Saturday, September 23

Our Deep National Shame

This week Senate Republicans have reached a compromise on Torture with the Bush Administration that effectively guts the Geneva Conventions and our nations Moral Authority.

If this legislation is signed into law - the United States will officially become a Rogue Nation. A Terrorist State that sanctions the commission of War Crimes, by simply redefining them out of existence.

The President will be allowed to become the sole Deciderer of what is legal and constitutes a "grave breach" of human dignity and what doesn't. Establishing law and fact via Executive Fiat, like the decrees of an Emperor - not a President.

Someone needs to tell Senators Graham, Warner and McCain that what they've just done by handing this authority over to Bush, is the equivelent of letting the head of the Gambino Crime Family define what is and isn't Racketeering and Murder.

From Federalist 47:

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

Make no mistake - this is indeed Tyranny - and will be a stain on our national character that will last with us for generations, just as we continue to live with the shame of the Tuskegee Experiment and Interment of Japanese Americans during WWII.

But this... this is worse. We didn't torture the internees.

I'm almost at a loss for words.

The idea that the technique used by Jack Bauer on 24 are soon to become part of our official anti-terrorism policy is shocking. And mindnumbingly stupid as well.

U.S. officials do not use the word torture to describe their own methods. Instead, American intelligence officials speak of "aggressive interrogation measures," sometimes euphemistically known as "torture lite." According to human-rights activists who have consulted with Senate staffers involved in the negotiations, Bush administration officials are trying to redefine the Geneva Conventions, which bans "cruel practices," to allow seven different procedures: 1) induced hypothermia, 2) long periods of forced standing, 3) sleep deprivation, 4) the "attention grab" (forcefully seizing the suspect's shirt), 5) the "attention slap," 6) the "belly slap" and 7) sound and light manipulation. As NEWSWEEK reported this week in its story The Politics of Terror, a harsh technique called "waterboarding," which induces the sensation of drowning, would be specifically banned.

Thank God for small favors - no "Waterboarding". Yippee.

There is a one single good reason why U.S. courts do not allow for coerced testimony -- IT. CANT. BE. TRUSTED.

The TV Show that Bush and his Cronies should be watching isn't 24 - it's CSI.

According to data obtained by the Innocence Project, which has used DNA evidence to exonerate 180 persons who had been condemned to death row, 35 times (out of the first 130 cases - or 27%) there was a False Confession and another 21 times (16%) the wrongful conviction was the result of bad information provided by informants and snitches.

All indications are that part of the bad intelligence information indicating links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, which led us wrongly into a War with Iraq, were the result of the torture of Ibn Sheik al-Libi at Gitmo - who was a "known fabricator" according to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Yet Administration Officials such as Cheney continue to believe al-Libi's lies, and our President, the so-called "Leader of the Free World" claims with a straight face that...

this agreement preserves the most single -- most potent tool we have in protecting America and foiling terrorist attacks, and that is the CIA program to question the world's most dangerous terrorists and to get their secrets.

More potent than actually protecting the ports, instead of handing them over to the United Arab Emerites? Um,... not so much.

Both the New York Times and Washington Post seem less than enthused.

In editorials entitled "A Bad Bargain" (NYT) and "The Abuse Can Continue" (WaPo), the two papers minced no words declaring not only their opposition to the bill but its effect on the war on terror, global opinion, and history's judgement of the president.

Washington Post: "In effect, the agreement means that U.S. violations of international human rights law can continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress's tacit assent. If they do, America's standing in the world will continue to suffer, as will the fight against terrorism. . . .

"Mr. Bush will go down in history for his embrace of tortue and bear responsibility for the enormous damage he has caused."

New York Times: "[The bill] allows the president to declare any foreigner, anywhere, an 'illegal enemy combatant' using a dangerously broad definition, and detain him without any trial. .

"The Democrats have largely stood silent and allowed the trio of Republicans to do the lifting. It's time for them to either try to fix this bill or delay it until after the election. The American people expect their leaders to clean up this mess without endangering U.S. troops, eviscerating American standards of justice, or further harming the nation's severely damaged reputation."

In response to this issue when speaking with Keith Olbermann on last nights episode of Countdown, former President Bill Clinton had this to say.

Clinton: Like you take this interrogation dealing. We might all say the same thing if, let's say Osama bin Laden's number three guy were captured and we knew a big bomb was going off in America in three days.

It turns out right now there's an exception for those kind of circumstance in an immediate emergency that's proven in the military regs. But that's not the same thing as saying we want to abolish the Geneva Convention and practice torture as a matter of course. All it does is make our soldiers vulnerable to torture. It makes us more likely to get bad, not good information.

OLBERMANN: Right.

CLINTON: And every time we get some minor victory out of it, we'll make a hundred more enemies, so I think these things, I really think we need to think through all of this and debate more.

The point that has to be repeatedly made here - is that these men have not been proven guilty of anything. They haven't been tried, in fact they are being denied access to the courts -- habeas corpus, one of the founding principles of our nation, is being scraped.

Even when the Military knows that some of these people, particular the "Ghost Detainees" who have been kept hidden from the Red Cross, are innocent of any connection to terrorism, al-Qaeda or the Taliban - they have refused to released them.

Majority of Detainees "Of No Intelligence Value" or Innocent. One statement refers to "a lot of pressure to produce reports regardless of intelligence value." Brig. Gen. Karpinski's deposition also cited the comments of another official, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, who told her, "I don't care if we're holding 15,000 innocent civilians! We're winning the war!" A former commander of the 320th Military Police Battalion notes in a sworn statement, "It became obvious to me that the majority of our detainees were detained as the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and were swept up by Coalition Forces as peripheral bystanders during raids. I think perhaps only one in ten security detainees were of any particular intelligence value."

"Releasaphobia" Keep Innocent Detainees Jailed. One member of the Detainee Assessment Board said people were afraid to recommend release of detainees, "even when obviously innocent." Similarly, Brig. Gen. Karpinski spoke of "releaseaphobia" on the part of a review board. According to another report, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez allegedly said of the detainees, "Why are we detaining these people, we should be killing them." The unidentified solider who reported the comment added that it "contributed to a command climate" where "deeds not consistent with military standards would be tolerated if not condoned."

Former detainees, who were "rendered" to their native countries (Syria and Egypt), where they were tortured and then released such as Abu Omar and Maher Arar were apparently the lucky ones.

Tens of thousands of others, haven't been so lucky.

