Saturday, January 6

Lucy Brown - Colorblind

Lucy Brown - Colorblind

The Fastest Way to End the Iraq War

...is not through Impeachment.

Don't get me wrong, George Bush absolutely needs to be Impeached for reasons that both Kagro X and thereisnospoon have most eloquently put.

But that isn't the best and fastest way to end the war.

This post is an expansion on a comment I made to post by kos where he stated.
What Democrats in Congress will have to do (and already plan on doing) is use their bully pulpit to amplify the overwhelming public opposition to the war. Bush isn't up for reelection, so he doesn't give a damn about himself. But if he sees that in political terms the war could cost his party dearly in 2008, that may be the one thing that could pull him back from the precipice.

It's clear that lots of Republicans are already panicking about their 2008 chances, and it won't be long before most of the Republican senators up for reelection in 2008 are fervent war opponents, as well as any House Republican who won her or his reelection battle by single digits.

But it won't save them, just like it didn't save Lincoln Chafee.

This is the Republicans' war. They bought it. They broke it. They own it. And they will suffer the brunt of it.

And the more Bush and McCain escalate the war, the deeper the consequences will be.

So don't fret that Congressional Dems can't unilaterally get us out of that mess. That power is vested in the president. But the bigger the mess Republicans make of the war, the bigger our victories in 2008. And if we make those big gains in Congress and the White House, ending this war will be tops on our 2009 agenda.

Although I agree that Congress absolutely needs to use the bully pulpit and hearings to help underscore the point that this war must be stopped - I contend that it isn't true that Congress can't get us out of this mess and can only rearrange the funding on the deck of this Titanic.

The Fastest way to end the Iraq War is for Congress to simply repeal HJ 141, the Iraq Force Resolution, and de-authorize the War. If the Power to declare War belongs to the Congress, so does the power to end it, if they have the will to do so. At this point in time all major objectives sought by that resolution required Saddam to abide by various and sundrie UN Resolutions have been met.

Not to mention those which were just plain bullshit.


Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

An ABC Survey has revealed that if the IFR were put to a vote today - it would fail.
In Oct. 2003, 77 senators voted to give President Bush authorization to go to war in Iraq. Just 23 senators voted against it.

But according to a new ABC News survey, 33 out of the original 77 senators “indicated they would vote differently knowing then what they know now.” Five senators — including three Republicans — said that in retrospect, the intelligence was so wrong that the matter should never have even been brought to a vote. These results would mean that a vote to authorize war in Iraq today would be 43-57, and the resolution would fail. (Full list of senators here.)

There may not yet be enough support to sustain a veto override - YET - but after sustained and thorough hearings on how this war was falsely justified and how it has been totally mis-handled - that hill will be much easier to hurdle than either Impeachment or any attempt to repeal the War Powers Act.

Saddam is dead (and now Official a Martyr) His regime is destroyed. We've had our oppurtunity to rebuild the country and have completely blown it, we tried to help them establish a new goverment and new army and have blown that too. Although it pains many of us to say it - It's time to go, period.

This campaign is a total failure and staying only delays the inevitable.

We have to finally understand that the fate of Iraq is out of our hands, it's in the hands of the Iraqis.

If the Saudi's want to come in and grapple with al-Sadr and his Militia - while they roast the shrivelled cojones of al-Maliki on a spit - maybe we should let them.

A resolution for a phased troop withdrawal is simply not enough - the various "Unitary Executive/Command-in-Chief" powers that Bush has claimed unto himself also need to be addressed. Repeatedly he has issued signing statments and executive orders for Extreme Rendition, Secret Prisons, Torture, Domestic Spying on our Phone Calls, E-mail, Websites and even opening our U.S. Mail in direct defiance of the law under color of the Authority to Use Force given to him by the Congress and his role as "C-in-C".

It's time to bring that abuse of power to heal.

By the way - A Resolution to do exactly this was originally introduced to the House by Sheila Jackson Lee in 2003 as House Concurrent Resolution 2, before the Iraq War even began.

Whereas the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243; 116 Stat. 1498), enacted into law on October 16, 2002, authorizes the President to use United States Armed Forces against Iraq to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq and to enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq;

Whereas since the enactment of Public Law 107-243, Iraq has allowed international weapons inspectors to re-enter Iraq in order to identify and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities;

Whereas since the enactment of Public Law 107-243, actions by North Korea relating to its nuclear weapons capabilities pose a more immediate threat to its neighbors and to the United States; and

Whereas in light of these circumstances, Congress should reexamine the threat posed by Iraq, including by allowing time to review fully and accurately the findings of the international weapons inspectors: Now, therefore, be it

Cosponsors at that time were:

    Rep Conyers, John, Jr. - 2/4/2003 [MI-14]

