There are a few items in the news today that I feel are important.
Surprise, surprise. The Bush Administration Justice Department does not wish for Congress to really know what was going on at the CIA when they destroyed evidence. What do you think, Mr. Chuck Shumer? Ms. Diane Feinstein? Was Mukasey worth this? Did you really think he would allow you into the deepest darkest corners of the Bush administration? Serious, high crimes have been committed by the Bush administration, ordered from Bush himself. Do you really think he would let you in?
Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating they have been at allowing the Bush administration and the minority Republicans to thrash them so many times? Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating it is for citizens to see them capitulate at the mere THREAT of filibuster. LET THEM FILIBUSTER ALREADY! Let them do it guys! Let’s see Republicans talk themselves to death! Let them truly be obstructionist. Why do you give them such political victories, by both giving in to their demands without making them sweat for it, and letting them take the public relations coup?
I think we need new Democratic leadership. Y’all are cowards. Yes, you Mr. Harry Reid. Yes you, Ms. Nancy Pelosi. What do Bush and the Republicans have on you? Why do you bend over for them? STOP IT!
Heh, one wonders why. Let’s see, the reason given for the state of emergency two months ago was a threat to the state of Pakistan by Al-Qaeda. Now that the state of emergency was removed, can anyone point to any reduced threat from Al-Qaeda? Any evidence? Are they still a threat to Pakistan? Hmmm.
Maybe the real reason had to do with Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which was about to rule against Musharraf. Let’s see. Musharraf declares emergency, martial law, basically. He removes justices from the Supreme Court he didn’t like, and places ones on there that would rule in his favor. He arrests some thousands of lawyers—a true threat to the viability of the state, no doubt—-but, well…nothing really drastic done against the stated threat, Al-Qaeda. Huh.
So, who, besides Musharraf, can even consider the upcoming elections as anything but fair?
This piece of news is important because Ethiopia entered into Somalia at our request. We again farmed out what we should have done to someone else. Now that someone else, in this case, Ethiopia, is stretched too thin. Because many of its troops are in Somalia, Ethiopia does not have enough to deal with the rebels in a really dry region between Somalia and Eritrea. This is bad because it is undermining the strength of a fairly stable country on Africa’s horn. Meanwhile, over in Somalia, the Islamic militants increase their power.
Huh, I wonder if Bush will pull a Bush senior move and send soldiers into Somalia just before he gets out of office forcing his Democratic successor to handle his mess.
I don’t get Israel. I don’t think they realize the enormity of the problem in Gaza, and that by continuing to starve them out, it will only be worse for them. 1.5 million people is a hell of a lot of people. I’m sure Israel would love it for them not to be there anymore, but there is no way for that to happen.
It is really sad. A peace conference photo-op was done at Annapolis just a few weeks ago, but notably absent are the conflicting parties. Where was Hamas? Where was Hesbollah? Where was Iran? Interestingly, where was Iraq? How can you make peace with your enemy if you do not invite them to a peace conference?
On baseball here. The Mitchell Report has certainly increased baseball talk, here in mid-winter. I’ll be fascinated to see what happens in the Spring. But I wanted to quote from Ray Ratto, who is quoted in this piece. I think he makes some very interesting points in regards to baseball, the Hall of Fame, numbers, and more importantly, the business itself.
“I would vote for Bonds on the first ballot, as I would vote for Clemens, because the Hall of Fame isn’t church,” Ratto said. “It’s the history of baseball, and this is part of the history of baseball. I can assure you that Bud Selig will be voted into the Hall of Fame, and he is the commissioner whose name will be linked with the steroid era by first ignoring it, then profiting from it, and finally blaming others for it.
“I know that Cap Anson is in the Hall of Fame, and he was instrumental in the creation of the color line, which is way worse than PEDs. So this discussion ends up being an excuse for people with no institutional memory or understanding to claim a moral superiority they’re not really equipped to display.”
I always liked Ray Ratto. I grew up in the Bay Area and read his opinions frequently. I think he says it best here. Firstly that the Hall of Fame already includes cheaters, as well as racists and womanizers. It isn’t church. We don’t need to deify these players.
