Sunday, January 31, 2010

Guarding the Wrong Gate

Glenn Greenwald reminds us how far we have gone toward destruction of what we once held up as essential Americanism. He quotes the terrorism policy of the man whom we considered perhaps the president furthest to the right ever, Ronald Reagan:

"Another important measure we have developed in our overall strategy is applying the rule of law to terrorists. Terrorists are criminals. They commit criminal actions like murder, kidnapping, and arson, and countries have laws to punish criminals. So a major element of our strategy has been to delegitimize terrorists, to get society to see them for what they are -- criminals -- and to use democracy’s most potent tool, the rule of law against them."

Of course we have gone so far right of Reagan that I’m not sure we can’t legitimately be called fascist. Certainly we are well into the realm of Banana Republicanism.

It was also Ronald Reagan who signed the Convention Against Torture in 1988 -- after many years of countless, horrific Terrorist attacks -- which not only declared that there are "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever" justifying torture, but also required all signatory countries to "ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law" and -- and Reagan put it -- "either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution."

[...]

In the wake of extreme political pressure, mostly from Democrats, the White House just forced Eric Holder to retreat on his decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City, and numerous Democrats now appear prepared to join with the GOP to cut-off funding for civilian trials altogether, forcing the administration to try all Terrorists in military commissions or just hold them indefinitely.

[...]

The Washington Post is publishing demands from former Bush CIA and NSA Chief Michael Hayden -- who presided over the blatantly criminal warrantless eavesdropping program -- that Obama must even more closely model his Terrorism policies on Bush's, as though the architects of Bush's illegal policies are our Guiding Lights when deciding what to do now. Even Obama's own top intelligence official criticized the Justice Department's decision to treat Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as what he is -- a criminal -- and accord him normal due process.

[...]

Merely advocating what Reagan explicitly adopted as his policy -- "to use democracy’s most potent tool, the rule of law against" Terrorists -- is now the exclusive province of civil liberties extremists. In those rare cases when Obama does what Reagan's policy demanded [...] he is attacked as being "Soft on Terror" by Democrats and Republicans alike. And the mere notion that we should prosecute torturers (as Reagan bound the U.S. to do) [...] is now the hallmark of a Far Leftist Purist. That's how far we've fallen, how extremist our political consensus has become.

[...]

Indeed, what was once the most basic and defining American principle -- the State [must] charge someone with a crime and give them a fair trial in order to imprison them -- has been magically transformed into Leftist extremism.

Greenwald goes on to compare our current anti-democratic, and clearly illegal, methods with other countries.

Countries which have been victimized by horrific terrorist attacks over the last several years -- Britain, Spain, India, Indonesia -- have tried and convicted the perpetrators as criminals in their civilian court system, right in their normal courthouses, in the heart of the cities that were the target of the attacks. These countries -- which aren't protected by oceans and (in the case of India and Indonesia) aren't bordered by friendly countries -- didn't invent special military commission to abridge due process or simply imprison the accused without a trial. They didn't pour water down their throats, freeze them, disorient them with sleep deprivation, or hang them naked from the ceiling.

And not only is all this in contrast to what we once held to, but to what we still hypocritically proclaim, the outrageousness of which makes my head spin. We clearly have jumped straight into a futuristic dark political bizarro world once only known in countries we demonized or imagined in the political fiction of the likes of Huxley, Vonnegut and Orwell.

The U.S. has, for decades, harshly criticized Libya as one of the most tyrannical and uncivilized regimes on the planet. In 2008, the State Department not only amazingly condemned that country for "torture" (which included such U.S.-embraced methods as "depriving detainees of sleep, food, and water; hanging by the wrists; suspending from a pole inserted between the knees and elbows . . . . threatening with dog attacks"), but also for indefinitely detaining people without trials.

[...]

Consistent with those abuses, Libya just announced its new policy for how it will treat accused Al Qaeda Terrorists -- a policy that should sound quite familiar to all Americans:


Libya will hold up to 300 al Qaeda members in jail indefinitely after they have completed their prison terms to stop them staging fresh attacks, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Thursday.

[...]

At least Libya seems to be indefinitely imprisoning those who were at one time convicted; the U.S., by contrast, is doing so with regard to detainees who have never been charged, let alone convicted, of anything.

When I was a youngster in school during the late 50’s and early 60’s, I had a teacher who was fond of repeatedly frightening us by saying that if we were not vigilant in our stand against Russia, we would go to sleep one night a free country and wake up the next morning communist. We didn’t know what communists really were, but they were defined to us as torturers who would imprison us at the drop of a hat or the word of a neighbor who didn’t like us.

Aside from the need to stand against Russia, and the definition of communism, she seems to have been quite prophetic. While we were being vigilant as to the Russian threat, we weren’t paying attention to the Americans.


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

It's Sunday

From Dwindling in Unbelief:


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

Friday, January 29, 2010

FUBAR

A senior Hamas military commander has been assassinated by Israel in Dubai, the Palestinian Islamist group claims.
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, 50, a founder of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, "died a martyr on 20 January in suspicious circumstances", a statement said.

Hamas gave no further details, but vowed to "retaliate for this Zionist crime at the appropriate moment".

  BBC



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

Okay Then

The California Senate approved creating a government-run health care system for the nation's most populous state on Thursday, ignoring a veto threat from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Supporters said it is time for state legislatures to take up the debate as the Obama Administration's national health care proposal falters in Congress.

  Raw Story


That Was Smart

During a town hall meeting in Tampa today, President Barack Obama touted, as one of the benefits of high-speed rail, that passengers wouldn't have to go through a security check that requires taking off their shoes.

  Politico

Now some Obama hater will be sure to board a train with explosives in his shoe.


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

Change You Can Believe In

Change the "q" in "Iraq" to an "n"...

The Senate passed an Iran sanctions bill on a voice vote tonight that would restrict Iran's import of refined petroleum products. A similar bill has already passed the House.

[...]

Other measues in the bill (S.2799) would "impose a broad ban on direct imports from Iran to the United States and exports from the United States to Iran, exempting food and medicines, require the Obama administration to freeze the assets of Iranians, including Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, who are active in weapons proliferation or terrorism, allow state and local governments and private asset fund managers to easily divest from energy firms doing business with Iran, and strengthen export controls to stop the illegal black market export of sensitive technology to Iran through other countries and impose tough new licensing requirements on those who refuse to cooperate," Reuters reports.

  Politico


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

Shameless

We now preside over a network of 737 known US bases that rings the globe, each a possible launching pad for the projection of American military power anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. [The] would-be world policeman finds himself on the brink of bankruptcy. The American "hyperpower," which once aspired to global hegemony – "benevolent global hegemony," was the soaring phrase neocons William Kristol and Robert Kagan used – shows every indication of going into irreversible decline.

  Justin Raimondo

Indeed. In the president’s SOTU, he announced a freeze on discretionary spending, but none on military spending. In other words, we can still rack up an even more unearthly deficit on our wars, but…

The payoff in budget savings would be small relative to the deficit: The estimated $250 billion in savings over 10 years would be less than 3 percent of the roughly $9 trillion in additional deficits the government is expected to accumulate over that time.

