The Flamin’ Gay Bomb

June 13, 2007 at 11:04 pm | Posted in American politics, gay bomb, Military | 1 Comment

TRex at Firedoglake has written a post about the ridiculous Pentagon research into a “gay bomb.” He writes, confessionally:

I know that many of you may believe that this story is too ridiculous to be believed, but I know that it’s true. For you see, my father worked on that project, something that he has later said that he regrets, not only for its clear implausibility, but because of the toll it took on our family.

Sigh. This is a difficult story for me to tell. I hope my Dad doesn’t mind. I know that he signed documents stating that he would respect the classified nature of his work for twenty-five years after his retirement, but, well…part of this has to do with me, so I feel like I have the right to tell you the truth.

It was in 1970. My twin brother and I were toddlers and our family was living in on-base housing in Cocoa Beach, Florida at Patrick Air Force Base.

At 6:00pm, as usual, my father came through the door in his uniform, laid his briefcase on the hall table, and scooped up whichever baby was closest. On that fateful day, it was me.

Unbeknown to us all, there was a stray patch of Teh Gay still on his uniform jacket. My mother was the first to notice.

“Charles!” she cried, “Your jacket! The baby!”

“Jesus Christ!” my father said, “Oh, god, what have I done?”

They rushed me to the bathroom where they held me under the steaming spray from the shower-nozzle, frantically scrubbing away with washcloths and brushes. They got rid of all the visible residual Gayness, but still scrubbed until my skin was pink and I began to wail in protest.

My mother tenderly laid me out on the bed with my father hovering nearby, praying that the damage hadn’t already been done.

“He seems okay,” my mother said, drying my face and ears.

“Gucci!” I said, “Arugula! Pucci, Luiviton!”

“He’s just babbling gibberish,” my Dad said, “I guess we got it in time.”

But tears ran down my mother’s face. She knew.

And that’s the story of how the Gay Bomb has affected me. Most days, I just thank god that I wasn’t affected by any of the other top-secret projects that my father was working on at the time, like the Wedgie Bomb, the repeating Spitball Cannon, or Cootie Gas. I understand that the specialists working on these projects only wanted what was best for our country. I mean, if you could turn an entire enemy army gay and give them cooties, you’d be the mightiest army on earth. And while I guess there was just no way of knowing the toll that The Gay Bomb would take in my life and in the life of my family, I do sometimes wonder how things might have been.


The Surge in Iraq Is Failing

June 13, 2007 at 8:57 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Military, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Yet more evidence, this time straight from the Pentagon’s own quarterly reports that shows violence on the rise right during the period of the Surge.

Violence in Iraq, as measured by casualties among troops and civilians, has edged higher despite the U.S.-led security push in Baghdad, the Pentagon told Congress on Wednesday.

The required quarterly report, which surveyed violence from Feb. 10 to May 7, found that the average number of Iraqi civilians killed or wounded each day was more than 100, nearly double the daily toll from the same period one year ago. The number of daily U.S. casualties was about 25, slightly higher than a year ago.

The average weekly number of attacks across Iraq for the reporting period surpassed 1,000, compared to about 600 weekly attacks for the same period one year ago. More than 75 percent of the attacks were aimed at U.S. forces, according to the report, which also examined political and economic developments in Iraq.

How many more Friedman Units must we go before we’ve had enough? For those who do not know what a Friedman Unit is, please read here.

Insurgents Strike The Golden Mosque Again

June 13, 2007 at 6:12 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, Military, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

I was wondering when they were going to “finish the job.” Insurgents struck the Askariya Mosque in Samarra, destroying more of the mosque:

Insurgents blew up the remaining two minarets of the Askariya Mosque, a holy Shiite Muslim shrine in Samarra that was badly damaged in a similar attack in early 2006, a Samarra Police official told CNN. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Within hours of the attacks, Iraqi state television announced that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had imposed a curfew for Baghdad until further notice.

The blast followed early Wednesday morning clashes between gunmen and Iraqi National Police, who were guarding the site. During the firefight, the insurgents entered the mosque, also known as the Golden Dome, planted explosives around the minarets and detonated them.

According to the police official, residents of Samarra are furious over the latest attack on the mosque.

Note Muqtada al-Sadr’s response:

In response, radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for three days of mourning to mark the destruction of the minarets, according to a statement. The anti-American cleric also said no rival Sunni Arab could have been responsible for the bombing, adding he was holding U.S.-led coalition forces responsible.

I highly doubt the US did it, however, they do bear some responsibility. The United States, by invading Iraq and removing the previous government from office, took upon itself the security of the country, including all the holy mosques. It is yet another example of how having too few troops is utterly detrimental to the plan. So sad.

Nuremberg Prosecutor: Gitmo Goes Against Nuremberg Principles

June 12, 2007 at 10:51 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, Gitmo, Military, Torture, violence, War on Terror | 1 Comment

Henry King Jr, one of the prosecutors at Nuremberg calls the Gitmo trials and incarceration unfair and against the principles upon which the Nuremberg Trials were founded.

The U.S. war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo have betrayed the principles of fairness that made the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg a judicial landmark, one of the U.S. Nuremberg prosecutors said on Monday.

