Saturday, October 1

Ghraibed Again!

Yesterday, Federal Judge Hellerstein ruled that additional photos of Abu Ghraib torture should be released. And as usual Fox News has beguns it's full-frontal assault on the concept of responsibility and accountability -- even going so far as to suggest that the Judge himself be subjected to torture.

O'REILLY: Do you think these pictures should be let out by Hellerstein?

HUNT: Absolutely not. No, there's no -- Hellerstein should be drawn and quartered. That man should not be -- that's criminal act, as far as I'm concerned. It's hurting our guys. There's no question. But you want this kind of stuff to stop. Hellerstein's got to go away, but we have to hold people accountable for what's happened [at Abu Ghraib]. There's no excuse for putting these pictures back out on the set, no way.

Besides the obvious, the problem with this argument is that the photos in question are far more than simply "more of the same" of what we've already seen at Abu Ghraib. As I blogged three months ago, these pictures are not simply more naked human pyramid games - it includes evidence of murder and the rape of children while there parents were forced to watch.

This is far more than just a few unsupervised guys on the night shift playing "frat boy" games. There are many unanswered questions as to how this could possibly happen, and exactly how "unsupervised" these soldiers, an contractors, actually were and why.

The ACLU states:
Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein today agreed, saying publication of the photographs will help to answer questions not only about the unlawful conduct of American soldiers, but about “the command structure that failed to exercise discipline over the troops, and the persons in that command structure whose failures in exercising supervision may make them culpable along with the soldiers who were court-martialed for perpetrating the wrongs.”

...

In response to the government’s claim that the release of the images would lead to increased violence, Judge Hellerstein noted that “the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan do not need pretexts for their barbarism; they have proven to be aggressive and pernicious in their choice of targets and tactics. Their pretexts for carrying out violence are blatant hypocrisies, clearly recognized as such except by those who would blur the clarity of their own vision.”

He added: “Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed.”

Exactly how far up the excuse chain this goes is not hard to guess. Rather than being an abberation, torture was in fact - policy. The ACLU has already published a detailed timeline which precisely outlines which orders given by Secretary Rumsfeld - in accordance with their lawsuit against the SecDef - were instrumental in fostering the "anything goes" air at Gitmo, Bagram AFB and Abu Ghraib Prison - this in turn has led to the murder of detainees. It's clear that these photos will be used as part of the evidence in that suit and that eventually, someone higher than the rank of Sgt is going to go down for this - and I suspect the Self-Righteous Right knows just who that might be.


Vyan

Wednesday, September 28

Delay Indicted!

Latest from DailyKos:

A Travis County grand jury today indicted U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on one count of criminal conspiracy, jeopardizing the Sugar Land Republican's leadership role as the second most powerful Texan in Washington, D.C.

The charge, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years incarceration, stems from his role with his political committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, a now-defunct organization that already had been indicted on charges of illegally using corporate money during the 2002 legislative elections
More from the AP Wire:
WASHINGTON - A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep.
Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post.

DeLay, 58, was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

"I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County district attorney today," DeLay said in a statement.

GOP congressional officials said Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., will recommend that Rep. David Dreier (news, bio, voting record) of California step into those duties. Some of the duties may go to the GOP whip, Rep. Roy Blunt (news, bio, voting record) of Missouri. The Republican rank and file may meet as early as Wednesday night to act on Hastert's recommendation.

Criminal conspiracy is a state felony punishable by six months to two years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The potential two-year sentence forces DeLay to step down under House Republican rules.

My first response to this is - "YEsssSSSSSsssss!!!!"

My second response is just how quickly the other cockroaches in congress start to scurry now that the light has been turned on? At this point in time there are only 5 Republican members of the House who have not received funds from Delay's ARMPAC or given to his criminal defense fund. (Joe Swarz-MI, Tom Osborne-NE, Todd Platts-PA, Frank R. Wolve-VA and Mark Kirk-IL) /

With his primary crony Jack Abramoff already under indictment we could begin to see the entire house of currupt cards that has propped up this Congress begin to fall. Timing wise, this may be a bit early to have a serious impact on the '05 elections unless more and more scandals are discovered and more and more of Delay's inner Circle are brought into the mess. But then again, as these types of things tend to be quite draw out, it could be just about a year before Delay goes on Trial - and wouldn't that just be just peachy during election time?


