Benazir Bhuttto Was Shot to Death

December 31, 2007 at 9:45 am | Posted in Pakistan | 3 Comments

There’s a video:

and written evidence


(courtesy of New York Times – Max Becherer/Polaris, for The New York Times)

Who Remains An Ally of Bush?

December 29, 2007 at 9:02 am | Posted in American politics, Australia, Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, King George, Musharraf, Tony Blair | Leave a comment

Let’s count them, shall we?

1. Aznar, Spain’s prime minister. Ousted in 2004 by an electorate who he crossed by entering into Iraq without their approval. 90% of Spaniards did NOT want to go into Iraq.

2. Tony Blair, Britain’s prime minister. He had such a good legacy going for him before he joined with Bush. Now with his legacy in tatters does anyone care what Mr. Blair has to say?

3. John Howard, Australia’s prime minister. Embarrassingly lost his own seat in the most recent elections. David Hicks will soon come knocking on his legacy door, once that gag order is removed.

4. General Musharraf, Pakistan’s…well, dictator. He doesn’t have much longer left in him, and the Bush administration knows this. This is why they pressed for Benazir Bhutto to come out of exile and return to her violent home to be assassinated. I don’t know if I am surprised or not that the Bush administration under Condoleezza Rice’s reign at State, failed to consider that many Pakistanis didn’t want to see Ms. Bhutto back in Pakistan, ruling the country. It is surprising because it is assumed people in such positions of power have the foresight and wisdom to see such paths before making a decision. Then again, it is not surprising because these are Bush loyalists in power. They really are horrendous.

5. Benazir Bhutto, dead. Poor Ms. Bhutto. A mere pawn of bigger players is assassinated in her home country after being convinced to return by Ms. Condoleezza Rice.

At Rice’s urging, Bhutto earlier this year agreed to take part in the parliamentary elections, with the understanding that the Pakistani president would keep his part of the bargain by permitting her, a twice-elected prime minister, to serve for a third term (which was banned by a technical rule). Instead, Musharraf did nothing to change the law and instead declared emergency rule—a decision that President Bush did not immediately denounce. Nor did the Americans push Musharraf on the other aspects of the deal that would have allowed her to be a three-time prime minister. “The Americans left her high and dry,” says a close Bhutto ally who requested anonymity when discussing diplomatic issues. “They did not keep their word.” America wants an ally in Pakistan—but with U.S. credibility in the country so low, Washington would be better off not trying to name any successors.

It is not good to be an ally of George W. Bush. When push comes to shove, you will be left out high and dry while he gets away scot free.

The Assassination of Benazir Bhutto

December 27, 2007 at 9:30 am | Posted in Pakistan | Leave a comment

She was shot by an assassin who then supposedly blew himself up, killing fourteen others. One has to ask, who benefits most from her death. Al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists obviously don’t want women in power. But neither does Musharraf like Ms. Bhutto in power either. It is really hard not to question whether Musharraf was behind this assassination in some way, whether the sin of commission or the sin of omission. In either case, this is a terrible day for Pakistan and democracy in South Asia and the Muslim world. There is more coming to this story, of course. Americans should be keeping their eyes on Pakistan not Iraq. This is where our real enemy lies in hiding.

Cross-posted at Council of Fifty

Harry Reid, a Shame to All Democrats

December 21, 2007 at 9:56 am | Posted in Democrats, Harry Reid | 11 Comments

How the mighty have fallen. Mr. Harry Reid, you are a shame to the Democratic Party and you, sir, must step down as the Majority Leader in the Senate. You have abrogated your Constitutional responsibility to hold the Executive branch accountable, and instead bent over and let them give it to you all year long. It is time for you to go back to Nevada. You, sir, are not worthy of being the Majority Leader in the Senate. You undermine members of your OWN party! who are trying to stop the abuse of power by this administration. That is unconscionable!

It is time for someone like Chris Dodd to take the leadership reins in the Senate. Or a Russ Feingold. Someone who will not cower to the megalomaniac Republican.

Please, Mr. Reid, step down.

The Depravity of Halliburton and KBR

December 20, 2007 at 12:54 pm | Posted in corruption, halliburton, Iraq, kbr | Leave a comment

Out of their many crimes against humanity will this one finally put a stake in their heart?