[...]

The freeze would cover the agencies and programs for which Congress allocates specific budgets each year, including air traffic control, farm subsidies, education, nutrition and national parks.

  NYT

Things that have kept us from being another banana republic.


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

As Mark Twain Said...

"The reason we hold truth in such respect is because we have so little opportunity to get familiar with it." Like gold, I suppose.

The President claimed "all" of our troops are coming home from Iraq – this in spite of repeated statements by military commanders and other US officials that at least 50,000 will be staying indefinitely, and will furthermore be engaged in combatoperations alongside the Iraqis.

  Justin Raimondo

I noticed that, too. Of course, he didn't say when. And he didn't say what we would leave behind - maybe it will be "advisors" or maybe even "privatized soldiers".

Oh, but there was never any chance of a Republican yelling out "You lie!" – not this time. Although I had some hope that Dennis Kucinich might be up for it – but, alas, no…

Alas.

Thank God We're Americans

British political news has been consumed for the last several weeks by a formal inquiry into the illegality and deceit behind Tony Blair's decision to join the U.S. in invading Iraq. Today, Blair himself ispublicly testifying before the investigative commission and is being grilled about numerous false claims he made in the run-up to the war, not only about Iraqi weapons programs (his taxi-cab-derived "45-minutes-to-launch!!" warning) and Saddam's ties to Al Qaeda, but also about secret commitments he made to join the U.S. at a time when he and Bush were still pretending that they were undecided and awaiting the outcome of the U.N. negotiations and the inspection process.

  Glenn Greenwald

Well, thank goodness we live in America, where nothing like that will happen to our ex-leaders.

Several weeks ago, a formal investigation in the Netherlands -- whose government had supported the invasion -- produced the first official adjudication of the legality of the war, and found it illegal, with "no basis in international law."

And thank goodness we aren’t beholden to “international law”!

The invasion of Iraq was unquestionably one of the greatest crimes of the last several decades. Imagine what future historians will say about it -- a nakedly aggressive war launched under the falsest of pretenses, in brazen violation of every relevant precept of law, which destroyed an entire country, killed huge numbers of innocent people, and devastated the entire population.[...] History teaches that aggressive war is the greatest and most dangerous of all crimes -- as it enables even worse acts of inhumanity -- and illegal, aggressive war is precisely what we did in Iraq, to great devastation.

In our future history books, if we get control of the oil there, it will have been a success, and success wipes out whatever wrong was done to achieve it. If we don’t get control, then it will simply have been a failed attempt. A failed attempt that did not prevent us trying in other places, and perhaps again at another time.


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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our Loss


As we continue to spiral downward with few passionate socially responsible, progressive voices left...

RIP Howard Zinn


WIIIAI Parses the SOTU

As usual, poignant snark. If it can't be believable, at least it can be amusing.

I didn't even listen to it.


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


Sadly

A Dennis Kucinich will not be president of this country in my lifetime.

Nor will any president pay any attention to him.


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


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And, By the Way...

That CIA claim that waterboarding Abu Zubaydah 83 times actually produced actionable intelligence – it was made up.

[Retired CIA agent John] Kiriakou told ABC News’ Nightline in April, “The next day [after his first time being waterboarded], he told his interrogator that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate.”

“From that day on, he answered every question,” he said, according to ABC. “The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.”

"Now comes John Kiriakou, again, with a wholly different story," Stein noted in Foreign Policy. "On the next-to-last page of a new memoir, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror(written with Michael Ruby), Kiriakou now rather off handedly admits that he basically made it all up."

  Raw Story


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


Vengene Is Mine, Saith the Lord

UPDATE: Ooops. The Lord's quoter was in a hurry this morning. He actually said 'vengeance", and thanks to LaBelle for pointing that out.


And by the Lord, the Bible means the USA.

The Washington Post's Dana Priest today reports that "U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people." That's no surprise, of course, as Yemen is now another predominantly Muslim country (along with Somalia and Pakistan) in which our military is secretly involved to some unknown degree in combat operations without any declaration of war, without any public debate, and arguably (though not clearly) without any Congressional authorization.

  Glenn Greenwald

Iraq, Falluja, Yemen. We have to maintain our reputation of unbridled revenge for acts against us if we are to maintain our top dog status.

The only thing is, it's not really acts against Americans that bothers us. Because in that same Post article, Priest reveals this:

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. . . .

The Obama administration has adopted the same stance.

There are four Americans on their hit list.

I wonder what constitutes strong evidence.


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


Grade Time - Part 2

"I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president," [Obama] told ABC's "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview today.

  ABC

He grades himself pretty high. Self-confidence is nice.

How about an irrelevant one-term president? Because I think that's what's about to be his fate. Although I'm pretty sure his assessment of his term will be better than that.


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


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More of That Change in the Way Washington Does Business

Sold to the highest bidder.

President Barack Obama has picked three of his major campaign donors to fill diplomatic posts to Spain, Norway and the European Union. The three new ambassadors bundled more than $1 million combined toward Obama’s election efforts.

  Media Freedom


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


Grade Time

Mr. Obama has given himself a B+ for his time in office. Professor David Green gives him a resounding F.

One year ago today, there was real question as to what could possibly be the future of the Republican Party in America. That's changed a bit now.

And, speaking of ‘change', the one kind that Barack Obama did actually deliver this year was not that which most voters had in mind after listening to him use the word incessantly, all throughout 2008. Obama and his colleagues have now managed to bring the future of the Democratic Party into question, just a year after it won two smashing victories in a row.

Personally, I'm not real bothered by that. Today's Democrats are, almost without exception, embarrassing hacks who deserved to get stomped a long time ago.

What really upsets me, however, is what these fools have allowed to be done to the name of progressivism, and to the country.

Barack Obama has now, in just a year's time, become the single most inept president perhaps in all of American history, and certainly in my lifetime. Never has so much political advantage been pissed away so rapidly, and what's more in the context of so much national urgency and crisis. It's astonishing, really, to contemplate how much has been lost in a single year.

[...]

[Obama] just talks about things, thinks about things a real long time, defers to others on things, and waits around for things to maybe happen.

[...]

Instead of demanding that [Congress] pass real stimulus legislation - which would have really stimulated the economy, big-time, and right now - he let those dickheads on the Hill just load up a big pork party blivet of a bill with all the pet projects they could find, designed purely to benefit their personal standing with the voters at home, rather than to actually produce jobs for Americans. And on health care, his signature issue, he did the same thing. "You guys write it, and I'll sign the check." Could there possibly be a greater prescription for failure than allowing a bunch of the most venal people on the planet to cobble together a 2,000 page monstrosity that entirely serves their interests and those of the people whose campaign bribes put them in office?

[...]

