The Law Is Silent

May 31, 2007 at 9:05 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Jose Padilla, Torture | Leave a comment

Lewis Koch blogs about the Jose Padilla trial, and again another well written post about the absurdity of the government’s case.

This is a trial every American should pay attention to. Continue Reading The Law Is Silent…

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McCain Asserts Eisenhower Had No Plan B on Normandy

May 31, 2007 at 8:47 am | Posted in American politics, McCain, Military, War | 9 Comments

John McCain states that General Eisenhower did not have a plan B for D-Day.

Which is why McCain says there can be no consideration of a Plan B, an alternative to the current U.S. occupation of Iraq.

“I believe that Gen. Eisenhower didn’t have a Plan B at Normandy, and I don’t think that Gen. Grant had a Plan B when he decided to take Richmond,” McCain told The Associated Press on Sunday.

I’m not as familiar with the details of Eisenhower’s planning, but somehow I think that this is not quite accurate. Anyone with a little more knowledge about Eisenhower’s battle plans for Normandy, could y’all shed a little light on the subject? I’ll go digging for some information myself. But it just seems wrong that a general like Eisenhower would not be prepared for plan A failing against a mighty and powerful German army. Same with General Grant during the Civil War.

Department of Homeland Security Looks to Sci-Fi Writers for Salvation

May 30, 2007 at 3:54 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, Torture, War | 6 Comments

wow, the brightest sci-fi writer couldn’t think of something like this, but apparently the Department of Homeland Security is asking sci-fi writers to come up with the wildest craziest things of the future, in fighting terror.

Looking to prevent the next terrorist attack, the Homeland Security Department is tapping into the wild imaginations of a group of self-described “deviant” thinkers: science-fiction writers.

“We spend our entire careers living in the future,” says author Arlan Andrews, one of a handful of writers the government brought to Washington this month to attend a Homeland Security conference on science and technology.

Those responsible for keeping the nation safe from devastating attacks realize that in addition to border agents, police and airport screeners, they “need people to think of crazy ideas,” Andrews says.

The writers make up a group called Sigma, which Andrews put together 15 years ago to advise government officials. The last time the group gathered was in the late 1990s, when members met with government scientists to discuss what a post-nuclear age might look like, says group member Greg Bear. He has written 30 sci-fi books, including the best seller Darwin’s Radio.

Now, the Homeland Security Department is calling on the group to help with the government’s latest top mission of combating terrorism.

Huh, I thought our “enhanced interrogation techniques” were yielding actionable intelligence. Why do we need fiction writers to think up the next crazy plot? Also, wouldn’t asking Arab Islamic natives about their own kind be more fruitful in figuring out what might happen next? I mean really, that isn’t some grand new idea. It’s been around a while.

And if we’re going to go to extremes, why not ask God? I mean He does kinda know everything about everything, and all. You’d think asking Him might be helpful.

“Verschärfte Vernehmung”, Torture, or “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques”

May 30, 2007 at 10:14 am | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, Christianity, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iraq, McCain, Middle East, Military, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, Republicans, secret combinations, Torture, violence, War | 3 Comments

There are two new points to make about torture, enhanced interrogation techniques, or whatever the hell people want to call them.

I. Vershärfte Vernehmung

The first comes from Andrew Sullivan who came accross a document from the Gestapo (yes, the Nazi’s Gestapo) detailing what they called “Verschärfte Vernehmung,” or when translated effectively comes out to be “sharpened interrogation.” Take a look at the image:

Click on it to see it in full detail. The image is on Andrew Sullivan’s blog. Read how the Gestapo detailed who was to get these techniques, for what purpose and what the techniques were. Note what they are:

1. Simplest rations.
2. Hard bed.
3. Dark Cell.
4. Deprivation of sleep.
5. Exhaustion exercises.
6. Blows with a stick (heh, if more than 20 blows, then a doctor must be present)

The Hippocratic Oath went out the window long ago for many doctors. Take a look for example at the detailed logs kept at Guantanamo Bay Camp X-ray as detailed in the American Journal of Bioethics. Doctors, complicit in the torture of human beings. Note the techniques used, at least the ones logged—there are techniques that are not logged, because, hey if they were logged, someone might actually be charged with violating the law.

Two government documents detail medical and psychological participation with the interrogation of Prisoner 063, Mohammed al-Qahtani, at Guantanamo Bay between November 23, 2002 and January 11, 2003 (Zagorin and Duffy 2005). The first is an 83-page interrogation log (ORCON 2003). The second is an Army investigation of complaints of mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, including Prisoner 063 (United States Army 2005, 13–21). The third and fourth are notes taken in relation to that Army investigation (CTD Fly Team 2006; GITMO Investigation 2004). The second set of these notes extensively describes medical collaboration with one or more interrogations but the record is so heavily redacted that it is not possible to determine which, if any, of this material described the interrogation of Prisoner 063 (GITMO Investigation 2004).

According to the Army investigation, the log covers a period in the middle of al-Qahtani’s interrogation that began in the summer of 2002 and continued into 2003. For eleven days, beginning November 23, al-Qahtani was interrogated for twenty hours each day by interrogators working in shifts. He was kept awake with music, yelling, loud white noise or brief opportunities to stand. He then was subjected to eighty hours of nearly continuous interrogation until what was intended to be a 24-hour “recuperation.” This recuperation was entirely occupied by a hospitalization for hypothermia that had resulted from deliberately abusive use of an air conditioner. Army investigators reported that al-Qahtani’s body temperature had been cooled to 95 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 36.1 degrees Celsius) and that his heart rate had slowed to thirty-five beats per minute. While hospitalized, his electrolytes were corrected and an ultrasound did not find venous thrombosis as a cause for the swelling of his leg. The prisoner slept through most of the 42-hour hospitalization after which he was hooded, shackled, put on a litter and taken by ambulance to an interrogation room for twelve more days of interrogation, punctuated by a few brief naps. He was then allowed to sleep for four hours before being interrogated for ten more days, except for naps of up to an hour. He was allowed 12 hours of sleep on January 1, but for the next eleven days, the exhausted and increasingly non-communicative prisoner was only allowed naps of one to four hours as he was interrogated. The log ends with a discharge for another “sleep period.”

If that is not torture, then we’ve gone past the point of no return on dehumanizing, we are past feeling. This is evil stuff.

