Saturday, June 30, 2007

Presidential Scholars

What do you suppose George was saying about these young peole after they left?

Fifty high school seniors, who earned the recognition of "Presidential Scholar" for their hard work, signed and presented a letter asking George to stop "violations of the human rights of detainees."

The letter began,

"We have been told that we represent the best and brightest of our nation. Therefore, we believe we have a responsibility to voice our convictions. We do not want America to represent torture."

All Bush had to say in return was, we don't torture.

It Was Only Reasonable

While Dick Cheney has been running the nation, George has been performing Vice-Presidential duties..

The President of the United States, the Leader of the Free World, the Commander-in-Chief, the Chief Executive rededicated the Islamic Center of Washington, attended the annual White House Tee Ball Game, congratulated the Presidential Scholars, celebrated Black Music Month, met with the NCAA championship teams, attended the National Hispanic Prayer breakfast, and visited the Boys and Girls Club of Wichita, Kansas. This is not to mention the policy speeches and leader-greeting ceremonies, which seem a bit more useful. And it's not unusual or summertime fun. Choose any random month - say October 2005, and you'll find much the same schedule, although, of late, it's seemed a bit more hectic.

In other words, all the kinds of functions that one might expect a Vice President to take care of - making token appearances on behalf of the President - are now done by a man who ought not have that much free time in his schedule.

On the other hand, I believe that George likely sees himself more properly as performing a monarch's duties while real business is being handled by more capable, if evil and devious, people.

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

Poor Little Fool

Something needs to be done about recruiters if we can't create a wiser youth.

Twenty-two-year-old James Burmeister, from Oregon, joined the military in 2005 because he was told he'd be going to Iraq to rebuild. Instead, he set booby traps. A victim of irony, James was injured by an Iraqi booby trap. From a hospital in Germany, he fled to Canada with his wife and child. He is now playing in a band and seeking refugee status. What do you suppose the odds are of receiving it?

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

Update: He may end up wishing he'd just kept a low profile.

What You Don't Know...

New Hampshire has repealed the parental notification requirement for minors seeking abortion.

New Mexico Going Into the Pot Business

Avoiding the middleman - the drug dealer - New Mexico will now grow its own medical use marijuana.

That should pretty well end Gov. Bill Richardson's shot at the White House.

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

There Goes Another One

You already know that there was another car attack in the UK, but did you know that there was also another resignation from DoJ? (The count.)

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

Friday, June 29, 2007

Cheney Can Stay

I thought Rahm Emanuel's proposal to defund Cheney's office, since he claimed not to be a part of the executive branch, was just showboating. The vote count in the House may indicate otherwise, or at least that it was high theater, because the bill amendment to defund lost by only a small margin: 217-209.


That Post series on The Big Dick has stirred things up a bit. It seems that there will now be a Congressional hearing, based on Part 4 of the series, on just exactly what was The Big Dick's role in the event that led to 70,000 dead salmon.

....but hey, they'll tell him, "Do what you will anyway."

Perpetual War

You know what it is. Bob talks about it.

Human Rights

Rejecting Bush administration arguments, the Supreme Court reversed course and agreed Friday to review whether Guantanamo Bay detainees can use the civilian court system to challenge their indefinite confinement.


And to further express our concern about rights...

The United States has voiced concern about the fate of 355 Sri Lankans who "disappeared" in recent months amid an escalation of the island's ethnic conflict, the government here said Friday.


The disappeared in Iraq, not so much.

Bush Speaks

W3IAI gives a great account of Bush's speech to the Naval War College in Rhode Island.

Car Bomb Plot Foiled in London

Isn't it interesting (to use a favorite Dubya phrase) that this attack (which seems to have been accidentally discovered and neutralized) was planned for the first day of Gordon Brown's term?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Redefining Success in Iraq

And this time, we can't argue.

President Bush held up Israel as a model for defining success in Iraq, saying Thursday the U.S. goal there is not to eliminate attacks but to enable a democracy that can function despite violence.

  Houston Chronicle

We have no grounds for argument, since we've backed the Israeli model all these years. hey, do what you will anyway.

Dave Barry in 2008

Q: Candidate Barry, Is it possible to be a "Lame Duck" as a candidate? or Please summarize your health care plan in 5 words or less.
Hoppy 6/26/07

A: Do NOT get sick.
Dave Barry 6/28/07

Same plan we have now.

What'd I Tell Ya?

More than half of Americans say they wouldn't consider voting for Sen. Hillary Clinton for president if she becomes the Democratic nominee, according to a new national poll made available to McClatchy Newspapers and NBC News.


They'll run her anyway.

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

White House Responds to Subpoenas



You can read some interesting background on Twit Romney (and it won't make you think he's any less creepy than you've been led to believe here at YWA) at the Boston Globe (running a Romney series concurrently with the Post's series on Cheney), but I was quite content to stop at the summary of Part 3 provided by W3IAI.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Activate the Cone of Silence

Did you know that Dick Cheney is so hardcore about secrecy and security that he won't let the White House officials in charge of security into the West Wing?


In fact, things have apparently gotten so bad that morale has dropped so low that half of the people of the personnel of the White House security office has left in the last year.


Juan Williams on FNS: This is all a dodge, this is a game in order to, I guess, to keep Dick Cheney in some kind of secured, undisclosed bunker of his mind so that he can’t let the American people know what’s going on with their government, how decisions are made. He won’t tell people who’s visiting his house, who’s visiting his office. Scooter Libby is letting people know who works for the CIA. This is ridiculous.

TPM has the story. (In video or transcript)

Show Down

The Senate subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office Wednesday, demanding documents and elevating the confrontation with President Bush over the administration's warrant-free eavesdropping on Americans.


Game on.

Separately, the Senate Judiciary Committee also is summoning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to discuss the program and an array of other matters that have cost a half-dozen top Justice Department officials their jobs, committee chairman Patrick Leahy announced.


Also named in subpoenas signed by Leahy were the Justice Department and the National Security Council. The four parties have until July 18 to comply.


"If there have been lies told to us, we'll refer it to the Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney for whatever legal action they think is appropriate," Leahy told reporters.

Square one.

There for a minute, I thought we might have a game. Whatever legal action the DoJ thinks is appropriate? And, tell me again who the head of the DoJ is....some guy named Gonzales, isn't it?

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

Backing Down

With a vote looming in Congress on Thursday to defund the Office of the Vice President in the White House's annual appropriation, a report at The Politico claims that the White House will no longer advance the argument that the Vice President's office is not a part of the executive branch.

"The White House has no plans to reassert the argument there is any vice presidential distinction from the executive branch," according to Bush administration officials who spoke with reporter Mike Allen. "Two senior Republican officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the rationale had been the view of the vice president’s lawyers, not Cheney himself."

  Raw Story

Oh, yeah, right. Because, as we know, Cheney doesn't call the shots.

Get Smart

Agent 86 and the Chief synchronize watches

In Part 4 of the Washington Post's series we learn that it is The Big Dick shaping our environmental policy (which will not be a surprise to you after Parts 1 through 3) without leaving a mark.

Cheney made his environmental views clear in public. But with some notable exceptions, he generally has preferred to operate with stealth, aided by loyalists who owe him for their careers.

Hoffman, now in another job at the Interior Department, said Cheney never told him what to do on either issue -- he didn't have to.

"His genius," Hoffman said, is that "he builds networks and puts the right people in the right places, and then trusts them to make well-informed decisions that comport with his overall vision."

