Chris's Rants

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld: LIARS of the worst order

John Zogby: On a New Poll Of U.S. Soldiers During Their Service in Iraq (emphasis mine):
A first-ever survey of U.S. troops on the ground fighting a war overseas has revealed surprising findings, not the least of which is that an overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year.

Further, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows that more than one in four (29%) thought the U.S. should pull its troops immediately.

The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College's Center for Peace and Global Studies, also showed that another 22% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq in the next six months. One in every five troops - 21% - said troops should be out between six and 12 months. Nearly a quarter - 23% - said they should stay "as long as they are needed."

[...]

The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58% of those serving in country say the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42% said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure. Nearly nine of every 10 - 85% - said the U.S. mission is "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks," while 77% said they believe the main or a major reason for the war was "to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq."
WTF?!!! 85% of our troops in Iraq think that they are there in retaliation for Saddam's role in 9/11? What $%#@! role?! Where did they get that completely misguided impression?!

There is only one possible explanation: they have been systematically lied to by their superiors, right on up to Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. There is no other explanation possible.

Despite the fact that all evidence, and every investigation into the "flawed intelligence" has demonstrably debunked this myth.

This can only mean that there has been an explicit, yet unheralded, campaign of propaganda within the military ranks to give, not only the American public, but the troops sent into battle a completely false and disingenuous rationale for their mission.

I find that prospect utterly disgusting. It is amoral. It is completely un-American and it is about as far down the continuum of being pure evil as one could conceive. It is the epitome of abuse of the trust that the military place in their civilian leadership.

Dubya, Dick and Don: Go Cheney yourselves! May you burn in hell for all eternity for your sins. May the worms eat at your eternally regenerating flesh while you watch helplessly in horror as they do so.

Frankly, there is no punishment that fits this crime.

Impeach the war criminals. Impeach them all. Do it now, before they can do any further damage.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

How low can you go?

Poll: Bush Ratings At All-Time Low:
(CBS) The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.
Awww... That's too bad.

Kos sez:
You know things aren't going so hot when the "good news" is that Cheney is at 18 percent approval.

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The Case for Impeachment

Lewis H. Lapham - The Case for Impeachment (emphasis mine):
The Conyers report doesn't lack for further instances of the administration's misconduct, all of them noted in the press over the last three years—misuse of government funds, violation of the Geneva Conventions, holding without trial and subjecting to torture individuals arbitrarily designated as “enemy combatants,” etc.—but conspiracy to commit fraud would seem reason enough to warrant the President's impeachment. Before reading the report, I wouldn't have expected to find myself thinking that such a course of action was either likely or possible; after reading the report, I don't know why we would run the risk of not impeaching the man. We have before us in the White House a thief who steals the country's good name and reputation for his private interest and personal use; a liar who seeks to instill in the American people a state of fear; a televangelist who engages the United States in a never-ending crusade against all the world's evil, a wastrel who squanders a vast sum of the nation's wealth on what turns out to be a recruiting drive certain to multiply the host of our enemies. In a word, a criminal—known to be armed and shown to be dangerous. Under the three-strike rule available to the courts in California, judges sentence people to life in jail for having stolen from Wal-Mart a set of golf clubs or a child's tricycle. Who then calls strikes on President Bush, and how many more does he get before being sent down on waivers to one of the Texas Prison Leagues?
Read the whole article.

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Worst. President. Ever.

Rebuilding Follies (emphasis mine):
The reconstruction of Iraq has cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $30 billion so far, and is still plagued with problems, as evidenced by the daily power outages, degraded water supplies and skyrocketing local fuel prices. Government officials have laid much of the blame on the insurgency, saying it has drained military resources and made it too dangerous for work to proceed smoothly.

Yet a U.S. government report obtained by TIME says that's only part of the story. The report, to be issued this week by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, catalogs a litany of blunders that had more to do with poor planning in Washington than with the insurgency or sectarian violence.
Recall the quote I highlighted in my previous post:
We need a new word for 'incompetence.' The Bush administration has worn out the old one.
I said in that post that that was being overly generous. Maybe 'serial incompetence' applies, I don't know. Has a week gone by this year when some critical aspect of Bu$hCo incompetence has not made the front pages?

Seriously, the only thing this administration can do effectively is to blackmail the Republicans in Congress so that they don't wander off the reservation on any issue of substance.

Seriously, did you see Rep. Peter King on MTP? The man looked as if his first born had been taken from him as he tried to spin this faux 45-day investigation into the UAE's DPW buyout of operations at six twenty one U.S. ports.

King knows two things: 1) the deal is wrong on som many levels it isn't funny, and 2) that his constituents won't buy any amount of whitewash that the Bu$hCo crowd can lather on this deal. Rep. King is toast in November, and he knows it. Yet, whatever it is that the Bush crime family has on him seems to be more than enough to get him to jeopardize his congressional seat.

Amazing.

Maybe Rep. King should be asking himself if he's ever made any overseas calls.

Well looky here, YABIS (Yet another Bush incompetence scandal):
The governors said they would present their concerns to President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday. In a preview of their message, all 50 governors signed a letter to the president opposing any cuts in the size of the National Guard.

"Unfortunately," the letter said, "when our National Guard men and women return from being deployed in foreign theaters, much of their equipment remains behind." The governors said the White House must immediately re-equip Guard units "to carry out their homeland security and domestic disaster duties."
Yeah, that ought to work. Bush will send them off with some hapy smoke up their skirts and then flip them the bird as they turn for the exit.

Worst. President. Ever.

Impeach the whole lot of war criminals and serial incompetents now, before it's too late.

Update: Amazing, the very next story I read in today's WaPo includes this juicy morsel (emphasis mine):
At the same time, White House officials well know that potentially explosive issues are regularly churning through the federal bureaucracy. An effective operation seeks to identify and respond to such matters before they become political problems. That plainly did not happen here, as even White House officials acknowledge.
It goes on to say that even the WH spin meisters are suffering from scandal fatigue. However, the highlighted sentence makes it clear that the serial incompetence is coming home to roost.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

So long Mr. Chicken

Don Knotts, TV's Barney Fife, Dies at 81

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Incompetence

Daily Kos: Homeland Security Objected To Port Deal:
We need a new word for 'incompetence.' The Bush administration has worn out the old one.
I think that is being overly generous. Incompetence suggests that they are being honest, yet incapable of doing their jobs effectively. Kind of like an entire administration of Gomer Pyles. Unfortunately, that presumes that they have the best of intentions.

As we keep finding out as the thread unwinds on this story, at least, is that there may be some serious conflicts of interest with the sale of POS to DPW on the part of some of the key administration officials involved.

Further, the administration's stubborn stance and threats of vetos, etc. suggest that there is more than meets the eye on this. Why would they be so adamant about this if they were so uninvolved and underinformed?

Follow the money.

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Oops! I Crapped My Pantstm Update

White House 'Discovers' 250 Emails Related to Plame Leak:
The White House turned over last week 250 pages of emails from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Senior aides had sent the emails in the spring of 2003 related to the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald revealed during a federal court hearing Friday.

The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said.

Sources close to the probe said the White House “discovered” the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife’s undercover status to reporters.
Shocked! I'm shocked, I say!
Cheney said he was unaware that Ambassador Wilson was chosen to travel to Niger to look into the uranium claims, and that he never saw a report Wilson had given a CIA analyst upon his return which stated that the Niger claims were untrue. He said the CIA never told him about Wilson's trip.

However, the emails say otherwise, and will show that the vice president spearheaded an effort in March 2003 to attack Wilson’s credibility and used the CIA to dig up information on the former ambassador that could be used against him, sources said.
Ruh, roh!
Last month, Fitzgerald disclosed in court documents that he discovered from witnesses in the case that some emails related to Wilson and his wife, written by senior aides in Cheney’s office and sent to other officials at the National Security Council, had not been turned over to investigators by the White House.
The long knives are coming out for Dead-eye Dick.
Sources close to the case said that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales withheld numerous emails from Fitzgerald’s probe citing “executive privilege” and “national security” concerns. These sources said that as of Friday there are still some emails that have not been turned over to Fitzgerald because they contain classified information in addition to references about the Wilsons.
Isn't it funny how this administration uses "national security" as a tool to protect its ass? They have demonstrated consistently that they could give a rat's ass about national security. AG AG has probably got a serious need for some of Harriet's stash of Oops! I Crapped My Pants™, too.
In another development in the leak case Friday, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said another administration official, who does not work at the White House, also spoke to reporters about Plame Wilson. This individual, according to sources close to the case, works at the National Security Council.

