Saturday, June 3

Hating the Enemy - No, The Other Enemy! Y'know - Us.

The other day I saw something disturbing on Hannity and colmes.

No, it wasn't the usual thing - y'know like Hannity speaking. It was a statement made from a relatively unexpected source, Kelsey Grammer. The star of the Memorial Weekend Blockbuster X-men - in the midst of making his second (or maybe third) announcement that he intends to someday, eventually, join the ranks of Ah-nald in the upwardly mobile profession of politics - made a plea for moderation claiming "We have more that unites us, than divides us" and then he followed that up with the statement I found so astonishing.
GRAMMER: You guys make a living being divided. You have to be. That's part of your shtick. But I think there's more that unites us than divides us. Now I think it's a terrible mistake for members of the Democratic Party, not all of them certainly, to make a major plank of their platform to be just hating the Republicans.
Pardon my straight-forward common English but what tha holy flying fuck is he talking about?
It may be a fair argument to say that Democrats haven't yet articulated a coordinated strategy (Yes, they do have one), he wasn't seriously blaming the coarsening of public discourse on Democrats is he?

Yep, I think he was.

Let's do a quick review (thanks to Media Matters) of some of the things that Republicans, including Hannity, regularly say about Democrats and Liberals.
  • Sean Hannity suggested that the DNC may have been behind the Abu Ghraib prison abuse photos, asking: "Was that a DNC plot too?" (The Sean Hannity Show, 9/10/04)

  • Laura Ingraham stated that Democratic Sens. John Kerry (MA), Joseph R. Biden Jr. (DE), and Barbara Boxer (CA) are "on the side of" North Korea leader Kim Jong Il because they were opposed to John R. Bolton's nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. (Hannity & Colmes, 4/11/05).

  • Ann Coulter on Bill Clinton, "he was a very good rapist" and "molested the help" and on Al Gore, "Before we knew he was clinically insane" - "He seemed kinda gay".

  • Bill O'Reilly says he doesn't do "personal attacks", except of course for when he does.

  • On The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly has referred to media writer and Fox News Watch panelist Neal Gabler as a "rabid dog" and said of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, "How nuts is this guy?" O'Reilly also said guest Christopher Murray "sounds like a fascist" for saying that that public institutions should not display religious symbols and called former Public Broadcasting System host Bill Moyers a "totalitarian." Students at the University of Connecticut who heckled right-wing pundit Ann Coulter during her campus appearance there earned the title of "far-left Nazis" from O'Reilly. He's also called John Kerry a "sissy", and claimed that Bill Clinton would be welcomed as president by Osama bin Laden.

  • Jonah Goldberg has distorted comments by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), called syndicated columnist Helen Thomas a "thespian carbuncle of bile," and accused former President Jimmy Carter of engaging in a "mildly ghoulish exploitation of Coretta Scott King's funeral."

  • Then of course there's Michelle Malkin whose has claimed that "the vast majority of Hispanic politicians" believe that "the American Southwest belongs to Mexico;" has referred to certain Californian politicians as "Latino supremacists;" and characterized recent immigration protests as "militant racism" marked by "virulent anti-American hatred."
The claim the "Liberals are filled with Hate" really shouldn't be all that surprising. (Yeah, I was obviously sheltered until Kelsey woke me up) As noted by Malkin the right-wing and Republican party have made a regular accusation that "Liberals and Democrats Hate America", "Hate George Bush", "Hate Christianity" and "Hate the Military".

It's not just these pundits who makes these claims.

  • Townhall: Liberals Hate Fellow Americans more than Islamicists

  • David Horowitz: In 200 years of this nation’s political history, there has never been a hate campaign as massive, as nasty, and as personally vicious as the one directed against President George Bush.

  • Nathan Tabor : Liberals hate Freedom, Not War

  • Joe Klein : "Well [Democrats] won't [regain control of Congress] if their message is that they hate America -- which is what has been the message of the liberal wing of the party for the past twenty years."
This repeated refrain is far from an accident. It's part of a concerted campaign to generally castigate anyone non-Conservative and non-Republican. The plan is to claim that everything they say, regardless of how well reasoned or logical it may be, is ultimately caused by some deep-seated feeling of irrational hate, and you deconstruct the counter argument without ever having to engage it.

It also goes a long way to continually re-enforce the "Victim Ideology". If you listen to them, Republicans and Conservatives are constantly under attack, they've had to repel a War On Christmas, and even a War on Easter. This besides the fact that Conservatives control two branches of the Government outright (Legislative, Executive) have a strong foothold in the third (Judicial) as well as a massive presense in the Fourth Estate of Media. Still they claim they are constantly under siege, by the rabid hordes of Liberalism?

To quote Harvard Law Profressor Lawrence Tribe : Poppycock!

No, Republicans are not under attack. Nor are they "Under Siege". But the constant bleating keeps them in a constantly crouched defensive position - ready to desperately counter-attack any encroachment on thier "territory". The constant cries of Liberals On the Rampage are an easy way to justify the use of any and all means (necessary or not) to fight back. Republicans are the heroes of their own self-written story.

Let me tell you something about Liberals. Something that even they sometimes forget. Something I've come to realize since fully rejoining their ranks over the last two years.

Liberals don't hate Republicans. They don't hate George Bush. They don't hate America. They don't hate our Military.

But they do have hate in their hearts.

They hate what Republicans and George Bush have DONE TO America and our Military over the last five years.

They hate that Republicans, who love to hide behind the flag and any military uniform they can find - will throw our veterans under the bus at the drop of a hat, by cutting their benefits - at a time of war, when they kinda need those health benefits.

In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap — and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.

For example, the White House griped that various pay-and-benefits incentives added to the 2004 defense budget by Congress are wasteful and unnecessary — including a modest proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of troops who die on active duty. This comes at a time when Americans continue to die in Iraq at a rate of about one a day.

Similarly, the administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.

They hate that when we do have the occasion when our troops make a mistake -- or even commit a crime -- their idea of "support" is to come up with phony excuses for that crime rather than insist that those guilty be held accountable, including responsible parties in the chain of command.

They hate that Republicans have misread the Bible so grossly (Genesis: Just how long is a "Day" when God hadn't yet even "created" the Earth yet?) that they continue to insist that non-science such as so-called "Intelligent Design" be taught in science class instead of where it belongs - in comparative theology.

They hate that Republicans claim to care about "all life", except for the lives of pregnant women and innocent Iraqi civilians caught in the cross-fire of War.

They hate that Republicans would rather women die of cancer than have sex.

They hate that a President who claims to be "a uniter, not a divider," has divided the country in a manner unequalled since the Civil War.

They hate "Hillbilly Armor".

They hate that the current administration has fostered an environment of cronyism that leads to the inept failing their way upward (Brownie?), and favored contractors raking in the spoils from the Iraq conflict while our sons and daughters in uniform pay for it in blood, and their sons and daughters will eventually pay for it in treasure.

They hate what the Bush Administration let happen to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, even though they were warned.

They hate so-called "failures of imagination" whether they were prior to 9-11, prior to the invasion of Iraq or during the ongoing insurgency - especially when there were plenty of people "imagined' it all just perfectly.

They hate how Republicans have staged a mugging of our seniors through their Medicare Part-D debacle.

They hate how this Administration has decided to wipe their ass with the First (Prosecuting Journalists), Fourth (Warrantless Wire Taps, Data Mining, Physical Searches) , Fifth (Habeas Corpus) and Eighth (Torture) Amendments to the Constitution - and every indication seem to be they're gunning for the rest of them.

They hate how Republicans have made truth, facts and reality merely a matter of opinion.

Hating Republicans themselves, is (or certainly should be) an afterthought at best. IMO, they should be pitied for their compulsive/obsessive addiction to a failed ideology.


Friday, June 2

Bush's Propaganda Campaign

Last night Robert Kennedy Jr. appeared on The Situation with Tucker Carlson to discuss his recent Rolling Stone Article (out on the stands today) involving the possible theft of the 2004 Election by Republicans.

During the exchange Tucker asked what seems like an obvious question:

CARLSON: And my question is, why hasn't Congress determined that -- in other words, if the election were thrown and it were obvious to those who looked carefully, it would be a news story. The press is not going to hide something like that. And neither is Congress. So why isn't this common knowledge?

Besides the fact that there actually has been a Congressional Investigation and book into the irregularies in Ohio (which Robert duly pointed out) the broader point about the media needs to be addressed.

Why hasn't the media jumped all over this issue?  Possibly because of Bush's own propoganda operation which has consistently pushed the truth aside.

Via Hume's Ghost on Unclaimed Terrority the FCC has begun an investigation of government generated "news" segments that are supportive of administration policies and corporations that have been regularly broadcast on local news status as if it were genuine news. From the Independant.

   Investigators from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are seeking information about stations across the country after a report produced by a campaign group detailed the extraordinary extent of the use of such items.

    The report, by the non-profit group Centre for Media and Democracy, found that over a 10-month period at least 77 television stations were making use of the faux news broadcasts, known as Video News Releases (VNRs). Not one told viewers who had produced the items.