The report continues:

The next day, interrogators told the prisoner that he would not be allowed to pray if he would not drink water. Neither a medic nor a physician could insert a standard intravenous catheter, so a physician inserted a “temporary shunt” to allow an intravenous infusion. The restrained prisoner asked to go the bathroom and was given a urinal instead. Thirty minutes later, he was given “three and one-half bags of IV [sic]” and he urinated twice in his pants. The next day, the physician came to the interrogation room and checked the restrained prisoner’s swollen extremities and the shunt. The shunt was removed and a soldier told al-Qahtani that he could pray on the floor where he had urinated.

Is this really a professional interrogation? What’s the point of this kind of crap? The next section highlights the psychological treatment this prisoner received:

In October 2002, before the time covered by the log, Army investigators found that dogs were brought to the interrogation room to growl, bark and bare their teeth at al-Qahtani. The investigators noted that a BSCT psychologist witnessed the use of the dog, Zeus, during at least one such instance, an incident deemed properly authorized to “exploit individual phobias.” FBI agents, however, objected to the use of dogs and withdrew from at least one session in which dogs were used.

Major L., a psychologist who chaired the BSCT at Guantanamo, was noted to be present at the start of the interrogation log. On November 27, he suggested putting the prisoner in a swivel chair to prevent him from fixing his eyes on one spot and thereby avoiding the guards. On December 11, al-Qahtani asked to be allowed to sleep in a room other than the one in which he was being fed and interrogated. The log notes that “BSCT” advised the interrogators that the prisoner was simply trying to gain control and sympathy. (my note: because of course, your intent in this interrogation is to dehumanize the man)

Many psychological “approaches” or “themes” were repetitively used. These included: “Failure/Worthless,” “Al Qaeda Falling Apart,” “Pride Down,” “Ego Down,” “Futility,” “Guilt/Sin Theme (with Evidence/Circumstantial Evidence,” etc. Al-Qahtani was shown videotapes entitled “Taliban Bodies” and “Die Terrorist Die.” Some scripts aimed at his Islamic identity bore names such as “Good Muslim,” “Bad Muslim,” “Judgment Day,” “God’s Mission” and “Muslim in America.” Al-Qahtani was called “unclean” and “Mo” [for Mohammed]. He was lectured on the true meaning of the Koran, instruction that especially enraged him when done by female soldiers. He was not told, despite asking, that some of the interrogation took place during Ramadan, a time when Moslems have special obligations. He was not allowed to honor prayer times. The Koran was intentionally and disrespectfully placed on a television (an authorized control measure) and a guard “unintentionally” squatted over it while harshly addressing the prisoner.

Transgressions against Islamic and Arab mores for sexual modesty were employed. The prisoner was forced to wear photographs of “sexy females” and to study sets of such photographs to identify whether various pictures of bikini-clad women were of the same or a different person. He was told that his mother and sister were whores. He was forced to wear a bra, and a woman’s thong was put on his head. He was dressed as a woman and compelled to dance with a male interrogator. He was told that he had homosexual tendencies and that other prisoners knew this. Although continuously monitored, interrogators repeatedly strip-searched him as a “control measure.”(my note: again, the dehumanization aspect) On at least one occasion, he was forced to stand naked with women soldiers present. Female interrogators seductively touched the prisoner under the authorized use of approaches called “Invasion of Personal Space” and “Futility.” On one occasion, a female interrogator straddled the prisoner as he was held down on the floor.

Other degrading techniques were logged. His head and beard were shaved to show the dominance of the interrogators. He was made to stand for the United States national anthem. His situation was compared unfavorably to that of banana rats in the camp. He was leashed (a detail omitted in the log but recorded by investigators) (my note: I wonder why this detail was omitted from the log…hmmmm) and made to “stay, come, and bark to elevate his social status up to a dog.” He was told to bark like a happy dog at photographs of 9/11 victims and growl at pictures of terrorists. Some psychological routines referred to the 9/11 attacks. He was shown pictures of the attacks, and photographs of victims were affixed to his body. The interrogators held one exorcism (and threatened another) to purge evil Jinns that the disoriented, sleep deprived prisoner claimed were controlling his emotions. The interrogators quizzed him on passages from a book entitled, “What makes a Terrorist and Why?,” that asserted that people joined terrorist groups for a sense of belonging and that terrorists must dehumanize their victims as a way to avoid feelings of guilt at their crimes.

I’ve quoted extensively from that article before, and basically did just the same once again. It is highly important that this gets as much play as possible. This is evil. This is wrong. This is un-American. This is unethical. This is immoral. This is un-Christian. This is ungodly. As Andrew Sullivan noted, Nazis who employed these techniques received the punishment of death for them. Americans who use these techniques are revered by the Christian right. Mitt Romney states that we should double Guantanamo. The only Republican smart enough to see past the bullshit is the only one who himself was tortured, Mr. John McCain, but yet even he fell to the wiles of the Republicans in power, as he caved in to the Military Commissions Act last fall that effectively legalized these techniques once punishable by death. How far the mighty have fallen.

II. Advisers Fault Harsh Methods in Interrogation

The second comes from a New York Times article wherein advisers and experts weigh in on the absurdity and foolishness of employing these techniques.

As the Bush administration completes secret new rules governing interrogations, a group of experts advising the intelligence agencies are arguing that the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable.

Amateurish and unreliable. Indeed. Not to mention unethical, and, as Philip Zelikow stated, “immoral.” The article continues with the following:

The psychologists and other specialists, commissioned by the Intelligence Science Board, make the case that more than five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has yet to create an elite corps of interrogators trained to glean secrets from terrorism suspects.

While billions are spent each year to upgrade satellites and other high-tech spy machinery, the experts say, interrogation methods — possibly the most important source of information on groups like Al Qaeda — are a hodgepodge that date from the 1950s, or are modeled on old Soviet practices.

Indeed. These techniques come from the masters who honed them, the Soviets and the Nazis.

In a blistering lecture delivered last month, a former adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called “immoral” some interrogation tactics used by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon.

But in meetings with intelligence officials and in a 325-page initial report completed in December, the researchers have pressed a more practical critique: there is little evidence, they say, that harsh methods produce the best intelligence.

“There’s an assumption that often passes for common sense that the more pain imposed on someone, the more likely they are to comply,” said Randy Borum, a psychologist at the University of South Florida who, like several of the study’s contributors, is a consultant for the Defense Department.

There is indeed little evidence that it works. Anybody who has been pressed for evidence cites the “secrecy” concern, that somehow by revealing how they got that information, it would give terrorists the game. How silly.

The article then discusses the techniques used by the Americans during World War II. Note the important points:

But some of the experts involved in the interrogation review, called “Educing Information,” say that during World War II, German and Japanese prisoners were effectively questioned without coercion.

