Wednesday, June 29, 2005

So, If A Man Travels Back In Time...

Bush's recent spate of rhetoric is reminding more people than just me of a dog chasing its own tail:

President Bush on Tuesday retooled his original argument for the
Iraq war, justifying the U.S. military presence there as the solution to a problem that critics say the war itself caused.
More than two years ago, Bush argued that Saddam Hussein's control over Iraq could make the nation a haven for terrorists. But in his nationally televised speech, Bush asserted that the tumult that has followed Hussein's removal created the same threat.

Think Progress : : On Day of Iraq Speech, House Conservatives Gouge Vets

And a happy Fourth of July to you guys, too!

On the same day President Bush will use the soldiers at Fort Bragg as a backdrop for his address on Iraq, conservatives in the House have voted to underfund veterans’ health care by at least $1 billion.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Rumsfeld Braces For More Violence In Iraq

"It is unknowable how long that conflict will last.
It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
-Donald Rumsfield

Even though the 'insurgency' is perpetually 'in its final throes', we should be prepared to remain in Iraq until 2017.

Sometimes 'I told you so' just doesn't quite say enough.

Report: Witnesses Were Held Illegally

Not that we're even trying to pretend that due process matters anymore, but exactly how did we come to this?

The report, released yesterday by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union, concluded that the government's use of "material witness" warrants in the months after the attacks was excessive and frequently unlawful because many of the detainees were never questioned by a grand jury or were denied access to attorneys for extended periods of time. Most were never charged with a crime.

Made In The USA

The Bush administration is planning the government's first production of plutonium 238 since the cold war, stirring debate over the risks and benefits of the deadly material. The substance, valued as a power source, is so radioactive that a speck can cause cancer.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

It's Too Easy

Friday, June 24, 2005

High Court OKs Personal Property Seizures

When civil rights don't matter squat, and property rights don't matter squat, then what kind of government do we have?

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development.

US Acknowledges Torture at Guantanamo and Iraq, Afghanistan

Of course, in the US where the official and the media's take on things has always been 'So it's a little torture. What's the big deal?', this hardly counts as news, and the government can well afford to admit what it's doing. What this is costing us among the civilized world we'll have to find out over the next few decades.

108 Died In U.S. Custody

That's in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it's a lower estimate, according to a the government's own data.

"Despite the military's own reports of deaths and abuses of detainees in U.S. custody, it is astonishing that our government can still pretend that what is happening is the work of a few rogue soldiers," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "No one at the highest levels of our government has yet been held accountable for the torture and abuse, and that is unacceptable."

Media Follies, Yet Again

Go on and read the statement Richard Durbin delivered concerning Gitmo on June the 14, and see if you can pick out the two or three words the conservative's media lackeys latched on to. Wankers.

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

Gee, if this sort of interrogation is so necessary and effective, why haven't we caught bin Laden?

Yahoo! News : : Timetable: Six More Years In Iraq

If history's any indicator, we'll be stuck in Iraq until 2012 or so. Joy.

...the die has been cast; we have crossed both the Tigris and the Euphrates. But if history is our guide, it will take six more years to declare peace with honor, one more time. As if most of us, Iraqis aside, did not already know that this war is over. We tried the impossible again, with the usual result -- and it will take time to craft a noble rationale for what we have done to ourselves.

If They Hate Us For Our Freedoms...

Then 'They' must hate us less each day. Today, particularly: Flushed with their victory over evil after empowering the Feds to shut down any website that might offend a radical Christan nutjob, Congress took time to crap out a pointless flag-burning ammendment. Meanwhile, thousands of cancer patients are being denied a respite from pain and indignity for.. some reason. So remember: health care, personal dignity and free personal expression mean the terrorists have already won.

Full text of the 'we own your Internets' bill here. The text of the enabling regulations is here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The British Briefing Papers

Expanding on the already-publicised Downing Street minutes, here are selections from the full British Briefing Papers, all written a year before the invasion began.

