Sunday, May 31, 2009

More War

Another bit from my adventure teaching English in Mexico:


Sunday, November 6, 2005

I came across one of the few English language children's books we have been provided for our classes, should we choose to make use of them. I wonder how it came to be part of the library. It's published in Nashville. Obviously, originally there was a toy (or toys) packaged with it.

Let's Protect

[Missing photo]

Let's start our mission!

The military tanks are lined up in a row. Ready to protect us, off to battle they go.

Time to roll!

[Missing photo]

Ther (sic) are small ones and big ones, with loud machine guns. Up and down the hills they climb, in the hot desert sun. (The punctuation and spelling may be Tennessee standard, I don't know, and I probably shouldn't criticize, since I myself lack a good editor.)

Across all kinds of terrain, the tanks roll out of sight. After a long day of battle, they continue to fight. Transporting the troops, they protect us from harm's way, so the soldiers can keep us safe day after day.

Mission Accomplished!"

The back cover says, "Warning! Choking Hazard!" Indeed, I almost choked when I read it.

I was surprised to see the publication date of 2002 and not 2003, but I guess it was one of those preparing the public (kids) for the invasion of Iraq. "Mission Accomplished." Maybe this is one of the few books the President read.

I was once asked if I had any ideas for a really scary reality TV show. I have one reality show that would really make your hair stand on end: "C-Students from Yale." --- Kurt Vonnegut Jr

[...]

Friday, November 11, 2005

Well, it's Veterans' Day. Support our white phosphorous using, civilian bombing, prisoner torturing troops, who are protecting us here by scorching the earth over there - none of which is news to people who have followed independent news sources on the internet since the beginning of the call to arms. So the latest is that somebody leaked to the Post, and there are pictures of actual victims of the napalm-like bombing of Iraqi civilians? Dahr Jamail published pictures and reports of it immediately following the attack on Falluja. We saw it. We knew it. Why didn't Congress? The same reason, I suppose, that Congress didn't know the documents purporting Iraq's attempt to buy yellowcake uranium were forgeries when they were being touted as the truth by the administration as justification for invasion of another country, and when those of us following the independent internet news already knew they were fakes. CIA secret gulag, rendition of prisoners to countries where torture is "legal" - news? Not if you've done even the most cursory Googling. My congressman doesn't have time to investigate. Or maybe he doesn't have a computer. I wonder what those aides are doing all day? Arranging junket schedules, perhaps.

As David said in class that one night: war is business. And business is good.

[...]

Monday (lunes), December 5, 2005

I haven't had a good night's sleep in a while. I'm not sure why, but I expect a combination of reasons. I've been slowly making my way through William Blum's account of all the U.S. military and CIA interventions around the globe (just since WWII) destroying democracy in the name of spreading it and in the process destroying entire foreign families, cities and cultures. I'm nearly done and I'm going to have to quit reading it at night. I get so sickened and depressed by the suffering and hell we bring to the world through the self-serving things that our government and its secret agents (or those interests manipulating it) have done over and over and over. Sometimes I wish it could be that this kind of ruthless, compassionless, cynical, sinister and horrific activity actually did belong to one set of people and could be eliminated by ridding the world of that one group (we never recognize ourselves - it's always some other time or some other culture that behaves so abominably). It's sickening to learn of the reality beneath the platitudes - and it would almost be hopeful now that the surface of CIA activity is being scratched in the 'gulag' exposure that Ms. Condi, for whatever was left of her soul, is willing to defend by saying renditions save lives, and the Bushistas are being exposed for just a few of their lies and crimes, except for the facts that 1) it truly is only the surface and the depths will never be plumbed, and that 2) there are years and years of documentary proof that this is nothing new, that none of the things that are 'shocking' people to learn about what's been happening with this administration are anything new at all, and that each time some similar revelation is made, people shake it off with no more thought than they give to a bad dream and go back to business as usual. And the beast goes back to work in the way that a beast does.

And then there is the further realization that they're totally and singularly human - the things we call inhuman - and they've been happening since the first man took a step on earth and will go on until the last man has disappeared.

More tequila, Sancho!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mike, the doctor, was just at a physicians' convention in Mexico City, and he told me that there was a presentation on dementia, after which one of the Mexican doctors turned to him and asked, "So, do you think your president is demented?" Salvador asked me recently if Americans don't want to see the truth about their government. (As Bob said in his blog, Mexicans, at least, know their government is corrupt.) How do we answer the increasing questions from the rest of the world? Personally, I see us as the family of an alcoholic, perhaps not as much in denial as in wishful thinking that if we refuse to admit that dad is an alcoholic, other people will believe the facade we try to present. Or at least we can almost convince ourselves.

[...]

Time has really flown here in Mexico, although there were moments teaching in Peribán that I almost despaired of ever finishing. Five months in Peribán and two in Tepoztlán. I would have preferred it the other way around, and I'm sorry that I'm going to have to leave Tepoztlán. I'm also sorry to have to return to the U.S. at a time when the very people supposedly chosen to represent and manage our nation are now selling her to the highest bidder, are the very same people who were once implicated in money laundering, arms and drug sales, but who now are back in the highest offices of the land and apparently never gave up their nefarious and criminal practices. The same people who approve and defend torture and humiliation, endless war with carpet bombing and napalming of thousands of innocent men, women, children and babies; who interfere with the democratic elections in other countries while spouting on endlessly about the virtues of democracy; who cynically threaten the citizenry of their own country with interminable jail sentences without representation or recourse because of the sound of their names or for actively protesting government policy, while they themselves "leak" the identities of agents working to protect the national security. Needless to say, the very same people who are dismantling the social protections and insurances the country struggled for decades to attain. Is this the path we chose? What country am I returning to?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

War

I’ve been reading my diaries from when I taught English to Mexicans in Michoacan. This seems appropriate for this time…Well, for all time, really.

Last night they were a little less reserved about America's foreign policy. Somebody asked about "Blowin' in the Wind" - what cannon balls were. I explained cannon and added that unless you consider tank guns to be cannons, I didn't think we use cannons any more. Somebody said, "Yes, the Americans use them - mortar." And somebody else said, "Well, the Americans don't use them in America - only in other countries." Right. I said I was really sorry, and David said, "No. Don't worry about it. War is a business." The plain truth, for which I was sorry all over again.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Obama appears to be standing tall against Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory by means of "settlements". Good on him. Apparently, Israel's Netanyayhoo isn't too pleased.


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


Who Is David Petraeus?

I'll tell you who I think he is. I think he's a top commander who puts his job before his conscience. I think he's a man who leans whichever way the current Commander in Chief leans. He is now saying we violated Geneva Conventions.


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


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Unreleased Abu Ghraib Photos

[President Obama] said the photos had already served their purpose in investigations of "a small number of individuals." Those cases were all concluded by 2004, and the president said "the individuals who were involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken."