“I think Robert Jackson, who’s the architect of Nuremberg, would turn over in his grave if he knew what was going on at Guantanamo,” Nuremberg prosecutor Henry King Jr. told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“It violates the Nuremberg principles, what they’re doing, as well as the spirit of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.”

King, 88, served under Jackson, the U.S. Supreme Court justice who was the chief prosecutor at the trials created by the Allied powers to try Nazi military and political leaders after World War Two in Nuremberg, Germany.

“The concept of a fair trial is part of our tradition, our heritage,” King said from Ohio, where he lives. “That’s what made Nuremberg so immortal — fairness, a presumption of innocence, adequate defense counsel, opportunities to see the documents that they’re being tried with.”

King, who interrogated Nuremberg defendant Albert Speer, was incredulous that the Guantanamo rules left open the possibility of using evidence obtained through coercion.

“To torture people and then you can bring evidence you obtained into court? Hearsay evidence is allowed? Some evidence is available to the prosecution and not to the defendants? This is a type of ‘justice’ that Jackson didn’t dream of,” King said.

With each passing day that Gitmo is opened, our principles erode and wither away. What are we fighting for if not for the principles upon which our fine nation was founded? Who really cares how bad the enemy is? How does that in any way change who WE are? And what WE stand for?

Insurgents Are Targeting Iraq’s Infrastructure

June 12, 2007 at 6:45 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, Military, violence, War, War on Terror | 1 Comment

In the latest efforts to derail Iraq’s progress, insurgents are attacking Iraq’s infrastructure, blowing up bridges and such.

In at least the seventh attack on Iraqi bridges in the past two months, a bomb damaged a bridge over a tributary to the Tigris River on Monday, cutting off the most popular route from the northeastern part of Diyala province to Baghdad.

With the al-Sabtiya Bridge no longer usable, people heading to Baghdad from Diyala will have to travel through the violent city of Baqouba, residents said. Baqouba is the scene of daily clashes between al-Qaida in Iraq insurgents, Shiite Muslim militias and Iraqi security forces.

Eyewitnesses said a truck loaded with explosives moved onto the span and its driver detonated his cargo, sending pieces of the bridge into the water below.

The U.S. military had no immediate information on the bombing, spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Garver said. Garver said bridge bombings didn’t greatly “impede the mobility of the military.” But bridges are high-profile targets whose destruction affects the lives of civilians, he said.

“If there is a definite campaign against bridges this is an insurgency trying to destabilize the government,” he said.

In the past two months, car bombs have targeted at least seven bridges. The attacks began in April with the destruction of the Sarafiya bridge in Baghdad, which connected the east and west banks of the capital.

This is yet another example of America having too few troops on the ground, and insurgents taking advantage of it to destroy any progress in Iraq. Wasn’t the “surge” supposed to stop this kind of regression?

Lawless Thugs

June 11, 2007 at 2:18 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, neo-conservatives | Leave a comment

Did Michael Horowitz of the secret combination, Federalist Society, just issue a threat of retaliation to Scooter Libby’s conviction? Read his words yourself and make your own conclusion. (Thanks to emptywheel).

Disposition of the Libby case will have much to do with whether the country will further and gravely descend into “us v. them” feelings of bitterness and contention. As the Bork case led inexorably to the Clinton impeachment, so can the case before the Court profoundly criminalize and poison the country’s political process with calls for retribution on the part of many who will never believe–never–that Scooter merits criminal punishment or, God forbid, incarceration. It is an irony that Scooter would be the last to support such an embittering development, but the esteem in which he is held is such that any but the most Solomon-like disposition of his case could easily ensure this occurrence.

Emptywheel asks:

What I don’t understand, though, is the target of his threat. Is Horowitz threatening to impeach the second President Clinton (or President Obama) because a staunchly independent prosecutor, appointed by a loyal Republican, prosecuted Libby for covering up Dick Cheney’s role in the outing of a CIA NOC? Is he threatening to attack Democrats because a hard-nosed Republican appointee followed court guidelines and treated Libby with the same sternness he treats African-American drug dealers?

Or is Horowitz threatening to retaliate against Judge Walton himself, who was appointed by George W Bush and recently named by Chief Justice Roberts to the FISA Court? These right wingers aren’t above threatening judges, after all, though it’s not usually the Republican appointees they target.

Such great questions. Digby asks:

Gosh, I’m not sure who these people are who will never — never — accept that Scooter merits punishment and so will profoundly criminalize and poison the country’s political process with calls for retribution, but they sound like a bunch of lawless thugs. In fact, they sound like terrorists, what with their apparent willingness to take down innocent people in senseless acts of revenge and all. But no, apparently these aren’t thugs and terrorists — these are Republican politicians. Go figure.

Quote of the Day – Maureen Dowd

June 10, 2007 at 1:42 pm | Posted in American politics, Military, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney | 5 Comments

Maureen Dowd:

Be honest. Who would you rather share a foxhole with: a gay soldier or Mitt Romney?

A gay soldier, of course. In a dicey situation like that, you need someone steadfast who knows who he is and what he believes, even if he’s not allowed to say it out loud.