    "We know we only had partial access to these VNRs and yet we found 77 stations using them," said Diana Farsetta, one of the group's researchers. "I would say it's pretty extraordinary. The picture we found was much worse than we expected going into the investigation in terms of just how widely these get played and how frequently these pre-packaged segments are put on the air."

A summary of the report (pdf) from the Center for Media and Democracy is here.

   Over a ten-month period, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) documented television newsrooms' use of 36 video news releases (VNRs)--a small sample of the thousands produced each year. CMD identified 77 television stations, from those in the largest to the smallest markets, that aired these VNRs or related satellite media tours (SMTs) in 98 separate instances, without disclosure to viewers. Collectively, these 77 stations reach more than half of the U.S. population. The VNRs and SMTs whose broadcast CMD documented were produced by three broadcast PR firms for 49 different clients, including General Motors, Intel, Pfizer and Capital One. In each case, these 77 television stations actively disguised the sponsored content to make it appear to be their own reporting. In almost all cases, stations failed to balance the clients' messages with independently-gathered footage or basic journalistic research. More than one-third of the time, stations aired the pre-packaged VNR in its entirety.

There have been subsequent reports from the GAO that this is uhconstitutional Propoganda, reports from the New York Times, meanwhile the White House has the audacity to claim that the law simply isn't the law.

   The Bush administration, rejecting an opinion from the Government Accountability Office, said last week that it is legal for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government's role in producing them.

    That message, in memos sent Friday to federal agency heads and general counsels, contradicts a Feb. 17 memo from Comptroller General David M. Walker. Walker wrote that such stories -- designed to resemble independently reported broadcast news stories so that TV stations can run them without editing -- violate provisions in annual appropriations laws that ban covert propaganda.

    But Joshua B. Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Steven G. Bradbury, principal deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said in memos last week that the administration disagrees with the GAO's ruling. And, in any case, they wrote, the department's Office of Legal Counsel, not the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, provides binding legal interpretations for federal agencies to follow.

    The legal counsel's office "does not agree with GAO that the covert propaganda prohibition applies simply because an agency's role in producing and disseminating information is undisclosed or 'covert,' regardless of whether the content of the message is 'propaganda,' " Bradbury wrote. "Our view is that the prohibition does not apply where there is no advocacy of a particular viewpoint, and therefore it does not apply to the legitimate provision of information concerning the programs administered by an agency."

Yes, that's right - it was that Joshua Bolten - the one who is now White House Chief of Staff. And his principle claim that what the non-partisan GAO says is illegal is legal is coming from the same group of DOJ government attorneys that the Bush Administration has used to justify it's warrantless NSA wiretaps and other extreme uses of executive authority. It's the portion of the DOJ that brought us Samuel Alito - Mr. Unitary Executive.

This story has been around for quite some time, enough time for Bolten to receive a rather substantial promotion. Hume sums it up.

    This story came out at about the same time that it was revealed that the Bush administration had paid four journalists - Armstrong Williams, Michael McManus, Maggie Gallagher, and Dave Smith - to shill for various policies, and around the same time that it was discovered (by Americablog) that Jeff Gannon, a fake journalist/non-credentialed Republican operative, had been allowed two years of access to White House press briefings without being granted the security clearance which is necessary for such access.

How critical this issue remains is shown by further comments by the GAO.

   Within the last year, the GAO has rapped the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of National Drug Control Policy for distributing such stories about the Medicare drug benefit and the administration's anti-drug campaign, respectively.

    In an interview yesterday, Walker said the administration's approach is both contrary to appropriations law and unethical.

    "This is more than a legal issue. It's also an ethical issue and involves important good government principles, namely the need for openness in connection with government activities and expenditures," Walker said. "We should not just be seeking to do what's arguably legal. We should be doing what's right."

The Bush Administration generated phony news reports about the Prescription Drug Benefit in order to make it's passage of that bill - in the dead of the night - more palatable to the public?

There were also the reports that this doesn't just impact Americans, there were the false Psy-ops reports prior to the attack on Fallajah, where the U.S. Military used U.S. News services in an attempt to "mislead the enemy". Exactly why they chose to also mislead CNN was never made clear. But the practice has not just been limited to attempts to gain strategic advantage, we've also been planting false reports in Iraqi Newspapers. But why stop there, eh?

   The explanation begins inside the White House, where the president's communications advisers devised a strategy after Sept. 11, 2001, to encourage supportive news coverage of the fight against terrorism. The idea, they explained to reporters at the time, was to counter charges of American imperialism by generating accounts that emphasized American efforts to liberate and rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq.

    An important instrument of this strategy was the Office of Broadcasting Services, a State Department unit of 30 or so editors and technicians whose typical duties include distributing video from news conferences. But in early 2002, with close editorial direction from the White House, the unit began producing narrated feature reports, many of them promoting American achievements in Afghanistan and Iraq and reinforcing the administration's rationales for the invasions. These reports were then widely distributed in the United States and around the world for use by local television stations. In all, the State Department has produced 59 such segments.

    United States law contains provisions intended to prevent the domestic dissemination of government propaganda. The 1948 Smith-Mundt Act, for example, allows Voice of America to broadcast pro-government news to foreign audiences, but not at home. Yet State Department officials said that law does not apply to the Office of Broadcasting Services. In any event, said Richard A. Boucher, a State Department spokesman: "Our goal is to put out facts and the truth. We're not a propaganda agency."

So much for the claim that the media doesn't cover enough "good" news out of Iraq. Why should it when the Administration can simply make it up on the fly, write and film it, then feed it to local newspapers and TV stations as though it were actual news?

The statements by GAO, strongly worded as they are, simply do not express the true gravity of the situation. The media is called the "Fourth Estate" because it is essentially the fourth pillar in our Democracy. The one that seeks to maintain balance between all the other branches, however if a single branch - the executive - is able to upsurp the media indenpendance and objectivity by paying off pundits and generating it's own self-congratulator news reports -- our Democracy grows unbalanced and just might possibly slip away entirely as Mark Crispin Miller has suggested.

This also might explain why a right-wing pundit like Tucker would ask an obvious self-serving question of Kennedy.  He already knows the answer, the media has been bought and paid for and when neccesary replaced by the latest dictates from Bush's Politburo.


RS Editorial: A Call to Investigate the 2004 Vote

From Democratic Underground

Editorial: A Call for Investigation

Electronic voting machines pose a grave threat to democracy
For more, see exclusive documents, sources, charts and commentary.

Election officials across the country are currently scrambling to install electronic voting machines in time for the midterm elections this fall. The touch-screen technology, they insist, will make voting as easy and secure as withdrawing cash from an ATM. ''This technology has been used effectively for ten to fifteen years,'' says David Bear, a spokesman for Diebold, a leading manufacturer of electronic voting machines.

There are certainly good reasons to modernize the nation's ridiculously outdated voting equipment; it was Florida's ''hanging chads,'' after all, that cost Al Gore the presidency in 2000. But mounting evidence suggests that touch-screen machines present a far graver threat to the integrity of America's elections -- and that leading Republicans have taken money from Diebold to push local election officials to adopt its technology. It is time for Congress and the Justice Department to launch a full-scale investigation into the company and its equipment.

Vote Rigging Repeated studies have shown that touch-screen machines, which provide voters with no paper record of their ballots, are highly susceptible to tampering. According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the leading federal watchdog agency, the machines are ''eminently hackable.'' It takes only a few minutes to open the machines and insert a PC card containing malicious code that will switch votes from one candidate to another. In a demonstration conducted last year before the Board of Elections in Leon County, Florida, computer security expert Herbert Thompson cracked into an electronic machine in under sixty seconds, altering the internal code and changing the vote count.


Undue Influence After the Florida fiasco in 2000, Diebold saw an opportunity. To persuade Rep. Bob Ney to promote its machines in a package of election reforms he was drafting called the Help America Vote Act, the company hired two lobbyists with close ties to the Ohio congressman. Diebold paid at least $180,000 to David DiStefano, Ney's former chief of staff. And it shelled out as much as $275,000 to the lobbying firm of the best-connected man on Capitol Hill: Jack Abramoff.


Was the 2004 Election Stolen? Sources and Commentary

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and ROLLING STONE spent four months investigating the 2004 election in Ohio. To assemble a conservative estimate of the number of voters in the state who were prevented from casting ballots or did not have their votes counted, we interviewed dozens of election officials, pollsters, candidates, voter advocates and political scientists, and reviewed reports by federal officials, statisticians, voter advocates and journalists.
Kennedy is president of Waterkeeper Alliance and writes frequently about issues affecting American democracy. His story ''Deadly Immunity'' appeared in RS 977/978. Additional research and reporting for this piece were provided by contributing editor Tim Dickinson, who covers politics for ROLLING STONE, and writes National Affairs Daily, where he will be exploring the article in greater depth in the coming days.

Below is a list of sources and additional materials on the 2004 election.

Was the 2004 Election Stolen? The Charts

Dixie Chicks on Larry King

C&L has the video of the Dixie's on Larry King.

The Dixie Chicks joined Larry King Wednesday and gave their first live prime time interview since criticizing Bush in '03.

Video-WMP Video-QT Video-Bittorent-WMP

They talked about Natalie's comment about President Bush, what people said about them and how they felt about the response when and after it happened. A caller made the point that Donald Rumsfeld taped his interview with Larry instead of going live and called him a coward.

