Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Book From Former White House Whore Cuts No Rope

The new tell-all [sic] book from professional liar and former White House mouthpiece Scott McClellan may best be seen as a crass attempt to make a few bucks while trying to avoid responsibility for the war crimes and crimes against humanity in which he so gleefully participated.

But there's still a noose in The Hague with Scottie's name on it, and the real journalists who work for McClatchy have all the details.

The noose with McClellan's name on it is in a room full of nooses -- with the names of all the war criminals who have taken over our government.

And this room may well be the last, best, and only hope for mankind.

It's a shame nothing in it will ever be used.

UPDATES:

I agree with Larisa Alexandrovna when she says (at At-Largely): "Go there and show these few, brave reporters some love. Leave a comment."

Jason Leopold at ConsortiumNews points to a passage in the book which suggests Karl Rove had a hand in the cover-up of the Valerie Plame case. Wow! Wouldn't that be a shock!!

Back at At-Largely, Larisa agrees with Jason's assessment, at least in the broad outlines. And Kathy says there's strong circumstantial evidence suggesting that Bush authorized the leak of Plame's identity.

Wouldn't these all be shocks? Oh come on, now. Seriously. Wouldn't you be just mortified? Imagine how it would look to the people of America!

If it shattered their "faith" in "democracy", might that lead to something positive?

Nuclear Proliferation To A Radical Islamic State? All Part Of The Job For BushCo

It seems almost impossible that the Bush administration, while threatening to wage war in order to prevent Iran from enriching uranium, could simultaneously give enriched uranium to another radical Islamic country.

Or perhaps I should rephrase that: If it seems impossible, you haven't been paying any attention at all.

But Chris Floyd has been paying close attention all along, and he has the goods on "Uranium Enrichment: The Bushes, The Saudis and The Bomb". It's a long piece, even by Floyd's standards. But it's well worth reading. Follow some of the links, too, for an education you won't soon forget.

Civilized Countries Vote To Ban Cluster Bombs

All the civilized countries of the world have voted for a ban on cluster bombs. But -- big surprise -- the US was not among them!
More than 100 countries reached agreement Wednesday to ban cluster bombs, controversial weapons that human rights groups deplore but that the United States, which did not join the ban, calls an integral, legitimate part of its arsenal.
Legitimate!
The weapons consist of canisters packed with small bombs, or "bomblets," that spread over a large area when a canister is dropped from a plane or fired from the ground. While the bomblets are designed to explode on impact, they frequently do not. Civilians, particularly children, are often maimed or killed when they pick up unexploded bombs, sometimes years later.
And that's legitimate!

A Pentagon spokesman contributed the usual bullshit:
Navy Cmdr. Bob Mehal, a Pentagon spokesman, [said] "cluster munitions have demonstrated military utility, and their elimination from U.S. stockpiles would put the lives of our soldiers and those of our coalition partners at risk."
Of course it's much better -- and much more legitimate -- to put the lives of innocent civilians at risk, while we wage illegitimate wars with so-called legitimate weapons.

Along with the USA, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel also refused to sign the agreement.

It is becoming increasingly difficult not to believe that the world would be a better place if all six were reduced to ashes.

Tom Toles: A Pin For Your Lapel

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yea Though I Walk Through The Valley Of Endless Spin

Chris Floyd was exactly right about Bush and his address to the Knesset, and you should read "Progressive Vision Failure: The Real Scandal of Bush’s Knesset Speech" in its entirety. Pay particular attention to what Chris has to say about the work of Will Bunch. I'll wait.

As Robert Parry writes:
The irony of George W. Bush going before the Knesset and mocking the late Sen. William Borah for expressing surprise at Adolf Hitler’s 1939 invasion of Poland is that Bush’s own family played a much bigger role assisting the Nazis.
Parry has even more detail on the connection between the Bush family and rise of Hitler and the state-sponsored evil we call the Nazis, and you should read "The Bushes and Hitler's Appeasement" too -- especially if you have any doubt as to the correctness of what Floyd wrote in this regard. I don't mind waiting again.

There are ironies galore in this story -- which continues to reverberate despite its lack of newsworthiness -- and in the short time I have available I wish to mention a few of them...

