Monday, May 10, 2004

Taguba's understanding

From Josh Marshall via a post on snow-moon:

A report on NPR suggests the possibility that Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba's scathing report on the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison may have been affected in some way by the fact that his father, Sergeant Tomas Taguba, was himself a POW in WWII.

In fact, as a prisoner of war, he was part of the notorious 'Bataan Death March'.

Juxtaposed Google headlines

Bush to Rumsfeld: 'Superb job'
Red Cross report: Pentagon ignored warnings


Civil Rights era murder case reopened

Although the statute of limitations on federal prosecution that was in place at the time has expired, the state of Mississippi may still be able to prosecute, and it appears there is new evidence to implicate accomplices who are still living and were not tried at the time.

Nearly a half century after Emmett Till's mutilated body was found in a Mississippi river, the U.S. Justice Department on Monday reopened an investigation into the murder of the black teenager whose death helped spark the civil rights movement.

FBI agents and other personnel will be sent to Mississippi to assist local authorities in investigating the 1955 murder, which horrified the country and added fuel to the civil rights movement.

Till, a 14-year old from Chicago, was kidnapped and killed while visiting family in Money, Mississippi in August 1955.

Two white men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Millam, were charged with Till's killing, but were acquitted by an all-white jury.

The men later described in a magazine interview how they had beaten Till -- who had apparently whistled at Bryant's wife -- shot him, then tied a fan to his neck with barbed wire and pushed his body into the river.

Because they had already been acquitted, the men could not be retried. No others were ever indicted or prosecuted for involvement in the kidnapping or murder.

The wheels of justice do indeed turn exceeding slow.

"Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all."
--Retribution, by Friedrich Von Logau

Truly westernized

Consider what the oil-for-food program was: a program to block a large and lucrative trade. Like a stream of water, trade tends to have a momentum of its own, and when blocked, finds other outlets.

In this case, the then-government of Iraq was denied the right to sell its oil on the world market and spend the money itself. It was supposed to sell its oil through the U.N. The U.N. was to deduct 2.2 percent as expenses, and then pay out the money for uses it approved. Officially, 72 percent of the revenue went for humanitarian purposes and 25 percent for war reparations from the first Gulf War.
  Iraq Net article

With true Americanized logic (eg., Why is nobody reporting the good things happening in Iraq?), the overseer of the old Iraq oil for food humanitarian project, a la Chalabi's so-what-if-I-lied-Saddam-is-gone reasoning, defends the UN program corruption.

Benon Sevan, has denied personally cheating. As for others, he told one TV interviewer, "Even if 10 percent of the revenue was stolen, 90 percent got to the people it was intended for. Why does nobody report that?"

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

British government casts doubt on UK photos

You may already know that.

Here's Defense Secretary Hoon's defense:

"There are strong indications that the vehicle in which the photographs were taken was not in Iraq during the relevant period," Hoon said. "Additional lines of inquiry are being pursued to corroborate this."

Good God, man, what an incredibly incredible statement. So, tell what other "irrelevant" period has this been going on?

British Defense Sec GHoon

Presidential Auction 2004

One of Billmon's readers has just about had all he (she?) can take.

Just what the freak did John Kerry have to say about this?

Well, we can help in the future in Iraq by getting the Peace Corps in there.

He's said more, of course, but that's stuck with me. Freaking definition of lame right there. Inept, if you will.

This fucking idiot is about to unleash all the savagery of the Deaniacs. If you think Al Gore got disparaged by his own party you haven't seen anything yet. They're going to rip him to shreds with just one more lame-o statement like that.

I'm really sick of this. How the freak did we get somebody so stupid as our nominee? The idiot voted for the war and now can't hit back on it. Just incredible.

Yadda yadda yadda the son of a bitch can still criticize Bush on it. By advocating the Peace Corps? Jesus Christ.

He's reaally lucky he's only being described as inept. Pretty soon it will be loser.

I'm ranting and spewing again in irrational angst and I don't fucking care. The country cannot afford Bush to win again and yet the Peace Corps will save us.

What I wouldn't do to slap that idiot around. The last thing we needed was a chump but somehow we got one with Nader to dog his heels. God.

Posted by: seething at May 10, 2004 02:12 PM

Soldiers' email services cut

I keep reading bits about KBR (who provides internet service to the soldiers overseas) being ordered by the military to cut all but "essential" email privileges.

When I find something more definitive, I'll post.

Was anybody asking why?

Back in September of last year (coincidentally, the time the Taguba report states grievous abuses occurred at Abu Ghraib was October to December 2003) when the U.S. was handing down a deadline for countries to exempt us from the International Criminal Court ( and therefore war crimes trials) or lose military and other financial aid, was anybody asking why?


As part of the United States' campaign to exclude its citizens and military personnel from the jurisdiction of the ICC, the Bush administration has been approaching countries around the world seeking to conclude Bilateral Impunity Agreements (BIAs), or so called "Article 98" agreements. These agreements prohibit the surrender to the ICC of a broad scope of persons including current or former government officials, military personnel, and US employees (including contractors) and nationals. These agreements, which in some cases are reciprocal, do not include an obligation by the US to subject those persons to investigation and/or prosecution.

...Indeed, the United States is isolated in its aggressive, disrespectful and unfair campaign aimed at undermining the authority and effectiveness of the ICC. Victims and the world community view the US as a hegemonic super power that refuses to be under the rule of law, and yet imposes its own order on other states and citizens. The US' intention to create a two-tier justice system, one for the rest of the world and one for Americans, is just unacceptable.
  Third World Traveler article

With a little hindsight, I'd say the intention was to effect an immediate loophole for a situation that was well under way and almost certain to become public. To add insult to injury, maybe it didn't have to be hindsight. Some dedicated investigative journalists or curious congresspersons might have attempted to uncover why the pressure was being put on these countries to exempt us from war crimes, and perhaps prevented the worst of the events at Abu Ghraib.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Please. Wake. Up.

Josh Marshall, speaking of himself (and I really respect Josh Marhsall, whose work I so often quote, just so you know):

For someone who considers himself in many ways a hawk and who did and does believe in American power as a force for good in the world (most recently in the Balkans) it is difficult to describe the depth of the chagrin over watching the unfolding of a story which reads in many ways like a parody of Chomskian screeds against American villainy.

When are people going to take a look at the totality of their own evidence and realize that Noam Chomsky's "screeds against American villainy" are absolutely founded?

We must rub the sleep out of our eyes.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Scripting war

There is chatter in Pakistani intelligence circles that the US has let the Pakistanis know that the optimal time for bagging 'high value' al Qaida suspects in the untamed Afghan-Pakistani border lands is the last ten days of July, 2004.
  Josh Marshall post

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Press Gag

It must be in a press gaggle this morning. At least it isn't up on the White House page yet. Josh Marshall is reporting that McClellan is being grilled about whether the remaining photos and videos should be released all at once to the public, rather than dribbled out one by one.

Mc Clellan's response is that it will be the Pentagon's decision.

I must be missing something here, because I am assuming that if there are indeed investigations underway and these people have lawyers, there won't be anything else coming out that doesn't get leaked. Wouldn't it be considered evidence and thereby protected?

I'm turning on the new Blogger comments capability for this post in case anyone wants to shed some light on this subject. Otherwise, we'll just wait until we get some information from the Pentagon, I guess.

...hey, do what you will anyway.

Bubbleboy stands by his man

He says the nation owes a "debt of gratitude" to this man:

I'm not even going to comment on that pile.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Taguba Report classified?

This could become a very interesting sinkhole in the quagmire.

From the Progress Report:

DON'T READ THIS REPORT: The instinct to hush things up was still in effect after the story and gruesome pictures broke. According to Time magazine, the administration sent an email to Pentagon staff with the subject line "URGENT IT (Information Technology) BULLETIN: Taguba Report." The email orders "employees not to read or download the Taguba report...on the grounds that the document is classified. It also orders them not to discuss the matter with friends or family members."