Caller: What do you think about Donald Rumsfeld?

Emily: He weaves around questions better than anyone I've ever seen---He's the weaver.


C&L: Olbermann clocks O'Reilly on War Crimes

Twice, once last October (while discussing Abu Ghraib) and again on Tuesday night (while talking about Haditha) Bill O'Reilly claimed that an atrocity commited on American Troops during World War II by Nazi SS soldiers was actually commited by the Americans, and that someone this type of thing is something we should simply "expect" to happen in wars. Details from Crooks and Liars:
While O'Reilly was debating Wesley Clark on his FOX show, Bill once again was short on the facts. It proves my theory once again that some talking heads will say just about anything to make themselves sound right.

Video-WMP Video-QT

(Full rough transcript)

Olbermann: The bodies at Malmedy were not found until a month later. There were 84 of them, all, American soldiers. More than half showed gunshot wounds to their heads. Six had received fatal **blows** to the head. Nine were found with their arms still raised **above** their heads.

The fact that O'Reilly got these horrible facts completely backwards -- twice -- offended even his own usually compliant viewers. From his program **Wednesday** night...Wrong answer.

When you're **that** wrong -- when you're defending Nazi War Criminals and pinning their crimes on Americans, and you get **caught** doing so -- **twice** -- you're supposed to say 'I'm sorry, I was wrong'... and then you should shut up for a long time. Instead, Fox **washed** its transcript of O'Reilly's remarks Tuesday -- its website claims O'Reilly said "In **Normandy**..." when in fact he said "In **Malmedy**..."

The rewriting of past reporting -- worthy of Orwell -- has now carried over into such on-line transcription services as Burrell's and Factiva. Whatever did or did not happen **later**, in supposed or actual retribution... the victims at Malmedy, were **Americans**, gunned down while surrendering -- by **Nazis** in 1944 -- and again, Tuesday Night and Wednesday Night -- by a false patriot who would rather be loud than right.

"In Malmedy, as you know" Bill O'Reilly **said** Tuesday night, in some indecipherable attempt to defend the events of Haditha, "U.S. forces captured S.S. forces who had their hands in the air and were unarmed and they shot them dead, you know that. That's on the record. And documented."

The victims at Malmedy in December, 1944... were Americans. **Americans** with their hands in the air. **Americans** who were unarmed. That's on the record. And documented.

And their memory deserves better than Bill O'Reilly.

We **all** do.

What else is there to say? Olbermann hit that one out of the park.


Thursday, June 1

Pre-empt the Swiftboating of RFK Jr.

As Bradblog reported yesterday, , environmental Attorney, author and weekend Air America Host, Robert Kennedy Jr's Rolling Stone article is now up And I'm sure we should get good and ready for rapid and feral Swiftboating that Kennedy and his article on how the 2004 Election was stolen is sure to receive.

It's not like we haven't been down this road before.

Before Kennedy's article there was John Conyers Report on "What went Wrong in Ohio", as well as Mark Crispin Miller's book "Fooled Again".

So far the answer from the right and media has been a big yawn! With luck, the reaction to Kennedy's article just might be a big roar of indignation - and if so, we need to be ready.

The first thing we can do is get informed. Well armed is well prepared. Read Kennedy's article NOW! Then read it again. It's possible to do searches within the text of "Fooled Again" on the site, if you don't already have a copy.

Although many people fault John Kerry for failing to respond to the his own swiftboating (although he did), we have to recognize that this attack came from a third party, not a normal member of the campaign. Just as we've seen the swiftboat treatment for Rep John Murtha on Haditha, against Ray McGovern for daring to challenge Donald Rumsfeld with his own words, and the attempts against Al Gore's new movie "An Inconvenient Truth" by using junk pseudo-science against him, and just look at the spittle spewing response on C-Span (video) attorney Cliff Arnebeck received when he originally sued over the Ohio results in December of 04, if all goes well and this latest article isn't simply blown off as tin-foil hattery - we can expect Kennedy to get the exact same treatment. In this case, we're the interested third party, and we need to have our counter-response on the deck.

Key points from the article:

After carefully examining the evidence, I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election. A review of the available data reveals that in Ohio alone, at least 357,000 voters, the overwhelming majority of them Democratic, were prevented from casting ballots or did not have their votes counted in 2004(12) -- more than enough to shift the results of an election decided by 118,601 votes.(13) (See Ohio's Missing Votes) In what may be the single most astounding fact from the election, one in every four Ohio citizens who registered to vote in 2004 showed up at the polls only to discover that they were not listed on the rolls, thanks to GOP efforts to stem the unprecedented flood of Democrats eager to cast ballots.(14) And that doesn?t even take into account the troubling evidence of outright fraud, which indicates that upwards of 80,000 votes for Kerry were counted instead for Bush. That alone is a swing of more than 160,000 votes -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.(15)

Then there is the issue of the exit polls.

On the evening of the vote, reporters at each of the major networks were briefed by pollsters at 7:54 p.m. Kerry, they were informed, had an insurmountable lead and would win by a rout: at least 309 electoral votes to Bush's 174, with fifty-five too close to call.(28) In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair went to bed contemplating his relationship with President-elect Kerry.(29)

As the last polling stations closed on the West Coast, exit polls showed Kerry ahead in ten of eleven battleground states -- including commanding leads in Ohio and Florida -- and winning by a million and a half votes nationally. The exit polls even showed Kerry breathing down Bush's neck in supposed GOP strongholds Virginia and North Carolina.(30) Against these numbers, the statistical likelihood of Bush winning was less than one in 450,000.(31) ''Either the exit polls, by and large, are completely wrong,'' a Fox News analyst declared, ''or George Bush loses.''(32)

But as the evening progressed, official tallies began to show implausible disparities -- as much as 9.5 percent -- with the exit polls. In ten of the eleven battleground states, the tallied margins departed from what the polls had predicted. In every case, the shift favored Bush. Based on exit polls, CNN had predicted Kerry defeating Bush in Ohio by a margin of 4.2 percentage points. Instead, election results showed Bush winning the state by 2.5 percent. Bush also tallied 6.5 percent more than the polls had predicted in Pennsylvania, and 4.9 percent more in Florida.(33)

According to Steven F. Freeman, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in research methodology, the odds against all three of those shifts occurring in concert are one in 660,000. ''As much as we can say in sound science that something is impossible,'' he says, ''it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote count in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error.'' (See The Tale of the Exit Polls)

The key question of course are - "How did this happen?" and even more importantly "How can we prevent it from happening again?"

To determine that we have to look at what actually did occur. The core issues.

Kenneth Blackwell

John Conyers states...

''Blackwell made Katherine Harris look like a cupcake,'' Conyers told me. ''He saw his role as limiting the participation of Democratic voters. We had hearings in Columbus for two days. We could have stayed two weeks, the level of fury was so high. Thousands of people wanted to testify. Nothing like this had ever happened to them before.''

When ROLLING STONE confronted Blackwell about his overtly partisan attempts to subvert the election, he dismissed any such claim as ''silly on its face.'' Ohio, he insisted in a telephone interview, set a ''gold standard'' for electoral fairness. In fact, his campaign to subvert the will of the voters had begun long before Election Day. Instead of welcoming the avalanche of citizen involvement sparked by the campaign, Blackwell permitted election officials in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo to conduct a massive purge of their voter rolls, summarily expunging the names of more than 300,000 voters who had failed to cast ballots in the previous two national elections.(55) In Cleveland, which went five-to-one for Kerry, nearly one in four voters were wiped from the rolls between 2000 and 2004.(56)

The Strike Force ("Knock 'em off the Rolls")

To stem the tide of new registrations, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party attempted to knock tens of thousands of predominantly minority and urban voters off the rolls through illegal mailings known in electioneering jargon as ''caging.'' During the Eighties, after the GOP used such mailings to disenfranchise nearly 76,000 black voters in New Jersey and Louisiana, it was forced to sign two separate court orders agreeing to abstain from caging.(63) But during the summer of 2004, the GOP targeted minority voters in Ohio by zip code, sending registered letters to more than 200,000 newly registered voters(64) in sixty-five counties.(65) On October 22nd, a mere eleven days before the election, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett -- who also chairs the board of elections in Cuyahoga County -- sought to invalidate the registrations of 35,427 voters who had refused to sign for the letters or whose mail came back as undeliverable.(66) Almost half of the challenged voters were from Democratic strongholds in and around Cleveland.(67)

Barriers to Registration ("Keep 'em off the rolls")

To further monkey-wrench the process he was bound by law to safeguard, Blackwell cited an arcane elections regulation to make it harder to register new voters. In a now-infamous decree, Blackwell announced on September 7th -- less than a month before the filing deadline -- that election officials would process registration forms only if they were printed on eighty-pound unwaxed white paper stock, similar to a typical postcard. Justifying his decision to ROLLING STONE, Blackwell portrayed it as an attempt to protect voters: ''The postal service had recommended to us that we establish a heavy enough paper-weight standard that we not disenfranchise voters by having their registration form damaged by postal equipment.'' Yet Blackwell's order also applied to registrations delivered in person to election offices. He further specified that any valid registration cards printed on lesser paper stock that miraculously survived the shredding gauntlet at the post office were not to be processed; instead, they were to be treated as applications for a registration form, requiring election boards to send out a brand-new card.(90)

In one of his most effective maneuvers, Blackwell prevented thousands of voters from receiving provisional ballots on Election Day. The fail-safe ballots were mandated in 2002, when Congress passed a package of reforms called the Help America Vote Act. This would prevent a repeat of the most egregious injustice in the 2000 election, when officials in Florida barred thousands of lawfully registered minority voters from the polls because their names didn't appear on flawed precinct rolls. Under the law, would-be voters whose registration is questioned at the polls must be allowed to cast provisional ballots that can be counted after the election if the voter's registration proves valid.(114)

The Wrong Pew ("Even if they still show up to vote, don't let it count")

''Provisional ballots were supposed to be this great movement forward,'' says Tova Andrea Wang, an elections expert who served with ex-presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford on the commission that laid the groundwork for the Help America Vote Act. ''But then different states erected barriers, and this new right became totally eviscerated.''