The fixation on the "appeasement" angle -- the focus on one short passage of the speech and the interpretation of that passage as an oblique attack on Barack Obama -- is not only a "progressosphere" phenomenon, although, as Chris Floyd points out, this is the angle you will get from the big "progressive" sites. But it's also an angle that got substantial play in the mainstream -- and even the foreign -- press. I got tired of reading about it in the Washington Post so I turned to a Canadian television network, and they -- CBC -- were saying exactly the same thing -- and treating the story as if nothing mattered in that speech except the angle they were pushing. It seemed strange to me that these independent [sic] news [sic] sources should independently [sic] land on the exact same point and put the exact same interpretation on it. But at the same time other elements within the blogosphere were picking up on that loony-sounding point and amplifying it. Hmm.

The appeasement Bush decries is already happening. But it's Bush who is being appeased. His "commander in chief" presidency has not been seriously tackled by any Democrats, none of whom, apparently, want to end up like Cynthia McKinney, much less Paul Wellstone. (There are of course other reasons why Bush's policies have been largely unopposed by the Democrats.) So the "unitary executive" madness continues to deepen and there's no end in sight.

Bush is also being appeased on the international level, where his doctrine of "preemptive warfare" -- meaning the US can attack anyone anytime for no reason at all -- has the rest of the world scurrying for cover. Nobody wants to become the next Iraq, or the next Afghanistan, or the next Pakistan, or the next Somalia ... so they sit back and watch America destroy one country after another with barely so much as the odd "Tut, tut." (This appeasement is not new, of course. America has been destroying one country after another for more than fifty years.)

Historically speaking, the United States didn't exactly vanquish the evil embodied in the Nazis. The US didn't even vanquish the Nazis. They did arrange war crimes trials for the top leaders, but many of the second-level administrators -- the technicians of the giant evil machine -- were smuggled into the USA after the war and became the nucleus of the CIA. How very convenient is it that this is never mentioned?

The US didn't have a monopoly on the recruitment and absorption of German evil monsters, though: Some professional bad guys went to Russia and worked for the KGB. Others stayed in East Germany and became key figures in the secret police there. Others may have suddenly become British, for all I know.

We were told the Cold War was an epic struggle of good vs. evil. But what if it was a power struggle between two different brands of evil? What if our evil was just a shade more potent than the evil possessed by the Russians? What if we won the Cold War because we had more and better Nazis?

The only thing about the Holocaust that matters to the Knesset is the political cover it gives Israel. Because of the anti-Semitism displayed before and during World War II, Israel can now do anything it wants to do, as long as the Americans don't object too strenuously. And the US almost never objects -- strenuously or otherwise.

With their veto power in the UN Security Council, the Americans can protect Israel from the indignation of the rest of the world, and they do -- every time. So when Bush appears before the Knesset and talks about the evils of appeasement, he's really giving the aggressive Israelis a clear signal that the aggressive Americans still support them to the hilt. Some analysts say the speech encouraged Israel to attack Iran if the Americans don't do it themselves, or if they don't do it soon enough. Thus the American hawks are actually Israel's Number One appeasers in this regard.

There's an interesting parallel between the militarized industrialized Nazis proclaiming "God is with us" while persecuting stateless defenseless Jews ... and the militarized industrialized Israelis claiming to be God's chosen people while persecuting stateless defenseless Palestinians ... and the militarized industrialized United States where the culture is rife with mutant militant Christianity and the prevailing mentality looks approvingly on a nation that wages war wherever it wants, whenever its unelected president says God tells him to smite somebody.

But the experts in the national media don't want to talk about any of this, any more than they want to talk about how the Bush family facilitated the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany. And the progressosphere wants the very same thing. Hmmm. Once again. Hmmmmmm.

I've said for a few years now that all the big "liberal" or "progressive" blogs are running psy-ops. Saying things like this brands me as a "conspiracy theorist". But on the other hand you can be called a "conspiracy theorist" for saying that president Bush's grandfather helped to facilitate the rise of Adolph Hitler. You can be called a "conspiracy theorist" for saying that 9/11 was an inside job. You can be called a "conspiracy theorist" for saying that John Kennedy was killed as part of a military coup supported by elements deep within the American power structure. There are a number of other things you can say which are obviously true, any one of which will get you branded as a "conspiracy theorist", which is beginning to seem like a compliment.

So here's my question: Who issues the talking points to the Washington Post and the CBC and Atrios and Digby and Will Bunch? Who feeds the American media, the international media, and all the prog-bloggers to the extent that they can all be found saying the very same thing at the very same time?

Who tells them all:
"This is the passage to concentrate on. This is where Bush attacks Obama. Nothing like this has ever been done before. This is worse than torture. This is worse than indefinite incarceration without charge or trial. This is worse than a war of choice based on lies which has killed more than a million people. When I snap my fingers, you will open your eyes, and you will forget this conversation ever happened."
Who tells them? That's what I want to know.