Got an economy that is so raw it's leaving thousands in literal peril of losing their lives? Why not draft some legislation to bail-out the people who created that mess and guarantee that they retain their multimillion dollar bonuses?!?! [...] That's right, bail out with outrageous bonuses the very people who need it least and who caused billions of people around the planet to suffer, while leaving everyone else to fend for themselves! That'll raise your presidential job approval ratings every time! And while you're at it, bring in the much beloved health insurance and pharmaceutical corporate lobbyists, and negotiate a deal with them to craft your high profile health care legislation! What voter can't get behind that?

[...]

While you're at it, if you're trying to run the most failed presidency ever, a really good idea is to campaign in the grandest terms possible, and then deliver squat. You know, talk about bending the arc of history. Invoke Martin Luther King's dream and his struggles and even those of the slaves. Ring the big bells of generational calling. Remind voters every thirty seconds that the country badly needs "Change!". Then get elected and turn around and continue the policies of your hated predecessor in every meaningful policy area. Only with less conviction. People will love that.

A related brilliant move is to mobilize a giant army of passionate volunteers dedicated to putting you in the White House, and then do nothing with them once you get there, other than taking them completely for granted and never calling upon them to do anything in support of your agenda.

[...]

Give up the high moral ground which is the most important asset of the office you hold, and you'll make sure that no one ever listens to you anymore. You will persuade the public of nothing. Except that you are irrelevant.

[...]

It's almost as if he were a Republican sleeper politician in some party politics version of the Manchurian Candidate, planted to arise on cue and destroy the Democratic Party from within.

[...]

As for the public, it's gonna be pretty hard to now market himself as the great enemy of the people's enemies, when he's just finished a year of making secret sweetheart deals that benefit Wall Street bankers, health insurance pirates, and pharmaceutical predators, all while leaving his own base and the public he's supposed to be serving out in the rain.

  David M Green

Too harsh? Maybe not.

At least I finally found the term that accurately describes Mr. Obama as president: “irrelevant”.

Or as they say back in the land of my birth: About as useless as tits on a boar.


If We Thought We Needed It...

…we just got more evidence of where the fast track we’re on in this country leads.

The FBI and telecom companies collaborated to routinely violate federal wiretapping laws for four years, as agents got access to reporters’ and citizens’ phone records using fake emergency declarations or simply asking for them.

The Justice Department Inspector General’s internal audit, released Wednesday, harshly criticized how the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Communications Analysis Unit — a counterterrorism section founded after 9/11 — relied on so-called “exigent” letters to get carriers to turn over phone records immediately.

[...]

Those letters, first used immediately following 9/11, asked for information by saying that the request was an emergency and that prosecutors were preparing a grand jury subpoena. The letter falsely promised that the subpoena, which gives the telecoms legal immunity, would be delivered later, the report said. < p>[...]

But in a surprise buried at the end of the 289-page report, the inspector general also reveals that the Obama administration issued a secret rule almost two weeks ago saying it was legal for the FBI to have skirted federal privacy protections.

[...]

The Obama administration retroactively legalized the entire fiasco through a secret ruling from the Office of Legal Counsel nearly two weeks ago.

That’s the same office from which John Yoo blessed President George W. Bush’s torture techniques and warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ communications that crossed the border.

In the report’s final and heavily censored section, it discloses that the Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion that it was legal for the FBI to obtain Americans’ phone records in the same manner that was harshly criticized by the inspector general’s report.

  Wired

Basically, it seems Obama attempted to make all the poison fruit based on these illegal searches legal by using the same tactic David Addington would–by having a lawyer at OLC make it okay.

  Empty Wheel

I’d say that huge stadium full of Obama supporters on election night were bamboozled like herded cattle. Not that they had a better option with our election system rigged the way it is.

Read the Wired article. It sheds some light on the situation of AT&T’s involvement, and makes all the more outrageous the fact that Obama reneged on his campaign assurance that the telecom companies would not be granted immunity for their illegal turning over of records to the Feds. In fact, it seems, it was AT&T employees who figured out how to circumvent the law and were collecting the information and greasing the ropes.


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


Monday, January 25, 2010

You Wanna Know What Really Happened to Dr. David Kelly?

Too bad. The British justice system just ordered the details sealed for 70 years. Seventy.


This Isn't What I Had in Mind When I Asked for Campaign Finance Reform

Today’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC abolishes the previously settled distinction between corporate and individual expenditures in American elections and would appear to apply to state and local elections as well as Federal ones given that the Court recognizes such a First Amendment right. This is literally an earth shattering change in the lay of the land in campaign finance, and it will have ramifications in every way imaginable for the foreseeable future.

  Empty Wheel, FDL

Very sad, indeed. We are not turning back the tide folks. We have been Katrina’d. Would this be an appropriate time to tune out?

Much, if not all, of what is wrong in this country can probably be traced back to the late 1880s when they gave corporations the legal status of a person.

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. ... corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. -- Abraham Lincoln


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


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mission Accomplished?

The U.S. Marine Corps wrapped up nearly seven years in Iraq on Saturday, handing over duties to the Army and signaling the beginning of an accelerated withdrawal of American troops as the U.S. turns its focus away from the waning Iraqi war to a growing one in Afghanistan.

In Baghdad, meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden held talks with Iraqi leaders amid rising tensions over plans to ban election candidates because of suspected links to Saddam Hussein's regime.

  Raw Story

Trading one oppressor for another. And so it goes.


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


I'd Like Ringside Seats, Please

Venezuela may have just become the center of an energy-starved world.

The Orinoco Belt, situated squarely underneath the South American nation, may hold some 513 billion barrels of crude oil, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

That's twice the size of Saudi Arabia's oil reserves, placing Venezuela firmly atop the list of oil-rich nations.

  Raw Story

First, we have a nice little relationship with Colombia. Next, after the devastating earthquakes, we’ll set up permanent bases on Haiti. Then…

I can hear Hugo now.


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


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's the Image That Counts

While the benevolent visage of the American hegemon is on full display in Haiti, pardon me if I question the purity of Washington’s motives, which are, as always, based on purely political calculations. As limbs are being amputated in the streets by doctors without benefit of anesthetics (except a bottle of vodka), Margolis informs us that "a French aircraft carrying a full operating theater was not allowed to land so that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could fly in and make a speech." Can’t miss that photo op!

[...]

An inquiry into the reason for Haiti’s fate can perhaps be illuminated by asking why the other half of that Caribbean island, Santo Domingo, is relatively stable and prosperous. Such a project, however, is far beyond the capabilities of the US military, which is a peerless fighting machine – and not so talented when it comes to advanced anthropology and sociology, in spite of its recent foray into that field.

[...]

The irony is that one of the few things we can do to immediately bring economic relief to Haiti is deemed "controversial" – abolishing trade restrictions imposed on Haitian products that enter the US. It’s doubtful President Obama’s union supporters will sit still for that.

  Justin Raimondo


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


What's Wrong with This Picture?

In a new extensive report, Amnesty International revealed the extent to which Israel’s discriminatory water policies and practices are denying Palestinians their right to access to water.

Israel uses more than 80 per cent of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, the main source of underground water in Israel and the OPT, while restricting Palestinian access to a mere 20 per cent.