The Long Lines ("Wait 'em out")

When Election Day dawned on November 2nd, tens of thousands of Ohio voters who had managed to overcome all the obstacles to registration erected by Blackwell discovered that it didn't matter whether they were properly listed on the voting rolls -- because long lines at their precincts prevented them from ever making it to the ballot box. Would-be voters in Dayton and Cincinnati routinely faced waits as long as three hours. Those in inner-city precincts in Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo -- which were voting for Kerry by margins of ninety percent or more -- often waited up to seven hours. At Kenyon College, students were forced to stand in line for eleven hours before being allowed to vote, with the last voters casting their ballots after three in the morning.(132)

The long lines were not only foreseeable -- they were actually created by GOP efforts. Republicans in the state legislature, citing new electronic voting machines that were supposed to speed voting, authorized local election boards to reduce the number of precincts across Ohio. In most cases, the new machines never materialized -- but that didn't stop officials in twenty of the state's eighty-eight counties, all of them favorable to Democrats, from slashing the number of precincts by at least twenty percent.(136)

Faulty Machines ("Change the Vote")

Voters who managed to make it past the array of hurdles erected by Republican officials found themselves confronted by voting machines that didn't work. Only 800,000 out of the 5.6 million votes in Ohio were cast on electronic voting machines, but they were plagued with errors.(164) In heavily Democratic areas around Youngstown, where nearly 100 voters reported entering ''Kerry'' on the touch screen and watching ''Bush'' light up, at least twenty machines had to be recalibrated in the middle of the voting process for chronically flipping Kerry votes to Bush.(165) (Similar ''vote hopping'' from Kerry to Bush was reported by voters and election officials in other states.)(166) Elsewhere, voters complained in sworn affidavits that they touched Kerry's name on the screen and it lit up, but that the light had gone out by the time they finished their ballot; the Kerry vote faded away.(167) In the state's most notorious incident, an electronic machine at a fundamentalist church in the town of Gahanna recorded a total of 4,258 votes for Bush and 260 votes for Kerry.(168) In that precinct, however, there were only 800 registered voters, of whom 638 showed up.(169) (The error, which was later blamed on a glitchy memory card, was corrected before the certified vote count.)

Rural Counties (Stuffing the Box)

Despite the well-documented effort that prevented hundreds of thousands of voters in urban and minority precincts from casting ballots, the worst theft in Ohio may have quietly taken place in rural counties. An examination of election data suggests widespread fraud -- and even good old-fashioned stuffing of ballot boxes -- in twelve sparsely populated counties scattered across southern and western Ohio: Auglaize, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Darke, Highland, Mercer, Miami, Putnam, Shelby, Van Wert and Warren. (See The Twelve Suspect Counties) One key indicator of fraud is to look at counties where the presidential vote departs radically from other races on the ballot. By this measure, John Kerry's numbers were suspiciously low in each of the twelve counties -- and George Bush's were unusually high.

How might this fraud have been carried out? One way to steal votes is to tamper with individual ballots -- and there is evidence that Republicans did just that. In Clermont County, where optical scanners were used to tabulate votes, sworn affidavits by election observers given to the House Judiciary Committee describe ballots on which marks for Kerry were covered up with white stickers, while marks for Bush were filled in to replace them. Rep. Conyers, in a letter to the FBI, described the testimony as ''strong evidence of vote tampering if not outright fraud.'' (184) In Miami County, where Connally outpaced Kerry, one precinct registered a turnout of 98.55 percent (185) -- meaning that all but ten eligible voters went to the polls on Election Day. An investigation by the Columbus Free Press, however, collected affidavits from twenty-five people who swear they didn't vote. (186)

In addition to altering individual ballots, evidence suggests that Republicans tampered with the software used to tabulate votes. In Auglaize County, where Kerry lost not only to Connally but to two other defeated Democratic judicial candidates, voters cast their ballots on touch-screen machines. (187) Two weeks before the election, an employee of ES&S, the company that manufactures the machines, was observed by a local election official making an unauthorized log-in to the central computer used to compile election results. (188) In Miami County, after 100 percent of precincts had already reported their official results, an additional 18,615 votes were inexplicably added to the final tally. The last-minute alteration awarded 12,000 of the votes to Bush, boosting his margin of victory in the county by nearly 6,000. (189)

The Phony Terrorism Alert

The most transparently crooked incident took place in Warren County. In the leadup to the election, Blackwell had illegally sought to keep reporters and election observers at least 100 feet away from the polls. (190) The Sixth Circuit, ruling that the decree represented an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, noted ominously that ''democracies die behind closed doors.'' But the decision didn't stop officials in Warren County from devising a way to count the vote in secret. Immediately after the polls closed on Election Day, GOP officials -- citing the FBI -- declared that the county was facing a terrorist threat that ranked ten on a scale of one to ten. The county administration building was hastily locked down, allowing election officials to tabulate the results without any reporters present.

Last Step: Rigging the Recount

After Kerry conceded the election, his campaign helped the Libertarian and Green parties pay for a recount of all eighty-eight counties in Ohio. Under state law, county boards of election were required to randomly select three percent of their precincts and recount the ballots both by hand and by machine. If the two totals reconciled exactly, a costly hand recount of the remaining votes could be avoided; machines could be used to tally the rest.

But election officials in Ohio worked outside the law to avoid hand recounts. According to charges brought by a special prosecutor in April, election officials in Cleveland fraudulently and secretly pre-counted precincts by hand to identify ones that would match the machine count. They then used these pre-screened precincts to select the ''random'' sample of three percent used for the recount.

From the list of issues a series of talking points can be constructed, to push back against those who would argue that all of this is "tin-foil hattery" and sour grapes on the part of democrats.

If not to illegally skew the vote what was the justification for...

  • The Exit Polls being so far wrong, even beyond a statistical impossibility?
  • The purge of inactive voters centered on Democratic Strongholds?
  • The use of illegal registered letters to "Cage" Democratic Voters?
  • Blackwell's requiring 80 lbs stock for registration cards, and then supply non-80 lbs stock to voters?
  • Some (Democratic) voters having to wait up to 7 hours (in the rain)?
  • There being no safeguards to protect the electronic tabulators from tampering?
  • The mysterious "Level Ten" Terror alert during the counting?
  • why "Pre-counting" was premitted?

The key to all of this is tying the actions and events specifically to the actions of authorized Republicans such as Blackwell and the RNC. We're certain to hear claims that there was no deliberate malice involved, that there were Democratic election offices involved in many of these decisions - but none of that changes the fact that in each and every case - a problem generated more votes for Bush and less for Kerry in a critical "Battleground State".

I have to admit, that when things originally went down I was skeptical that a deliberate theft of the election had taken place. The amount of the vote discrepancy seemed to large, too massive. It couldn't be possible that nearly 3 Million votes national wide could have been shifted from Kerry to Bush, could it? But the fact is such as shift isn't really neccesary. All they needed was a few hundred here, and a few hundred there in key or close districts and states.

In order to protect what's left of our Democracy, and particularly the integrity of future elections (such as 2006) we need to be ready to challenge these and similar tactics before it's too late. We have to act Now, and the first thing to do is prepare LTE's asking why every newspaper in the country isn't running this story.

It doesn't matter if they agree with Kennedy, we just need them to address the issue -- keep the noise machine spinning - let them try and argue against the facts and science. They ignored Conyers. They ignored Miller. We can't afford to let them ignore Kennedy, whose planned a massive media sweep to support his article, including an appearance on Stephen COlbert on Monday. We need to TIVO that appearance, make sure Crooks & Liars have it. LInk it like crazy. If Kennedy goes on Olbermann, we need to bang on it. If he goes on (heaven help us) either O'Leily or Hannity - we need to be on top of it.

It's our Democracy - and our duty to protect it.

Just remember your Ghandi :"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you - then you win."


[Update: Robert appeared on Tucker Carlson's show tonight and did a good job holding his own. Tucker threw up several straw men and Robert batted them back like a seasoned tennis pro...