"I want to emphasize that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib."

[May 13, 2009]

  Yahoo

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

  UK Telegraph

Not surprising Obama doesn't want these released.

Obama's lame excuse that it would jeopardize US forces is reminiscent of the pure BS we got from Bush and Cheney about keeping America safe. Has he really convinced himself that our enemies and friends are not quite sure of what we did? We were never surprised all that much at Bush's frequent journeys into reality-free zones but Obama was supposed to be different. Seems he's not.

  Comment at Drudge

He knows “our enemies and friends” know what we did. He’s trying to keep us from having to admit it to ourselves. We are apparently the weakest people in the world - we can't face ourselves in a mirror.

We are still the same country we were under Bush-Cheney: a dysfunctional, codependent family. We all belong in a 12-step program.


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


Mission Accomplished

Guerrillas have killed at least 20 US troops in May, compared to only 9 last March.

  Informed Comment

The daily Iraq violence report is compiled by McClatchy Newspapers Special Correspondents in Baghdad from police, military and medical reports. This is not a comprehensive list of all violence in Iraq, much of which goes unreported. It's posted without editing as transmitted to McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

  McClatchy

Iraq is on Thursday to ask Iran and Turkey to help it fend off potentially deadly thirst and heat this summer by supplying the water and electricity it needs, an electricity ministry official said.

  Yahoo

Nice.


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


The Sotomayor Controversy

Republican poobah Newt Gingrich has lambasted Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as a 'racist' because she implied that a Latina woman could empathize with certain situations as a judge better than a white male could, and so would come to sounder judgments.

Just so everyone remembers, this is Newt Gingrich's idea of the difference between the sexes:

'If combat means living in a ditch, females have biological problems staying in a ditch for 30 days because they get infections.... Males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.'

  Informed Comment

I hate to trivialize the posting of such an esteemed scholar as Juan Cole, but my immediate thought is:

If only Newt (and a number of his cohort) would go hunt giraffes. And let them do it in Greenland.


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


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Meanwhile in Pakistan

Gunmen detonated a car bomb Wednesday near police and intelligence agency offices that collapsed one building and sheared the walls off others in one of the deadliest attacks in Pakistan this year. About 30 people were killed and at least 250 wounded.

  Yahoo


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Playing for Change

One Love

Thanks to Stephen for reminding me.

Stand By Me


Preemptive Strike

On Friday, Sen. Russ Feingold sent a letter to Obama which, while praising some aspects of his speech, vowed to hold hearings on his detention proposal, and in the letter, Feingold rather emphatically highlighted the radical and dangerous aspects of Obama's approach:
While I recognize that your administration inherited detainees who, because of torture, other forms of coercive interrogations, or other problems related to their detention or the evidence against them, pose considerable challenges to prosecution, holding them indefinitely without trial is inconsistent with the respect for the rule of law that the rest of your speech so eloquently invoked. Indeed, such detention is a hallmark of abusive systems that we have historically criticized around the world.

[...]

My primary concern, however, relates to your reference to the possibility of indefinite detention without trial for certain detainees. While I appreciate your good faith desire to at least enact a statutory basis for such a regime, any system that permits the government to indefinitely detain individuals without charge or without a meaningful opportunity to have accusations against them adjudicated by an impartial arbiter violates basic American values and is likely unconstitutional.


  Glenn Greenwald

You’d like to think that one wouldn’t have to tell this to a lawyer who taught constitutional law.

"His most traditional course was in the due process and equal protection areas of constitutional law." source

[T]he Center for Constitutional Rights' Michael Ratner [pointed] out that "holding detainees domestically under a new system of preventive detention would simply 'move Guantánamo to a new location and give it a new name.'"

Yeah, I think that’s the intention.

As acknowledged by two of the leading proponents of preventive detention -- Bush OLC lawyer Jack Goldsmith and Obama's Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal -- the real purpose of preventive detention (contrary to what some are arguing) is not to classify and treat all detainees as "prisoners of war" (since some of them, by Obama's own description, will get trials in real courts and others in military commissions), but rather, to give "the government an overwhelming incentive to use trials only when it is certain to win convictions and long sentences, and to place the rest in whatever detention system it creates."

That, too.


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


Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's Sunday


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


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Minority Report: The Bureau of Pre-Crime

Rachel Maddow: [Obama made his recent speech] announcing a radical new claim of presidential power that is not afforded by the Constitution and that has never been attempted in American history, even by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

What power is that? Preventive detention. Perhaps more subtle than pre-emptive strike military action. But just as illegal. It’s good to be king.

Maddow: This is a beautiful speech from President Obama [...] with patriotic, moving, even poetic language about the rule of law and the Constitution -- and one of the most radical proposals for defying the Constitution that we have ever heard made to the American people.

[...]

How can a president speak the kind of poetry that President Obama does about the rule of law and call for the power to indefinitely, preventively imprison people because they might commit crimes in the future?

Power corrupts, they say. But I think that it is a corrupted mind that seeks power.

As Greg Craig put it: "hard to imagine Barack Obama as the first President of the United States to introduce a preventive-detention law."

[...]

The New Yorker's Amy Davidson compares Obama's detention proposal to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II [...] Hilzoy, of The Washington Monthly, writes: "If we don't have enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we don't have enough evidence to hold them. Period" and "the power to detain people without filing criminal charges against them is a dictatorial power." Salon's Joan Walsh quotes the Center for Constitutional Rights' Vincent Warren as saying: "They’re creating, essentially, an American Gulag." The Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch says of Obama's proposal: "What he's proposing is against one of this country's core principles" and "this is why people need to keep the pressure on Obama -- even those inclined to view his presidency favorably."

  Glenn Greenwald

Of course, this would mean holding people in violation of domestic and international law — precisely what George Bush did. It is part of the Administration’s effort to appear principled by doing an unprincipled thing. The reason that we cannot try these individuals is because they would win. The solution, according to both Bush and Obama, is not to give them a trial.

  Jonathan Turley



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


Support Our Troops

The Army sets about trying to figure out why suicide rates are skyrocketing amongst soldiers - some doing three and four tours in Iraq - and how many mental health counselors it’s going to take to stem the tide.

Eli asks:

Am I the only one who thinks this is like reading about managers at an unshielded nuclear power plant trying to figure out how to reduce the incidences of cancer among their staff?

No, Eli. You are not.


Torture

Jesse Ventura says he can waterboard Sean Hannity and make him say that Obama is the greatest president.

[Jesse] Ventura, who has been busy promoting the paperback version of his book, "Don't Start The Revolution Without Me" (Skyhorse Publishing), says that the 9/11 mentality has paralyzed America.

"If you look at the big picture, the terrorists are winning. Not on the battlefield, but in the sense that they are changing us and who we are. The way to make them not successful is not to change. We've changed in so many ways -- the majority have no problem that we are torturing people... I've been water-boarded and I speak from experience and it's torture."