The potential problem here is that it is a crime to classify any document for the sole purpose of covering up other illegal activity. The question is, what other reason would there have been to classify the Taguba report?

Some speculation has been voiced that the information about "Ghost Detainees" is what prompted the decision to classify the document. And there is a distinct absence of any questioning about these detainees in the congressional hearings with Rumsfiend and crew.

"The various detention facilities operated by the 800th MP Brigade have routinely held persons brought to them by other government agencies (OGAs) WITHOUT ACCOUNTING FOR THEM, KNOWING their identities, or even THE REASON for their detention. The Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib called these detainees "GHOST DETAINEES". ON AT LEAST ONE OCCASION, the 320th MP Battalion at Abu Ghraib held a handful of "ghost detainees" (6-8) for OGAs that they moved around within the facility to HIDE THEM from a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross survey team. This maneuver was DECEPTIVE, contrary to Army Doctrine and in VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW…."

Stay tuned.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Thomas Jefferson - prophet

But is the spirit of the people an infallible, a permanent reliance? Is it government? Is this the kind of protection we receive in return for the rights we give up? Besides, the spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.
  Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia - 1784


From a Billmon reader comment:

“Feel it's time to get our troops back from all over the world.”
Sounds great…but your country could easily look like Mexico or similar if you didn’t rob all the countries you invaded with your Army bases…You certainly would not have economy as you know it…if you had to relay on your own strength…This is what gives you a name “superpower”…and I think you should know this…
Posted by: vbo at May 10, 2004 02:13 AM

And that is the bottom line, only not quite in such simplistic terms. I think we should know it, too. The rest of the world does.

Editorial Break

If we in this country were really who we portray ourselves to be, those few people who are willing to lose their livelihoods, and even their lives, in blowing the whistle on illegal and unjust activity would be awarded public accolade, instead of being fired, reprimanded, targeted, "outed", and otherwise vilified. It is the measure of our hypocrisy that it is the latter which they actually get for their integrity.

If nothing else, this kind of systematic denial and suppression of the truth is self-destructive and ensures failure. If we refuse to look at the truth about ourselves, how can we possibly know what we need to do to get where we want to go? If we insist that our position places us to the east of our goal, when in actuality it lies to the north, what are the odds that we will ever reach it?

....but hey, do what you want....because I know you will anyway.

As Nelson Mandela leaves politics

"We watch as two of the leading democracies, two leading nations of the free world, get involved in a war that the United Nations did not sanction," Mandela said, adding that the world had been horrified by reports of torture of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. and British forces.

"We see how the powerful countries, all of them so-called democracies, manipulate multilateral bodies to the great disadvantage and suffering of the poorer developing nations."
  Reuters article

"So-called democracies." Not merely satisfied to manipulate multilateral bodies, but actively interfering in actual democracies the world over to overthrow democratically elected leaders and replace them with more so-called democracies. And puppet versions at that.

Worse than Watergate

Oh, much, much worse, Mr. Dean.

John Dean was a central figure in the fall of US president Richard Nixon. Now Dean believes the Bush presidency is even more flawed.

..."All Bush does is campaign and raise funds while Cheney runs the country. Cheney is so able and so shrewd that he lets George Bush wake up each morning thinking he is the President . . ."

...Thirty years later, he is the clarion with first-hand experience of a conservative Republican White House that systematically lied, who sees Nixonian parallels in the current White House: a belief that the national interest justifies deceit, suppressing information, subverting Congressional oversight and manipulating the media. Except that Dean regards the Bush White House as more dangerous and George Bush as the most insular, destructive and secretive American President in modern history.

...But [Dean's new book,] Worse Than Watergate is not an expose about a scandal like Watergate. It is not a book about one thing, the Iraq war. It is about the influence of money, a culture of secrecy, and the cover-up of the reasons for war.

...Worse Than Watergate, begins: "George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have created the most secretive presidency of my lifetime. Their secrecy is far worse than during Watergate and it bodes even more serious consequences. Their secrecy is extreme — not merely unjustified and excessive but obsessive . . . It has given us a presidency that operates on hidden agendas. To protect their secrets, Bush and Cheney dissemble as a matter of policy. In fact, the Bush-Cheney presidency is strikingly Nixonian, only with regard to secrecy far worse . . . This administration is truly scary and, given the times we live in, frighteningly dangerous."

...He believes that the Bush Administration has so ruthlessly exploited the September 11 tragedy that, in the event of another deadly terrorist attack on American soil, "Bush and Cheney will simply push aside the Constitution they have sworn to uphold, inflame public passions with tough talk . . . and take this country to a place it has only been once. For 11 weeks during the onset of the Civil War, president Lincoln became what scholars have euphemistically called 'a constitutional dictator'."

Constitutional dictatorship. This is a grave claim...
  The Age article

But not an unrealistic one.

Human Rights do not apply to Iraqis

So say hundreds of photographs, and so says UK Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram.

Paul Keetch MP
...Ministry of Defence stated last month that the European convention on human rights does not apply in Iraq, despite the fact that the UK has signed it and that many courts believe that it applies to the agents of those states that have signed it. Under what position and under what human rights laws are Iraqis held in UK custody in Iraq?

Adam Ingram MP
Our best judgment is that the European convention on human rights does not apply.

Are we understanding what has happened to our world yet?

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Conservatives are "restive"

The centerpiece of President Bush's foreign policy -- the effort to transform Iraq into a peaceful democracy -- has been undermined by a deadly insurrection and broadcast photos of brutality by U.S. prison guards. On the domestic side, conservatives and former administration officials say the White House policy apparatus is moribund, with policies driven by political expediency or ideological pressure rather than by facts and expertise.

Conservatives have become unusually restive.
  MSNBC article

Well, it's about damned time.

Last Tuesday, columnist George F. Will sharply criticized the administration's Iraq policy, writing: "This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts."

Mr. Will, I don't think there's any shortage of quotes from the Oaf of Office bragging that he never second-guesses himself, and that he doesn't waste time thinking, he just goes on "gut instinct," so I think we can eliminate the "if" in your argument.

Two days earlier, Robert Kagan, a neoconservative supporter of the Iraq war, wrote: "All but the most blindly devoted Bush supporters can see that Bush administration officials have no clue about what to do in Iraq tomorrow, much less a month from now."

At this point, I think that the only Bush supporters left are the blindly devoted ones. Unfortunately, I think there are a whole lot of them.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Hard to believe, but here you have it

From the Arizona Republic online Opinions:

May. 10, 2004 12:00 AM

How sad that the media has put our young men and women at risk by blowing out of proportion the magnitude of the abuse of prisoners in Iraqi prisons.

An isolated incident will be the cause of retaliation by people who know how to abuse and torture. There are people being held prisoner right now who are experiencing the retribution in direct response to all of the media hype that has occurred over those nasty pictures.

This is not reporting; it is sensationalism and the very worst politicking that the media has gotten so good at. Such outrage, over the same abuses our POWs are subject to, is disproportionate. Whose side are you on, CBS and company?

When will the media be grilled by Congress like Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and those military leaders were?

Media are equally to blame for all of this. Without their willing participation, this would have been dealt with in an appropriate manner that would have spared much agony for those being held captive currently and in the future. - Christina Pasterz, Glendale

Christina, may you be spared even one more day of such collosal ignorance - in whatever way that might come to be granted.

Honors to the few

To those who reported the abuse, and those who refused to participate, go my support and admiration.

First of all, to Specialist Joseph M. Darby, the soldier who turned over the first photographs saying, "There are some things going on here that I can't live with."

And to these:

One of them, Master-at-Arms William J. Kimbro, a Navy dog handler, should be commended, Taguba wrote, because he “knew his duties and refused to participate in improper interrogations despite significant pressure from the MI”—military intelligence—“personnel at Abu Ghraib.”