    Rep Davis, Danny K. - 1/7/2003 [IL-7]
    Rep Filner, Bob - 2/4/2003 [CA-51]
    Rep Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. - 2/4/2003 [IL-2]
    Rep Kleczka, Gerald D. - 2/4/2003 [WI-4]
    Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. - 1/7/2003 [OH-10]
    Rep Lee, Barbara - 1/7/2003 [CA-9]
    Rep Oberstar, James L. - 2/4/2003 [MN-8]
    Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. - 2/4/2003 [IL-9]
    Rep Waters, Maxine - 2/4/2003 [CA-35]
    Rep Watson, Diane E. - 1/7/2003 [CA-33]

I think we could find a few more co-sponsors this time around, considering how badly the War has gone since then.

Vyan

Friday, January 5

Only Postponing the Fall of Baghdad

Via Thinkprogress.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE) said yesterday that he believes top officials in the Bush administration — “maybe even including the vice president” — have “privately concluded they have lost Iraq and are simply trying to postpone disaster so the next president will ‘be the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof,’ in a chaotic withdrawal reminiscent of Vietnam.”

"I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes Iraq is lost," Biden said. "They have no answer to deal with how badly they have screwed it up. I am not being facetious now. Therefore, the best thing to do is keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy -- literally, not figuratively."


Now, I happen to believe that Biden is absolutely correct - not only have we completely lost in Iraq, but most of the Bush Administration already knows that we've lost - no matter how much Bush and his most wingnut of supportors such as Bill Kristol continue their insane talk of "Victory".

Bush, on other hand, understands that the only acceptable exit strategy is victory. To that end, Bush should do more. He should send substantially more troops and insist on a change of strategy to allow a real counterinsurgency and prevent civil war.


But the cold hard truth is that this entire escapade has been a total failure from top to bottom. They couldn't handle post Saddam Iraq, they couldn't stop the looting, get the lights back-on, get the fresh water flowing - and couldn't resist humiliating the Iraq with Abu Ghraib - until finally they permently lost not only the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people - they lost their trust as well.

Hence we have all this blather about a "surge" (of 30,000 troops) or maybe it's a "bump" (of only 15,000) -- all the while most of us are fully aware that none of these suggestions are doing anything more than buying time for the Bush Administration to run out the clock.

Even some of our newly empowered Democrats in Congress aren't quite getting it yet.

Last night on ABC News, newly elected Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-KS) said she would support funding for 20,000-40,000 more troops in Iraq because President Bush “is the commander in chief. …We don’t get that choice. Congress doesn’t make that decision.


Oh, but it does...

Although the new Congress should not refuse to provide the funds that the troops already in Iraq and Afghanistan need, it can place an amendment on the supplemental funding bill that states that if the administration wants to increase the number of troops in Iraq above 150,000, it must provide a plan for their purpose and require an up or down vote on exceeding that number.


They can also push for hearings on the supplemental funding requiring that the Administration precisely lay-out it's plan for how that spending is to be used -- a measure which falls far short of completely pulling out the plug on our troops, but still holds Bush's feet to the fire not to use them as human shields to bolster his shredded legacy.

Although this "Surge and Accelerate" Strategery of the President is as transparent as a sun dress in late afternoon sunlight - even Biden himself is sounding tentative.

"There is nothing a United States Senate can do to stop a president from conducting his war," Biden said. "The only thing that is going to change the president's mind, if he continues on a course that is counterproductive, is having his party walk away from his position."

Biden said that Vice President Cheney and former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld "are really smart guys who made a very, very, very, very bad bet, and it blew up in their faces. Now, what do they do with it? I think they have concluded they can't fix it, so how do you keep it stitched together without it completely unraveling?"


With Duct Tape and Glue made from the body parts of American Soldiers? I think not.

The fact is they're aint gonna be a "Surge" - not if John Murtha can help it.

When we asked about the likelihood of the president sending additional troops to Iraq, Murtha was adamant. "The only way you can have a troop surge," he told us, "is to extend the tours of people whose tours have already been extended, or to send back people who have just gotten back home." He explained at length how our military forces are already stretched to the breaking point, with our strategic reserve so depleted we are unprepared to face any additional threats to the country. So does that mean there will be no surge? Murtha offered us a "with Bush anything is possible" look, then said: "Money is the only way we can stop it for sure."


One thing Congress can due is make sure that Bush is the one who has to "face the choppers" - not the next President.

(Unless of course, Bush has already been forced to abdicate due to War Crimes Charges)

Vyan

Dem Congress Makes History

Women and Muslims and Liberals - Oh My!

Yesterday Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was voted in as the first female Speaker for the House of Representatives in American history.