  • If this was such a massive conspiracy, why has no one come forward yet? (IMO Because they'd be admitting to a felony, duh! - Robert didn't even bother responding to this one)
  • Bush ultimately won by over 3 million votes and Robert doesn't make the case that so many were stolen (Robert responded that only 160,000 were needed to flip Ohio and give the entire election to Bush.)
  • Tucker doesn't think it's a "crackpot" article (Thanks, loads - just saying the word puts the suggestion in the listeners mind anyway, IMO. Robert pointed out that this has already been the subject of Congressional hearings and an investigation by Rep. John Conyers. The evidence is conclusive.)
  • Tucker stated that "surely the Press would have covered it" and congress would have done something? (This he said less than 30 secs after Robert had just said that Congressman Conyers did do something, and that there are several ongoing prosecutions taking place in Ohio)
  • Tucker made the accusation that one specific example in the article concern voting machines in Nevada doesn't "make the case" that it was specifically an effort by Republicans to steal the vote (Robert pointed out that he was only using the voting issue in other states as a comparison point for how specifically partisan the Ohio situation was)
Overall, he did a great job and didn't let Tucker bloviate over him without getting into a shouting match. Tucker was't convinced, but Robert didn't let him sow seeds of doubt - which was clearly his goal, to make the issue seem "murky and unclear" like that "Global Warming Thingy" we just need to keep studying... and studying... maybe someday we'll figure it all out, but right now we now we just don't know. Yeah, right Tucker -- how're those Brooklyn Bridge sales coming along?

Wednesday, May 31

Blowing the War on Terror

FBI Agent
James Wedick

The LA Times has a story up now about a career FBI Agent from my old home town of Sacramento who attempted to stop a bogus conviction of two Terrorism suspects from Lodi - but was blocked by the Justice Dept.

James Wedick, a 35 year FBI veteran with a stellar career of capturing white collar criminals didn't expect much when he received a copy of the interrogation tapes of two Pakistan Muslims - one 22-year-old Hamid Hayat and his father Umer - but what he saw was definately something.

At home in the Gold River suburbs of Sacramento, Jim Wedick agreed to study the FBI video as a favor to one of the defense attorneys. He was fully expecting to call the attorney back and advise him that son and father, guilty as charged, needed to strike a quick plea deal. It was hard to trump a confession, and in this instance the feds were holding not one confession but two. Even so, Wedick always had been the kind of investigator who needed to measure every bit of evidence for himself. So he stuck the video in his player and sat back on the couch to watch. The images were grainy, but he recognized the setting right off. It was the old polygraph room at the FBI's regional headquarters on the north side of the capital. He recognized several of the agents too. In the year since his retirement, they had become experts on counterterrorism. Now, two at a time, they began a five-hour interrogation that would crack a suicide bomber in the making.


Wedick was troubled by the inability of the agents to pin down the contours of one believable story. They didn't seem to know the terrain of Pakistan or the month of Ramadan. They didn't seem to fully appreciate that they were dealing with an immigrant kid from a lowly Pashtun tribe whose sixth-grade education and poor command of the English language—"Martyred? What does that mean, sir?"—demanded a more skeptical approach. And then there was the matter of the father's confession. Umer Hayat described visiting his son's camp and finding 1,000 men wearing black Ninja Turtle masks and performing "pole vaulting" exercises in huge basement rooms—100 miles from Balakot. The agents going back and forth between the two interrogations that night never attempted to reconcile the vast differences in the confessions.

The video ended and Wedick picked up the phone and called defense attorney Johnny L. Griffin. Whatever hesitation he had about taking on the FBI office that he, more than anyone, had put on the map—the office where his wife still worked as an agent—was now gone. "Johnny, it's the sorriest interrogation, the sorriest confession, I've ever seen."

They speculated that the government had its best evidence still tucked away. "There's got to be a silver bullet, Johnny. Because without it, I just can't see the bureau or the U.S. attorney going forward with this case."
What James didn't yet appreciate was that the FBI had significant changed since his retirement in 2001. After the fall of the twin towers in New York, everything changed. Everything.

In FBI offices across the country, the shift to counterterrorism was swift and unmistakable. In Sacramento alone, dozens of agents from public corruption and other squads were now working foreign intelligence, domestic terrorism and international terrorism. "With everyone looking for Bin Laden," Wedick told friends outside the bureau, "there's no better time for the crooks to steal from the people." Twice he had voted for George W. Bush, but he couldn't help but wonder if the whole war on terror was overblown, based on the false premise of a constant threat. He saw the nation toss its civil liberties to the wind and thought about the Japanese, more than half a century ago, interned in their desert camps.

So how did the FBI wind up focusing on Lodi? Well, it all started with a confidentential informant (CI) which they had paid to "smoke out" potential jihadists. An informant (rather ironically) name Khan.

Over the next six months, Khan would record more than 40 hours of conversations with Hamid and his father, mostly in the privacy of their home. As a job, confidential witness for the FBI's war on terror paid well—more than $225,000—and Khan threw himself into the part with such ardor that he looked more FBI than the agents themselves. Still, it wasn't easy doing this to your own people, especially to a kid who kept referring to him as his "older brother" and to a father who now called Khan his "other son." Khan replied in kind: "If you've accorded me the position of a son, then you're no less than my honored father."

The FBI had come calling on Khan in the weeks after 9/11. He was living in Oregon, working double duty at McDonald's and managing a convenience store, bringing home $7 an hour to an American girl who was falling in love with him. He did his best to impress the two agents. Yes, he was familiar with the Pakistani community in Lodi. In fact, a few years earlier, he had seen Al Qaeda's No. 2 man, Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, coming in and out of the mosque on Poplar Street. And not only him. Among the men on their hands and knees praying were the main suspects in two bombings of U.S. embassies and a military complex in Saudi Arabia.

The FBI would later concede that Khan's sightings were almost certainly false

The witnesses who came forward in the case where mostly useless and murky, everything turned on the confession - the bogus confession. But the one person who could testify to it's worthlessness, a decorated and celebrated FBI veteran, was prevented from mounting the stand by the Prosecution.

What were the jurors thinking? Wedick wondered. If he wouldn't be able to tell them exactly what he thought—that this was the "most derelict and juvenile investigation" he had ever seen the FBI put its name to—he could at least take the stand and point out the gibberish in the interrogation. He could at least tell them about the care he took in Shrimpscam, how he had prepared a single year for one interview and got an informant to cooperate after he meticulously lined the interrogation room with giant surveillance photos of the guy accepting a sizable campaign check.

It was far from certain, though, that the court would agree to Wedick being an expert witness. Up until now, Judge Burrell had shown something akin to belligerence when it came to the defense attorneys. Whenever he ruled against them, he did so with an impatience that bordered on browbeating. And on the matter of Wedick testifying, prosecutor Deitch had filed nearly 100 pages of motions to keep the former agent off the stand. He argued that Wedick had "grossly overstated" his experience in counterterrorism and that his musings would amount to "needless" cumulative evidence, the legal equivalent of piling on.

Johnny Griffin, representing the father, stood up to offer several reasons why Wedick was needed to illuminate key shortcomings. To no one's surprise, Burrell told him to sit back down. "I know his proposed testimony," he snarled at Griffin. "You can go on to the next issue."
The result?

The verdicts came a day later. One jury was deadlocked and couldn't reach a decision on Umer Hayat. The judge declared a mistrial, though the government vowed to try him again. As for his son, he was found guilty on two counts of making false statements to the FBI and one count of providing "material support" to terrorists. He faces up to 39 years in prison. "I hope it gets the message out," explained juror Starr Scaccia. "Don't mess with the United States. It's not worth it."

Wedick couldn't look Hamid Hayat in the eye. He had pledged to him months earlier that he was going to do everything he could to see injustice righted, even if it meant turning his back on 35 years in the FBI. "Hamid is a hapless character, but, my God, he isn't a terrorist. The government counted on hysteria, the 1,000-pound gorilla, to be in the room. And it worked. Damn, it worked."

He saw one juror holding back tears and made a straight line for her apartment. She wouldn't let him in at first, talking through a crack. Two hours, four hours, finally she opened the door and told him what he suspected. She didn't believe Hamid was guilty. So intense was the pressure from fellow jurors to convict him that she had to check into the hospital. Throughout the trial, she said, the foreman kept making the gesture of a noose hanging. "Lynch the Muslim," she took it to mean. Wedick persuaded her to write it all down and sign it. Then he filed the affidavit with the federal court, hoping it might lead to a new trial.

The next day, Wedick drove out to a field at the edge of a vineyard along Highway 99 and looked down a long entrance road to a spot where 400 Muslim men in skullcaps and flowing dress had gathered. He drew close enough to see their faces and hands worn to the bone and watch them carry the pine box to a simple hole in the ground. The body of Umer Hayat's father was wrapped in three linen sheets, all that would separate him from the soil of this strange land. Wedick stood back and watched the men break into 20 lines, side by side, facing east, toward Mecca. And then they began to pray. In the distance, as the sun was setting, he thought back to a different American people, in a different American era, burying their dead in a desert they didn't know.
This is what we've come too? Bogus convictions on flimsy evidence, a lame pair of confessions that don't match up, testimony from a paid informant, and browbeating jurors to "Get the Muslim" and show them to "Not mess with America?" Is this the Democracy and Justice we're trying to export to the rest of the world (at the butt of a gun)?