...Not everybody went along. A company captain in a military-police unit in Baghdad told me last week that he was approached by a junior intelligence officer who requested that his M.P.s keep a group of detainees awake around the clock until they began talking. “I said, ‘No, we will not do that,’” the captain said. “The M.I. commander comes to me and says, ‘What is the problem? We’re stressed, and all we are asking you to do is to keep them awake.’ I ask, ‘How? You’ve received training on that, but my soldiers don’t know how to do it. And when you ask an eighteen-year-old kid to keep someone awake, and he doesn’t know how to do it, he’s going to get creative.’” The M.I. officer took the request to the captain’s commander, but, the captain said, “he backed me up.
  Iraq Net article

And as for the investigator, Major General Antonio M. Taguba, who was the only military man to truthfully make an official record of what was going on....

“He’s not regarded as a hero in some circles in the Pentagon,” a retired Army major general said of Taguba. “He’s the guy who blew the whistle, and the Army will pay the price for his integrity. The leadership does not like to have people make bad news public.”

The Army will probably not pay much of a price. Certainly nothing that fits the Army's crimes.

Nor does the civilian leadership like to have people make bad news, and they make every attempt to suppress and cover it up.

In the privacy of his office, Rumsfeld chafed over what he saw as the reluctance of senior Pentagon generals and admirals to act aggressively. By mid-2002, he and his senior aides were exchanging secret memorandums on modifying the culture of the military leaders and finding ways to encourage them “to take greater risks.” One memo spoke derisively of the generals in the Pentagon, and said, “Our prerequisite of perfection for ‘actionable intelligence’ has paralyzed us. We must accept that we may have to take action before every question can be answered.” The Defense Secretary was told that he should “break the ‘belt-and-suspenders’ mindset within today’s military . . . we ‘over-plan’ for every contingency. . . . We must be willing to accept the risks.” With operations involving the death of foreign enemies, the memo went on, the planning should not be carried out in the Pentagon: “The result will be decision by committee.”

The Pentagon’s impatience with military protocol extended to questions about the treatment of prisoners caught in the course of its military operations. Soon after 9/11, as the war on terror got under way, Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly made public his disdain for the Geneva conventions. Complaints about America’s treatment of prisoners, Rumsfeld said in early 2002, amounted to “isolated pockets of international hyperventilation.”

Kind of makes his recent apology sound a bit hollow, don't you think?

Photo ops

It strikes me as rather appropriate that it should be photos that may be the undoing of this pathetic excuse for an American presidential administraiton - hell, pathetic excuse for human beings. Appropriate in light of the fact that the Bush adminsitration's signature is the staged photo op.

Lord of the Flies

I might learn to hate.

On the day the Pentagon announced the first court martial of one of the seven US military police personnel so far charged in the scandal, The New Yorker magazine published a photograph of a naked prisoner cowering in terror in front of a pair of German shepherd dogs held on leashes by their handlers, who are in full combat gear.

The author of the article, Seymour Hersh, says they are part of a series that shows the dogs snarling at the Iraqi and straining at their leashes, and then the same prisoner with at least one wound and his leg covered in blood, apparently the result of a bite.

But even these chilling pictures may not be the end. The Pentagon now has other photos and videos in its possession, showing acts of rape and the desecration of a dead body, which it plans to show to various Congressmen shortly. That alone makes it likely they will become public knowledge.

The New Yorker picture is here if you haven't seen it and think you want to.

Top investigative reporter Seymour Hersh said he had obtained the pictures of the now notorious Abu Ghraib prison which had been in the possession of a member of the 320th Military Police Battalion.

The published picture shows a naked Iraqi man leaning against a cell door with his hands clasped behind his neck, cowering in fear as two German Shepherd dogs bark at him.

Hersh said that other photos showed the dogs "straining at their leashes and snarling at the prisoner".

"In another take a few minutes later, the Iraqi is lying on the ground, writhing in pain, with a soldier sitting on top of him, knee pressed to his back. Blood is streaming from the inmate's leg," Hersh said in his article.

For some reason the picture of the goons with their dogs surrounding an obviously terrified and naked Iraqi prisoner with his hands behind his head but trying to crouch in some pathetic attempt at self-protection, make me sicker and colder than any of those other pictures we've seen to date. I don't think I'll be able to look at any of rape and desecration.

Some times I hate people. Times like these.

Of course I don't know anything about this man's reason for being a prisoner - it could be anything from simply being there when some soldiers went on a round-up to murder to child molestation. I don't know, but I cannot view the picture without feeling sympathy and sickness on the man's behalf, and a cold hardening of any feeling for the goon squad who would pretend to be human. I can only imagine what Arab Muslims must be experiencing when they see these pictures.

And why do the reports keep saying that investigators report an incidence of a male MP guard having sex with a female prisoner? Having sex with a female prisoner? Do they honestly imagine it might have been consentual?

Power doesn't corrupt - it attracts the corruptable. (Frank Herbert)

I don't care what wonderful, marvelous things people may have done or created, they cannot make up for the heinous things.

The human experiment is a failure.

And by the way - this is a different unit from the one with Miss Lynndie.

A few more bad apples.

Update on American lawyer's possible connection to Madrid bombings

Remember Brandon Mayfield, the lawyer who defended a Muslim pleading guilty to terror charges?

Nelson complained about a "calculated leak" from the Justice Department to the news media Thursday about Mayfield, telling KATU-TV in Portland that the information had "led to the frenzy that we see out here that is destroying and disparaging his family, his relationships, his children and his law practice. That leak is devastating. It was unnecessary, unethical and inappropriate."

The newspaper El Pais reported Saturday that Spanish investigators have serious doubts about whether the fingerprint found on a plastic bag tied to March 11 explosions on commuter trains is that of Portland-area lawyer Brandon Mayfield.

The report said Spanish forensics experts found only eight points of similarity between the print and the one of Mayfield held in U.S. files because of his status as a former member of the Army.

The FBI said it found 15 such points, El Pais said.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Iraqi art

The alabaster sculpture on display at a Baghdad gallery bears a striking resemblance to some of the shocking photographs that emerged last week of Iraqi prisoners abused by their American guards at the Abu Ghraib prison.

But the 15-inch sculpture, with words "We are living American democracy" inscribed on its base, was fashioned two months ago.

"We knew what went on at Abu Ghraib," Abdul-Kareem Khalil, the artist, said on Saturday. "The pictures did not surprise me."

Bolivian coup plot uncovered

And, of course, the U.S. is there.

It wasn’t a secret, but for a while, nobody was paying attention: there are groups plotting to destabilize the government of President Carlos Mesa, that are considering a coup d’etat in order to finalize the sale of Bolivian gas to Chile despite the outpouring of popular will against such a deal expressed in last October’s insurrection.

Of course, U.S. government officials have a lot to do with it (beginning with the Viceroy David N. Greenlee, his friends in the CIA, and even officials from the gringo agency USAID). It took a counterintelligence memo, put together by confidential Bolivian and Chilean sources, specifically accusing those foreign companies and politicians – to bring this matter to light. Then Congressman Evo Morales denounced the coup attempt, and the questions began…
  Narco News article

You know, this is not uncommon. But I am simply unable to keep up, and since I already am starting to fall behind in my upkeep of pages on Venezuela and Haiti, I am not going to pretend I can also do one on Bolivia. Therefore, for further information on this and other news in the "drug wars", check with Narco News.

...hey, do what you will anyway.'s Condi's fault

Thanks to Maru, here's a flashback from October 2003:

President Bush is giving his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, the authority to manage postwar Iraq and the rebuilding of Afghanistan.

While some saw it as a sign of frustration with the handling of postwar efforts, Bush and other officials said the move is a logical next step and reflected no dissatisfaction with progress.