I promise I'll be polite about it. I won't mention any of the ways in which Israeli and American policies and tactics mimic the policies and tactics employed by Hitler and the Nazis. I won't mention the Reichstag Fire and 9/11 and how similar they appear from a certain perspective. I won't say anything at all about Hitler's Enabling Act and Bush's PATRIOT Act. I won't talk about unprovoked attacks on non-threatening foreign countries. And I won't mention any other false-flag attacks that were staged in order to mobilize political support for war.

... because we all know that it's OK to kill millions of people, provided they're not ours (we can only kill thousands of ours), but it's considered impolite to ask questions about it.

And I would never wish to be impolite. Not in the Valley of Endless Spin.

Raiding The Vault IV -- Read 'Em And Weep

I'm in the midst of a difficult week and can't write much at the moment ... but I can point you toward a few elderly posts which I hope will be ... um ... educational?

A short [!] post from April 24, 2005, is reproduced in full below. It's called "Read 'Em And Weep".

The conditions described here are still in effect -- only worse. We're still reading -- and still weeping.

~~~

This will not be pleasant, but I assure you it's necessary.

Read the following excerpts, and see if you can put two and two together:

Robert Kohler: Silent genocide: Depleted-uranium munitions are contaminating the world
[According to] former Livermore Labs geologist Leuren Moret .... depleted uranium turns into an infinitesimally fine dust after it explodes; individual particles are smaller than a virus or bacteria. And, “It is estimated that one millionth of a gram accumulating in a person’s body would be fatal. There are no known methods of treatment.”

And DU dust is everywhere. A minimum of 500 or 600 tons now litter Afghanistan, and several times that amount are spread across Iraq. In terms of global atmospheric pollution, we’ve already released the equivalent of 400,000 Nagasaki bombs, Moret said.

The numbers are overwhelming, but the potential horrors only get worse. DU dust does more than wreak havoc on the immune systems of those who breathe or touch it; the substance also alters one’s genetic code.

Thus, birth defects are way up in Afghanistan since the invasion: children “born with no eyes, no limbs, tumors protruding from their mouths … deformed genitalia,” according to the tribunal report. This ghastly toll on the unborn — on the future — has led Mohammed Daud Miraki, director of the Afghan DU and Recovery Fund, to coin the term “silent genocide” to describe the effects of this horrific weapon.
Riverbend: Baghdad Burning: The Cruel Month...
The weather is warm now. We often turn on the ceiling fan (or panka) in an attempt to move around the muggy air. April is a month of fresh beginnings all over the world but in Iraq, April is not the best of months. April is a month of muggy warmth and air thick with dust and sand- and now of occupation. We opened the month with a dust storm that left the furniture in our houses sand-colored with an opaque layer of dust. We breathed dust, ate dust and drank dust for a few days. The air is clearer now but everything is looking a little bit diminished and dirty. It suits the mood.
What a mood! Diminished and dirty and extremely deadly. April may be a cruel month, even in "normal times". But these times are definitely not normal. Every month is cruel in Iraq now. How could it be otherwise, when there's depleted uranium everywhere?
We breathed dust, ate dust and drank dust...
And we know what was in that dust...

Even in our time of unrelenting doublespeak, "Operation Iraqi Freedom" must be the most cynical lie of all. The only "freedom" conferred upon Iraq by this operation will be "Freedom from Worrying about the Future".

It's this simple: When you're breathing, eating and drinking dust, and that dust contains depleted uranium, there's no point in worrying about the future. Because there is no future.

Read Bob Kohler. Read Riverbend. Read 'em and weep.

Every American, every Brit, every Australian, every citizen of any country involved in the so-called "coalition", who is not doing his or her utmost to get this horror-show stopped, is silently complicit in this crime. And the crime, unless I am badly mistaken, will end up making Hitler's holocaust look like a picnic in the park.

Read 'em and weep. May God have mercy upon our souls.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel

Please hold your applause. The success of my recent prediction is not worthy of being celebrated.

Late last month when discussing the seemingly brightening prospects for peace in Pakistan, I wrote:
If ever there were a situation where a drone needed to drop a bomb to kick-restart a nasty little war, this would seem to be it.
Making the prediction was simplicity in itself -- like shooting fish in a barrel. Unfortunately that's just about how hard it is for long-range Americans with remote-controlled drones to bomb defenseless Pakistani people.

As Chris Floyd reports:
On Wednesday, missiles from an American drone destroyed a house in the Pakistani village of Damadola, killing at least 15 people, with women and children reportedly among the dead.
Think about that for a moment. How extraordinary! If a Pakistani plane dropped a bomb on an American home, we would consider it an act of war, even if fewer than 15 people were killed, and even if the Pakistanis claimed that every one of the victims was a bona fide Bad Guy.

So: How big a story is this? The United States has committed an act of war against its number one Asian ally in the Global War On Terror! It's a crime of monumental proportions, isn't it?