Hundreds of detainees have died in custody - including 26 which died directly as a result of abuse - and have been considered homocide. Under the War Crimes Act of 1996 (18 USC § 2441) these crimes are punishable by the Death Penalty.

From the ACLU's FOIA Documents:

Several statements refer to "ghost detainees" who died in custody, including one who died after being chained up in a shower area. Interrogators packed the body in ice and "paid a local taxi driver to take him away." (Note: this report may refer to Manadel a-Jamadi, whose death in Abu Ghraib has been widely reported in the news media.)

Is this how a nation that calls itself "civilized" behaves?

I didn't used to think so... but now I have little choice, don't I?

Instead of leading by example and giving the people of the world a strong and compelling reason to hope and struggle to create the kind of freedom, prosperity and democracy that exemplify the best of our ideals - we are now on the verge of departing from the ranks of lawful nations, and becoming exactly what bin Laden and his ilk has long claimed we were. We have become the "Great Satan".

Yeah, this will really change all those "hearts and minds' to our way of thinking any day now. "Just Wait" is not a viable foreign policy.

Unfortunately I think time is running out, and if the Democrats in Congress don't find a way to block the passage of this bill before the end of this Congress -- Game Over.

Congressional Switchboard Toll Free: 866-808-0065

Vyan

Bill Clinton Smacks Fox News - Hard!

In an interview for Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace takes on Bill Clinton over the issue of 9-11, al-Qaeda using talking points taken from "Path to 9-11" -- and gets his head handed to him. (I've quoted so much of the interview because it's that good- and the likelyhood of Fox actually broadcasting all of this, where their correspondent is delivered a full on facial from Bill Clinton is somewhere between slim and nil... Enjoy)

Promo clip of segment from Youtube.



Full Inteview Transcript from Thinkprogress.

WALLACE: When we announced that you were going to be on fox news Sunday, I got a lot of email from viewers, and I got to say I was surprised most of them wanted me to ask you this question. Why didn’t you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President. There’s a new book out which I suspect you’ve read called the Looming Tower. And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, Bin Laden said I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of US troops. Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole.

CLINTON: OK..

WALLACE: …may I just finish the question sir. And after the attack, the book says, Bin Laden separated his leaders because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is 20 20.

CLINTON: No let’s talk about…

WALLACE: …but the question is why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?

CLINTON: OK, let’s talk about it. I will answer all of those things on the merits but I want to talk about the context of which this…arises. I’m being asked this on the FOX network…ABC just had a right wing conservative on the Path to 9/11 falsely claim that it was based on the 911 commission report with three things asserted against me that are directly contradicted by the 9/11 commission report. I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say that I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was obsessed with Bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neocons claimed that I was too obsessed with finding Bin Laden when they didn’t have a single meeting about Bin Laden for the nine months after I left office. All the right wingers who now say that I didn’t do enough said that I did too much. Same people.

They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 the next day after we were involved in black hawk down and I refused to do it and stayed 6 months and had an orderly transfer to the UN.

Some background: This is point both Clarke and Clinton make in thier book. It wasn't Bill Clinton's choice to enter Somalia in the first place - the operation was started under George H. W. Bush and was supposed to already be over before Clinton took office. Unfortunately there was a six-month delay before UN Peacekeepers could be brought in to take over the task of trying to feed the starving people. Somali Warlords like Adid had been stealing the food and using it as a bargining chip to consolidate his power and influence.

Clinton ordered him arrested.

The military conducted operations to capture Adid, but failed to locate him. Those operations were intended to be carried out at night, but instead were done during the day - and the Adid's men were watching. They laid a trap and took out two of our helicopters with shoulder-fired missles. Several of our troops were killed, one was captured. During the successful rescue operation of Durant, the captured helicopter pilot, thousands of Somalis were killed - but Clinton didn't order our troops to leave. They didn't "cut and run" the way that Reagan ran like a scared rabbit out of Beirut. They completed the mission and turned over control to the UN after six months, so when Clinton gets pissed when he's accused of being a coward in Somalia - he has good reason.

Clinton: Ok, now let’s look at all the criticisms: Black hawk down, Somalia. There is not a living soul in the world who thought that Bin laden had anything to do with black hawk down or was paying any attention to it or even knew al Qaeda was a growing concern in October of 1993.

WALLACE: …I understand…

CLINTON: No wait…no wait…Don’t tell me. You asked me why I didn’t do more to Bin Laden. There was not a living soul…all the people who criticized me wanted to leave the next day. You brought this up so you get an answer.

WALLACE: I’m perfectly happy to. Bin Laden says…

CLINTON: And secondly…

WALLACE: Bin Laden says…

CLINTON: Bin laden may have said that…

WALLACE: Bin Laden says it showed the weakness of the US…

CLINTON: It would have shown the weakness if we left right away but he wasn’t involved in that. That’s just a bunch of bull. That was about Mohammed Adid, a Muslim war lord murdering..thousands of Pakistani Muslim troops. We were all there on a humanitarian mission. We had not one mission — none — to establish a certain kind of Somali government or to keep anybody out. He was not a religious fanatic.

WALLACE: But Mr. President…

CLINTON: There was no Al Qaeda…

WALLACE: …with respect if I may. Instead of going through 93.

CLINTON: You asked you. It you brought it up.

WALLACE: May I ask a general question that you can answer. The 9/11 Commission, which you talk about, and this is what they did say, not what ABC pretended they said…

CLINTON: Wait, Wait…

WALLACE: …they said about you and 43 and I quote, “The US government took the threat seriously, not in the sense of mustering anything like that would be….to confront an enemy of the first, second or third rank”

CLINTON: That’s not true with us and Bin Laden…

WALLACE: …the 9/11 commission says…

CLINTON: Let’s look at what Richard Clarke says. You think Richard Clarke has a vigorous attitude about Bin Laden?

WALLACE: Yes I do

CLINTON: You do?

WALLACE: I think he has a variety of opinions and loyalties but yes.

CLINTON: He has a variety of opinion and loyalties now but let’s look at the facts. He worked for Ronald Regan. He was loyal to him. He worked for George Herbert Walker Bush and he was loyal to him. He worked for me and he was loyal to me. He worked for President Bush; he was loyal to him. They downgraded him and the terrorist operation. Now, look what he said, read his book and read his factual assertions — not opinions, assertions. He said we took vigorous action after the African embassies. We probably nearly got Bin Laden.

WALLACE: …

CLINTON: Now wait a minute…

WALLACE: ..cruise missiles..