"There is no greater threat now that [Saddam] will use WMD than there has been in recent years, so continuing containment is an option." - Iraq: Options Paper(.PDF)

"Even the best survey of Iraq's WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years on [the] nuclear, missile or CW/BW fronts: the programmes are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up." - Ricketts Paper, 3/22/02(.PDF)

"There has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with UBL and Al Qaida." - Straw Paper, 3/25/02(.PDF)

"there might be doubt about the alleged meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker on 9/11, and Iraqi intelligence (did we, he asked, know anything more about this meeting?)." - Meyer Paper, 3/18/02(.PDF)

t r u t h o u t : : US Lied to Britain over Use of Napalm in Iraq War

In an urban campaign fought in cities with million-person civilian populations, the U.S. has been using napalm continuously. This is coming to light because some members of the administration still retain enough of a sense of shame to lie about it to our allies.

Mr Ingram said 30 MK77 firebombs were used by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the invasion of Iraq between 31 March and 2 April 2003. They were used against military targets "away from civilian targets", he said. This avoids breaching the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which permits their use only against military targets...
... The MK77 bombs, an evolution of the napalm used in Vietnam and Korea, carry kerosene-based jet fuel and polystyrene so that, like napalm, the gel sticks to structures and to its victims. The bombs lack stabilising fins, making them far from precise.

The Snidely Whiplash Administration, Continued

The EPA just loves to spray poor people with pesticides!

Reversing a moratorium established by the Clinton Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency under the Bush Administration is reviewing or plans to review over 20 studies that intentionally dosed human subjects with pesticides. The pesticides administered to human subjects in these experiments include "highly hazardous" poisons, suspected carcinogens, and suspected neurotoxicants. The studies, most of which were submitted to EPA by pesticide manufacturers, appear to routinely violate ethical standards.

See also this article at the Environmental Media Services's site.

The "I" Word

Ken Sanders discusses Presidential High Crimes and Misdemeanors:

It is the consensus among legal and constitutional scholars that the phrase "other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" refers to "political crimes." While not necessarily indictable crimes, "political crimes" are great offenses against the federal government. They are abuses of power or the kinds of misconduct which can only be committed by a public official by virtue of the unique power and trust which he holds. Thus, high crimes and misdemeanors refer to major offenses against our very system of representative democracy. Likewise, high crimes and misdemeanors can be serious abuses of the governmental power with which the President has been trusted.

In the case of Iraq, it is becoming harder and harder to deny that Bush engaged in official misconduct that caused serious and likely irreparable injury to the United States.

Bolton Delayed Critical Anti-Terror Programs

Further evidence mounts that John Bolton fails to meet even this administration's minimal standard of competence:

For years, a key U.S. program intended to keep Russian nuclear fuel out of terrorist hands has been frozen by an arcane legal dispute. As undersecretary of state, John R. Bolton was charged with fixing the problem, but critics complained he was the roadblock.

Now with Bolton no longer in the job, U.S. negotiators report a breakthrough with the Russians and predict a resolution will be sealed by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin at an international summit in Scotland next month, clearing the way to eliminate enough plutonium to fuel 8,000 nuclear bombs.

NY Times : : Gov't Collected Data on Airline Passengers

Defying Congressional edict and its own repeated promises, the TSA is accumulating personal data on airline passengers. This leaves librarians the sole protectors of our right to privacy, apparently.

The federal agency in charge of aviation security revealed that it bought and is storing commercial data about some passengers -- even though officials said they wouldn't do it and Congress told them not to...
...But Secure Flight and its predecessor, CAPPS II, have been criticized for secretly obtaining personal information about airline passengers, not doing enough to protect it and then misleading the public about its role in acquiring the data.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The White House’s White-Out Problem

As we've recently heard, the adminstration frequently alters scientific reports whenever facts and reality don't conform to its agenda. Think Progress has compiled a lengthy list of such acts, from climate change to hog farming.

JTW News : : 82 Iraqi MPs Demand Occupation Pullout

Good news! Democracy and self-governance are flowering in Iraq! But don't expect to see the administration trumpeting this particular aspect too loudly..