I certainly hope not, but I'm afraid - that's exactly what it is.


Immigration Debate spurring resurgence of Hate Groups

Filed under the "Not Terribly Surprising" Column by Time Magazine.

With immigration perhaps America's most volatile issue, a troubling backlash has erupted among its most fervent foes. There are, of course, the Minutemen, the self-appointed border vigilantes who operate in several states. And now groups of militiamen, white supremacists and neo-Nazis are using resentment over the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. as a potent rallying cry. "The immigration furor has been critical to the growth we've seen" in hate groups, says Mark Potok, head of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. The center counts some 800 racist groups operating in the U.S. today, a 5% spurt in the past year and a 33% jump from 2000. "They think they've found an issue with racial overtones and a real resonance with the American public," says Potok, "and they are exploiting it as effectively as they can"
We've already had CNN's Lou Dobbs using graphics from a Hate Group in order to argue that Mexican's want to reestablish "Aztlan". Tony Snow and "Hugging the Tar Baby". Bill O'Reilly lamenting the "Browning of America" and John "Make More Babies" Gibson. Now, with the House Republicans jumping up and down and stamping their feet over immigration, and the President and Senate presenting the "sensible comprehensive" approach, this is a battle that could very well rip the Republican party asunder.

So I'm warming up the popcorn, you?

Check out this weekend's battle between Congressman James Sensenbrenner and Senator Chuck Hagel on Meet The Press.

REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R-WI): Well, it's too much too soon and too expensive. What we have to do is first secure the border, and then we have to turn off the magnet that brings more illegal immigrants into our country. Once we do that and we know it's effective, then we can figure out what to do with the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants that are already here. I'm afraid that the amnesty--and that's what it is--that's proposed in the Senate bill and the way it's proposed is going to result in huge document fraud just like there was when amnesty was passed 20 years ago in the Simpson-Mazzoli Bill, which failed so miserably that we have a problem that's out of control now.

MR. RUSSERT: What would you do with the 11 million illegal immigrants?

REP. SENSENBRENNER: Well, if we have a workable and effective employer sanctions program, then I think a lot of the illegal immigrants would simply go back home because they would no longer be able to work in this country illegally.

He thinks they would simply "go back home"? And leave family, including their children behind?

MR. RUSSERT: As you well know, those 11 million illegal immigrants have about three million children who were born in the U.S., therefore they are U.S. citizens. What would happen to them? Would they go back to the or--the country of origin for the mom and pop? Or would they stay in the U.S.?

REP. SENSENBRENNER: The mom and pop would have to make that determination on their own. We cannot deport U.S. citizens, and I would tell you that it's impractical and probably physically impossible to deport the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants that are already here. What the Senate does is throw up their hands, say, "Give them amnesty"--they don't call it amnesty--but give them amnesty and allow them to stay. That's not fair because it gives a reward to a lawbreaker, but it also is unfair to people who are standing in queue to become legal immigrants.

Oh, you might not be able to deport them all, but then you could simply hold them indefinately in some of those shiny new Halliburton/KBR detention centers.

In the end, Sensenbrenner has made his crystal position clear. "Amnesty is wrong". Right, except that you also might give them a "path to citizenship" or make them "legal" in some manner as he later mentions during the interview.

MR. RUSSERT: Twenty-four percent of the farming industry relies on illegal immigrants; 17 percent of the cleaning industry, 14 percent of the construction industry, 12 percent of the food preparation industry--all illegal immigrants. What happens to those industries if the illegal immigrants are sent home?

REP. SENSENBRENNER: I'm not saying that the illegal immigrants will be sent home, and I think that the end sum game, which I hope Senator Hagel agrees with, is to turn the illegal immigrant work force into a legal work force, whether they're legal immigrants or whether they're United States citizens. Because this problem has festered for such a long period of time, that can't be done with the wave of a wand or the signing of a bill by the president of the United States.

A comment to which Senator Hagel Responded ...

SEN. HAGEL: Jim Sensenbrenner has just described the Senate bill. He has just described why we should pass the Senate bill. Everything he just said, it is right and it is included in the Senate bill. You talk about polls and the American people and where the American people are on this. Isn't it interesting that you have four states that are along that 2,000-mile border with Mexico, four states with eight United States senators. Five of those eight senators, bipartisan, supported the Senate bill.

But you see, what Hagel doesn't understand is that very idea of Amnesty, even if it's restricted to migrants who been in the U.S. for more than fives years already, have no criminal record and are willing to pay a significant fine, back taxes and learn english -- simply isn't good enough for Sensenbrenner's true constitutents.

The Hate Groups.

Both Potok's group and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) are worried that extremists are burrowing their way into the anti-immigration mainstream. Mark Martin, 43, of Covington, Ohio, is a chef at a French restaurant and tends his backyard organic garden. But he also dons the black and brown uniform of western Ohio's National Socialist (read: Nazi) Movement. "There's nothing neo about us," he says. Martin admits he frequently harasses day laborers and threatens them with deportation. "As Americans, we have the right to make a citizen's arrest and detain them," he insists. "And if they try to get away, we have the right to get physical with them." Martin gleefully boasts about leading eight fellow storm troopers in disrupting a May 1 pro-immigrant rally in Dayton by taunting protesters. Although police ultimately restrained him, Martin believes his agitation was worthwhile because it attracted new recruits. "After the rally, the Klan called us," he says. "Now we've started working together more often."

But wait, it gets worse....

In addition to white supremacists, the immigration debate seems to have reinvigorated members of the antigovernment militias of the 1990s. Those groups largely disbanded after the Oklahoma City bombing orchestrated by militia groupie Timothy McVeigh and, later, the failure of a Y2K bug to trigger the mass chaos some militia members expected. "We've seen people from Missouri and Kentucky militias involved in border-vigilante activity, especially with the gung-ho Arizona group Ranch Rescue that used face paint, military uniforms and weapons," says Mark Pitcavage, fact-finding director of the ADL. "It's a natural shift. Militias fell on hard times, and this anti-immigration movement is new and fresh."

So, we've reawakened the "Turner Diaries" crowd once again. The Footsoldiers and Shock-Troops of the American Taliban, like Eric "The Olympic Bomber" Rudolph. That's just excellent. I've been wondering where they've been in the midst of all these government wiretap and overreach issues. Ever since the Ruby Ridge incident, the idea of paramilitary government agents trampling on the Fourth Amendment Rights of the citizenry has been the source of night sweats for these guys. (And just wait until they remember that Sensenbrenner wrote the Patriot Act!)

Having these guys as the poster boys for the building of a wall and militarizing the border should really bring the President and the Senate around to Sensenbrenner's way of thinking... Not.

The increasing influx of supramacists show exactly why the House/Sensenbrenner position is so illogical. He wants illegals to become legal, but he doesn't want to deport them (can't) and he doesn't want them seperated from their family, to be granted "amnesty", or even allowed to pay restitution for their crime as the Senate bill requires?

So just what the fuck does he plan to do with them exactly?

Nothing, it seems. This is just a show, it's vaudeville, it's red meat for the red staters to get their blood boiling so they don't stay home in November and let the Republicans get smashed for all the incompetent and self-indulgent bullcrap they've been trying to pull for five years.

Personally, I think it's too little and far too late for that.

Ah, the popcorn's ready -- this should be a great show.


Tuesday, May 30

Iraq isn't the new Vietnam - It's Worse

A fairly scholarly post on caught my eye the other day. In it the author attempts to deconstruct the comparisons between the Haditha and My Lai massacres, claiming that the view of Iraq as our "New Vietnam" is merely the result of the Perverse Wishful Thinking of the Anti-War crowd and nothing more.

As details of the Haditha tragedy have emerged over the weekend, the anti-war movement has latched onto this incident as evidence of their long-cherished theory that Iraq is a Middle Eastern version of Vietnam. The searing memory of this conflict remains a powerful force in our national psyche, and so the effort to equate it with Iraq has been going on for three years (go here and keep scrolling). At first, Iraq was a quagmire. Now it is an outright failure. Regardless of what is actually happening on the ground, we have failed. It's over and we need to bring those troops we all support so much home. Haditha, the new My Lai, is proof positive of this truth.

But I think his entire premise is incorrect, Iraq isn't our Vietnam -- it's Northern Ireland and we're the British.

Yesterday I wrote about Haditha in relation to the increased stress multiple rotations and anti-depressants are putting on our soldiers, today I take a broader tact looking at it in context to the overall war.

The Vietnam conflict was one that we inherited from the French, and was obstensibly fought between the communist leaning northern state and the south. Battle lines were fairly well drawn, if the loyalties of even our southern allies were somewhat unclear. Our primary enemy, the NVA, employed guerilla tactics but also fought while wearing uniforms. The Vietcong did not.

There were terrorist acts, including indiscriminate bombings.

There were atrocities committed by our forces in the "Fog of War", and there were cover ups of those events.

Let's review a few of the basic facts about Haditha so far.

