Because of course they can be trusted to be definitive. And of course, they have no bias, and are not protecting the Pakistani Intelligence Service (which is most likely the real culprit).
Many Pakistanis have voiced suspicions that Musharraf’s government played a role in Bhutto’s assassination, and Bhutto’s family has alleged a wide conspiracy involving government officials. Hayden declined to discuss the intelligence behind the CIA’s assessment, which is at odds with that view and supports Musharraf’s assertions.
Huh, one has to wonder why Mr. Hayden refuses to show the evidence…
“This was done by that network around Baitullah Mehsud. We have no reason to question that,” Hayden said.
Um…sorry Mr. Hayden, but you bet your CIA butt we do!
Curveball was the pseudonym given by the Central Intelligence Agency to Rafid Ahmed Alwan (Arabic: رافد أحمد علوان), an Iraqi citizen who defected from Iraq in 1999, claiming that he had worked as a chemical engineer at a plant that manufactured mobile biological weapon laboratories as part of an Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program. Alwan’s allegations were subsequently shown to be false by the Iraq Survey Group’s final report published in 2004. Despite warnings from the German Federal Intelligence Service regarding the authenticity of the claims, the US Government utilized them to build a rationale for military action in the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, including in the 2003 State of the Union address, where President Bush said “we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs”, and Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Council, which contained a computer generated image of a mobile biological weapons laboratory. On November 4, 2007, CBS 60 Minutes revealed Curveball’s real identity. Former CIA official Tyler Drumheller summed up Curveball as “a guy trying to get his green card essentially, in Germany, and playing the system for what it was worth.”
The CIA does not have the credibility to be given the benefit of the doubt anymore, Mr. Hayden. If you make a definitive accusation, you better have the evidence to back you up.
Back to the story…
Some administration officials outside the agency who deal with Pakistani issues were less conclusive, with one calling the assertion “a very good assumption.”
One of the officials said there was no “incontrovertible” evidence to prove or rebut the assessment.
So you’ve got analysts dissenting, yet the CIA’s director making definitive statements. We haven’t had that before, now have we? (“Slam dunk!” anyone?).
Hayden said that the United States has “not had a better partner in the war on terrorism than the Pakistanis.” The turmoil of the past few weeks has only deepened that cooperation, he said, by highlighting “what are now even more clearly mutual and common interests.”
I’m sure, and here is where the real answer lies. The CIA is protecting its “never-a-better-partner-in-the-war-on-terrorism” even though it is a complete failure of a partner.
The article ends with this:
Regarding the public controversy over the CIA’s harsh interrogation of detainees at secret prisons, Hayden reiterated previous agency statements that lives were saved and attacks were prevented as a result of those interrogations.
He said he does not support proposals, put forward by some lawmakers in recent weeks, to require the CIA to abide by the Army Field Manual in conducting interrogations. The manual, adopted by the Defense Department, prohibits the use of many aggressive methods, including a simulated-drowning technique known as waterboarding.
“I would offer my professional judgment that that will make us less capable in gaining the information we need,” he said.
Meaning quite clearly without stating it of course, that the CIA continues to torture its prisoners and will not change its tactics anytime soon, damn all Congressmen and critics, and damn the law!
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.
Out of their many crimes against humanity will this one finally put a stake in their heart?
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.
There are a few items in the news today that I feel are important.
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!
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Well, there you go, ladies and gentlemen. When facing scrutiny over its torture program, the CIA protected itself by destroying evidence.
The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.
The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said.
They broke the law. They knew it. They destroyed the evidence that would prosecute them.
The C.I.A. said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made “within the C.I.A. itself,” and they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value. The agency was headed at the time by Porter J. Goss. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.
And we can trust the CIA to tell us the truth. Porter Goss, that’s Bush’s man.
It was not clear who within the C.I.A. authorized the destruction of the tapes, but current and former government officials said it had been approved at the highest levels of the agency.
That would be Porter Goss, Bush’s man.
The recordings were not provided to a federal court hearing the case of the terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui or to the Sept. 11 commission, which had made formal requests to the C.I.A. for transcripts and any other documentary evidence taken from interrogations of agency prisoners.