More important is his point about how the business of baseball profited from these past 12 years of steroid and human growth hormone abuse. I remember seeing a comment from a reader on CNN.com who said that Barry Bonds was being used. This commentator wrote when Barry was indicted by the grand jury on perjury. Barry Bonds may be done playing baseball for good. But that is a point rarely made.
Barry Bonds was indeed used. Bud Selig was silent because Barry Bonds brought in money. Look at just this last year’s revenue, over $6 billion dollars, according to sources. $6 billion dollars. That’s almost as good as America’s most popular sport—where enhancement drugs are also abused—football. On what did those baseball owners profit? On juiced up players of course. How much revenue did the San Francisco Giants get from the year 2000-2007? Shall we look at what profit Peter Magowan made during that time? How about Steinbrenner and the Yankees?
Baseball millionaire owners profited from their players getting juiced. And who gets blamed now? The players of course. Rape them for all they’ve got and then throw them to the trash compactor when you’re through with them. Who is the public face of the San Francisco Giants? Barry Bonds of course. Who is the money behind the San Francisco Giants? Peter Magowan. Who will pay for the juiced player? Barry Bonds of course. Who will profit from the juiced player? Peter Magowan.
Read for yourself:
George Mitchell’s steroids report hasn’t just rocked the game of baseball. It figures to shake the business of baseball, too.
As an industry, MLB has been even hotter than Josh Beckett in October. It posted record revenues of $6 billion this year. Baseball has more than doubled its take of a decade ago and is closing fast on the NFL as the top-grossing league in sports.
The Mitchell Report, though, could jeopardize that run. Maybe Commissioner Bud Selig just couldn’t stand too much prosperity. He ordered up the Mitchell Report and re-focused attention on a problem that, in many fans’ eyes, had faded as a concern.
Just remember who profited on baseball’s steroids. Not the players who get the fans’ wrath. Oh no. People like Bud Selig. I wish we had our priorities straight, here in America.
Well, there you go, ladies and gentlemen. When facing scrutiny over its torture program, the CIA protected itself by destroying evidence.
The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.
The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said.
They broke the law. They knew it. They destroyed the evidence that would prosecute them.
The C.I.A. said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made “within the C.I.A. itself,” and they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value. The agency was headed at the time by Porter J. Goss. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.
And we can trust the CIA to tell us the truth. Porter Goss, that’s Bush’s man.
It was not clear who within the C.I.A. authorized the destruction of the tapes, but current and former government officials said it had been approved at the highest levels of the agency.
That would be Porter Goss, Bush’s man.
The recordings were not provided to a federal court hearing the case of the terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui or to the Sept. 11 commission, which had made formal requests to the C.I.A. for transcripts and any other documentary evidence taken from interrogations of agency prisoners.
C.I.A. lawyers told federal prosecutors in 2003 and 2005, who relayed the information to a federal court in the Moussaoui case, that the C.I.A. did not possess recordings of interrogations sought by the judge in the case. It was unclear whether the judge had explicitly sought the videotape depicting the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah.
Mr. Moussaoui’s lawyers had hoped that records of the interrogations might provide exculpatory evidence for Mr. Moussaoui — showing that the Al Qaeda detainees did not know Mr. Moussaoui and clearing him of involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, plot.
They obstructed justice. Is anyone surprised?
General Hayden’s statement said that the tapes posed a “serious security risk,” and that if they were to become public they would have exposed C.I.A. officials “and their families to retaliation from Al Qaeda and its sympathizers.”
“What matters here is that it was done in line with the law,” he said. He said in his statement that he was informing agency employees because “the press has learned” about the destruction of the tapes.
General Hayden, protecting his own. Not a follower of the law. And Mr. General, they would not have been exposed to retaliation from Al-Qaeda and its sympathizers, unless you are calling the long arm of the law Al-Qaeda.
Staff members of the Sept. 11 commission, which completed its work in 2004, expressed surprise when they were told that interrogation videotapes existed until 2005.