Romania, You Broke My Heart

June 9, 2007 at 11:01 pm | Posted in Romania, Torture | Leave a comment

Romania, land of my birth, you broke my heart. You made a deal with the devil and let the Bush administration torture people in black prisons on your soil. I can’t blame you, as you are at this point a weak nation, with hardly the bargaining power of a Germany or an Italy, to deny such demands from such a powerful monster as the United States of America. You need the economic rewards. They are vital to your growth. However, your deal is with the devil, and it seems the devil will come knocking now at your door for payment. And as any deal with the devil ends up being, the devil will not support you in the end. You broke my heart. America will not do you any favors now. And you may end up losing all you’ve gained in joining the European Union and NATO. Such a shame. I hope it was a worthwhile fix, that the drug was worth the cost, because the dealer is not the one who will be caught, but rather the dope. Such a shame.

A Terrorist’s Children, Leverage For Information

June 9, 2007 at 10:49 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, corruption, family values, George W Bush, Gitmo, Middle East, neo-conservatives, Pakistan, Religion, Republicans, secret combinations, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror | 23 Comments

This is the newest low of the Bush administration, and obviously one big reason why they’ve wanted to keep the black sites in Europe as secret as they could. Because one of the things that the Bush administration authorized was the capture and interrogation of children of terrorists (such as Khalik Sheikh Mohammed), to be used as a leverage against the terrorists, because hey, who likes to see their children suffer? This is the level to which our country has fallen, where we now torture children.

Andrew Sullivan quotes the CIA about KSM’s sons:

“His sons are important to him. The promise of their release and their return to Pakistan may be the psychological lever we need to break him.”

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has the details.

Today, six human rights groups released a report (pdf) on 39 people who they think the US government might be holding in undisclosed locations, and whose location is presently unknown. (Thus, they are not counting anyone known to be at Guantanamo or Bagram; just people who are missing.) That we have disappeared anyone is shocking, and a violation of treaties we have signed and ratified.

This report has gotten a fair amount of play, but in all the coverage I’ve read, only the Philadelphia Inquirer has mentioned what is, to me, the most awful allegation: that we disappeared young children. The report (pp. 24-26) lists five groups of family members; those who are discussed at greatest length are the sons of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

She then quotes the article from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“In September 2002, Yusuf al-Khalid (then nine years old) and Abed al-Khalid (then seven years old) were reportedly apprehended by Pakistani security forces during an attempted capture of their father, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was successfully apprehended several months later, and the U.S. government has acknowledged that he was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program. He is presently held at Guantánamo Bay.

In an April 16, 2007 statement, Ali Khan (father of Majid Khan, a detainee who the U.S. government has acknowledged was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program and is presently held at Guantánamo Bay) indicated that Yusef and Abed al-Khalid had been held in the same location in which Majid Khan and Majid’s brother Mohammed were detained in March/April 2003. Mohammed was detained by Pakistani officials for approximately one month after his apprehension on March 5, 2003 (see below). Ali Khan’s statement indicates that:

Also according to Mohammed, he and Majid were detained in the same place where two of Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s young children, ages about 6 and 8, were held. The Pakistani guards told my son that the boys were kept in a separate area upstairs, and were denied food and water by other guards. They were also mentally tortured by having ants or other creatures put on their legs to scare them and get them to say where their father was hiding.

After Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s arrest in March 2003, Yusuf and Abed Al Khalid were reportedly transferred out of Pakistan in U.S. custody. The children were allegedly being sent for questioning about their father’s activities and to be used by the United States as leverage to force their father to co-operate with the United States. A press report on March 10, 2003 confirmed that CIA interrogators had detained the children and that one official explained that:

“We are handling them with kid gloves. After all, they are only little children…but we need to know as much about their father’s recent activities as possible. We have child psychologists on hand at all times and they are given the best of care.”

In the transcript of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s Combatant Status Review Tribunal, he indicates knowledge that his children were apprehended and abused:

“They arrested my kids intentionally. They are kids. They been arrested for four months they had been abused.””

Hilzoy states this correctly. This is something two-bit dictators would do. Is this something a supposed “Christian” democratic country does? Apparently. She asks at the end:

And note this: the only people who were included in the report are people whose whereabouts are presently unknown. These kids were captured over four years ago. They would be thirteen and eleven now. Does anyone know where they are? Does anyone care?

Not Americans. We’re too concerned about Paris Hilton’s latest sob story about prison. Andrew Sullivan adds:

One of the eeriest aspects of the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror has been the inversion of previously held assumptions about the meaning of the West. We fought a war to end torture; we then occupied Saddam’s own torture prison and tortured people there. We fought a war to bring democracy to the Middle East and to show Arabs and Muslims how superior it is as a system; we then spawned chaos, civil war and genocide to brand democracy as a nightmare for an entire generation of Muslims and Arabs. But I recall one moment when I felt most secure about our rationale for the war: we liberated a prison full of children who had been targeted by the monster, Saddam. If ending a regime that jailed children was not right, what was?

Except now we know that the U.S. has itself detained, imprisoned and interrogated children.

He then quotes John Yoo, the mastermind behind the torture regime:

“Cassel: If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty

Cassel: Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo…

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that…”

Weren’t we supposed to be fighting AGAINST people like Mr. Yoo? Additionally Michael P.F. Van Der Galien is trying to find out what has happened to those children. To this point, he has not found any information.

What kind of nation makes children disappear?