C.I.A. lawyers told federal prosecutors in 2003 and 2005, who relayed the information to a federal court in the Moussaoui case, that the C.I.A. did not possess recordings of interrogations sought by the judge in the case. It was unclear whether the judge had explicitly sought the videotape depicting the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah.
Mr. Moussaoui’s lawyers had hoped that records of the interrogations might provide exculpatory evidence for Mr. Moussaoui — showing that the Al Qaeda detainees did not know Mr. Moussaoui and clearing him of involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, plot.
They obstructed justice. Is anyone surprised?
General Hayden’s statement said that the tapes posed a “serious security risk,” and that if they were to become public they would have exposed C.I.A. officials “and their families to retaliation from Al Qaeda and its sympathizers.”
“What matters here is that it was done in line with the law,” he said. He said in his statement that he was informing agency employees because “the press has learned” about the destruction of the tapes.
General Hayden, protecting his own. Not a follower of the law. And Mr. General, they would not have been exposed to retaliation from Al-Qaeda and its sympathizers, unless you are calling the long arm of the law Al-Qaeda.
Staff members of the Sept. 11 commission, which completed its work in 2004, expressed surprise when they were told that interrogation videotapes existed until 2005.
“The commission did formally request material of this kind from all relevant agencies, and the commission was assured that we had received all the material responsive to our request,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and later as a senior counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Makes one wonder what else is hiding in that cavernous CIA headquarters that they might not want the public to know…
Daniel Marcus, a law professor at American University who served as general counsel for the Sept. 11 commission and was involved in the discussions about interviews with Al Qaeda leaders, said he had heard nothing about any tapes being destroyed.
If tapes were destroyed, he said, “it’s a big deal, it’s a very big deal,” because it could amount to obstruction of justice to withhold evidence being sought in criminal or fact-finding investigations.
Indeed, and a worthy nominee for understatement of the year.
General Hayden said the tapes were originally made to ensure that agency employees acted in accordance with “established legal and policy guidelines.” General Hayden said the agency stopped videotaping interrogations in 2002.
Guess they realized that the more they videotaped themselves torturing suspects, the more evidence there would be later on for prosecution. Can’t have that now, can we.
A former intelligence official who was briefed on the issue said the videotaping was ordered as a way of assuring “quality control” at remote sites following reports of unauthorized interrogation techniques. He said the tapes, along with still photographs of interrogations, were destroyed after photographs of abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib became public in May 2004 and C.I.A. officers became concerned about a possible leak of the videos and photos.
Huh, like Abu Ghraib…that was bad and all. Imagine how nasty it would be to see the videos of the torture the CIA did. I’m sure the backlash around the world would be…intense.
It has been widely reported that Mr. Zubaydah was subjected to several tough physical tactics, including waterboarding, which involves near-suffocation. But C.I.A. officers judged that the release of photos or videos would nonetheless provoke a strong reaction.
“People know what happened, but to see it in living color would have far greater power,” the official said.
Um, that’s generally WHY you don’t torture. But some people, see, lost their sense of morals and reason when terrorists hit us on 9/11.
Mr. Holt said he had been told many times that the C.I.A. does not record the interrogation of detainees. “When I would ask them whether they had reviewed the tapes to better understand the intelligence, they said ‘What tapes?’,” he said.
Lawbreakers. Torturers. This is what America has become.
George W. Bush has, for the last several years, lied to America about Iran’s WMD program. What is worse is that he knew he was lying. He had the NIE assessment in his hand for the past year telling him that Iran’s nuclear weapons program has been dormant since 2003. But over the past year, his, and Cheney’s and their supporters’ rhetoric, has been increasingly more virulent and violent toward Iran (who can forget John McCain’s “bomb bomb bomb Iran” moment a few months back).
This is an impeachable offense (among all the rest). President Bush knew that Iran’s nuclear program was dormant. But he pressed on as if preparing his nation to war with Iran. How is this not an impeachable offense? He played politics with national security, everybody. Has it come to such a point that we merely yawn “more of the same” every time we get this kind of news? Are we past feeling so that we’re no longer shocked when we hear such bad things? Have expectations been so lowered that we’re fine with letting Bush and Cheney still be in office even after this evidence?