CLINTON: I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him. The CIA was run by George Tenet who President Bush gave the medal of freedom to and said he did a good job.. The country never had a comprehensive anti terror operation until I came to office. If you can criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this, after the Cole I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full scale attack search for Bin Laden.

This would be the Delenda Plan (pdf) that were drawn up by Richard Clarke, a comprehensive Political and Military strategy for combating Al Qaeda. A plan which was presented to Condoleeza Rice as the incoming National Security Advisor, and she subsequently ignored - until after 9-11.

But we needed baseing rights in Uzbekistan which we got after 9/11. The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that Bin Laden was responsible while I was there. They refused to certify. So that meant I would have had to send a few hundred special forces in helicopters and refuel at night. Even the 9/11 Commission didn’t do that. Now the 9/11 Commission was a political document too. All I’m asking is if anybody wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book.

From Clarkes Book: In 1998, after the cruise missle attack on Bin Laden Clinton told Gen Hugh Shelton, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs...

"Hugh, what i think would scare the shit out of these al Qaeda guys more than any cruise missle... would be the sight of U.S. commandos, Ninja guys in black suits, jumping out of helicopters into their camps, spraying machine guns. Even if we don't get the big guys, it will have a good effect." Shelton looked pained. He explained that the camps were a long way away from anywhere we could launch a helicopter raid. Nonetheless, America's top military oficer agreed to "look into it".

But the fact is the Pentagon wasn't having any more of Clinton's "wild adventures" in Africa and the Middle-east - not after Somalia.

In October of 2000, Richard Clarke discussed the problem following the bombing of the Cole with Mike Sheehan, then the State Depts top Counter-terrorism official.
"What's it gonna take, Dick?" Sheehan demanded, "Who the shit do they think attacked the Cole, fuckin' Martians? The Pentagon brass won't let Delta go get bin Laden. Hell, they won't even let the Air Force carpet bomb the place. Does al Qeada have to attack the Pentagon to get their attention?"

Yes, that exactly what they needed to do. No, Clinton didn't get Bin Laden - but it wasn't for lack of effort on his part.

WALLACE: Do you think you did enough sir?

CLINTON: No, because I didn’t get him

WALLACE: Right…

CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try and they didn’t….. I tired. So I tried and failed. When I failed I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke… So you did FOX’s bidding on this show. You did you nice little conservative hit job on me. But what I want to know..

WALLACE: Now wait a minute sir…

CLINTON:..

WALLACE: I asked a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked why didn’t you do anything about the Cole. I want to know how many you asked why did you fire Dick Clarke. I want to know…

WALLACE: We asked..

CLINTON:..

WALLACE: Do you ever watch Fox News Sunday sir?

CLINTON: I don’t believe you ask them that.

WALLACE: We ask plenty of questions of…

CLINTON: You didn’t ask that did you? Tell the truth

WALLACE: About the USS Cole?

CLINTON: tell the truth.

WALLACE: I…with Iraq and Afghanistan there’s plenty of stuff to ask.

Gotcha!!! As it turns out- niether Chris Wallace or his predecessor Tony Snow has ever asked a member of the Bush Administration about the Cole bombing.

CLINTON: Did you ever ask that? You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers for supporting my work on Climate Change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you’d spend half the time talking about…

WALLACE: [laughs]

CLINTON: You said you’d spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7 billion dollars plus over three days from 215 different commitments. And you don’t care.

WALLACE: But President Clinton…

CLINTON:

WALLACE: We were going to ask half the question about it. I didn’t think this was going to set you off on such a tear .

CLINTON: It set me off on such a tear because you didn’t formulate it in an honest way and you people ask me questions you don’t ask the other side.

WALLACE: Sir that is not true…

CLINTON: …and Richard Clarke…

WALLACE: That is not true…

CLINTON: Richard Clarke made it clear in his testimony…

WALLACE: Would you like to talk about the Clinton Global Initiative?

CLINTON: No I want to finish this.

WALLACE: Alright

CLINTON: All I’m saying is you falsely accuse me of giving aid and comfort to Bin Laden because of what happened in Somalia. No one knew al Qaeda existed then…

WALLACE: Did they know in 1996 when he declared war on the US? Did no one know in 1998…

CLINTON: Absolutely they did

WALLACE: When they bombed the two embassies…

CLINTON:…

WALLACE: Or in 2000 when they hit the Cole.

CLINTON: What did I do? I worked hard to try and kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since.

Oooh, SNAP!
And if I were still president we’d have more than 20,000 troops there trying to kill him. Now I never criticized President Bush and I don’t think this is useful. But you know we do have a government that thinks Afghanistan is 1/7 as important as Iraq. And you ask me about terror and Al Qaeda with that sort of dismissive theme when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s book to look at what we did in a comprehensive systematic way to try to protect the country against terror. And you’ve got that little smirk on your face. It looks like you’re so clever…

WALLACE: [Laughs]

CLINTON: I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get bin laden. I regret it but I did try. And I did everything I thought I responsibly could. The entire military was against sending special forces in to Afghanistan and refueling by helicopter and no one thought we could do it otherwise… We could not get the CIA and the FBI to certify that Al Qaeda was responsible while I was President. Until I left office. And yet I get asked about this all the time and they had three times as much time to get him as I did and no one ever asks them about this. I think that’s strange.

WALLACE: Can I ask you about the Clinton Global Initiative?

CLINTON: You can.

WALLACE: I always intended to sir.

CLINTON: No you intended to move your bones by doing this first. But I don’t mind people asking me. I actually talked o the 9/11 commission for four hours and I told them the mistakes I thought I made. And I urged them to make those mistakes public because I thought none of us had been perfect. But instead of anybody talking about those things. I always get these clever little political…where they ask me one sided questions… It always comes from one source. And so…

WALLACE:…

CLINTON: And so…

WALLACE: I just want to ask you about the Clinton Global Initiative but what’s the source? You seem upset?

CLINTON: I am upset because..

WALLACE: …and all I can say is I’m asking you in good faith because it’s on people’s minds sir. And I wasn’t…

CLINTON: There’s a reason it’s on people’s minds. That’s the point I’m trying to make. There’s a reason it’s on people’s minds because they’ve done a serious disinformation campaign to create that impression. This country only has one person who has worked…against terror…under Regan…only one, Richard Clarke. And all I’d say anybody who wonders whether we did wrong or right. Anybody who wants to see what everybody else did, read his book. The people on my political right who say I didn’t do enough spent the whole time I was president saying why is he so obsessed with Bin Laden. And that was wag the dog when he tried to kill him. My Republican sec of defense — and I think I’m the only person since World War II to have a Secretary of Defense from the opposite party — Richard Clarke, and all the intelligence people said that I ordered a vigorous attempt to get Osama Bin Laden and came closer apparently than anybody has since.