WASHINGTON -- A military investigation into the deaths of two dozen Iraqis last November is expected to find that a small number of Marines in western Iraq carried out extensive, unprovoked killing of civilians, congressional, military and Pentagon officials said Thursday.

Two lawyers involved in discussions about individual Marines' defenses said they thought the investigation could lead to charges of murder, a capital offense. That possibility and the emerging details of the killings have raised fears that the case could be the gravest involving misconduct by American ground forces in Iraq.

Officials briefed on preliminary results of the inquiry said the civilians killed at Haditha, a lawless, insurgent-plagued city deep in Sunni-dominated Anbar province, did not die from a makeshift bomb, as the military first reported, or in crossfire between Marines and attackers, as was later announced. A separate inquiry has been started to find whether the events were covered up.

To this our Redstater makes the following claims.

This is what we know so far, and it is important to note at this point, we have no official reports. We have not heard anything from the Marines themselves. We just have early indications that the contents of the reports are very bad.

We have a report about the report - which, oh by the way, is well over six month's late.

And as distressing as these indicators are, they have not been enough for the anti-war crowd, which is "getting out in front" of the Haditha story by pre-empting the reports with their second-hand version of events in the hopes of shaping the public's perception of the episode. This campaign seems to me to have a three-fold purpose. For starters, claims are being made that there was a cover-up at Haditha that could extend to the highest levels of US military command, as Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) so irresponsibly insinuated on a Sunday talk show.

The author, but of course, ignores the fact the John Murtha has long been a strong confidant of many of the military rank and file. He also ignores that Murtha's comments, based on information he received from his milatary contacts that "There has to have been a coverup of this thing, No question about it" were echoed by Republican Senator John Warner on the very same program. Warner stated "There is this serious question . . . of what happened and when it happened, and what was the immediate reaction of the senior officers in the Marine Corps when they began to gain knowledge of it"

To the author Murtha, being a Democrat, is "irresponsible" to say these things, while Warner being a Republican, well - isn't. Yeah, right.

These suggestions serve to undermine commanding generals, such as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace, and so to reduce their authority and effectiveness.

During his appearance on "This Week" Murtha specifically stated that he felt certain that General Pace was Not involved, but that exactly who was involved and how far up the chain of command the decision went still needed to be determined. The only person imparting motive here - is the author.

And then there are the troops themselves--to have committed such an atrocity the armed forces must be, to once again borrow from Mr. Murtha, "broken" by the neglect and exploitation of that corrupt command. Who knows how far this rot has spread. Finally, there are the Iraqis. They've been oddly silent on Haditha. Several articles this morning present them as so hardened and demoralized by the ongoing challenges facing their new nation that they hardly care about Haditha.

Maybe they've been hardened to the idea of American soldiers wrongly attacking innocent civilians between it's simply that commonplace occurance. According to reports from the Red Cross, 70 - 90% of persons taken into custody in places like Abu Ghraib, (not to mention Gitmo and other "Black" detention sites) were innocent and had been "arrested by mistake".

We used White Phosphorous incendiary devices on innocent people in the city of Fallajah - by comparison Marines shooting 12 civilians execution style in retaliation for the death one Marine via IED is relatively quaint. That's Old-School. Like the good 'ole days when Saddam killed over a hundred people in response to a assasination attempt. Y'know that thing he's currently on trial for?

Here's what Iraqis have to say about it.

"So what if more innocent people were killed?" Abbas said of the reported massacre in Haditha. "Dozens of them die daily."

"We have a Haditha every day. We have a Fallujah and Karbala every day,'' said Muhanned Jasim, a local merchant, citing two of the many landmarks for civilian death in the war, the 2004 U.S. offensive in Fallujah and insurgent bombings in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Karbala.

"Were they the first . . . Iraqis to be killed for no reason?" Jayih said. "We're used to being killed. It's normal now to hear 25 Iraqis are killed in one day."

After three years of car bombs and suicide bombs - what's th e big deal? More innocent people died today in Iraq than in Haditha six months ago.

And what does our RedStater have to say about this? Incredibly - he blames Saddam.

I wonder if most Iraqis have better things to do than belly ache about the incident? Sure, there are always individuals standing on street corners who will bear out "expert" Juan Cole's theories, but are the majority of them really so utterly disenfranchised or are they simply realistic about what can happen when you completely transform a country through military force? It's not pretty, but Haditha is a Sunni town, and there may be a sense among the Shi'ites and Kurds that what goes around comes around. Furthermore, the "apathy" articles seem to be saying "Look what we have done to them" as if life under Saddam was some sort of utopia--ignoring the fact that much of the disillusionment of the Iraqi people stems from three decades of Saddam's tyranny. It will take time for the population to expect anything but brutality from those in positions of authority--but swift justice for any wrongdoing at Haditha might go a long way towards restoring their faith.

Excuse me but Saddam is no longer in power, and hasn't been for over three years. The U.S. had a golden oppurtunity to break down that cynicism when we tore down the statue of Saddam, but blew it. We've been there long enough to set our own standard for how well "justice" will be metted out - and melt away that cynicism by doing what we say we're going to do and showing integrity. But the truth is American integrity was flushed down the toilet when President Bush decided to ignore Saddam's declaration that he had no WMD's or ties to al Qaeda (which he didn't) and to ignore the UN inspectors who said the same thing, and invade anyway.

Our problem in Iraq is one of credibility and integrity. We have neither. Both have been flushed and no amount of continually broken promises from this Administration and this Secretary of Defense are going to get back what has been lost.

Like the Northern Ireland situation a peaceful solution can't be reached when one (or more) of the parties involved simply can't be trusted. We happen to be one of those parties. Northern Ireland mirrors Iraq in that it was an unprovoked invasion by a far more powerful force, which was none the less held at bay by a determined terrorist force with strong ethnic ties - for decades. Internal sectarian tensions remained high, and it was long argued that if the external forces were to withdraw the violence between religions factions (Catholic/Protestant rather than Sunni/Shia/Kurd) would escalate out of control.

It took the intervention of the neutral third party to help bring the political wings all to the table. At that time that third party was the United States, spearheaded by Senator George Mitchell and President Bill Clinton.

Like in Northern Ireland the violence in Iraq will not end until the U.S. forces genuinely begin to leave and a trusted framework is established which will allow the Sunni's, Shia, and Kurds to work out their issues and differences peacefully.

Exactly what credible third party exists who can help mediate this situation remains the unsolveable puzzle of Iraq. Is it Germany? France? Russia? Syria? Iran? The American strategy thus far has been to shut all credible and powerful allies, except England, out of the equation. The last thing that this Administration will accept is Help. To them it's an admission of "defeat", and we can't have that even if we are in fact already defeated (in winning over the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people), and even if this method (which has been endorsed strongly by John Kerry and was successfully used to solve the nearly intractable Bosnian Conflict) just might be the only way to ultimate "victory".

The author correctly notes that the scope and scale of Haditha pales compared to My Lai.

A word on My Lai for those, like me, who did not live through it. In March of 1968 as many as 500 Vietnamese civilians were killed in a violent slaughter following a booby-trap attack on American soldiers. The cover-up was immediate and effective for more than a year, but eventually the story came out and lead to a lengthy court-martial. The episode demoralized our soldiers, and destroyed public confidence in the military and the mission in Vietnam.

Haditha isn't My Lai. 500 people died in My Lai and only one court marshall - of Lt. Calle - was ever convened. Calle was clearly used as a scapegoat. Just as Sgt Graner and Lindi England have been used to sweep Abu Ghraib under the carpet.

But in terms of scope and impact Abu Ghraib was closer to My Lai, and in some ways it was worse. It changed the entire tenor of the campaign from Liberation to Occupation. It was only after Abu Ghraib that the insurgency truly found it's legs. Thousands of innocent people were involved with Abu Ghraib, snatched from their homes without cause or justification - some were tortured, beaten, and killed. (At least 26 of those deaths have been investigated as criminal "Homocides" involving abuse) This didn't just happen at Abu Ghraib during the "night shift", it also occured at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan, it occured at Gitmo and it occured at various other detention faclilities under the control of Task Force 6-26.

WASHINGTON - More than two months after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq shocked the world, an official memo described how military intelligence officers witnessed further prisoner abuse in Baghdad but were threatened to prevent them from reporting it.

The memo was the most recent in a collection of government documents released Tuesday. It was dated June 25 and written by Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, who directs the Defense Intelligence Agency. Lowell described how two DIA officers, assigned as interrogators to a special operations unit designated as Task Force 6-26, witnessed evidence of prisoner abuse while working at an unnamed "temporary detention facility" in Baghdad.

The extensive collection of government documents suggests that abuse of detainees in Iraq and elsewhere was more widespread and systematic than senior officials have admitted publicly. The officials repeatedly have tried to characterize abuse last year at Abu Ghraib as an isolated series of incidents. A small number of low-ranking soldiers already have been prosecuted or are awaiting trial in these cases.

The documents released Tuesday, however, reveal that senior U.S. officials, who claimed they were unaware of the abuse, were repeatedly informed of accusations of abuse through official channels. They also suggest that these and other reports of abuse failed to trigger investigations into what increasingly appears to have been a widespread pattern of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan, Iraq and at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

So is Haditha the last straw for the Camel's Back?