Iran welcomes this news, of course, and says that America must “pay a price” for all the virulent and baseless rhetoric against its people. It is very understandable. We’ve been threatening Iranians with death over something that did not exist. We would feel the same way were say, the Chinese, to do the same to us.
It is time to prepare impeachment hearings and remove Bush and Cheney from power.
I noted in a previous post that Condoleezza Rice is a bumbling ignorant fool when it comes to the Middle East. She is attempting to somehow wrap up a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians before the end of her boss’s term. This is solely a selfish move, as she is more concerned about her legacy (war war war) than about peace. She has had ample opportunities to force her ideologically driven boss to make the right decisions, but every time, she failed. Well she finally convinced him to throw her a bone, and, as you’ll see, that’s what he did, throw her a bone.
President Bush, who’s largely ignored the risky business of Middle East peacemaking throughout his nearly seven years in office, will take center stage Tuesday at the international peace conference he’s hosting in Annapolis, Md.
He won’t remain there for long, however. Bush plans to head back to the White House after delivering his opening speech to the diplomats and dignitaries at the U.S. Naval Academy, and while surprises are always possible, White House aides said he wasn’t planning to offer new American proposals to resolve the conflict.
Nor is Bush expected to jump into extended post-Annapolis negotiations or head off to the Middle East to pursue peace in the waning days of his tenure.
He’s not going to really participate, get into the nitty gritty details. This may be a good thing, seeing how terrible a leader and diplomat he is.
It’s not only that he won’t really participate, but that he has completely ignored the REAL parties at conflict in the Middle East. Like, for example, orthodox Jews, who are none too happy about making peace with Palestinians. In fact, they, along with their counterparts in Palestine, Hamas, are counter-rallying against this meeting.
In a show of defiance against the U.S.-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, thousands of Hamas supporters rallied in the streets of the Gaza Strip Tuesday and a second armed Palestinian movement vowed to intensify its attacks on Israel, saying “the only dialogue with the enemy with be with rifles and rockets.”
The demonstration that filled Gaza City’s wide central avenue came a day after thousands of Israelis, also opposed to fresh negotiations to create a Palestinian state, marched from the Western Wall, the holiest place Jews can pray, to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s residence near this city’s center.
Among them were leaders of at least one party that is part of Olmert’s governing coalition, a sign of the political tremors likely to follow the inauguration of the first Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in nearly seven years.
Israeli and Palestinian rejectionists — the term used to describe those who deny the other’s right to a state nearly six-decades after Israel’s founding — have hampered past negotiations and worked to undermine efforts to implement the few agreements that have been reached.
But the hawks on both sides hold particular power at the moment given the political weakness of Olmert, who is under criminal investigation, ill with prostate cancer, and still criticized for waging a poorly conceived war in Lebanon last year, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president whose electorate is violently divided.
The biggest problem, of course, is that no one bothered to invite Iran to this meeting. Why not? Because the Bush administration is ideologically driven, rather than peace-driven. If the Bush administration truly cared about peace in the Middle East, they would be visiting Tehran, not rattling their sabers at Tehran.
More than four dozen governments, international organizations and financial institutions will be represented when Middle East talks open in Annapolis today. But it is the uninvited guests — Iran and its allies Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and other militant factions — that may have the biggest impact on the peace talks.
Containing Iran and its regional influence is the ambitious challenge for all the attendees except Syria, a goal officials from many participating nations contend is as important as producing peace in the Middle East.
“Iran will be the 5,000-pound elephant in the room, even though it’s not present,” said former U.S. peace negotiator Aaron David Miller. “It’s in everyone’s calculation and motivation . . . [plus] the impact of Hamas and the role it can play in wreaking havoc with whatever happens in Annapolis. . . . The balance of power is not in favor of peacemakers but in favor of the troublemakers.”
And that there is the key to why this meeting will not accomplish anything. Think back to when Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton got Israel and two of her neighbors to sign peace treaties. Jimmy Carter focused on Egypt and Israel, and Bill Clinton focused on Jordan and Israel. In order for there to be peace between two nations, BOTH nations must be there for conferences that might spell out actions. Iran is nowhere to be found because no one invited Iran. That spells major trouble.