WALLACE: alright…

CLINTON: And you guys try to create the opposite impression when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s findings and you know it’s not true. It’s just not true. And all this business about Somalia — the same people who criticized me about Somalia were demanding I leave the next day. Same exact crowd..

WALLACE: one of the…

CLINTON: …So if you’re going to do this for gods sake follow the same standards for everybody.

WALLACE: I think we do sir

CLINTON: …be fair.

WALLACE: I think we do. One of the main parts of the global initiative this year is religious reconciliation. President Bush says that the fight against Islamic extremism is the central conflict of the century and his answer is promoting democracy and reform. Do you think he has that right?

CLINTON: Sure. To advocate democracy and reform in the Muslim world? Absolutely. I think the question is what’s the best way to do it. I think also the question is how do you educate people about democracy. Democracy is about way more than majority rule. Democracy is about minority rights, individual rights, restraints on power. And there’s more than one way to advance democracy but do I think on balance that in the end after several bouts of instability do I think it would be better if we had more freedom and democracy? Sure I do. …The president has a right to do it? Sure I do. But I don’t think that’s all we can do in the Muslim world. I think they have to see us try to get a just and righteous peace in the Middle East. They have to see us as willing to talk to people who see the world differently than we do.

Amen.

And there are other questions that need to be asked of the Bush Administration - such as what happened at Tora Bora? And while Bush is taking photo ops with Pakistani President Musharraf, is he asking him about the treaty with the Taliban he just signed? I thought if you were with us, you were against us?

Maybe, not so much - eh?

Vyan

Thursday, September 21

Abu Gonzales: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

From the New York Times.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 -- In an embarrassing turnabout, the Department of Justice backed away Wednesday from a denial by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales of responsibility for the treatment of a Canadian who was seized by American authorities in 2002. The man was deported to Syria, where he was imprisoned and beaten.
Skip to next paragraph

Asked at a news conference on Tuesday about a Canadian commission's finding that the man, Maher Arar, was wrongly sent to Syria and tortured there, Mr. Gonzales replied, "Well, we were not responsible for his removal to Syria." He added, "I'm not aware that he was tortured."

We're not responsible...

I'm not aware...

What a load of bull feces. Just for the record who is Maher Arar and where has he been the last five years?

Maria C. LaHood, Mr. Arar's lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, called Mr. Gonzales' comments "unbelievable."

"I had hoped that they would actually step up and say, `We made a mistake, we accept the report's findings, we clear Mr. Arar's name and we apologize,' " Ms. LaHood said.

Mr. Arar, now 37, is a former telecommunications engineer who was born in Syria but did not live there after his teenage years.

In September 2002, as he changed planes at Kennedy International Airport in New York on his way home to Canada, he was detained because his name was on a terrorist watch list. His name was included on the basis of incorrect information from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that he was linked to Al Qaeda, the commission found.

Let always remember that our police and intelligence gathering agencies are completely infallable -- don't let a little glitch like this undermine our confidence in these fine people. It's not like bad and inaccurate information has ever put us in any awkward or embarrising positions in the past, right Colin?

The attorney general's comments caused puzzlement because they followed front-page news articles of the findings of the Canadian commission. It reported that based on inaccurate information from Canada about Mr. Arar's supposed terrorist ties, American officials ordered him taken to Syria, an action documented in public records.

Ah, but there is an excuse -- you see the right hand of our war on common sense (Gonzales), and our left hand (Michael Chertoff) simple didn't exchange memos on which innocent person their predecessors (Ashcroft and Ridge) have had waterboarded. And why should they anyway?

On Wednesday, a Justice Department spokesman said Mr. Gonzales had intended to make only a narrow point: that deportations are now handled by the Department of Homeland Security, not the Department of Justice.

[All snark aside, let's assume for a second that Gonzales deserves the benefit of the doubt that Arar didn't receive - and take him at his word that he honest didn't know and that the DOJ had nothing to do with it. OK, fine. Is there a single serious person who doesn't think that he should have fucking known?!!! Isn't this like - his freaking job - and stuff?) And what does the terrorist scumbag innocent man in question have to say about it all?

Asked about Mr. Gonzales's remarks, Mr. Arar said in an interview on Wednesday with National Public Radio that American officials had sent him to Syria despite his protests that he would be tortured there.

"The facts speak for themselves, you know," Mr. Arar said. "The report clearly concluded that I was tortured. And for him to say that he does not know about the case or does not know I was tortured is really outrageous."

Thank God we haven't already had cases like that of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr aka Abu Omar (who was apparently kidnapped by the CIA in Italy and sent to Egypt where he claims to have been tortured until they discovered he knew nothing and was released) or that of Pultizer Prise winning AP photographer Bilal Hussein (who has been held incommunicado by U.S. Forces in Iraq for the last five months - despite clear indications that he had helped other reporters escape from insurgents - not the reverse as the military contends).

Praise JESUS - we are so lucky we haven't had a couple dozen people die in custody from mistreatment, people who hadn't received a hearing or a lawyer and whom we have no way to confirm their whether they had just planted an IED or failed to yeild to a cross walk sign.

Still At Large I'm so glad BushGov is on the case, I'll just bet you bin Laden is shaking in his cave right now.

[Except that he's now under the protection of a treaty between the Taliban and Pakistan and doesn't need to live in a cave anymore, isn't likely to get "picked up in a random sweep" and be extremely rended to anywhere except a nearby hot tub!]

Heckuvajob, Bushie!

Vyan

Wednesday, September 20

Turley on Countdown: Enemy to Rule of Law

Last night on Countdown with Keith Olbermann Law Professor Johnathon Turley of George Washington University made a series of startling statements, yet in my opinion Turley's comments where actually somewhat behind the curve of the facts. From Dkos.

OLBERMANN: We haven't even addressed and for time's sake, now, there's study after study that indicates that torture presents falsely positive information. People will say anything they think the torturer wants to hear. But... about again the layout between Bush and McCain: one question being asked a lot that I have not heard definitively answered anywhere... Is there really a difference between what the President has proposed on this and what the McCain/Warner/Graham version? Are they both torture? Aren't they both redefining the Geneva Conventions to some degree?