Walton said that Libby’s defense team was not entitled to be told of the individual’s identity because the person is not charged with a crime in the leak. However, the person is said to be one of several people in the administration who is cooperating with the probe.
Repeat after me. It isn't the crime, it's the cover-up that always brings 'em down.

The wheels are falling off the cart on this administration. That eventuality couldn't come soon enough for me.

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Ignorance is Strength

War is Peace!

Sunni and Shia killing eachother and destroying eachother's mosques isn't a civil war. Piffle! Whatever would make you think that?! It's proof that Big Brother's Cheney's Bush's strategy is working. It only serves to prove that they are living in a free and democratic state.

Pentagon: Iraqi troops downgraded - Feb 24, 2006:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.
Oops!

But, then the WH spin doctors are rushed to the phones to turn those lemons into lemonade in a way that only they can do: one that serves only to make Dimwit seem like he is completely out of touch with reality:
According to the congressionally mandated Iraq security report released Friday, there are 53 Iraqi battalions at level two status, up from 36 in October. There are 45 battalions at level three, according to the report.

Overall, Pentagon officials said close to 100 Iraqi army battalions are operational, and more than 100 Iraq Security Force battalions are operational at levels two or three. The security force operations are under the direction of the Iraqi government.

The numbers are roughly the same as those given by the president last month when he said 125 Iraqi combat battalions were fighting the insurgency, 50 of them taking the lead.
Uhm, no... last I checked, 100 is only 4/5ths of 125 which isn't "roughly" the same... it isn't even close. Of course, that is being a little generous with the rounding up they performed. Note the figures in the first paragraph. 53 + 45 is only 98. "Close" only counts for horse shoes and hand grenades. The only number that matters is 53: the number that can fight with U.S. assistance.

That would make what Dubya Dowrong said a gross exaggeration of the facts which most people would consider a bald-faced lie.

Finally, to close out the article on a positive note, they threw in the up-is-down statement from Emperor No Clothes himself:
"In January 2006, the mission is to continue to hand over more and more territory and more and more responsibility to Iraqi forces," Bush said. "That's progress."
Yep, that's progress alright. Judge the results for yourself.

Oh, and in other LATE BREAKING NEWS, CNN reports that the FBI has put al-Zarqawi high on its list of most wanted criminals.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was placed on the list Thursday, and the U.S. State Department is offering a reward of up to $25 million for information leading directly to the Jordanian native's arrest or conviction.

"Al-Zarqawi is sought in connection with numerous terrorist attacks and continuing terrorist threats in Iraq," the FBI states on its Web site.
Help me out here, because maybe I'm just really confused... hasn't Zarqawi been a major problem for the U.S. in Iraq for like 3 $%#@! years? Shoot, the WH has been making him out to be Osama's meaner and smarter big brother at every opportunity they get to scare the bejeezus out of us.

Today, we learn that the FBI is only NOW putting him at the top of their list?

Hell-ooooo! Anyone there? Was everyone in the Justice Dept. simply too busy drinking the Kool Aide the Preznit's propagandists spin doctors had been spinning about how wonderful things were going in Iraq to notice that maybe, just maybe he should have been a priority all along? I'm just askin'.

Worst. Administration. Ever.

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More from the Dept. of Unmakeuppable Sh*t

Think Progress � CNN Pundit: Mosque Bombing Shows Bush Strategy Is Working In Iraq:
This afternoon, Terry Jeffery — the editor of Human Events who is paid by CNN to provide political analysis — was asked about the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Iraq. Jeffery said the bombings — part of a wave of violence that have left 200 people dead in the last 24 hours — is evidence that the Bush strategy is working. Watch It:
Up-is-down, War is peace.

Bu$hCo strategy: maybe if we invoke this as a mantra, it will come true.

Bush has no strategy other than: stay the course. His strategy is a marketing catch-phrase. He hasn't a clue. He only recently found out that there are multiple sects of Muslims in Iraq. He is a clueless buffoon that needs to be impeached for the sake of our nation.

ThinkProgress has more:
Question for Mr. Jeffery: What, exactly, would be evidence that Bush’s strategy in Iraq isn’t working?

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Thanks for playing our game

Neocon architect says: 'Pull it down' (emphasis mine):
NEOCONSERVATISM has failed the United States and needs to be replaced by a more realistic foreign policy agenda, according to one of its prime architects.

Francis Fukuyama, who wrote the best-selling book The End of History and was a member of the neoconservative project, now says that, both as a political symbol and a body of thought, it has 'evolved into something I can no longer support'. He says it should be discarded on to history's pile of discredited ideologies.

In an extract from his forthcoming book, America at the Crossroads, Mr Fukuyama declares that the doctrine 'is now in shambles' and that its failure has demonstrated 'the danger of good intentions carried to extremes'.
We have some wonderful parting gifts for you.
"By definition, outsiders can't 'impose' democracy on a country that doesn't want it; demand for democracy and reform must be domestic. Democracy promotion is therefore a long-term and opportunistic process that has to await the gradual ripening of political and economic conditions to be effective."
Read the whole article. Fukuyama has his Emily Litella moment: "never-mind" after 2,287 deaths of Americans, and countless (literally, since we refuse to count them) Iraqis (both innocent and not so much, but honestly, who could blame them... we did after all invade their country) in pursuit of the neocon vision of utopia, one of their preeminent architects now proclaims it maybe wasn't such a good idea after all.

Of course, we'll really never know, because Dick, Dubya and Rummy are such abject incompetents, not to mention devoid of any moral compass or concern for the nation that so many gave their lives to preserve.

I wonder when Rush and Hannity will start labelling Fukuyama a "liberal", now that he is calling the whole thing a farcical mistake.

Too bad it was a mistake of global proportions. Too bad that it may have been a mistake that could take decades to repair. Too bad it has cost us not only the precious lives of 2,287 (and counting) of our brave soldiers (and an order of magnitude more with shattered or lost limbs), but roughly $400 billion (with-a-$%#@!-B) and counting that could have been put to better use.

Let's hear from an embedded journalist (emphasis mine):
While there may have been some flaws in the Marines' execution of orders, the fundamental flaw lies in the orders themselves and in the planning for their execution. The architects, the strategists, and the tacticians of the US endeavor in Iraq have handed US troops a catalogue of Sisyphean tasks - install a democracy; help restore infrastructure (and protect it); build an Army and security apparatus from scraps and dregs; crush a disparate horde of mostly invisible enemies. Add to this the burden of force protection, steps troops must take to guard themselves and their bases against attacks. The 20-somethings of the Army and the Marine Corps (and their older counterparts in the Reserves and the Guard) are neither trained nor equipped to tackle all of this. Finally, throw on top of this pile the instability that transitions between US units inevitabily causes and you have a recipe for continuing disaster.

The Administration's response to this reality is to prematurely offload responsibility for Iraq's fate on the nascent and shaky government and on the incipient Iraqi Army, which relies on the US for everything - food, weapons, vehicles, training, command and control, air and heavy-weapon support.

"[I]t will be up to the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to seize the opportunity they have right now and to allow their people to have jobs and a future that would tell their people that the insurgency offers nothing and that the new government is the way ahead," JCS Chairman General Pace told reporters at a February 21 news conference. Would that the "opportunity" the general describes actually existed.
Arianna has more (emphasis mine):
I was originally going to title this post "Jack Murtha's Crystal Ball." After all, he's been saying for weeks that "Iraq is not about terrorism; it's about civil war" -- and the bloody events of the last two days have proven his assessment all too true.

But Murtha isn't a soothsayer.

He's a truthteller. He wasn't reading the political tea leaves, he was reading the facts on the ground (and listening to what his wide range of military sources were telling him).

He was willing to see the inevitable -- unlike far too many of his fellow Democrats who continue to be blinded by the fear of not appearing strong on defense, and unlike President Bush who continues to be blinded by his fanatical belief that we're bringing democracy to Iraq. True, it's Fanatical Belief 4.0, since the earlier versions didn't pan out, but it's a fanatical belief nonetheless.

Mark Twain said: "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, it's what we know for sure that just ain't so."

This describes Bush to a T. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he knows for sure that we're bringing democracy to Iraq.