That also sends a signal to Iran that the United States considers Iran’s regime’s days numbered, not worthy enough to consider inviting to a meeting about peace. Think about that for a while.
I just have to add these great comics on this meeting:
Looks like Howard will lose in Australia. This is a good sign, a step in the right direction for Australia and the world. Too long have Bush supporters held many nations hostage.
Why is Australia important? Because of David Hicks. Who is he? He was an Australian caught in Afghanistan, sent to Guantanamo Bay, tortured, and then, magically, released to Australia this April with a gag order that he not speak until AFTER THE ELECTION, which just took place. As Andrew Sullivan wrote in April:
So Cheney goes to Australia and meets with John Howard who tells him that the Hicks case is killing him in Australia, and he may lose the next election because of it. Hicks’s case is then railroaded to the front of the Gitmo kangaro court line, and put through a “legal” process almost ludicrously inept, with two of Hicks’ three lawyers thrown out on one day, then an abrupt plea-bargain, with a transparently insincere confession. Hicks is then given a mere nine months in jail in Australia, before being set free. Who negotiated the plea-bargain? Hicks’ lawyer. Who did he negotiate with? Not the prosecutors, as would be normal, but Susan J. Crawford, the top military commission official. Who is Susan J. Crawford? She served as Dick Cheney’s Inspector General while he was Defense Secretary….
It was a political deal, revealing the circus that the alleged Gitmo court system really is. For good measure, Hicks has a gag-order imposed so that he will not be able to speak of his alleged torture and abuse until after Howard faces re-election. Yes, we live in a banana republic. It certainly isn’t a country ruled by law. It is ruled by one man and his accomplice.
Thankfully though, the Australian newspapers brought up this deal over the past month, just before Howard’s attempt to get reelected without an actual accounting of what happened to this poor pawn.
US Vice-President Dick Cheney agreed to a deal with Prime Minister John Howard to release former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, a US media report says.
The report, published in Harper’s Magazine, cites an unnamed US military officer saying that a military staffer was present when Mr Cheney interfered directly to seal Hicks’s plea bargain deal.
“He [Mr Cheney] did it, apparently, as part of a deal cut with [Australian Prime Minister] Howard,” the unnamed source is quoted as saying.
“I kept thinking: this is the sort of thing that used to go on behind the Iron Curtain, not in America.
“And then it struck me how much this entire process had disintegrated into a political charade. It’s demoralising for all of us.”
After five years of detention in Guantanamo Bay, a deal was sealed for 32-year-old Hicks to serve a nine-month prison sentence in Australia, subject to him pleading guilty to a charge of providing material support for terrorism.
Hicks agreed to the deal in March and is now due for release from Adelaide’s Yatala Prison at the end of the year.
After the deal was announced, Mr Howard denied any involvement in the plea bargain.
“We didn’t impose the sentence, the sentence was imposed by the military commission and the plea bargain was worked out between the military prosecution and Mr Hicks’ lawyers,” Mr Howard said in March.
Mr Howard also rejected claims by Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown in March that the Prime Minister wanted Hicks not be released until after the election.
We haven’t heard much about ex-Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks since he returned to Australia — thanks largely to the gag order imposed on him until the election is safely out of the way.
Until now, the strategy has worked a treat. Hicks has been out of sight and out of voters’ minds.
Whether the issue still has any traction could be tested with the allegation in Harper’s magazine that US Vice President Dick Cheney orchestrated Hicks’ early release — for John Howard. The piece quotes a US military officer, according to news.com.au:
“One of our staffers was present when Vice-President Cheney interfered directly to get Hicks’ plea bargain deal,” the unnamed officer told Harper’s magazine…
“He did it, apparently, as part of a deal cut with Howard.
“I kept thinking: this is the sort of thing that used to go on behind the Iron Curtain, not in America. And then it struck me how much this entire process had disintegrated into a political charade. It’s demoralising for all of us.”
In a sense, news of a possible interference is hardly a shock. When Cheney visited Australia in February, Howard was very keen to see Hicks’ trial brought forward, and applied pressure to the VP accordingly, noting “I have asked that within the constraints of the separation of powers in the United States system between the executive and the judicial process, the trial be brought on as soon as humanely possible with no further delay.”