The Mountain Aquifer is the only source for water for Palestinians in the West Bank, but only one of several for Israel, which also takes for itself all the water available from the Jordan River.

[...]

Some 180,000-200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities have no access to running water and the Israeli army often prevents them from even collecting rainwater.

In contrast, Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, have intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools.

Numbering about 450,000, the settlers use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.

[...]

To cope with water shortages and lack of network supplies many Palestinians have to purchase water, of often dubious quality, from mobile water tankers at a much higher price.

Others resort to water-saving measures which are detrimental to their and their families’ health and which hinder socio-economic development.

[...]

Israel has appropriated large areas of the water-rich Palestinian land it occupies and barred Palestinians from accessing them.

It has also imposed a complex system of permits which the Palestinians must obtain from the Israeli army and other authorities in order to carry out water-related projects in the OPT. Applications for such permits are often rejected or subject to long delays.

[...]

Water tankers are forced to take long detours to avoid Israeli military checkpoints and roads which are out of bounds to Palestinians, resulting in steep increases in the price of water.

In rural areas, Palestinian villagers are continuously struggling to find enough water for their basic needs, as the Israeli army often destroys their rainwater harvesting cisterns and confiscates their water tankers.

In comparison, irrigation sprinklers water the fields in the midday sun in nearby Israeli settlements, where much water is wasted as it evaporates before even reaching the ground.

  Amnesty International


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


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pat Robertson Wasn't Completely Wrong

Haiti may well have made a pact with the Devil - depending upon your definition.

U.S. Intervention in Haiti since Haiti's independence from France in 1804

A few highlights:

1806: US Places Embargo on Trade with Haiti

1862: US Recognizes Haiti

July 18, 1915: US Sends Troops to Haiti

November 11, 1915: US Pressures Haiti into Signing Disadvantageous Treaty

(October 18, 1996): Haiti Agrees to Neoliberal Reforms

Either of those two deals could be seen as making a pact with the Devil.

Earthquakes are random events. How many people they kill is predetermined. In Haiti this week, don't blame tectonic plates. Ninety-nine percent of the death toll is attributable to poverty.

So the question is relevant. How'd Haiti become so poor?

The story begins in 1910, when a U.S. State Department-National City Bank of New York (now called Citibank) consortium bought the Banque National d'Haïti--Haiti's only commercial bank and its national treasury--in effect transferring Haiti's debts to the Americans. Five years later, President Woodrow Wilson ordered troops to occupy the country in order to keep tabs on "our" investment.

From 1915 to 1934, the U.S. Marines imposed harsh military occupation, murdered Haitians patriots and diverted 40 percent of Haiti's gross domestic product to U.S. bankers. Haitians were banned from government jobs. Ambitious Haitians were shunted into the puppet military, setting the stage for a half-century of U.S.-backed military dictatorship.

The U.S. kept control of Haiti's finances until 1947.

[...]

[In 1957] the CIA installed President-for-Life François "Papa Doc" Duvalier. Duvalier's brutal Tonton Macoutes paramilitary goon squads murdered at least 30,000 Haitians and drove educated people to flee into exile.

[...]

Under U.S. influence, [Papa Doc’s son and successor,] Baby Doc virtually eliminated import tariffs for U.S. goods. Soon Haiti was awash [in] predatory agricultural imports dumped by American firms. Domestic rice farmers went bankrupt. A nation that had been agriculturally self-sustaining collapsed. Farms were abandoned. Hundreds of thousands of farmers migrated to the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince.

[...]

The Duvalier era, 29 years in all, came to an end in 1986 when President Ronald Reagan ordered U.S. forces to whisk Baby Doc to exile in France, saving him from a popular uprising.

[...]

We twice deposed the populist and popular democratically-elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The second time, in 2004, we even gave him a free flight to the Central African Republic! [...] And it was kind of us to support a new government formed by former Tonton Macoutes.

  Ted Rall

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


We ARE Fond of Revenge

At least one suspected U.S. drone fired on a house in Pakistan's volatile tribal region Sunday, killing 20 people in the 11th such attack since militants in the area orchestrated a deadly suicide bombing against the CIA in Afghanistan, intelligence officials said.

[...]

Since the bombing, the U.S. has carried out eleven suspected drone strikes in North and South Waziristan, an unprecedented volley of attacks since the CIA-led program began in earnest in Pakistan two years ago.

  Yahoo


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


Saturday, January 16, 2010

On the Heels of Haiti's Quake

Rueters is reporting that a 5.0 quake has hit a western Iranian town.

We finally got the HAARP fine-tuned.


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


Before Terrorists Had Airplanes

The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy
Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, artist


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


Hold the Presses

The late afternoon news that PhRMA, the drug manufacturers lobby, will pull its support from Health Care Reform if it doesn't get further patent protections on its drugs is quite a commentary on the state of business in Washington today.

  TPM

Poor Mr. Obama. He just can’t seem to bend over far enough. But don’t worry – he seems determined to keep practicing.


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


In the Meantime...

Imagine the following scenario: The chief executive of a foreign country decides to conduct terrorist operations inside U.S. territory, and signs a “presidential finding” to that effect. Furthermore, that “finding” authorizes the foreign government’s agents to engage in “defensive lethal action,” i.e. assassinations. And what if, shortly after this information has been leaked to the public, prominent US government officials and even a nuclear scientist or two are assassinated, kidnapped, or otherwise targeted by mysterious terrorists, with no one taking “credit” for these actions?

How long before the United States military turned that country into a pile of molten rock and charred debris?

I give it about fifteen minutes, max.

  Glenn Greenwald

And that would be after the first incident.

Issued in the final months of the Bush administration, the finding was an attempt to get around military and congressional opposition to the idea of a direct attack on Iran by the US. The joint chiefs were horrified by the prospect and made their opposition plain, and the Democratic-controlled Congress was none too enthusiastic about ginning up another war when we were already knee-deep in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hardliners in the Bush administration, however, were not content to let it go at that, naturally, and so President Bush, in this finding, authorized a covert campaign dedicated to “regime change” — including those “defensive lethal actions” that sound like assassinations to me.

Given the complicity of the Democrats in this scheme, there is no reason to assume the program stopped with the ascension of Obama.


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


Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What Was the Man Thinking?

Apart from the obvious depravity, how can a man with half a brain not know that internet activity is not often really private.


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


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Squeeze Tighter

The Vatican newspaper and radio station are criticizing James Cameron's 3-D blockbuster [Avatar] for flirting with the idea that worship of nature can replace religion — a notion the pope has warned against. They call the movie a simplistic and sappy tale, despite its awe-inspiring special effects.

  Yahoo

I wonder if the Pope is as clueless as to why he’s losing followers as Obama is.

L'Osservatore said the film "gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature." Similarly, Vatican Radio said it "cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium."

And you know God isn’t out to save the earth itself. That’s just here so we can have a substrate on which to worship him. Only a goddess would be concerned with the earth.