After meeting with his Cabinet today, Bush was asked about "the danger of civil war in Iraq" but refused to even address the notion, insisting "the Iraqi people want to live in a democracy."
Preznit Doofus Dowrong really is the Emperor with No Clothes... his aides are deathly afraid to tell him anything that might not fit into his fantasy world-view just as they were afraid to tell him that the situation in New Orleans was beyond f***ed up. The same applies to Dead-eye Dick (who still, to this day, maintains that the insurgency is in its last throes):
Q You drew a lot of heat and ridicule when you said eight months ago, the insurgency is in its last throes. Do you regret having said that?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I think the way I think about it is as I just described. I think about when we look back and get some historical perspective on this period, I'll believe that the period we were in through 2005 was, in fact, a turning point; that putting in place a democratic government in Iraq was the -- sort of the cornerstone, if you will, of victory against the insurgents.
Seriously, you can't make this sh*t up. I think he actually believes that things are getting better in Iraq. Either that, or the cocktail of drugs that his physicians have him taking for his ticker have some sort of psychotropic effect that leaves him in a permanent state of hallucination.

Finally, we have Wreckless Rummy (who maintains to this day that the Iraqi military and police are improving their ability to assume more responsibility when all evidence points to the contrary).

These treasonous war criminals may well be acting on the best of intentions, as their apologists would have us believe. But, as we all know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Welcome to hell.

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One step closer to the Heart of Gold

Via Crooked Timber, we find this: Quantum computer solves problem, without running:
'In a sense, it is the possibility that the algorithm could run which prevents the algorithm from running,' Kwiat said. 'That is at the heart of quantum interrogation schemes, and to my mind, quantum mechanics doesn't get any more mysterious than this.'
Oh, and the answer they found? I believe it was 42.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Proud papa

My son, Chris, produced this gem for his cousin, Kati.
This is a low-res scan and doesn't really do the work
justice because of all the detail, but I think it's pretty
impressive.

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One p-o'ed 9/11 widow's opinion

Kristen Breitweiser: Coming to a Port Near You--where Dubya stands for Dubai:
Dear President Bush,

As a citizen concerned with your latest illogical decision to outsource America's critical infrastructure to a nation with established terrorist ties, I implore you to recognize that the Dubai Deal will have lasting negative effects on our country's internal security. I suggest you reconsider your latest bad decision. Here are some facts and statements that perhaps you need to review.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

If you do nothing else...

Read this:
Well before the exposure of prisoner abuse in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, in April, 2004, Mora warned his superiors at the Pentagon about the consequences of President Bush’s decision, in February, 2002, to circumvent the Geneva conventions, which prohibit both torture and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." He argued that a refusal to outlaw cruelty toward U.S.-held terrorist suspects was an implicit invitation to abuse. Mora also challenged the legal framework that the Bush Administration has constructed to justify an expansion of executive power, in matters ranging from interrogations to wiretapping. He described as "unlawful," "dangerous," and "erroneous" novel legal theories granting the President the right to authorize abuse. Mora warned that these precepts could leave U.S. personnel open to criminal prosecution.

In important ways, Mora’s memo is at odds with the official White House narrative.
Well, of course it is. The White House is full of lying sacks of human detritus who have done more damage to this nation than every administration that has preceded it combined.
Brant informed Mora that he was disturbed by what his agents told him about the conduct of military-intelligence interrogators at Guantánamo. These officials seemed poorly trained, Brant said, and were frustrated by their lack of success. He had been told that the interrogators were engaging in escalating levels of physical and psychological abuse. Speaking of the tactics that he had heard about, Brant told me, "Repugnant would be a good term to describe them."

[...]

Much of Brant’s information had been supplied by an N.C.I.S. psychologist, Michael Gelles, who worked with the C.I.T.F. and had computer access to the Army’s interrogation logs at Guantánamo. Brant told me that Gelles “is phenomenal at unlocking the minds of everyone from child abusers to terrorists”; he took it seriously when Gelles described the logs as shocking.

The logs detailed, for example, the brutal handling of a Saudi detainee, Mohammed al-Qahtani, whom an F.B.I. agent had identified as the “missing twentieth hijacker”—the terrorist who was supposed to have been booked on the plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania field. Qahtani was apprehended in Afghanistan a few months after the terrorist attacks.

Qahtani had been subjected to a hundred and sixty days of isolation in a pen perpetually flooded with artificial light. He was interrogated on forty-eight of fifty-four days, for eighteen to twenty hours at a stretch. He had been stripped naked; straddled by taunting female guards, in an exercise called “invasion of space by a female”; forced to wear women’s underwear on his head, and to put on a bra; threatened by dogs; placed on a leash; and told that his mother was a whore. By December, Qahtani had been subjected to a phony kidnapping, deprived of heat, given large quantities of intravenous liquids without access to a toilet, and deprived of sleep for three days. Ten days before Brant and Mora met, Qahtani’s heart rate had dropped so precipitately, to thirty-five beats a minute, that he required cardiac monitoring.

[...]

Brant thinks that the Army’s interrogation of Qahtani was unlawful. If an N.C.I.S. agent had engaged in such abuse, he said, "we would have relieved, removed, and taken internal disciplinary action against the individual—let alone whether outside charges would have been brought." Brant said he feared that such methods would taint the cases his agents needed to make against the detainees, undermining any attempts to prosecute them in a court of law. He also doubted the reliability of forced confessions. Moreover, he told me, "it just ain’t right."

[...]

The day after Mora’s first meeting with Brant, they met again, and Brant showed him parts of the transcript of Qahtani’s interrogation. Mora was shocked when Brant told him that the abuse wasn’t "rogue activity" but was "rumored to have been authorized at a high level in Washington." The mood in the room, Mora wrote, was one of "dismay." He added, "I was under the opinion that the interrogation activities described would be unlawful and unworthy of the military services." Mora told me, "I was appalled by the whole thing. It was clearly abusive, and it was clearly contrary to everything we were ever taught about American values."

Mora thinks that the media has focussed too narrowly on allegations of U.S.-sanctioned torture. As he sees it, the authorization of cruelty is equally pernicious. "To my mind, there’s no moral or practical distinction," he told me. "If cruelty is no longer declared unlawful, but instead is applied as a matter of policy, it alters the fundamental relationship of man to government. It destroys the whole notion of individual rights. The Constitution recognizes that man has an inherent right, not bestowed by the state or laws, to personal dignity, including the right to be free of cruelty. It applies to all human beings, not just in America—even those designated as ‘unlawful enemy combatants.’ If you make this exception, the whole Constitution crumbles. It’s a transformative issue."

[...]

In Morello’s office, Mora saw what he now refers to as "the package"—a collection of secret military documents that traced the origins of the coercive interrogation policy at Guantánamo. It began on October 11, 2002, with a request by J.T.F.-170’s commander, Major General Michael Dunlavey, to make interrogations more aggressive. A few weeks later, Major General Geoffrey Miller assumed command of Guantánamo Bay, and, on the assumption that prisoners like Qahtani had been trained by Al Qaeda to resist questioning, he pushed his superiors hard for more flexibility in interrogations. On December 2nd, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld gave formal approval for the use of “hooding,” "exploitation of phobias," "stress positions," "deprivation of light and auditory stimuli," and other coercive tactics ordinarily forbidden by the Army Field Manual.

[...]

Mora was less impressed. Beaver’s brief, his memo says, "was a wholly inadequate analysis of the law." It held that "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment could be inflicted on the Guantánamo detainees with near impunity"; in his view, such acts were unlawful. Rumsfeld’s December 2nd memo approving these "counter-resistance" techniques, Mora wrote, "was fatally grounded on these serious failures of legal analysis." Neither Beaver nor Rumsfeld drew any "bright line" prohibiting the combination of these techniques, or defining any limits for their use. He believed that such rhetorical laxity "could produce effects reaching the level of torture," which was prohibited, without exception, under both U.S. and international law.
Got that? I think that they call these war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In confronting Haynes, Mora was engaging not just the Pentagon but also the Vice-President’s office. Haynes is a protégé of Cheney’s influential chief of staff, David Addington.

[...]

In his meeting with Haynes, Mora told me, he said that, whatever its intent, what Rumsfeld’s memo permitted was "torture."

[...]