McClatchy Newspapers: Surge is Not Working

June 9, 2007 at 10:22 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Military, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

McClatchy Newspapers, formerly known as Knight Ridder, has been nearly the only source in the past six years to objectively look at the war in Iraq, see past the inflammatory nationalistic hyperbole of the Bush administration and its adherents at FoxNews and the Weekly Standard. They continue their fine press with this report showing that the surge is not doing a thing about the violence in Iraq:

Three months after additional U.S. troops began pouring into Baghdad in the most recent effort to stanch violence in Iraq’s capital, military observers are fretting that the same problems that torpedoed last summer’s Baghdad security plan are cropping up again.

Violence is on the rise, Iraqi troops aren’t showing up to secure neighborhoods, U.S. troops are having to revisit neighborhoods they’d already cleared, and Iraq’s politicians haven’t met any of their benchmarks.

With expectations high in Washington for a September assessment from new Iraq commander Army Gen. David Petraeus, military officials in Iraq already are saying they’ll need more time.

One thing is already clear, however: The additional U.S. troops haven’t yet had a major impact on reducing violence.

Read the whole article. I’d rather not paste the whole thing here. It is free, and accurate. Unfortunately most Americans won’t see this kind of report. Why?

Paris Hilton Vows to Serve Jail Sentence

That’s just one article, from ABCNews. Note that it is a whole THREE PAGES long!

Digby states:

Right now the cable news networks are wall-to-wall in front of Paris Hilton’s house in L.A. waiting for the sheriff to show up in his white Bronco and lead them on a freeway chase. It’s truly riveting TV, watching a bunch of people milling around and listening to the talking heads speculating on when she might come through the door and riffing on the greater meaning of all this — race, privilege and the merits of cupcakes from Sprinkles. (The consensus is that they are very good. I agree.)

He then quotes Al Gore, who wrote:

It is simply no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know I’m not alone in feeling that something has gone fundamentally wrong. In 2001, I had hopes it was an aberration when polls showed that three-quarters of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on September 11. More than five years later, however, nearly half the American people still believes that Saddam was connected to the attack.

At first I thought the exhaustive, nonstop coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial was just unfortunate excess — an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our news media. Now we know that it was merely an early example of a new pattern of serial obsession that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time.

Late in the summer of 2006, American news coverage was saturated with the bizarre false confession of a man who claimed to have been present at the death of JonBenet Ramsey — the six-year-old beauty queen whose unsolved murder eleven years before was responsible for another long-running obsession. A few months prior to John Mark Karr’s arrest in Bangkok, the disappearance of a high school senior in Aruba and the intensive search for her body and her presumed murderer consumed thousands of hours of television coverage. Both cases remain unsolved as of this writing, and neither had any appreciable impact on the fate of the Republic.

Like JonBenet Ramsey, O.J. has recently been back at the center of another fit of obsessive-compulsive news, when his hypothetical confession wasn’t published and his interviews on television wasn’t aired. This particular explosion of “news” was truncated only when a former television sitcom star used racist insults in a night club. And before that we focus on the “Runaway Bride” in Georgia. And before that there was the Michael Jackson trial and the Robert Blake trial, the Laci Peterson tragedy and the Chandra Levy tragedy. And of course we can’t forget Britney and KFed, and Lindsay and Paris and Nicole, Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch and married Katie Holmes, who gave birth to Suri. And Russell Crowe apparently threw a phone at a hotel concierge.

In early 2007, the wall-to-wall coverage of Anna Nicole Smith’s death, embalming, and funeral plans and the legal wrangling over the paternity and custody of her child and disposition of her estate, served as yet another particularly bizarre example of the new priorities in America’s news coverage.

And while American television watchers were collectively devoting a hundred million hours of their lives each week to these and other similar stories, our nation was in the process of more quietly making what future historians will certainly describe as a series of catastrophically mistaken decisions on issues of war and peace, the global climate and human survival, freedom and barbarity, justice and fairness.

Indeed, Mr. Gore. Indeed.

Quote of the Day – George W. Bush

June 9, 2007 at 5:58 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush | Leave a comment

George W. Bush at a press conference in Italy:

Q: And the deadline for the Kosovo independence —

BUSH: What? Say that again?

Q Deadline for the Kosovo independence?

BUSH: A decline?

Q Deadline, deadline.

BUSH: Deadline. Beg your pardon. My English isn’t very good. (emphasis added)

How the HECK did this guy become our president?

Mitt Romney Lies Again

June 6, 2007 at 2:33 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Iraq, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, War | 37 Comments

What is with Mitt Romney and the truth? Why can’t he state things like they really are instead of spewing out more and more lies? Take this from the debate about Iraq and the Inspectors searching for WMDs in 2002 and 2003:

“[If] Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and they’d come in and they’d found that there were no weapons of mass destruction, had Saddam Hussein, therefore, not violated United Nations resolutions, we wouldn’t be in the conflict we’re in.”

“But he didn’t do those things, and we knew what we knew at the point we made the decision to get in.”

Anyone not a hardcore Republican knows that this is false. Saddam did indeed open up his country to inspectors, and those inspectors did indeed find NOTHING, as Scott Ritter (and many of the rest of us) claimed they wouldn’t.

Greg Seargent hasa news clipping from the New York Times dated June 18, 2003 of Hans Blix, you know the inspector who Saddam let into his country to search for WMDs:

Hans Blix, the retiring chief weapons inspector for the United Nations, has questioned in an interview why American and British forces expected to find large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq when it was clear that his inspectors had failed to report any such discovery.