This is no small thing, it is a major step forward in high-kicking your way through the Marble Ceiling into the hallways of power. And we have the Republican Congress to thank for it, not that they and their supporters have shown any grace what-so-ever.

And how do the country's major papers opinion pages handle this historic moment? They don't. No mention at the LA Times, and WaPo features another George Will set of prevarications running the gambit from the New Deal worsening the Depression to the fact that minimum wage workers really aren't poor.

Actually, the NYT does feature a column about Nancy Pelosi, from the always odious David Brooks, this time adding a dash of sexism to his usual drivel.

Some people believe that Pelosi is an airhead, but that is wrong. Some people believe she is a radical San Francisco liberal, but that, too, is wrong. The main fact to know about Pelosi is that she is a creature of the modern fund-raising system. Some politicians rise because they run political machines. Some rise because they are great communicators. Pelosi has risen because she is a master of the thousand-dollar-a-plate fundraising circuit....

She paid her dues selecting party favors, arranging seating charts (after that, legislation is easy), and laying thick dollops of obsequiousness on cranky old moguls and their helmet hair spa-spouses. She has done what all political fund-raisers do: tell rich people things they already believe, demonize the other side, motivate the giving with Manichaean tales of good versus evil.

Airhead? Party planner? Thank you, Mr. Brooks, for so minimizing the achievements of this talented politician. Would David Brooks ever discuss another, male politician in these terms? Would David Brooks ever ask if a prominent Republican, say George Bush, was an airhead?

Yuck it up fuzzballs, Nancy is now the queen of the roost and all your petty back-biting means nothing.

One paper, fittingly Ms. Pelosi's hometown paper, the San Francisco Chronicle rightly recognizes the import:

NANCY PELOSI'S election as speaker of the House will bring a moment of history today, to be followed by 100 hours of furious legislative activity.

First, let's pause to recognize the historic significance of the first woman and first Californian to assume a position that will put her second in succession to the presidency of the United States....


Well, at least someone got it right.

Meanwhile we have another historical first, Rep. Keith Ellison has now joined congress as it's first Muslim member - and has handled the pressure with enormous class as he met Virgle Goode (R) who has echoed Dennis Prager's claim that Ellisons use of the Koran in the after-induction photo-op would somehow damage our nation - even thought the Koran he eventually used had formerly belonged to Thomas Jefferson.




Ellison meeting Goode...



After meeting on the House Floor, showing that he's Mighty Christian- Ellison invited Goode out for coffee (and not in a Mark Foley sort-of way...)

“By reaching out to Congressman Goode I’m not trying to be accepted, I’m trying to build bridges. In this world there are too many misunderstandings. I want to put a human face on things,” explained Ellison.


Meanwhile Virgil seems to have some problems of his own.

It looks as if Virgil Goode's attack on Rep. Keith Ellion's use of the Koran for his swearing in hasn't gone over well with at least one of his constituents: Goode's district office in Charlottesville, Virginia, was vandalized. A local paper called The Hook reports that his office window sported a curious new addition: The word "BIGOT" stenciled on it in gold paint. Interestingly, the word was very carefully stencilled on, just under his name and title and in a similar shade of gold, so as to make the word "BIGOT" look almost like an official part of his job description. Asked by the paper if it might be a reaction to his anti-Muslim comments, a Goode spokesperson declined to comment. View a picture of the vandalized office here.



The graffiti has now been removed, but it does go to show that when liberals use guerilla tactics - they still do it with style.

Vyan

Thursday, January 4

Latest Tracks on the Station

The Latest tracks added to Truth 2 Power Radio for your listening pleasure:
James Brown - Say it Loud I'm Black and I'm Proud, Living in America
Nine Inch Nails - Closer, Down in It
Pantera - Cemetary Gates
Body Count - Hey Joe
U2 - Pride (In the Name of Love)
Disturbed - Violence Fetish
30 Seconds to Mars - Edge of the Earth
Little Steven & Artists Against Aparthied - Sun City
Bulletboys - For the Love of Money, THC Groove
Talking Heads - Psycho Killer
Prince & The Revolution - Pop Life
Queensryche - Della Brown
Marilyn Manson - Irresponsible Hate Anthem, The Dope Show, Personal Jesus
System of a Down - Boom!
Nonpoint - In the Air Tonight
Sevendust - Disgrace, Seasons
Rammstein - Amerika

Wednesday, January 3

FBI Blows Smoke on Gitmo

Just ne Day before the swearing in of the new Democratic Congress, the FBI has released a report on detainee treatment at Guantanemo Bay that alleges numerous instances of abuse - but also that none of these instances were performed by FBI personnel.