“It far outclassed what we’ve done,” said Steven M. Kleinman, a former Air Force interrogator and trainer, who has studied the World War II program of interrogating Germans. The questioners at Fort Hunt, Va., “had graduate degrees in law and philosophy, spoke the language flawlessly,” and prepared for four to six hours for each hour of questioning, said Mr. Kleinman, who wrote two chapters for the December report.

Mr. Kleinman, who worked as an interrogator in Iraq in 2003, called the post-Sept. 11 efforts “amateurish” by comparison to the World War II program, with inexperienced interrogators who worked through interpreters and had little familiarity with the prisoners’ culture.

The inexperience has led to many deaths of prisoners at the hands of Americans, who would have lived under pre-9/11 rules. Major Milavic writes shares the following sad story from Afghanistan:

The following is a partial extract from the 11 July 2004, New York Times Magazine article entitled, “Memoir: Interrogation Unbound,” By Hyder Akbar, as told to Susan Burton. This narrative demonstrates what can happen when someone untrained in interrogation—especially this interrogation precept–attempts to interrogate a detainee:

It was a Wednesday afternoon in June 2003, and Abdul Wali was being interrogated by three Americans at their base near Asadabad, Afghanistan. I was interpreting. At the time, Wali’s family guessed his age to be 28; he was 10 years older than I was. I’m 19 now. I grew up mostly in the Bay Area suburbs, but since the fall of the Taliban, I’ve been spending summers in Afghanistan, working alongside my father, Said Fazel Akbar, the governor of Kunar, a rural province in the eastern part of the country. It’s a strange double life. I sometimes stumble into situations in which I’m called upon to act as a kind of cultural translator. It’s a role that can leave me tense and frustrated, or far worse: I came away from Wali’s interrogation feeling something close to despair.

On June 18, 2003, Abdul Wali visited my father’s office. He knew that the Americans wanted to question him about some recent rocket attacks. He told us he was innocent, and he said he was terrified of going to the U.S. base, because there were pervasive rumors that prisoners were tortured there. My father told him that he needed to go, and he sent me along to reassure him.

A half-hour later, Wali and I were sitting across from three men I then knew only by their first names: Steve, Brian and Dave, who proved to be David A. Passaro. It was more than 100 degrees in the small room, and above us, a fan whirred wildly.

The interrogation started casually enough. In his friendly Southern accent, Brian dispensed with the nuts and bolts: have you been in contact with Taliban? Were you Taliban? Then the subject turned to Wali’s recent visit to Pakistan.

“How long ago were you in Pakistan?” Brian asked.

Wali looked confused, and I doubted he’d be able to answer. People in Kunar don’t have calendars; most of them don’t even know how old they are.

“You don’t have to give a specific date,” Brian said. “Was it two, three days ago? Two, three weeks ago? Two, three months ago?”

“I don’t know,” Wali responded. “It’s really hard for me to say.”

The Americans exchanged glances. I prodded him: “Can you at least say a week or two weeks or a month or two months, or something?” But he couldn’t. For him, as for many of his countrymen, time unfolded forward—there was no way to go back later and try to fix it in a structure.

“I just, I go to sleep, I wake up and there’s a next day,” he explained.

“I feed myself, I go to sleep and there’s a next day.”

The Americans weren’t buying it. Dave took over the questioning.

He asked Wali where he had been 14 days earlier, on a night when three rockets were fired at the American base. “How could you not know where you were on the night three rockets were fired?” he said. Wali explained that his nights were often punctuated by explosions.

Even seated, Dave seemed enlarged by anger. His demeanor felt put on, as if he were acting the role of a fearsome interrogator (especially in comparison to Brian, whose Southern hospitality softened even his grilling of this suspected terrorist). Dave fixed Wali with an unrelenting stare. Wali returned a nervous smile.

“Translate this to him!” Dave exploded: “This is not a joking matter! Don’t smile!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend him,” Wali replied anxiously. “It’s very hard for me. I can’t understand anything he’s saying. He was staring at me, and I didn’t know what to do. What should I do?” he asked me.

I wasn’t sure how to react. Dave’s behavior was unpredictable. Only days earlier, he and I had a friendly conversation about his little son, who could say his ABC’s and count from 1 to 20 and back down again. But now he was acting as if he was full of rage. “If you’re lying, your whole family, your kids, they’ll all get hurt from this,” he threatened.

As I translated, I started to feel as if Dave’s words to Wali were my own, and all I wanted to do was stop saying these things to him.

“Your situation’s getting worse,” Dave warned. How was I supposed to tell that to Wali, when my father had assured him that coming to the base would make everything better?

Nobody was behaving the way they would with a regular translator; both sides added comments meant only for me. In one ear, I had Wali pleading: “I’m innocent, I’m innocent.” In the other, I had Brian dismissing his account: “That is impossible.” What was I supposed to do, argue or agree?

At some point, I announced that Wali was making personal, emotional appeals to me, and that the other translator in the room—a local Afghan employed at the base—should take over. Then I quietly tried to share my largest concern with Brian. “I’m not going to translate for this guy,” I whispered. “Look how he’s acting.”

“What do you mean?” Brian replied, perhaps misunderstanding. “I’m totally calm.”

“You’re calm, but look at Dave,” I said.

Brian shrugged his shoulders.

As the interrogation continued, I was relieved to be on the sidelines, but still, it wasn’t easy to watch Dave browbeat Wali. Finally the questions stopped, and Wali stood facing the wall as the Americans patted him down in preparation for detention. “Is there anything you want to give to your family?” Dave asked him.

The question terrified Wali. “No, no,” he stuttered.

I approached Wali and, to calm him, put my hand on his shoulder.

“Just say the truth,” I told him, trying to sound normal. “Nothing is going to happen if you just say the truth.” Then I walked out of the room, promising myself that I’d come back and check up on him.

He died before I got the chance.

On June 17 of [2004], a federal grand jury indicted C.I.A. contractor, David A. Passaro, in connection with his assault. Passaro, the first civilian to be charged in the investigation of prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, is accused of beating Wali using his hands, his feet and a large flashlight. [Also, according to the 29 July 2004 Fayetteville (NC) Observer, Passaro is a former Special Forces medic and “was working at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command as a ‘medical intelligence research analyst’ when he was arrested.”]

How many more examples, how much more evidence do you need, America, that what Bush has ordered and employed is wrong, un-American, unethical, immoral, and against the very principles we usually fight for? How much more before we do something about this? This is evil stuff. We’re supposed to FIGHT evil stuff, not embrace it!