The authorization of harsh interrogation methods which Mora had seen was no aberration. Almost immediately after September 11th, the Administration had decided that protecting the country required extraordinary measures, including the exercise of executive powers exceeding domestic and international norms.
Basically, the administration became an obsessed group of bed-wetters who decided that they had to destroy democracy in order to save it.
Lawrence Wilkerson, whom Powell assigned to monitor this unorthodox policymaking process, told NPR last fall of "an audit trail that ran from the Vice-President’s office and the Secretary of Defense down through the commanders in the field." When I spoke to him recently, he said, "I saw what was discussed. I saw it in spades. From Addington to the other lawyers at the White House. They said the President of the United States can do what he damn well pleases."

[...]

Upon returning to work on January 6, 2003, Mora was alarmed to learn from Brant that the abuse at Guantánamo had not stopped. In fact, as Time reported last year, Qahtani had been stripped and shaved and told to bark like a dog. He’d been forced to listen to pop music at an ear-splitting volume, deprived of sleep, and kept in a painfully cold room. Between confessing to and then recanting various terrorist plots, he had begged to be allowed to commit suicide.

[...]

By the end of the day, Haynes called Mora with good news. Rumsfeld was suspending his authorization of the disputed interrogation techniques. The Defense Secretary also was authorizing a special "working group" of a few dozen lawyers, from all branches of the armed services, including Mora, to develop new interrogation guidelines.

[...]

A week later, Mora was shown a lengthy classified document that negated almost every argument he had made. Haynes had outflanked him. He had solicited a separate, overarching opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel, at the Justice Department, on the legality of harsh military interrogations—effectively superseding the working group.

[...]

Without Mora’s knowledge, the Pentagon had pursued a secret detention policy. There was one version, enunciated in Haynes’s letter to Leahy, aimed at critics. And there was another, giving the operations officers legal indemnity to engage in cruel interrogations, and, when the Commander-in-Chief deemed it necessary, in torture. Legal critics within the Administration had been allowed to think that they were engaged in a meaningful process; but their deliberations appeared to have been largely an academic exercise, or, worse, a charade. "It seems that there was a two-track program here," said Martin Lederman, a former lawyer with the Office of Legal Counsel, who is now a visiting professor at Georgetown. "Otherwise, why would they share the final working-group report with Hill and Miller but not with the lawyers who were its ostensible authors?"

[...]

In Mora’s view, the Administration’s legal response to September 11th was flawed from the start, triggering a series of subsequent errors that were all but impossible to correct. "The determination that Geneva didn’t apply was a legal and policy mistake," he told me. "But very few lawyers could argue to the contrary once the decision had been made."

Mora went on, "It seemed odd to me that the actors weren’t more troubled by what they were doing." Many Administration lawyers, he said, appeared to be unaware of history. "I wondered if they were even familiar with the Nuremberg trials—or with the laws of war, or with the Geneva conventions. They cut many of the experts on those areas out. The State Department wasn’t just on the back of the bus—it was left off the bus." Mora understood that "people were afraid that more 9/11s would happen, so getting the information became the overriding objective. But there was a failure to look more broadly at the ramifications.

"These were enormously hardworking, patriotic individuals," he said. "When you put together the pieces, it’s all so sad. To preserve flexibility, they were willing to throw away our values."
Cheney and Rumsfeld should both be impeached for their actions and sent to the Hague to stand trial for war crimes. It couldn't be any clearer.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Houston, we have a problem

I'm starting to agree with Mark Baker! <grin/> (although for completely different reasons)

Seriously, the comment of Dare's that Mark cites is complete BS. The whole point of Web services is supposed to be that you should not need to, know the hardware platform, operating system or programming language of the system with which you interact. Granted, the same characteristic applies to REST as manifested with HTTP.

This whole discussion of "when to use SOAP vs POX/HTTP cum REST" is simply inane. It's about as silly as the "which is better: Java vs C++ vs C vs Smalltalk vs Ruby vs Python vs Perl vs tcl vs ..." debates.

1 Comments:

  • Oh! Python's definitely the best! ... ok ... joking

    Provided its based on open standards, I don't care too much which acronym is used ... though my personal preference is towards light-weight and agile.

    By Anonymous Evan Hempel, at February 21, 2006 7:57 PM  

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

LA Times | The Senate Coverup Committee

LA Times | The Senate Coverup Committee:
That the United States Senate has a body called the Intelligence Committee is an irony George Orwell would have truly appreciated. In a world without Doublespeak, the panel, chaired by GOP Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, would be known by a more appropriate name - the Senate Coverup Committee.

Although the committee is officially charged with overseeing the nation's intelligence-gathering operations, its real function in recent years has been to prevent the public from getting hold of any meaningful information about the Bush administration. Hence its never-ending delays of the probe into the bogus weapons intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq. And its squelching, on Thursday, of an expected investigation into the administration's warrantless spying program.

[...]

There's a slim chance the House of Representatives might show more backbone. The same day the Senate committee was performing stupid pet tricks for White House table scraps, the House Intelligence Committee approved its own inquiry into the NSA program. Yet the House is still divided on whether the investigation's scope would involve an intensive look at operational details or merely examine the status of surveillance laws.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Feel safer, yet?

Think Progress � Administration Outsources Operations Of Six U.S. Ports To The United Arab Emirates:
The Bush administration has outsourced the operation of six of the nation’s largest ports to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country with troubling ties to international terrorism. The $6.8 billion sale would mean that the state-controlled Dubai Ports World would control "the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia."

1 Comments:

  • As someone who leans more conservative and generally supports the president, even I am wondering "what were they thinking?!" ....

    By Anonymous Evan Hempel, at February 21, 2006 8:01 PM  

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These are not the droids you're looking for

Scottie McTalkingPoint tries using the Jedi mind trick on the WH Press -- Press Briefing by Scott McClellan:
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that, one, the Vice President participated in an interview yesterday and answered all the big questions relating to this issue, and explained his rational behind the decision that he made. The President is very satisfied with the way this matter has been addressed. I think that at this point, what we are doing is looking forward to the future, not looking back to the past. The American people saw yesterday that the Vice President is very concerned about his friend Harry Whittington. They saw his concern and compassion for a friend of his who he shot in a hunting accident. As he said, it was one of the worst days of his life.

The top concern for the Vice President has been and continues to be the well being of Mr. Whittington. He remains in our thoughts and prayers. And I think that the views have been expressed pretty thoroughly on this matter.

[...]

MR. McCLELLAN: Look, Kelly, like I said, I think we've been through these issues thoroughly over the last few days. I think the American people are looking at this and saying, enough already; let's focus on the priorities that are most important to this nation.

[...]

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think you characterized the full picture there, April. I think you ought to look at what law enforcement officials have said on that very matter. And I think most Americans believe that this issue has been covered thoroughly, and most Americans recognize that the Vice President is first and foremost concerned about his friend. So I reject this characterization. I think this room and this town sometimes gets overly caught up in this. But the American people appreciate the answers to the questions that have already been asked.
It isn't working.

Certainly, this American isn't satisfied.

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Doing the President's Dirty Work

Doing the President's Dirty Work - New York Times:
For more than a year, Mr. Roberts has been dragging out an investigation into why Mr. Bush presented old, dubious and just plain wrong intelligence on Iraq as solid new proof that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was in league with Al Qaeda. It was supposed to start after the 2004 election, but Mr. Roberts was letting it die of neglect until the Democrats protested by forcing the Senate into an unusual closed session last November.

Now Mr. Roberts is trying to stop an investigation into Mr. Bush's decision to allow the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without getting the warrants required by a 27-year-old federal law enacted to stop that sort of abuse.

Mr. Roberts had promised to hold a committee vote yesterday on whether to investigate. But he canceled the vote, and then made two astonishing announcements. He said he was working with the White House on amending the 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to permit warrantless spying. And then he suggested that such a change would eliminate the need for an inquiry.

Stifling his own committee without even bothering to get the facts is outrageous. As the vice chairman of the panel, Senator John Rockefeller IV, pointed out, supervising intelligence gathering is in fact the purpose of the intelligence committee.
Correct me if I am wrong, but if the FISA law has to be amended to permit the NSA spying on Americans without a warrant, then, doesn't that strongly suggest that what they are doing is NOW considered illegal, unconstitutional, even?! Also, doesn't that fly directly in the face of the testimony of AG AG who proclaimed that the administration thinks that what it is doing is legal and that they did not need the law to be changed to permit their transgressions?

What am I missing?

The Bush crime family sure is good at intimidation. They've got a regular protection racket going on with members of congress.
The White House has been twisting arms to ensure that no Republican member votes against President Bush in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation of the administration's unauthorized wiretapping.