And then shoots an old hunting buddy in the face to underscore the importance of making the "right" decision.

In Part 4, we learn that Christy Whitman (EPA), like Paul O'Neill (Treasury), was put in her job by The Big Dick, and later forced out of it after disagreeing with him over an issue.

The Chief and Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, use the portable Cone of Silence

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

Out With the Old

Tony Blair is out. Gordon Brown is in.

I understand Tony's last day in office was spent, perhaps not only symbolically of his tenure, with Arnold Schwarzeneggar.

He also had this to say about the current mess he's helped generate...

"I know some may think that [our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are facing] dangers in vain; I don't and I never will. I believe they are fighting for the security of this country and the wider world against people who would destroy our way of life."


He could well be right about people who would destroy our U.S. and British way of life, considering the fact that our way of life is exploitive of other people and resources all over the globe.

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Big Dick - Addendum

Rahm Emanuel has introduced a bill to delete spending for Cheney's office on the ground that Cheney claims, when convenient, that the vice-president's office is not "an entity within the executive branch."

  Huffington Post

"When convenient." He has indeed been saying this for a while, but he didn't always sing that tune.

[W]hen Cheney was fighting attempts by Congress to determine who had attended his secret meetings on energy policy, his whole argument was that he didn’t have to comply…because he was a member of the executive branch. In fact, let’s resurrect Cheney’s actual words at the time: he said that a congressional investigation into his energy task force “would unconstitutionally interfere with the functioning of the executive branch.”

  Dick Polman

Flip flop? He simply doesn't care. Whatever he can get away with. And he's been getting away with an awful lot.

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

The Big Dick - Part 3

The president is "the decider," as Bush puts it, but the vice president often serves up his menu of choices.
"It was like -- you know that experiment where you pass a magnet under the table and you see the iron filings on the top of the table move? You know there's a magnet there because of what you see happening, but you never see the magnet." -- David Frum
"My impression is that the president thinks that the Reagan style of leadership is best -- guiding the ship of state from high up on the mast." -- Former White House lawyer Bradford A. Berenson.

In Part 3 of the Washington Post's series on Dick Cheney, we get a listing of the behind-the-scenes (or below-the-decks) activity of the Veep, and we get a surprise: there was a time when Alberto "Fredo" Gonzales threatened to quit if forced to follow a Cheney directive. To be fair, he didn't do it alone. He had his deputy Paul McNulty and FBI director Robert Mueller threatening with him. (And once again, Bubble Boy is not in the picture.)

We get to see how Cheney is in charge of the budget and the economy.

Cheney and [then Federal Reserve chairman Alan] Greenspan met regularly, far more often than the Fed chief met with Bush, according to interviews and Greenspan's calendar. And when the president did meet with Greenspan, Cheney was nearly always in the room.


The vice president chairs a budget review board, a panel the Bush administration created to set spending priorities and serve as arbiter when Cabinet members appeal decisions by White House budget officials. The White House has portrayed the board as a device to keep Bush from wasting time on petty disagreements, but previous administrations have seldom seen Cabinet-level disputes in that light. Cheney's leadership of the panel gives him direct and indirect power over the federal budget -- and over those who must live within it.

Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., who served as Bush's budget director from 2001 to 2003 and is now governor of Indiana, said that during his tenure the number of times a Cabinet official made a direct budget appeal to Bush "was zero," which aides from previous administrations found "stunning," he added.


Cheney [...] is a vocal participant at a weekly luncheon meeting of Bush's economic team, which gathers without the president. As the most senior official in the room, Cheney receives great deference from Bush's advisers.


When Edward P. Lazear, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, broached the idea of limiting the popular mortgage tax deduction, he said he quickly dropped it after Cheney told him it would never fly with Congress. "He's a big timesaver for us in that he takes off the table a lot of things he knows aren't going to go anywhere," Lazear said.

What a sweet interpretation. Mr. Lazear goes on to say

[...] that he may argue a point with Cheney "for 10 minutes or so" but that in the end he is always convinced. "I can't think of a time when I have thought I was right and the vice president was wrong."

You don't suppose that's why he has his job do you?

Lest you think The Big Dick makes all the decisions, he doesn't. The faith-based ones are left to Bubble Boy.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Big Dick - Part 2

As we saw in the first installment of the Post's series on The Big Dick, Alberto "Fredo" Gonzales was Cheney's water boy. (Think about that nickname that Dubya gave Gonzales. Fredo, as the weak and dim-witted son in The Godfather.) Opinions carrying Gonzales' name were sometimes (most of the time?) written by someone in Cheney's office. It turns out that the right to torture also came from Cheney's office via his own counsel, David Addington.

The best defense against [a future charge of violating the Geneva Conventions], Addington wrote, would combine a broad presidential direction for humane treatment, in general, with an assertion of unrestricted authority to make exceptions.

The vice president's counsel proposed that President Bush issue a carefully ambiguous directive. Detainees would be treated "humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of" the Geneva Conventions. When Bush issued his public decision two weeks later, on Feb. 7, 2002, he adopted Addington's formula -- with all its room for maneuver -- verbatim.

  WaPo Part 2

Humane treatment with exceptions on the authority of the president. (So now are we getting closer to who is responsible for the treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo?)

In a radio interview last fall, Cheney said, "We don't torture." What he did not acknowledge, according to Alberto J. Mora, who served then as the Bush-appointed Navy general counsel, was that the new legal framework was designed specifically to leave room for cruelty. In international law, Mora said, cruelty is defined as "the imposition of severe physical or mental pain or suffering." He added: "Torture is an extreme version of cruelty."

And here we had been giving Fredo credit for narrowly defining torture. The infamous memo defining it to mean major organ failure or death came under the signature of the assistant attorney general, but its model came from Cheney's office. (Where they really made their mistake was in letting the military interrogators at Abu Ghraib have the same torture rights as the CIA has always had. The amateurs didn't have the sense to keep it secret.)

On June 8, 2004, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell learned of the two-year-old torture memo for the first time from an article in The Washington Post. According to a former White House official with firsthand knowledge, they confronted Gonzales together in his office.

Rice "very angrily said there would be no more secret opinions on international and national security law," the official said, adding that she threatened to take the matter to the president if Gonzales kept them out of the loop again. Powell remarked admiringly, as they emerged, that Rice dressed down the president's lawyer "in full Nurse Ratched mode," a reference to the ward chief of a mental hospital in the 1975 film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Neither of them took their objections to Cheney, the official said, a much more dangerous course.

Since the orders came from his office, I doubt they ever even considered going to him. I wonder if The Big Dick told "dressed down" Fredo not to worry about the President's Bitch. But, what I want to know is why she wouldn't have taken the matter to the president anyway. Is the implication here that even after two years, when the National Security Adviser and the Secretary of State found out about an illegal order, the president himself was not informed? He really is a waste of space, isn't he?

During an argument on the issue in Fredo's office amongst the various attorneys, when it was pointed out that the courts might not look favorably on giving the president full torture rights, Fredo did what you by now are expecting the little water boy would do.

Gonzales listened quietly as the Justice Department and his own staff lined up against Addington. Then he decided in favor of Cheney's lawyer.

Indeed, the courts did not look kindly upon the order, and when District Judge Michael B. Mukasey ruled that Jose Padilla had the right to a lawyer, Cheney sent his goons round to tell him he should retract his decision. Mukasey boldly declined.