But as we see from the Republican debate a couple of weeks ago, the Republican candidates all jumped to see who can say “yes” the loudest when asked if they would approve of these techniques:

Given the discussion of torture policy, the question seemed relevant, though a little fantastical. So, would the candidates permit torture? As Slate’s John Dickerson put it, “There seemed to be a competition to see who could say yes the fastest. Some candidates appeared ready to do the torturing themselves.”

It was a dejecting display.

During tonight’s presidential debates, candidates were asked whether they would support the use of waterboarding — a technique, defined as torture by the Justice Department, that simulates drowning and makes the subject “believe his death is imminent while ideally not causing permanent physical damage.”

Both former mayor Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) suggested they would support using the technique. Specifically asked about waterboarding, Giuliani said he would allow “every method [interrogators] could think of and I would support them in doing it.” Tancredo later added, “I’m looking for Jack Bauer,” referencing the television character who has used torture techniques such as suffocation and electrocution on prisoners.

The audience applauded loudly after both statements.

That last point shouldn’t go by unnoticed. These candidates not only endorsed torture in a high-profile, nationally-televised forum, but the crowd loved it. Romney not only endorsed the human-rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay, he said “[W]e ought to double Guantanamo,” in part so that detainees “don’t get access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil.” This, too, garnered considerable applause.

As Digby explained, it was a reminder that as far as the Republican Party is concerned, this is still “all about the codpiece.”

These guys have just spent the last fifteen minutes of the debate trying to top each other on just how much torture they are willing to inflict. They sound like a bunch of psychotic 12 year olds, although considering the puerile nature of the “24″ question it’s not entirely their fault.

This debate is a window into what really drives the GOP id. The biggest applause lines were for faux tough guy Giuliani demanding Ron Paul take back his assertion that the terrorists don’t hate us for our freedom, macho man Huckabee talking about Edwards in a beauty parlor and the manly hunk Romney saying that he wants to double the number of prisoners in Guantanamo “where they can’t get lawyers.” There’s very little energy for that girly talk about Jesus or “the culture of life” or any of that BS that the pansy Bush ran on.

As for the one question on everyone’s mind — there were eight references to Reagan last night, down from 20 in the first debate. There was just one reference to George W. Bush (from Ron Paul, who mocked him for running on a “humble” foreign policy platform in 2000).

The most disturbing aspect is that the audience cheered when they said yes. Weep for the future.

The War Prayer By Mark Twain

May 29, 2007 at 12:02 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, War | 9 Comments

(h/t – LewRockwell)

The War Prayer

by

Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spreads of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpouring of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.

It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came – next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their faces alight with material dreams – visions of a stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! – then home from the war, bronzed heros, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation – “God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!”

Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory.

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there, waiting.

With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal,” Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside – which the startled minister did – and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said

“I come from the Throne – bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd and grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import – that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of – except he pause and think.

“God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two – one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of His Who hearth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this – keep it in mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

“You have heard your servant’s prayer – the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it – that part which the pastor, and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory – must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause)

“Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits.”

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

_______________________________________

Mark Twain added, in a note to a friend, “None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth.”

No doubt! How blind can so many men and women be!

Iraq Will Miss Key Goals By September

May 29, 2007 at 9:50 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, conservatives, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, Republicans, secret combinations, War | 2 Comments

But we knew this, because what goals have they actually reached even now? We were told back in January and February that in the “next few months” (the standard Friedman Unit is six months), we’d see signs of “success.” Well, eight Americans were killed just yesterday, Memorial Day of all days. Eight more Americans to remember in future Memorial Day celebrations.

The LA Times has details on just what Iraq will miss by September.

U.S. military leaders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that most of the broad political goals President Bush laid out early this year in his announcement of a troop buildup will not be met this summer and are seeking ways to redefine success.

In September, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, is scheduled to present Congress with an assessment of progress in Iraq. Military officers in Baghdad and outside advisors working with Petraeus doubt that the three major goals set by U.S. officials for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki will be achieved by then.

Enactment of a new law to share Iraq’s oil revenue among Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions is the only goal they think might be achieved in time, and even that is considered a long shot. The two other key benchmarks are provincial elections and a deal to allow more Sunni Arabs into government jobs.

With overhauls by the central government stalled and with security in Baghdad still a distant goal, Petraeus’ advisors hope to focus on smaller achievements that they see as signs of progress, including local deals among Iraq’s rival factions to establish areas of peace in some provincial cities.

So in other words, the US military is going to attempt to gloss over some severe failures with small gains. Of course, Republicans and their dwindling supporters will try to further over-hype the significance of those small gains, while totally ignoring the severe failures. Well, hey Republican Senators and Congressmen, you better think clearly and rationally about that November 2008 election. A whole bunch of you are up for reelection. You want to win? Then give up your president. You want to stay in power and keep the Republican “dream” alive? Then give up your president. Give him up. Or, if you wish to keep your president, know, you will not survive the election as our representatives any longer.

Dick Cheney Goes Around President to Start War With Iran

May 25, 2007 at 1:15 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, conservatives, corruption, Iran, violence, War | 4 Comments

Well, we knew this day was coming. Cheney is apparently disappointed with Bush for going the diplomatic route with Iran and is going around the president to force the president’s hand. This is from Steve Clemons who is deeply connected in the world of Washington. He states:

There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy.

On one flank are the diplomats, and on the other is Vice President Cheney’s team and acolytes — who populate quite a wide swath throughout the American national security bureaucracy.

The Pentagon and the intelligence establishment are providing support to add muscle and nuance to the diplomatic effort led by Condi Rice, her deputy John Negroponte, Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, and Legal Adviser John Bellinger. The support that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and CIA Director Michael Hayden are providing Rice’s efforts are a complete, 180 degree contrast to the dysfunction that characterized relations between these institutions before the recent reshuffle of top personnel.

However, the Department of Defense and national intelligence sector are also preparing for hot conflict. They believe that they need to in order to convince Iran’s various power centers that the military option does exist.

But this is worrisome. The person in the Bush administration who most wants a hot conflict with Iran is Vice President Cheney. The person in Iran who most wants a conflict is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force would be big winners in a conflict as well — as the political support that both have inside Iran has been flagging.

Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney’s national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush’s tack towards Condoleezza Rice’s diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.

This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an “end run strategy” around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.