The FBI Office of General Counsel in September 2004 ordered the "special inquiry" into any FBI participation or observations of a series of alleged incidents at the prison camp for suspected terrorists and al Qaeda sympathizers, but the results were not made public.

The FBI released the documents in response to a Freedom of Information request by the American Civil Liberties Union, but stressed that most of the findings had already been reported elsewhere.

"Note these documents have been vetted by both DoD [Department of Defense] and FBI, and that FBI believes this or substantially similar information has already been released in this litigation," the FBI said.

Here are some excerpts ("W" indicates a Witness, "d" indicate detainee):
on several occasions, witness ("W") saw detainees ("ds") in interrogation rooms chained hand and foot in fetal position to floor w/no chair/ food/water; most urinated or defecated on selves, and were left there 18, 24 hrs or more. Once, the air conditioning was so low that the barefoot d was shaking with cold. Another time, it was off so the unventilated room was over 100 degrees, d was almost unconscious on floor with a pile of hair next to him (he had apparently been pulling it out throughout the night). Another time, it was sweltering hot and loud rap music played - d's hand and foot was chanined and he was in a fetal position on the floor. Upon inquiry, W was told that interrogators [military contractors] ordered this treatment. Took place in Delta Camp

d was kept in darkened cell in Naval Brig at GTMO, then transferred to Camp Delta where he gave no info. Then taken to Camp X-Ray and put in plywood hut. Interrogators yelled and screamed at him. One interrogator squatted over the Koran. Another day a German Shepherd was commended to growl, bark and show his teeth to the prisoner. Subsequently someone laughingly told the W "you have to see this" and took him to an interrogation room where W saw a d with a full beard whose head was wrapped in duct tape

civilian contractor asked W (an FBI SA) to come see something. There was an unknown bearded longhaired d gagged w/duct tape that covered much of his head. SA asked if he had spit at interrogators, and the contractor laughingly replied that d had been chanting the Koran nonstop. No answer to how they planned to remove the duct tape.

Rumors that interrogator bragged about doing lap dance on d, another about making d listen to satanic black metal music for hours then dressing as a Priest and baptizing d to save him - handwritten note says "yes"

W walked into Camp Delta observation room and saw d rubbing his leg due to possibly being in stress position. D was wearing leg irons and handcuffed w/cuffs chained to waist. W was advised the chains were adjusted to force D to stand in "baseball catcher" position. D was being questioned by 2 military officers. D was previously held in brig and questioned for 2 months w/no results. Permission had been granted to use "special interrogation techniques"

After hearing what sounded like "thunder," W saw 2 individuals dressed in BDUs standing and an inmate kneeling on a bloody floor with his forehead on the ground, holding his nose and crying. They said d become upset and threw himself on floor. W heard previously that a female military personnel would wet her hands and touch the ds face as part of their psych-ops to make them feel unclean and upset them. W heard that in an effort to disrupt ds who were praying during interrogation, female intelligence personnel would do this

A detainee brought into interview shack at Camp x-ray appeared to have broken fingers and facial injuries. W was told that d exhibited noncompliance w/prison guard and rapid reaction team was brought in to bring d into compliance. He was in a plywood shack adjacent to "dog cages". D had black eye, facial cuts around nose, and taped fingers. He motioned to guards and said "they"
handwritten note "yes - Do interview so we will have a formal record. I think I know what all he saw."

D says he was beaten unconscious at Camp x-ray. Guards entered cell unprovoked and spat and cursed at him, called him SOB, bastard and crazy. D rolled on stomach to protect self due to recent stomach surgery. Soldier jumped on his back, beat him in the face, then choked him till he passed out. Said he was beating him because he was a Muslim. Female guard also beat him and grabbed his head and beat it into the cell floor. D taken to hospital after.

W heard of technique (not allowed by FBI agents) where a difficult d who would not cooperate would be left in shackles for extended time (12 hrs or more) and the AC turned way low or off. hw notes "environment down - doesn't seem excessive given DoD policy"
Although many of these allegations seem quite serious, the manner in which this information has been released remains extremely questionable. First of all, if you review the pdf of this data, most of the observations made by various FBI personnel were not first hand, and some were merely rumors they had heard (such as the lapdance incident).

The other issue is the timing of this release, it seems more of an effort to distance the FBI from any wrong-doing rather than an effort to truly identify and build a case against any potential criminal activity. In many cases FBI agents were themselves unfamiliar with DoD protocols, therefore their ability to act as informed witnesses to criminal acts extremely diminished. The truth is that many of these type of interrogation techniques were indeed authorized by Donald Rumsfeld.
In December of 2002 SecDef Rumsfeld allows for ""stress positions," hooding, 20-hour interrogations, removal of clothing, exploiting phobias to induce stress (e.g., fear of dogs), prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, and forced grooming. These techniques soon spread to Afghanistan and later to Iraq." according to documents obtain by the ACLU.
However, this doesn't make these action legal under the War Crimes Act which prohibits all 'grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions." It could be argued that the WCA did not apply at this point in time since the President, under advice of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, had declared that enemy combatant detainees were not covered under Geneva - but this view was later reversed by the Hamdan decision.