Bush acknowledged publicly on Sept. 6 that the CIA maintained secret prisons overseas for senior al-Qaeda detainees, a subject on which he had held his silence since The Post disclosed them late in 2005. The president announced a plan to empty the "black sites" and bring their prisoners to Guantanamo Bay to be tried.


After a private meeting with Cheney, [...] Bush decided not to promise that there would be no more black sites -- and seven months later, the White House acknowledged that secret detention had resumed.

Of course we know that The Little Prince can't make his own decisions.

On Oct. 5, 2005, the Senate voted 90 to 9 in favor of [John] McCain's Detainee Treatment Act, which included the Geneva language. It was, by any measure, a rebuke to Cheney. Bush signed the bill into law.


Yet Cheney and Addington found a roundabout path to the exceptions they sought for the CIA, as allies in Congress made little-noticed adjustments to the bill.

The final measure confined only the Defense Department to the list of interrogation techniques [...] No techniques were specified for CIA officers, who were forbidden only in general terms to employ "cruel" or "inhuman" methods.


The Supreme Court has defined cruelty as an act that "shocks the conscience" under the circumstances. Addington suggested, according to another government lawyer, that harsh methods would be far less shocking under circumstances involving a mass-casualty terrorist threat. Cheney may have alluded to that advice in an interview with ABC's "Nightline" on Dec. 18, 2005, saying that "what shocks the conscience" is to some extent "in the eye of the beholder."

Consummate evil.

Without repealing the War Crimes Act, which imposes criminal penalties for grave breaches of Geneva's humane-treatment standards, Congress said the president, not the Supreme Court, has final authority to decide what the standards mean -- and whether they even apply.

Consummate scum suckers.

Another Black Mark for Biofuels

Higher beer prices.

The Pontiff Is Not Amused

It would appear that Tony Blair used one of his last official meetings to tell the Pope he wants to become a Catholic. The Pope told him he's not fit for the kingdom. (But I expect Bennie will eventually take Tony's money and give him a membership anyway.)

Tony doesn't want to talk about it.

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

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Dick and The Bush - Stuck Together

As for Big Dick's assertion that he is exempt from oversight and reporting, the Chimperor is backing him up. (And so's their little pal Gonzo who shelved a request to look into the Dick's claims back in January. See my lengthier post on Cheney this morning to see where Gonzo fits into the Big Dick's schemes, evidence of why Bush will never fire the little piece of turd - he's Cheney's boy as much - and maybe more - as Dubya's. Ashcroft had a mind of his own, albeit a weird one. Gonzo isn't even writing his own opinions. At least some of them are coming from Cheney's office. The cartoons will have to start showing Cheney as the pupeteer with a marionette of George in one hand and Gonzo in the other.)

The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its handling of classified national security information.

An executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 — amending an existing order — requires all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight. Although it doesn't specifically say so, Bush's order was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said.

  LA Times

With a straight face, no doubt.

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

Mass Ignorance

If you want to be really depressed about the unenlightened state of your fellow Americans, check this out.

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

The Big Dick

The Washington Post has the first part of a multi-part series out on Dick Cheney. Following are a few highlights.

The self-appointed Vice President, who still likes to insist Saddam had WMD and worked with Al Qaeda, told Dan Quayle, when approached with Dan's description of what the usual powerless function of the office had been, that he, Dick, had "a different understanding with the president." Indeed.

Cheney preferred, and Bush approved, a mandate that gave him access to "every table and every meeting," making his voice heard in "whatever area the vice president feels he wants to be active in."


"Angler," as the Secret Service code-named him, has approached the levers of power obliquely, skirting orderly lines of debate he once enforced as chief of staff to President Gerald R. Ford. He has battled a bureaucracy he saw as hostile, using intimate knowledge of its terrain. He has empowered aides to fight above their rank, taking on roles reserved in other times for a White House counsel or national security adviser. And he has found a ready patron in George W. Bush for edge-of-the-envelope views on executive supremacy that previous presidents did not assert.

Over the past six years, Cheney has shaped his times as no vice president has before.


In roles that have gone largely undetected, Cheney has served as gatekeeper for Supreme Court nominees, referee of Cabinet turf disputes, arbiter of budget appeals, editor of tax proposals and regulator in chief of water flows in his native West.


Cheney has also invented a new category for documents, "Treated As: Top Secret/SCI," to protect unclassified information he wants to keep secret. He won't disclose the number or names of his staff, doesn't publish a public calendar, and has even ordered Secret Service to destroy visitor logs to his office. As we heard recently in the context of the missing emails, Cheney has designated his office as neither part of the executive or legislative branches, and therefore exempt from the rules governing either. He is an office of government unto himself. And a very powerful one at that.

On September 11, it was Cheney who took command while Bush was dawdling at a Florida school and then wasting time in the air circling around until he got an all clear to land, after Cheney had taken care of the planning for the country's next moves.Cheney gave (unannounced) orders to rout all communication with the NSA (Condi Rice at the time) through his office first. Amazingly enough, those orders were carried out. Not so amazingly, his office wrote up statements for then WH counsel Alberto Gonzales to sign as his own.

It was Cheney's office that drew up the illegal surveillance program that would eventually earn the White House trouble with the courts.

On Oct. 25, 2001, the chairmen and ranking minority members of the intelligence committees were summoned to the White House for their first briefing on the eavesdropping and were told that it was one of the government's most closely compartmented secrets. Under Presidents George H.W. Bush or Bill Clinton, officials said, a conversation of that gravity would involve the commander in chief. But when the four lawmakers arrived in the West Wing lobby, an aide led them through the door on the right, away from the Oval Office.

"We met in the vice president's office," recalled former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.). Bush had told Graham already, when the senator assumed the intelligence panel chairmanship, that "the vice president should be your point of contact in the White House." Cheney, the president said, "has the portfolio for intelligence activities."

It was Cheney who drew up the orders for treatment of enemy combatants in contravention of the Geneva Conventions, simply saying they don't apply to terrorists, much as he says rules of conduct that cover the executive branch don't apply to him. Cheney drew up the military orders in secret and had Bush sign them before anyone else could get a look, despite strict procedures about how orders should be reviewed before signing.

"What the hell just happened?" Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanded, a witness said, when CNN announced the order that evening, Nov. 13, 2001. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, incensed, sent an aide to find out. Even witnesses to the Oval Office signing said they did not know the vice president had played any part.

Attorney General Ashcroft had a run-in with Cheney over the military tribunals, as Ashcroft was incensed that the Justice Department had been left out of the loop. He "got no audience with Bush" on the matter. (Given that we now know Cheney had Gonzo signing statements that Cheney's office had written and claiming them as his own, can we re-speculate on how Ashcroft ended up in emergency with a sudden mysterious illness and was sent two goons from the White House to his bedside in the middle of the night?)

I wouldn't be reluctant to bet that Cheney's grand plan when he appointed himself Vice President was to create a presidential office with near dictatorial powers (which he has done) and then run for the office himself. Some unfortunate events, such as shooting his hunting partner in the face and his connection to the Valerie Plame outing case, may have derailed his chances, but it's not over, as the saying goes, till the fat lady sings. And Cheney still has the reigns.

Cheney and Rumsfeld back in the day

A Tale of Two Dogs

This year's ugliest dog winner is Elwood, a Chinese Crested and Chihuahua mix. In my humble opinion, Elwood can't hold a candle to Sam, the winner in 2005. Elwood could actually be described as "so ugly he's cute" if you were fond of Yoda.

