US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury supported the claim that
Libby was concerned the CIA was engaged in a “perverted war” over the war in Iraq and resorted to “selective leaking” of information in order to drive its point home...In other words, that some part of the CIA was trying to tell the truth, and were actively opposed by Rove, Libby, Condoleeza Rice and the rest of the White House Iraq Group.
And the Times's handling of Miller during the whole WMD fiasco?
Miller "comes away from this heavily damaged and not some sort of heroine of the First Amendment," said Harvard media analyst Alex Jones, a former Times reporter.
"If you read between the lines, in a dry and subtle way, (the Times report) raises tremendous concerns about the leadership at the paper," said Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher magazine "Miller basically hijacked the newspaper."
Meanwhile, another five U.S. GIs were killed in Iraq on Saturday when their vehicle was hit by an improvised bomb in the western city of Ramadi. That brings the US death toll to 1,970.
Who was she working for--the Times or the Defense Department?
I called it months ago.
Hats off to Katharine (Editor Mom) for this one.
Friday, October 14, 2005
During Bush's heavily choreographed Kabuki dance with US GIs in Iraq, we heard about how ready the Iraqi security forces are to fight.
Capt. Brent Kennedy of the Army's 42nd Infantry Division said U.S. and Iraqi forces were working together to secure more than 1,250 polling places for Saturday's vote. "We're working right alongside with the Iraqis as they lead the way in securing these sites," Kennedy said.Yet an Iraqi newspaper sees things differently.
Sgt. Corine Lombardo of Scotia, N.Y., told Bush that Iraqi forces had shown significant improvement over the last 10 months. "Since we began our partnership, they have improved greatly," Lombardo said.Added 1st Lt. Gregg A. Murphy of Tennessee: "The important thing here is that the Iraqi army and the Iraqi security forces, they're ready, and they're committed. They're going to make this thing happen."
The meeting [Iraqi Defense Conference] comes amid reports that most of the country’s estimated 190,000 men under arms are unfit to fight. Without direct U.S. involvement, Iraq’s military would easily be overwhelmed by anti-government forces.Still, Howie and his right-wing friends travel along in their delusional way, spinning their little "American century" myths, oblivious to reality. One of those myths, by the way, is about how US fighting men and women are firecely loyal to George W. Bush. So, how did they feel about acting as his shadow puppets?
"Officers are upset that military people would be coached as to how to talk to the president," said a senior military official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It's against everything that people in uniform stand for."
Is anybody buying this anymore?
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Wait a minute...here in the US (or in our territories, or in friendly nations that will do our bidding), we have hundreds of "detainees" who have been held for three years, without having had any charges filed against them. Many of them have committed no crimes whatsoever.
And Americans are silent.
What has happened to "the land of the free and the home of the brave" in the last five years?
For democracy's sake, folks, start making some noise about IMPEACHMENT!
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
And stop by as often as you can.
From All American Patriots : United States News and Information comes the result of an Ipsos poll that shows 50% of Americans supporting the initiation of impeachment hearings against the President if it is determined he lied about US motivations for the invasion of Iraq.
The website also points out that there is more support now for the impeachment of George W. Bush than there was seven years ago for the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
Even conservatives are fed up with Bush. Former Reagan assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury, former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, and former contributing editor for National Review Paul Craig Roberts recently posted a plea for sanity called IMPEACH BUSH NOW! ABout the only one saying anything nice about Bush right now is Harriet Miers.
You heard it here first, folks (okay, maybe not first, but pretty early) : IMPEACH BUSH!!!
But in one of the understatements of the millenium, he says that the United States would be a "different country" had he been elected in 2000.*
"We would not have invaded a country that didn't attack us," he said, referring to Iraq. "We would not have taken money from the working families and given it to the most wealthy families."
"We would not be trying to control and intimidate the news media. We would not be routinely torturing people," Gore said. "We would be a different country."
Gore has not closed the door entirely to running for elective office in the future.
"I don't completely rule out some future interest, but I don't expect to have that," Gore said.
The man should be President right now.
*Note to Mr. Gore: YOU WERE ELECTED IN 2000.
Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group. Formed in August 2002, the group, which included Messrs. Rove and Libby, worked on setting strategy for selling the war in Iraq to the public in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion. The group likely would have played a significant role in responding to Mr. Wilson's claims.And Cheney, too. He who lives by the lie, dies by the lie. Can you say "Impeachment?"
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Vice President Rangel of Venezuela says Robertson is "insane, at the very least."
Will this be used in the future as "intelligence" to support an invasion of Venezuela?
It seems George W. Bush has a couple of pretty prominent Irish ancestors--well, ancestors from Ireland, one Irish, one a Norman mercenary.
The US president's now apparent ancestor, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke - known as Strongbow for his arrow skills - is remembered as a desperate, land-grabbing warlord whose calamitous foreign adventure led to the suffering of generations. Shunned by Henry II, he offered his services as a mercenary in the 12th-century invasion of Wexford in exchange for power and land. When he eventually died of a festering ulcer in his foot, his enemies said it was the revenge of Irish saints whose shrines he had violated.
Quite a pedigree, to be sure. But wait--it gets better (or, according to your point of view, worse): he's descended from Strongbow through his daughter, Aoife, who was married to a man whose name is synonymous in Irish history with treason and opportunism:
The genetic line can also be traced to Dermot MacMurrough, the Gaelic king of Leinster reviled in history books as the man who sold Ireland for personal gain.
Even before MacMurrough earned the title of Ireland's worst traitor by inviting Strongbow's invasion to save himself from a local feud, the Irish chieftain had a reputation for gore. One English chronicler told how MacMurrough, recognising the features of a personal enemy poking from a pile of severed heads after a battle, snatched up the rotting flesh and tore it with his teeth in a "hideous frenzy".
I swear. You can't make this stuff up.
Oh, it's a terrible thing to kick a man when he's down. Terrible altogether.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
At the "We Media" conference yesterday in New York, Al Gore warned America that its democracy is in "grave danger" due to the distorting effects of mass media, particularly television, a medium that "completely dominates the flow of information in modern America."
How many of you, I wonder, have heard a friend or a family member in the last few years remark that it's almost as if America has entered "an alternate universe"?
I thought maybe it was an aberration when three-quarters of Americans said they believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on September 11, 2001. But more than four years later, between a third and a half still believe Saddam was personally responsible for planning and supporting the attack.
Sounding as though he ought to have a blog called IN THE DARK, the Vice President questions the increasing detachment of American citizens to the world around them:
Are we still routinely torturing helpless prisoners, and if so, does it feel right that we as American citizens are not outraged by the practice? And does it feel right to have no ongoing discussion of whether or not this abhorrent, medieval behavior is being carried out in the name of the American people? If the gap between rich and poor is widening steadily and economic stress is mounting for low-income families, why do we seem increasingly apathetic and lethargic in our role as citizens?
The Vice President has a great deal of enthusiadm for the promise of the internet (as do I), and believes we must work to keep it free of corporate control:
We must ensure that the Internet remains open and accessible to all citizens without any limitation on the ability of individuals to choose the content they wish regardless of the Internet service provider they use to connect to the Worldwide Web. We cannot take this future for granted. We must be prepared to fight for it because some of the same forces of corporate consolidation and control that have distorted the television marketplace have an interest in controlling the Internet marketplace as well. Far too much is at stake to ever allow that to happen.
We must ensure by all means possible that this medium of democracy's future develops in the mold of the open and free marketplace of ideas that our Founders knew was essential to the health and survival of freedom.
Yes, I'll say it:
GORE IN 2008!!!
Worried about linking themselves too closely to a president Americans increasingly recognise is incompetent and delusional (welcome to reality, folks--it ain't comfy, but it's home), GOP Senators have passed an amendment to a $400 billion military spending that would bill outlaw the abuse of prisoners. It still needs the approval of the House before it can become law.
The amendment, sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R., AZ), also requires GIs to refer to the Army Field Manual when interrogating prisoners.