Eighty two Iraqi lawmakers from across the political spectrum have pressed for the withdrawal of the US-led occupation troops from their country...
...The letter stressed that the 275-member parliament is the legitimate representative of the Iraqi people and guardian of their interests, censuring the government for leaving the people in the dark.
“It is dangerous that the Iraqi government has asked the UN Security Council to prolong the stay of occupation forces without consulting representatives of the people who have the mandate for such a decision,” it said.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Fulcrums of History

Leave it to John Rogers to tie together the Schiavo autopsy, the crusade against gay marriage, public school's usefulness or inconvenience to religious indoctrination, and the most recent victims of Texas's failed public health policies so neatly:

America's supposed to be the place where you make the decisions affecting your family. But the Texas Reps and Religionistas, they're going to decide if you can get access to birth control, by faking it up as a moral stand by pharmacists. It doesn't matter what husband and wife have decided, what you've decided between yourselves and your doctors -- that guy's precious moral choice trumps your moral choice, and now the gubmint's on his side...
...They're going to decide how your kids learn about God -- in school, according to their definition, not from you. You in favor of school prayer*? Fine. You happy your kid's going to be praying from the selection made up by some real angry Southern Evangelicals who think your church, be it mainstream Protestant or even Catholic, is a false church? Ahhh, not so much fun now, is it ... They're going to decide if you live or die despite your wishes or your family's, they're going to let their poor understanding of science inflame their morality to the point where your kid dies of a disease that could've been stopped by stem cell research.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Moment's Amusement

Wicked activist judges! Bringing together Justice and Liberty!
We wish all neo-con 'commentators' and cheerleaders were this stupid.

More Smoking Guns

Another smoking gun memo, to follow the well-publicised Downing Street Memo. Examine this little item which has surfaced. In a briefing paper dated July 23, 2002, Tony Blair's inner circle acknowledged that regime change in Iraq was illegal and stated that it was "necessary to create the conditions" under which it could be carried out. More about this memo here.
Meanwhile, Col. Sam Gardiner reveals the US "Strategy of Lies", in a report available in six seperate PDF files. And for the first time, a majority of Americans say that the war has not made this nation safer.

..."The memo is significant because it was written by our closest ally, and when it comes to writing minutes on foreign policy and security matters, the British are professionals. We can conclude that the memo means precisely what it says. It says that Bush had already made the decision for war even while he was insisting publicly, and for many months thereafter, that war was the last resort.
...It has long been clear that Bush's depiction of Hussein as a grave menace was overstated. Among many examples: Bush said, on Oct. 7, 2002, that Hussein intended to use unmanned aerial vehicles "for missions targeting the United States," a distance of 6,000 miles. It later turned out that the UAVs had a range of 300 miles.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

On Child Sacrifice

MOLOCH, which was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved. - Rabbi Rashi.

“I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery.” - the Rev. John Smid

Much furor has been brewing over the fate of young Zach, last name unknown, who is being confined to a re-education camp by his parents. The staff propose to brainwash him into heterosexuality.

What isn't being said so much is that this case - and the thousands of other teens 'turned straight' by similar programs each year - is only the tip of a very large and culturally sanctioned iceberg, one in which we see the Strict Father model writ largest. Only a very strict parent would pay - usually an exorbitant sum, on the order of enrolling your child in an Ivy League school - a perfect stranger to kidnap your recalcitrant child and drag him away to an internment camp in a developing country where he will be tortured into respecting, admiring and obeying authority in general and you - and his torturers - in particular.

The war between modern and primitive culture in the United States and England is only growing more and more vicious. These sorts of 'boot camps' and 'tough love' programs would have been unthinkable decades ago. Today, as we turn away from the principles of the Enlightenment, they're widely admired. The modern ideal that personal convictions - of all sorts - are the core of individuality and human dignity, and therefore are a basic human right, is widely superseded by the lizard-brained impulse to exercise power. As America is freed to exercise its power without any restraint, American culture has begun the serious business of finding victims. Children being helpless and completely without rights are the easiest and most convenient form of victim. In many parts of the world, one's children are one's property and even murdering an adolescent who's grown difficult is not unheard of or necessarily disapproved of. Time will tell how far down that road American culture goes, but that we've all taken the first few steps is inarguable.

Making The World Safer

By creating the next generation of terrorists:

...Some recruits have joined the network of the militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which has carried out many of the sophisticated attacks and suicide car-bombings that have killed hundreds of Iraqis in the past several weeks...
...A small vanguard of veterans are also returning home to countries like Morocco and Algeria, poised to use skills they learned on the battlefield in Iraq, from bomb making to battle planning, against their native governments...

