Archive for the ‘The GWOT’ Category
I believe I have figured out who will be Obama’s next candidate to head the Office of Legal Counsel now that Dawn Johnsen has been found unacceptable due to an excess of integrity and a lack of appreciation for the wonderfulness of torture. Here’s an example of this candidate’s clarion thinking. On the Wikileaks video:
Now, is this video disturbing? Of course. Were atrocities committed, innocents slaughtered, corpses desecrated and children maimed? Absolutely. But was it all done according to proper procedure? Ah, now, that’s the question. We should all certainly be willing to support a full and complete investigation into the possibility of an official recommendation for preliminary motions toward an investigation, looking into the matter of whether or not the people here were properly murdered in triplicate, signed twice on the goldenrod form, in accordance with the Code of Canon Law. And we shouldn’t rest until any guilty parties have been found, and strongly-worded disciplinary Post-Its firmly applied to their personnel files.
Apart from that, I don’t think we have to spend much time thinking about this sort of thing – this is an isolated incident, just like this and this and this andthis and this and this and this and this and this – and one has to accept a certain amount of rape, torture and murder with one’s military.
The guy’s a perfect fit.
Q: Is Iran a threat?
A: Oh yes. Even as we speak Iran is potentially starting the beginnings of a very possibly quite almost-real hypothetically nuclear weapons program!
Q: Oh no! How many nuclear weapons does Iran already have?
A: Counting warheads, ICBMs, mid- and long-range missiles, ABMs, tactical nukes, bunker-busters and submarine-based weaponry, the full nuclear arsenal of Iran at this moment is very rapidly just beginning to quite possibly approach a number just short of one!
Q: That makes them almost as deadly as the rogue nation of Whoville or the Islamic Republic of Candyland!
A: And they could be just months away from an actual bomb!
Q: But they’ve been just months away from a bomb for years now.
A: I know! Which means in terror years, Iran already has a bomb…
Obama’s actions are, at best, a mixed blessing so far. He has surrounded himself with establishmentarian Blue Dogs and Democrat conservatives, from his powerful Chief-of-Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, to Treas Sec Timmy Geithner (a Wall Street Willie if ever there was one), Leon Panetta at the CIA, and Larry Summers as a Presidential Advisor. While he has talked eloquently about Wall Street’s responsibility for the mess, he insisted in $billions$ in bail-out money to moribund, clueless auto CEO’s and is about to hand over another $30B to AIG because, you know, it ran through the first $100B paying for parties and executive bonuses.
But all of that was prelude to the real danger. It puts in context a much more conservative agenda. In “Dump the Dems 6” I warned, “The Democrats aren’t pretending to be like the Pubs to get elected. They are like the Pubs.” Obama seems to be going out of his way to prove it. Glenn Greenwald again reports on the heels of Marcy Wheeler’s excellent summation of the recent moves by the Obama Admin to make exactly the same arguments of presidential power that Bush made.
[T]he Obama DOJ is now spouting the Cheney/Addington view of government in its purest and most radical expression.
The brief filed by Obama on Friday afternoon (.pdf) has to be read to believed. It is literally arguing that no court has the power to order that classified documents be used in a judicial proceeding; instead, it is the President — and the President alone — who possesses that decision-making power under Article II, and no court order is binding on the President to the extent it purports to direct that such information be made available for use in a judicial proceeding.
What I’ve been afraid of is happening right now. Obama and the conservative Democrat leadership are fighting to preserve the very same power Obama criticized Bush for taking, using the same autocratic arguments that Bush used. Does it make them right just because a Democrat says them?
Of course not.
Not much I can say about this except that as you watch you might want to remember that these are the people making our Middle East policy.
Glenn Greenwald confirms what I wrote five years ago: that the militarization of our politics was a Bush/neocon goal and that it has succeeded. Joe Biden, a supposed Democrat, is referring to Obama as our next Commander-in-Chief.
Biden’s formulation here is a particularly creepy rendition, since he’s taunting opponents of Obama that, come Tuesday, they will be forced to refer to him as “our commander in chief Barack Obama” (Sarah Palin, in the very first speech she delivered after being unveiled as the Vice Presidential candidate, said of John McCain: “that’s the kind of man I want as our commander in chief,” and she’s been delivering that same line in her stump speech ever since).
This is much more than a semantic irritant. It’s a perversion of the Constitution, under which American civilians simply do not have a “commander in chief”; only those in the military — when it’s called into service — have one (Art. II, Sec. 2).
Worse, “commander in chief” is a military term, which reflects the core military dynamic: superiors issue orders which subordinates obey. That isn’t supposed to be the relationship between the U.S. President and civilian American citizens, but because the mindless phrase “our commander in chief” has become interchangeable with “the President,” that is exactly the attribute — supreme, unquestionable authority in all arenas — which has increasingly come to define the power of the President.