"We want to cut through the red tape and make sure that we're getting the assistance there quickly so that they can carry out their priorities," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said. "It's a new phase, a different phase we're entering."

And she's done a smash-up job of it, too.

I do now remember when this news came out wondering WTF?! (Thanks again, Maru) The National Security Adviser in charge of postwar management? What a riot. They're still calling it "post" war.

At any rate, regardless of all the calls for Rumsfiend's head, I am stubbornly sticking to my call that Miss Condi's will be the first of the head heads to roll. And that, I think is because the boys will gang up on her and convince the Oaf to throw her to the sharks. And I don't think she'll see it coming. It should be much easier after having given her the responsibility for the impossible.

Rumsfiend's not going anywhere. Just like all the clamor about Tenet falling on his sword and Powell being the odd man out all the time. It'll go away when the next fiasco hits the front pages. And there will be one.

Commencement faux pas

Cheyney, Pennsylvania

Dissatisfied with their school’s choice of commencement speaker, about half of Saturday’s graduating class at Cheyney University rebuffed U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., by standing and turning their backs to him during his speech.

Just as Santorum began his address, dozens of the 324 graduates stood and faced the audience. One graduate left the area. Many in the crowd applauded the students’ actions.

"Don’t hide from controversy," Santorum told the students as many carried on conversations, at times almost drowning out the senator’s words.

Damn! And not one arrest?!

This appears to be an all black college. If so, I wonder whose brilliant idea it was to book Santorum.

You can actually get the 2004 graduation video, if you'd like.

Illegal incursion into Pakistan

US troops crossed into Pakistani territory from Afghanistan in recent days despite Pakistan expressly prohibiting such actions, but the Pentagon said on Wednesday the incursion was inadvertent.

In Islamabad, a Pakistani Foreign Ministry official said his government had protested to the US a May 2 incursion by US troops into Pakistani territory to hunt suspected al-Qaeda or Taliban militants.

"I can confirm the incident did occur recently," said a US defense official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The bottom line is that it was inadvertent. ... And we respect the territorial integrity of Pakistan," the official said.
  Taipei Times article

Okay, I can certainly buy that there might be some mistake in uninhabited areas, but surely the army has the capability of knowing about villages, particularly ones where there are Pakistani forces close by.

US troops searched shops and a gasoline station in the village of Alwara Mandi in North Waziristan, one of Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal regions, during a night operation, said Pakistani Major-General Shaukat Sultan.

Around 60 US troops drove into Alwara Mandi, which lies a few hundred meters from the frontier with Afghanistan and has a Pakistani forces picket close by, villagers said.

Not to mention it seems a little suspect that they went in "inadvertently" under cover of night and searched buildings.

If we weren't so often asked to give our military the benefit of the doubt and so often been rubed doing so (most recently in relation to Abu Ghraib prison), I might be less suspicious of the innocence claimed by the "US defense official in Washington".

We weren't illegally in Cambodia and Laos, either.

Air pollutors are Bush contributors

Talk about a shock. And not only that, they get to help make policy! Who would have thunk it?

The nation's top 50 polluting power plants are owned by corporations that are tightly allied with the Bush Administration both as major campaign contributors and in conducting pollution policymaking, according to a new study released yesterday.

Conducted by two nonprofit, nonpartisan groups--the Environmental Integrity Project and Public Citizen--the study utilized data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).

Ranking the polluters based on their emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, the report finds that sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide pollution actually increased from 2002-2003, thereby expanding risks of asthma attacks and lung ailments.

According to the report, America's Dirtiest Power Plants: Plugged into the Bush Administration, the firms cited in the study, along with their trade associations, met at least 17 times with Vice President Cheney's energy task force.

..."It is no coincidence that a wholesale assault on the Clean Air Act is taking place today," said Eric Schaeffer, who founded EIP after resigning in early 2002 from his post as director of EPA's Office of Regulatory Enforcement, in protest of the administration's rollback of environmental protections. "This is a well-connected industry that is absolutely intent on preserving its 'right' to foul the air regardless of the consequences to the American people."

Four more years!

Report of another coup attempt in Venezuela

Right after I returned from my Venezuelan visit, one of our guides worried in an email about new rumors there of another coup attempt.

VHeadline has this article today:

One of the 55 paramilitaries captured this morning on a ranch in El Hatillo (Caracas) owned by opposition leader Robert Alonso, was interviewed by journalist Darvin Romero Montiel of Venezolana de Television (VTV).

The presumed paramilitary, with a strong Colombian accent, gave his testimony anonymously, wearing a hood for security reasons. He confirmed that he was deceived when he came to Venezuela. They had offered him work as a campesino, and then threatened to kill his family if he tried to escape.

...According to statements released this morning by DISIP Commissioner Miguel Rodriguez, the terrorist plan consisted of attacking a military installation in Caracas this week, possibly the Urban Security Command of the National Guard. On Monday, the paramilitaries were to be taken to another ranch, where they would receive final training with arms and ammunition, and do the assault on Wednesday. “We were going to attack a military base that has tunnels underneath containing arms,” said the presumed paramilitary. The purpose, according to one of the anti-Chavez “generals,” was to steal arms from the base to give to a 3,000 strong paramilitary group who were to come to Venezuela in 8 days.


If so, I'd expect the CIA to be involved.

It's all impossible to sort out, of course. There is constant accusation from Washington and the Chavez opposition that Chavez' government is in cahoots with Colombian terrorists, so it's interesting that this group appears to be Colombian. And I will be waiting for the Chavez accusation that the U.S. is part of this effort, either in funding or in training. Or both.

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The couple most likely to torture

Lynndie England and Chuck Graner.

The lovers who are parents-to-be, were together at Abu Ghraib torturing Iraqi prisoners. We've seen and heard a lot about her, but here's some information about him.

John Burner, who has known the family for 30 years, was visibly taken aback and dismayed yesterday.

"I feel so bad," he said. "He was a real good guy. I have nothing but good things to say about Chuck. Never once did Chuck give anyone a problem. It was always 'Yes, sir' or 'No, sir.' He wouldn't even call my wife and me by our first names. It was always 'Mr.' and "Mrs.' "

But public records indicate that Graner had troubles at work as a correctional officer in the state prison system in Greene County -- a history of disciplinary actions [for tardiness or improperly scheduling leave] that culminated in his firing in 2000. He was later reinstated by an arbitrator.

Graner's marriage dissolved in 1997 and his wife obtained three protection-from-abuse orders against him in the ensuing four years. In her first petition, she accused him of threatening to kill her. She made other allegations of abuse in subsequent petitions.

...She also testified that Graner offered to move out of their former home so that she could return with the children, then installed a secret video camera and showed her tapes of herself.

...The Graners' divorce was final in 2000. She sought yet another protection-from-abuse order in March 2001, filing a five-page handwritten statement detailing an encounter in which she said Graner told her she was still his wife and tried to get her to go to bed with him.

She said he dragged her around the house by the hair, banged her head off the floor and tried to throw her down the stairs in front of their weeping, frightened children.

That horrible abuse at Abu Ghraib. That's not who we are as Americans. Oh no.

And, oh by the way...

KDKA-TV reporter Ross Guidotti served with Graner in a military police company when both were members of the Marine Corps Reserve. For about six weeks in early 1991, both were guards at a prison camp for Iraqis captured during the Gulf War.

...He said he was shocked to hear that Graner has been accused of mistreating prisoners, in part because of the training they and other guards received years ago. "It was drilled into our minds well before we left the continental U.S. what we were allowed to do, and not allowed to do, relative to the treatment of prisoners."

Really? I thought they hadn't even been told about the Geneva Conventions.

In the driveway behind the home was Graner's Ford truck. A front license plate has "Jesus" and a cross on it.

Jesus, indeed.

Claims that torture existed at all prisons and that it continues

And we aren't going to believe it, are we?