And speaking of dogs, when The Poodle hands over his office to Gordon Brown next week, the government's top lawyer is going away with him.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

About That Flight

According to newly obtained documents - through FOIA - by the Conservative watchdog, Judicial Watch, eight days after September 11, 2001, "A 727 PLANE LEFT LAX, RYAN FLT #441 TO ORLANDO, FL W/ETA OF 4-5PM. THE PLANE WAS CHARTERED EITHER BY THE SAUDI ARABIAN ROYAL FAMILY OR OSAMA BIN LADEN."
[...] Moreover, the documents contain numerous errors and inconsistencies which call to question the thoroughness of the FBI's investigation of the Saudi flights. For example, on one document, the FBI claims to have interviewed 20 of 23 passengers on the Ryan International Airlines flight (commonly referred to as the "Bin Laden Family Flight"). On another document, the FBI claims to have interviewed 15 of 22 passengers on the same flight. [...]
But my favorite part of this whole FBI OBL farce is as follows:
"Incredibly, the FBI had previously redacted Osama bin Laden's name from the records in order "to protect privacy interests.""
Can you say fuck you very much?

At least this might finally explain a nagging problem I have had with the FBI's most wanted poster of OBL, which makes no mention of September 11, 2001 among the crimes OBL is wanted for:

"Usama Bin Laden is wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks killed over 200 people. In addition, Bin Laden is a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world."
Who has been fired for these oversights and likely criminal negligence, at best? Anyone? Apparently no one needs to be, seeing as how the US media is busy chasing Paris Hilton in and out of jail.

  Huffington Post

“Eight days after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, Osama bin Laden possibly charters a flight to whisk his family out of the country, and it’s not worth more than a luggage search and a few brief interviews?” asked Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Clearly these documents prove the FBI conducted a slapdash investigation of these Saudi flights. We’ll never know how many investigative leads were lost due to the FBI’s lack of diligence.”

U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Roberts ordered the FBI to resubmit “proper disclosures” to the Court and Judicial Watch, having previously criticized the adequacy of redaction descriptions, the validity of exemption claims, and other errors in the FBI’s disclosures.

  Judicial Watch

We'll probably never know, either, on whose orders the FBI exercised less than due diligence investigating the 9/11 terror attacks. Somebody told them to keep their hands off these flight passengers. We do know that when Bush came into the presidency, the agency was told to back off investigations of the Saudis. We do know, also, that congressional staffers were prevented by the White House and FBI from questioning two Saudi nationals on U.S. soil who were known to have given financial support to two of the 9/11 hijackers, prompting Florida Senator Bob Graham to say, "It was as if the president's loyalty lay more with Saudi Arabia than with America's safety."

As if.

It seems to be unclear just who chartered those six flights that whisked members of the Saudi royals and bin Laden families out of the U.S. while all other planes were grounded. I don't think I need to mention again here the possibility that bin Laden never quit working for or with somebody in the US government.

But, in light of the question of who was ultimately pulling the strings on getting those flights out of the U.S., maybe I do need to mention the latest news about Tony Blair's connections with Bandar Bush.

The UK Guardian newspaper and BBC recently revealed that [Saudi Prince] Bandar personally received over US $2 billion in “marketing fees” from the British defense firm BAE as part of the huge, 1985 al-Yamamah arms deal.


During the 1980’s, Saudi Arabia sought to buy modern US warplanes. But the US pro-Israel lobby blocked the sale, costing the loss of billions in sales by US industry and 100,000 American jobs. The Reagan Administration advised the Saudis to go buy their warplanes from Britain.

  Information Clearinghouse

Which they did, including supply contracts, all of which came with kick-backs, in the form of ""commissions” to heads of state, generals, and their cronies."

The payoffs were sent to Saudi embassy accounts in the U.S.

But Bandar’s $2 billion set a record for size and venality. Thatcher ordered Bandar’s payments carefully hidden from public gaze. They remained so until recent years when British and American government investigators began questioning secret, multi-million dollar payments to Prince Bandar routed from the UK to the shady Riggs Bank in Washington. Before it was shut down after a series of scandals, Riggs had become one of the favorite handlers of “black” money for pro-US autocratic regimes.

You remember the Riggs Bank, Uncle Jon Bush's money launderer.

The British government (and one assumes the Saudi's U.S. bankers) are refusing to say whether the kickbacks are still being paid. And Tony Blair, in one of his last acts as Prime Minister, refused to allow reopening of an inquiry he quashed last year into Bandar's kickbacks, because such an investigation would "take years, damage the national interest and cost thousands of jobs", and ended the discussion by saying he was "perfectly happy to take responsibility for it." So that settles everything.

What we have here is a big nest of vipers.

Al-Yamamah (the name of the arms deal) means "dove".

And, while we're on the subject of 9/11, does it matter that Marvin Bush was on the board of directors of a company in charge of security at the WTC, Dulles airport and United Airlines, financed through a Kuwaiti-American investment firm, on whose board he also sat?

Black has not heard of Stratesec, but responds that for one company to handle security for both airports and airlines is somewhat unusual. It is also delicate for a security firm serving international facilities to be so interlinked with a foreign-owned company: "Somebody knew somebody," he suggested, or the contract would have been more closely scrutinized.

As Black points out, "when you [a company] have a security contract, you know the inner workings of everything." And if another company is linked with the security company, then "What's on your computer is on their computer."

  What Really Happened

Just sayin'.

Blogger Fame

Maru the Crankpot, at WTF Is It Now? had a post referenced on NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! show today in the first segment. Now there's a recommendation.

Friday, June 22, 2007

War Graffiti

At Al Udeid Air Base.

Update on the Cheney Branch of Government

Keith Olbermann reported tonight that WH spokesmodel Perino told reporters that the Big Dick's exemption from the White House records rules was on "page 18 of the EO" (Executive Order, I presume), but, in fact, there is no such thing on that page. Olbermann's staff then requested clarification from the White House and was pointed to sections 1.3 and 5.2, neither of which cover any such exemption.

Even at that, Olbermann's pick for "worst person in the world" was not Dick Cheney, but....and LaBelle will second the nomination....Glenn Beck.

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

Ooops, There Goes Another One

Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer of the DoJ decided he'd rather do something else and resigned today. He joins the lineup: Kyle Sampson, Monica Goodling, Michael Battle, Paul McNulty, and Michael Elston.

Lots more office space at the DoJ these days.

Dave Barry in 2008

More Dave Barry:

Q: Mr. Soon to be President, Can you tell me where the weapons of mass destruction are so I can go home?
Joe, Baghdad, Iraq 6/20/07

A: Where was the last place you had them?
Dave Barry 6/22/07

Rudy the Jewel Giuliani

It seems our presidential hopeful is not only a jewel himself, but he surrounds himself with the cream of the crop.

"There's ample evidence showing that [Monsignor Alan] Placa consistently protected predators, shrewdly deceived victims, and covered up horrific clergy sex crimes," said a statement from David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. SNAP also contends that he abused children.

Placa was suspended from his duties as a priest in June 2002 after the abuse allegations surfaced. A lawyer, he currently works as a consultant for Giuliani Partners.


Kerik, Ravenel, Placa. Between The Rude Jewel and Twit Romney, there's a trail of stinkers that the Tweed Machine of Tammany Hall would would have envied.

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

CIA Secrets Declassified

Newly declassified government documents reveal a 25-year campaign of CIA activity outside the law, including extensive wiretapping of journalists, surveillance of dissidents and assassination plots against foreign leaders.

The documents, which were published online Thursday by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, detail illegal CIA activities from the 1950s through the mid-1970s.