Congressional sources said Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has threatened to blacklist any Republican who votes against the president. The sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November.

"It's hardball all the way," a senior GOP congressional aide said.
Impeach them now. All of them.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

You've got mail

Terror Watch: Rumsfeld’s E-Mail Secrets :
Feb. 15, 2006 - The business world and government departments depend upon it, grade-school kids are taught how to use it and Osama bin Laden's followers have become skilled practitioners. But congressional investigations of government responses to Hurricane Katrina have revealed that two of the nation's key crisis managers, the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, do not use e-mail.

[...]

When it came to documentation of how Secretaries Michael Chertoff and Donald Rumsfeld responded to Katrina, however, congressional investigators got a different answer from the administration. The House committee established to investigate Katrina was "informed that neither Secretary Chertoff nor Secretary Rumsfeld use e-mail," reported Reps. Charlie Melancon and William Jefferson, two Louisiana Democrats who participated in the inquiry despite a boycott by other House Democrats who felt that the inquiry was too partisan. The Democrats made the disclosure in a report attached as an appendix to a widely publicized investigative report released today by the Republican majority which led the House Katrina investigation. (The Democrats' report added that despite investigators' requests for other documentation, "We received no other records we requested, such as phone logs, e-mail records of assistants, or other internal communications that would show how Secretary Chertoff and Secretary Rumsfeld received information, communicated with other government officials, or gave orders.")

[...]

But Dr. Irwin Redlener, a disaster-preparedness expert at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, expressed surprise that two officials in such critical positions would not be adept at routine methods of modern communication. "This can't be true," he said, only half-jokingly. "It's almost inconceivable in 2006 for officials at that level of government not to be directly connected to systems of communications."
Why are we governed by these idiots?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The No-Accountability Administration

There is no depth of depravity low enough for our commander-in-chief Vice President. It wasn't his fault. Noooo... let's get the guy he shot in the face to accept the responsibility for being behind the shooter, where he was supposed to be.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Is there anyone creepier than Dick?

Isn't this a metaphor for all that this administration has done? Blame someone else for their miscues? Accept no responsibility for their actions?

No End to Questions in Cheney Hunting Accident - New York Times (emphasis mine):
Ms. Armstrong and Ms. Willeford said the accident was largely the fault of Mr. Whittington, who had reappeared alongside two of his hunting companions without giving proper warning. Mr. Cheney, who was carrying a 28-gauge shotgun, had already begun to fire and sprayed Mr. Whittington.

'He got peppered pretty good,' Ms. Armstrong said. 'He fell with his head toward me.' She said she ran over to Mr. Whittington, who had fallen, but stayed out of the way while Secret Service agents tended to him.

'There was some bleeding, but it wasn't horrible,' she said. 'He was more bruised.'

Ms. Willeford, whose husband was also at the ranch, said in an interview after visiting the victim at the hospital that Mr. Whittington accepted responsibility for the accident. 'He understands that he could have handled it better,' Ms. Willeford said. 'Harry should have let us know he was back there.'
Sick. Just sick.

As any responsible hunter will tell you, it is the shooter's responsibility to know where each member of his hunting party is at all times. When in doubt, do not shoot. Period.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Neutrality?

Manager Censors Analyst at Congressional Research Service

This is a must-read piece. Seriously.

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Smackdown!

Sibel Edmonds | Porter Goss's Op-Ed: 'Ignoturn per Ignotius!':
Sir, as you must very well know after your years in Congress as a representative and as a member of the intelligence committee, there are no meaningful legal protections for whistleblowers. What is troubling is that while you are well aware of the fact that there are no meaningful or enforceable laws that provide protection to national security whistleblowers, you nevertheless state that such workers are covered by existing laws. That is simply false. You state that 'The Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act was enacted to ensure that current or former employees could petition Congress, after raising concerns within their respective agency, consistent with the need to protect classified information.' The Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, which appears to be the legal channel provided to national security employees, turns out on closer inspection to be toothless. Please refer to the recent independent report issued by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on National Security Whistleblowers on December 30, 2005. The report concludes that there currently are no protections for national security whistleblowers - period. Let me provide you with a recent example illustrating the fallacy of your claim:

In December 2005, Mr. Russ Tice, former National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence analyst and action officer, sent letters to the chairs of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, and requested meetings to brief them on probable unlawful and unconstitutional acts conducted while he was an intelligence officer with the NSA and DIA. In his letter, Mr. Tice, as a law abiding and responsible intelligence officer, stated, 'Due to the highly sensitive nature of these programs and operations, I will require assurances from your committee that the staffers and/or congressional members to participate retain the proper security clearances, and also have the appropriate SAP cleared facilities available for these discussion.' On January 9, 2006, the NSA sent an official letter to Mr. Tice stating, 'neither the staff nor the members of the House or Senate Intelligence committees are cleared to receive the information.'

Now, Mr. Goss, please explain this to the American public: What happened to your so-called appropriate Congressional channels and protections available to national security whistleblowers? Mr. Goss, what 'protected disclosure to Congress?' According to the NSA, no one in the United States Congress is 'cleared enough' to hear reports from national security whistleblowers. Please name one whistleblower to date who has been protected after disclosing information to the United States Congress: can you name even a single case? Or, is that information considered classified? How do we expect the United States Congress to conduct its oversight responsibility and maintain the necessary checks on the Executive Branch, when agencies such as yours declare the members of congress 'not cleared enough' to receive reports regarding conduct by these agencies? Where do you suggest employees like Mr. Tice go to report waste, fraud, abuse and/or illegal conduct by their agencies? Based on your administration's self-declared claim of inherent power and authority of the executive branch to override courts and the United States Congress, what other channels are left to pursue?

[...]

Last year, the CIA, your agency, classified the entire findings of the Inspector General's investigation into the failures of CIA managers prior to 9/11. Sir, I believe you made the case for this classification based on your intention to protect the wrongdoers within the CIA bureaucracy from being "stigmatized." Is this what your op-ed intended to say? Did you mean to say that these national security whistleblowers may end up stigmatizing the wrongdoers and incompetents within the rank and file of the CIA by divulging information that you decided to classify to prevent exposure of embarrassing and criminal activity? Was that a Freudian slip, since nowadays the lines get blurry between classification for national security purposes and classification to protect the agency's bureaucrats?

Mr. Goss, I cannot attribute this misleading op-ed to your ignorance, since you were a member of Congress until recently and are surely aware of the lack of meaningful protection for national security whistleblowers; so I won't. I will not attribute it to your stupidity, since obviously our Congress confirmed your position and I do not intend to insult their wisdom and intelligence. Thus, it must be your arrogance, nurtured and fed by your boss on your purported inherent and limitless authority and power, leading you to treat us, the American Public, as stupid.

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WTF!?

The Washington Note links to an article by Larisa Alexandrovna and quotes (emphasis mine):
Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame's work. Their accounts suggest that Plame's outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran's burgeoning nuclear program.

While many have speculated that Plame was involved in monitoring the nuclear proliferation black market, specifically the proliferation activities of Pakistan's nuclear "father," A.Q. Khan, intelligence sources say that her team provided only minimal support in that area, focusing almost entirely on Iran.
Well, yeah, if you wanted to kill two birds with one stone, that would make lots of sense.

What is amply clear though, in light of the recent revelations that Cheney authorized Libby to leak classified information, possibly the identity of who sent Amb. Wilson to Niger amongst other tidbits that would favor the administration's political objectives (of launching an unprovoked and unnecessary war against Iraq), is that he has directly done damage to our national security... it might even be argued, given the recent amplification of the drumbeat of news regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions, that this was intentional.

If there were someone more deserving of impeachment, I don't know who that would be.

Impeach Cheney. Impeach Bush. Impeach the whole lot of war criminals infesting the White House.

Do it now.

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Curiouser and curiouser

E&P reports -- More Questions Raised About Delay in Reporting Cheney Misfire -- you decide (emphasis mine):
NEW YORK The more than 18-hour delay in news emerging that the Vice President of the United States had shot a man, sending him to an intensive care unit with his wounds, grew even more curious late Sunday. E&P has learned that the official confirmation of the shooting came about only after a local reporter in Corpus Christi, Texas, received a tip from the owner of the property where the shooting occured and called Vice President Cheney's office for confirmation.

[...]