"They've changed us in that we have a paranoia that there's a crazy Arab around every tree... We're walking on eggshells now. When in reality, you have as much chance of running into a terrorist as winning the Powerball."

  Huffington Post

I’m not a Jesse Ventura fan, but the man is right on point here.

He refutes O'Reilly's recent argument that you can't compare Gitmo detainees to homegrown terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols because they were U.S. citizens.

"So we can torture them as long as they're not U.S. citizens? That's nonsense. Shouldn't we be above these people? There's an old expression: Never let the camel get his nose under the tent. If he can, you're going to have the whole camel in there before long. If we allow minimal torture, it's only going to increase."

Interesting choice of expressions.

Ventura also blames the Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "They condoned it. Nobody stepped forward and said this is torture. Democrats are so spineless, so afraid to go against the tide... but dissension is the greatest form of patriotism."

And he blames Obama for not pushing to fully prosecute those who approved of torture.

"They're worried about doing that because of the toes they'll step on... They don't know who'll get burned and it'll be people on their side of the ledger."

Ventura believes in holding trials for terror suspects, saying that he's not opposed to Guantanamo if they stop the torturing and give them fair trials. "Don't they deserve to be tried? If I were an innocent individual, flown to a foreign country and held for several years and tortured, I'd become a terrorist too. I'd go to war against the US."

Careful, Jesse.


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


Torture: Converted Conservative Mouthpieces

How about 83 times?

I must confess that when I see Hannity or the rest of these guys saying it's no big deal and it's not torture, I kind of figured they're playing semantic games and essentially saying 'I don't care what we do to evil Muslim terrorist bad guys.' Hang them from them toes, waterboard them, whatever, who cares? I don't agree with that. It's hideous. But I understand it. But here it turns out they're just completely ignorant, just haven't been paying attention. Just in the purest factual sense have no idea what they're talking about.

  Josh Marshall

I didn't think knowing what you're talking about was a selling point on a conservative media resume.


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


Friday, May 22, 2009

Change

The most pointed attack on President Obama in Dick Cheney's speech yesterday was his claim that after all is said and done Obama is still reserving to himself the right to use "enhanced interrogation techniques" in the future. [...It] should be noted that Chris Matthews gave David Axelrod a chance to rebut Cheney's claim, and Axelrod only danced around the question. [...] We asked the White House yesterday to comment on Cheney's claim and got no response.

   TPM David Kurtz


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



Obama's Speech

I find him making too many concessions to the National Security State that are in my view unconstitutional. He maintains he is cutting back the abuses. But it isn't good enough that one president should identify where he thinks the US government went too far, and voluntarily cut back. Cutting back from three packs a day to only one could still kill you. And what happens if a different sort of president gets in in 2012 and ramps up the abuses again? By declining to draw a clear and adjudicable line, Obama is unwittingly allowing the Right to lay the groundwork for permanent move to presidential dictatorship. Obama says he doesn't want to re-litigate the last 8 years. That is frankly disingenuous. The last 8 years was never litigated. And crimes were committed. If they are not addressed, they will become norms, not crimes.

  Juan Cole


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


Meanwhile in Pakistan

Recently I published a post about some heavy action in Pakistan. Well, today, Juan Cole has a post saying that all might not have been as it was claimed. At least the Pakistani press is suspicious.


Speaking of the Truth

Vice President Dick Cheney decided to speak out after learning that President Barack Obama might open prosecutions of former Bush Administration officials, his daughter disclosed Thursday.

Elizabeth Cheney told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that her father decided to speak out after he learned there was a possibility of legal action.

  Raw Story

Uh-huh. And that should be proof that fear will indeed make a person talk. Even if what he says isn’t actually true.


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


He Finally Recognizes the Truth

Former President George W. Bush told high school seniors receiving the 2009 Chase Foundation Scholarship at Artesia (N.M.) High School that he felt a burden had been lifted since leaving office in January.

  MSNBC

Yes, a burden that the whole world was bearing.


Let's Win This War Now! - Give Our Soldiers Pink Boxers

Leaders and media alike are just too ridiculous for words.

Remember the guy who had to go to battle in his underwear? Well, the story has finally gotten to the top. Defense Secretary Gates praised him on Thursday. Fine and well, but this story should be about the dangers our troops are in if they can be enjoined in a surprise battle without even time to get dressed. It's not about bravery, which I will concede to that soldier, but...what choice did he have?!? Sadly, he is living in a situation where he could be slaughtered in his sleep. And all anyone wants to talk about is the bravado of the U.S. Army. That idiot Gates:

"I can only wonder about the impact on the Taliban. Just imagine seeing that: a guy in pink boxers and flip-flops has you in his cross-hairs. What an incredible innovation in psychological warfare."

  Yahoo

Jesus H. Christ, you moron. I can only wonder about your judgment. Do you imagine that the Taliban are as juvenile as you? In fact, if that would work, then why the hell don't we put all our soldiers in pink boxers and flip-flops?

"Incredible innovation in psychological warfare." Asshat.


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


What She Said

Three American soldiers were killed and nine others wounded Thursday in a bombing attack in an Indiana-like Baghdad market, just because the Bush/Cheney misadministration wanted to justify taking Saddam out/increase their approval ratings after letting 3000 + of our citizens get vaporized on 9/11.

  WTF


Housing Detainees

Rachel Maddow says scary music frightened Democrats away from closing Guantanamo.

But Hardin, Montana, isn't afraid.

Rachel Maddow's segment shows Harry Reid saying that the American people have clearly stated they don't want terrorists released in the US. When a reporter says that we're not talking about releasing them, we're talking about imprisoning them here, Reid says, "You can't imprison them without releasing them." What???

Maddow also showed a clip of Diane Feinstein talking up the safety of California's "correctional" facilities in an effort to convince her colleagues that we can easily and effectively house Gitmo detainees in the US, and then voting to strip the funding to close Gitmo!

I think we should fund a study to find out what's in the air in the capitol building.


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


P.S. I heard James Inhoffe (R-OK) on the radio yesterday saying that it only costs $4,000 a year for us to maintain the prison at Guantanamo, so that's a bargain. Why are people permitted to get away with that kind of nonsense? (Actually, we are paying that much a month (cheap!) just to rent the land, and that says nothing of the actual cost of maintaining the prison. But that $4,000 a year figure seems to be a popular idea. And by the way, Cuba hasn't cashed those rent checks. Apparently they cashed one by mistake, so maybe that's why Inhoffe claims it only costs us $4,000 a year. Ha. If that's his angle, he's still wrong. It would be only a few dollars, considering $4,000 spread out over all the years we've had the land. I suspect he's just another idiot repeating something he heard or saw and never bothered to think about. And/or he's counting on the fact that a lot of the idiots hearing him won't think about it. At any rate, the actual yearly cost of maintaining Gitmo is about $100 million - a far, far cry from $4,000.)