Those constraints melted away with surprising ease due to the unusual plea deal orchestrated by Cheney protege and US military convening authority at Guantanamo, Susan Crawford. With the stroke of a pen (literally), and apparently without consulting the prosecution, she wiped out Hicks’ charges (as reported by Crikey at the time).
But Cheney distanced himself from the Hicks process during his Australian visit. “We can’t interfere with that process,” he said. “It’s a judicial process. We can’t influence it. That would be a violation of the procedure.”
He then added. “But I do expect that in the not too distant future that … will get resolved. I can assure you we will be doing everything we can to deal with these matters in as expeditious manner as possible.”
The Harper’s allegations are not a good look for Cheney, who has a reputation for getting employees (or former staffers) to do his political dirty work.
For Howard however, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, speaking as it does of his pulling power with the US. Either that or he offered something in exchange for Hicks’ expedient return. But what?
This is a good step for Australia. We now wait for the gag order to be released, and Mr. David Hicks to speak. We cannot rely on him however, as he is not a willing player. He was probably tortured. But how much more does he really want to be in the spotlight? Probably not at all.
Mr. Robert Novak writes today about the ineffectual and dismal nation building going on in Iraq. He writes:
This faulty allocation of U.S. funds is part of a broader problem in Iraq: Americans are not good at nation-building. The huge embassy in Baghdad is run by Foreign Service officers on the same model as U.S. missions worldwide whose function is reporting, not managing. Similarly, legal policy in Iraq is handled by assistant U.S. attorneys who focus on arrest and detention.
I’m sorry Mr. Novak, as experienced as you are in Washington, you are still a hyper-partisan who would rather paint everybody bad than the Republicans. It is the Bush administration and the Republicans that are bad at nation building, not Americans. They may be Americans, but they do not represent all of America. And yes, they are indeed terrible at nation-building (heck you should have figured that out back before Bush was elected when he scorned and scorned nation building). But there are Americans who actually are quite good at nation building. They just don’t belong to the Republican party.
That’s why he must be a dictator, because the protesting will “disturb” the election process:
The president of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, vigorously defended his declaration of emergency rule in a 40-minute interview, insisting that it would not interfere with the holding of free and fair elections.
He defended the decree issued 10 days ago that scrapped the Constitution, dismissed the Supreme Court and resulted in the arrests of 2,500 opposition party workers, lawyers and human rights advocates, and rejected an appeal by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to lift emergency rule.
“I totally disagree with her,” General Musharraf said in an interview with The New York Times at the presidential building here on Tuesday. “The emergency is to ensure elections go in an undisturbed manner.”
General Musharraf said the decree was justified because the Supreme Court had meddled in politics, specifically the validity of his re-election, and because of the serious threat from terrorists.
In the interview General Musharraf was critical of the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, saying she was confrontational and would be difficult to work with.
General Musharraf complained about her conduct since her return a month ago, saying: “You come here on supposedly on a reconciliatory mode, and right before you land, you’re on a confrontationist mode. I am afraid this is producing negative vibes, negative optics.”
In the interview, the general, dressed in a gray suit and blue tie, described Pakistan as suffering from a “disturbed terrorist environment.”
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” he said, when asked when the emergency rule would end. “We need to see the environment.”
Can you say, whacked! Can you say, unhinged from reality! The man is holding on to power he knows he is losing. He’s not going to last long, see. So he has to do whatever he can. Including coming up with the dumbest excuses for his emergency decrees.
This is George Bush’s man. This is the foreign policy of the Bush administration. Coddle dictators who give false promises on democracy. See, if we were to actually have real democracy in the lands of our enemies, it just might end up that our enemies will win power. In the end, democracy is not our overriding priority. We are hypocrites.
In the interest of self-preservation, knowing that the Supreme Court was going to rule against him, General Musharraf ordered martial law last week in Pakistan, jailed the Supreme Court justices he knew would vote against him and installed his own loyal judges. Lawyers across the nation protested, were beaten and arrested by Musharraf’s men. Today was to be a day of protest led by Benazir Bhutto, in what just simply seems a weirdly scripted scenario. Maybe she’s just ineffectual as a true revolutionary leader, but she seems to be taking this all in strides. Maybe Pakistan is still in denial about what Musharraf is doing, consolidating his power like he is.