In an interview on Tuesday in his 31st-floor offices at the United Nations, he said:

“What surprises me, what amazes me, is that it seems the military people were expecting to stumble on large quantities of gas, chemical weapons and biological weapons. I don’t see how they could have come to such an attitude if they had, at any time, studied the reports” of present and former United Nations inspectors.

This makes Mitt Romney a liar.

Prosecuting Children For War Crimes

June 5, 2007 at 3:55 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Evangelicals, Foreign Policy, Gitmo, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations, Torture, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

Just to show how utterly devoid of morality and ethics the whole situation at Guantanamo Bay is (and to show how stupid Mitt “Double Guantanamo” Romney really is), read the following analysis of the recent case against Omar Khadr, age 15 when taken by the Americans and placed in Cuba.

What cannot be disputed, however, is that under the UCMJ the military would have no jurisdiction to court-martial someone who was 15 at the time he committed an alleged criminal offense. In order for jurisdiction to attach under the UCMJ the solider must be at least 17 year old for any enlistment to be valid. The reason for this minimum age requirement is obvious: children under this age lack the legal capacity to completely understand the full and legal consequences of their actions.

Even if a child knowingly went down the recruiting office and knowingly presented fraudulent papers in order to enlist, the enlistment would have no legal efficacy. This jurisdictional requirement is more than a well meaning and worthy notion: We understand as a society that it would be unfair and unjust to subject such a child to court-martial jurisdiction because the child simply lacks the legal capacity to make this kind of decision. The United States Supreme Court confirmed this proposition as a matter of policy in the Roper case, wherein it held unconstitutional the death penalty for defendants who were under the age of 17 when they committed the crime charged.

Why, then, is Omar Khadr’s situation different? Are we to assume that because he may be a member of Al Qaeda, he has a greater degree of legal capacity? Are we to assume that children caught up on the battlefield in the war on terror have more choices and options and thus, their decision to join Al Qaeda is more knowing and more likely to be a product of free will then the 16 year-old American who walks into a recruiter’s office with fraudulent enlistment documents? Or, is the decision to try Omar Khadr by military commission for alleged conduct that he engaged in at 15 simply based on the notion that because of what he did and who he associated with, and because of his family ties, he does not deserve certain basic rights and legal protections?

This also raises another troubling question that we have been struggling with for quite sometime. Even assuming that Omar Khadr did in fact throw a grenade at U.S. forces during a firefight in Afghanistan, he clearly does not fit into the category of the “worst of the worst” that the administration claims are being detained and prosecuted at Guantanamo. At most, he was a 15 year-old foot solder doing the bidding of much more dangerous and culpable terrorists. Anyone familiar with prosecuting organized crime or other criminal networks knows that it is generally a waste of time and resources to prosecute the foot soldiers. Instead, efforts are made to “turn” the foot soldiers so that the higher-level leaders of the criminal organization can be discovered and prosecuted.

Why, then is the U.S. spending time, effort and resources, and squandering what little international goodwill it may still enjoy on prosecuting a 15 year-old alleged foot soldier of Al Qaeda? Why weren’t these foot soldiers “turned” and used to go after mid-level and senior members of Al Qaeda? Was it because the aggressive interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo failed to produce the actionable intelligence that the U.S. was hoping for? It seems to us that this prosecution of Omar Khadr is really emblematic of the complete failure of Guantanamo and the military commissions system. While many of the “worst of the worst” remain at large, the U.S. seeks to prosecute a child by military commission who, if he were an American citizen would not be subject to courts-martial jurisdiction because of his age.

This kind of prosecutorial decision highlights as well the consequence of an unfettered grant of authority to the executive in matters involving national security and terrorism. The lack of effective habeas review means that many policy decisions will go essentially unexamined, and that means that Americans will not be able to hold accountable the civilian leaders who have pursued policies that, at this point, seem to spring more from desperation than design. At a minimum, such decisions will do nothing to improve the credibility or legality of the military commissions system.

Mr. Hansen and Mr. Friedman ask a very important question about this particular case and Guantanamo itself. If after FIVE YEARS the Bush administration can’t even prosecute a child foot soldier, just why are we wasting resources on this prison? Why is a foot soldier who when 15 (a child) was picked up because he threw a grenade at Americans being charged when he is not the “worst of the worst?” Why does the Bush administration not charge KSM? Or are they holding his trial until just before the 2008 election?

What kind of country charges a child for war crimes? And what kind of Christian crows for the desire to double these kinds of actions?

Losing Control of Baghdad

June 5, 2007 at 3:46 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq | 3 Comments

Juan Cole blogs about how we’re losing Baghdad, even with, and probably because of, the surge. He quotes a report on CNN:

‘ A top U.S. commander tells CNN that three quarters of Baghdad simply is not under the control of U.S. or Iraqi security forces. Brigadier General Vincent Brooks says just one quarter of Baghdad is in a controlled state. Brooks said control means U.S. and Iraqi forces are able to maintain physical influence over a specific area, preventing its use by the enemy.

It’s been three months since the security crackdown began. More than 20,000 U.S. troops have poured into the city. But Brooks says there is still a crucial problem — the lack of qualified Iraqi police.