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. --Mark Twain


A Clever Plan - Or a Fortunate Opportunity

DIANE FEINSTEIN: The laws of war very clearly say that you can keep a combatant in detention for the length of the conflict. Now this is a bit of an unusual war in that sense, but it is, in fact, a war and it is going to go on

  Hullabaloo

Thank god for permanent war, eh?

DIGBY: I know it's a mess, but the fact is that this isn't really that difficult, except in the usual beltway kabuki political sense. There are literally tens of thousands of potential terrorists all over the world who could theoretically harm America. We cannot protect ourselves from that possibility by keeping the handful we have in custody locked up forever, whether in Guantanamo or some Super Max prison in the US. It's patently absurd to obsess over these guys like it makes us even the slightest bit safer to have them under indefinite lock and key so they "can't kill Americans." The mere fact that we are doing this makes us less safe because the complete lack of faith we show in our constitution and our justice systems is what fuels the idea that this country is weak and easily terrified.[...] There is not some finite number of terrorists we can kill or capture and then the "war" will be over and the babies will always be safe. This whole concept is nonsensical.

Nonsensical, but powerful and widespread.

The real terrorists, I'm afraid, are the self-serving hawks who promise to explode a political dirty bomb in the halls of the capitol every time someone tries to be sensible about American foreign policy and national security. They are still running things. They have always run things.

And let me speculate. They always will run things.

And yesterday…

[The Senate voted] 86-3 in favor of continuing funding for wars in Iraq, Afghanistan.

  Raw Story


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


Voting against the measure were Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.


Change

There's very little worth saying about the speech Dick Cheney delivered after Obama's. It's just the same recycled, extremist neoconservative pablum that drove the U.S. into the deep ditch in which it currently finds itself. The central Cheneyite claim -- they were right because they prevented another Terrorist attack on the Homeland -- is so patently ludicrous, since (a) they presided over 9/11; (b) the post-9/11 anthrax attacks happened "on their watch"; (c) Clinton "kept the country safe" for almost 8 years after the first World Trade Center attack (and, therefore, by Cheney's reasoning, Clinton's terrorism approach must have been optimal); and (d) it assumes without demonstrating that we're unable to defend ourselves unless we torture people, spy without warrants, and generally act like lawless, barbaric cretins.

[...]

[E]ven as he paid repeated homage to "our values" and "our timeless ideals,” [in his speech, Obama] demanded the power (albeit with unspecified judicial and Congressional oversight) to keep people in prison with no charges or proof of any crime having been committed, all while emphasizing that this "war" will continue for at least ten years.

[...]

The speech was fairly representative of what Obama typically does: effectively defend some important ideals in a uniquely persuasive way and advocating some policies that promote those ideals (closing Guantanamo, banning torture tactics, limiting the state secrets privilege) while committing to many which plainly violate them (indefinite preventive detention schemes, military commissions, denial of habeas rights to Bagram abductees, concealing torture evidence, blocking judicial review on secrecy grounds).

[...]

The fact that it's all wrapped up in eloquent rhetoric about the rule of law, our Constitution and our "timeless values" -- and the fact that his understanding of those values is more evident than his predecessor's -- only heightens the concern.

[...]

In other words, arguments and rhetoric that were once confined to Fox News/Bush-following precincts will now become mainstream Democratic argumentation in service of defending what Obama is doing. That's the most harmful part of this -- it trains the other half of the citizenry to now become fervent admirers and defenders of some rather extreme presidential "war powers."

[...]

The fact that a Democratic President who ran on a platform of restoring Constitutional principles -- along with huge hordes of his supporters -- will now advocate creating and institutionalizing a system of indefinite detentions with no trial and no charges of lawbreaking (not only for current detainees but also future ones) is a pretty remarkable event.

  Glenn Greenwald

I must say that this Truth Commission thing that Obama seems to oppose, for which some of the top liberal bloggers are chastising him, concerns me as well. Maybe for different reasons than it concerns Obama. I’m not automatically all for it, because I don’t like the part where they offer immunity from prosecution to anyone who will testify to the commission. That seems to me to be something that should be a last resort used only in the course of a trial following a serious criminal investigation.


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


Soldier Conviction

In March 2006, after an afternoon of card playing, sex talk and drinking Iraqi whiskey, Pfc. Green and three other soldiers went to the home of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi near Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Green shot and killed the teen's mother, father and sister, then became the third soldier to rape the girl before shooting her in the face. Her body was then set on fire.

Federal jurors who convicted Green of rape and murder deliberated for more than 10 hours over two days on whether to give Green a death sentence or life in prison without parole. Since they could not unanimously agree on either sentence, life in prison had to be the verdict.

"It's the better of two bad choices," said his father, John Green, who sighed as the verdict was read.

  Yahoo

I wonder what he thinks a good choice would be. Lucky for him we aren’t under Old Testament law of an eye for an eye.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tightening Nancy's Noose

Porter Goss, the former GOP Congressman who was in the room with Nancy Pelosi during their 2002 CIA briefing on interrogations, is declining through a spokesperson to say whether the two of them were told that enhanced interrogation techniques had been used.

  The Plum Line

Ouch.


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


SNAFU

An anonymous source told NPR that in April and May of 2002 CIA contractor James Mitchell sought approval on a daily basis for so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” via top-secret cables to the CIA’s counterterrorism center. The CIA forwarded those cables to the White House, according to National Public Radio, and Gonzales would approve the technique, thus granting a legal basis for Mitchell’s actions – in theory at least.

Yesterday, the CIA sent the ACLU a document that corroborates the source’s account.

[...]

Last week, former FBI interrogator Ali Soufan told Congress that CIA contractors “had to keep requesting authorization to use harsher and harsher methods.” Zubaydah,

[...]

Spencer Ackerman, writing for the Washington Independent, notes that at the time of these early Zubaydah interrogations Gonzales wasn’t “the chief legal official for the government.”

“He was the president’s lawyer, powerless to bless the actions of a federal agency like the CIA,” Ackerman writes.

[...]

“I can’t believe the CIA would have settled for a piece of paper from the counsel to the president,” [another] former government official told NPR. “If that were true,” says the former official, “then the whole legal and policy review process from April through August would have been a complete charade.”

[...]

[A]ccording to Bradford Berenson, who worked in the White House counsel’s office under President Bush. “These were highly unusual and extraordinary times after 9/11.”

  Raw Story

And if we can’t torture in “highly unusual and extraordinary times,” then when can we?