Ha! Unfortunately, and typically, it's even worse than it first appears. Chris Floyd again:
The ostensible target was a gathering of Taliban fighters, who control the surrounding area in this border region with Afghanistan.

But the real target of the attack, no doubt, was the peace process now underway between the local militants and the new Pakistani government. As AP notes:
The explosions came as Pakistani authorities and Taliban militants exchanged dozens of prisoners in the latest step in a peace process that is stirring growing alarm in the West. NATO claims [that] militant incursions into Afghanistan have increased.
This is a familiar pattern of the worldwide Terror War launched by the Bush Administration. We saw it a few weeks ago in Somalia, when national unity talks between the government and insurgents were disrupted at a delicate stage by the "targeted assassination" of a rebel leader (and the usual assorted civilians) by U.S. missiles.
If a Pakistani plane dropped a bomb on an American residence -- just once -- ever -- our pundits would be clamoring for endless retribution -- against Pakistan, or maybe against the entire Muslim world. Dozens of fat former generals would be showing up on television talking about how easily we could pulverize Pakistan, and how fun and interesting it would be to do so, and how Pakistan's most recent actions were so provocative that a war against Pakistan was now almost certainly inevitable. Within weeks Islamabad would be a pile of smoking, bleeding rubble. Just because of one attack.

But the shoe is on the other foot and it's not just one attack, but part of a pattern. A pattern with a long, broad, deep pedigree: America doesn't like foreigners very much, but it likes 'em better when they're at war -- with one another!

The border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been unstable -- in the midst of largely undeclared warfare -- for nearly 30 years, ever since America's foreign policy establishment thought it would be a good idea to get some Islamic terrorism going in Afghanistan in the hopes of luring the Soviets into invading.

More recently, American drones have bombed "the tribal areas" of Pakistan prior to this assault, and the Pakistani government has looked away. It's no wonder they're considered such good allies: they don't know anything about it. Just like the American media.

And when we find Muslims (including Pakistanis) who are angry at the USA, or who mean our country harm, what do we say then?

It seems to me we have two choices:

We can say they hate us for our freedoms, and then we might get on TV.

Or else we can say they hate us for our foreign policy, which is why they attacked us on 9/11, and then even though we won't be on TV, we might get some play on the internet.

Or ... or ... if we're completely something or other, we can take the third choice, the one not listed, none of the above: we can say they hate us for our foreign policy, and that's why the official story of 9/11 is somewhat plausible, or at least it would have been plausible if not for the mountains of evidence contradicting it ... but then we won't be taken seriously anywhere.

Ahhh, the national discourse. It's a good thing not to be part of.

I wish we could say the same about this endless, borderless, pointless war. But we can't. We're all in it. We're complicit in waging it, and we're victims of it too -- all at the same time. Every day that it goes on, it drains away our future, and our children's future. Even if we haven't lost friends or family to the military effort, we are still big losers, because our mute acceptance of this monstrous crime makes us all criminals, and every day that it continues, we all move a little farther along the road to Hell.

And even now, with this stupid omnivorous thing raging for more than six years, simply wanting to talk about it is considered impolite.

But is it considered impolite to remotely drop a bomb on a house thousands of miles away and kill 15 people?

Of course not! It's just like shooting fish in a barrel!

Tom Toles: Eureka

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mass Resignations: Pakistani Cabinet Split Over Rule Of Law

In Pakistan, the opposition party PML-N, led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [photo], has resigned its seats in the cabinet. This dramatic move shows enormous strain in the "coalition" government elected in February of this year.

The "coalition" is led by the PPP, which was led by Benazir Bhutto until her assassination last December, and which is now effectively in the hands of her widow, Asif Ali Zardari, although it is nominally led by their teenaged son, Bilawal "Bhutto" Zardari, who is currently in England seeking an undergrad degree.

At issue is the status of the Pakistani judiciary; Sharif and the PML-N have consistently stated that their top priority is the reinstatement of all the judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf when he declared a state of emergency in November.

Asif Zardari and the PPP have talked about re-establishing an independent judiciary but they have thrown one roadblock after another in the way of their proclaimed goal, and in this respect their actions have spoken much louder than their words. In my view, it was only a matter of time before Nawaz Sharif -- who has seemed to see through this charade ever since it began -- obtained enough political support to make this break with the so-called "coalition".