Not hardly, the Camel of U.S Integrity has been crushed under the weight of all this bullshit for quite some time. It's not climbing out any time soon. Someone else, a neutral third party, is going to have to help make a splint before this wound begins to heal - or else it'll stay smashed for decades.


Monday, May 29

Kerry, Murtha, Haditha and True Patriotism

In recent days John Kerry has stepped forward with additional evidence that all the claims made by John O'Neil and the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" were nothing more than lies.

Of course, this isn't really news to most people who were paying attention during the election (which weren't nearly enough). The Smearboaters had not one shred of physical evidence to support their claims, nothing from Kerry's Service Records, and none of them were members of Kerry's crew for any extended period. Regardless of how Kerry himself responded, the core case made against him regarding his 1971 Senate Testimony was thoroughly debunked in midst of the 2004 Campaign by

Since the spread of these lies against a decorated Veteran and Senator, Kerry's supporters have formed the Patriot Project - to push back when members of the military speak out and take unpopular positions. Military men like Congressman John Murtha whose been quite vocal about an atrocity as great as those described by John Kerry in 1971.

The Massacre at Haditha.

The President recently said his biggest regret in Iraq was Abu Ghraib -- well, Georgie I think that's hardly the first spoonful from the big bowl of regret you have coming your way.

Strategically and Methodically the right-wing - including George Bush's most ardent supporters - have both torn down and attempted to prop up our military with lies and distortions time and time again during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

We had the heroic story of Former NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman, which less than a month later turned to ashes.

New details released yesterday about Tillman's death indicate that he was gunned down by members of his elite Army Ranger platoon who mistakenly shot in his direction when the unit was ambushed. According to a summary of the Army investigation, a Ranger squad leader mistook an allied Afghan Militia Force soldier standing near Tillman as the enemy, and he and other U.S. soldiers opened fire, killing both men.

That Tillman, 27, wasn't killed by enemy fire in a heroic rescue attempt was a major revelation by the U.S. military more than a month after the April 22 incident, which the Pentagon and members of Congress had hailed as an example of combat bravery. Tillman's sacrifice of millions of dollars when he left the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals to become a soldier has been held up as a stark contrast to the prison scandal in Iraq.

And then there was the Time Magazine Cover Story about Jessica Lynch.

Jessica Lynch. You know the one. The sweet, American-pie 19-year-old soldier and kindergarten-teacher wanna-be whose army squad took a wrong turn in Iraq and was, apparently, ambushed.

And some of her comrades were killed and she was taken prisoner, full of stab wounds and bullet holes, and she was whisked off to a ragged Iraqi hospital and held for eight days by vicious Iraqi guards and ostensibly abused, and later supposedly "rescued" in the most daring and macho made-for-TV moment of the war by elite teams of hunky U.S. Army Rangers and U.S. Navy SEALs. Wow.

Except that it never really happened that way. Except that Lynch herself doesn't remember a single thing and all the nurses and doctors and eyewitnesses on the scene say the Iraqi fedayeen guards had fled the day before the "rescue," and there was no danger whatsoever, no resistance of any kind, the U.S. forces could just walk right in, and they knew it.

And the hospital doors were wide open, and the nurses and doctors had gone out of their way to provide decent care for our precious Jessica, considering the circumstances, and doctors even tried to return Lynch to U.S. forces themselves.

There was even a TV Movie of the Week made about the rescue of oh-so-telegenic Ms. Lynch.
Even the one commentor on IMDB knew something was up.

The U.S. waged an aggressive unprovoked war under what could very well be false pretenses. All that aside and considering that this incident just happened a few months ago the film for a made for TV venture was quite well done. Much of what really happened and took place may not be known for some time and when the full story finally does come out as they all eventually do when it comes to war stories it may make this picture seem hypocritical, foolish and phony.

No kidding.

Jessica herself has even become quite outspoken about what didn't happen to her.

Asked how she felt about the reports of her heroism, Ms. Lynch told Ms. Sawyer, "It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about. Only I would have been able to know that, because the other four people on my vehicle aren't here to tell the story. So I would have been the only one able to say, yeah, I went down shooting. But I didn't."

And asked about reports that the military exaggerated the danger of the rescue mission, Ms. Lynch said, "Yeah, I don't think it happened quite like that," although she added that in that context anybody would have approached the hospital well-armed. She continued: "I don't know why they filmed it, or why they say the things they, you know, all I know was that I was in that hospital hurting. I needed help."

So after completely distorting John Kerry's service record and public statements about criminal acts and atrocities by our soldiers in Vietnam, covering up the circumstances of Tillman's death to create an artificial hero - right out of both "1984" and "Wag the Dog" - and after attempting to do the same by create a "heroic rescue" of Jessica Lynch, the right wing has finally set it sights on John Murtha. A decorated 37 year Marine Veteran and the first Congressmen to publically call for our troops to leave Iraq "at the first practicable date".

"A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood," a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children....On Nov. 20, U.S. Marines spokesman Capt. Jeffrey Pool issued a statement saying that on the previous day a roadside bomb had killed 15 civilians and a Marine."

More from NBC News.

Murtha, a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, said at a news conference Wednesday that sources within the military have told him that an internal investigation will show that "there was no firefight, there was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

Military officials say Marine Corp photos taken immediately after the incident show many of the victims were shot at close range, in the head and chest, execution-style. One photo shows a mother and young child bent over on the floor as if in prayer, shot dead, said the officials, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity because the investigation hasn't been completed.

One military official says it appears the civilians were deliberately killed by the Marines, who were outraged at the death of their fellow Marine.

But is this truly all that surprising? With well documented recruiting issues and the stop-loss program it's clear that many of our soldiers are over-extended and over-stressed, now on their 3rd and 4th tours through Iraq.

Research indicates that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is becoming a greater and greater issue among our armed forces.

From ABC News.

HARTFORD, Conn. - U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported for Sunday editions.

The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.

How unfit are they? It's so bad that they aren't just killing civilians like in Haditha - they're killing themselves.

Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year, accounting for nearly one in five of all non-combat deaths and the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said.

Some service members who committed suicide in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring, the Courant reported. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for "extended deployments."

"I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal," said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based advocacy group. "You're creating chemically activated time bombs."

And how has the right-wing, y'know those people in Congress, White House, Pentagon and their various lackeys in the press responded to all of this?

They've attacked Murtha naturally. And who did they attack him with? Not with that harpy Jean Schmidt who had the temerity to accuse Murtha of being a "coward", but not the courage of her own convictions to actually stand behind the statment. No, they used they're ready made hatchet man John O'Neill of the Smearboat Vets, but of course.

During the May 18 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, host Sean Hannity and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth co-founder John E. O'Neill attacked Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) for saying that a pending military report will show that U.S. Marines deliberately killed innocent Iraqi citizens during a November 2005 raid in Haditha, Iraq. Both accused Murtha of, as Hannity stated, allegedly "accus[ing] our troops ... of killing innocent civilians in cold blood" without giving the Marines "the presumption of innocence." O'Neill asserted that, by giving such a report during a press conference, Murtha was "gloating," and Hannity declared Murtha's remarks to be "a disgrace to the men and women that are serving and putting their lives on the line." Yet, while condemning Murtha for discussing the Haditha incident, Hannity did not similarly fault Fox News and its chief White House correspondent Brett Baier, who -- as guest and Democratic strategist Bob Beckel pointed out -- had earlier that day also noted the pending report.

Murtha did nothing more than correctly state the contents of Pentagon's own report. He brought it out because they was an attempt to cover the incident up by people somewhere in the chain of command. Just as there was an attempt to cover up My Lai incident so many years ago.

The true failues to support our troops does not come from the statements of Murtha or Kerry - it comes from poor leadership in the field that allows the conditions for these events to build and then fails to respond to them when they do. It's a tendency to Romanticize and Fantasize the realities of war. It's a failure we saw in the death of Pat Tillman, the none-existent rescue of Jessica Lynch and more.
It's this tendency - that is the greatest dangers to honor, health and lives of our troops currently in harms way. To fail to be brutally honest with them and ourselves about how this war is being conducted is to sanction what is happening.

It's Hannity, O'Neill and their ilk who are the real traitors - they've betrayed the spirit and honor of our Military - they've betrayed their sacrifice by continuing to promote that American blood and treasure be spilled for a goal that only the Iraqis can achieve.

There is no good reason why a phased transfer of power between the supposed 200,000+ trained Iraqi soldiers and our own over-extended military is not already taking place. Our soldiers should be rotated out of forward areas and back home as their soldiers are rotated in. If neccesary we should stand-down to ensure that they will stand-up, both Murtha and Kerry have said as much.

The longer that doesn't occur, the greater likelyhood that we have only a broken military force to look forward too. One where incidents like Haditha, where the full brunt of military firepower is turned on civilians, will become common place - while the effort to cover them up become more elaborate, more desperate, more pathetic.

And just how many "hearts and minds" will that win over to our way of thinking I wonder?

As we celebrate the this Memorial Day - lets take a few extra moments to also hold accountable those who originally put our soldiers in harms way - unneccesarily - and then attempt to exploit their sacrifice for their own political ends. Yes, this mean you George.