In the first case to review the government’s secret evidence for holding a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a federal appeals court found that accusations against a Muslim from western China held for more than six years were based on bare and unverifiable claims. The unclassified parts of the decision were released on Monday.With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark”: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”
This Administration appears to lie about everything, even the evidence – or lack of it – that it claims justifies holding men and even children in prisons withiout trial for 6 years. Like Ashcroft in Germany, the Bush Administration wasn’t refusing them their day in court because they were dangerous but because Bush didn’[t want us to know they weren’t, that the whole detainee thing had been a bust from the git-go. So why in heaven’s name should we believe them when they claim yet another detainee ought to be killed because he was behind the attack on the Cole?
A Pentagon official announced war crimes charges Monday against a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, suspected of helping to plan the attack on the Navy destroyer Cole in 2000 that killed 17 American sailors.
Military prosecutors said they were seeking the death penalty against the detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi who has long been described by American officials as Al Qaeda’s operations chief in the Persian Gulf and the primary planner of the October 2000 attack on the Cole.
Mr. Nashiri is one of three detainees who the C.I.A. has acknowledged were subjected to waterboarding, the interrogation technique that simulates drowning. Mr. Nashiri was interrogated in the agency’s secret prisons before he was transferred to Guantánamo in 2006.
There hasn’t been a shred of evidence, ever, that Nashiri weas guilty of anything except by the Bush Administration’s unsupported word for it – a word that is worth less than nothing considering its total lack of credibility. Yet the Bush lawyers are demanding the death penalty. For war crimes. Talk about the pot and the kettle.
If one word of that so-called “evidence” came from Nashiri’s being tortured, then legally it has to be thrown out. A co-erced confession IS NOT ADMISSIBLE, not in a civilian court. Maybe in the Kangaroo tribunals the Bushies have dreamed up, but nowhere else in the civilized world. If that’s how they came by it, it’s hopelessly tainted and so is their whole case. Not that they seem to care. They’re going ahead with the trial despite the CIA’s admission, and after all, what do they really have to fear in the way of consequences? Not much, it seems.
A federal appeals court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Syrian-born Canadian man who had accused the United States of violating the law and his civil rights after he was detained at Kennedy Airport and sent to Syria under what he claims was an act of “extraordinary rendition.”
The man, Maher Arar, tried to win civil damages from United States officials in his suit, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled that because he was never technically inside the United States, his claims could not be heard in the federal courts.
While stating that “threats to the nation’s security do not allow us to jettison principles of ‘simple justice and fair dealing,’ ” the majority opinion ruled nonetheless that Mr. Arar, who had been seized as he tried to change planes at Kennedy Airport while flying back to Canada from Switzerland, had no federal standing in his case and that the government did not violate the Torture Victim Protection Act by sending him abroad.
I can hear Lil Dick and Dave Addington chuckling over it now. They got away with it again – on a technicality. They arranged to keep their bloody hands clean even though they arranged for an innocent man to be tortured because technically he wasn’t in the US at the time theyn had him picked up. Giggle giggle. What fun. Put it over on us again, didn’t you?
FISA should never be passed if for no other reason than because the govt can’t be trusted to look at any interests but its own or nopt use its power – whatever powers we give it – to get what it wants. Our experience with Bush proves it’s a HORRENDOUSLY BAD IDEA TO GIVE ANY PRESIDENT THAT KIND OF POWER.
So why is our Democratic Congress giving it to them? Hmm?
The City of Boston installed surveillance cameras in some high-crime areas like Chinatown three years ago, and now they’re citing two murder cases in which those cameras played a key role to justify the installation of even more cameras.
The department has 25 cameras, each costing about $20,000, that can pan, tilt, and zoom, and can be attached to a wall or roof in less than an hour. Regulations require approval from property owners before police can mount the cameras. The department purchased the devices in 2004, and they were first used at the Democratic National Convention.
But in point of fact, it isn’t efficacy that’s driving the camera surveillance boom in police work. It’s conservatives and their demands for low-taxes.
Chris Ott, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union, questioned the emphasis on fancy gizmos to replace old-fashioned police work.
“For whatever reason, there is a tendency to look at technical solutions to nontechnical problems,” Ott said. “We’d encourage people to ask questions about whether there are simpler methods, perhaps better lighting or more community policing.”
Dunford said that while community policing is a priority, the funds do not exist to put more police on the streets.
“The cameras are a force multiplier,” he said. “We try to put out as many walking beats as we can, and then enhance those units with the cameras.”
Simple as that. There’s no money, thanks to Prop 2 1/2 and the Big Dig, to add patrols even though everyone knows patrols are more effective than cameras.
Michael Wong, coordinator of Chinatown’s crime watch program, said how effective the cameras are remains a mystery to many area residents.
“After the police put them up, we haven’t heard anything from them. I don’t know if they have anybody to watch them,” he said. “The crime here has gone down a lot, but I don’t think it is because of the cameras. We’re walking the streets. If criminals see our crime watch, they go away.”
That’s bad enough, but buried inside the story is the news that Homeland Security also has a camera system installed in Boston, independent of the police system.
The department can also tap into other camera surveillance systems, including those provided by the Department of Homeland Security to monitor areas of the city that may be susceptible to terrorist attacks such as the harbor, parks, and evacuation routes.
This is an all-but-open admission by HS that it is allowing local police to access its surveillance equipment, equipment we were promised would be used only against “terrorists”. But like the rest of the Bush Administration’s promises, that one was a crock, too.