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


Just What We Need - More Armed Idiots in Public Places

House approves guns in national parks

Texas Senate OKs guns on college campuses


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


The Big Dick

This is an extremely gullible man who has just come off being the driving ideological force in an administration that most people can already see produced more fiascos and titanic, self-inflicted goofs than possibly any in our entire history. By any standard the guy is a monumental failure -- and not one whose mistakes stem in some Lyndon Johnson fashion from tragic overreach, but just a fool who damaged his country through his own gullibility, paranoia and bad judgment. Whatever else you can say about the Cheney story it ain't Shakespearean.

So as we see the big reporters trying to put him on some sort of equal footing with President Obama today, let's remember that the great majority of Americans see Dick Cheney, accurately, as a clown. And mockery isn't just the most effective but also the most morally apt response to the man.

  TPM

A clown who nearly brought down the whole circus.



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


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Torture

According to [Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Yvonne ] Bradley, when [her client Binyam] Mohamed was first held at a CIA prison in Morocco, “They started this monthly treatment where they would come in with a scalpel or a razor type of instrument and they would slash his genitals, just with small cuts.”

Following that torture, Mohamed confessed that he had attended an al Qaeda training camp and discussed plans to make a dirty bomb. He also answered “No” to the question, “While in U.S. military custody have you been treated in any way that you would consider abusive?”

Now Bradley believes, “This has nothing to do about national security, it has to do with national embarrassment.”

In February, when Mohamed was still being held at Guantanamo, she wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian saying, “It is worth bearing in mind that all charges against Binyam have been dropped.

  Raw Story


In the Ring Tomorrow:

Dueling torture speeches.

In this corner…..Barack Obama!

Obama advisers are comparing Thursday’s speech to his big-picture Georgetown University speech on the economy last month — not intended necessarily to produce “hard news” but a sustained effort to describe and defend his policies and the political and intellectual assumptions behind them.

  Politico

Good luck with that.

And in this corner…..the Big Dick!

Cheney will be speaking at 10:45 a.m. on “Keeping America Safe: An Address by Dick Cheney.”

That one’s easy. Don’t let her go in the woods with Dick.


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


Support Our Troops

We still have as many soldiers in Iraq as we did before the surge.

[...]

By this point, we should not be surprised to realize that the media, after a brief flurry of coverage, quickly dropped the story of John Russell, the Army sergeant being treated for mental issues, who gunned down five colleagues at a stress clinic in Baghdad earlier this month.

[...]

Nearly one in five American soldiers deployed in Iraq suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to an oft-cited RAND Corp. study. Use of anti-depressants in the war zones is widespread, a first in American wars.

  TPM


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


A Hero for Florida

New blood in Congress. Meet Representative Alan Grayson.

In 2007, Vanity Fair’s David Rose wrote about an ambitious lawyer and entrepreneur named Alan Grayson, who at the time was suing KBR and other defense contractors in Iraq for alleged fraud on behalf of whistleblowers and American taxpayers. Grayson, who ran for Congress unsuccessfully in 2006, ran again in 2008, and this time was elected to represent Florida’s 8th district, which encompasses part of Orlando.

[...]

[H]e was quoted in a New York Times article last week about the increasing impatience of liberal Democrats in Congress with the process of winding down these occupations [of Iraq and Afghanistan]. “There is no need in the 21st century to do this, to make us safe,” Grayson told the Times. “This is a 19th-century strategy being played out at great expense in both money and blood in the 21st century, in the wrong time at the wrong place.”

[...]

Life does not consist of a Risk board game, where you try to occupy every space on the planet. There’s no other country that does this, there’s no other country that seeks to occupy foreign countries 8,000 miles from their own border, and believe that that somehow accomplishes anything useful. It doesn’t. If in fact it’s important to our national security to keep al-Qaeda or the Taliban under control, there are far more effective ways of accomplishing that goal, if that is in fact the goal, than to extend this kind of money and this kind of blood.

This is something that Democrats said when they were in the opposition repeatedly, and that truth hasn’t changed at all just because we elected a president. You can always find some kind of excuse to do what you want to do anyway, but I have to wonder why a new Democratic president wants to do something like this. This is a president who has recognized the immorality of torture, and I’m waiting for him to recognize the immorality of war and foreign occupation.

  Vanity Fair

Just don’t hold your breath while you wait. And watch your back down there.

Bear in mind, this is an enemy with no army, no air force, no navy. We didn’t have to put in this kind of effort when we were facing the Soviet Union, with over 10,000 nuclear weapons. Why do we have to put in this effort, and bear this expense, and move these many lives against an enemy with no forces that it can put in the field? The C.I.A. has said that the total number of foreign fighters in Iraq—not the people whom we provoked to fight against us—the total number of foreign fighters in Iraq is 800. So now, for six years, we have had 150,000 American soldiers chasing 800 people—they haven’t found them. So what is the chance that another six years is going to solve that problem, or for that matter another 60 years? It’s fundamentally not working, and we can’t afford it anymore. So for our own sake we have to end it.

But not for the sake of oil and military industry, which I have to assume is who we’re doing this for. Oh. And apparently for the sake of having a “war president” who can claim victories.

I’m concerned that we are not heading in the right direction. The right direction is not in. It’s out.

Even with the developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Especially—I mean, for goodness’ sake, how could you justify occupying Afghanistan or Pakistan and not justify occupying Saudi Arabia? There’s far more extremist, fundamentalist Islamic activity in Saudi Arabia than there is in Afghanistan and Pakistan combined. And it’s far better financed.

But Saudi Arabia has a more stable government.

Is that what’s it’s all about? Then why are we not occupying Somalia? Why are we not occupying Burma? Why are not occupying Rwanda? If we are suddenly the ones who guarantee the stability of governments good or bad, why are we not occupying Burkina Faso?

Patience, Mr. Grayson. Patience.


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


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It's Been a While. So....TREAT


The Change I Believe We Got

Depicted by Tom Toles:



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


More on Hersh - Cheney Hit Squad

[Hersh] said Gen McChrystal had run a special forces unit that engaged in “high value target activity”, but “while I have been critical of some of that unit’s activities in the pages of the New Yorker and in interviews, I have never suggested that he was involved in political assassinations or death squads on behalf of Mr Cheney, as the published stories state.” He regretted that none of the publications had contacted him before carrying the report. “This is another example of blogs going bonkers with misleading and fabricated stories and professional journalists repeating such rumours without doing their job – and that is to verify such rumours.”

  Daily Times

"Engaged in high value target activity?" That's not a hit squad?

If I were spreading word about a hit squad's leader and implicating a man who shot a "friend" in a "hunting accident", I'd be keen to publicly disavow having said anything, too.


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


Another Campaign Promise on Hold

President Barack Obama's allies in the Senate will not provide funds to close the Guantanamo Bay prison next January, a top Democratic official said Tuesday.

With debate looming on Obama's spending request to cover military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the official says Democrats will deny the Pentagon and Justice Department $80 million to relocate Guantanamo's 240 detainees.