Friday, June 10, 2005

NY Times : : Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming

In case there was any doubt just who this administration's looking out for, witness this article from Wednesday's Times:

A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents...
...The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties," tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Other Bomb Drops

"(W)e are still in a diplomatic phase here."
-C. Rice
For those who were holding out for a smoking bullet in the smoking gun, look no further:

It was a huge air assault: Approximately 100 US and British planes flew from Kuwait into Iraqi airspace...
...Earlier attacks had been carried out against Iraqi command and control centers, radar detection systems, Revolutionary Guard units, communication centers and mobile air-defense systems. The Pentagon's goal was clear: Destroy Iraq's ability to resist. This was war.
But there was a catch: The war hadn't started yet, at least not officially. This was September 2002... information that has come out in response to the Downing Street memo reveals that, by this time, the war was already a foregone conclusion and attacks were no less than the undeclared beginning of the invasion of Iraq.

The last paragraph bears repeating here, too:

Why weren't these unprovoked and unauthorized attacks investigated when they were happening, when it might have had a real impact on the Administration's drive to war? Perhaps that's why the growing grassroots campaign to use the Downing Street memo to impeach Bush can't get a hearing on Capitol Hill. A real probing of this "smoking gun" would not be uncomfortable only for Republicans. The truth is that Bush, like President Bill Clinton before him, oversaw the longest sustained bombing campaign since Vietnam against a sovereign country with no international or US mandate. That gun is probably too hot for either party to touch.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Good Intentions Gone Bad

NEWSWEEK's Baghdad bureau chief, departing after two years of war and American occupation, has a few final thoughts.

Since April 2004 the liberation of Iraq has become a desperate exercise in damage control. The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib alienated a broad swath of the Iraqi public. On top of that, it didn't work. There is no evidence that all the mistreatment and humiliation saved a single American life or led to the capture of any major terrorist, despite claims by the military that the prison produced "actionable intelligence."

Monday, June 06, 2005

Washington Post : : Analysts Behind Iraq Intelligence Were Rewarded

Meanwhile, on Crazyworld, the analysts who were behind the deeply flawed intelligence reports which Bush used to push the country to war have, for the third year running, received job performance awards.

Two Army analysts whose work has been cited as part of a key intelligence failure on Iraq -- the claim that aluminum tubes sought by the Baghdad government were most likely meant for a nuclear weapons program rather than for rockets -- have received job performance awards in each of the past three years, officials said...
...The problem, according to the commission, which cited the two analysts' work, is that they did not seek or obtain information available from the Energy Department and elsewhere showing that the tubes were indeed the type used for years as rocket-motor cases by Iraq's military. The panel said the finding represented a "serious lapse in analytic tradecraft" because the center's personnel "could and should have conducted a more exhaustive examination of the question."

When Scandals Collide

Courtesy of A Little Left of Centrist, this little item of interest:

John R. Bolton flew to Europe in 2002 to confront the head of a global arms-control agency and demand he resign, then orchestrated the firing of the unwilling diplomat in a move a U.N. tribunal has since judged unlawful, according to officials involved.

A former Bolton deputy says the U.S. undersecretary of state felt Jose Bustani "had to go," particularly because the Brazilian was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war.

So we see, now, how he earned his nomination.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Sore Throats

With all the media buzz regarding Deep Throat, and whether or not any such informants could come forward today, and where are today's whistleblowers et cetera ad infinitum ad nauseam, it's worth revisiting this article, which lists 50 individuals and three larger groups who aren't checking DC area flowerpots or skulking in parking garages, but are openly shouting what they know for anyone to listen.
Also, lifted from Bob Harris's daily poll, here are 15 more modern Deep Throats:

1. National Security Advisor Richard Clarke

2. FBI translator Sibel Edmonds

3. Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski

4. Spc. Joseph Darby

5. Mining engineer Jack Spedaro

6. FBI Chief Division Counsel Coleen Rowley

7. Medicare actuary Richard Foster

8. CIA Bin Laden expert Michael Scheuer

9. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill

10. Ambassador Joe Wilson

11. U.S. Army General Eric Shinseki

12. Secretary of the Army Thomas White

13. CIA analyst Larry Johnson

14. State Dept. Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism Tom Maertens

15. former Council on Bioethics member Elizabeth Blackburn

All these stories will be coming soon to CNN just as soon as they're done nattering about the Jackson trial, the 'runaway bride', and that guy Gallagher slapped onstage.