The Council of Fifty

December 19, 2007 at 5:59 am | Posted in Blogroll, Mormon | 2 Comments

I recommend a new blog created in the Mormon Bloggernacle called The Council of Fifty. This new blog is intended to discuss politics and the role of Mormonism in the realm of the political. I am honored to have been invited to participate and invite all my readers to bookmark and visit often this new blog.

The Timeline of America’s Use of Torture

December 19, 2007 at 4:38 am | Posted in CIA, Torture | Leave a comment

is found here, complete with numerous references and citations. The evidence is there, and has been since 2001. Highly recommended reading.

What the Future May Hold

December 19, 2007 at 4:02 am | Posted in American politics, conservatives, corruption | Leave a comment

Can it really get this ugly?

You bet it can. Read for yourself what a popular conservative thinks now about liberals.

The quintessential liberal fascist isn’t an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade-school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.

It’s not like these guys will suddenly retire in 2009. Nor are they close to death (most are still quite young). Will a Democratic victory in 2008 silence them? Of course not. Their unhinged stupidity will increasingly get worse. The question is, will rank and file conservatives realize how stupid their conservative ideology representatives really are?

These conservatives, people like Jonah Goldberg, will merely look at 2009 as a setback. They will push even harder. Times will get worse here in America, not better. This is merely the beginning. Unless rank and file conservatives begin to ignore and even push out people like Jonah Goldberg and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Will they do that? Not likely. The Savior will come first, methinks.

What A Popular Conservative Thinks

December 17, 2007 at 3:46 pm | Posted in conservatives | 2 Comments

Jonah Goldberg:

The quintessential liberal fascist isn’t an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade-school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.


(courtesy of Matthew Yglesias

It’s coming out January 8th. It’s the 18th most popular book in the Conservatism section of Amazon.com. I bet it will be a bestseller. He writes for National Review, the center of modern conservatism. Is this truly how conservatives want to be represented? Is this truly how they want to be known? For such unhinged stupidity? Is this really the best modern conservatism has to offer? Let me just say, you guys are a sad lot if that is the case.

Shooting Themselves in the Foot

December 17, 2007 at 6:41 am | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq | 7 Comments

Remember, we didn’t actually NEED to go into Iraq. There really wasn’t any urgency. We knew there was no actual urgency in 2002, but the Bush administration pushed for the war anyways, diverting attention from Afghanistan into an unneeded war. Well, guess what? The administration now sees Afghanistan as the bigger threat. Heh. The irony.

Administration officials say the White House has become more concerned in recent months about the situation in Afghanistan, where grinding poverty, rampant corruption, poor infrastructure and the growing challenge from the Taliban are hindering U.S. stabilization efforts. Senior administration officials now believe Afghanistan may pose a greater longer-term challenge than Iraq.

Duh. We could have told you that (and we did) back in 2002 when you were shifting attention to Iraq. Our REAL enemy has always been in Afghanistan, you dope.

A Terrorist Escaped! Quick! Enact Martial Law!

December 16, 2007 at 9:16 pm | Posted in Musharraf, Pakistan | 11 Comments

A dastardly terrorist got away in Pakistan. A day after Musharraf ended martial law, no less.

The disappearance of a terrorism suspect wanted in Britain is an embarrassment to the government of Pakistan a day after President Pervez Musharraf ended six weeks of de facto martial law, announcing that security forces had broken the back of militants fighting in the northwest and that stability was returning.

There are many ways that the government of Pakistan is an embarrassment. This is but a piece of hay in the haystack.

Why America Tortures Its Detainees

December 16, 2007 at 4:29 pm | Posted in America, Torture | 1 Comment

As the evidence continues to come out in dribs and drabs, we learn more and more that indeed the Bush administration ordered the torture of detainees by the CIA.

So now the process can be fully diagrammed, and the cast of characters is stunning. The torture system involves the operations division of the CIA on the implementation side. They rely heavily on contractors, it seems, in torturing people. And a special role is apparently played by a couple of psychologists. (Time used to be that healthcare professionals had an oath. It started “first, do no harm.” But, just like the Bible and the Constitution, that’s so pre-9/11. And with the American Psychological Association providing full cover, what’s the worry.)