In some areas, they are still loyal to death squads and militias. In other areas, there just aren’t enough police. In neighborhoods such as Amiriyia and West Rashid, U.S. troops are still having to go back into those areas that they had cleared.

Attacks against U.S. troops in Baghdad are on the rise. Military intelligence officials are analyzing this video from the Islamic State of Iraq claiming to show Russian grenades being thrown at U.S. troops. Analysts say these grenades may be designed to burst into high temperature fires on impact. One official calls it a new threat. ‘

Funny how Iran agrees to meet with the US about Iraq, and then Russian President Vladimir Putin shoots his mouth off about missiles, and all of a sudden the deadly weaponry in Iraq is coming from Russia, not Iran.

Both reports underlined that US troops are just not present on a continual basis in the vast majority of neighborhoods. Among the bars to progress is that the Iraqi authorities have not

1. provided enough troops and policemen to man checkpoints and patrol neighborhoods, just as a matter of sheer numbers

2. provided enough security forces willing to take risks

3. provided even-handed security forces that won’t protect other Shiites from the militias.

And, remember that quieting down Baghdad was supposed to give the al-Maliki government breathing space to make the deep political compromises that might end the insurgency by negotiation. None of that political work appears to have been done, and not only because just one-fourth of the capital has even begun to be pacified.

How can anyone state that they see “success” or even “progress” in Iraq?

Commencement Address of the Year

June 4, 2007 at 9:54 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iraq, secret combinations | 2 Comments

Words in a Time of War By Mark Danner

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, Borrowed from the Soviets

June 4, 2007 at 9:33 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush, McCain, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, secret combinations, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

I’ve written before about Vershärfte Vernehmung, German for “enhanced techniques” used by the Gestapo on prisoners. Note in that evidence the language, how similar it is to the Bush White House on these enhanced interrogation techniques. Well, now more information comes out showing that the CIA has “borrowed” these same techniques from the Soviets. As we >read here, the Soviets also tried to justify their perverse actions through legalistic mumbo jumbo. Read:

The article describes basic Soviet N.K.V.D. (later K.G.B.) methods: isolation in a small cell; constant light; sleep deprivation; cold or heat; reduced food rations. Soviets denied such treatment was torture, just as American officials have in recent years:

The effects of isolation, anxiety, fatigue, lack of sleep, uncomfortable temperatures, and chronic hunger produce disturbances of mood, attitudes and behavior in nearly all prisoners. The living organism cannot entirely withstand such assaults. The Communists do not look upon these assaults as “torture.” But all of them produce great discomfort, and lead to serious disturbances of many bodily processes; there is no reason to differentiate them from any other form of torture.

Interrogators looked for ways to increase the pressure, including “stress positions”:

Another [technique] widely used is that of requiring the prisoner to stand throughout the interrogation session or to maintain some other physical position which becomes painful. This, like other features of the KGB procedure, is a form of physical torture, in spite of the fact that the prisoners and KGB officers alike do not ordinarily perceive it as such. Any fixed position which is maintained over a long period of time ultimately produces excruciating pain.

Overt brutality was discouraged, as it was at American facilities:

The KGB hardly ever uses manacles or chains, and rarely resorts to physical beatings. The actual physical beating is, of course, repugnant to overt Communist principles and is contrary to K.G.B. regulations.

Closed trials and military tribunals were standard, as at Guantánamo:

Prisoners are tried before “military tribunals,” which are not public courts. Those present are only the interrogator, the state prosecutor, the prisoner, the judges, a few stenographers, and perhaps a few officers of the court.

The Bush administration concluded that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to Qaeda detainees. Similarly, the Soviets argued that international rules did not apply to foreign detainees:

In typical Communist legalistic fashion, the N.K.V.D. rationalized its use of torture and pressure in the interrogation of prisoners of war. When it desired to use such methods against a prisoner or to obtain from him a propaganda statement or “confession,” it simply declared the prisoner a “war-crimes suspect” and informed him that, therefore, he was not subject to international rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war.

Communist-style interrogation routinely produced false confessions:

The cumulative effects of the entire experience may be almost intolerable. [The prisoner] becomes mentally dull and loses his capacity for discrimination. He becomes malleable and suggestible, and in some instances he may confabulate. By suggesting that the prisoner accept half-truths and plausible distortions of the truth, [the interrogator] makes it possible for the prisoner to rationalize and thus accept the interrogator’s viewpoint as the only way out of an intolerable situation.

Andrew Sullivan writes about it changing a few words here and there to put it in perspective:

“The effects of isolation, anxiety, fatigue, lack of sleep, uncomfortable temperatures, and chronic hunger produce disturbances of mood, attitudes and behavior in nearly all prisoners. The living organism cannot entirely withstand such assaults. The Republicans Communists do not look upon these assaults as ‘torture.’ But all of them produce great discomfort, and lead to serious disturbances of many bodily processes; there is no reason to differentiate them from any other form of torture…

The CIA KGB hardly ever uses manacles or chains, and rarely resorts to physical beatings. The actual physical beating is, of course, repugnant to overt Republican Communist principles and is contrary to C.I.A. K.G.B. regulations…

Prisoners are tried before “military tribunals,” which are not public courts. Those present are only the interrogator, the state prosecutor, the prisoner, the judges, a few stenographers, and perhaps a few officers of the court…

In typical Republican Communist legalistic fashion, the O.L.C. N.K.V.D. rationalized its use of torture and pressure in the interrogation of prisoners of war. When it desired to use such methods against a prisoner or to obtain from him a propaganda statement or ‘confession,’ it simply declared the prisoner an enemy combatant a “war-crimes suspect” and informed him that, therefore, he was not subject to international rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war,” – “Communist Interrogation,” The Annals of Neurology and Psychology, 1956.