The thinking on Cheney’s team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran’s nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

There are many other components of the complex game plan that this Cheney official has been kicking around Washington. The official has offered this commentary to senior staff at AEI and in lunch and dinner gatherings which were to be considered strictly off-the-record, but there can be little doubt that the official actually hopes that hawkish conservatives and neoconservatives share this information and then rally to this point of view. This official is beating the brush and doing what Joshua Muravchik has previously suggested — which is to help establish the policy and political pathway to bombing Iran.

The zinger of this information is the admission by this Cheney aide that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.

According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the “right decision” when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President’s hands.

On Tuesday evening, i spoke with a former top national intelligence official in this Bush administration who told me that what I was investigating and planned to report on regarding Cheney and the commentary of his aide was “potentially criminal insubordination” against the President. I don’t believe that the White House would take official action against Cheney for this agenda-mongering around Washington — but I do believe that the White House must either shut Cheney and his team down and give them all garden view offices so that they can spend their days staring out their windows with not much to do or expect some to begin to think that Bush has no control over his Vice President.

It is not that Cheney wants to bomb Iran and Bush doesn’t, it is that Cheney is saying that Bush is making a mistake and thus needs to have the choices before him narrowed.

As some of Mr. Clemons’ readers note, that is usually called a coup, and would be in violation of American law. But Cheney has never been one to really care what the law states. He wants his war with Iran, and he will damned well get it.

The Case Against Jose Padilla, Getting Worse by the Day

May 24, 2007 at 10:52 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Jose Padilla, Torture | 2 Comments

The United States government’s case against Jose Padilla is getting worse and worse by the day. What started out as hyper-hysterical fearmongering dirty-bomber plot to kill thousands of Americans, has now turned into a fiasco. Lewis Koch writes for Firedoglake about the trial. Note the ridiculousness of the government’s case and witnesses:

Days into the Padilla trial the prosecution presented what was to be their key witness. This was a repentant Yahya Goba, sentenced in his 20s to 10 years in prison for being a terrorist and testifying, he said, in hopes of leniency. Goba, was the prosecutors’ “second” serious witness and had been a member of Yemeni-American Al Qaeda “sleeper cell” in Lackawanna, N.Y. (The first had been a “disguised” CIA agent who, though only able to speak and read English, miraculously made his way through a truck load of documents given to him by an anonymous Afghani whereupon, our intrepid CIA agent just happens upon an Al Qaeda recruitment document (in Afghani) signed by Padilla.)

Warren Richey of The Christian Science Monitor captured the chaos of the government’s case brilliantly in his May 21, 2007 story.

… [T]he picture of Goba that is emerging from the witness stand at Padilla’s trial is less menacing than federal prosecutors had hoped. Rather than boosting the government’s case, his testimony appears to be helping Padilla make his..

The government had hoped to use the fact of Goba’s “terrorist training” in Afghanistan as a replica of the training Padilla had undergone.

In this cross examination, captured by Richey, we see why the Justice Department never wanted Padilla to have his own attorneys.

“Are you now, or have you ever been a terrorist?” Padilla defense lawyer Michael Caruso asked.

“No,” [Yahya] Goba answered.

“You felt that it was necessary to do this training so that if called upon, you could help your [Muslim] brothers and sisters facing atrocities all over the world?” Mr. Caruso asked.

“Yes,” Goba said.

Defense lawyers asked Goba to explain his beliefs about jihad, or Islamic holy war. He agreed that jihad can represent an inner struggle within a Muslim and that when it takes the form of physical fighting, it is only acceptable in defense of Islam and Muslims. (Emphasis added)

“So murder is not jihad?” asked William Swor, a lawyer for a Padilla codefendant. “Unfairly injuring someone is not jihad?”

“Yes,” Goba answered to both questions.

Richey summed up how well the prosecutors had done.

By the end of the cross examination, prosecutors knew they were in trouble…”

So – what do we have, so far?. A CIA agent who can’t read any Afghani finds a recruiting application in Afghani signed by Padilla. Goba? He says jihad is not murder, so saying Padilla was bent on jihad didn’t mean all that much.

What does the Justice Department have in the way of evidence?.

They have 300,000 taped phone conversations, of which 230 phone calls are the heart of its case. Of those 230 calls, 21 make reference to Jose Padilla. Of those 21 phone conversations, Padilla’s voice is heard on seven. Of those 7, there are discussions about having some “picnics,” so they could “smell fresh air and eat cheese” and oh, yes, a very “significant” blather when Padilla talks about spending $3500 on “zucchini.” No talks of terrorists acts, no bombs. Nothing.

The government claims the food references were code.

Even if this conjecture is true, can the government prove zucchini translates to terrorist bombs? What vegetables are code for murder, kidnapping, and maiming?

Terrorist zucchini? A hidden CIA operative who admitted he didn’t know Arabic was able to find a piece of paper among thousands written in Arabic that had Padilla’s name on it? WTF?!?!?!?! Could this be more imbecile?

Let’s also not forget that for about four years, the government held this AMERICAN CITIZEN as they have held prisoners down in Gitmo, and have done some pretty horrible things to him. All for, what exactly?

Mitt Romney Bashes Massachusetts, Will He Bash America Post-Presidency?

May 23, 2007 at 3:10 pm | Posted in American politics, Massachusetts, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney | 10 Comments

Mitt Romney revealed a new ad where he bashes his former state, well not so former, he still lives there, and his HQ is based there. Here is the ad:

So, one wonders, will Romney be bashing America in his post-presidency days? Seriously, he seems to hate the places he’s lived, attacking France and now Massachusetts. One wonders why he still lives in Massachusetts if he hates it so much. I mean, he’s a millionaire, he could live wherever he wants.

And just how does bashing Massachusetts end the divisive politics of the present, Mr. Romney? Just how does bashing liberals and the state you reside in help you bridge the great divide in our nation? Why do you pretend to be someone you are not, Mr. Romney? What does it say about the constituents you seek where bashing the state you live in scores points? What does it say about the constituents you seek when you have to state misleading things about the country where you served your mission? Do you not have problems thinking about these things, or have you hardened your heart enough to not let them bother you?

Bush Declassifies Intelligence About Bin Laden On Day Monica Goodling Testifies

May 23, 2007 at 9:04 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iraq, Osama Bin Laden, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, violence, War on Terror | 5 Comments

Note the timing of the following two news tidbits, (one following the other, purposefully, on CNN.com)

Bush: Bin Laden Wanted Iraq As New Base

Justice Aide Who Took Fifth to Testify in Attorney Firings

Note that the intelligence Bush offers about Bin Laden comes from 2005.