  Yahoo


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


Monday, May 18, 2009

Oh Yeah

[CIA Director Leon] Panetta insisted that “CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing ‘the enhanced techniques that had been employed. … We are an agency of high integrity, professionalism and dedication. … Our task is to tell it like it is.”

  Raw Story

Known around the world for such integrity and open honesty.


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


??



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


(pic from TPM)

This Could Be Interesting

A coalition of activist groups has filed disciplinary complaints in four states and the District of Columbia calling for the disbarment of twelve lawyers they say are associated with the Bush administration’s position on torture.

[...]

The complaints were filed against former White House Legal Counsel attorneys John Yoo, Jay Bybee (pictured above right) and Stephen Bradbury; former Attorney Generals Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft and Michael Mukasey; former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney David Addington, Alice Fisher, William Haynes II, Douglas Feith and Timothy Flanigan with the state bars in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Texas and Pennsylvania.

  Raw Story


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


Cheney Hit Squad?

Update 2:

[Hersh] said Gen McChrystal had run a special forces unit that engaged in “high value target activity”, but “while I have been critical of some of that unit’s activities in the pages of the New Yorker and in interviews, I have never suggested that he was involved in political assassinations or death squads on behalf of Mr Cheney, as the published stories state.” He regretted that none of the publications had contacted him before carrying the report. “This is another example of blogs going bonkers with misleading and fabricated stories and professional journalists repeating such rumours without doing their job – and that is to verify such rumours.”

  Daily Times

Update:

In a telephone conversation with RAW STORY, Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh refuted reports that he told an Arab television network former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

[...]

The only Arab television channel to interview Hersh recently is Gulf News, which spoke to him during the Arab Media Forum in Dubai. In the interview, Hersh does not even mention Bhutto’s name, but does condemn former Vice President Cheney for running an “executive assassination ring” which carried out operations all over the world.

[...]

“In Cheney’s view this isn’t murder, but carrying out the ‘war on terror,’” he said. “And in the view of me and my friends, including people in government, this is crazy. The vice president is committing a crime. You can’t authorize the murder of people. And it’s not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s in a lot of other countries, in the Middle East and in South Asia and North Africa and even central America.”

[...]

“If true, these operations violate longstanding U.S. policy regarding covert actions and illegally bypass Congressional oversight,” said Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), in reaction to the allegation. “Hersh is within a year or more of releasing a book that is said to include evidence of this allegation. However, we cannot wait a year or more to establish the truth.”

  Raw Story

What’s one more?

I didn't read the Nation article as saying that Hersh accused Cheney of Bhuto's murder, but only that he said websites around the world were speculating that he did. (I'm having a deja vu about writing this post before. I hate it when that happens.) Apparently, however, it's been interpreted that way enough for Hersh to refute it.


Original post:

The Nation is talking about claims that Cheney's hit squad targeted both Lebanese Prime Minister Rafique Al Hariri and former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto. And that the hit squad was led by General Stanley McChrystal, the newly-appointed commander of US army in Afghanistan. We do know that McChrystal was near the top in the torture scenario.

It would be hard to overestimate the evil of Dick Cheney, but I'll reserve judgment on these claims for now - public judgment at least.



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


It Was All Rumsfeld's Fault

Well, you know I detested Der Rumsfiend. But I shouldn't want to make him teh fallguy and let the rest of the c@#%@#kers go free.

The article in GQ about Rumsfeld adds to the free-for-all that is becoming the GOP/Bush-Cheney cabal’s attempt to run for cover under the hailstorm of revelations coming out about their conduct. (This is precisely why it was so important for them to hold the White House – and why I’m surprised that they did not find a way to do it. Corporate hands must have felt that they couldn’t afford the crashing economy – let the chips fall where they may. )

Rumsfeld is apparently going to be their new scapegoat. Once they lost control of the gate, Libby couldn’t be expected to be enough to satisfy the wolves. The Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen has picked out a specific passage concerning Rumsfeld’s refusal to send troops to New Orleans for an entire week after Katrina.

I would suggest that Rumsfeld buy land in Argentina, if he hasn’t already. On the other hand, these criminals would probably have a better chance of staying out of prison if they stay on American soil. At least here they can be assured of a presidential pardon.


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


The Bush Crusades - Part II

Jon Turley comments on the Rumsfeld/Bush briefings:

The covers read like a Sunday school workbook for an adolescent student.

Well?

Slideshow of the covers. Absolutely outrageous.


Sheesh!

Scottish Americans are outraged this morning with a story of a Utah principal who told Gavin McFarland, 14, that his wearing a kilt at a high school was inappropriate and might constitute “cross dressing.” The result has been a scene out of Braveheart: The Battle for Rocky Mountain Junior High where principal Craig Jessop has replaced Longshanks as the freedom-crushing tyrant. Just wait until Jessop learns that the Scottish call to arms is Alba gu bra!

[...]

McFarland was wearing his kilt as part of an art project but he comes from a proud Scottish family. Jessop has been told by the school district to apologize but, once on the march, Scots are a fierce people.

  Jonathan Turley

Forget the defense of the kilt as being masculine attire. Why can’t guys wear skirts if they want? WTF? Clothing that is appropriate for school is appropriate for either sex. “Cross dressing” should be banned? Then the girls are going to have to give up pants, folks. This is a no-brainer should it get into a court of law, Jessop. How did you get your credentials to be a principal? Don't you have to have some higher education for that?


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


A Mid-East Scholar Corrects US Media/Politicians

Not that they'll pay any attention.

[Israelis] were convinced that a US overthrow of Saddam Hussein would change the Middle East in their favor. It has not (Hizbullah in Lebanon has new friends in Baghdad, as does Tehran). Obama must impress on them that the answer to every problem is not a bombing raid. The good thing about having Rahm Emmanuel in the White House is that he will be able to phrase the instruction colorfully enough for it to be understood unambiguously.

[...]

The Iranian government is hostile to Israel and wishes that the Zionist enterprise would collapse the way the Soviet Union or the shah's government did. But it has said that it would accept a two-state solution if that was what the Palestinians wanted. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never threatened to 'wipe Israel off the face of the map,' since there is not even such an idiom in Persian. He was talking about an ideological collapse of a Zionist regime and its occupation of Jerusalem, Islam's third holiest city. Iran has not launched an aggressive war possibly since Karim Khan Zand took Basra in the 1780s.

Netanyahu's plan to attack Iran's nuclear facilities would fail, and would only cause Iran actually to seek nukes, which it is not presently doing according to US intelligence.

  Informed Comment

And frankly, if I were running a small country, considering the history of US aggression around the globe - even its involvement in political and military affairs - and I could get myself a nuclear weapon, I would. Like having a bouncer in your bar.


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


Who's the Boss?

It is the most fateful encounter of two world leaders since Kennedy met Khrushchev. And Obama absolutely must not allow himself to be cowed or misunderstood as timid by Netanyahu, who is a notorious bully and warmonger. (Bill Clinton complained that Netanyahu when last prime minister thought that he was the superpower).