Bolivia's first indigenous president, Evo Morales, has praised "Avatar" for what he calls its message of saving the environment from exploitation. But the movie also has drawn a number of critical voices. Some American conservative bloggers have decried its anti-militaristic message.

I’m sure the American Mullahs agree with the latter.

In a recent World Day of Peace message, the pontiff warned against any notions that equate human beings with other living things in the name of a "supposedly egalitarian vision."

[...]

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that while the movie reviews are just that — film criticism, not theological pronouncements — they do reflect Pope Benedict XVI's views on the dangers of turning nature into a "new divinity."

After all, the church spent centuries destroying that very same “religion”. It’s pretty scary to think that it might make a comeback.


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


What Happened to Your Spirit, People?

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says he has not succeeded in bringing the country together, acknowledging an atmosphere of divisiveness that has washed away the lofty national feeling surrounding his inauguration a year ago.

"That's what's been lost this year ... that whole sense of changing how Washington works," Obama said in an interview with People magazine.

  Yahoo

Gee, Dude, I wonder why. Can he possibly really be that dense?

So perhaps he could concede that there’s no appeasing right-wingers and GOP leaders who simply want him out, and start actually making those changes he so glibly promised?

The president said his second-year agenda will be refocused on uniting the country around common values, "whether we're Democrats or Republicans."

Right. Well, I figured that was too much to HOPE for.

"We all want work that's satisfying, pays the bills and gives children a better future and security," Obama said in the interview, which the magazine conducted with the president and his wife, Michelle Obama, at the White House last Friday.

And those may be common values, but they will never be reached by a common approach, because there isn’t one. He doesn’t seem to get it.

The president's comments came as Republican leaders rallied against the core items of his agenda, from his economic stimulus plan to health care.

He really doesn’t seem to get it.

The president said he misses daily, spontaneous interactions while living in a bubble. He said the job is lonely in another way — the gravity of sending troops off to war or responding to an attempted terrorist attack. "That side of the loneliness of the job is what I signed up for and I actually think I'm pretty good at," he said.


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


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In Case You Had Any Doubts...

While some sunlight has been shed on the hefty sums shoveled into congressional campaign coffers in an effort to influence the Democrats' massive healthcare bill, little attention has been focused on the far larger sums received by President Barack Obama while he was a candidate in 2008.

A new figure, based on an exclusive analysis created for Raw Story by the Center for Responsive Politics, shows that President Obama received a staggering $20,175,303 from the healthcare industry during the 2008 election cycle, nearly three times the amount of his presidential rival John McCain. McCain took in $7,758,289, the Center found.

  Raw Story

Nice confirmation of Glenn Greenwald’s assertion that Obama got the health care bill he intended to get from the start…one that favors health care providers.


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


Monday, January 11, 2010

The Weird Factor

Update below.

Justin Raimondo discusses what he calls “The Weird Factor”. He gives us more information than we have seen to date on the “well-dressed Indian” man who apparently ushered the Underpants Bomber through the screening process without a passport (a claim which is now being denied by authorities).

He offers a piece of information that I had not yet seen about a mystery person who was filming the whole thing (something two different passengers have reported).

He reports an incident with another “Indian man in orange” being handcuffed and led away once the plane landed.

And he reports something else I did not know: Israeli personnel are in charge of interviewing all passengers before their flight at the Dutch airport where this flight originated.

Raimondo also refers to a story I had not heard in relation to the 9/11 attacks:

Reports of the mysterious Israelis with an inexplicable interest in peddling art to G-men came in from more than 40 U.S. cities and continued throughout the first six months of 2001. Agents of the DEA, ATF, Air Force, Secret Service, FBI, and U.S. Marshals Service documented some 130 separate incidents of "art student" encounters. Some of the Israelis were observed diagramming the inside of federal buildings. Some were found carrying photographs they had taken of federal agents. One was discovered with a computer printout in his luggage that referred to "DEA groups."

In some cases, the Israelis visited locations not known to the public -- areas without street addresses, for example, or DEA offices not identified as such -- leading authorities to suspect that information had been gathered from prior surveillance or perhaps electronically, from credit cards and other sources. One Israeli was discovered holding banking receipts for substantial sums of money, close to $180,000 in withdrawals and deposits over a two-month period.

Salon

Along with this reminder that at least somebody in Israel knew of “the event” – which is what they are calling 9/11 - before it happened so that five Israelis were there to “document it” (more on that story), possibly connected to the receipt of an instant message by two Odigo Messenger Service workers in Israel two hours before the 9/11 attack that it was going down, and the AIPAC spying case, my sense of the terrorism we are experiencing is that it is a result directly of our government’s policies on the Middle East, and the likelihood that these incidents are being encouraged, if not instigated, by the Israelis as a means to embroil us in a war against their Arab neighbors. Our attempts to control the oil in the Middle East might have otherwise been done by bribes and negotiations.

A good case could be made for the U.S. military being Israel’s Proxy Army.

And one last bit of information in The Weird Factor which I stumbled upon in following some links, which if investigated might tie a lot of the weird pieces together: the Dutch airport isn’t the only one that uses an Israeli company for security:

One company had automatic inside access to all of the airports from which hijacked planes departed on 9-11, and to the airports used by Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. An Israeli company.

[...]

Hours before the House version of the first Patriot Act went to a vote, "technical corrections" were inserted into the body of the legislation whereby foreign security companies such as [Israeli] ICTS-International would be immune from lawsuits related to the events of 9/11.

What Really Happened

I think at one point I knew, but had long since forgotten (as I imagine most people have – for good reason), that originally, Osama bin Laden denied being responsible for the 9/11 attack.)

”I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed.[...] The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the U.S. system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive. They can be anyone, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia. In the U.S. itself, there are dozens of well-organized and well-equipped groups, which are capable of causing a large-scale destruction.

[...]

General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat. In the same way, whether it is President Bush or any other U.S. President, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who carried out the attacks.”

Public-Action

Of course, a large number of U.S. PNAC members are intimately tied to Israel, and these people held powerful positions in the Bush administration. And they’re not dead yet. PNAC, as you may recall, has a goal of recreating the Middle East under the control of the U.S.

And at least in the eyes of the leaders of Israel, the US is under Israel’s control.

[The] Israeli Prime Minister has stopped short of saying that Israel controls the US government. Speaking to the Israeli media this week, Olmert said he had asked President Bush to order Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to abstain in a key UN vote on the Israeli genocidal onslaught in the Gaza Strip.

“She was left shamed. A resolution that she prepared and arranged, and in the end she didn’t vote in favor,” said Olmert, bragging about “our clout and influence” in the US .

[...]

Olmert said he demanded rather aggressively to talk to President Bush and when Bush was on the phone, he told him to order Rice not to vote for the resolution.

“I said ‘get me President Bush on the phone.’ They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia . I said I didn’t care. I need to talk to him now. He got off the podium and spoke to me.

“I told him the US could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution. He (Bush) immediately called the Secretary of State and told her not to vote in favor.”

[...]