The PML-N have not resigned their seats in parliament, so the government remains in power, although with nine of 24 cabinet positions vacant (including Finance), it doesn't seem as though the government will be able to function much, or at all. In short, the situation is very unstable at the moment.

The problem, from Zardari's point of view, is that a reinstatement of the sacked judges would put the Supreme Court back the way it was prior to the declaration of emergency: in particular, Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry would once again be Chief Justice. And Chaudhry, as Jane Perlez of the New York Times puts it, is a "maverick".

Perlez describes Chaudhry as a "country judge from Baluchistan" whose independence threatens the policies of George W. Bush and terror war "ally", Pervez Musharraf. The problem -- although Perlez does not and never will say so -- is that Bush and Musharraf are committed to the destruction of the rule of law, and Chaudhry, the maverick country lawyer from Baluchistan, is committed to upholding it.

Thus, any reinstatement of the Pakistani judiciary would put at risk not only the continuing tenure in office of President Musharraf, but also Pakistan's status as an ally of the United States in the so-called "Global War on Terror".

As long-time readers of this space may recall, President Musharraf was "re-elected" last October in a comic farce that clearly violated at least two (and maybe three) different laws.

Musharraf should not even have been eligible, since he was a General -- and Army Chief of Staff -- at the time. According to Pakistani law, one may only hold one office at a time; you cannot be both a soldier and an elected official at the same time, let alone Chief of Staff and President. For that matter, Musharraf's tenure in office has been illegal ever since he siezed power in a military coup in 1999. And the fact that he resigned his commission after his October "re-election" does nothing to satisfy the law he broke by running for office.

Furthermore, in Pakistan the President is elected by the members of the national Parliament and the provincial Legislative Assemblies. This is supposed to happen just after each new Parliament is elected; they then elect the President who will serve with them during their term in office. But for this cycle, Musharraf revised the timetable, scheduling the Presidential election for October 2007 and the Parliamentary election for January 2008, so that he could be "re-elected" by the same Parliament which had "elected" him in the first place. (The Parliamentary election scheduled for January was postponed to February following the assassination of PPP leader Benazir Bhutto.)

There's also a question of term limits. In Pakistan, as in the US, no President may serve more than two consecutive terms. Musharraf and his supporters claimed that his first term -- from when he siezed power in 1999 to when he arranged to be "elected" in 2003 -- was not a term at all, since he wasn't elected then. But those who oppose Musharraf have a different view.

The previous Parliamentary election was widely seen as rigged. And the notion that the same group of falsely elected Parliamentarians should be able to "re-elect" a military dictator to his third term as President seems exceptionally offensive to those who favor the rule of law. As I've been saying, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is one of those people. Just before he was sacked, the Supreme Court announced that it was preparing to rule on petitions challenging Musharraf's "re-election". And the ruling was not likely to be favorable to the President -- this is why he declared the state of emergency and sacked the judges. So it seems quite likely that if Chaudhry were reinstated, Musharraf's presidency -- and the changes he made when declaring the emergency -- would soon be declared illegitimate.

This is not the first time Iftikhar Chaudhry has been a thorn in the sides of Bush, Musharraf and the GWOT. He was dismissed from his position amid a flurry of unsubstantiated allegations in March of 2007, after he supported the families of hundreds of people who have been "disappeared" by the Pakistani law-enforcement and intelligence agencies.

He was later reinstated after a large public show of support, but he didn't stay in office very long. "He's a threat to the GWOT," they said. And he still is.

Meanwhile, the PPP continue to play the role of faux-opposition, with Zardari apparently taking instuctions from the Americans who come to visit him every time he comes too close to supporting the rule of law or the much-ballyhooed "transition to democracy" which was supposedly represented by Musharraf's "doffing the uniform" and by Benazir Bhutto's return to the country to lead the "opposition".

In fact Buhtto's return was predicated on the proclamation of a "reconciliation order", which granted her amnsety from the corruption charges which had kept her out of Pakistan for most of the previous decade. Not wishing to show undue favoritism, the presidential order granted unconditional amnesty to many present and former government officials, effectively ending any hope of any Pakistani government official ever being held accountable for anything. Iftikhar Chaudhry might have a maverick opinion about this, as well. But we don't know much about what he thinks, because he's been under house arrest and incommunicado most of the time since November.

Meanwhile, in return for the amnesty -- and for the chance for another turn in power -- Bhutto agreed to keep the PPP in their seats last October for Musharraf's farcical "re-election". So the PPP abstained rather than resigning in protest, like the other opposition parties did.