The question remains - why hasn't the FBI fully investigated these allegations and rumors? Was it because of the direction of the President, Attorney General and SecDef - which condoned these activities? Was it because of the Bybee Memo which maintained that activities such as these were not torture - as long as the subject didn't lose a limb, suffer organ failure or die?

Well - what about the detainees who have died in custody?

From Amnesty International:

It is now known that at least 34 detainees who died in US custody have had their deaths listed by the army as confirmed or suspected criminal homicides. The true number of such deaths may be higher as there is evidence that delays, cover-ups and deficiencies in investigations have hampered the collection of evidence.(5) In several cases, however, substantial evidence has emerged that detainees were tortured to death while under interrogation (revealed, for example, in military autopsy reports, investigation records and recent court testimony). What is even more disturbing is that standard practices as well as interrogation techniques believed to have fallen within officially sanctioned parameters, appear to have played a role in the ill-treatment, as the following cases illustrate.

  • Two Afghan detainees, Dilwar and Habibullah died from multiple blunt force injuries inflicted while they were held in an isolation section of Bagram US airbase in December 2002. Army investigative reports later revealed that both men were kept hooded and chained to a ceiling while being kicked and beaten during sustained assaults by military personnel. A soldier who acknowledged inflicting more than 30 consecutive knee strikes to Dilawar (a slight, 22 year old taxi driver) as he stood in shackles, told investigators that the blows were standard operating procedure for uncooperative detainees. An army criminal investigation report said both deaths were caused primarily by severe trauma to the men’s legs, adding that "sleep deprivation at the direction of military intelligence soldiers" was also a "direct contributing factor" in Dilwar’s death.(6) Army medical examiners found the prolonged shackling had also contributed to his death.(7) 7 low-ranking soldiers, charged variously with assault, maltreatment, dereliction of duty and making false statements eventually received sentences ranging from five months’ imprisonment to reprimand, loss of pay and reduction in rank.

  • Abdul Jaleel died in January 2004 in the US Forward Operating Rifles Base in Al Asad, Iraq, after being kicked and beaten during interrogation. He was tied by his hands to the top of a door frame and gagged when he died. The autopsy report recorded death from "blunt force injuries and asphyxia". A senior army official admitted Jameel had been "lifted to his feet by a baton held to his throat" causing a throat injury that "contributed to his death". (8) Military commanders rejected a recommendation by army investigators to prosecute soldiers involved, on the ground that his death had been the "result of a series of lawful applications of force in response to repeated aggression and misconduct by the detainee".(9)
  • Major-General Abed Hamad Mowhoush, formerly of the Iraqi army, died during interrogation in the US detention facility in Al Qaim, Baghdad, in November 2003. An autopsy recorded cause of death as asphyxia and smothering due to chest compression. Mowhoush died after being rolled back and forth in a sleeping bag, which was placed over his head and bound with wire, while one of his interrogators sat on his chest. According to testimony in a subsequent court case, use of the sleeping bag was part of an approved "stress position" designed to play upon a detainee’s claustrophobia. It was also reportedly interpreted by officers as falling within the "fear up harsh" tactics that may still be found in military operational manuals. There is evidence that abusive interrogation techniques at the Al Qaim facility were routine and authorized.(10)

    The US military initially reported that Mowhoush had died from natural causes. However, several months later, in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, four US soldiers were charged in the death. Only one went to trial and was sentenced to a reprimand, $6,000 forfeiture of pay plus 60 days’ restriction of movement. There is evidence that Mowhoush was subjected to a brutal beating two days before his death by personnel from other agencies, including the CIA, none of whom has been charged.

  • A 27-year-old Iraqi male died while being interrogated by US Navy Seals in April 2004 in Mosul, Iraq. During his confinement he was hooded, flex-cuffed, deprived of sleep and subjected to extreme cold conditions, including the use of cold water on his body and hood. The exact cause of death was "undetermined" although the autopsy stated that hypothermia from wet and cold conditions may have contributed to his death.(11) His treatment included various techniques similar to those authorized by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld in his April 2003 memorandum including "environmental manipuation (e.g. adjusting temperature)", hooding and sleep deprivation.
It is fair to note that most of these deaths occured either in Afghanistan or Iraq, not Gitmo - but does again make one wonder - where was the FBI investigation of these cases?