  Informed Comment

Maybe what Bill Clinton was overlooking is that it’s not whether you’re the superpower, but whether you control the superpower. And it certainly appears from my window seat that Israel controls U.S. foreign policy, and by extension, her military.

The two come to the encounter with starkly different agendas for the Middle East. Obama wants better relations with Iran (which he needs for a clean withdrawal from Iraq and for success in Afghanistan). And Obama wants to be the president who finally established a Palestinian state, implemented a two-state solution, and resolved the long-running Arab-Israeli conflict, which has generated so many wars and so much terrorism and instability. (As I have said before, the key problem in all this is Palestinian statelessness.)

Netanyahu on the other hand wants to attack Iran and attempt to destroy its nuclear enrichment research facilities. And he absolutely does not under any circumstances want a Palestinian state or to be forced to withdraw Israeli squatters from the Palestinian territories that they have been colonizing since 1967.

So then, we should be able to easily judge who controls the superpower, now we have our benchmarks. Let the game begin.


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


Sunday, May 17, 2009

More Light on the Bush Crusade

ON THE MORNING OF Thursday, April 10, 2003, Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon prepared a top-secret briefing for George W. Bush. This document, known as the Worldwide Intelligence Update, was a daily digest of critical military intelligence so classified that it circulated among only a handful of Pentagon leaders and the president; Rumsfeld himself often delivered it, by hand, to the White House. The briefing’s cover sheet generally featured triumphant, color images from the previous days’ war efforts: On this particular morning, it showed the statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down in Firdos Square, a grateful Iraqi child kissing an American soldier, and jubilant crowds thronging the streets of newly liberated Baghdad. And above these images, and just below the headline SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, was a quote that may have raised some eyebrows. It came from the Bible, from the book of Psalms: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him…To deliver their soul from death.”

[...]

On March 31, a U.S. tank roared through the desert beneath a quote from Ephesians: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” On April 7, Saddam Hussein struck a dictatorial pose, under this passage from the First Epistle of Peter: “It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”

These cover sheets were the brainchild of Major General Glen Shaffer, a director for intelligence serving both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense. In the days before the Iraq war, Shaffer’s staff had created humorous covers in an attempt to alleviate the stress of preparing for battle. Then, as the body counting began, Shaffer, a Christian, deemed the biblical passages more suitable.

[...]

At least one Muslim analyst in the building had been greatly offended; others privately worried that if these covers were leaked during a war conducted in an Islamic nation, the fallout—as one Pentagon staffer would later say—“would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.”

[...]

When colleagues complained to Shaffer that including a religious message with an intelligence briefing seemed inappropriate, Shaffer politely informed them that the practice would continue, because “my seniors”—JCS chairman Richard Myers, Rumsfeld, and the commander in chief himself—appreciated the cover pages.

  GQ


Update:

Dependable Renegade has a picture of one of these crusade brochures here. And a clever animated picture at the top of the left sidebar.

Further Update


Axis of Evil Comedy Tour


Saturday, May 16, 2009

I Repeat....Ooops

AP reports that the number of Christians in Iraq has fallen from 1.4 million in 1989 to as few as 400,000 today, largely as a result of the violence that ensued after the 2003 US invasion of that country.

  Informed Comment

Thanks George!


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


Pakistan, Here We Come

Juan Cole wraps up the scenario happening at this moment that would surprise me if it doesn't lead us into Pakistan to liberate their nukes. I saw him a bit on Bill Moyers last night, and I thought he was saying then that the deal about Pakistan not being able to protect itself from the Taliban is utter B.S. In this article, however, he gives me reason to believe we will be there later, if not sooner.


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


Update 5/22/09


The Game

Many have suggested that Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) of Utah, whose sanity and 21st century views have set him apart from many in today's GOP, as a potential presidential candidate in 2012. But that probably just became much less likely as tomorrow he'll resign the governorship and accept President Obama's nomination to serve as Ambassador to China.

  TPM

Check. Move goes to GOP.


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


Nicely Put

Nancy Pelosi said that the CIA failed to tell her about waterboarding in secret briefings, the CIA says it did. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what the secret briefings are for: so that both sides can claim whatever it’s convenient to claim about what took place in them. It’s a feature, not a bug.

  WIIIAI


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


Friday, May 15, 2009

Jesus Has Left the Building

Okay all you Christofascists who think Iraq is so much better off …. How’s this strike you?

Iraq has lost more than half the Christians who once called it home, mostly since the war began, and few who fled have plans to return, The Associated Press has learned.

  Sun Times


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


Jesus Wept

According to a new report in Vanity Fair, the so-called Sunni Awakening, which has been credited with ending the Sunni insurgency and thus making possible the success of the 2007 surge in Iraq, could have taken place as early as 2004.

[...]

According to writer David Rose, “The Sunni insurgents had offered to come to terms with the Americans 30 months earlier, in the summer of 2004, during secret talks with senior U.S. officials and military commanders. … For a variety of reasons, some of them petty, some of them ideological, and some of them still obscure, these men were blocked by superiors in the State Department, the Pentagon, and the White House.”

  Raw Story


Jesus, Joseph and Mary

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS

Take Houston's heat on a miserable summer day and add 40 degrees, making temperatures 130 or more.

Next, add an extra 100 pounds of life-protecting gear to your body: bulletproof vests, guns and ammunition.

And then imagine not having enough water around to drink.

[...]

According to an Army Fort Bragg training document on preventing heat casualties in desert climates, water losses can reach 15 liters, or four gallons, per day per soldier. Additionally, Survival, a 1957 Department of the Army field manual, states "in hot deserts, you need a minimum of one gallon (of water) per day" just to survive.

[...]

"We were rationed two bottles of water a day," said Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Robey, referring to 1 to 1.5 liter bottles.

[...]

In 2003, he said soldiers were given what was the equivalent of only a half gallon of water to survive on a day - all while dodging bullets in the blistering heat.

[...]

But what about getting water from what the military calls "water buffaloes," storage trucks that are supposed to bring purified water to the troops in the field?

A number of soldiers told 11 News that it was often difficult to locate these trucks, partly because they say there was a shortage of them. In addition, many soldiers claim that a lot of the water dispensed by these vehicles was so heavily treated with chemicals that "no one could keep it down."

Robey said eventually they became desperate.

"It really hit me the day I was with my commander and we're stealing water," Robey said, describing how they raided supplies at the Baghdad International Airport.

[...]

It was in the hands of civilian contractors, who Robey claims were supposed to be distributing it to soldiers.

[...]

Private Bryan Hannah recalled a troubling situation in 2007

Private Hannah: "My sergeant told my lieutenant we didn't have enough water and he said go find some

11 News: "What does 'go find some' mean?"

Private Hannah: "It means 'if you don't want to die, then go find some water.'"