If everyone had resigned except Musharraf's party, the PML-Q, the "re-election" would have been much more difficult to portray as "democratic". But with the most powerful opposition party on board, it was easy for the media to portray the dissenters as crackpots who just don't appreciate the wisdom of sacrificing the entire legal basis of our civilization so that a few corrupt criminal politicians can wage a bogus war without borders, killing millions of people, destroying one country after another, and making a fortune for themselves and their backers.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Torture Subpoenas: Will Administration Officials Testify? And Will It Matter?

Like the spin on everything else the Bush administration tries to hide, the spin on torture is endless and multi-layered. And everybody's buying it, or at least some of it -- except possibly some ultra-radical terrorist-sympathizers.

Thomas Ferraro for Reuters, in "Cheney aide subpoenaed to testify to Congress", writes:
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was subpoenaed on Wednesday to testify in a congressional probe of the administration's treatment and possible [sic] torture of enemy combatants [sic].
Not just enemy combatants, of course, but all those classified as such, many of whom were neither enemy nor combatants. But there was no classification for "in the wrong place at the wrong time".

And there's no real need for the word "possible" here. The torture is well-established, admitted, boasted even -- but only in the "right" company, in the "right" political climate.
House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, issued the subpoena to David Addington [photo] a day after it was authorized by a House panel.
John Conyers could have been a hero of American democracy but instead he decided to be a chump. This won't change anything. Just watch.
The administration contends its aides can not be forced to testify. But Addington has indicated he may do so if subpoenaed, congressional staffers said.

Megan Mitchell, spokeswoman for the vice president's office, said, "I can confirm that we have received the subpoena. We are reviewing it and will respond accordingly."
We already have a fairly good idea of what the vice president's office would consider to be a suitable response.
The subpoena orders Addington to appear on June 26 before the House Judiciary's subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which is examining the administration's treatment of detainees.

Addington reportedly played a key role in drafting U.S. strategies to combat [sic] terrorism after [sic] the September 11 attacks [sic] on the United States.
Or maybe the strategy is to foment terrorism and maybe it was drafted well before the September 11 attacks. Or whatever they were.
Bush maintains the United States does not torture, but he has refused to discuss interrogation techniques, saying he does not want to tip off the enemy.
Bush has also refused to sign a bill passed by both houses of congress which would have banned torture. In effect the president says, "We don't torture ... but we can't stop because our national security depends on it!"
The CIA has acknowledged using a simulated [sic] drowning technique known as waterboarding on three terrorism suspects, but says it stopped using that method in 2003.
Waterboarding is not simulated drowning; it is drowning. When the victim is tied down and his lungs are filling up with water, there's nothing simulated about it.

It's stopped just before the victim dies, and it can be done again and again. But that doesn't make it any less cruel or any more justifiable.
Waterboarding has been condemned by human rights groups, foreign countries and many U.S. lawmakers as torture.
It has also been outlawed by treaties signed by and therefore binding on the United States of America. So it doesn't really matter what human rights groups, foreign countries and many U.S. lawmakers think or say; waterboarding would be illegal even if they all approved of it!
Former Attorney General John Ashcroft and John Yoo, a former deputy assistant attorney general, have agreed to testify before the Judiciary subcommittee.
That's very civil of them, but it's entirely possible that they may not have the last say in the matter.
Bush has invoked executive privilege in rejecting congressional subpoenas for a number of current and former aides, many sought in a probe of the firing in 2006 of nine federal prosecutors.

In March, the House Judiciary Committee filed suit in U.S. District Court asking it to direct White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten to produce subpoenaed documents and order former White House counsel Harriet Miers to comply with a subpoena and testify about the ousted prosecutors.

A ruling is not expected for at least several months.
... by which time all the damage these clowns have done will be permanent.

Oh wait! It already is!

The spin is global and pervasive. China's Xinhua says, "U.S. House panel subpoenas former, present gov't officials on torture":
WASHINGTON, May 6 -- A U.S. House panel subpoenaed several former and present high-ranking Bush administration officials on Tuesday to testify on the issue of alleged torture [a little better] of terror [sic] detainees.
Some of the detainees were captured and sold for ransom. The Americans were offering huge bounties for terror suspects in late 2001, and Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf wrote in his autobiography of receiving millions of dollars in exchange for detainees.