In 2001, an acrimonious argument reportedly erupted during the Israeli cabinet weekly session between then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and then foreign Minister Shimon Peres during which Sharon reportedly yelled at Peres, saying: "Don't worry about American pressure, we control America."

Peres reportedly warned Sharon that refusing to heed incessant American requests for a cease-fire with the Palestinians would endanger Israeli interests and turn the US against Israel.

At this point, a furious Sharon turned toward Peres, saying:

"Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear:

“Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it."

Jalur Gaza News

Indeed, some do.

Of course, both of those accounts have been denied.

And do I need to mention Operation Gladio again?

And where is Mad Michael Ledeen* ( extreme right-wing former consultant to the National Security Council and the Pentagon, involved in the Niger forgeries) these days? Why, cheerleading the invasion of Iran, of course.

Meanwhile, the Western world clicks its collective tongue and criticizes "the violence" and the lack of respect for rights of free speech and assembly, as if that were the point. Not a single Western "leader" has found the nerve and the common sense to denounce the regime and call for regime change. Indeed, President Obama couldn't drag himself away from the beach and the basketball court on Oahu to say anything at all. Nor could our secretary of state. Or Robert Gates, for that matter, whose men and women are being blown up in Iraq and Afghanistan, courtesy of the mullahs.

Michael Ledeen in National Review

"In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way." - Franklin D. Roosevelt


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


*A little more about Mr. Ledeen, founder and currently on the Advisory Board of JINSA – Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs:

JINSA —which has long served as a route for Israeli intelligence to penetrate the U.S. military and recruit agents of influence for its interests—has played a significant role in pushing through the pre-emptive war policy.

[...]

After he left the position of Secretary of Defense in the Bush "41" Administration, [Dick] Cheney again hooked up with the Libby/Wolfowitz circle, joining the International Advisory Board of JINSA. JINSA was founded by three of Israeli intelligence's leading agents in America: Dr. Stephen Bryen, who was investigated for passing classified information to the Israelis from the Senate in 1978; Richard Perle; and Michael Ledeen. All three JINSA big-wigs were named as members of the circle known as the "X Committee" behind the espionage of the convicted spy for Israel, Jonathan Jay Pollard.

[...]

[The] Iraq occupation government's first appointed "Viceroy," Jay Garner, is a JINSA collaborator. James Woolsey, the former Director of Central Intelligence and currently an Iraq war fanatic on the Defense Policy Board, who has been the attorney for the discredited Iraqi National Congress of Ahmed Chalabi, is on JINSA's board. And on May 18, JINSA's Ledeen played a major role at a neo-con/Christian fundamentalist rally to oppose the Road Map for Mideast peace, and to call for extending the Iraq war to Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, after which the idea of a Palestinian state could be dropped for good.

EIR

UPDATE:

[General David] Petraeus declined to comment on reports that Israel, which says Iran presents an existential threat to the Jewish state, may attack its arch-foe's nuclear facilities.

But he told CNN the facilities "certainly can be bombed" even though they are reportedly heavily fortified. "The level of effect would vary with who it is that carries it out, what ordnance they have, and what capability they can bring to bear," he added.

Without elaborating on the contingency plans, the general said it could be some time before Washington decides whether to execute them and that diplomatic efforts would continue in the meantime.

  Raw Story


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Always Prepared

As the saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

Even before a landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance law expected within days, a series of other court decisions is reshaping the political battlefield by freeing corporations, unions and other interest groups from many of the restrictions on their advertising about issues and candidates.

  NYT

My contention has always been that the reform needed includes a ban on paying for TV and radio time, with instead a government determined equal amount of time for all candidates, and instant run-off voting. Lone reforms, such as caps on spending, just won't do it - witness this new turn of events.


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


Too Big to Jail


Mother Jones

Tell Me Again...

Why do they hate us? Why are they attacking us?

Whatever else is true, having discussions about how our policies motivate and fuel Terrorism is crucial to having any sort of minimally rational public debate about what we should be doing.

  Glenn Greenwald

True. But that overlooks the issue of whether a public debate about what we should be doing would have any effect on what we are doing.

[The Jordanian-Palestinian double agent whose suicide bomb killed 7 CIA agents in Afghanistan, Humam] Al-Balawi's sad biography in fact ties together the whole history of Western, including Israeli, attacks on the Middle East. Al-Balawi's family is Palestinians displaced from Beersheba by Zionist immigrants into British Mandate Palestine, who in 1948 ethnically cleansed about 700,000 Palestinians from what became Israel. Most Palestinians in Jordan are bitter about the loss of their homes, for which they never received compensation, and some still live in refugee camps. The British Empire and the United States supported this displacement of the Palestinians and to this day the US government often attempts to criminalize even charitable aid to the suffering Palestinian people.

[...]

Walmart does better background checks on its store clerks than the CIA and Jordanian intelligence did on this guy.

[...]

AP has a video interview with al-Balawi's Turkish wife, in which she traces his radicalization to the brutal US occupation of neighboring Iraq, including reports of the rape of Iraqi women by US troops at Abu Ghraib (where much of the torture had sexual overtones) and the US destruction of the city of Fallujah in November-December 2004.

  Juan Cole

A physician, he volunteered to be part of a group that intended to go to Gaza to do relief work for the victims of Israel's brutal targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

[...]

After the vicious war on Gaza was over, and the schools and hospitals lay in ruin, Israel ratcheted up a siege of the small territory of 1.6 million persons, half of them children, denying them enough services, fuel and even food for a decent life.[...]Israel never says what its end game is here, and how long exactly they are going to keep the children of Gaza in what one Vatican official has called a 'concentration camp.'

[...]

The Jordanian secret police arrested al-Balawi to prevent him from going to Gaza. It may be that he had to agree to work for it as a quid pro quo to regain his freedom.

[...]

What is fascinating is the way al-Balawi's grievances tie together the Iraq War, the ongoing Gaza atrocity, and the Western military presence in the Pushtun regions-- the geography of the Bush 'war on terror' was inscribed on his tortured mind.

As it is on many others.

Morally speaking, al-Qaeda is twisted and evil, and has committed mass murder. Neither the US nor Israel is morally responsible for violent crackpots being violent crackpots. Al-Qaeda or a Taliban affiliate turned al-Balawi to the dark side. [...] But from a social science, explanatory point of view, what we have to remember is that there can be a handful of al-Balawis, or there can be thousands or hundreds of thousands. It depends on how many Abu Ghraibs, Fallujahs, Lebanons and Gazas the United States initiates or supports to the hilt. Unjust wars and occupations radicalize people. The American Right wing secretly knows this, but likes the vicious circle it produces. Wars make profits for the military-industrial complex, and the resulting terrorism terrifies the clueless US public and helps hawks win elections, allowing them to pursue further wars. And so it goes, until the Republic is bankrupted and in ruins and its unemployed have to live in tent cities.

Tent cities in America.

And here’s a great idea. This would surely make us safe.