"The first reports I received concerned the city of Umm Qasr, the detention zone at Baghdad airport, and finally the prison at Abu Ghraib. But there was torture at all the American bases," [Iraq's former human rights minister Abdul Basset Turki] told the newspaper.

"I have information about further abuses committed against prisoners just this week," he said, but did not elaborate.

Turki, who resigned one month ago over U.S. military action in the flashpoint town of Falluja, said he had quickly understood that Bremer "did not have the power to ask the military to change its methods."
  Iraq Net article

When did they know?

From the beginning. All the current haggling about the date people in charge knew what was happening in Iraqi prisons is a sideshow smokescreen to avoid telling the truth that this kind of thing is unwritten policy.

The US overseer for Iraq Paul Bremer was first told that Iraqi prisoners were being abused at the notorious US-run jail at Abu Ghraib in January.

"Ambassador Bremer was made aware of the charges relating to the humiliation in January 2004, right when it was made public," coalition spokesman Dan Senor said.

Iraq's former human rights minister Abdul Basset Turki said abuses of Iraqi prisoners had been going on at all U.S. bases since the occupation began, with some taking place as recently as last week.

In an interview with French weekly Le Journal de Dimanche released ahead of publication Sunday, Turki said he had warned U.S. administrator Paul Bremer of the abuse in November.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Friday that it first raised concerns with the United States more than a year ago.

Yes, that is how America does things (and George Doubleface Bush knows it).

So say I, and so says General Miller (the man formerly in charge of abuse at Guantanamo, sent to replace Karpinski in charge of abuse at Abu Ghraib), now questioned about his recommendations last summer to "soften up" prisoners.

He said the ideas put forward were in "keeping with how America does its operations."
  SF Gate article

Coalition of the Collusive

New reports have implicated a second British unit in the abuse claims. Added now to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment is the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. It's definitely not just a few bad apples, but rather pretty much the whole barrel, in case you had any doubts left.

And please don't try to tell me that the highest levels of British command (up to and including Tony Blair) were not in discussions with the highest levels of U.S. command (up to and including George Bush) about this. Well, maybe they really don't tell the Oaf anything - plausible deniability and all that, not to mention the fact that he apparently likes to be ignorant.

At any rate the idea that the top, top military command of both countries were not discussing the situation is totally unbelievable, considering the British involvement at Abu Ghraib and the Red Cross reports to both countries.

The news that UK troops were based at Abu Ghraib raises further disturbing questions about what the British military knew of the abuse going on there. A Downing Street spokesman last night confirmed that the Red Cross drew their attention to allegations of abuse earlier in the year.

The spokesman said: "The International Committee of the Red Cross showed the government a copy of the report in February to enable the government to comment and take action on this."

He said the Red Cross informed the government because parts of the report concerned areas of British responsibility. He refused to reveal what action was taken.
  Iraq Net article

Dissension at high levels

Major cracks in the empire.

"I lost my brother in Vietnam," added [Army Col. Paul Hughes, who last year was the first director of strategic planning for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad], a veteran Army strategist who is involved in formulating Iraq policy. "I promised myself, when I came on active duty, that I would do everything in my power to prevent that [sort of strategic loss] from happening again. Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don't understand the war we're in."
  WaPo article

I will certainly agree that we don't understand the war we're in, but I think he's trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear when he says we will win every fight. What was the Fallujah pull-out?

The emergence of sharp differences over U.S. strategy has set off a debate, a year after the United States ostensibly won a war in Iraq, about how to preserve that victory.

I think you have to have a victory before you can preserve one, but I could be wrong.

A senior general at the Pentagon said he believes the United States is already on the road to defeat. "It is doubtful we can go on much longer like this," he said. "The American people may not stand for it -- and they should not."

Asked who was to blame, this general pointed directly at Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz. "I do not believe we had a clearly defined war strategy, end state and exit strategy before we commenced our invasion," he said. "Had someone like Colin Powell been the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff], he would not have agreed to send troops without a clear exit strategy. The current OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] refused to listen or adhere to military advice."

Oh, that old saw.

Like several other officers interviewed for this report, this general spoke only on the condition that his name not be used. One reason for this is that some of these officers deal frequently with the senior Pentagon civilian officials they are criticizing, and some remain dependent on top officials to approve their current efforts and future promotions.

Well, there you go. If you're going to play the whore, the pimp makes all the decisions, and none of them are for your benefit. I guess there aren't any other jobs in this economy.

Also, some say they believe that Rumsfeld and other top civilians punish public dissent. Senior officers frequently cite what they believe was the vindictive treatment of then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki after he said early in 2003 that the administration was underestimating the number of U.S. troops that would be required to occupy postwar Iraq.

Yeah, and Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, and Paul O'Neill, and Richard Clarke, and others. At least those people may still have their self-respect. They certainly have my respect.

Wolfowitz, the Pentagon's No. 2 official, said he does not think the United States is losing in Iraq, and said no senior officer has expressed that thought to him, either.

Case closed.

"The goal has never been to win the Olympic high jump in democracy," he said. Moving toward democratization in Iraq will take time, he said. Yet, he continued, "I don't think the answer is to find some old Republican Guard generals and have them impose yet another dictatorship in an Arab country."

I guess we know what he means by that, don't we, General Kimmmitt? (See above reference to the Fallujah pull-out.)

"I am sure that the view from Washington is much worse than it appears on the ground here in Baqubah," said Army Col. Dana J.H. Pittard, commander of a 1st Infantry Division brigade based in that city about 40 miles north of Baghdad.

If it's not as bad as Washington is telling us, they must be having picnics on the sand over there.

Army Lt. Col. John Kem, a battalion commander in Baghdad, said that the events of the past two months -- first the eruption of a Shiite insurgency, followed by the detainee abuse scandal -- "certainly made things harder," but he said he doubted they would have much effect on the long-term future of Iraq.

And I am always encouraged by a grasp of reality in the commanding ranks.

One Pentagon consultant said that officials with whom he works on Iraq policy continue to put on a happy face publicly, but privately are grim about the situation in Baghdad. When it comes to discussions of the administration's Iraq policy, he said, "It's 'Dead Man Walking.'"

The worried generals and colonels are simply beginning to say what experts outside the military have been saying for weeks.

And lots of us non-experts.

In addition to trimming the U.S. troop presence, a young Army general said, the United States also should curtail its ambitions in Iraq. "That strategic objective, of a free, democratic, de-Baathified Iraq, is grandiose and unattainable," he said. "It's just a matter of time before we revise downward . . . and abandon these ridiculous objectives."

...Tolerance of the situation in Iraq also appears to be declining within the U.S. military. Especially among career Army officers, an extraordinary anger is building at Rumsfeld and his top advisers.

"Like a lot of senior Army guys, I'm quite angry" with Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush administration, the young general said. He listed two reasons. "One is, I think they are going to break the Army." But what really incites him, he said, is, "I don't think they care."

George D'Arc

'I feel like God wants me to run for President. I can't explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me. Something is going to happen... I know it won't be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it.'

Joe Klein editorial: The Perils of a Righteous President - Faith without doubt leads to moral arrogance

We are humble before the Lord, Bush insists. We cannot possibly know His will. And yet, we "know" He's on the side of justice—and we define what justice is. Indeed, we can toss around words like justice and evil with impunity, send off mighty armies to "serve the cause of justice" in other lands and be so sure of our righteousness that the merest act of penitence—an apology for an atrocity—becomes a presidential crisis.

...[D]emocracy doesn't easily lend itself to evangelism; it requires more than faith. It requires a solid, educated middle class and a sophisticated understanding of law, transparency and minority rights. It certainly can't be imposed by outsiders, not in a fractious region where outsiders are considered infidels. This is not rocket science.

And since this is Mothers Day, let's not forget the mother of them all......Ma Bush.