TURLEY: Well you really hit, I think, the most salient aspect of this. Whatever comes out of a compromise, it does seem to be an effort to redefine the Geneva Conventions because otherwise, why are you doing this? You don't need to redefine the Geneva Conventions - you don't have to do anything with it. It's a treaty. We're a signatory. We've never had to do this before. We've gotten along just fine, as has the world, with the language of the Geneva Convention. If we make any effort at all to try to redefine it or tweak it or to amplify it, the world will see that as our effort to lawyer the Geneva Convention to try to create some type of loophole or excuse for conduct

Actually we have done it before, we did it in Vietnam - we did it in South America. What we haven't done before is admit it, or even openly discuss it as the President has done.

OLBERMANN: You'll remember Mr. Gonzales' description of this five years ago as "quaint" - the Geneva Conventions or portions of it -

TURLEY: [laughs] Right -

For some reason the "quaint" memo gets a ton of play, but is in fact of little consequence. In that memo Gonzales were referring to some rather minor and trivial Geneva requirements. The big memo is the one which was revealed by MIchael Isikoff of Newsweek, which indicates Gonzales advice to the President to deny Geneva protections to detainees - specifically to avoid War Crimes Prosecution - 8 months prior to the Bybee memo.

In the memo, the White House lawyer focused on a little known 1996 law passed by Congress, known as the War Crimes Act, that banned any Americans from committing war crimes--defined in part as "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions. Noting that the law applies to "U.S. officials" and that punishments for violators "include the death penalty," Gonzales told Bush that "it was difficult to predict with confidence" how Justice Department prosecutors might apply the law in the future. This was especially the case given that some of the language in the Geneva Conventions--such as that outlawing "outrages upon personal dignity" and "inhuman treatment" of prisoners--was "undefined."

When the President says that the language "outrages upon personal dignity" are "vague" -- this is what he's talking about. He was advised in 2002 by his attorney that his actions in regards to detainees could put him under personal criminal liability. The President did indeed give the order to exclude detainees from Geneva, hence avoiding potential War Crimes prosecution -- that is until the Supreme Court brought Geneva back to the table with the Hamdan decision. Between that orginal decision 5 years ago and now has been a long, dirty road. SecDef Rumsfeld had been the chief architect of the "new expanded" interrogation policies that were first used at Gitmo, and then exported to Bagram AFB and Abu Ghraib.

"It is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors and independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges based on Section 2441 [the War Crimes Act]," Gonzales wrote. The best way to guard against such "unwarranted charges," the White House lawyer concluded, would be for President Bush to stick to his decision--then being strongly challenged by Secretary of State Powell-- to exempt the treatment of captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters from Geneva convention provisions. "Your determination would create a reasonable basis in law that (the War Crimes Act) does not apply which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution," Gonzales wrote.

The fact that Powell is speaking out now, is not nearly as strange as Turley has made it appear - he's been speaking out about this issue for quite some time while he was within the Administration. He has little choice but to continue to speak out although he is no longer an "insider".

OLBERMANN: - to some degree. Last Friday here you were telling us that some of the detainees from the secret CIA cells, when moved to Guantanamo, might have the opportunity in the immediate future to talk to the Red Cross about their own interrogations, is there anything more to the possibility that that's going to happen, which might explain the President's anger and his rush over this as having more to do with what his Administration has already sanctioned and not about what is yet to come?

TURLEY: It has all the indications that that is exactly what is happening. The Administration for years has conspicuously attempted to get things like waterboarding approved as non-torture. Waterboarding, when you convince someone they're going to drown by drowning them. At least to the point of death. And waterboarding is defined as torutre around the world.

Now obviously the Administration has not gotten that thus far. But there is a strong suspicion that we have indeed been engaging in torture. Remember, some of these people were captured when the White House had signed a memo that defined non-torture as anything short of organ failure. That they believed that as long as they didn't cause organ failure or death, they were not engaged in torture. That shocked the world.

So what has happened in the past in our name has many of us wondering. But there is a feeling - and I am one of those people that has it - that we're about to hear some accounts coming out that our President may have ordered American personnel to become torturers. And that is so serious it is almost beyond definition.

I don't think we have to wait until the former "ghost detainees" talk to the RedCross - we already have documents from the FBI and Dod available at a single click right --> here.

Among the documents released today by the ACLU is a May 19, 2004 Defense Intelligence Agency document implicating Sanchez in potentially abusive interrogation techniques. In the document, an officer in charge of a team of interrogators stated that there was a 35-page order spelling out the rules of engagement that interrogators were supposed to follow, and that they were encouraged to “go to the outer limits to get information from the detainees by people who wanted the information.” When asked to whom the officer was referring, the officer answered “LTG Sanchez.” The officer stated that the expectation coming from “Headquarters” was to break the detainees.

The ACLU also released an Information Paper entitled “Allegations of Detainee Abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan” dated April 2, 2004, two weeks before the world saw the pictures of torture at Abu Ghraib prison. The paper outlined the status of 62 investigations of detainee abuse and detainee deaths. Cases include assaults, punching, kicking and beatings, mock executions, sexual assault of a female detainee, threatening to kill an Iraqi child to “send a message to other Iraqis,” stripping detainees, beating them and shocking them with a blasting device, throwing rocks at handcuffed Iraqi children, choking detainees with knots of their scarves and interrogations at gunpoint.

“These documents are further proof that the abuse of detainees was widespread and systemic, and not aberrational,” said Amrit Singh, a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “We know that senior officials endorsed this abuse, but these officials have yet to be held accountable.

Turley continued...

OLBERMANN: How serious would that be for the President? Are there elements of the Constitution that refer to international treaties that make an American President violating international agreements like that liable or subject to criminal action within this country, let alone internationally?

TURLEY: It is a violation of both domestic and international law. But more importantly, torture is a moral under every major religion. That you cannot fight a moral war with immoral means. And if we're ready to embrace immoral means, if that's how we're going to fight this war, then we have lost. And no one will come to our aid. Wil will be alone. And that's what happens when you become - in the view of many - an enemy to the rule of law. And we cannot afford that to happen [sic].


It's already happened Mr. Turley - it's already happened. The only real question is not whether the compromise bill coming out of the Senate changes Geneva, which it probably won't, the real danger is that it will - yet again - abrogate Habeas Corpus by denying detainees held of foreign soil the right to challenge the basis for their detention in court. This would not only affect -11 mastermind Khallid Sheik Mohammad, but also Pulitzer Prize winning AP Photographer Bilal Hussein who has been held by U.S. Forces for five months without charges or a hearing.