While E&P was first to raise the question about the delay Sunday afternoon, Frank James, reporter in the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau, put his how spin on it later in the day, asking, "How is it that Vice President Cheney can shoot a man, albeit accidentally, on Saturday during a hunting trip and the American public not be informed of it until today?"

Indeed, others raised questions as well. "There was no immediate reason given as to why the incident wasn't reported until Sunday," The Dallas Morning News observed. "The sheriff's office in Kenedy County did not respond to phone calls Sunday."
Interesting, the sheriff isn't speaking to the press? That's odd.

It gets curiouser.
In an odd disparity, Armstrong told the Houston Chronicle that Whittington, 78, was "bruised more than bloodied" in the incident and "his pride was hurt more than anything else." Yet he was airlifted to a hospital and has spent more than a day in an intensive care unit.

The Chronicle also reports Monday that hunting accidents are amazingly rare in Texas. In 2004, it said, the state's 1 million-plus hunters were involved in only 29 hunting-related accidents (19 involving firearms), four of which were fatal.

[...]

"When a vice president of the U.S. shoots a man under any circumstance," James noted, "that is extremely relevant information. What might be the excuse to justify not immediately making the incident public?

"The vice president is well-known for preferring to operate in secret....Some secrecy, especially when it comes to the executing the duties of president or vice president, is understandable and expected by Americans.

"But when the vice president's office, or the White House, delays in reporting a shooting like Saturday's to the public via the media, it needlessly raises suspicions and questions of trust. And it may just further the impression held by many, rightly or wrongly, that the White House doesn't place the highest premium on keeping the public fully and immediately informed."
Questions of trust. Indeed. This is the same guy who would have us "trust him" to spy on Americans without a warrant. Isn't it interesting that the administration's initial reaction is to cover-up? They are nothing if not consistent in their behavior: Do wrong. Lie about it. Cover-up.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The Viceroy of Vile came pretty close to causing only the fifth fatality in Texas due to a "hunting accident". He is now officially a statistic as only the second U.S. Vice President to shoot another man while in office.

More similarities:
In this troubled time, the end of President Jefferson's first term, Aaron Burr stepped down from the Vice Presidency, and began preparations for a military expedition that was either-- depending upon whose views one solicited--treasonous or patriotic. At its core, however, the Burr Conspiracy clearly was about conquest and adventure.
Treasonous or patriotic. Yep, that about sums it up. At least Burr waited until he was out of office. Cheney didn't bother and goaded Preznit DoWrong into launching a war of aggression against a sovereign nation while in office.

Burr was tried for treason, one can only hope and pray that Cheney will be too.

Cheney's got a gun
Cheney's got a gun
The whole world's come undone
Lawyers on the run
Tell me now it's untrue
What did the veepee do?
He whacked a fellow hunter
The man has got to be insane
They say the spell he put us under the lightning and the
thunder knew that someone had to stop the pain

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Cheney's got a gun

Cheney's got a gun ROTFLMAO!

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

If a tree falls...

UK TimesOnline -- CIA chief sacked for opposing torture:
The CIA’s top counter-terrorism official was fired last week because he opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad, sending them to other countries for interrogation and using forms of torture such as "water boarding", intelligence sources have claimed.

Robert Grenier, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, was relieved of his post after a year in the job. One intelligence official said he was "not quite as aggressive as he might have been" in pursuing Al-Qaeda leaders and networks.

Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the agency, said: "It is not that Grenier wasn't aggressive enough, it is that he wasn't 'with the programme'. He expressed misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition of terrorists."
At the time of the firing, it was reported in the states that:
The head of the CIA's counter-terrorism center was forced to step down Monday over concerns that he was not aggressive enough in leading the agency's pursuit of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, current and former intelligence officials said.
Now we learn, not from US media reporting, but from the Brits, that because he has a moral compass, he's deemed unfit for the job.

Then, there's this from TalkLeft:
The U.S. is helping to build a new prison for terrorists in Morocco. The prison compound is run by the Morrocan Secret Police.

George Bush says we don't engage in torture, so there's nothing to worry about, right? Not according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch:
What have we become? Is the US press not reporting this because, well, because we supposedly don't do torture? We sure seem to have an awful lot of evidence that says otherwise.

I, for one, am glad to see that more people are standing firm on their principles. However, like a tree falling in the woods when no one is about, one has to wonder if an article about the real reason behind a resignation (or firing) such as this, and reporting on what is really going on with this administration's war on terror, are only published in a paper that many, of not most, Americans have likely never heard of, will it make a sound?

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Just Say No

Chicago Sun Times writes -- Bar association to oppose domestic spying:
The American Bar Association is preparing to weigh in against President Bush's eavesdropping on telephone calls going into and out of America.

Contrary to polls showing Americans divided on the issue, "our poll shows that average Americans and legal scholars alike agree that the awesome power of the government to penetrate citizens' most private communications must not be held in one set of hands," ABA President Michael Greco said Friday at group's annual midyear meeting in Chicago. "To prevent the very human temptation to abuse the power, there must be checks and balances in the form of oversight by the courts and Congress."

The ABA will debate and vote Monday on a resolution calling on Bush to follow the law that requires him to go before a judge in a closed courtroom to get permission to eavesdrop.

"When the voice of the legal profession in the United States, the American Bar Association, with our 407,000 members has spoken on issues in the past, people have listened, and I'm gratified the administration has listened," Greco said.

[...]

Asked if he thought Bush's announcement Thursday that the administration foiled an al-Qaida attack on Los Angeles weakened his argument against unapproved eavesdropping, Greco said, "The attack -- at this point the alleged attack -- on Los Angeles is disturbing, but it doesn't change the fact that neither now nor ever in the future should we be frightened into sacrificing constitutional freedoms because something happened or something is about to happen. I personally reject the false choice that is being offered Americans that they must give up their liberties to have security."
I think that this is an important development. The ABA is not a partisan organization. They are getting ready to call bullshit on the administration's inexcusable power-grab. How exactly do you SwiftBoat the ABA? No, this time, I think that even the Bush apologists in congress will have to listen.
Asked if he thought Gonzales had the "legal acumen and knowledge" to be attorney general, Greco stood silent for a moment, then asked, "You think I should answer that question?"
Snark!

Finally, he said, "The issue isn't whether the president can eavesdrop on calls from al-Qaida or to al-Qaida. The issue is whether he can wiretap calls without any accountability from Congress."
Damn straight.

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Don't Drink the Kool-Aide

Glenn Greenwald: Do Bush followers have a political ideology?:
If it now places one 'on the Left' to oppose unrestrained power and invasiveness asserted by the Federal Government along with lawlessness on the part of our highest government officials, so be it. The rage-based reverence for The President as Commander-in-Chief -- and the creepy, blind faith vested in his goodness -- is not a movement I recognize as being political, conservative or even American.

A movement which has as its shining lights a woman who advocates the death of her political opponents, another woman who is a proponent of concentration camps, a magazine which advocates the imprisonment of journalists who expose government actions of dubious legality, all topped off by a President who believes he has the power to secretly engage in activities which the American people, through their Congress, have made it a crime to engage in, is a movement motivated by lots of different things. Political ideology isn't one of them.

UPDATE: For a glimpse of how actual conservatives quite recently used to think, one should read this article at FreeRepublic.com, which decries the dangerous loss of liberty and privacy as a result of the Clinton Administration's use of a "secret court" (something called the "FISA court") which actually enables the Federal Government to eavesdrop on American citizens! Worse -- much worse -- the judicial approval which the Government (used to) obtain for this eavesdropping is in secret, so we don't even know who is being eavesdropped on! How can we possibly trust the Government not to abuse this power if they can obtain warrants in secret?

Conservatives used to consider things like this to be quite disturbing and bad -- and the eavesdropping then was at least with judicial oversight. Now, George Bush is in office, and all of the distrust we used to have of the Federal Government exercising these powers has evaporated, because we trust in George Bush to do what is best for us. He should not just have those powers, but many more, and he should exercise all of them in secret, too, with no "interference" from the courts or Congress.

That is why I say that whatever else these Bush followers are, they are not conservative.
Note to all you Bush cultists... next time you gather at a CPAC convention, think twice before drinking any Kool-Aide. I'm just sayin'.

Glenn's hit the nail on the head. Read the whole post, including the comments section.