President Bush on Tuesday declassified intelligence showing in 2005 Osama bin Laden planned to use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks in the United States, according to White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Johndroe said the intelligence was declassified so the president could discuss the previously secret material on Wednesday during a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.

Here is what is happening today:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ former White House liaison is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, speaking out for the first time on her role in the controversial U.S. attorney firings.

Monica Goodling, who served as Gonzales’ senior counsel, is the only key official who has not yet testified about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

Her lawyers initially kept her from testifying, saying she would cite her Fifth Amendment right to protection from self-incrimination, but she will now be granted immunity.

Unfortunately, which one will garner more evening news across the nation? Why our bogeyman, of course, Bush…er…Bin Laden. Sorry, a little slip up. I mean it is Bush who keeps trying to scare us into following his way. That’s what a bogeyman does, scare people.

Seriously, if this information came out in 2005, why did Bush feel like needing to hold on to this until now? Why not release it in 2005 to prove that his war in Iraq was a just cause? And why to the Coast Guard Academy of Connecticut? Why not to the whole nation? Why hold on to it, unless you are holding on to them to use them at politically sensitive times, like say, today, when one of your former goons testifies with immunity from prosecution?

There Is No “Right of Secession” Guaranteed by the Constitution

May 22, 2007 at 11:28 am | Posted in America, American politics, Civil War | 171 Comments

Back in March, I wrote a post about the American Civil War. I titled it The American Civil War, Fought Over Slavery, Begun by South Carolina. This has garnered many views and plenty of comments. One point that seems to be made quite frequently by those who support and defend the South is that somehow the Constitution of the United States allows a right of secession, to secede from the Union at will. Most take the Tenth Amendment as their justification. The Tenth Amendment is:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

On the face of it, it would seem to, if you stretch logic, justify a state choosing to leave the Union, but that is not the case. The annotations at Findlaw, for example give no indications that it was so.

More importantly, beyond the Tenth Amendment, the Founding Fathers were attempting to create a “perpetual,” “more perfect union,” and not just some voluntary contract between states. Mackubin Thomas Owens writes for the Claremont Institute:

That the American Republic was both federal and national was the dominant view among statesmen of the antebellum period. For instance, in his reply to Calhoun on Feb. 16, 1833, Daniel Webster observed that the state conventions, including that of South Carolina, did not accede to a league or association when they approved the Constitution, but ratified and confirmed that Constitution as a form of government.

Andrew Jackson made the same point in his “Proclamation to the People of South Carolina” during the nullification crisis. The Constitution, said Jackson, derives its whole authority from the people, not the States. The States “retained all the power they did not grant. But each State, having expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute, jointly with the other States, a single nation, can not, from that period, possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a nation.” And Madison, who presumably knew something about the constitutional theory of the American Founding, was horrified by the idea that the coordinate sovereignty retained by the States, as stated in the Tenth Amendment, implied the power of nullification, interposition, or secession.

Lincoln argued that the Union created the States, not the other way around and that the States had no other legal status than that which held in the Union. Harry V. Jaffa has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that the Revolutionary generation universally understood the separation of 13 colonies from Great Britain and the union among them to have been accomplished simultaneously. Colonial resolutions called for both independence and union. According to Jefferson and Madison in 1825, the Declaration of Independence constituted an “act of Union of the States.”

The Articles of Confederation (a document that begins and ends with the assertion that the Union is perpetual) was an unsuccessful attempt to govern the Union created by the Declaration of Independence. It failed because the central government lacked the necessary power to carry out its obligations. The Constitution was intended to rectify the problems of the Articles — to create “a more perfect Union.” As George Washington wrote in his letter transmitting the Constitution to Congress, “In all our deliberations we kept steadily in our view that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, perhaps our national existence.”

In my previous post on the Civil War, I quoted both Andrew Jackson and George Washington, who understood the importance of the Union over the priorities of the individual states, and I recommend their words in the strongest terms. I shall quote them here again:

From George Washington’s Farewell Address:

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts…

The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations…

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

Andrew Jackson’s Proclamation Regarding Nullification:

The ordinance is founded, not on the indefeasible right of resisting acts which are plainly unconstitutional, and too oppressive to be endured, but on the strange position that any one State may not only declare an act of Congress void, but prohibit its execution- that they may do this consistently with the Constitution-that the true construction of that instrument permits a State to retain its place in the Union, and yet be bound by no other of its laws than those it may choose to consider as constitutional. It is true they add, that to justify this abrogation of a law, it must be palpably contrary to the Constitution, but it is evident, that to give the right of resisting laws of that description, coupled with the uncontrolled right to decide what laws deserve that character, is to give the power of resisting all laws. For, as by the theory, there is no appeal, the reasons alleged by the State, good or bad, must prevail. If it should be said that public opinion is a sufficient check against the abuse of this power, it may be asked why it is not deemed a sufficient guard against the passage of an unconstitutional act by Congress. There is, however, a restraint in this last case, which makes the assumed power of a State more indefensible, and which does not exist in the other. There are two appeals from an unconstitutional act passed by Congress-one to the judiciary, the other to the people and the States. There is no appeal from the State decision in theory; and the practical illustration shows that the courts are closed against an application to review it, both judges and jurors being sworn to decide in its favor. But reasoning on this subject is superfluous, when our social compact in express terms declares, that the laws of the United States, its Constitution, and treaties made under it, are the supreme law of the land; and for greater caution adds, “that the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” And it may be asserted, without fear of refutation, that no federative government could exist without a similar provision. Look, for a moment, to the consequence. If South Carolina considers the revenue laws unconstitutional, and has a right to prevent their execution in the port of Charleston, there would be a clear constitutional objection to their collection in every other port, and no revenue could be collected anywhere; for all imposts must be equal. It is no answer to repeat that an unconstitutional law is no law, so long as the question of its legality is to be decided by the State itself, for every law operating injuriously upon any local interest will be perhaps thought, and certainly represented, as unconstitutional, and, as has been shown, there is no appeal.

If this doctrine had been established at an earlier day, the Union would have been dissolved in its infancy. The excise law in Pennsylvania, the embargo and non-intercourse law in the Eastern States, the carriage tax in Virginia, were all deemed unconstitutional, and were more unequal in their operation than any of the laws now complained of; but, fortunately, none of those States discovered that they had the right now claimed by South Carolina. The war into which we were forced, to support the dignity of the nation and the rights of our citizens, might have ended in defeat and disgrace instead of victory and honor, if the States, who supposed it a ruinous and unconstitutional measure, had thought they possessed the right of nullifying the act by which it was declared, and denying supplies for its prosecution. Hardly and unequally as those measures bore upon several members of the Union, to the legislatures of none did this efficient and peaceable remedy, as it is called, suggest itself. The discovery of this important feature in our Constitution was reserved to the present day. To the statesmen of South Carolina belongs the invention, and upon the citizens of that State will, unfortunately, fall the evils of reducing it to practice.