...Like the President describing his love of "comfort food" - homemade chicken noodle soup and sandwiches on freshly baked bread. When Mrs O'Neill politely asked what comfort food his mother, Barbara Bush, cooked, George Bush replied bluntly: "You got to be kiddin'. My mother never cooked. The woman had frostbite on her fingers. Everything [was] right out of the freezer." source

From Babs' own lips:

- I may be the only mother in America who knows exactly what their (sic) child is up to all the time.
- Only the actions of the just smell sweet and blossom in the dust.
- Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is. source
- But why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, what day it's going to happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it's, not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? source

...hey, Babs, do what you will anyway.

Stage III of "fixing it"

A 24-year-old U.S. military policeman will be the first soldier to face a court-martial in connection with the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, the military said Sunday.

Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits of Hyndman, Pa., a member of the 372nd Military Police Company, will stand trial in Baghdad on May 19.

...The Army trained Sivits as a truck mechanic, not as a prison guard, his father, Daniel, said. He said his son "was just doing what he was told to do."

Sivits' trial will be open to media coverage, Kimmitt said.

U.S. officials have insisted that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were carried out by a handful of soldiers who failed to follow procedures and were not part of a systematic program of brutality.

"It is not much larger than the people already suspended, in the number of people already charged," Kimmitt said. "We may see more people involved. We still think this is still a very small number of guards involved
  Mercury News article

Really stupid tack.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Stage II of "fixing it"

Start releasing some of those prisoners.

Fifteen Iraqis released from Abu Ghraib prison and returned to Fallujah

Deep, deep doo-doo.

Pentagon OK'd harsh interrogation
Pentagon was warned in 2002 of contractors
Pentagon refused lawyer as prison adviser

Bomb blast in Chechnya kills president

A blast in the Russian republic of Chechnya killed President Akhmad Kadyrov, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in televised comments at a meeting with Kadyrov's son, Ramzan Kadyrov.

The blast killed four and wounded 42 others, said an official at the Emergency Situations Ministry who asked not to be named. The blast occurred at about 10:30 a.m. local time in a stadium in Grozny during Victory Day holiday celebrations marking the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, the official said.

Kadyrov, 52, a former Muslim cleric, was a rebel leader fighting against Russian forces during the first Chechen war in 1994. He later switched sides to support Russia and was elected president on Oct. 5, 2003. The attack may undermine Putin's attempts to show that the war in Chechnya is over.
  Bloomberg article

I wouldn't be surprised if that precipitates another violent uprising. I'm not too keen on what's happening in that part of the world, but I do know that Chechen "rebels" have been blamed for a number of "terrorist" incidents in the past few years.

This attack has been attributed to Shamil Basayev - designated a terrorist and national security threat (to the U.S.?!) by Colin Powell, but who probably looks like a hero to his countrymen - who has allegedly been involved in other attacks in Moscow.

Update: That was the 7:41 version of Bloomberg's report, and the following is from the 5:50 version:

Confusion surrounds the fate of Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov after Interfax news agency had reported him killed in the explosion along with General Valery Baranov, the top Russian commander in Chechnya, Sky said.

Interfax is now citing "an official source" as saying General Baranov is undergoing surgery for serious injuries, while the Itar-Tass agency is saying the president received only light injuries, Sky reported.
  Bloomberg article

Pick one. I assume the 7:41 version verified the death, but who knows?

Saturday, May 08, 2004

NY Solidarity March

Beth, a New Yorker from my recent Venezuelan tour, sent some pictures of a solidarity demonstration in the Big Apple today.

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God takes one of His own

Senator Knight, author of the gay marriage ban proposal in California, died of leukemia.

And speaking of God, or speaking for God as some good Christians seem to think they are appointed, I think maybe the Vatican might ought to consider whether it's the best channel for the subject of abuses against the Iraqi prisoners, considering the church's willful blindness toward the all too common heinous acts of its priests upon defenseless boys.

The abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers is a scandal offensive to God himself, the Vatican said, in its first public comment.

"Violence against people offends God himself, who made humans in his own image," the Vatican's foreign minister, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, said in a pre-recorded television interview due to be broadcast later on Friday.


He condemned the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, made public last week, as "episodes of brutality, contrary to the most elementary human rights and radically contrary to Christian morals".

"The scandal is even worse if these episodes were committed by Christians," Lajolo said in the interview, due to be shown on Italian state television's TG2 news programme.

"You have to emphasize, all the same, that in a democracy such offences are not hidden away -- as is the case in the United States, where those responsible are judged and punished along with their superiors who did not fulfil their duty to monitor them," he said.

....but hey, do what you want....we do.

Well, the date on the page is 5/7/04

So I guess this is some of the crap from Rumsfiend's recent testimony. Now I really am appalled. I wonder who drafted that crap.

General Miller repeating administration line

The General Miller who was in charge of the abuses at Guantanamo and is now in charge of them at Abu Ghraib.

Miller insisted that Iraqis were now being held in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and that the abuses recorded in photos distributed around the world were due to the acts of a few individuals.
  MSNBC article

It strikes me that this is a very bad stance to take publicly, as the eruption of information that is currently crossing our screens proves that this is not the acts of a few individuals, but rather that it is system-wide and prevalent. It's true they don't mind lying about anything else, but somehow I think it is a measure of their incredible wrong-headedness to lie about this, which continues to dig us deeper and deeper into territory we surely do not want to go as a nation. I think it would be better if they dropped that line of defense, and just go with, "we're fixing it". "We're sorry," would be nice, but at least leave off with the outrageous lie that it only happened in Abu Ghraib, and it was entirely the work of a few bad apples.

Then again, I don't suppose they're making these statements for the world at large, but rather for the idiot Bush "base" at home.

The rest of us should expect the worst, I think.

Olbermann interviews Joe Wilson

OLBERMANN: Later on COUNTDOWN, my full interview with Ambassador Wilson about his book, about his wife, about his experience. We think it will be interesting to you, given that it was interesting enough to the White House that it sent us three e-mails with questions we should ask him.

Would, one wishes, somebody in government had been so aggressive about briefing the troops on how to handle the prisoners, or at least, as that interview with the attorney for Charles Grainer suggests, if somebody had sent them a one paragraph synopsis of the Geneva Conventions.

...OLBERMANN: Why do you think they went after you? Because you were the first person who said on the record that the Niger Uranium claim was false and that the administration knew it was false but used it as a cornerstone in the rationale for war?

WILSON: I have tried to think my way through this. The only logical conclusion I could come up with was that it was an effort to intimidate others from coming forward. Because, after all, I had already said my piece. I had said everything I had to say on the subject. The government within 24 hours had accepted what I had said. Now since that time, “The Washington Post” has reported that it was an act of pure spite and revenge. Which is not, by the way, a rational act to be undertaken normally by senior civil servants who are responsible for the stewardship of our national security.

OLBERMANN: You do know that they are still going after you, right? We promoted the fact that you would be on this show tonight. Today we received three separate copies of the same e-mail with talking points from the White House, one asking a contact here “Can you please get this to the Olbermann people. Wilson is on the Olbermann show.” Misspelled my name, by the way, but that‘s neither here nor there. Another one asks one of our producers “I understand you have Mr. Wilson on. Can you please call me on this?”

Are you surprised by that?

WILSON: No, I‘m not surprised at all. I tell you this administration has tried to manage and direct the news from the very beginning. As I point out in the book, they have made the lives of journalists very unpleasant. One journalist said he was afraid to go to print because he might end up in Guantanamo, which I take to be a metaphor for being cut out. Another journalist said I‘ve got kids in a private school and a mortgage to pay. So I‘m not surprised at all.