The irony here is that we have all the limitations on power and safeguards against abuse that we need, without this amendment. They are the Constitution of the United States (and particularly the Bill of Rights), the Geneva Conventions, and the Army Field Manual. The Congress of the United States, who are now, like Dr. Frankenstein, feverishly trying to capture the monster they've unleashed on an unsuspecting world, created this monster in the first place!!!
On February 7, 2002, in the face of opposition from his own State Department, Bush issued a directive demanding that our military “treat detainees humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva.” This directive was framed, in part, from the perspective of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who in January of 2002 wrote, as counsel to the President, that the war on terrorism "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."
Translation: We are probably not going to treat detainees humanely if we think they are terrorists.
Of course, the President had already determined that Taliban and Al Qa'ida members were not to be considered prisoners of war, and that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to Al Qa'ida. And, of course, there seemed to be an assumption that everyone we captured was, ipso facto, a terrorist. Not a terror suspect, but a terrorist.
It is important to note that--even though the reporting on this point has been next to invisible--it was not "a few bad apples" who are responsible for US torture of prisoners of war. In a little noted letter to the President last week, more than a dozen high-ranking military officers noted that “It is now apparent that the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and elsewhere took place in part because our men and women in uniform were given ambiguous instructions, which in some cases authorized treatment that went beyond what was allowed by the Army Field Manual.”
Translation: They were following orders.
Bottom Line: Don't give Congress too much credit for this. Especially the GOP.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
If you haven't yet read Spiegel's weekend article on Javal Davis and "Hajj Ali," you really should. It's a chilling reminder of how blessed Americans are to have the protections of a "bill of rights" included in our constitution, and how perilous is the fate of the innocent when the legal presumption of innocence is taken away.
Having said that, we can agree that this is all well and good:
But wait a second....I'm confused. We did this as a "goodwill gesture?" Is that smart? Didn't we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that these detainees, because US forces had captured them, were, ipso facto, dangerous terrorists? Can you allow dangerous terrorists to go free as a "goodwill gesture?" Isn't that rather insane?
U.S. and Iraqi authorities freed 500 detainees from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on Monday in a goodwill gesture to Sunnis ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Earlier, insurgents killed at least 10 people with a suicide bomb targeting police and government workers.
After a brief ceremony outside the prison on the outskirts of Baghdad, the 500 freed detainees left the area on public buses. They were the first of 1,000 to be freed before Ramadan begins next week, the U.S. military said.
Statement by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, February 2002: Al Qaeda is an international terrorist group and cannot be considered a state party to the Geneva Convention. Its members, therefore, are not covered by the Geneva Convention, and are not entitled to POW status under the treaty....The American people can take great pride in the way our military is treating these dangerous detainees.Listen, this is either a terrible mistake which shows national suicidal tendencies, or the people we are about to let go are not now and never have been terrorists. Which means, like, "...Are you saying we could have let these people go free any time we wanted? Were any of these "detainees" among the abused of two years ago?"
The US Defense Department American Forces Information Service, February 2004: Detaining dangerous enemy combatants prevents their return to the fight and provides intelligence to help prevent future terrorist acts, the secretary told members of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce....These men are dangerous, and their detention is a "security necessity," Rumsfeld said.
NewsMax, May 2004: ...we have only speculation as to where lies the specific blame for the humiliating treatment of what were apparently a crew of insurgent thugs being caged in a cell block for the worst and most dangerous detainees.
It goes without saying I have always been a little skeptical of the suggestion that, in the shadow of 9/11, in the heat of the battle, with the fervor of patriotic (and perhaps divine) vengeance in their hearts, US soldiers would never capture anyone who was not unambiguously evil. Terrorism is used as a rationale for suspending the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth amendments, and America remains silent.
We let Abu Ghraib happen by keeping silent. And the proof of the injustice lies in the sentence "U.S. and Iraqi authorities freed 500 detainees from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on Monday in a goodwill gesture to Sunnis ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan."
Monday, October 03, 2005
Venezuela moved all its currency reserves out of U.S. banks, sold all its investments in U.S. Treasury securities and placed the funds in European banks, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said on Friday. Chavez is calling for all Latin American countries to come together in a regional economic alliance, and the creation of a central bank that would hold the currency reserves of the 12 Latin American nations.