If the doctrine of a State veto upon the laws of the Union carries with it internal evidence of its impracticable absurdity, our constitutional history will also afford abundant proof that it would have been repudiated with indignation had it been proposed to form a feature in our Government…

I consider, then, the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which It was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.

These words are of great importance, because the South’s actions were really unconstitutional and a detriment to the nation of America. If allowed to gain legitimacy, they would have destroyed the Constitution and the Union so carefully brought together by the Founding Fathers.

Finally, I offer a final arbiter on what is Constitutional, the Supreme Court of the United States. In Texas v White, the Supreme Court was faced with actually having to interpret the Constitution on whether or not the state of Texas was Constitutionally allowed to secede. As a commentator on a related post on Stubborn Facts writes:

I’m really surprised you haven’t gotten to Texas v. White yet, though. The question of secession has actually come before SCOTUS. While many may (and do!) disagree vehemently with that decision, it does, nonetheless, stand. Barring a new ruling from the court, there is no Constitutional right of secession.

Here is the relevant section of the case Texas v White:

Did Texas, in consecuence of these acts, cease to be a State? Or, if not, did the State cease to be a member of the Union?

It is needless to discuss, at length, the question whether the right of a State to withdraw from the Union for any cause, regarded by herself as sufficient, is consistent with the Constitution of the United States.

The Union of the States never was a purely artificial and [74 U.S. 700, 725] arbitrary relation. It began among the Colonies, and grew out of common origin, mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests, and geographical relations. It was confirmed and strengthened by the necessities of war, and received definite form, and character, and sanction from the Articles of Confederation. By these the Union was solemnly declared to ‘be perpetual.‘ And when these Articles were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the country, the Constitution was ordained ‘to form a more perfect Union.’ It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly than by these words. What can be indissoluble if a perpetual Union, made more perfect, is not?

But the perpetuity and indissolubility of the Union, by no means implies the loss of distinct and individual existence, or of the right of self-government by the States. Under the Articles of Confederation each State retained its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right not expressly delegated to the United States. Under the Constitution, though the powers of the States were much restricted, still, all powers not delegated to the United States, nor prohibited to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. And we have already had occasion to remark at this term, that the people of each State compose a State, having its own government, and endowed with all the functions essential to separate and independent existence,’ and that ‘without the States in union, there could be no such political body as the United States.’ 12 Not only, therefore, can there be no loss of separate and independent autonomy to the States, through their union under the Constitution, but it may be not unreasonably said that the preservation of the States, and the maintenance of their governments, are as much within the design and care of the Constitution as the preservation of the Union and the maintenance of the National government. The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States. [74 U.S. 700, 726] When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States.

Considered therefore as transactions under the Constitution, the ordinance of secession, adopted by the convention and ratified by a majority of the citizens of Texas, and all the acts of her legislature intended to give effect to that ordinance, were absolutely null. They were utterly without operation in law. The obligations of the State, as a member of the Union, and of every citizen of the State, as a citizen of the United States, remained perfect and unimpaired. It certainly follows that the State did not cease to be a State, nor her citizens to be citizens of the Union. If this were otherwise, the State must have become foreign, and her citizens foreigners. The war must have ceased to be a war for the suppression of rebellion, and must have become a war for conquest and subjugation.

Our conclusion therefore is, that Texas continued to be a State, and a State of the Union, notwithstanding the transactions to which we have referred. And this conclusion, in our judgment, is not in conflict with any act or declaration of any department of the National government, but entirely in accordance with the whole series of such acts and declarations since the first outbreak of the rebellion.

The South never really understood the Union, never really understood what The United States of America meant. It took a Civil War, the suppression of a rebellion, and even then, even today actually, many still do not understand, or we wouldn’t be talking about it.

The Godfather Part IV: Fredo’s Revenge

May 22, 2007 at 5:59 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration | Leave a comment

heh.

Our Actions In Iraq, Bad For Us, Good For Al-Qaida

May 20, 2007 at 2:30 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, Military, Osama Bin Laden, violence, War, War on Terror | 1 Comment

Well, we’ve had over 3400 of our soldiers killed, tens of thousands wounded, over one hundred thousand Iraqis killed, nearly half a trillion dollars poured into Iraq, and well, guess who’s making a cash windfall in Iraq? Why none other than Al-Qaida:

A major CIA effort launched last year to hunt down Osama bin Laden has produced no significant leads, but has helped track an alarming increase in the movement of al-Qaida operatives and money into Pakistan’s tribal territories, according to senior U.S. intelligence officials.

In one of the most troubling trends, U.S. officials said al-Qaida’s command base in Pakistan increasingly is being funded by cash from Iraq, where the terrorist network’s operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.

The influx of money has bolstered al-Qaida’s leadership ranks at a time when the core command is regrouping. The trend also signals a reversal in the traditional flow of al-Qaida funds, with the leadership surviving to a large extent on money from its most profitable franchise, rather than distributing funds from headquarters to distant cells.

Al-Qaida’s efforts were aided, intelligence officials said, by Pakistan’s withdrawal in September of tens of thousands of troops from tribal areas along the Afghanistan border where bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are believed to be hiding.

Little more than a year ago, al-Qaida’s core command was thought to be in a financial crunch. But U.S. officials said cash shipped from Iraq has eased those troubles.

“Iraq is a big moneymaker for them,” a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said.

On the Absurdity of the Case Against Jose Padilla

May 18, 2007 at 9:53 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Gitmo, Jose Padilla, secret combinations, Torture | 3 Comments

Firedoglake reports from the trial against Jose Padilla, and in this particularly good article Lewis Koch notes the total absurdity surrounding the case of Jose Padilla, and that of Hamdi, who is also an American citizen but is sitting free and comfortable back in Saudi Arabia. Why is Jose Padilla not free?

Absurd man, absurd.

Voting Fraud Fakery

May 18, 2007 at 8:51 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Republicans, secret combinations, Voter Suppression | Leave a comment

Read this excellent article. This is Karl Rove’s baby. Voter Fraud. His bogeyman. The impetus behind the firing of the US attorneys in battleground districts. Unfortunately for America it is a fake. There is no voter fraud. Unfortunately, Rove was successful in convincing enough Americans that there is. So sad.