We know that the Justice Department is right in the thick of it. Who precisely? The answer is most likely the Office of Legal Counsel—which has now emerged as what George Orwell called the “Ministry of Love” (remember: in Nineteen Eighty-Four that’s the ministry that picked and approved torture practices). But it doesn’t end with the opinion lawyers. The National Security Division is also in the thick of things, apparently. Alberto Gonzales, before he became attorney general, played station master for the initial series of torture memos. Once he landed at Justice, he kept a close watch on all torture issues and lied to Congress about it. With the attorney general’s office staking out a close interest in torture, it’s unlikely that others in the Department would have substituted their judgment for his. Thus the ball would seem to be squarely in Michael Mukasey’s court.

And finally the White House. David Addington, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley—these are all name we can now link directly to the torture system. Not just as a matter of theory. As a matter of practical application. They decided who would be tortured and how. And John B. Bellinger III, the man who keeps making a laughing-stock of himself with speeches on international law (as, for instance, when he tells us he can’t raise a legal objection to the idea of the Iranians waterboarding some captured American airman), who was legal counsel at NSC and continues now to hold that role with Condi Rice at State. He constantly issued assurances “off the record” to human rights groups and bar groups that we certainly don’t torture. And now it’s reasonably clear that he was right in the thick of the torture approval process all along.

This resurrects the process of official cruelty under the Stuart monarchs in seventeenth century England. Persons accused of state crimes very frequently were interrogated with the use of specific techniques, including the rack, the thumbscrew, and waterboarding. King James I personally described the process in The Kings Booke (1606). He would, on the advice of his officers, “approve no new torture,” but he would certainly avail himself of the existing practices. In ascending order of severity they were: thumbscrews, the rack and waterboarding. That’s right. Waterboarding was considered the most severe of the official forms of torture. Worse than the rack and thumbscrews.

So what’s the rationale? What makes war supporters and torture supporters sleep at night? What justification do they use to rest their hearts? Kevin Drum shares a letter from a reader on the reason why, the rationale behind accepting torture:

I want our side to win. Or maybe more accurately, I don’t want our side to lose….As with any other form of violence, motivation is everything. A cop shooting a murderer is not the same as a murderer shooting an innocent victim, although both use guns, and at the end, someone is bleeding and dying.

You’d be amazed at how many people find these things nearly equivalent. A leftist I know sees no difference between a Palestinian child dying from a stray Israeli bullet during a firefight, and an Israeli child dying when a Palestinian terrorist puts the barrel of a gun to the kid’s forehead and blows his brains across the back wall of the child’s bedroom. In his two-dimensional perception, the only important factor is that both resulted in a dead child. Avoiding true moral analysis and motivations allows him to skirt the concept of “evil,” a term which makes many liberals intensely uncomfortable.

John Kiriakou said that waterboarding a terrorist stopped dozens of attacks. Dozens. Not attacks on military targets, but attacks on innocent non-combatants.

That was the motivation.

The terrorists who torture and kill our prisoners (never something as benign as waterboarding) don’t do it because they need information to save innocent people. They do it because they like it, because they want to hurt or kill someone.

At some point you have to decide if a known terrorist having a very bad day (after which he goes back to a hot meal and a cot) is more of a moral problem than allowing a terrorist to blow up a building full of people.

Yes, it’s good if we do it, when it’s for the right reasons. So far, it’s been for the right reasons. And no, it isn’t good when it’s done to us, for the reasons it has been done to us. Get back to me when some enemy tortures one of our soldiers in order to save innocent lives.

Got it?

But as some commentators said:

Behind the argument for torture is pretty straight up utilitarianism.
If somehow magically, you could know for ABSOLUTELY certain that torture of one person would save millions of lives, then you would do it. I know I would do it. I assume anyone that doesn’t follow an infantile version of Kant would do it.
The problem is that we will never know for certain that torture saves lives, and we can never trust the information we get from torture, and torture has so many morally corrupting side effects that go along with it, that in the end, the utilitarian calculus for routinized torture just isn’t worth it.

And:

I understand his argument, and it scares me. Simply: we are good, therefore we can kill and torture. They are evil, therefore their torturing and killing are evil. Two problems: 1)”they” make exactly the same argument. 2) If we kill and torture, are we not therefore evil?