  Question Everything

Of course, you'll just have to wait thirty more years to find out exactly what illegal stuff they're doing now.

Twit Romney

First we had the co-chairman of his finance committee running "schools" for troubled teenagers where students were “subjected to physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.”

Now we have Jay Garrity, a Romney aide, under investigation for allegedly impersonating a cop. And just today, a real cop pulled him over for speeding and took him to the pokey. He now seems to have decided he should be spending more time with his family, at least for a while.

Very presidential of Twit. Much like Dubya's connections.

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

Update Later update on the TPM Cafe post indicates the real cop bit wasn't.

Couch Potato Heaven

The ultimate remote control may soon be available.

Don't Forget Poland

Poland is demanding greater voting rights in EU councils [...] Poland says it deserves votes proportional to the population it claims it would have had if not for World War II (66 million versus its actual 38 million), although it is proposing voting being weighted according to the... wait for it... square root of a country’s population.


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

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Iraq's U.S. Supported Government

So much better off now that Saddam is gone.


The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, Vice President Cheney exempted his office from the presidential order that establishes government-wide procedures for safeguarding classified national security information. The Vice President asserts that his office is not an “entity within the executive branch.”

  The Gavel

Well, that's a surprise to me. He's got his picture on the WH government page with the rest of them. And his office is linked on the government page listing the executive branch offices.

Rahm Emanuel says, if it's true, then the Big Dick should vacate the premises and return the money.

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

Rahm Emanuel via TPM Cafe

Oh Ruuuuuudeeee

Congress is asking why the warnings of toxic air at ground zero were suppressed. Keeping the heat on the Rudy the Jewel Giuliani these days.

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

Dave Barry's Run - Part 2

Q: Dave, Since you've been running for President (unsuccesfully) since the Truman administration, what is it about 2008 that's different? Or is this going to be yet another heart-breaking, gut-wrenching disappointment to your loyal supporters?
Moosensquirrel, Melbourne, FL 6/20/07

A: I believe that, with every passing day, and every new candidate announcement, my campaign appears, relatively speaking, to be less and less of a joke.
Dave Barry 6/21/07

How sad but true.

More Dave Barry Q&A here.

Iwo To

Japan has restored Iwo Jima's original pre-war name: Iwo To.

Retired Marine Maj. Gen. Fred Haynes [...] heads the Combat Veterans of Iwo Jima, a group of about 600 veterans that travels to the island every year for a reunion.


"It was Iwo Jima to us when we took it," said Haynes. "We'll recognize whatever the Japanese want to call it but we'll stick to Iwo Jima."


So there.

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

Who Would Davy Crockett Vote For?

Probably not Fred Thompson.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Speaking of sterling connections, we have just an exemplary group of candidates and campaigns this time around.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, 133 plaintiffs have alleged that Robert Lichfield, co-chairman of Romney’s Utah finance committee owned or operated residential boarding schools for troubled teenagers where students were “subjected to physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.”

  The Hill

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

And While We're on the Subject...

Q: Whom do you think will get the nominations from the two major parties?
S(tevie) W, LA, Calif. 6/19/07

A: Goobers.
Dave Barry 6/20/07

Read more questions and answers from Dave Berry here.

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

Rudy the Jerk Giuliani

We know that Rudy has kept crook company in the past by his offering to Bush of pal Bernard the Crook Kerik for Homeland Security chief. It seems that now another of his sterling connections has been outed. His South Carolina campaign manager just got busted on cocaine charges. Rudy says he doesn't know anything about it.

And by the way, Rudy's response to being on the Iraq Study Group without ever attending any meetings has morphed slightly. Now he says it was a mistake to begin with. It would be "inconsistent with" running for president.

I just report 'em; I don't explain 'em.

Missing Emails

Who were some of those people whose emails the RNC did not keep? Ken Mehlman, RNC bigwig and once head of the WH political office, for one.

And it seems that Karl Rove's emails are missing in gaps.

Rove's defense: I lost my Blackberry. One of them. At least one of them. Oops. My bad.

As far as Rove's little problem goes, his former aide Susan Ralston (who recently resigned) testified:

Based on communications with the RNC or the Bush re-election campaign, “my general understanding was that he [Rove] thought that the emails were being preserved,” Ralston said in a private deposition to committee staff on May 10.

Those conversations often occurred when Rove got an equipment replacement. “I can’t say specifically, but it seemed to be a number of times,” Ralston testified. “Karl would get a new computer. He would lose a BlackBerry. Whenever this happened, there would be some conversation with the [RNC] people about his mail file.”

No doubt.

With a little experience now in the IT field having to transfer files and accounts to new staff computers, I will say that switching email accounts to new operating systems, even within the same manufacturer (you know who you are, Microsoft), can be a real pain in the ass, but saving the files shouldn't be a problem. If they can't manage it, maybe they should all switch to Yahoo.

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

Operation Whack-A-Mole

Jon Stewart describes what's happening in Iraq and how it's being presented to the American public. And as a little bonus, here's a list of all the named operations. Who has the job of thinking these up?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mental Health Concerns

Not only are there problems with mental health in the military in the Middle East, the diplomatic corps is experiencing the same.


Could it be those missing emails that needed a terror threat for distraction? Keith Olbermann (via Raw Story) has email detail and discusses the seriousness.

Abandon Ship

New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently wisely said "You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist," is withdrawing his membership in the GOP.

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

It's Graduation Time All Over the World

Teams assigned to carry out attacks in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany were introduced at an al Qaeda/Taliban training camp graduation ceremony held June 9.


The leader of the team assigned to attack Great Britain spoke in English.

"So let me say something about why we are going, along with my team, for a suicide attack in Britain," he said. "Whether my colleagues, companions and Muslim brothers die today or tonight, every drop of our blood will invigorate the Muslim (unintelligible)."

  ABC News

Typical graduation speech.

U.S. intelligence officials described the event as another example of "an aggressive and sophisticated propaganda campaign."

Others take it very seriously.

"It doesn't take too many who are willing to actually do it and be able to slip through the net and get into the United States or England and cause a lot of damage," said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism official.

On the other hand, it's probably timely for another diversionary, "Look over here! We stopped a terrorist plot." After all, the purge and missing email stories haven't died.

Canada's public safety minister isn't worried.

"Their capability, personally, is limited, because there is a lot of internal intelligence that points out who certain individuals are and they do have a limited ability to travel and get through our border systems."

[Minister] Day said the report is a "PR move on behalf of a terror organization" that knows it is losing the fight in Afghanistan, where more than 2,000 Canadian soldiers are serving in a NATO-led mission.


I don't know. I'm not all that certain they know they're losing.

Taliban on the Move in Afghanistan
Taliban step up attacks in southern Afghanistan International Herald Tribune
Taliban overrun southern Afghan district; more than 100 killed York Dispatch
Taliban fighters seize south Afghan area
Support for coalition forces in Afghanistan waning Edmonton Sun

Canada's Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day

Where Was the Press?

On October 17, 2006, when George W. Bush signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2007—a $538 billion military spending bill—he enacted into law a section called “Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies.” In the view of many, this Act substantially changed fundamental laws of the United States, giving Bush—and all future U.S. presidents—new and sweeping powers to use the U.S. military anywhere in the United States, virtually as he sees fit—for disaster relief, crowd control, suppression of public disorder, or any “other condition” that might arise.

News coverage of these significant changes in the law has been virtually nonexistent.