It's my feeling that this info-dump by the FBI is not a boon to the War Crimes case against the Bush Administration, it is a red-herring designed to cover the FBI's ass while distracting attention away from extradinary rendition, outsourced torture and how detainees have been treated world-wide under U.S. direction - in direct violation of the War Crimes Act.

Vyan

Tuesday, January 2

Orgy of Death: The Murder of Saddam

Saddam's Execution (Cell Phone Version)


After watching this all I can really say is - "What a Catastrofuck!"

I'm mean this is just ridiculous and completley demeaning. This execution was the culmination of a trial where three of Saddam attorney's were assasinated. Witnesses were assasinated. Two of the judges quit after their families were threatened only to be replaced by a Kurdish judge who could hardly have been impartial. All of Saddam's various Crimes against Humanity remain open cases, since his attempt to assasinate George H. W. Bush, his use of Chemical Weapons against Iran, against the Kurds and his ethnic cleansing of Shia's were not addressed - instead he was put on trail for the execution of 148 men and boys as accomplices to a 1987 failed assasination attempt against him.

It could be argued that a head of state has the right and authority to bypass normal jurisprudence when the security of the state itself is at stake. You could say that Saddam's use of summary execution was indescriminate, cruel and unusual, and did not protect the rights of the innocent.

This would all be true but in point of fact - George W. Bush has made exactly that arguement when he instituted secret CIA prisons, the kidnapping and rendition of suspects without due process to be tortured overseas and within U.S. facilities, and the denial of Habeas Corpus.

Saddam deserved his day in court, but I find it difficult to proclaim that he actually received it after this travesty - which was constructed to our specifications under the coalition provisional authority. We picked the judges, we picked the attorney's, we picked the rules of evidence and we provided security for Saddam right up until his death. We had control of this entire process and completely botched it - again.

And then we had the execution...

“[W]e portray ourselves around the world as the champions of democracy and the rule of law,” Brokaw said, yet Hussein’s execution “resembled the worst kind of nightmare out of the old American West.” As a result, Hussein, who “had disappeared, in effect, as some kind of a symbol over there, suddenly becomes a martyr.”

This was said by Tom Brokaw after speaking at the Funeral for the Late President Ford and watching the official footage - he hadn't even yet seen the secret cell-phone images.

During this week Ford has been lionized for "healing the nation" by his Pardon of President Richard Nixon following Watergate. How exactly people can consider Nixon's pardon to be a great healing event, and not see how the Saddam Snuff Film isn't incredibly devisive is beyond me.

Maybe that's why the arrested the cell-phone camerman. But they didn't arrest the people who shouted "Go to Hell" just before he fell, or the Shia guards who chanted "Moqtada Moqtada Moqtada" - the name of the anti-American Shia Cleric who has gain massive influence and power in Iraq with an Army of 60,000 militia members and whose own father was murdered by Saddam (which naturally, he wasn't tried for). In addition the execution took place in one of torture and execution centers used by Saddam's own secret police - how could this not be seen as anything other pure naked vengence, how could this not have turned Saddam into a martyr as he showed both grace and dignity in the face of his taunters and his own imminent death, admonishing them that "This is not how Men behave?"

Indeed it is not. It's how a rabid mob of thugs behaves.

The worst part of this is that Saddam was killed on an Islamic holiday - but the kicker is this: Shia's and Sunnis do not celebrated the start of that Holiday on the same day. Shia recognize the Holiday as beginning on Sunday, while Sunnis recognize it on Saturday and Saddam was killed on Saturday which means that the execution was indented as an insult and offront to the Sunni minority who formerly controlled the country under Saddam's regime.

Talk about sticking in the knife and twisting it.

Tom Brokaw is wrong, this wasn't an execution out of the old west - it was a Lynching. One that if anything may have not only completely cemented the rift between Sunni and Shia, it also has prevented Saddam being able to testify in his War Crimes trial - where in all likelyhood he would name Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney as accomplices who aided and abetted him with funds, access to technology and chemicals during the Iran-Iraq War and even after the First Gulf War when sanctions were in place.

All we have to do is look at this picture and remember "Dead Men Tell No Tales"!



Vyan

Surging into Wonderland

Living Colour - Should I Stay or Should I Go?


From the BBC and Raw Story.

US President George W Bush intends to reveal a new Iraq strategy within days, the BBC has learnt.

The speech will reveal a plan to send more US troops to Iraq to focus on ways of bringing greater security, rather than training Iraqi forces.

The US president arrived back in Washington on Monday after a week-long holiday at his ranch in Texas.

The BBC was told by a senior administration source that the speech setting out changes in Mr Bush's Iraq policy is likely to come in the middle of next week.

Its central theme will be sacrifice.