We are good because we DON’T torture. If we begin torturing our detainees, we lose the status of being GOOD. We turn EVIL, and become the enemy of the GOOD.

Various Items

December 15, 2007 at 6:52 am | Posted in America, American politics, Barry Bonds, baseball, Bush Administration, CIA, Civil War, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democrats, Ethiopia, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, mukasey, Musharraf, Pakistan, Peace, Republicans, secret combinations, Somalia, Terrorism, Thoughts, War, World Events | Leave a comment

There are a few items in the news today that I feel are important.

Justice Department Seeks Delay in CIA Tapes

Surprise, surprise. The Bush Administration Justice Department does not wish for Congress to really know what was going on at the CIA when they destroyed evidence. What do you think, Mr. Chuck Shumer? Ms. Diane Feinstein? Was Mukasey worth this? Did you really think he would allow you into the deepest darkest corners of the Bush administration? Serious, high crimes have been committed by the Bush administration, ordered from Bush himself. Do you really think he would let you in?

Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating they have been at allowing the Bush administration and the minority Republicans to thrash them so many times? Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating it is for citizens to see them capitulate at the mere THREAT of filibuster. LET THEM FILIBUSTER ALREADY! Let them do it guys! Let’s see Republicans talk themselves to death! Let them truly be obstructionist. Why do you give them such political victories, by both giving in to their demands without making them sweat for it, and letting them take the public relations coup?

I think we need new Democratic leadership. Y’all are cowards. Yes, you Mr. Harry Reid. Yes you, Ms. Nancy Pelosi. What do Bush and the Republicans have on you? Why do you bend over for them? STOP IT!

Musharraf Lifts Pakistan’s State of Emergency.

Heh, one wonders why. Let’s see, the reason given for the state of emergency two months ago was a threat to the state of Pakistan by Al-Qaeda. Now that the state of emergency was removed, can anyone point to any reduced threat from Al-Qaeda? Any evidence? Are they still a threat to Pakistan? Hmmm.

Maybe the real reason had to do with Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which was about to rule against Musharraf. Let’s see. Musharraf declares emergency, martial law, basically. He removes justices from the Supreme Court he didn’t like, and places ones on there that would rule in his favor. He arrests some thousands of lawyers—a true threat to the viability of the state, no doubt—-but, well…nothing really drastic done against the stated threat, Al-Qaeda. Huh.

So, who, besides Musharraf, can even consider the upcoming elections as anything but fair?

Ethiopians said to push civilians into rebel war.

This piece of news is important because Ethiopia entered into Somalia at our request. We again farmed out what we should have done to someone else. Now that someone else, in this case, Ethiopia, is stretched too thin. Because many of its troops are in Somalia, Ethiopia does not have enough to deal with the rebels in a really dry region between Somalia and Eritrea. This is bad because it is undermining the strength of a fairly stable country on Africa’s horn. Meanwhile, over in Somalia, the Islamic militants increase their power.

Huh, I wonder if Bush will pull a Bush senior move and send soldiers into Somalia just before he gets out of office forcing his Democratic successor to handle his mess.

Sealed off by Israel, Gaza a beggar state

I don’t get Israel. I don’t think they realize the enormity of the problem in Gaza, and that by continuing to starve them out, it will only be worse for them. 1.5 million people is a hell of a lot of people. I’m sure Israel would love it for them not to be there anymore, but there is no way for that to happen.

It is really sad. A peace conference photo-op was done at Annapolis just a few weeks ago, but notably absent are the conflicting parties. Where was Hamas? Where was Hesbollah? Where was Iran? Interestingly, where was Iraq? How can you make peace with your enemy if you do not invite them to a peace conference?

Voters offer mixed responses on Clemens’ HOF chances

On baseball here. The Mitchell Report has certainly increased baseball talk, here in mid-winter. I’ll be fascinated to see what happens in the Spring. But I wanted to quote from Ray Ratto, who is quoted in this piece. I think he makes some very interesting points in regards to baseball, the Hall of Fame, numbers, and more importantly, the business itself.