[Under these provisions], the president could order the Guard of any state into any other state—even if the governors of both states objected. Or the president could choose to use any element of the U.S. military—the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marines—to suppress a protest or carry out practically any kind of domestic action the president desired.


The law is so vague and far-reaching that numerous, normally conservative military and law enforcement groups, including the National Guard Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Adjutants General Association, have publicly come out against it, pledging their support for a new, bipartisan Senate bill, S. 513, from senators Leahy and Christopher Bond (R.-Mo.) that would overturn all the changes in law that occurred this past October. (There’s an identical, bipartisan companion bill in the House as well.)

It’s striking that even with the National Guard Association itself opposing Bush in this matter, there’s been next to no news coverage.


The National Governors Association is displeased as well. In rare unanimity, the association called, on February 2, 2007, for the new law to be overturned, saying that it “unnecessarily expanded the president’s authority to federalize the National Guard,” a change “drafted without consultation with the governors and without full discussion or debate.” All 50 U.S. governors have signed on to the association’s letter of opposition—including all 22 Republican governors.

The Adjutants General Association, which represents officers responsible for National Guard training and readiness, also stands in opposition to the Act.


The National Sheriffs’ Association declared itself (2/20/07) gravely concerned that such empowering language, as well as ambiguity of the new language, particularly its reference to the “other conditions” under which the president can invoke the Act, creates the likelihood that the Act will be invoked more frequently and hastily during such emergencies.


What does it say about the fourth estate that such significant changes occur in our laws without news media coverage and without the intelligent and vigorous public debate one would hope for in the world’s oldest democracy?


That we're a democracy in name only?

Apparently, this was one of those middle-of-the-night bill additions. Well, to be fair, we really don't need to know about the details of governance, do we?

Failed States Index

Source and details.

Rudy Sleezeball Giuliani in 2008

How's he going to get around this one?

Rudy's running on terrorism and Iraq. But he got booted off a congressionally-mandated blue ribbon panel [last spring] because he couldn't be bothered to show up for the meetings. It conflicted with his for-a-price speaking gigs.


Another bad cartoon presidential election looming.

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

Update: Giuliani responds and Greg Sargent knocks it down.


Just what I thought. An openly gay candidate did not win a Texas mayoral election.

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


Today marks the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the state of Texas. Although Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in 1863, it wasn't until 2-1/2 years later, after General Lee's surrender April 9, 1865, that enough federal troops arrived in Texas to enforce the proclamation. In effect, Texas' slaves received their freedom on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, announcing the news that the war was over and the slaves were free.

For the past week, here in Galveston, there have been small celebratory daytime activities commemorating that day, which became known as Juneteenth. In fact, there is a large sculpture of a black man holding high a piece of paper on the lawn at one of Galveston's historic Broadway mansions, Ashton Villa, but interestingly enough, there is no inscription and no sign telling visitors what it is. A tour of the mansion does not include that information, either. I asked a black woman in the Galveston History Center across the street from Ashton Villa what the significance of the statue was, and she didn't know. I then asked a docent in Ashton Villa and was told it's titled "The Orator"* and that it commemorates the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston June 19, 1865. I failed to ask why no signage.

It was a long time until blacks started actually getting any type of equal status to whites, of course. I can remember when the elementary school I attended was integrated.

Now, at least blacks can be wage slaves like us white folk.

*You know, now that I have thought about it for a while, I'm no longer certain that's the title of that statue (which I'm going to post a picture of if I get my camera connected before the day is out), but I am certain that the man at Ashton Villa told me that, although the story goes that the Emancipation Proclamation was read from the balcony of Ashton Villa - and thus the statue on the lawn there - it actually was read from one of the buildings downtown on The Strand. Galveston has a very colorful history, and that's a very minor detail. But one can only wonder how much of Galveston's legend is misremembered. Oh well, as my attorney cousin once described his own motto: Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.

I think that's the Bush Administration's motto, too.

No Blood, No Foul

That's the unofficial motto of a Special Forces interrogation detention facility in Afghanistan.

The only Pentagon investigation into Special Operations' role in detainee abuse, led by Brigadier General Richard Formica in 2004, focused only on specific allegations of abuse, not on what standard detention and interrogation procedures are for SOF [Special Operations Forces]. Formica nevertheless found that for four months in 2004, interrogators used techniques "including sleep management, stress positions, dietary manipulation, and yelling/loud music that were not specifically authorized" by the U.S. command in Iraq -- and which the command had, in October 2003, expressly foresworn. Formica attributed the use of those techniques to a misunderstanding.

  TPM Muckraker

A misunderstanding.

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


It's never too early in a campaign to get ugly.

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


Here's a look at the type of people Insane McCain is willing to use in his campaigns. (This one from 2000.)

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


As bad as things are in Iraq, they're every bit as bad in Afghanistan.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Your Vote Can Count

If you're voting for the "New Seven Wonders" of the world. Eighteen days left to cast your vote.

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

He's Not Dead Yet

He may not be stirring up much dust, but he's still kickin'.

Fidel Castro hasn't been out in public since he gave power to his brother last year, but he's writing.

In Monday's article, Castro acknowledged that he was on his death bed at one point. [...] "Shortly, it will be a year since I became ill and, while I hovered between life and death, I stated in the Proclamation of July 31, 2006: 'I do not harbor the slightest doubt that our people and our Revolution will fight until the last drop of blood." [...] He added: "Mr. Bush, don't you doubt it either. I assure you that you will never have Cuba."

That must have made the little prince pucker.

It reminds me of the instance during the Venezuelan coup on Hugo Chávez when opposition thugs barged into the Cuban embassy and attempted to take over. Very calmly, the Cuban ambassador (or some official there) told them (as I recall the words), "For fifty years we have been besieged by the most powerful force on the planet, and we have not let them in. We will not let you." And they didn't.

It Gets Worse

When I posted this morning about mental health problems in the military, I was remembering a report I heard recently on NPR about how military training programs intimidate enlisted men and discourage them from reporting any problems. I couldn't find a copy of that report in the time I had, but I've just run across another report, from Mother Jones, with the following comment:

According to NPR, 40 percent of troops returning from Iraq or Afghanistan have some sort of psychological problem. Nearly a quarter show signs of serious mental health disorders.

It gets worse: Soldiers reporting psychological problems are not only not helped, but actually get punished for their illnesses. Some are sent to clean the latrines; others, in an image disturbingly resonant of Abu Ghraib, must sit in a corner wearing a dunce camp for long periods of time. At one army base, many soldiers were kicked out of the services following psychological complaints.


For reasons NPR's correspondent doesn't address, since the War on Terror began, the few mental health specialists the DoD has "have been leaving the Army, the Marines, and the Air Force in droves." Problem is, neither the soldiers nor their demons miraculously disappear after they are released with inadequate or no treatment.

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

Missing Emails

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has released a report confirming that thousands of emails from WH officials going through the RNC servers have been "extensively destroyed." Apparently not just randomly.

Fifty-one of the 88 users of the RNC email service have had their emails wiped. The report also says that Alberto Gonzales, when serving as WH counsel, likely knew Karl Rove was using the RNC email service for official business and did nothing to keep those records as required by law.

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

I suppose we will be hearing more.

Saddam's WMDs

The snipe hunt is to be called off.


Send in the clowns.

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

Virtual Fence

It's been many years since the Star Wars movies showed us how to protect a perimeter. I've been wondering why we were still using the old literal fences to wall off our southern border.

And now...we have arrived.