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A Dysfunctional Relationship

This paper, published in Foreign Affairs magazine is a must read. I've heavily exerpted below some of the key sections. There can be no clearer evidence that we were duped by Bush Cheney into believing that Saddam had ties with al Qaeda in order to ensure public and congressional support for a war of aggression against Iraq.

Paul R. Pillar | Bush Politicized the Intelligence Process (emphasis mine):
A Dysfunctional Relationship

The most serious problem with US intelligence today is that its relationship with the policymaking process is broken and badly needs repair. In the wake of the Iraq war, it has become clear that official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized. As the national intelligence officer responsible for the Middle East from 2000 to 2005, I witnessed all of these disturbing developments.

[...]

A Model Upended

The proper relationship between intelligence gathering and policymaking sharply separates the two functions. The intelligence community collects information, evaluates its credibility, and combines it with other information to help make sense of situations abroad that could affect US interests. Intelligence officers decide which topics should get their limited collection and analytic resources according to both their own judgments and the concerns of policymakers. Policymakers thus influence which topics intelligence agencies address but not the conclusions that they reach. The intelligence community, meanwhile, limits its judgments to what is happening or what might happen overseas, avoiding policy judgments about what the United States should do in response.

In practice, this distinction is often blurred, especially because analytic projections may have policy implications even if they are not explicitly stated.

[...]

The Bush administration's use of intelligence on Iraq did not just blur this distinction; it turned the entire model upside down. The administration used intelligence not to inform decision-making, but to justify a decision already made. It went to war without requesting - and evidently without being influenced by - any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq. (The military made extensive use of intelligence in its war planning, although much of it was of a more tactical nature.) Congress, not the administration, asked for the now-infamous October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's unconventional weapons programs, although few members of Congress actually read it. (According to several congressional aides responsible for safeguarding the classified material, no more than six senators and only a handful of House members got beyond the five-page executive summary.) As the national intelligence officer for the Middle East, I was in charge of coordinating all of the intelligence community's assessments regarding Iraq; the first request I received from any administration policymaker for any such assessment was not until a year into the war.

Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war. On the issue that mattered most, the intelligence community judged that Iraq probably was several years away from developing a nuclear weapon. The October 2002 NIE also judged that Saddam was unlikely to use WMD against the United States unless his regime was placed in mortal danger.

Before the war, on its own initiative, the intelligence community considered the principal challenges that any postinvasion authority in Iraq would be likely to face. It presented a picture of a political culture that would not provide fertile ground for democracy and foretold a long, difficult, and turbulent transition. It projected that a Marshall Plan-type effort would be required to restore the Iraqi economy, despite Iraq's abundant oil resources. It forecast that in a deeply divided Iraqi society, with Sunnis resentful over the loss of their dominant position and Shiites seeking power commensurate with their majority status, there was a significant chance that the groups would engage in violent conflict unless an occupying power prevented it. And it anticipated that a foreign occupying force would itself be the target of resentment and attacks - including by guerrilla warfare - unless it established security and put Iraq on the road to prosperity in the first few weeks or months after the fall of Saddam.

In addition, the intelligence community offered its assessment of the likely regional repercussions of ousting Saddam. It argued that any value Iraq might have as a democratic exemplar would be minimal and would depend on the stability of a new Iraqi government and the extent to which democracy in Iraq was seen as developing from within rather than being imposed by an outside power. More likely, war and occupation would boost political Islam and increase sympathy for terrorists' objectives - and Iraq would become a magnet for extremists from elsewhere in the Middle East.

[...]

Standard Deviations

The Bush administration deviated from the professional standard not only in using policy to drive intelligence, but also in aggressively using intelligence to win public support for its decision to go to war. This meant selectively adducing data - "cherry-picking" - rather than using the intelligence community's own analytic judgments. In fact, key portions of the administration's case explicitly rejected those judgments. In an August 2002 speech, for example, Vice President Dick Cheney observed that "intelligence is an uncertain business" and noted how intelligence analysts had underestimated how close Iraq had been to developing a nuclear weapon before the 1991 Persian Gulf War. His conclusion - at odds with that of the intelligence community - was that "many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon."

[...]

The reexamination of prewar public statements is a necessary part of understanding the process that led to the Iraq war. But a narrow focus on rhetorical details tends to overlook more fundamental problems in the intelligence-policy relationship. Any time policymakers, rather than intelligence agencies, take the lead in selecting which bits of raw intelligence to present, there is - regardless of the issue - a bias. The resulting public statements ostensibly reflect intelligence, but they do not reflect intelligence analysis, which is an essential part of determining what the pieces of raw reporting mean. The policymaker acts with an eye not to what is indicative of a larger pattern or underlying truth, but to what supports his case.

[...]

But the greatest discrepancy between the administration's public statements and the intelligence community's judgments concerned not WMD (there was indeed a broad consensus that such programs existed), but the relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda. The enormous attention devoted to this subject did not reflect any judgment by intelligence officials that there was or was likely to be anything like the "alliance" the administration said existed. The reason the connection got so much attention was that the administration wanted to hitch the Iraq expedition to the "war on terror" and the threat the American public feared most, thereby capitalizing on the country's militant post-9/11 mood.

The issue of possible ties between Saddam and al Qaeda was especially prone to the selective use of raw intelligence to make a public case for war. In the shadowy world of international terrorism, almost anyone can be "linked" to almost anyone else if enough effort is made to find evidence of casual contacts, the mentioning of names in the same breath, or indications of common travels or experiences. Even the most minimal and circumstantial data can be adduced as evidence of a "relationship," ignoring the important question of whether a given regime actually supports a given terrorist group and the fact that relationships can be competitive or distrustful rather than cooperative.

The intelligence community never offered any analysis that supported the notion of an alliance between Saddam and al Qaeda. Yet it was drawn into a public effort to support that notion. To be fair, Secretary Powell's presentation at the UN never explicitly asserted that there was a cooperative relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda. But the presentation was clearly meant to create the impression that one existed. To the extent that the intelligence community was a party to such efforts, it crossed the line into policy advocacy - and did so in a way that fostered public misconceptions contrary to the intelligence community's own judgments.

[...]

Varities of Politicization

In its report on prewar intelligence concerning Iraqi WMD, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said it found no evidence that analysts had altered or shaped their judgments in response to political pressure. The Silberman-Robb commission reached the same conclusion, although it conceded that analysts worked in an "environment" affected by "intense" policymaker interest. But the method of investigation used by the panels - essentially, asking analysts whether their arms had been twisted - would have caught only the crudest attempts at politicization. Such attempts are rare and, when they do occur (as with former Undersecretary of State John Bolton's attempts to get the intelligence community to sign on to his judgments about Cuba and Syria), are almost always unsuccessful. Moreover, it is unlikely that analysts would ever acknowledge that their own judgments have been politicized, since that would be far more damning than admitting more mundane types of analytic error.

The actual politicization of intelligence occurs subtly and can take many forms. Context is all-important. Well before March 2003, intelligence analysts and their managers knew that the United States was heading for war with Iraq. It was clear that the Bush administration would frown on or ignore analysis that called into question a decision to go to war and welcome analysis that supported such a decision. Intelligence analysts - for whom attention, especially favorable attention, from policymakers is a measure of success - felt a strong wind consistently blowing in one direction. The desire to bend with such a wind is natural and strong, even if unconscious.

[...]

But the principal way that the intelligence community's work on Iraq was politicized concerned the specific questions to which the community devoted its energies. As any competent pollster can attest, how a question is framed helps determine the answer. In the case of Iraq, there was also the matter of sheer quantity of output - not just what the intelligence community said, but how many times it said it. On any given subject, the intelligence community faces what is in effect a field of rocks, and it lacks the resources to turn over every one to see what threats to national security may lurk underneath. In an unpoliticized environment, intelligence officers decide which rocks to turn over based on past patterns and their own judgments. But when policymakers repeatedly urge the intelligence community to turn over only certain rocks, the process becomes biased. The community responds by concentrating its resources on those rocks, eventually producing a body of reporting and analysis that, thanks to quantity and emphasis, leaves the impression that what lies under those same rocks is a bigger part of the problem than it really is.

That is what happened when the Bush administration repeatedly called on the intelligence community to uncover more material that would contribute to the case for war. The Bush team approached the community again and again and pushed it to look harder at the supposed Saddam-al Qaeda relationship - calling on analysts not only to turn over additional Iraqi rocks, but also to turn over ones already examined and to scratch the dirt to see if there might be something there after all. The result was an intelligence output that - because the question being investigated was never put in context - obscured rather than enhanced understanding of al Qaeda's actual sources of strength and support.