Hannah and fellow soldiers did just that, finding it once again at a civilian contractor facility.

"We'd just run out and start grabbing cases of water and start throwing them in the gunner's hatch," said Hannah.

  Truth Out

I’m beginning to despise everything about this fucking war and its fucking planners and commanders in chief.

11 News identified another problem with water in Iraq - dirty water in sinks and showers soldiers used.

[...]

You can eat Subway, Burger King, you can buy a $1,200 Oakley watch, but you can't have clean water to brush your teeth with.

[...]

"This sounds like something that definitely needs to be looked into," said Dr. Stephen Fadem, a kidney specialist with Kidney Associates PLLC, who also teaches at the Veterans Administration.

Ya think?!?

Turns out, at many similar bases, the water was supposed to be processed by Houston-based company KBR. In an internal KBR report, the company sites "massive programmatic issues" with water for personal hygiene dating back to 2005.

[...]

"That water was two to three times as contaminated as the water out of the Euphrates River," said former KBR employee Ben Carter.

[...]

[I]nstead of using chlorinated water, the soldiers' sinks and showers were pouring out untreated wastewater.

[...]

kidney stones have become such a widespread problem among the troops that the military has set up a medical treatment center in Iraq to treat them.

Halliburton. Of course.

11 News asked military officials about the water problems in Iraq. In a statement by the Multi-National Force in Iraq press office states: "We have a proven system that works. Commanders at all levels do their utmost to provide the necessary resources required to sustain the force."

I don’t even have the words for this.


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


Jesus H. Christ on a Cracker

Four U.S. contractors affiliated with the company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide fired on an approaching civilian vehicle in Kabul earlier this month, wounding at least two Afghan civilians, according to the company and the U.S. military.

The off-duty contractors were involved in a car accident around 9 p.m. on May 5 and fired on the approaching vehicle they believed to be a threat, according to the U.S. military. At least some of the men, who were former military personnel, had been drinking alcohol that evening, according to a person familiar with the incident. Off-duty contractors aren't supposed to carry weapons or drink alcohol.

[...]

[Xe] is the name Blackwater chose earlier this year to distance itself from its controversial security work in Iraq.

  WSJ

A rose by any other name...


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


Jesus H. Christ

The Bush legacy just goes on and on.

Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation insures a portion of the retirement funds of 44 million Americans to protect their savings accounts from the capriciousness of market conditions.

  TPM

Not long after his Social Security privatization scheme went down in flames, President Bush appointed Charles Millard the head of the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation. And the former Lehman executive decided to invest a good bit of it into the stock market and real estate. This was back in 2007 and 2008. So obviously billions of pension insurance dollars disappeared into thin air.

That was where things stood before investigators looked at it and saw a suspicion pattern of communications with big investment houses just before Millard piled tons of money into their funds. And now senators are asking for a criminal investigation.

  TPM


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


Support Our Troops

Hahahaha...Dad thinks it's funny - laughed for five minutes - media think it's a cute story. Yeah, it's real fucking funny that our kids are in a war zone under attack and can't sleep without being under attack so quick and close that they don't even have time to get dressed or put on shoes. That just cracks me up.

I bet Dad wouldn't be laughing if the kid had needed to try to run across those rocks in those flip-flops to save his life and couldn't do it.


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


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bush-Cheney's Need to Torture

…by Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Republican and former chief of staff of the Department of State during the term of Secretary of State Colin Powell.

[The] administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.

So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney's office that their detainee "was compliant" (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa'ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, "revealed" such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.

There in fact were no such contacts. (Incidentally, al-Libi just "committed suicide" in Libya.)

  TPM

Getting rid of the evidence.


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


We Could Learn a Lot from Hitler

And apparently have. Nazi Youth? Good deal. And those uncivilized terrorist countries with their child soldiers? You bet. The Boy Scouts of America has returned to its roots.

Update 5/15:

Boy Scouts served as crowd control at the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson in 1913.[...] During the war, radio transmitters were regulated, and Scouts were called to look for unauthorized units. Scouts were used as message runners, coast watchers, and were to be alert for men who had not reported for duty.[...] They collected fruit pits to be processed into charcoal for gas masks and inventoried black walnut trees for use as propellers and gun stocks. - Wikipedia


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


I Can't Keep Up

I don't know where we're going to land on the Nancy Pelosi torture briefings deal. First I was reading reports that she said she was only briefed that they were thinking about using waterboarding at some possible future date. Then I read that she said she knew it was being used, but she didn't say anything out of "respect for proper legislative channels." And now she's saying she was told it was not being used. Sheesh. I said, and I still say, "Dump her."


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


Change We Can Believe In

The Obama administration has already adopted extreme executive privilege arguments that dwarfed the arguments of George Bush. It has moved to kill dozens of citizens lawsuits to uncover criminal acts of the government. This week, it refused (despite a court ruling) to release embarrassing photos of detainee abuse. Now, in the continue morphing with the prior Administration, Barack Obama is considering a continuation of the Bush policy of indefinitely detaining suspects without trial.

  Jonathan Turley

Maybe that “change” he talked about so much was a change in intensity of executive privilege and destruction of civil liberties.


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


Obama's Retreat

With the first report of Obama’s retreat on the release of “abuse” photos, I questioned his remark that doing so would have a “chilling effect on future investigations.” I simply asked, “How?”

Dan Froomkin asks the same question and supplies the administration’s response.

Said Obama: "Moreover, I fear the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse."

But how so? Under questioning, press secretary Robert Gibbs failed miserably to explain that particular rationale at yesterday's press briefing.

"[I]f in each of these instances somebody looking into detainee abuse takes evidentiary photos in a case that's eventually concluded, this could provide a tremendous disincentive to take those photos and investigate that abuse," Gibbs said.

Q. "Wait, try that once again. I don't follow you. Where's the disincentive?"

Gibbs: "The disincentive is in the notion that every time one of these photos is taken, that it's going to be released. Nothing is added by the release of the photo, right? The existence of the investigation is not increased because of the release of the photo; it's just to provide, in some ways, a sensationalistic portion of that investigation.

"These are all investigations that were undertaken by the Pentagon and have been concluded. I think if every time somebody took a picture of detainee abuse, if every time that -- if any time any of those pictures were mandatorily going to be necessarily released, despite the fact that they were being investigated, I think that would provide a disincentive to take those pictures and investigate."

Get that? Yeah, me neither.

  WaPo White House Watch

And McClatchy’s Margaret Taley and Jonathan Landay call bullshit on Obama himself, which is exactly where it should be called:

"The request for what's effectively a legal do-over is an unlikely step for a president who is trained as a constitutional lawyer, advocated greater government transparency and ran for election as a critic of his predecessor's secretive approach toward the handling of terrorism detainees.”

  McClatchy

Let’s hope the courts stand firm on this.


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