OLBERMANN: The White House has other venues to write questions than this program and we‘ll let them do that, but there are six points on this list. Five are pretty nuanced and they basically say “no this isn‘t true” but one of them I think is actually pretty important, on page 444, you pointed out that the White House spokesman Scott McClellan denied Karl Rove was involved in the leaking of your wife‘s identity, but he would not be as direct in denying the possibility that your other two candidates, Scooter Libby and Eliot Abrams might have done this. The White House talking points, number 4 on this list quotes Mr. McClellan last October, asked about Rove, Libby and Abrams as saying, “at a time like this there are a lot of rumors and innuendo. There are unsubstantiated accusations that are made and that‘s exactly what happened in the case of these three individuals.”

Does that not count as a denial, not just on Rove but also on Libby and Abrams?

WILSON: Well, it‘s not how I interpreted it It‘s how others who have taken a look at that and others of Mr. McClelland‘s statements that have interpreted that as being a non-denial denial. In other words rather than saying they categorically had nothing to do with the leaking of my wife‘s name to the press, what Mr. McClellan has gone out and said that well, they did not leak any classified information.

...OLBERMANN: A quote from page 420 of the book:

“to this day the person who leaked her name evidently remains in a position where he enjoys the trust of President Bush.”

Do you think that may be the most disturbing fact from your point of view of all this at this point, anyway?

WILSON: Well, we have always tried to see this in the larger perspective, as a crime against the national security of the country. President George H. W. Bush called people who leaked CIA operatives names to the press the most insidious of traders. That is what we are dealing with. And that person, or those people who are responsible for this operation are still in government.

...OLBERMANN: The political vetting that we need to do in all circumstances, it‘s been made clear you‘re campaigning for John Kerry now. You‘ve contributed to his campaign. Why has it not been made clear that you contributed to George Bush‘s campaign in 2000?

WILSON: Well, when Mr. Gillespie decided that he was going to trot that out against me, or when Mr. Novak did, they decided they would selectively use information that bolstered the attack they wanted to make on me rather than essentially tell the whole truth. They neglected both that contribution, they neglected contributions I‘ve made in the past to Congressman Ed Royce from Orange County, California, for example.

OLBERMANN: Have you ever thought of asking Mr. Bush for your money back?

WILSON: Well, actually I just really asked them to quit putting me down as an addressee for fund raising letters which I was getting one every two or three weeks for a long time.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

The idiot's interviews

The idiot's interview with a U.S.-based Arab newspaper was almost assuredly rehearsed or "scripted", because he got through it without a lot of nonsensical sentences. I'm not going to comment on the sense of the content. Of course it's possible that the Fox News transcript that appears online is a cleaned-up version. At any rate, take a look at this bizarre ending:

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Mr. President. Thank you.

BUSH: Good job.

As previously mentioned, The Boy King refused to make an apology in either intervew.

Amongst the expected lies, he offers more expected inane remarks in the Daily Star transcript of the other interview with al-Arabiya, such as:

QUESTION: And you just -- you've said this is reflected badly here, in the United States of America. How do you think this will be perceived in the Middle East?

BUSH: Terrible. I think people in the Middle East who want to dislike America will use this as an excuse to remind people about their dislike.

When asked what will be done to reform the situation, he launches into a diatribe that obviously is aimed not at reassuring the Arab world, but at defending himself at home:

BUSH: Again, it's very important for people, your listeners, to understand, in our country that when an issue is brought to our attention on this magnitude, we act -- and we act in a way where leaders are willing to discuss it with the media. And we act in a way where, you know, our Congress asks pointed questions to the leadership. In other words, people want to know the truth. That stands in contrast to dictatorships. A dictator wouldn't be answering questions about this. A dictator wouldn't be saying that the system will be investigated and the world will see the results of the investigation. A dictator wouldn't admit reforms needed to be done.

"I am not a crook dictator." Bush channeling Nixon.

I think I can safely bet my firstborn that the questions asked in both interviews were pre-approved, but I've got to admit, this one looks great in print:

QUESTION: Mr. President, you went to Iraq as a part of your project in the Middle East, and flourish democracy over there. To which extent you are willing to go further to flourish a democracy? Are we going to see in the future more action against some other countries to flourish democracy over there, like Syria?

Now repeat after me...

BUSH: And, of course, al Qaeda looks for any excuse. But the truth of the matter is, they hate us, and they hate freedom, and they hate people who embrace freedom. And they're willing to kill innocent Iraqis because Iraqis are willing to be free.

Presidential Auction 2004

How Bush chose stupidity.

The question I am most frequently asked about Bushisms is, "Do you really think the president of the United States is dumb?"

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is yes and no.

...And if you don't care to pursue the matter any further, that view will suffice. George W. Bush has governed, for the most part, the way any airhead might, undermining the fiscal condition of the nation, squandering the goodwill of the world after Sept. 11, and allowing huge problems (global warming, entitlement spending, AIDS) to metastasize toward catastrophe through a combination of ideology, incomprehension, and indifference. If Bush isn't exactly the moron he sounds, his synaptic misfirings offer a plausible proxy for the idiocy of his presidency.

...What's more, calling the president a cretin absolves him of responsibility. Like Reagan, Bush avoids blame for all manner of contradictions, implausible assertions, and outright lies by appearing an amiable dunce. If he knows not what he does, blame goes to the three puppeteers, Cheney, Rove, and Rumsfeld. It also breeds sympathy. We wouldn't laugh at FDR because he couldn't walk. Is it less cruel to laugh at GWB because he can't talk? The soft bigotry of low expectations means Bush is seen to outperform by merely getting by. Finally, elitist condescension, however merited, helps cement Bush's bond to the masses.

But if "numskull" is an imprecise description of the president, it is not altogether inaccurate. Bush may not have been born stupid, but he has achieved stupidity, and now he wears it as a badge of honor. What makes mocking this president fair as well as funny is that Bush is, or at least once was, capable of learning, reading, and thinking. We know he has discipline and can work hard (at least when the goal is reducing his time for a three-mile run). Instead he chose to coast, for most of his life, on name, charm, good looks, and the easy access to capital afforded by family connections.

...A second, more damning aspect of Bush's mind-set is that he doesn't want to know anything in detail, however important. Since college, he has spilled with contempt for knowledge, equating learning with snobbery and making a joke of his own anti-intellectualism.

...Closely related to this aggressive ignorance is a third feature of Bush's mentality: laziness. Again, this is a lifelong trait. Bush's college grades were mostly Cs (including a 73 in Introduction to the American Political System).

...A fourth and final quality of Bush's mind is that it does not think. The president can't tolerate debate about issues. Offered an option, he makes up his mind quickly and never reconsiders. At an elementary school, a child once asked him whether it was hard to make decisions as president. "Most of the decisions come pretty easily for me, to be frank with you."

...Laura Bush, spouse: "George is not an overly introspective person. He has good instincts, and he goes with them. He doesn't need to evaluate and reevaluate a decision. He doesn't try to overthink. He likes action."

...Having chosen stupidity as rebellion, he stuck with it out of conformity. The promise-keeper, reformed-alkie path he chose not only drastically curtailed personal choices he no longer wanted, it also supplied an all-encompassing order, offered guidance on policy, and prevented the need for much actual information. Bush's old answer to hard questions was, "I don't know and, who cares." His new answer was, "Wait a second while I check with Jesus."

...Why would someone capable of being smart choose to be stupid?
  Continue reading

photos snagged from Maru

And who gets the appointment of US ambassador to Iraq?

The Senate voted 95 to 3 Thursday to approve UN ambassador John Negroponte as the head of the new US embassy in Iraq. We hear MIT professor Noam Chomsky discussing Negroponte's role in supporting widespread campaigns of terror and human rights abuses as ambassador to Honduras.
  Democracy Now article

Perfect choice.

At other Iraqi prisons - same thing

And you're shocked!

Because released detainees and their families are threatened about speaking out and monitored, there are undoubtedly many, many more stories that will go untold.