This is what the Republicans stand for today, America. This is what Mitt Romney believes we should double. This is what Rudy Giuliani thinks is okay. The only Republican candidate intelligent enough to know better is John McCain. Unfortunately, he caved into political pressure last fall and allowed this kind of Soviet action to be legalized here in America. Welcome to the Republicans, America. Do you really want these kinds of people continuing to ruin run America? Is this what America stands for? Exactly what are we fighting for?

The Iraq Whac-a-Mole

June 4, 2007 at 6:45 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, Republicans, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

American commanders in Iraq are disheartened by the quite clear lack of progress so far in their “surge” in Baghdad (cue here the “I told you so” comment). What seems to be the problem for the disheartened Americans?

The sectarian violence was especially disheartening to some American officers because it occurred in May, the same month that they were undertaking the centerpiece of the Baghdad security plan — a neighborhood clearing operation.

The battalion’s troops, augmented by more than 2,000 soldiers in armored Stryker vehicles, went block by block through the neighborhood, arresting suspected insurgents and destroying arms caches.

But since the Stryker unit has moved on to a different area of Baghdad, “there’s been a reinfiltration” by Shiite fighters and intimidation squads, who had left the area when the operation began, said Capt. Tim Wright, the company commander responsible for the neighborhood.

Basically put, because the Americans are NOT following their own top general’s advice to have one combat soldier for every fifty native civilians (or 120,000 combat troops for the city of Baghdad), the Americans just cannot stop the stumbling block to progress, the undermining and detrimental violence that kills not only thousands of innocents, but any chance of a political resolution. Let the Americans not pretend they weren’t warned that this was coming. General Petraeus’ own counterinsurgency field manual states this.

But you want to know what else adds to the problem?

“We were way too optimistic,” said the officer, adding that September is now the goal for establishing basic security in most neighborhoods, the same month that Bush administration officials have said they plan to review the progress of the plan.

Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the senior American ground commander in Iraq, said in a brief interview that he never believed that a midsummer timetable for establishing security in Baghdad was realistic. “This was always going to be conditions-driven,” he said, noting that he always had expected it would take until fall to establish security across much of the city.

But in order to meet that timetable, he added, the Iraqi Security Forces would have to make strides in coming months at maintaining security. “Ultimately the I.S.F., and specifically the police, are the key to holding an area,” he said. “We have to within the next four months move them more toward holding the areas we have cleared.”

Where are the realists within the American military? Where have they gone to? Why are they silent? Does the military not realize that by being “way too optimistic” it only leads to their own loss? You cannot be optimistic in the military. You MUST be a realist. It is vital to your safety and your survival. Where are the realists within the American military? Where have they gone to?

How do you solve the problem of violence in Iraq? First and foremost, you MUST follow your own counterinsurgency field manual and flood the country with at LEAST FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND combat troops, and at LEAST ONE HUNDRED TWENTY THOUSAND for Baghdad alone, (though you would probably want to concentrate far more in the capital). You cannot trust the Iraqis as yet to rule their own country dispassionately.

In addition to carrying out sectarian killings, the Mahdi Army controls two of the area’s three gas stations, which refuse to sell to most Sunnis. Gunmen regularly attacked trash trucks when they entered Sunni areas until the American military began providing security. Sunni homes are also the targets of arson attacks if their occupants fail to heed warnings to leave, he said.

Sunni insurgents have fought back as well, with two large car bomb attacks in largely Shiite sections of Baya and Ameel that killed more than 60 people, officers said.


But American officers worry that many members of the largely Shiite police force sympathize or collaborate with the Mahdi Army.

The local commander of the Iraqi national police, a force run by the Shiite-run Interior Ministry, has been replaced three times since March.

One of those commanders, Col. Nadir al-Jabouri, a Shiite described by Colonel Frank as the most aggressive and even-handed Iraqi officer he had seen. But he was detained in late March by the Interior Ministry and accused of having ties to insurgents.

“He was not a protector of the people; he was a terrorist,” said Col. Vhafir Kader Jowda, his Shiite replacement.

American patrols have been attacked in a wave of deadly bombings recently, sometimes within sight of police checkpoints, officers said.

Ten soldiers under Colonel Frank’s command have been killed since March. At least eight of the recent attacks in the area have used explosively formed penetrators, or E.F.P.’s, powerful bombs able to pierce armored Humvees.

When Colonel Frank went to the Ameel police station recently accompanied by a reporter and asked for help in capturing a local Shiite sheik believed to be behind the bombings, the police official he was meeting with spoke in a whisper. “They listen to us,” he said, pointing to a ventilation grill on his wall. “I am in danger just by meeting with you.”

A few weeks earlier, angered by the attacks on his soldiers, Colonel Frank ordered a video camera hidden near an abandoned swimming pool along a main road in Ameel, near a police checkpoint, where patrols had been hit repeatedly.