Among [the officials subpoenaed] are John Yoo, a former top Justice Department official who authored hugely controversial memos on interrogation techniques used on detainees, and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief-of-staff David Addington, who was heavily involved in preparing the memos.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith and former Assistant Attorney General Dan Levin also agreed to testify on the issue before the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

The subcommittee said former CIA Director George Tenet is still in negotiations for testimony.

Subcommittee chairman Jerrold Nadler said torture is "un-American and yet it has been used by this government against those in our custody and control."
Torture is certainly not un-American. Americans have been training torture teams (which they call security forces") -- and death squads -- for employment in foreign countries for decades. But the torture -- and the death squads -- have been "clandestine". In other words, it's considered un-American to admit these grotesque facts, much less to obsess about them.

Xinhua continues:
"Now we know that these so-called 'enhanced' interrogation techniques were approved at the highest levels of government. Torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, besides being contrary to American values and traditions, have proven to be an ineffective means to obtaining actionable intelligence," [Nadler] added.
"Enhanced interrogation" is not about obtaining actionable intelligence. It's an instrument of oppression. But who's counting?

Malcolm Nance might be counting; he has an intimate knowledge of waterboarding and he's not afraid of saying what he knows. I doubt he would ever be asked to testify, but here's some of what he might say:

I know waterboarding is torture - because I did it myself
In the media, waterboarding is called "simulated drowning," but that's a misnomer. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning.

Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.

How much of this the victim is to endure depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim's face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs that show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.

Waterboarding is slow-motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of blackout and expiration. Usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch. If it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia - meaning, the loss of all oxygen to the cells.

The lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threatened with its use again and again. Call it "Chinese water torture," "the barrel," or "the waterfall." It is all the same.
Speaking of "all the same", Jim Freeman isn't counting on anything changing because of this sudden rash of subpoenas:
[T]he Democrats, including (but not limited to) Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Henry Waxman, John Conyers, Hapless Harry, Chuck Schumer and [...] Patrick Leahy, are all in on this long and ugly list of impeachable offenses, some of them treasonable. They are co-conspirators.
Anybody feel like arguing with Jim Freeman on this one? The floor is yours, if you want it...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Not Funny: First Lady Calls Burmese Kettle Black

The Washington Post says
Laura Bush condemned the military government in Burma yesterday for its "inept" response to a deadly weekend cyclone, marking an unusual foray by the president's spouse into a high-profile foreign policy crisis.

Appearing at a White House news conference, the first lady said the military junta in Burma is preventing the United States and other nations from providing help in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Nargis, and she alleged that the country's rulers purposely declined to warn people of the impending danger.

"Although they were aware of the threat, Burma's state-run media failed to issue a timely warning to citizens in the storm's path," she said. "The response to this cyclone is just the most recent example of the junta's failures to meet its people's basic needs."
...

Bush also called the Burmese regime "very inept" and urged it to cancel plans for a referendum later this week, which she said would "give false legitimacy to their continued rule."
It's kind of funny, isn't it?

People were saying exactly the same things about the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina, and about the bogus "election" of 2004 that gave "false legitimacy to their continued rule".

But Laura Bush wasn't one of them. And the Washington Post wasn't paying any attention.

Maybe it's not very funny after all.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Rabbi Michael Lerner: For Those Who Wish To See Judaism Survive The Twenty-First Century...



Bob Parry's Consortium News dot com features a new essay by Rabbi Michael Lerner which should be read in full; extended excerpts follow:
When I was a child, Zionism was the national liberation struggle of the Jewish people.
...

Unfortunately and tragically, we landed on the backs of Palestinians who were already there, and we hurt many of them in our landing.

So scarred were we by our own pain – having just witnessed the death of one out of every three Jews alive on the planet – that we were unable to notice or take seriously the pain that we were causing to the Palestinian people in the process.
...

The list of atrocities is long on both sides, and only those who wish to "win" for their side continue to insist that it was they who were innocent and the others were "evil" in intent as well as in action.
...