The Stop Terrorists Entry Program Act (STEP) was first introduced by Rep. J. Gresham Barrett (R-SC) in 2003 [PDF link]. The updated version, he explained in a media advisory, would bar citizens of Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Yemen and Syria from entry into the United States. It would further require citizens of those nations who are legally visiting or residing in the United States to be deported within 60 days.

And he's doing this as a response to an American who killed 12 other soldiers at Fort Hood, and a Nigerian who allegedly attempted to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day.

  Raw Story

Of course, neither of them would have fit into Mr. Barrett’s plan.

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it. --Mark Twain

P.S. Again with Cuba??

I wonder how many teabaggers now think Cuba is a Muslim country.

Obama again talked about winning hearts and minds for the US in the Muslim world. [...As] long as the US backs Israeli encroachments on Palestinian land and Israeli attacks on and sieges of Palestinians, winning hearts and minds is complicated and in many cases impossible.

[...]

Vigilante violence is always wrong, and their grievances give them no warrant to harm innocents (which is evil). But if winning hearts and minds is the issue, then US policy in the Middle East is an impediment.

[...]

Obama most unfortunately has allowed the right wing to maneuver him in to reviving the use of the word 'war,' and he is now talking about a 'war on al-Qaeda.' It is not a war, and cannot be fought like a war, and the word is just as misleading now as it was in the Bush-Cheney era. It is a counter-terrorism struggle. Highlighting al-Qaeda, moreover, gives Bin Laden what he always wanted, to parlay a few thousand cranks with weapons training into the central preoccupation of a superpower. Why not say, for our democracy to flourish, we must do good counter-terrorism? Wars imply a Pentagon role, and military action alone is more likely to provoke terrorism than to end it. In fact, if Bush had not invaded Iraq, al-Qaeda might well have died off by now.

[...]

A viable Palestinian state, a US withdrawal from Iraq, and an end to the Afghanistan war would do more to drain the swamp of al-Qaeda collectively than all the intelligence reviews and reorganizations in the world.

  Juan Cole



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


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Headlines

Calif. judge orders police to return 60 pounds of marijuana

His lawyer says it's medical marijuana, and under California law, he's allowed to transport it. If it was exceptionally good stuff, he may be getting back whatever else they have in the back room.

House committee wants Geithner testimony over AIG bailout scandal

There seems to be some speculation that Mr. Geitner is on his way out. "Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) said he plans to hold a hearing on the AIG bailouts sometime in January and plans to ask Geithner to testify about why the New York Federal Reserve told AIG to hide massive payments to banks, according to a published report." Yes, I'd like to hear the answer to that myself.

"In the aftermath of its near collapse, AIG was told by the New York Federal Reserve to keep off the books its planned over-payments to other banks that had agreed to purchase its toxic assets, most notably Goldman Sachs." Ahhhhhhh. Goldman Sachs.

Reid backpedals over ‘Negro dialect’ remark about Obama

Apparently a book is about to hit the stands which reveals that pre-presidential election Reid thought Obama's lack of a Negro dialect and his light skin would help him in the polls. Excuse me -- "‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.’" Of course, he's now apologizing if he's offended anyone. You'd think they'd learn.


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


Sidetracked....


Michael Jackson's plastic surgeon should be indicted.



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


Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Underpants Bomber

I much prefer that to "the Christmas bomber."

TPM has an article sorting out what has been reported, and noting what is currently being reported about the specifics of the incident. Most don't disagree about the underpants, although - and I don't know where TPM came up with their graphic rendering - at least one source refuses to say that anything was padding the man's basket, opting to indicate that the explosive was "strapped to his thigh." I really think that inaccurate reporting like this makes it difficult to rationally discuss the issue. After all, if the material is strapped to someone's thigh, then a security screening pat-down will probably reveal that. But if it's strapped to a guy's privates, I doubt the people doing the patting are going to be handling that area.


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


Holy Joe May Be No Mo'

Here's the headline for a TPM article: Poll: Lieberman Hated By Everyone In Connecticut After Health Care Debates

Frankly, I don't think it's limited to Connecticut.


Eat, Drink & Be Merry, For Tomorrow....

It has been eight years since al-Qaeda attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon: eight long years in which the "war on terrorism" – begun by George W. Bush in a blaze of righteousness, and since carried on by his successor, in Afghanistan and Pakistan – has been waged on several fronts. So, how are we doing?

[...]

The "flypaper" strategy, once hailed by Andrew Sullivan and other "war-bloggers" boomeranged badly: instead, we are the ones stuck to the flypaper, and stuck with costly and counterproductive military campaigns that show no signs of ever coming to an end.

  Justin Raimondo

Al-Qaeda said the suicide bombing at a US base in Afghanistan that killed seven CIA agents was "revenge" for the deaths of militants in US drone strikes in Pakistan, the US monitoring group SITE said on Thursday.

  Raw Story

We can now officially rechristen this a Butter Battle.

I am going to assume that this event was a huge coup for al-Qaeda. It certainly was a huge loss for the CIA.

I heard a discussion on the radio the other day wherein a former CIA agent was explaining the difference in counter-intelligence now and that of the “Cold War”. He pointed out the obvious problems in recruiting a CIA agent or source in the current situation because the fact is, most Muslims are not attracted to our culture and not dissatisfied with their own, unlike, say, the Russians during the “Cold War”. He said that in Afghanistan we have to find people who are strictly looking for monetary compensation or have some particular beef with their country. More likely, we are investing ourselves in the kind of person who just killed seven top CIA people – a man who is ardently passionate about his religion and his country. (In this case, a successful young physician.) This is the same problem we have with building up an army there. We recruit them, train them, pay them, and watch them take what they’ve gotten from us and use it against us.

I don’t know. It only sounds reasonable to me. They don’t like us. They don’t want us there. And it’s not because they’re jealous of us. I also heard a retired military officer saying pretty much just that, and adding that this is what our government is not telling us.

No. What our government is telling us is: trust us; we’re doing good things. And so we do trust them.

"All of the agents are national heroes because they were there to do a job, a very large job. What it was I do not know exactly, but they were heroes fighting the war against terror," [the wife of one of the slain] said.

I don’t know what they were doing, but it was something good.

Also, two of those killed were Blackwater agents. Hmmmm…weren’t we supposedly cutting that organization loose? Right.

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.” – Osama bin Laden, 2004


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


Of Forests and Trees

The failure of the U.S. Government to detect the fairly glaring Northwest Airlines Christmas plot -- despite years and years of constant expansions of Surveillance State powers -- illustrates this dynamic perfectly. As President Obama said yesterday, the Government -- just as was true for 9/11 -- had gathered more than enough information to have detected this plot, or at least to have kept Abdulmutallab off airplanes and out of the country. Yet our intelligence agencies -- just as was true for 9/11 -- failed to understand what they had in their possession. Why is that? Because they had too much to process, including too much data wholly unrelated to Terrorism. In other words, our panic-driven need to vest the Government with more and more surveillance power every time we get scared again by Terrorists -- in the name of keeping us safe -- has exactly the opposite effect.

[...]