When the video was examined after another attack, it showed two Iraqi policemen talking with companions, who were heard off-camera, apparently laying an explosive device. Minutes after the policemen were seen driving away, the camera showed a powerful bomb detonating as an American Humvee came into view.

The video of the attack, which just missed the vehicle and caused no casualties, was shown to a reporter from The New York Times.

After police commanders were confronted with the video in mid-May, six Iraqi officers were arrested, Colonel Frank said.

I’m afraid, however, that too many war supporters do not understand the need to set aside their vain, prideful desire to score political points, bash Democrats for being “defeatocrats” by totally ignoring the warning signs that their own policies and actions have undermined the very institution they claim to fully support: the troops. War supporters were wrong from the start, and when evidence is clear as the bright blue sky above us that the plan is not working, they worry more about saving face than protecting the troops. You want to protect the troops? You want to show that you really care for those troops and are not using them as a political pawn, then let go your pride! Face the fact that your policy is a failure and you must change NOW or more of those precious troops you claim to support die for a failing cause. That is NOT supporting the troops. That is supporting a failed policy.

You want to win in Iraq? Then flood the country with troops or get out. Nothing in between will work, as the evidence proves again and again and again and again. How often do you want the evidence (dead soldiers and continual violence) to be presented to you before you understand this?

The Negative Effects of Torture on the Interrogators

June 3, 2007 at 10:56 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, Torture | Leave a comment

We know torture (the enhanced interrogation techniques that Mitt Romney approves of) does not work, is ineffective, has a very severe effect on the detainees, is highly detrimental to our moral standing in the world, etc. We also know that it negatively affects the interrogator. The Washington Post has a new article out highlighting this very point. Please read the article in full. Know, this is evil stuff that Mitt Romney approves of, that Rudy Giuliani approves of, that the people of South Carolina got up on their feet and applauded for during the Republican debate. This is what happens when you torture.

Quote of the Day – Peggy Noonan

June 2, 2007 at 5:14 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, Democrats, George W Bush, liberals, secret combinations | 5 Comments

The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic–they “don’t want to do what’s right for America.” His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, “We’re gonna tell the bigots to shut up.” On Fox last weekend he vowed to “push back.” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want “mass deportation.” Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are “anti-immigrant” and suggested they suffer from “rage” and “national chauvinism.”

Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens?

Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speech writer, and until recently Bush pom pom cheerleader, as quoted at Firedoglake.

I’ve said before, Republicans don’t like a taste of their own medicine. It’s truly enlightening to see how they react when their Dear Leader attacks them, even though they are, as she claims “concerned citizens.” Indeed, as she says, “why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens?”

Should we even attempt to highlight the thousands upon thousands of times that the White House and indeed even Ms. Noonan spoke insultingly and with hostility towards concerned citizens who happened to oppose the President’s plans? Note for example Ms. Noonan’s crowing over Bush’s 2004 re-election win. Savor, indeed, Ms. Noonan.

Bush Rebukes Putin, Praises Musharraf

June 1, 2007 at 11:08 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, neo-conservatives, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, Russia, World Events | 1 Comment

Proving yet again how foolish President Bush is on foreign policy, his administration is rebuking Russia’s Putin for the slow move away from democracy and openness.

A top Russia expert at the State Department issued an unusually sharp public criticism on Thursday of Moscow’s behavior under President Vladimir V. Putin, describing the Kremlin as bullying its neighbors while silencing political opponents and suppressing individual rights at home.

The comments, approved by the White House, are the latest volley of criticism between Washington and Moscow in recent days. Although the White House said this week that President Bush would play host to Mr. Putin on July 1 at the Bush family compound in Maine, the speech is likely to add tension at a time when the broader dialogue between Washington and Moscow is already taking the most caustic tones since the collapse of communism.

“We do no one any favors, least of all the Russian people and even their government, by abstaining from speaking out when necessary,” the Russia expert, David Kramer, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said in a speech Thursday night before the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs.

That’s fine and all, speaking out against totalitarian moves by the Russian president, but…well, why does the administration keep supporting and praising a non-elected military dictator in Pakistan, Mr. Musharraf, who recently sowed more chaos in his country by firing the chief justice who called for more openness in his country?

Does the Bush administration really feel that it is more beneficial to America’s interests to further push the Russians (with their thousands of nuclear warheads) further away from being an ally? Do they really see it as more beneficial to America’s interests to have another arms race with the Russians? Does the Bush administration not see that by supporting Musharraf’s clearly totalitarian, anti-democratic moves as completely undermining the scorn we heap upon the Russians? What is the point of criticizing the Russians for their anti-democratic moves while we fully support a military dictator’s anti-democratic moves? What effect do we think will come of it? Does the Bush administration really think Putin will see anything but threatening rhetoric?

Rebuking the Russians while supporting the Pakistani makes absolutely no sense. I understand the need to prop Mr. Musharraf, with all the extremists (including Bin Laden) in Pakistan’s tribal regions, but that support undermines and discredits all our other talk of democracy elsewhere. If Mr. Musharraf cannot control his country, and more importantly, help us to destroy Al-Qaida, just what purpose does our support of Mr. Musharraf give us? What is it in America’s interest that supporting him is so valuable? Let the Pakistani wolves have his head. He does not deserve our support.

« Previous Page

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.