More on that Hospital Visit

May 17, 2007 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, corruption, King George, NSA Warrantless Tapping, Republicans, secret combinations | Leave a comment

A great cartoon from Rex Babin:

Iraq Becoming a Failed State

May 17, 2007 at 12:57 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, violence, War | 1 Comment

A new Chatham House report states that Iraq is becoming a failed state even with the surge of American troops.

There is not ‘one’ civil war, nor ‘one’ insurgency, but several civil wars and insurgencies between different communities in today’s Iraq. Within this warring society, the Iraqi government is only one among many ‘state-like’ actors, and is largely irrelevant in terms of ordering social, economic, and political life. It is now possible to argue that Iraq is on the verge of being a failed state which faces the distinct possibility of collapse and fragmentation. These are some of the key findings of Accepting Realities in Iraq a new Briefing Paper written by Dr Gareth Stansfield and published today by Chatham House.

The paper also assesses Al-Qaeda activity within Iraq, especially in the major cities in the centre and north of the country. Dr Stansfield argues that, although Al-Qaeda is challenged by local groups, there is momentum behind its activity. Iraq’s neighbors too have a greater capacity to affect the situation on the ground than either the UK or the US. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey all have different reasons for seeing the instability in Iraq continue, and each uses different methods to influence developments.

Dr Stansfield argues that with the myriad conflicts in Iraq following societal, religious and political divides and often involving state actors, the multinational forces are finding it exceptionally difficult to promote security normalization. The recent US ‘surge’ in Baghdad looks likely to have simply pushed insurgent activity to neighboring cities and cannot deliver the required political accommodation. A political solution will require Sunni Arab representatives’ participation in government, the recognition of Moqtada al-Sadr as a legitimate political partner, and a positive response to Kurdish concerns. Further, it would be a mistake to believe that the political forces in Iraq are weak and can be reorganized by the US or the international community, there must be ‘buy-in’ from the key Iraqi political actors.

The report paints a very harsh picture of the country. I believe the following to be their most important point if we are to resolve this ugly American-made situation:

These current harsh realities need to be accepted if new strategies are to have any chance of preventing the failure and collapse of Iraq. A political solution will require engagement with organizations possessing popular legitimacy and needs to be an Iraqi accommodation, rather than a regional or US-imposed approach.

It is high time that Americans accept the harsh realities. We must if we are to actually apply the proper tools to fixing the problem.

The Recuperative Power of the Enemy

May 16, 2007 at 11:21 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Military, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror | 4 Comments

Charles Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar, both leaders in the military (Krulak was the commandant of the Marine Corps and Hoar was the commander in chief of USCENTCOM), write an op ed in today’s Washington Post about the very negative effects of torture in our “war on terror.” I’ll let them speak for themselves, but their main point is very powerful. The use of torture effectively becomes the recuperative power of the enemy, giving them strength where you’d think it would make them cower. This is something a fool like Mitt Romney just doesn’t understand, but one John McCain, who was tortured himself, does. Let me quote from the two writers:

These assertions that “torture works” may reassure a fearful public, but it is a false security. We don’t know what’s been gained through this fear-driven program. But we do know the consequences.

As has happened with every other nation that has tried to engage in a little bit of torture — only for the toughest cases, only when nothing else works — the abuse spread like wildfire, and every captured prisoner became the key to defusing a potential ticking time bomb. Our soldiers in Iraq confront real “ticking time bomb” situations every day, in the form of improvised explosive devices, and any degree of “flexibility” about torture at the top drops down the chain of command like a stone — the rare exception fast becoming the rule.

To understand the impact this has had on the ground, look at the military’s mental health assessment report released earlier this month. The study shows a disturbing level of tolerance for abuse of prisoners in some situations. This underscores what we know as military professionals: Complex situational ethics cannot be applied during the stress of combat. The rules must be firm and absolute; if torture is broached as a possibility, it will become a reality.

This has had disastrous consequences. Revelations of abuse feed what the Army’s new counterinsurgency manual, which was drafted under the command of Gen. David Petraeus, calls the “recuperative power” of the terrorist enemy.

Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld once wondered aloud whether we were creating more terrorists than we were killing. In counterinsurgency doctrine, that is precisely the right question. Victory in this kind of war comes when the enemy loses legitimacy in the society from which it seeks recruits and thus loses its “recuperative power.”

The torture methods that Tenet defends have nurtured the recuperative power of the enemy. This war will be won or lost not on the battlefield but in the minds of potential supporters who have not yet thrown in their lot with the enemy. If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy. This way lies defeat, and we are well down the road to it.

This is not just a lesson for history. Right now, White House lawyers are working up new rules that will govern what CIA interrogators can do to prisoners in secret. Those rules will set the standard not only for the CIA but also for what kind of treatment captured American soldiers can expect from their captors, now and in future wars. Before the president once again approves a policy of official cruelty, he should reflect on that.

It is time for us to remember who we are and approach this enemy with energy, judgment and confidence that we will prevail. That is the path to security, and back to ourselves.

Americans, do not vote for any Republican in 2008. They will continue the practice of torture, a self-defeating practice wherein the torturer loses. This is not the way to victory. The more we continue practicing these “enhanced techniques”—I really don’t care what people call them, torture is torture is torture—the worse off we will be.

Like A Scene out of the Godfather

May 16, 2007 at 11:09 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, neo-conservatives, NSA Warrantless Tapping, Republicans, secret combinations | 3 Comments

Wow, I don’t know who’s jaws did not drop at Comey’s testimony yesterday in front of the Senate. It is a must read, and must view. In fact, here is the video:

Continue Reading Like A Scene out of the Godfather…

Romney Still Supports Torture

May 15, 2007 at 10:14 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, Gitmo, McCain, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, Mormon, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Torture, violence, War | 8 Comments

In tonight’s Republican debate, Romney signaled that he still supports Bush’s “enhanced techniques” which as McCain rightly pointed, amounts to torture. Chris Cillizza has the details.

McCain went first. He rejected the use of torture to obtain information, citing his experience in Vietnam as a prisoner of war. “It’s not about the terrorists, it’s about us,” McCain said. McCain added that so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” are torture, adding that his position was held by most retired and active duty military officers.

Romney backed “enhanced terrorism techniques” but drew the line at torture. He drew applause with his call to double the size of Guantanamo Bay, rather than close it.

Then again, Romney has not shown to be pretty informed about many things, including French culture, where he served for two years…why would he know a thing about these techniques?

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