It's so striking how most of the policies we undertake in the name of combating Terrorism -- including our various invasions, bombings and occupations, and our always-escalating Surveillance State -- have exactly the opposite effect.

  Glenn Greenwald

Extraneous, irrelevant data clutter the system, making it even harder for analysts to make meaningful future connections. A needle is hard enough to find in the proverbial haystack, without adding still more hay. . . . Quantity cannot substitute for quality. Higher quality data collection depends not only on better guidance with respect to relevance, but also on judiciousness applied from the beginning and throughout the collection process. Unfortunately, case and statutory law has come to be regarded as some kind of nicety -- or a barrier that needs to be overcome. Not so. That law sets standards of relevancy for collection that used to hold down data clutter.

  FBI agent and 9/11 whistleblower Coleen Rowley


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


Monday, January 04, 2010

Regarding Yemen

Western papers are leading with the news that Yemeni forces have killed two al-Qaeda suspects. Not so fast, says Mareb Press, which actually names the two individuals killed - Nur al-Din Muhammad Ahmad al-Haniq, 17-years-old and Balal 'Ali Ahmad al-Marani, 22-years-old.


According to Mareb Press both men were members of the Arhab tribe, which is increasingly coming into conflict with the Yemeni security forces. The problem with raids like this, as I detailed in a recent piece for the CTC Sentinel, is that it actually expands al-Qaeda's support within Yemen.


Both the US and Yemen should be extremely careful about whom they target in Yemen, as going after the wrong people risks turning a two-sided conflict between the government and al-Qaeda into a much more murky and multi-faceted conflict that could potentially involve a number of tribes in what would become a war that could never be won.

  Waq al-Waq

Well, that’s where I’ll be putting my money.


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


Meanwhile, Iran

Oh gawd, not more BS from the Times of London, the trashiest of the Murdoch media empire’s flotilla of garbage barges!

[...]

Now the hapless editors of the Times have done their friends another favor and planted yet another obvious fake story, this time supposedly proving that the War Party’s next target – Iran – is building nukes in defiance of the world.

[...]

In a story posted on Antiwar.com and written by Gareth Porter, Philip Giraldi, a former CIA and DIA official, citing his sources in the intelligence community, exposed the Times documents as forgeries – and, as it turns out, maybe even just as crude as the notorious Niger uranium forgeries , which purported to show Saddam’s agents purchasing uranium from that African nation.

[...]

This would be funny if it weren’t being taken seriously, including by the Obama administration, which is treating this fabrication as if it were real, as Times columnist Oliver Kamm gloated the other day.

[...]

That the Obama administration is now citing "intelligence" gleaned by this sleazy operator Kamm, and Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid Times, as "evidence" that sanctions on Iran must be imposed is nauseating in the extreme. It ought to produce vertigo in those liberals and deluded "progressives" who still hope Obama – their Obama, the Obama of their dreams – will come through on the foreign policy front. Perhaps this will wake them up to what they’re dealing with in this White House.

  Justin Raimondo

And perhaps monkeys will….well, you know.

The New York Times has an article on the administration’s Iran approach.

In interviews, Mr. Obama’s strategists said that while Iran’s top political and military leaders remained determined to develop nuclear weapons, they were distracted by turmoil in the streets and political infighting, and that the drive to produce nuclear fuel appeared to have faltered in recent months.

  NYTimes

Yes, because tiny Iran has so few resources that it has to take its scientists and developers off the job, put them into military and police uniforms, and send them into the streets to battle protesters. As soon as they have that under control, they’ll go back to nukes production. No, seriously. I thought I was making a joke when I wrote that, but then I read on. That’s truly what we’re expected to believe.

The White House wants to focus the new sanctions on theIslamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the military force believed to run the nuclear weapons effort. That force has also played a crucial role in the repression of antigovernment demonstrators since the disputed presidential election in June.

Although repeated rounds of sanctions over many years have not dissuaded Iran from pursuing nuclear technology, an administration official involved in the Iran policy said the hope was that the current troubles “give us a window to impose the first sanctions that may make the Iranians think the nuclear program isn’t worth the price tag.”

These factors have led the administration’s policy makers to lengthen their estimate of how long it would take Iran to accomplish what nuclear experts call “covert breakout” — the ability to secretly produce a workable weapon.

So, we’re not 45 minutes away from a mushroom cloud this time.

“For now, the Iranians don’t have a credible breakout option, and we don’t think they will have one for at least 18 months, maybe two or three years,” said one senior administration official at the center of the White House Iran strategy.

It’s nice to leave yourself some range in these things, since you can’t be positive of how things are going to work out back here at home.

Sanctions will be a difficult balancing act for the administration, since it acknowledges that three previous rounds of sanctions have failed to deter Iran, and it also wants to avoid angering Iranians protesting in the streets by depriving them of Western goods. That is why the administration is focusing on the Revolutionary Guards, who are increasingly detested by the protesters, and who have built up billions of dollars of business interests in telecommunications, oil and construction.

And there’s your real reason for targeting the Revolutionary Guards.

Washington’s assessments of how much progress Iran has made toward a weapon have varied greatly over the past two years, partly a reflection of how little is known about the inner workings of the country’s nuclear programs.

Mr. Obama’s top advisers say they no longer believe the key finding of a much disputedNational Intelligence Estimate about Iran, published a year before President George W. Bush left office, which said that Iranian scientists ended all work on designing a nuclear warhead in late 2003.

And why is that?

After reviewing new documents that have leaked out of Iran and debriefing defectors lured to the West, Mr. Obama’s advisers say they believe the work on weapons design is continuing on a smaller scale — the same assessment reached by Britain, France, Germany and Israel.

How nice that we have gotten France and Germany to support us this time. You see, it’s not at all like the Iraqi pre-war BS.

The biggest disruption came in late September when Mr. Obama, along with PresidentNicolas Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, publicly exposed Iran’s covert effort to build an enrichment plant near Qum.

[...]

American officials say that the Qum plant is now useless to the Iranians.

[...]

The official added, “It would take Iran three to four years to build a duplicate of Qum,” although he acknowledged that Iran could have another secret facility that Western intelligence had missed.

[...]

Both administration officials and experts say that another factor slowing Iran’s nuclear development is that it is working with older centrifuge technology that keeps breaking down.

So, I’m getting the sense here that what I am to take away from all this is that Iran is no threat to us, but we should be afraid that Iran might be a threat to us, and therefore, we need to place sanctions on them. But that’s not at all like our ‘softening up’ of Iraq.

It’s a lot easier to claim intent to make nukes than it is to produce hidden weapons of mass destruction. So you can’t say our ‘leaders’ didn’t learn anything.


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


Sunday, January 03, 2010

And Happy New Year to Soldiers in Afghanistan



It's Sunday

"The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith," said [Fox News’ Brit] Hume. "He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of redemption and forgiveness offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger is, 'Tiger turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."

  Raw Story

Two things:

1) Buddhists don’t deal in redemption and forgiveness as tenets of their religion, but

2) If he did want to convert to Christianity, he’d fit right in.


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