Chances are that any such law would eventually be struck down, just at the Graham-Levin Amendment to the Detainee Treatment Act was by Hamdan - but that eventually is years away, and quite a bit of "alternative interrogation" could certainly take place during that time, while the subjects of such methods would have no representation and no legal recourse available to them.

Vyan

Tuesday, September 19

Coming off the rails for Rove

This week the President's plan to "reinterpret" the Geneva Conventions ran into a bit of a snag - three snags - named McCain, Warner and Graham. But there's a subtext to this story of Republican vs Republican, if the President, Vice President and Secretary Rumsfeld's claims that anyone who disagree with them is "confused", "aiding the enemy" or an "appeaser" -- does that also apply to their Republican critics such as Colin Powell?

In opposing the President's plans Senator McCain stated Sunday on This Week.
"When in our custody Al-qaeda deserve nothing - except the fundamental rights that all prisoners under the Geneva Conventions. The Vietnamese treated us rather badly, but that didn't mean that responded by altering the Geneva Conventions".

"I believe this has nothing to do with politics," McCain said. "No matter what the political impact is, this is a matter of conscience."
But can McCain truly be taken seriously after his recent rightward turn and embracing of old foes such as Jerry Falwell? He seems to be the epitome of an opportunist, last year he fought hard to implement a torture ban, despite fierce Administration opposition only to have that ban implemented with a poison pill (the Graham/Levin Amendment) which denied detainees access to the courts and effectively rendered the entire bill moot and unenforceable. What is the point of banning torture if you also gag anyone who might have been tortured and deny them access to lawyers or the courts?

This is merely an exercise in political theater. But along the way McCain may have just step seriously on not just the President's shoes - but Karl Rove, the clear architect of the current"Democrats are weak" strategery.

The money quote however was this one:
"We have to hold the moral high ground. We're the nation that people look up to. We can't lower our standards simply because others do. We hold no respect for al-Qaeda. We don't think al-Qaeda will observe those Conventions - but we're going to be in other wars. And there's two reasons why all these retired military guys - who are not soft on terror or al Qaeda - are coming down vehemently against modifying the Geneva Conventions. 1) is the Moral High Ground. We are not like al Qaeda. There's a war on the battlefield and a psychological/idealogical war going on and 2) They are very worried about American forces who will fall into the hands of nations who will "reinterpret" or modify the Geneva conventions."

I would argue that there is a third reason that we shouldn't modify Geneva, because it can be considered a War Crime. And as I diaried on Dkos the other day, a country that sets and maintains a standard of treating it's captives well - has a greater chance for ultimate victory than one that mistreats them and provides further motivation for their opposition. This was made clear to us during WWII in Europe as Italian and German forces were far more likely to surrender to us, rather than the Russians and face their Gulags. And it was also made clear during the first Gulf War when most of Saddam's forces were more than eager to give up rather than be slaughtered. Now - partly because of Abu Ghraib and many other abuses such as Haditha and Fallujah - we face an enemy that would much rather die than be defeated and surrender.

However, the devil is in the details. Listening to Laura Flanders this weekend, she made the point that this isn't a case of three-card Monty with our rights. They aren't hiding under the House Bill, the Senate bill or the WhiteHouse Bill. All of these bills, like the Graham/Levin Amendment to the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, essentially toss habeas corpus out the window.

We may formally acknowledge that we will not violate Geneva. Fine. But if persons such as
Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, who was apparently kidnapped by the CIA in Italy and sent to Egypt where he claims to have been tortured until they discovered he knew nothing and was released - would have no legal recourse. Olbermann has speculated about what happens when Khallid Sheik Mohammad, who has now been transfered to Gitmo begins talking to the Red Cross -- but the answer to that is nothing. He has no ability to sue under Graham/Levin, and that is likely to remain true under any bill that exits Congress before the Election.

Further, there is still the issue of evidence gathered using coercive means being introduced secretly at trial - where they would not be subject to a fruits of the poison tree challenge and the fact that Bush continues to claim special super-dooper executive powers that allow him to fore-go and ignore laws which he disagrees with (such as FISA). So what exactly is there to stop him from continuing to ignore Geneva no matter what Congress decides?

In the end, all the bluster, strum and drang between Powell, McCain and Bush is likely to amount to big hill of nothing. Bush will - must - do everything in his ability to protect himself from possible War Crimes prosecution, and if he has to use this ex post facto method of covering his tracks while giving a tacit nod to the continuance of Geneva - he will. But that doesn't mean he'll abide by the law. In the meantime, McCain's words that those who oppose the President - ARE NOT SOFT ON AL-QAEDA - should not go unrepeated.

Say it with me now - John McCain is not soft on Al Qaeda. John Murtha is not soft on Al-Qaeda. Neither is John Kerry or Russ Feingold.

The big loser in all of this - is Karl Rove - as it appears that some Republicans have not only abandoned the President, they've chosen to completely undercut the insult politics that this Administration thrives on. How do they now repeat the kinds of attacks we've seen on decorated veterans - who happen to be Democrats- such as Murtha, Max Cleland or Kerry?

How can they continue to argue that these guys are "traitors" or "appeasers" when their standing shoulder to shoulder with Powell, McCain, Graham and Warner?

I don't think they can.

Less than 60 days to the election and Rove has already played his trump card and had it fail. The Republicans are going to lose Congress, probably both Houses. Rove probably knows this well, as does the RNC. Their next likely strategy is to let the Democrats take control -- and then play the "see, look at what they do once their in power" game and argue for retention of the Presidency in 2008 by a Republican - an "independent" Republican (with Jerry Falwell's hand in his pocket) like McCain. A strategy that might prove very effective if Democrats attempt to impeach George Bush without first laying the groundwork and making the need for such an action clear in the minds of the American people.

Although the ranting of John Yoo in the New York Times Post should make the grave danger of the Bush Administration to the fabric of our Democracy obvious, it still hasn't sunk in yet. Glenn Greenwald shines a spotlight on it:
Why is it even necessary to point out that the U.S. President does not have the power to violate laws which he thinks are "wrongheaded or obsolete," or that Presidents have no authority to disregard "wrongheaded or obsolete judicial decisions" (whatever that might mean)? And what permits a "law professor" to claim otherwise on the Op-Ed page of the NYT? Under this administration, there is no notion too radical or authoritarian to be off limits not only from being subject to debate, but from being implemented.