An ex-Iraqi officer spoke to in Damascus, Syria, on condition of anonymity, promising to speak on the record once he gets his wife and two daughters out of Iraq.

The officer was a member of the squad assigned to guard a senior member of the Iraqi leadership and he survived an air raid near Basra. But he did not survive the tip-off by one of his wife's relatives.

"I was seriously injured and reached Baghdad half dead. Shortly afterwards I was arrested by the US forces, and thrown into Camp Cropper detention centre," he said.

"The torture inside this camp leads you sometimes to wish you were dead."
  Aljazeera article

HowU.S. prisons

U.S. citizens.

A group of guards at the Broward County Main Jail kicked and stomped on a handcuffed, naked inmate Wednesday night until he was unconscious, according to several inmates who said they witnessed the beating.  Sun-Sentinel article

For example, in September 1996, guards at the Brazoria County jail in Texas staged a drug raid on inmates that was videotaped for training purposes. The tape showed several inmates forced to strip and lie on the ground. A police dog attacked several prisoners; the tape clearly showed one being bitten on the leg. Guards prodded prisoners with stun guns and forced them to crawl along the ground. Then they dragged injured inmates face down back to their cells.  Reuters article

"We’ve been trying for almost a year to remedy the deplorable conditions and abuse in Texas jail facilities," Jacobs continued. "It’s disappointing that it took a video tape to force the corrections department to take action on these well-documented complaints."  '97 ACLU article

Need any more?

Sabbar, 36, comes from a Shiite family with a long history of opposition to the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein. He bears a dent-like scar on his right cheek: a Saddam lieutenant sliced him eight years ago as punishment for his cousin's attempt to assassinate the dictator's son Uday.

Sabbar cheered when the US Army marched through his home town of Nasiriyah just over a year ago. He quickly shed his Iraqi army uniform ("I spent most of my military career deserting") and looked hopefully to a new, free future. That he should become Exhibit A in the case against US abuse of Iraqis is one of the many painful ironies of this story.

Of course these things are horrendous. And of course I am glad they are now getting published. But I am not at all encouraged that we can expect any media reform to come from it. After this dies away, will "journalists" be willing to investigate other stories? Will "reporters" be willing to report anything that isn't sanctioned by the government? Or anything that would embarrass the U.S.?

These stories and these claims have been out there from the beginning. Why weren't they given press when the claims were made? How many torture cases might have been prevented if they had? And what about the backlash and U.S. personnel deaths which were claimed to merely be the result of freedom-hating radicals that might have been prevented?

Who is willing to accept some culpability? Any journalists who refused to give any press to these stories, because you're either with us or against us? For the sake of national security? Backfire have any meaning now?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Repeated, ignored accounts of abuse

David Kay, the man who led the U.S. search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, says he repeatedly told people about problems with the interrogation of prisoners, but the military ignored him.
  Morning News Online article

Just a few bad apples.

Stateside soldiers now speaking up

Or maybe it's just that only now are the media giving them any coverage. Huh?

Read this Reuters article, and note this quote:

Until earlier this year prisoners would arrive at Abu Ghraib with broken bones, suggesting they had been roughed up, he said, but the practice ended in January or February.

January or February, like when the Taguba report was requisitioned. Ooops. Got caught.

I think some of this can be laid right at the military PR's feet and that phony Jessica Lynch story - the one where they falsely claimed she was brutalized by the Iraqis who held her prisoner. Part of the hero story that was certain to inflame troops' ingrained prejudices and base desires for revenge. One lie among many intended to turn intolerance into a weapon.

And this one:

When military investigators were looking into abuses several months ago, they gave U.S. guards a week's notice before inspecting their possessions, several soldiers said.

"That shows you how lax they are about discipline. 'We are going to look for contraband in here, so hint, hint, get rid of the stuff,' that's the way things work in the Guard."

Just a few bad apples.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

DU - this may be the straw that breaks the Bushcamel's back

One can only hope. It's too bad that people aren't willing to withdraw on the basis of the horrors that are being visited upon the Iraqi people. And it's too bad they haven't been willing to heed the warnings of those who have been saying that soldiers who manage to survive their tours in Iraq will come back home to die of radiation poisoning. But maybe now that it's happening, their war support will falter. That is, if they hear about it.

Washington's insistence that depleted uranium (DU) munitions are not toxic has been undermined by revelations that four U.S. soldiers recently home from Iraq are suffering from radiation poisoning.
  IPS article

More on DU is here at my web page.

Paving the way for torture

Okay, there are plenty of examples proving that these Abu Ghraib torture incidents were not the work of an aberrant bunch of untrained soldiers. Well, were not just that.

Here are a couple of pointers. In July 2002, the U.S. tried to block a UN measure to strengthen anti-torture laws*, and in July 2003, threatened the suspension of military aid to 50 countries if they would not agree to exempt Americans from war crimes prosecutions by the International Criminal Court, signing waivers for 22 countries who bowed to the demand.

The United States on Tuesday suspended military assistance to nearly 50 countries, including Colombia and six nations seeking NATO membership, because they have supported the International Criminal Court and failed to exempt Americans from possible prosecution.

As the deadline passed for governments to sign exemption agreements or face the suspension of military aid, President Bush issued waivers for 22 countries.

The United States argued that the measure, known as a protocol, could pave the way for international and independent visits to U.S. prisons and to terror suspects being held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

(Thanks to TJ for the links.)

Plan for Najaf

The top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, said there was no new U.S. thrust into the city. "We're not going to go wading into Najaf, we know how sensitive it is," he told Reuters.
  Reuters article

Not to mention the utter failed disaster using that approach in Falluja.

Aljazeera cameraman's experience in U.S. military prison

The US interrogator yanked the 24-year-old Iraqi male’s hair and peeled back his eyelids. "‘Do not ever imagine you will manage to get out of this. Forget about your Jazeera; forget about your future; the only future you will enjoy is in Guantanamo,’" the American shouted, according to Al-Jazeera television cameraman Suhaib Badraddin Baz who spent two-months in US custody.

..."Whenever I made even a slight movement, I had someone beating me for it." At one point, a soldier bashed his head against a wall until he fell unconscious, he said. "I was still hooded, and because of the pain in my forehead I thought I would lose my eyesight. The guy keep doing this for some time till I fainted," he said.
  Hi Pakistan article

Powell apologists

Colin Powell's key aide has described US sanctions policy against countries such as Pakistan and Cuba as "the dumbest policy on the face of the Earth".

In an article in GQ magazine Larry Wilkerson, chief of staff of the United States secretary of state, bemoans Mr Powell's firefighting role in President George Bush's cabinet.

"He has spent as much time doing damage control and, shall we say, apologising around the world for some less-than-graceful actions as he has anything else."

The article, which includes an interview with Mr Powell, is most illuminating for the comments made by his close friends and colleagues who are explicit about his distrust and disdain for the hawks in the administration.
  Guardian article

Then why is he still doing their bidding?

9/11 air traffic controllers' tapes destroyed

Air traffic controllers who handled two of the hijacked flights on Sept. 11, 2001, recorded their experiences shortly after the planes crashed into the World Trade Center but a supervisor destroyed the tape, government investigators said Thursday.

A report by Transportation Department Inspector General Kenneth Mead said the manager for the New York-area air traffic control center asked the controllers to make the recordings a few hours after the crashes in belief they would be important for law enforcement.

Investigators never heard it. Sometime between December 2001 and February 2002, an unidentified Federal Aviation Administration quality assurance manager crushed the cassette case in his hand, cut the tape into small pieces and threw them away in multiple trash cans, the report said.

...John Carr, president of the air traffic controllers' union, said he did not know whether the manager did the right thing by destroying the tape.

"It was a traumatic time for him," he said. "He was the custodian for the darkest moment in our nation's history."
  Newsday article

Yeah. And he destroyed evidence. How very typical.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.