Venezuela is investing heavily with other nations, such as Brazil and Argentina, to increase the production and refining of oil. Such regional economic cooperation is necessary to fight the dominance of the US in the western hemisphere. "It is a card that we are going to play with toughness against the toughest country in the world -- the United States," Chavez said.
Venezuela is the fifth largest oil exporter in the world, supplying the US with about 1.5 million barrels each day.
Is anyone paying attention to Latin America? Chavez and Lula are more than mere "colorful characters" on the world stage. When the day comes that the US invades Latin America, we will be told it is because of terrorism and weapons on mass destruction. But this string of stories is a much better explanation.
One of the few measures the Pentagon has offered the public to judge the capabilities of Iraqi security forces has been the number of battalions that can go into combat with insurgents without the help of the U.S. military. During congressional testimony on Thursday, Gen. George Casey, top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Gen. John Abizaid, top U.S. commander in the Middle East, said the number of such battalions had dropped since July to one from three, out of the roughly 100 Iraqi battalions.
From the Times (London):
BRITAIN’S top soldier says the army’s morale and its ability to attract new recruits have been suffering because people see the armed forces as “guilty by association” with Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq.
General Sir Michael Walker, chief of the defence staff, also conceded that Britain and the United States would have to settle for a less-than-perfect result from the invasion of Iraq.
From Bush's Saturday radio adress:
The growing size and increasing capability of the Iraqi security forces are helping our coalition address a challenge we have faced since the beginning of the war.
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
Why is this guy still President?
Sunday, October 02, 2005
“The administration clearly was using this case for its own political reasons,” said the father, Patrick Tillman. “This cover-up started within minutes of Pat’s death, and it started at high levels. This is not something that (lower-ranking) people in the field do,” he said.
Tillman may have been, as Ann Coulter put it, “an American original — virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be.” But he was not the gung-ho, obedient, "my country right or wrong" warrior that the neo-con right has portrayed him to be.
Mary Tillman (Pat's mother) said a friend of Pat’s even arranged a private meeting with (Noam) Chomsky, the antiwar author, to take place after his return from Afghanistan — a meeting prevented by his death. She said that although he supported the Afghan war, believing it justified by the Sept. 11 attacks, “Pat was very critical of the whole Iraq war.”
“I can see it like a movie screen,” (Spc. Russell) Baer said. “We were outside of (a city in southern Iraq) watching as bombs were dropping on the town. We were at an old air base, me, Kevin (Tillman, Pat's brother) and Pat, we weren’t in the fight right then. We were talking. And Pat said, ‘You know, this war is so f— illegal.’ And we all
said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s who he was. He totally was against Bush.” Another soldier in the platoon, who asked not to be identified, said Pat urged him to vote for Bush’s Democratic opponent in the 2004 election, Sen. John Kerry.
As reported here earlier, a new paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a publication of Creighton University's Center for the Study of Religion, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world." But Gregory Paul, the researcher and author of the paper, argues that "religiosity" can actually damage society, contributing to high rates of murder, sexual promiscuity, abortion and suicide.
This conclusion will come as no surprise to those who have long gnashed their teeth in frustration while listening to right-wing evangelical claims that secular liberals are weak on "values." Paul's study confirms globally what is already evident in the U.S.: When it comes to "values," if you look at facts rather than mere rhetoric, the substantially more secular blue states routinely leave the Bible Belt red states in the dust.
Murder rates? Six of the seven states with the highest 2003 homicide rates were "red" in the 2004 elections (Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina), while the deep blue Northeastern states had murder rates well below the national average. Infant mortality rates? Highest in the South and Southwest; lowest in New England. Divorce rates? Marriages break up far more in red states than in blue. Teen pregnancy rates? The same.
In a related vein (demographic differences between "red staters" and "blue staters") see Zogby.
We shouldn't shy away from the possibility that too much religiosity may be socially dangerous. Secular, rationalist approaches to problem-solving emphasize uncertainty, evidence and perpetual reevaluation. Religious faith is inherently nonrational.