All of this in the name of saving money. Apparently we’re not only willing to trade our civil liberties for the illusion of “safety” and protection from imaginary hoards of Islamofascists, we’re prepared to sacrifice them for something as menial as lower taxes.
Maybe we deserve what we’re going to get.
matttbastard at Comments from Left Field (where I’ve been posting this week, thus my absence from here) points to what he calls “the ‘WTF?!’ story of the day” – a piece by the WaPo’s Walter Pincus, one of the few real reporters the paper’s got left, on the way the commander of our detention camps has borrowed a leaf from the Chinese Communists’ Handbook of Re-education.
The U.S. military has introduced “religious enlightenment” and other education programs for Iraqi detainees, some of whom are as young as 11, Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, said yesterday.
Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to “bend them back to our will” and are part of waging war in what he called “the battlefield of the mind.” Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the “House of Wisdom.”
The religious courses are led by Muslim clerics who “teach out of a moderate doctrine,” Stone said, according to the transcript of a conference call he held from Baghdad with a group of defense bloggers. Such schooling “tears apart” the arguments of al-Qaeda, such as “Let’s kill innocents,” and helps to “bring some of the edge off” the detainees, he said.
First, somebody needs to explain to me why we’ve got 11-yr-olds in jail. Second, Gen Stone’s optimism may be, it seems to me, slightly misplaced. I mean, wouldn’t it seem fairly obvious to the meanest observer that the occupation of their country, the murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians, and the fact that they’re in jail basically for being Iraqi might explain their “extremism”?
I guess not.
At Michael Tedesco’s invitation, I’ve been blogging at Comments From Left Field the last week or so, off and on, and will be temporarily abandoning Witness to take his place for a week or so in October while he goes windsurfing on Lake Titicaca.
The last couple of days I’ve been embroiled in a discussion of Democratic culpability for the mess we’re in with Kyle Moore, and I think between us, and with the help of commenters like matttbastard, we’ve put some perspective on the problem and begun to evolve the core of the debate that needs to happen. You can read Kyle’s post here and my response here.
I hope you’ll join us. In the meantime, a jab in the ribs from Ted Rall to keep the blood flowing.
Everybody wants to give the team of Crocker & Petraeus credit for not lying more than they did. The Washington Post‘s Fred Hiatt was all over the Crocker half of the sketch, gushing that he “deserves credit for frankly and soberly delivering a message this week that neither his audience in Congress nor his superiors in the Bush administration wanted to hear”, blithely managing to sidestep the implication that the telling of uncomfortable truths by Administration lap-dogs is, you know, rare and kind of risky.
He was particularly encouraged by M Crocker’s comment where he claimed to be seeing “seeds of reconciliation” in Iraq’s political leaders even though he didn’t name them and conceded they weren’t “readily apparent from Washington”. Which is understandable given that Iraq’s political leaders have been throwing spitballs and each other for months and that most of them are not currently on speaking terms.
In my recent posts about the Democrats I’ve said more than once that the hold of the minority conservative leaders currently controlling the party could be broken if the majority of liberal/progressive Dems currently under their thumb staged a revolt. Well, according to The Hill, one has – in a mild, non-revoltish sort of way.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) is encouraging anti-war activists to find challengers to centrist Democrats, with the aim of moving the party to the left and ramping up opposition to the war in Iraq, to the chagrin of top Democratic aides.
“You folks should go after the Democrats,” Woolsey said in response to a suggestion from an activist during a conference call last month organized by the Network of Spiritual Progressives.
“I’d hate to lose the majority, but I’m telling you, if we don’t stand up to our responsibility, maybe that’s the lesson to be learned.”
OK, so she’s one legislator. We don’t have a headdress yet but we’ve got our first feather and the first crack in the wall.
In examining the little contretemps between a Bush trying to slide out from under direct responsibility for the single worst decision in the whole Iraq mess and a Bremer determined not to play fall-guy for a president who didn’t think twice about throwing him under the bus to save his own precious neck, Fred Kaplan at Slate isn’t as forgetful about Chalabi’s early role as Blumenthal, but he does miss Chalabi’s later role and, for some reason, comes over all coy about assigning the decision to Cheney even though the evidence is right under his nose.
Bremer is right about one thing: It wasn’t him. Though he wouldn’t be so self-demeaning as to admit it, he was a mere errand boy on this point. He arrived in Baghdad on May 14, 2003. The next day, he released CPA Order No. 1, barring members of the Baath Party from all but the lowliest government posts. The next day, he issued CPA Order No. 2, disbanding the Iraqi army.
In his memoir, published last year, Bremer wrote that he was handed the orders—and told to announce them as soon as possible—by Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy. “We’ve got to show all the Iraqis that we’re serious about building a new Iraq,” Feith reportedly told him. “And that means that Saddam’s instruments of repression have no role in that new nation.”
Bremer’s version rings true, and if it is then the orders came from Cheney. Period. Feith was L’il Dick’s boy and wouldn’t have dared make a move like that without the Veep told him to. Maybe Kaplan has some doubts about Bremer’s tale, but he doesn’t say what they are.