Sacrifice? For whom? For another 3000 dead Americans (more than died at Ground Zero)? Or are we talking about Sacrifice by (and possibly of) the Iraqi people?

The Death Toll in Iraq is punching it's way through the roof - and President Chimpy is planning to ask us for Sacrifice. That's just priceless.

But we shouldn't be surprised right?

"We'll succeed unless we quit," Bush told reporters. "We tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take awhile.”


"Instant Success" - he says about a War that's already lasted longer than our involvment in World War II. And speaking of WWII the AP wants to know when and where we all became wimps.

The country largely kept the faith during World War II, even as about 400,000 U.S. forces died - 20,000 just in the month long Battle of the Bulge. Before turning against the wars in Korea and Vietnam, Americans tolerated thousands more deaths than in Iraq.

Has something changed? Do Americans somehow place higher value on the lives of their soldiers now? Do they expect success at lower cost? Or do most simply dismiss this particular war as the wrong one - hard to understand and harder to win - and so not worth the losses?


Yeah, why in the world should we get upset when a measly 2 or 3,000 thousand of our citizens disappear in a puff of smoke It's not like it's even 1/1000th of 1% of our total population. It's not like we'll miss them or anything - we've 900 times as many people in our prisons don't we?

Well, that's what happens when you play Whack-a-mole!

We could not clear and hold,” Stephen J. Hadley, the president’s national security adviser, acknowledged in a recent interview, in a frank admission of how American strategy had crumbled. “Iraqi forces were not able to hold neighborhoods, and the effort to build did not show up. The sectarian violence continued to mount, so we did not make the progress on security we had hoped. We did not bring the moderate Sunnis off the fence, as we had hoped. The Shia lost patience, and began to see the militias as their protectors.” Yet if Mr. Bush does send in more American forces, historians may well ask why it took him so long. Some Bush officials argue that the administration erred by refusing to send in a bigger force in 2003, or by sufficiently bolstering it when the insurgency began to take hold.


This year, decisions on a new strategy were clearly slowed by political calculations. Many of Mr. Bush’s advisers say their timetable for completing an Iraq review had been based in part on a judgment that for Mr. Bush to have voiced doubts about his strategy before the midterm elections in November would have been politically catastrophic.



You mean a political catastrophy like losing both the House and the Senate to Democrats?

This just shows how backwards these people think - just as Shepard Smith on Fox News pointed out this past October in a rare moment of off script truthiness.


KRISTOL: Well, I've said that many many times, so often I've been ridiculed for saying "more troops, more troops, more troops." I hope the president...

SMITH: If they really want to win it! [agitated]

KRISTOL: I agree...I hope...

SMITH: But I think they are just paying lip service to all this! [yelling]

KRISTOL: Well, I hope not because it really wouldn't be the right thing to do and I think President Bush wants to do the right thing and I think he knows there's a problem. He can't probably do anything until election day. I very much hope after election day he takes a fresh look at Iraq, sends enough troops, surges the...goes on the offensive there and plays for victory because..

SMITH: Bill..

KRISTOL: it's just too important to just, you know...

SMITH: It's horrifying that you just said he can't do anything until after the election. We've got men and women over there who are dying every day and you just said that the man who you support can't do anything even though you believe he knows it's wrong.


The irony here is not just that they waited until the situation was far past critical to do anything - the irony the ability to "clear and holld" was always predicated on Gen Shinseki's original request for 500,000 troops or more. Yet we all know that without a draft or massive increase of involvement by other nations any -surge- escalation we attempt will be far too little and far too late.

And it's not like we haven't been here before.

One of the lessons the president might have learned when he visited Vietnam was about the number of “surges” Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson delivered from 1961 through 1968. The first American troops arrived in the country in strength in 1961, although advisers had been there since the early 1950s when the French left after their defeat at Dien Bien Phu.

By 1965, troop strength had “surged” to 125,000 from 75,000. At the end of the year, they had surged again, to 200,000. By January 1957, they had surged to 389,000. By July 1967, troop strength had surged to 475,000.



And, of course, by January 1968, they had surged to more than 500,000, when Gen. William Westmoreland, the military commander at the time, was reporting that the Vietnam insurgency had largely been quelled. Then the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong staged a surge of their own during the Lunar New Year. An estimated 165,000 civilians are believed to have died, creating millions more refugees. Hundreds of GIs and Marines died as the Viet Cong fought their way to the US Embassy in Saigon. The battle for the old imperial capital of Hue killed hundreds of US Marines and virtually destroyed perhaps the most beautiful city in the country.

Westmoreland asked for another 200,000 troops. At that point, Johnson, beleaguered in the White House as Bush has never been over Iraq, brought in Clark C. Clifford, a long-time Washington, DC insider, as Secretary of Defense to reexamine the US mission in Vietnam. After several weeks, Clifford concluded that “there is no concept or overall plan anywhere in Washington, DC for achieving victory in Vietnam.