Take his actions today, putting Bhutto under de facto house arrest.
Benazir Bhutto, who had threatened to lead a major protest rally in the military garrison town of Rawalpindi to challenge President Pervez Musharraf’s emergency rule, never made it out of her quiet, tree-lined street in Islamabad. By dawn Friday scores of helmeted riot police, some armed with automatic weapons, had cordoned off the road at each end, blocking it with coils of barbed wired and armored cars. Police were also picketed just outside the gate and wall of her two-story house. Clearly, Musharraf had placed her under de facto house arrest.
Later in the morning the police rather politely rolled back the barbed wire to allow several senior Bhutto aides and members of parliament from her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to walk to her house and meet with her. But the same courtesy was not extended to perhaps three dozen party activists and supporters who came individually or in small groups. As they approached the barricade they were quickly arrested and thrown into police vans. Several women, both young and old, one carrying a bouquet of flowers for Bhutto, were among those arrested. Some of those arrested went quietly, others raised a V sign with their fingers, others wailed and shouted, and some unfurled red, black and green PPP flags and shouted, “Long live Benazir!” and “We will not obey the emergency!”
The New York Times puts it this way:
In a huge show of force, the Pakistani government stopped a protest rally by the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, before it started today, blanketing the rally site with thousands of police today, blocking roads to stop demonstrators, and barricading Ms. Bhutto inside her residence in Islamabad.
In Rawalpindi, the nearby garrison town where the rally had been due to take place, double lines of police and police vans prevented most of the thousands of demonstrators from entering the city to protest emergency rule, which the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, declared six days ago. Thousands of party workers had already been arrested over the past few days, party officials said.
Now, the reason I said this was weirdly scripted is because of this:
On the surface, the crackdown on the rally and Ms. Bhutto’s detention appeared to be an obstacle to power sharing negotiations that had been taking place for several weeks between Ms. Bhutto and General Musharraf. But the events today do not exclude the possibility negotiations continue by back channels.
I wonder, just what does Ms. Bhutto think she will be negotiating with a general who is so blatantly disregarding the rule of law? That’s why I mean this is like following a script. Why does Ms. Bhutto trust the General? I mean, look at his justification for stomping on her protest:
In justifying Ms. Bhutto’s detention, the Pakistan government said that that there had been credible evidence she could have been the target of a terrorist attack during the rally.
Um, huh, how would he know something like that? She may indeed, but the terrorist might not have been an Islamic fundamentalist from the Pashtun region. He may have been in Islamabad, sitting in a pretty palace…
Seriously, what kind of threat is Ms. Bhutto to Islamic fundamentalists? After all, she is pushing for democracy in Pakistan. They WANT democracy in Pakistan, because it would mean more influence for them! The only person Ms. Bhutto is a real threat to is the General, Mr. Musharraf.
So why do I title my post “General Musharraf Learned Much from George W. Bush?” Because of that last quote there, where the reason Musharraf decided to squash Ms. Bhutto’s protest was because of some anonymous terror threat to her life. Does that sound familiar to anyone? Why does President Bush justify torture? Why does President Bush justify spying on Americans? Why does President Bush justify violating the Constitution? Because of some vague anonymous terror threat!
Pakistanis know that this clampdown by Musharraf has nothing to do with terrorism. From the elite to the lowest Pakistani:
In interviews on the streets of Islamabad, the capital, and in this nearby garrison city over the last three days — rich and poor, professionals and laborers, members of the security forces and civilians — they overwhelmingly opposed the president’s emergency decree, rejecting it as a naked attempt by General Musharraf to bolster his fading powers.
“People are not fools,” said Muhammad Saleem, 35, a phone shop clerk in a wealthy section of Islamabad, the capital. “They do understand it’s not to stop militancy.”
Uniformly, they said the decree had reduced General Musharraf’s already low popularity. “If I stood for election here,” said Jehangir Ahmed, a welder from Rawalpindi, “I would win more seats than Musharraf.”
And what the United States doesn’t seem to get a real good grasp of is that General Musharraf’s naked power grabs severely affect our “war on terror.”