No, we shouldn't. But we should hesitate before reacting thoughtlessly. We Americans need, I believe, to stop oscillating between polar extremes of thought and of values. We need to stop careening off walls, moving from "Godless humanism" to extremist fundamentalism; from hyper-rationalism to sentimental irrationalism; from value-free science to science-free values.
Let's think and feel before we speak and act.
Some excerpts below, but go and read the entire article. It's chilling.
Davis says that his country punished him for crimes over which he had no control. Instead, he says, the people who were responsible for creating the system of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib should be brought to justice. Davis wants to talk and wants to set things right.His president, we know (and always knew), lied about the weapons of mass destruction. There were no nuclear weapons. There was no program to manufacture nuclear weapons. There were no chemical or biological weapons. There was no infrastructure to support such high-tech activities.
When he left for Iraq in May 2003, Davis believed that he was going there to hunt down terrorists and uncover nuclear weapons, and that he would be back home soon, just as his president had promised.
But Javal Davis’s president, we also know, lied about much more: about being committed to human freedom and democracy, about believing in the fundamental rights of all people. Javal Davis’s president believed in hegemony above all else. And the real crime, and the real tragedy is that it was not even American hegemony that Javal Davis’s president believed in, but the hegemony of an economic system. Javal Davis’s president, and his cronies in the Project for a New American Century, do not believe, for all their lip service, in “American values” at all—they believe in the maintenance and expansion of global, laissez faire, un-regulated, “free-market” capitalism, and little else. And there’s no lie too big to deter them from this belief.
What chance, in such a case, does an innocent person like Hajj Ali have?
They tear off his underwear. Hajj Ali trembles with fear, his hands and feet are bound, and six or seven soldiers push him around. Then one of them tells him to walk up the stairs. Hajj Ali lets himself drop to the floor, crawling and squirming, his wounded hand throbbing with pain. An interpreter tells him to bark like a dog, and Hajj Ali complies."Bow-wow." "Louder!" "Bow-wow!" He keeps collapsing, barely able to move forward. After a few steps, they start whipping and kicking him, yelling "faster!"
Some prisoners are naked and wear sandbags over their heads. Others are chained in positions that force them to stand for hours on end, or they squat, naked, penned into dark, toilet-less dungeons. The stench in the wing is worse than at a sewage treatment plant."What the hell is going on here?" Davis asked his major, but the officer merely shrugs his shoulders and tells him he should ask the people from military intelligence. "You're a big boy, scare them, be mean," says the Italian from intelligence, the commanding officer in the high-security wing. "Make sure they have a rough night, soften them up. Yell in their ears with your megaphone."
Maybe this is a test, Davis thinks to himself. Maybe this is what God wants him to do: to obey every command and never think twice.
Davis has trouble differentiating between guilt and innocence. These people are terrorists, killers, bombers. Why else would they be here? But, then again, there are also the brothers and cousins of suspects; and there are the children with whom he plays soccer in the hallways.During breaks, he sits on a chair at the end of the hall and eats his mother's chocolate chip cookies and, afterwards, he prays. Lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil. Javal Davis believes in the Last Judgment, and he wants to be standing on the right side when that time comes.
Hajj Ali squats in cage 49, diagonally across the hallway from the shower room at the end of the corridor. He hasn't eaten in days, he has been naked for days and he has pulled a sock in lieu of a bandage over his throbbing left hand.
Interpreters keep appearing at his cell door, asking whether he is finally ready to talk, and each time he turns them down, he gets another beating. On some days he spends eight hours praying to, and praising, his God.
The guards repeatedly drag him from his cell, lock him up in the shower room and force him to squat there for hours on end. The days are filled with interrogations that lead nowhere, and in the end they always pour sewage over Hajj Ali. They call the procedure a "shower."
Donald Rumsfeld gets personally involved, and sends a right-hand man to "Gitmo-ize" the POW camp at Abu Ghraib. And all hell breaks loose.