Just look at the things we're debating -- whether the U.S. Government can abduct and indefinitely imprison U.S. citizens without charges; whether we can use torture to interrogate people; whether our Government can eavesdrop on our private conversations without warrants; whether we can create secret prisons and keep people there out of sight and beyond the reach of any law or oversight; and whether the President can simply disregard long-standing constitutional limitations and duly enacted Congressional laws because he has deemed that doing so is necessary to "protect" us.

It should be obvious that the people who are "confused" are inside BushGov. The ones who have further "emboldened the enemy" with their tactics aren't Kerry or Murtha, it's Bush and Cheney with their torture fetish. Unfortunately, I don't believe most of the American people truly realize just how fucked-up we've really become over the last five years - or that they'll finally figure it out over the next two.

But one can always hope.

Vyan

Olbermann Special Comment

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on Bush in the Rose Garden.

Monday, September 18

Blumenthal on How Bush Rules, Torture and the Quest for Unfetterred Power

.thinkGuest writting at Thinkprogress, Sidney Blumenthal has laid down the direction of his new book, How Bush Rules: Chronicals of Radical Regime.How Bush Rules Cover

We do not torture,” President Bush has said time and again. But Bush has approved techniques that are defined as torture under the Geneva Conventions. In fact, he abrogated U.S. compliance with Article 3 of the Conventions that specifically prohibits torture. Indeed, his then White House counsel and now attorney general Alberto Gonzales contemptuously referred to the Conventions as “quaint.”

In the infamous memo of August 1, 2002 written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the so-called “Bybee memo,” after Jay Bybee, its director and since appointed by Bush to a federal judgeship, the Conventions were shoved aside and the definition revised. Rather than the Conventions stipulations against “cruel, inhumane and degrading” treatment of prisoners and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment,” the administration adopted new standards: “Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent to intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” The Bush administration’s new torture policy prompted the export of torture technique from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib.

But the Bybee memo wasn't the start of BushGov's obsession with torture. As I've pointed out here, here and here - in early 2002, eight months prior to the Bybee memo request, then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales began the process to have terrorism detainees excluded from Geneva not because they didn't have valid status - Geneva applies to all prisons regardless of whether they are soldiers of a specific nation or not - but because Gonzales wished to avoid possible War Crimes prosecution of Adminstration Officials.

In recent weeks, Gonzales and Bush's attempts to end-run Geneva via Presidential decree have run upon rocky ground before the Supreme Court who flatly rejected the notion that Geneva did not apply. And if Geneva applies, so does the War Crimes Act of 1996. 18 USC § 2441

The debate has prompted former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of State Powell to submit a stern letter to the president, saying that President's position on this throws our moral basis for the war on terror "into doubt."

But why does Bush continue to insist on these methods when many of the professionals in the field, including the FBI argue that they simply don't work.

The FBI forbids its agents from participating in any way in interrogation of detainees because of agents’ experience of what they considered torture. One agent in an email to bureau officials on August 2, 2004 described what he witnessed at the Guantanamo detainee prison camp: “On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18 to 24 hours or more.” In one case, he said, “The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night.”

Bush claims are these methods that are “not torture” are necessary because they produce valuable intelligence on terrorism activities. Yet an FBI agent involved in the interrogations wrote on December 5, 2003, “These tactics have produced no intelligence of a threat neutralization nature to date and . . .”

The U.S. Army agrees emphatically. On September 6, the same day that Bush unveiled his new plan for torture and kangaroo courts, Lieutenant General John F. Kimmons, the Army’s Deputy Chief of Intelligence, in his presentation of the Army’s new field manual on interrogation that specifically encoded the Geneva Conventions rules against torture, said directly: “No good intelligence comes from abusive interrogation practices.”

Blumenthal sees this insistence on "Hard Charging" techniques as part of a larger reshaping of the Presidency by Bush and his followers. A radical resurgence of the Imperial Presidency of Richard Nixon and even more. ("If the President does it, it's legal...") The use of warrantless wiretaps against American citizens, unlimited detention without judicial oversight, habeous corpus or due process, torture - even murder have all occured under this Presidents watch, and worse - at his direction.

16 Months Ago Amnesty International called for the investigation, and if neccesary arrest and prosecution of George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales for War Crimes. It's clear that with the paper trail that has been produced by the ACLU, any serious investigation of these issues would lead to grave consequences under 2441, including up to 5 years imprisonment and possible execution, for those who paved the way for these events to have occured. Even members of Congress if they approve the weakening and redefining of Geneva that the President has proposed.

Vyan

Sunday, September 17

Impending E-Voting Debacle finally noticed by MSM

The Washington Post today posted a major article on November's looming E-Voting Calamity (Courtesy of ThereIsNoSpoon)

An overhaul in how states and localities record votes and administer elections since the Florida recount battle six years ago has created conditions that could trigger a repeat -- this time on a national scale -- of last week's Election Day debacle in the Maryland suburbs, election experts said.

In the Nov. 7 election, more than 80 percent of voters will use electronic voting machines, and a third of all precincts this year are using the technology for the first time. The changes are part of a national wave, prompted by the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 and numerous revisions of state laws, that led to the replacement of outdated voting machines with computer-based electronic machines, along with centralized databases of registered voters and other steps to refine the administration of elections.



This story is finally starting to get some traction, now that the problems in Maryland's primary have been so well documented. The ripples of the Princeton Diebold video seem to be spreading and have already reached the shores of Faux News.

But in Maryland last Tuesday, a combination of human blunders and technological glitches caused long lines and delays in vote-counting. The problems, which followed ones earlier this year in Ohio, Illinois and several other states, have contributed to doubts among some experts about whether the new systems are reliable and whether election officials are adequately prepared to use them.

Ok, Now they're starting to have doubts? We've already had the Conyers Report(pdf) as well as RFK's stunning article in Rolling Stone. Which was followed up Fitrakis and Herbert. Rampant problems in the Billbray/Busby contest in San Diego. As well as various Whistleblowers, William Singer, Ion Sancho, and Steven Heller.

The fact that Maryland had these problems, shows the strength of the e-voting lobby, since Maryland House had voted to kick Diebold out and switched back to paper-ballots in March of this year.

Diebold, the electronic voting machine maker, suffered another sharp setback recently, when Maryland's House of Delegates voted 137-to-0 to drop its machines and switch to paper ballots. The vote came in the same week that Texas held elections marred by electronic voting troubles. Maryland's State Senate should join the House in voting to discontinue the use of the Diebold machines, and other states should follow Maryland's lead.