When I look back and watch the irrational and self-defeating behavior of both sides, and when I interview people on both sides of this struggle, one concept shouts out to me: PTSD-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The trauma on both sides has led people to be unable to think rationally about what is in their own best interests.

For the Palestinians that trauma led them to reject the proposal of a two-state solution that was offered them in 1947, and for them to encourage the surrounding Arab states to reject every offer made by Israel in subsequent decades even after those states were decisively defeated in the 1967 War.

In later decades, starting in the 1980s, it was the Jews who rejected reasonable offers for peace, and instead imagined that their military might would allow them to crush the Palestinian national movement. Illusion after illusion after illusion.
...

The organized Jewish community in the United States, prodded on by the Israel Lobby [...] has been one of the major impediments to [...] any peace process that cares equally for both sides.

Barack Obama felt that pressure intensely enough to insert in his now-famous speech on race in Philadelphia a line about the real problem in the Middle East stemming not even in part from the clashes and tensions between Israel and its neighbors and the frustrations of hundreds of millions of Muslims watching as their Muslim brothers and sisters are subjected to systematic violations of their human rights, but only from Islamic fundamentalism.

Not to be outdone, Hillary Clinton warned that were it to attack Israel she as president would "obliterate" Iran.

These are only the latest examples of the incredible power of the Israel Lobby to make clear that loyalty to Israel's policies is necessary for any American politician to avoid political suicide in the U.S. – one can question U.S. policy (e.g. in regard to the current war we are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and possibly in Iran), but we dare not question Israeli policy!
...

Those of us who wish to see Palestinians freed from subjugation, and Israel living in peace with its neighbors, have to begin to apply the wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi to the situation in the Middle East.

Efforts to create dialogue, to learn how to express oneself in ways that are supportive and not hostile, to learn how to respond to violence with non-violence, must be coupled with a principled embrace of non-violence and teaching non-violence in our public schools, churches, synagogues, mosques, and religious schools.
...

[T]he kind of Zionism that has emerged in Israel is fundamentally incompatible with the highest values of the Jewish tradition, and must be rejected even as we develop a compassionate attitude toward the Jewish people of Israel.

For those who wish to see Judaism survive the twenty-first century, a major first step is to separate the religion from its current identity with the policies of a national state that has lots of Jews living in it and that has succeeded in getting many Jews around the world identifying it as "The Jewish State."

I personally feel tremendous pride in many aspects of what the Jews in Israel have accomplished on the fronts of culture, science, and technology, even as I feel tremendous shame at what they have failed to accomplish in human relations, ethics, and environmental sensitivity.

But I carefully separate my sense of family – which for me is tied quite strongly to the State of Israel – from my understanding of what is required of us to serve God and to preserve Judaism in the contemporary period.

For that latter goal, we must be willing to apply the prophetic tradition and ask Israelis Isaiah's powerful question: "Who asked you to trample in My Courtyard" and to defile the holiness of God's Torah?

Judaism teaches us to "love the stranger," (the Other). There is no more frequently quoted injunction in Torah than variations on the following theme: "When you come into your land, do not oppress the stranger: remember that you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

A Jewish state that has been unwilling or unable to live by that command has no religious foundation and can generate no lasting support from those committed to God and Torah.

Such a state, failing that central commandment, is unlikely to provide safety and security for the Jewish people in any long-term way in the twenty-first century.
Read more from Rabbi Michael Lerner at Consortium News dot com.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Peroxide Plotters: My Newest Other Blog

What the world needs now ... is one more blog ... NOT! and I know it! But I needed a tool to help me keep tabs on the trial of the so-called "Liquid Bombers". So I've put together a new blog, and now that it's there, I might as well tell you about it -- just in case you need another blog to visit!

It's called "Peroxide Plotters". That's "Peroxide Plotters dot blogspot dot com". Brilliant, no?

Its main attraction is its sidebar, a set of inter-related "newsreels" keyed to the names of the alleged plotters. These newsreels provide dynamic links which will change as new news arrives.

So if you're following the so-called "Liquid Bombers" and their ongoing trial, please drop by my new other blog -- "Peroxide Plotters dot blogspot dot com" -- once in a while.

Full disclosure: I don't make any money from "Peroxide Plotters" (or from any of my other blogs), and I don't even have a hit counter there. So I won't be offended or inconvenienced in any way if you don't click this link!

[photo: top row, left to right: Tanvir Hussain, Assad Sarwar, Umar Islam, Waheed Zaman; bottom row, left to right: Mohammed Gulzar, Arafat Waheed Khan, Ibrahim Savant, Abdulla Ahmed Ali]