It never had to be this way. Bush could actually have stuck to his principles and not backed a dictator, but instead tied funding of this dictator to verifiable promises that he would move away from totalitarianism. Problem is that Bush would never have done this, because he AGREED with Musharraf’s choice of governance over Pakistan.
And another hit and run, in which is asked a most pertinent question:
I find myself with a few spare minutes and make the mistake of reading Thomas Friedman again. His conclusion after a long, dull and witless ramble about the introduction of “democracy” to Iraq (just what the Gulf region needs, more puppet states) reads “If [it is] done right, the Middle East will never be the same. If done wrong, the world will never be the same”. There’s not much you can say to that except “shut up you silly man”. But it does inspire in me the desire for a competition; can anyone, particularly the rather more Bush-friendly recent arrivals to the board, give me one single example of something with the following three characteristics:
1. It is a policy initiative of the current Bush administration
2. It was significant enough in scale that I’d have heard of it (at a pinch, that I should have heard of it)
3. It wasn’t in some important way completely fucked up during the execution.
It’s just that I literally can’t think what possible evidence Friedman might be going on in his tacit assumption that the introduction of democracy to Iraq (if it is attempted at all) will be executed well rather than badly.
This was asked in February 2003.
Why this administration is losing me on Iraq, in which it is clearly laid out in August 2003 that if the Bush administration would not increase troop size immediately, the mission would end up being a failure. An excellent analysis.
The D-Squared Digest One Minute MBA – Avoiding Projects Pursued By Morons 101, in which sound business principles are applied to show how foolish it is to follow Bush into war.
Operation Agent Snipe, in the which it is highlighted how we were bamboozled by the WMD trick to our great detriment.
finally, The duToitification of the Western Conservative, in which the wimpification of the modern Conservative is well highlighted.
Juan Cole wonders:
If Bush and Cheney are ever tempted into extreme measures in the United States, Musharraf has provided a template for how it would unfold. Maintain you are moving against terrorists and extremists, but actually move against the rule of law. Rubin has accepted the suggested term of “lawfare” to describe this kind of warfare by executive order.
Realistically, how many conservatives would actually be upset if, say, Bush were to keep power and go around arresting liberals…
Jonathan Schwartz quotes George Orwell, whose main points, especially in 1984 are glaringly relevant today:
A Party member…is supposed to live in a continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal traitors, triumph over victories, and self-abasement before the power and wisdom of the Party. The discontents produced by his bare, unsatisfying life are deliberately turned outwards and dissipated by such devices as the Two Minutes Hate, and the speculations which might possibly induce a sceptical or rebellious attitude are killed in advance by his early acquired inner discipline…called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.
We’ve ‘disappeared’ many people since Bush took power. This is the kind of thing we used to use as an excuse to attack other nations. Now we do it ourselves.
What does it take to raise the level of discourse of these Republican candidates for president? Here we have Mitt Romney responding on the new sanctions placed on Iran that he is in favor of “a military blockade or “bombardment of some kind” to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.”
A bombardment of some kind? A military blockade? Just what in the hell will those do? Are Republicans really this far unhinged? This shows a real poor understanding of foreign policy on Mitt Romney. It shows that he would rather pander to an out of touch political Right than state things as they are. Com’on Mr. Romney, you were a stake president for Pete’s sake!
See, the problem is that because of centuries of gerrymandering there are particular districts in each state that are safely in one camp or the other, and there is no getting around it. What Republicans want to do is steal California delegate votes. They want the 20 or so votes from safe Republican districts (which will tilt the overall vote count). The problem is that these Republicans do not want to do this nationally (say in Texas or Florida or Ohio), just California, the biggest electorate prize.
Of course if this is done nationally, then it would wholly ruin democracy, as the only districts that will even get candidates to show up are the very very few that still happen to be competitive. As it is right now, because of the outdated electoral college system, only a few states actually count in the general election (Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, etc). Voters in states like Massachusetts, Texas, New York, and California (not to mention all the small states like Rhode Island—very liberal—or Wyoming—very conservative—that will also not get any candidates stopping by, even though that was supposedly the purpose of the electoral college—to make smaller states competitive), do not count.
I believe that we must remove the electoral college system from our election process. Make the election truly representative of the plurality of voters.