After a visit by Geoffrey Miller, the commander-in-chief at Guantanamo Bay, more and more investigators, analysts and interpreters have been coming in and out of Abu Ghraib. They bring along their dogs, and these people are clearly the ones in charge now. They wear no name tags, and they address each other with code names, like DJ, John Israel, James Bond. They begin to apply pressure.
They have recently begun stacking prisoners in piles -- heaps of naked, hooded men -- and they keep dragging prisoners through the corridors on dog leashes. Hajj Ali stands at the bars of his cells, and the things he sees are almost more unbearable than what they do to him.On one occasion, a boy stands in the hallway in front of his cell, begging the guards to take him to the toilet. But they blindfold him and lead him around, fetch his father and force him to lie down at his son's feet. Then they tell the boy: Okay, now you're standing in front of the urinal.
The high-security wing is overcrowded. More and more insurgents are brought in every day, and almost all of them are kept naked. "Prepare them for hell on earth," the people from military intelligence say. "They don't deserve anything better. "The intelligence agents pat [Davis] on the back: "Good job, man, you're saving lives. You're breaking them down more quickly."...Hajj Ali watches as Ivan Frederick traces the shape of a cross on a prisoner's chest with his finger and then beats him unconscious, watches as Frederick pulls off another man's hood and shows him how to masturbate, then tells the man to masturbate and forces another prisoner to kneel in front of him and open his mouth. "Look," says Frederick, "look at what these animals do when you let them out of your sight."
Javal is agitated when he goes to his cell that night. He brushes his teeth, showers, washes his uniform more thoroughly than usual and then goes to bed. How could this have happened?
A few bad apples? Yes, in the Bush administration.
Rogue soldiers? No. A rogue President.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Yeah, yeah....I know...it's the Enquirer, for the love of Pete.
I have resisted posting this for the last ten days. It's old news at this point, if it is true at all. I begrudge no man a drink, if he is human. And I figure, so what the hell if he's drinking again--could he govern the country ANY WORSE THAN HE IS NOW? So I know--this is a story that's not worthy of any serious consideration.
And yet...there's something so right about posting this, do you know what I mean? It's kind of poetic justice, kharma, you know? What goes around, comes around. I don't even care that it's not true. And, no I don't think it is probably true.
It's just after the last two decades of the GOP trying to get revenge for Watergate (as though that was not something entirely the responsibility of Richard Nixon), allowing--NAY, encouraging a witchhunt against a decent but flawed man and a decent President, there's a sort of symmetry in seeing this, an ecological balance that feels satisfying.
I pray for the day when all this sort of "journalism" disappears. But in the meantime, I confess I'm having a bit of a chuckle...
Who can blame them?
We're in quite a mess right now, suffering under the most corrupt and incompetent administration in MY lifetime.
The neo-con right constantly blasts former President Clinton for just about anything and everything they can. And yet, most Americans now look back rather fondly at the Clinton years. If Clinton was so bad, what does this say about THIS President? Although a Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey taken in 2001 indicated that 74% of Americans surveyed believed that Clinton would be remembered most for scandals (and the "liberal" media had nothing to do with that, did they?), it also found that 76% of Americans judged him to be average or above average (average 32%, above average 32%, outstanding 12%) as opposed to only 10% who judged him to be below average and 11% poor. And 60% believed that in the judgment of history his accomplishments would outweigh his failures.
Compare this with a recent Newsweek poll (September 29-30, 2005) that showed 78% of Americans judging George W. Bush as being average to below average (average 35%, below average 43%), while 19% of Americans thought he would be seen as above average.
I have nothing to say about that particular 19%. Make your own judgments.
And as far as the next Congressional election goes, the time might be ripe for change: several polls indicate the GOP is in a fair amount of trouble. A new Newsweek poll shows that 47% of Americans are leaning toward voting Democratic in the 2006 general election as opposed to 42% leaning Republican. A Pew poll puts the numbers at 52%-40% for the Democrats. Even FOX's poll, when it asked "Do you think it would be better for the country if Republicans or Democrats win next year's congressional elections?" found that Americans preferred the Democratic party by a margin of 40%-32%.
Change is in the air...