Full Text of Indictment courtesy of FindLaw.

Vyan

Sunday, September 25

The Peter Principle Squared

Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard takes on Tim Russert (Meet the Press), after Russert accuses him of distorting the story of the abondonment and drowning of the head of Jefferson Parish Emergency Management's mother.

"I don't know what sick-minded, black hearted people would want to nit pick the details on the death of a man's mother..."

Aaron Brousard vs Tim Russert Video

Broussard: "The Peter Principle [when you promote someone to the level of thier incompetency] was Squared here. The Bureaucracy commited murder, at all levels, local and federal. I think those people should be strung up, those people should be burned at the stake. And I'm sure Congress and the Press is going to do that... "

Vyan

Videos of Protest

Here are videos of just a few of the speakers from this morning's
rally protesting the Iraq war in Washington D.C.


Rep. Cynthia McKinney


Reverend Jesse Jackson


Cindy Sheehan


George Galloway

See these videos and more coverage at BradBlog.com

Bush's failing fundraiser

Mark Townsend in Houston
Sunday September 25, 2005
The Observer

An extraordinary appeal to Americans from the Bush administration for money to help pay for the reconstruction of Iraq has raised only $600 (£337), The Observer has learnt. Yet since the appeal was launched earlier this month, donations to rebuild New Orleans have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars.

The public's reluctance to contribute much more than the cost of two iPods to the administration's attempt to offer citizens 'a further stake in building a free and prosperous Iraq' has been seized on by critics as evidence of growing ambivalence over that country.

This coincides with concern over the increasing cost of the war. More than $30 billion has been appropriated for the reconstruction. Initially, America's overseas aid agency, USaid, expected it to cost taxpayers no more than $1.7bn, but it is now asking the public if they want to contribute even more.

It is understood to be the first time that a US government has made an appeal to taxpayers for foreign aid money. Contributors have no way of knowing who will receive their donations or even where they may go, after officials said details had be kept secret for security reasons.



http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,69...

How many more Brownies are there?


HECK OF A JOB? Bush and Brown before the FEMA head resigned

How Many More Mike Browns are out There?

A TIME inquiry finds that at top positions in some vital government agencies, the Bush Administration is putting connections before experience


By KAREN TUMULTY, MARK THOMPSON AND MIKE ALLEN I WASHINGTON

In Presidential politics, the victor always gets the spoils, and chief among them is the vast warren of offices that make up the federal bureaucracy. Historically, the U.S. public has never paid much attention to the people the President chooses to sit behind those thousands of desks.

A benign cronyism is more or less presumed, with old friends and big donors getting comfortable positions and impressive titles, and with few real consequences for the nation. But then came Michael Brown. When President Bush's former point man on disasters was discovered to have more expertise about the rules of Arabian horse competition than about the management of a catastrophe, it was a reminder that the competence of government officials who are not household names can have a life or death impact. The Brown debacle has raised pointed questions about whether political connections, not qualifications, have helped an unusually high number of Bush appointees land vitally important jobs in the Federal Government.

The Bush Administration didn't invent cronyism; John F. Kennedy turned the Justice Department over to his brother, while Bill Clinton gave his most ambitious domestic policy initiative to his wife. Jimmy Carter made his old friend Bert Lance his budget director, only to see him hauled in front of the Senate to answer questions on his past banking practices in Georgia, and George H.W. Bush deposited so many friends at the Commerce Department that the agency was known internally as "Bush Gardens."

The difference is that this Bush Administration had a plan from day one for remaking the bureaucracy, and has done so with greater success. As far back as the Florida recount, soon-to-be Vice President Dick Cheney was poring over organizational charts of the government with an eye toward stocking it with people sympathetic to the incoming Administration...

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,110927...