Support Our Troops

The medical scandal at Walter Reed Hospital is only one part of the shameful treatment of of our soldiers. Their mental health is the other. Headlines such as the following indicate the extent of the problem.

Powell soldier faces court martial for seeking psychiatric care
The Invisible Wounded: Injured U.S. Soldiers Arrive Home Under Cover of Darkness
The Army is ordering injured troops to go to Iraq
Army sent mentally ill troops to Iraq

LaBelle points us to a WaPo investigation of the "treatment" soldiers with psychiatric disorders are receiving.

Friday, June 15, 2007

In Texas ?!?!?!?!

If [Ed] Oakley wins Saturday’s runoff election, Dallas will become the first top 10 city in America to elect an openly gay mayor. [...] The latest polling shows the race too close to call [...]


I'll believe it when I see it. But the fact that it's close is amazing enough.

Attorney Purge Redux

Like rats abandoning a sinking ship. On the heels of news that Gonzo is under investigation in his own DoJ...

Mike Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, is the fifth Justice official to leave after being linked to the dismissals of the prosecutors.

Elston was accused of threatening at least four of the eight fired U.S. attorneys to keep quiet about their ousters. In a statement Friday, the Justice Department said Elston was leaving voluntarily to take a job with an unnamed Washington-area law firm.

  Houston Chronicle

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

Degrees of Separation

Does the name Mary Kay LeTourneau ring a bell? Remember the school teacher who was pregnant by her 13-year-old student? When that story monopolized the national media, did anybody ever mention who her father is?

Attorney Purge

The DoJ internal investigation includes Gonzo. Something tells me he'll be cleared.

....but hey, who knows?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Great Peacemaker

From the 2007 President's Dinner (via W3IAI), a Dubya quote:
“Isn’t it interesting, my dad fought the Japanese, I’m making peace with the Japanese.”

Are we at war with the Japanese again?

He means that 60 years after World War II, he can sit down with the Japanese prime minister and “talk about peace in the world.” Which isn’t really the same thing as making peace. But then they also, he says, “sit at the table talking about making sure that the leader of North Korea doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.” Um, has no one told him that North Korea has had nukes for a while now?


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen...

I give you the next President of the United States...

FRED THOMPSON IS adding more big-name policy talent as his testing-the-waters committee continues to grow into a real presidential campaign. Among the new additions: Mark Esper, national security adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; Joel Shin, a top policy staffer on Bush-Cheney 2000; and Elizabeth Cheney, a former top official in the State Department's Near East and South Asia department.

  Raw Story

...The more important description of Elizabeth Cheney being that she is the Big Dick's daughter.

And let's not forget the Rove aide.

And the Democrats are going to run Hillary Clinton. That's been the plan since Bill left office. A woman president? Not on your life. Hillary Clinton? Not a snowball's chance in hell.

The program is running.

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

Interesting Framing

AP/Charles Dharapak via Dependable Renegade

P.S. Mr. Wizard is dead.


Talk is heating up over trade with China, because the U.S. says it's not fair that their stuff is cheaper.

"We're competing not only with a country with low wages but with very high and heavy subsidies and a rigging of their currency. [...]" says Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the House trade subcommittee.

  USA Today

Three things the U.S. doesn't have, eh?

Too bad U.S. laborers don't have the same power as Congress to argue against having to compete in the U.S. job market against overseas laborers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Treat

Just because you're all so nice. And you need a break from the crappy stuff.

Click the pic.

And here's a clip of two of my favorite Latin artists performing together: Maná (rock) and Juan Luis Guerra (Juan Luis Guerra - what can I say?). Excellente.

Sunset at Moody Gardens, Galveston, Texas
Photo by Bill Hill

Happy Birthday Pepper.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Yes, We Still Have a Constitution

And laws. Regardless of Cheney Bush's trampling of them. They still exist. And it's always good to see courts upholding them.

The three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government should charge Ali al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident and the only suspected enemy combatant on American soil, or release him from military custody.

The federal Military Commissions Act doesn't strip al-Marri of his constitutional right to challenge his accusers in court, the judges found in Monday's 2-1 decision.

"Put simply, the Constitution does not allow the President to order the military to seize civilians residing within the United States and then detain them indefinitely without criminal process, and this is so even if he calls them 'enemy combatants,'" the court said.


This Will Shock You

Two newly appointed immigration judges were failed candidates for the U.S. Tax Court nominated by President Bush; one fudged his taxes and the other was deemed unqualified to be a tax judge by the nation's largest association of lawyers. Both were Republican loyalists.


At least one-third of the immigration judges appointed by the Justice Department since 2004 have had Republican connections or have been administration insiders, and half lacked experience in immigration law.


Department officials say they changed their hiring practices in April but defend their selections.


More details.

Stand By Your Man

They asked Bush at his Bulgarian press conference this morning about the Senate's proposed "no confidence" vote on Gonzales.

"They can try to have their vote of no confidence, but it's not going to determine -- make the determination, who serves in my government," Bush told reporters. "There's been no wrongdoing."


Did somebody forget that he's The Decider?

"His" government. Did somebody forget the difference between a government and an administration?


"I'll make the determination if I think he's effective, or not, not those who are using an opportunity to make a political statement on a meaningless resolution."

  White House transcript

I'm The Determinator.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Libby's Lies

Five myths about the Plame case dispelled. At the WaPo.

That's Entertainment

I'm often well-entertained at Dependable Renegade, but never more than with this post.

Dancing with the Devil

Apparently, U.S. forces have not only aligned themselves with dozens of Sunni militiamen, we're also now cooperating with sectarian militias, working outside the Iraqi security forces, that include insurgents that have attacked Americans in the past. What's more, we're allowing them to procure weapons and we're granting them the power to arrest other Iraqis.

"We have made a deal with the devil," said an intelligence officer in the battalion.

The dynamic is not without complications. Joshua Partlow's report explained that "fighters on both sides appeared nearly identical," using the same weapons and wearing similar clothes. "Now we've got kind of a mess on our hands," a leader of a U.S. Stryker team remembered thinking. "Because we've got a lot of armed guys running all over the place, and it's making it very hard for us to identify which side is which."


If only we'd developed some of those chemical weapons that could sort out the bad guys.

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

A Few Words in Defense of Our Country

From Randy Newman. Don't know how long it will be there. Go now.

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

Bad Guy Identifying Chemicals

Want a good laugh? Then check out this rejected research in the form of a 1994 memo on non-lethal chemical agents proposed by the brilliant minds at the U.S. Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio:
1. Title: Harassing, Annoying, and "Bad Guy" Identifying Chemicals

2. Type of Effort:S & T

3. Proposed by: Wright Laboratory

4. Capability Sought and uses to Which it Could Be Put:

     a. Chemicals that can be sprayed onto enemy positions or onto infiltration routes used by enemy forces. Three classes of chemical weapon are proposed:

          (1) Category #1: Chemicals that attract annoying creatures to the enemy position and make the creatures aggressive and annoying. Stinging and biting bugs, rodents, and larger animals would be candidates to be drawn to the enemy positions.

          (2) Category #2: Chemicals that make lasting but non-lethal markings on the personnel.

               (a) Those that were exposed to the chemicals during travel on infiltration routes or from being sprayed while in the enemy camp could be easily identified (by smell or appearance) weeks later, making it impossible for them to blend with the local population. The chemical marking should also be annoying to the exposed individuals and to those around him/her. Spray equipment could be used as part of a perimeter defense system (if decontamination for friendly forces is available).