This process represented a radical departure from the textbook model of the relationship between intelligence and policy, in which an intelligence service responds to policymaker interest in certain subjects (such as "security threats from Iraq" or "al Qaeda's supporters") and explores them in whatever direction the evidence leads. The process did not involve intelligence work designed to find dangers not yet discovered or to inform decisions not yet made. Instead, it involved research to find evidence in support of a specific line of argument - that Saddam was cooperating with al Qaeda - which in turn was being used to justify a specific policy decision.

One possible consequence of such politicization is policymaker self-deception. A policymaker can easily forget that he is hearing so much about a particular angle in briefings because he and his fellow policymakers have urged the intelligence community to focus on it. A more certain consequence is the skewed application of the intelligence community's resources. Feeding the administration's voracious appetite for material on the Saddam-al Qaeda link consumed an enormous amount of time and attention at multiple levels, from rank-and-file counterterrorism analysts to the most senior intelligence officials. It is fair to ask how much other counterterrorism work was left undone as a result.

[...]

Paul R. Pillar is on the faculty of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University. Concluding a long career in the Central Intelligence Agency, he served as National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005.

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Impeachment is now our only salvation

From today's WaPo -- Katrina Report Spreads Blame (emphasis mine):
The 600-plus-page report lays primary fault with the passive reaction and misjudgments of top Bush aides, singling out Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Operations Center and the White House Homeland Security Council, according to a 60-page summary of the document obtained by The Washington Post. Regarding Bush, the report found that 'earlier presidential involvement could have speeded the response' because he alone could have cut through all bureaucratic resistance.

The report, produced by an 11-member House select committee of Republicans chaired by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), proposes few specific changes. But it is an unusual compendium of criticism by the House GOP, which generally has not been aggressive in its oversight of the administration.
Oversight? What oversight? Characterizing it as "not aggressive" is a little too generous, if you ask me. Congressional oversight of this administartion has been non-existant. The White House basically flips congress the bird any time it is asked to produce evidence and cries "executive privilage" much like Gomer Pyle proclaiming "citizens arr-ey-est", but I digress.
At the same time, weaknesses identified by Sept. 11 investigators -- poor communications among first responders, a shortage of qualified emergency personnel and lack of training and funding -- doomed a response confronted by overwhelming demands for help.

"If 9/11 was a failure of imagination then Katrina was a failure of initiative. It was a failure of leadership," the report's preface states. "In this instance, blinding lack of situational awareness and disjointed decision making needlessly compounded and prolonged Katrina's horror."

[...]

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said Bush had full confidence in his homeland security team, both appointed and career. "The president was involved from beginning to end," implementing emergency powers before the storm and taking responsibility afterward, Duffy said.

Duffy objected to a leaked draft of an unpublished report, and said the White House is completing its own study. "The president is less interested in yesterday, and more interested with today and tomorrow," he said, "so that we can be better prepared for next time."
I would simply cite George Satayana: "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Apparently, the preznit is sealing his own fate here. He didn't learn from 9/11, resisting any serious investigation at every step and voilà... déjà vu all over again.

Feel safer, yet?
Democrats, whose leaders considered the investigation a partisan whitewash and boycotted it, called for Chertoff's removal. Reps. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) and William J. Jefferson (D-La.),who informally participated in the inquiry, renewed calls for an independent commission styled after the one that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that the investigation, while comprehensive, was rushed, failed to compel the White House to turn over documents and held no administration officials accountable.

[...]

However, the committee found U.S. disaster preparedness -- individual, corporate, philanthropic and governmental -- remains dangerously inadequate.

"All the little pigs built houses of straw," it wrote. "Katrina was a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare."
This next part is a doozie, though. House Republicans basically call the administration a pack of liars, which anyone paying attention already knew. The difference here is that we are hearing this for the first time from Republicans.
The report said the single biggest federal failure was not anticipating the consequences of the storm. Disaster planners had rated the flooding of New Orleans as the nation's most feared scenario, testing it under a catastrophic disaster preparedness program in 2004.

About 56 hours before Katrina made landfall, the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center cited an "extremely high probability" that New Orleans would be flooded and tens of thousands of residents killed.

Given those warnings, the report notes Bush's televised statement on Sept. 1 that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees," and concludes: "Comments such as those . . . do not appear to be consistent with the advice and counsel one would expect to have been provided by a senior disaster professional."
Wow! Imagine if this investigation were performed by an independent investigative commission with supoena powers (not that the WH would have behaved any differently... they would have rebuffed any attempts to get to the bottom of this disaster just as they rebuffed the House and Senate committees).

Finally, I'll leave you with this gem:
It added that the crisis showed the government remains "woefully incapable" of managing information, much as it was before the 2001 attacks.
Got that? Bu$hCo has done nothing to improve disaster preparedness. Nothing. If anything, things are now worse than they were on September 11th, 2001 because the Bush administration has effectively purged what is left of FEMA of career disaster officials and replaced them with clueless political hacks.

The Bush administration is all talk (most of it lies and propaganda), all politics and no action.

In related news, this article caught my eye this morning:
NEW YORK Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has asked Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson for a thorough inquiry of his agency's investigation into whether a V.A. nurse's letter to the editor criticizing the Bush administration amounted to "sedition."

Merely opposing government policies and expressing a desire to change course "does not provide reason to believe that a person is involved in illegal subversive activity," he said.
Bingaman said such investigations raise "a very real possibility of chilling legitimate political speech."

Laura Berg, a clinical nurse specialist, wrote a letter in September to a weekly Albuquerque newspaper criticizing how the administration handled Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War. She urged people to "act forcefully" to remove an administration she said played games of "vicious deceit." The agency seized her computer and launched an investigation.

But Bingaman wrote: "In a democracy, expressing disagreement with the government's actions does not amount to sedition or insurrection. It is, and must remain, protected speech. Although it may be permissible to implement restrictions regarding a government employee's political activities during work hours or on government premises, such employees do not surrender their right to freedom of speech when they enlist in government service."
Add to that, this NYT article via Glen Greenwald, who writes (emphasis mine):
Beyond that, consider the effects of these threats on other people who may be tempted to come forward and expose other serious wrongdoing on the part of the Administration. They hear that the Justice Department is "laying the groundwork for a grand jury inquiry that could lead to criminal charges" -- might that have an effect of intimidation against anyone who might consider blowing the whistle on other forms of serious misconduct by the Bush Administration?

And it isn't just potential whistle-blowers whom they are attempting to intimidate, but journalists as well:
At the same time, conservatives have attacked the disclosure of classified information as a illegal act, demanding a vigorous investigative effort to find and prosecute whoever disclosed classified information.

An upcoming article in Commentary magazine suggests that the newspaper might be prosecuted for violations of the Espionage Act and said, "What The New York Times has done is nothing less than to compromise the centerpiece of our defensive efforts in the war on terrorism."
So now we're a country which allows its leaders to flagrantly violate the law -- even cheering them on as they do it -- and we imprison the journalists who report that illegal behavior to the public. That sounds like a lot of things. The United States isn't one of them.
So much for the 1st Amendment. Any criticism of Dear Leader is now considered sedition, and the administration's Brown Shirts are tracking down the whistleblowers and journalists and threatening them with prison. Stalin would be proud.

Meanwhile, today's NYT editorial calls "bullshit" on the administration's plea to "trust us" when it comes to the NSA spying on Americans:
We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers — and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.

This has been a central flaw of Mr. Bush's presidency for a long time. But last week produced a flood of evidence that vividly drove home the point.

[...]

Like many other administrations before it, this one sometimes dissembles clumsily to avoid embarrassment. (We now know, for example, that the White House did not tell the truth about when it learned the levees in New Orleans had failed.) Spin-as-usual is one thing. Striking at the civil liberties, due process and balance of powers that are the heart of American democracy is another.
Finally, the Telegraph reports that the war criminals are not only ratcheting up the rhetoric over Iran's alleged attempt to pursue nuclear weapons, they are making plans for war:
Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to develop an atomic bomb.

Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
"Last resort". Yeah, right. Now when have I heard that before... (emphasis mine)
POWELL: War should never be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It should always be a deliberate act by people acting rationally, hopefully. And in this case, as the president said the other night, we are trying to see war as a last resort.
Talk about your déjà vu all over again.

Impeachment is now our only salvation.

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