“I would vote for Bonds on the first ballot, as I would vote for Clemens, because the Hall of Fame isn’t church,” Ratto said. “It’s the history of baseball, and this is part of the history of baseball. I can assure you that Bud Selig will be voted into the Hall of Fame, and he is the commissioner whose name will be linked with the steroid era by first ignoring it, then profiting from it, and finally blaming others for it.

“I know that Cap Anson is in the Hall of Fame, and he was instrumental in the creation of the color line, which is way worse than PEDs. So this discussion ends up being an excuse for people with no institutional memory or understanding to claim a moral superiority they’re not really equipped to display.”

I always liked Ray Ratto. I grew up in the Bay Area and read his opinions frequently. I think he says it best here. Firstly that the Hall of Fame already includes cheaters, as well as racists and womanizers. It isn’t church. We don’t need to deify these players.

More important is his point about how the business of baseball profited from these past 12 years of steroid and human growth hormone abuse. I remember seeing a comment from a reader on CNN.com who said that Barry Bonds was being used. This commentator wrote when Barry was indicted by the grand jury on perjury. Barry Bonds may be done playing baseball for good. But that is a point rarely made.

Barry Bonds was indeed used. Bud Selig was silent because Barry Bonds brought in money. Look at just this last year’s revenue, over $6 billion dollars, according to sources. $6 billion dollars. That’s almost as good as America’s most popular sport—where enhancement drugs are also abused—football. On what did those baseball owners profit? On juiced up players of course. How much revenue did the San Francisco Giants get from the year 2000-2007? Shall we look at what profit Peter Magowan made during that time? How about Steinbrenner and the Yankees?

Baseball millionaire owners profited from their players getting juiced. And who gets blamed now? The players of course. Rape them for all they’ve got and then throw them to the trash compactor when you’re through with them. Who is the public face of the San Francisco Giants? Barry Bonds of course. Who is the money behind the San Francisco Giants? Peter Magowan. Who will pay for the juiced player? Barry Bonds of course. Who will profit from the juiced player? Peter Magowan.

Remember that.

Mitchell Report can’t be good for baseball’s short term business

Read for yourself:

George Mitchell’s steroids report hasn’t just rocked the game of baseball. It figures to shake the business of baseball, too.

As an industry, MLB has been even hotter than Josh Beckett in October. It posted record revenues of $6 billion this year. Baseball has more than doubled its take of a decade ago and is closing fast on the NFL as the top-grossing league in sports.

The Mitchell Report, though, could jeopardize that run. Maybe Commissioner Bud Selig just couldn’t stand too much prosperity. He ordered up the Mitchell Report and re-focused attention on a problem that, in many fans’ eyes, had faded as a concern.

Just remember who profited on baseball’s steroids. Not the players who get the fans’ wrath. Oh no. People like Bud Selig. I wish we had our priorities straight, here in America.

We Fear The World Around Us

December 14, 2007 at 9:18 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Torture | Leave a comment

It is so nice to see someone else say this.

Ever since the attacks, the United States has felt threatened and under siege and determined to carve out maximum room to maneuver. But where Americans have seen defensive behavior, the rest of the world has looked on and seen the most powerful nation in human history acting like a caged animal, lashing out at any and every constraint on its actions.

At the heart of this behavior is fear. Americans have become scared of the new world that is emerging around them. As long as this atmosphere of fear envelops U.S. politics, it will surely produce very similar results abroad.

When we are fearful, that’s when we turn to immoral acts, such as torture, for example. We feel so threatened by the world around us that we justify breaking our OWN laws just so we can feel more secure. Unfortunately, this all-encompassing search for security will be our greatest downfall.

Waterboarding, Then and Now

December 13, 2007 at 12:43 am | Posted in Torture | 3 Comments

Then:

The cable reads:

THE PRESIDENT DESIRES TO KNOW IN THE FULLEST AND MOST CIRCUMSTANTIAL MANNER ALL THE FACTS . . . FOR THE VERY REASON THAT THE PRESIDENT INTENDS TO BACK UP THE ARMY IN THE HEARTIEST FASHION IN EVERY LAWFUL AND LEGITIMATE METHOD OF DOING ITS WORK. HE ALSO INTENDS TO SEE THAT THE MOST VIGOROUS CARE IS EXERCISED TO DETECT AND PREVENT ANY CRUELTY OR BRUTALITY AND THAT MEN WHO ARE GUILTY THEREOF ARE PUNISHED. GREAT AS THE PROVOCATION HAS BEEN . . . NOTHING CAN JUSTIFY . . . THE USE OF TORTURE OR INHUMAN CONDUCT OF ANY KIND ON THE PART OF THE AMERICAN ARMY.