Which happens to be exactly where we are with Iraq - except that W is still too busy wandering through Poppy fields on his way to the Emerald City to notice.

Mr. Bush came to worry that it was not just his critics and Democrats in Congress who were looking for what he dismissed last month as a strategy of “graceful exit.” Visiting the Pentagon a few weeks ago for a classified briefing on Iraq with his generals, Mr. Bush made it clear that he was not interested in any ideas that would simply allow American forces to stabilize the violence. Gen. James T. Conway, the Marine commandant, later told marines about the president’s message.

What I want to hear from you is how we’re going to win,” he quoted the president as warning his commanders, “not how we’re going to leave.”


Well, one idea apparently is to unleash the Gays of War!

Saying "we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job," General John M. Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the law that requires lesbians and gays to remain in the closet if they choose to be a member of the nation's armed forces. Shakikashvili, who served as Chairman from 1993 to 1999, is the nation's highest ranking retired or active duty military officer to call for the law's repeal.

In an op-ed in Tuesday's New York Times, Shalikashvili writes that it is likely that Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy will be part of a larger discussion of President Bush's goal of increasing the size of the military.


Watching neo-con heads explode as their inate atavistic inner homophobia battles their bloodlust for some fabulously accessorized new fodder for the cannons - could become the new extreme sport for '07.

There is of course, one tiny - teeny - itsy bity road block in front of this pink and shiny new offensive against the "enemies of freedom" -- and that would be ..um.. Congress.

And I'm not talking about the Democrats.

From CNN.

WOLF BLITZER: Can you justify deploying more U.S. troops into what you believe is a civil war?

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA): On this day, for the record, Wolf, I would say no.


From Novakula in the WaPo.

President Bush and McCain, the front-runner for the party's 2008 presidential nomination, will have trouble finding support from more than 12 of the 49 Republican senators when pressing for a surge of 30,000 troops. "It's Alice in Wonderland," Sen. Chuck Hagel, second-ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, told me in describing the proposal. "I'm absolutely opposed to sending any more troops to Iraq. It is folly."


From Fox News Sunday.

If Bush ignores Congress, Lugar said he should expect “a lot of hearings, a lot of study, a lot of criticism,” and “demands for subpoenas.” Fox host Chris Wallace said, “You’re saying this could get ugly.” Lugar replied, “Yes, it could.”


And why should it get "ugly" - it's not like the Bush Administration has lied about what our Generals have to say about the Surge?

Oh wait.


The longer we in the U.S. forces continue to bear the main burden of Iraq’s security, it lengthens the time that the government of Iraq has to take the hard decisions about reconciliation and dealing with the militias. And the other thing is that they can continue to blame us for all of Iraq’s problems, which are at base their problems. ... It’s always been my view that a heavy and sustained American military presence was not going to solve the problems in Iraq over the long term.


The Troops are against it. The Joint Chiefs are against it. Some Military official believed that the Administration tried to buy their support.

But here's the kicker - considering what we already know and have already seen from President Bush - does any reasonable person believe that he'll be deterred from announce his new strategery of Pro-Surging against the In-Surgents?

It's really just a matter of finding a way to sell-it, not justify it.

The AP "Wimp" article is just the beginning. We need to be ready for a full-court press, dozens of arguments will be launched that we need to at least try to win - conveniently ignoring the fact that this War has long ago been lost when we lost the support and confidence of the Iraqi people due to our arrogant incompetence - and if we don't continue to try the impending failure of Iraq which dangles over the Bush Administrations Legacy like the 19 square mile piece of ice that just broke off the Artic shelf will be magically teleported over the heads of all the naysayers and critics. Four years of Bush Administration fuck-ups will be laid at the feet of those who simply stood up and pointed out those failures while their own suggestions - like those the Iraq Survey Group - are tossed under the bus, then backed-up over - repeatedly.

They have no intention of actually implementing a surge because even they know it won't work. Their only goal in bringing it up is to shift blame when the inevitable house of cards that has been their entire Iraq strategy crumbles under them as the Saudi's come surging across the border to end the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis and we have a full-on Saudi/Iranian Al-Qaeda/Hezbollah War on our hands.

Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney have totally screwed the pooch from Day One and they'll do everything in their power to blame it on someone - anyone - else.

That's all they have left. We have to make sure this B.S. gambit doesn't work, because sadly - it just might.

Vyan

Sunday, December 31

U2 - New Year's Day

U2 - New Year's Day.

Rest in Peace - Extreme

This one goes out to Gerald, Saddam and James....

"Rest in Peace" - Music by Extreme