               (b) A variation on the theme would be that we would have the counteracting treatment. This version would be especially suitable for use against mixtures of enemy forces and non-combatants. Civilians would come to us for treatment, and the enemy forces that did not seek treatment could be identified.

               (c) A more subtle version would be some lasting chemical marker that was not obviuos to humans, but would be obvious to trained dogs or special detecting equipment. These chemicals could be sprayed on infiltration routes. Marked individuals would not know they were marked, and would not know how the dogs/equipment identified them.

                    (1) These chemicals could also be used as part of a security system (for civilian or DoD use) for high value stored items, being released when the building was broken into.

                    (2) Small dispensers of the chemical could be used by banks as an alternative to exploding red dye for marking stolen money and marking the robber. Unlike red dye, the robber would not know he was being marked and would be easier to identify.

          (3) Category #3: Chemicals that effect (sic) human behavior so that discipline and morale in enemy units is adversely effected (sic). One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior. Another example would be a chemical that made personnel very sensitive to sunlight.

5. Technical Description: Objectives, Approach, What Will Be Done:

     a. Category #1 Chemicals: Identify and/or develop chemicals that attract annoying or injurious creatures and make them aggressive. Sex attractant chemicals for bugs is one candidate. Another example: A "sting me/attack me" chemical that causes bees to attack would be especially effective for infiltration routes. Treat a section of trail with the chemical, and position multiple bee hives a short way down the trail.

     b. Category #2 Chemicals:

          (l) Obvious and Annoying Chemicals: identify and/or develop chemicals that create lasting markings (smell or appearance) on exposed personnel. The obvious markings should also be annoying to exposed and adjacent personnel, and difficult or impossible to remove. One example: develop a low toxicity compound of                       that still retains the characteristic of creating                                   (severe and lasting halitosis) for those exposed to small concentrations. Counteracting or decontaminating treatments should be devised for some chemicals.

          (2) Hidden marking Chemicals: Identify and/or develop chemicals that can create lasting but not obviuos scent markings on people. Develop equipment or train dogs to detect the scent.

     c. Category #3 Chemicals: Select types of personnel behavior changes/effects desired, create and test chemicals.

     d. For all chemicals: Conduct tests to determine safety/toxicity for humans, then conduct field trials to determine initial and lasting effectiveness in various climates and conditions. Modify existing delivery systems/application techniques as needed (spray tanks or aircraft, artillery shells, etc) to apply the chemicals, or create specialized dispensers. One example: Spray equipment and associated detection equipment which would be positioned beside infiltration routes, and would apply free chemicals to the trail when personnel approached.

6. Risks and limitations:

     a. Status of Technology: Attractant chemicals for many bugs that are harmful to food crops are known and widely used.                            c compounds are known to cause                                  , which lasts for months, but                    compounds used commercially are toxic. Many chemicals are known that cause exposed personnel to stink badly. Application equipment needed is low tech, state-of-the-art.

     b. New Discoveries Needed. Chemicals that attract bees and cause them to sting would need to be identified or created. Attractant chemicals for other bugs of interest would need to be indentified or created. Non-toxic compounds of                would need to be developed that still created                       Various chemicals that created lasting and obviuos markings (smell and/or appearance) on personnel would need to be identified or created, then tested. Decontamination procedures would also need to be created, preferably treatments that could not be obtained from anyone but our forces. Chemicals that created lasting but unnoticed markings on personnel would need to be developed, along with the detection equipment to identify effected (sic) personnel. Special dog training program (sic) may also be needed. Chemicals that effected (sic) human behavior in ways that would be disruptive to unit morale and effectiveness would need to be created. Manufacturing techniques would need to be developed for chemicals needed in large quantities.

     c. Operational limitations and susceptibility to countermeasures: Some chemicals should only be used on enemy forces, while others could be used on mixtgures of enemy personnel and civilians. Decontamination would be the countermeasures.

7. Project Plan: (Assume start date 1 Oct 94)

     a. Step 1: Select/assign DoD organizations with expertise to run/participate in the development programs. Participating organizations should provide knowledge about medicine, chemical manufacturing, and weapons application/use. Completion 1 Feb 95

     b. Step 2: Select types/categories of chemicals to be developed. (Completion 1 May 95) Then, have various companies develop chemicals and conduct laboratory tests. Complete 1 Dec 97

     d. Step 3: Conduct field tests in different climates/conditions with chemicals known to have acceptable toxicity to determine effectiveness and best application techniques/procedures. Completion 1 Sep 98

     e. Step 4. produce effective and safe chemicals in large quantities and conduct operational evaluations, to perhaps include selected use during actual hostilities. Complete 1 Sep 00.

8. Project Cost:


One could argue that war itself is damned stupid. Why should the methods of it be anything else?

A "sting me/attack me" chemical. Has a nice ring to it, eh? (These guys have watched one too many B horror movies.) It might be a bit of a problem to carry around and tend large enough insectaries or hives for deployment of the numbers of bees one would need to successfully deploy this plan. (Of course it would be less than what might be required to house and tend enough "rodents" or "larger animals".)

Did they have some entomology experts help with this plan? Do the enemy troops release the bees from the hives when they walk by after passing through the chemical exposure area? In the alternative scenario, if they were able to get close enough to an enemy camp to spray it.... Maybe this plan needs a little more thought.

How about the "severe and lasting halitosis" plan? An enemy with extremely bad breath. That should identify him in a crowd, eh?

I guess they had to black out the chemical compounds because the enemy isn't smart enough to read pesticide labels and figure out which ones have what effects. But I really can't tell you why they blacked out the medical term for severe halitosis while leaving in the definition.

And, I'm really not understanding how any of these sprays could be used as a "perimeter defense", decontamination capabilities for friendly forces or no. What? You surround your compound with halitosis-producing chemicals and the enemy is too ashamed of his bad breath to come into your area? You have a spray fence around your compound, lined with killer bees? Wouldn't sentries work just as well?

Category #3 includes what they refer to as a "gay bomb." That's what's in the news the past couple of days and what has gotten media attention. Why the utter stupidity and non-viability of these ideas isn't the issue, I can't tell you. Subplan (c) of the chemical markers program sounds reasonable compared to the other stunts, doesn't it?

Also, I don't understand how the example of a sunlight-sensitive chemical fits into category 3 (adverse effects on behavior and morale), but, at least they were smart enough to know they might want decontamination or "counteracting treatment" possibilities for friendly forces. On the other hand, I see a small oversight when planning for civilians to seek decontamination treatment: Tell me why it is that the enemy, who is otherwise indistinguishable from the civilian population, wouldn't also line up for decontamination. Not to mention the problem they've alluded to in the need to keep the enemy from also having a decontamination program.

Category #3 Chemicals: Select types of personnel behavior changes/effects desired, create and test chemicals.
I wonder who they've been testing that "gay bomb" on. Surely they didn't really reject these great proposals.

Do the insurgents and al-Qaeda cells in Afghanistan and Iraq have "infiltration routes?" Oh well, that was 1994. Who knew we'd be in another urban warfare quagmire?

With great minds like these planning combat methods, it's no wonder we're having trouble.

Update: Check here for the segment on yesterday's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! on this story. (Starts at 4:45 minutes into the file.)

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

Further Update: You know, it occurs to me that there's no need to create a chemical to attract "annoying creatures to the enemy position and make the creatures aggressive and annoying." At least in the eyes of the insurgents, those creatures are already there. They can be identified by their desert camo and U.S. military gear.