This message from the president of the United States was sent not to members of the American military dealing with insurgents in Iraq but to an earlier Army dealing with insurgents in the Philippines approximately a century ago. Even without the characteristic capitalization of cablegrams sent during President Theodore Roosevelt’s time, the strong statement of outrage over torture and high regard for American values comes through. Today there is no similar message, either from the president or from the new attorney general. This is sad.

Teddy Roosevelt had to deal with the mistreatment of civilians by U.S. troops who were fighting an insurgency. American soldiers, who occupied the Philippines following the Spanish-American War, learned a technique of punishment and interrogation from the Spanish that they called ”the water cure.” Along with other violence toward civilians, the U.S. soldiers used the technique liberally. Edmund Morris’ biography Theodore Rex quotes the official report’s description of that “cure”:

“A man is thrown down on his back and three or four men sit on his arms and legs and hold him down, and either a gun barrel or a rife barrel or a carbine barrel or a stick as big as a belaying pin . . . is simply thrust into his jaws . . . and then water is poured onto his face, down his throat and nose . . . until the man gives some sign of giving in or becomes unconscious. . . . His suffering must be that of a man who is drowning, but who cannot drown.”

Now:

Our government is now unable to say whether it would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions for the Iranian government to waterboard a downed U.S. airman. How do officials such as Brigadier General Hartmann sleep at night, I wonder? How many decades will it take to undo this damage? Kudos to Lindsey Graham, whose disgust is really the only appropriate response. Now, if he can only muster some of his colleagues to support a two-thirds vote to override the forthcoming presidential veto of the law that would end the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Republicans today have shamed the party of Teddy Roosevelt. Those who support waterboarding have shamed America.

American War Hawks, Wrong on Iraq, Wrong on Iran

December 11, 2007 at 9:01 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Iran, Iraq, War | 12 Comments

They were wrong about Iraq. So they shifted their target to Iran. Now that the NIE has proven them wrong, I wonder who the next target will be. Will they turn on Saudi Arabia, where most of our “real” enemies come from? Will they pick lowly Yemen? We’ve got (or had) a bunch of Yemenis in Guantanamo Bay prison. Maybe Algeria if Islamic insurgents overthrow the military government. We know they won’t shift away from the Middle East. They’re too addicted to the oil. In any case, TalkingPointsMemo created a nice little tribute to America’s warmongers.

The Face of an American Torturer

December 10, 2007 at 9:56 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Torture | Leave a comment

Take a good look America.

This is an American torturer. This is a war criminal. He admitted it on tape. He tortured a man, and he knew it was torture, and he knew it was wrong. But he did it anyway, because, as he says, he could not forgive himself if another attack were to have occurred and he could have stopped it, the old ticking-time-bomb justification. It is what he uses so he can sleep at night. The trouble for this torturer is that he tortured an insane man. Kevin Drum quotes from Ron Suskin’s book:

The guy is insane, certifiable, split personality,” [Dan] Coleman told a top official at FBI after a few days reviewing the Zubaydah haul….There was almost nothing “operational” in his portfolio. That was handled by the management team. He wasn’t one of them….”He was like a travel agent, the guy who booked your flights….He was expendable, you know, the greeter….Joe Louis in the lobby of Caesar’s Palace, shaking hands.”

….According to CIA sources, he was water-boarded….He was beaten….He was repeatedly threatened….His medication was withheld. He was bombarded with deafening, continuous noise and harsh lights.

….Under this duress, Zubaydah told them that shopping malls were targeted by al Qaeda….Zubaydah said banks — yes, banks — were a priority….And also supermarkets — al Qaeda was planning to blow up crowded supermarkets, several at one time. People would stop shopping. The nation’s economy would be crippled. And the water system — a target, too. Nuclear plants, naturally. And apartment buildings.

Thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each flavor of target. Of course, if you multiplied by ten, there still wouldn’t be enough public servants in America to surround and secure the supermarkets. Or the banks. But they tried.

Kevin Drum then adds:

Sometime later, Zubaydah finally provided some actionable intelligence: the name of Jose Padilla and the news that “Mukhtar,” a code name that had popped up multiple times on NSA sigint, was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But that information didn’t come because Zubaydah had been tortured. It came only after a CIA interrogator slipped under Zubaydah’s skin by convincing him, with the help of some ideas from the Koran, that Zubaydah was predestined to cooperate with them

Imagine that. Being nice to them works. Huh…

A Good Article About Mitt Romney’s Mission in France

December 10, 2007 at 12:14 am | Posted in Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, Torture | Leave a comment

Washington Post has a great article about Mitt Romney’s mission in France, detailing the terrible crash that killed his mission president’s wife. This makes me feel sad about today’s Mitt Romney. I feel he sold his soul for the conservative vote he won’t even get. If you run as a religious man to get the votes of people who don’t view your religion very positively, you’re most likely going to fail. I don’t get why he didn’t just run as the moderate he has always been. It’s a shame, because he is a good man, and he would set a good example. But dangnabit he had to go and support torture!

Some Great Reads

December 9, 2007 at 11:15 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

I thought these four articles all in the Washington Post were worthwhile to read.

The first one is called Meet the ‘Decider’ of Iran. It goes into some good details about the real power in Iran. It is really sad that our media and our political leaders refuse to educate the American public on the real Iran. We keep getting this strawman that doesn’t actually exist. I keep wanting to say and believe that Iran is not our enemy. But I think the phrase needs to be changed. America is Iran’s enemy. We deposed their democratically elected leader back in 1953 because of oil. We installed an oppressive regime that Iranians overthrew in 1979. We supported that ugly regime. They were our puppets. We were complicit in the oppression of Iranians. We were their enemies. Is it any wonder that they would not be happy with us? We don’t want Iran to become a world power because we’re guilty of some of the very things we supposedly fight against, or decry in other nations. How dare Iranians want to be on the same playing field!

This piece called What we didn’t learn from the hunt for Iraq’s phantom arsenal is most illuminating. I like how the writer describes the whole thing as a farce basically. the Bush administration wanted answers but never gave them the proper tools to get the right answers. His conclusions should be taught to all Americans if they want to act properly in this world:

Americans were quick to forget our historical betrayals in Iraq, but our Iraqi victims did not. The few Iraqis we did reach before the 2003 invasion were usually far too wary to risk talking to the CIA. This cumulative failure lay at the heart of our WMD intelligence problems. (Not that outsiders understood that; critics assumed that the CIA should somehow have been able magically to penetrate the innermost circles of the Iraqi police state.)

Our newspapers and TV screens have been filled for months with rumblings about war with Iran. The bombs now seem less likely to start flying, but the problem of penetrating closed regimes and terrorist networks isn’t going anywhere. Let’s just say you were an Iranian nuclear physicist back in 2003, working on a bomb program that you believed was immoral. Now look at the decades-long debacle of U.S. policy in Iraq. Will all those who want to volunteer to spy for the CIA raise their hands? Anyone? Anyone?

This next piece entitled “As a Republican, I’m on the fringe,” is a timely criticism of the field I am in: academia. The problem really is there, as described in the piece: higher education, especially at the elite locales and departments, has a strong anti-Republican, anti-conservative belief, and it is harmful to the education process that these elite educators espouse. How can you learn something if you suppress opposing viewpoints? As much as I think today’s conservatives have lost their way, the only way they will learn that, and the only way that liberals can ensure they don’t also get lost from reality based reasoning, is by the constant opposition in all things. Fear not your opposite. If you do, you’re only showing your insecurity in the principles you believe in.

Finally, White may be might, but it’s not always right looks philosophically at whites and blacks. Another good critique of those who think they have it all.

Anyways, some good reads.

If Only The Press Were Consistently This Aggressive With Our Political Leaders

December 8, 2007 at 8:22 pm | Posted in Media, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney | Leave a comment

Mitt Romney felt the heat today from the press our political leaders should ALWAYS feel. If only the press were to be this aggressive all the time.

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