Maryland was one of the first states to embrace Diebold. But Maryland voters and elected officials have grown increasingly disenchanted as evidence has mounted that the machines cannot be trusted. In 2004, security experts from RABA Technologies told the state legislature that they had been able to hack into the machines in a way that would make it possible to steal an election. Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat, informed the State Board of Elections in 2004 that voters had complained to her that machines had mysteriously omitted the Senate race.

Unfortuately this intiative by the Maryland House ultimately failed. Back to the Wapo.

In a polarized political climate, in which elections are routinely marked by litigation and allegations of incompetent administration or outright tampering, some worry that voting problems could cast a Florida-style shadow over this fall's midterm elections.

"We could see that control of Congress is going to be decided by races in recount situations that might not be determined for several weeks," said Paul S. DeGregorio, chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission, although he added that he does not expect problems of this magnitude.

"It's hard to put a factor on how ill-prepared we are," said former Ohio governor Richard F. Celeste, a Democrat who recently co-chaired a study of new machines with Republican Richard L. Thornburgh, former governor of Pennsylvania, for the National Research Council. They advised local election officials to prepare backup plans for November.

"What we know is, these technologies require significant testing and debugging to make them work," added Celeste, now president of Colorado College. "Our concern -- particularly as we look to the November election, when there is a lot of pressure on -- is that election officials consider what kinds of fallbacks they can put in place."

It seems that this issue is suddenly, almost oddly, beginning to reach critical mass -- but the question remains, can the problems be corrected and/or alternatives put in place in time to ensure a fair and accurate election this November. And if not, and either the Republicans retain control of the House, or the Democrats take over either House of Congress - as they care currently projected to do - will anyone be able to trust the results? How can you have an effective Democracy if you can't trust the vote?

Answer: You Can't!

Vyan

New Songs Added to Station

Now Playing Truth2Power Radio

Super 8
- Here I go Again
Queens of the Stone Age - No One Knows
Flesh - Who can Love You
Evanescense - Bring me to Life
Extreme - Cynical Fuck
Dokken - Deep Waters
Audioslave - Cochise
Isley Bros - Take me to the Next Phase
Bodycount - Strippers
Rage Against the Machine - Street Fighting Man
Queensryche - Best I Can
30 Seconds to Mars -Edge of the Earth
Bulletboys - Owed to Joe
The Gap Band - Dropped a Bomb on Me
Cranberries - Linger
Magni - Heroes, Starman, Fire

AP Photographer "Disappeared" by U.S. Military

Years ago, well not that many, but a couple - I used to post on this newsgroup from my then hometown Sacramento on political issues of the day. We had unabashed lefties, centrists and conservatives all going at it, but eventually the rancor grew too biting. Everyone was speaking past each other - so just before the 2004 election I left. But before that I do recall one specific prediction... the Administration will eventually "Disappear" not just terrorists, but innocent civilians and U.S. citizens.

Arguably the first of these was Jose Padilla, who was held secretly for about a month until BushGov decided they needed a bump in the news cycle. Now comes Bilal Hussein, an AP Photographer who has been held in Iraq - without charges - for the last five months.

The U.S. military in Iraq has imprisoned an Associated Press photographer for five months, accusing him of being a security threat but never filing charges or permitting a public hearing.

Military officials said Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi citizen, was being held for "imperative reasons of security" under United Nations resolutions. AP executives said the news cooperative's review of Hussein's work did not find anything to indicate inappropriate contact with insurgents, and any evidence against him should be brought to the Iraqi criminal justice system.

Hussein, 35, is a native of Fallujah who began work for the AP in September 2004. He photographed events in Fallujah and Ramadi until he was detained on April 12 of this year.

Hussein is one of an estimated 14,000 people detained by the U.S. military worldwide - 13,000 of them in Iraq. They are held in limbo where few are ever charged with a specific crime or given a chance before any court or tribunal to argue for their freedom.

In Hussein's case, the military has not provided any concrete evidence to back up the vague allegations they have raised about him, Curley and other AP executives said.

The military said Hussein was captured with two insurgents, including Hamid Hamad Motib, an alleged leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. "He has close relationships with persons known to be responsible for kidnappings, smuggling, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and other attacks on coalition forces," according to a May 7 e-mail from U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jack Gardner, who oversees all coalition detainees in Iraq.

"The information available establishes that he has relationships with insurgents and is afforded access to insurgent activities outside the normal scope afforded to journalists conducting legitimate activities," Gardner wrote to AP International Editor John Daniszewski.

Hussein proclaims his innocence, according to his Iraqi lawyer, Badie Arief Izzat, and believes he has been unfairly targeted because his photos from Ramadi and Fallujah were deemed unwelcome by the coalition forces.

This is what America has become, a country that foregoes due process out of expediency? This is what Bush wishes the entire world emulate? The sad part is - they just might.

But what's worse is that Hussein may be completely innocent according to the AP's own investigation, not only that - he may be a hero.

AP officials emphasized the military has not provided the company concrete evidence of its claims against Bilal Hussein, or provided him a chance to offer a defense.

"He's a Sunni Arab from a tribe in that area. I'm sure he does know some nasty people. But is he a participant in the insurgency? I don't think that's been proven," Daniszewski said.

Information provided to the AP by the military to support the continued detention hasn't withstood scrutiny, when it could be checked, Daniszewski said.

For example, he said, the AP had been told that Hussein was involved with the kidnapping of two Arab journalists in Ramadi.

But those journalists, tracked down by the AP, said Hussein had helped them after they were released by their captors without money or a vehicle in a dangerous part of Ramadi. After a journalist acquaintance put them in touch with Hussein, the photographer picked them up, gave them shelter and helped get them out of town, they said.

The journalists said they had never been contacted by multinational forces for their account.

Vyan

Electronic Voting Demo on Fox News

Make Every Vote CountStop George from Dailykos, who posted the previous Princeton Video of a Diebold voting machine being hacked, has just posted another video of the very same Princeton people demonstrating how that very same machine can be fooled on Fox and Friends - and even they got it.


When you watch the video you will discover that, although not a lot of time is spent discussing this serious issue -- Professor Felten clearly shows the right-wingers that they have a lot to be concerned about. The bubble-head hosts even gasped and seemed to understand the seriousness of this demonstration.

And so, I think we have almost achieved a pivotal point in this whole saga of e-voting in America. RFK jr. et al's massive lawsuit against the e-voting companies (which they say will curl your toes) is expected to be front-page news within the next couple of weeks. And now, this issue is starting to gain wide political exposure on such programs as Lou Dobbs and Fox News. Yes, friends -- I have a feeling this story is going to go critical mass.



Watch and share, even with all your wingnut friends.

Vyan