“The commission did formally request material of this kind from all relevant agencies, and the commission was assured that we had received all the material responsive to our request,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and later as a senior counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Makes one wonder what else is hiding in that cavernous CIA headquarters that they might not want the public to know…
Daniel Marcus, a law professor at American University who served as general counsel for the Sept. 11 commission and was involved in the discussions about interviews with Al Qaeda leaders, said he had heard nothing about any tapes being destroyed.
If tapes were destroyed, he said, “it’s a big deal, it’s a very big deal,” because it could amount to obstruction of justice to withhold evidence being sought in criminal or fact-finding investigations.
Indeed, and a worthy nominee for understatement of the year.
General Hayden said the tapes were originally made to ensure that agency employees acted in accordance with “established legal and policy guidelines.” General Hayden said the agency stopped videotaping interrogations in 2002.
Guess they realized that the more they videotaped themselves torturing suspects, the more evidence there would be later on for prosecution. Can’t have that now, can we.
A former intelligence official who was briefed on the issue said the videotaping was ordered as a way of assuring “quality control” at remote sites following reports of unauthorized interrogation techniques. He said the tapes, along with still photographs of interrogations, were destroyed after photographs of abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib became public in May 2004 and C.I.A. officers became concerned about a possible leak of the videos and photos.
Huh, like Abu Ghraib…that was bad and all. Imagine how nasty it would be to see the videos of the torture the CIA did. I’m sure the backlash around the world would be…intense.
It has been widely reported that Mr. Zubaydah was subjected to several tough physical tactics, including waterboarding, which involves near-suffocation. But C.I.A. officers judged that the release of photos or videos would nonetheless provoke a strong reaction.
“People know what happened, but to see it in living color would have far greater power,” the official said.
Um, that’s generally WHY you don’t torture. But some people, see, lost their sense of morals and reason when terrorists hit us on 9/11.
Mr. Holt said he had been told many times that the C.I.A. does not record the interrogation of detainees. “When I would ask them whether they had reviewed the tapes to better understand the intelligence, they said ‘What tapes?’,” he said.
Lawbreakers. Torturers. This is what America has become.
Juan Cole wonders:
If Bush and Cheney are ever tempted into extreme measures in the United States, Musharraf has provided a template for how it would unfold. Maintain you are moving against terrorists and extremists, but actually move against the rule of law. Rubin has accepted the suggested term of “lawfare” to describe this kind of warfare by executive order.
Realistically, how many conservatives would actually be upset if, say, Bush were to keep power and go around arresting liberals…
Jonathan Schwartz quotes George Orwell, whose main points, especially in 1984 are glaringly relevant today:
A Party member…is supposed to live in a continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal traitors, triumph over victories, and self-abasement before the power and wisdom of the Party. The discontents produced by his bare, unsatisfying life are deliberately turned outwards and dissipated by such devices as the Two Minutes Hate, and the speculations which might possibly induce a sceptical or rebellious attitude are killed in advance by his early acquired inner discipline…called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.
We’ve ‘disappeared’ many people since Bush took power. This is the kind of thing we used to use as an excuse to attack other nations. Now we do it ourselves.
What does it take to raise the level of discourse of these Republican candidates for president? Here we have Mitt Romney responding on the new sanctions placed on Iran that he is in favor of “a military blockade or “bombardment of some kind” to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.”
A bombardment of some kind? A military blockade? Just what in the hell will those do? Are Republicans really this far unhinged? This shows a real poor understanding of foreign policy on Mitt Romney. It shows that he would rather pander to an out of touch political Right than state things as they are. Com’on Mr. Romney, you were a stake president for Pete’s sake!
Keep an eye on this administration, everybody. They are slowly setting the stage for what will be called a “no-brainer” in Cheney’s words: war with Iran. We talk about it so much it will soon become an inexorable inevitability.
The Bush administration will announce a long-debated policy of new sanctions against Iran on Thursday, accusing the elite Quds division of the Revolutionary Guard Corps of supporting terrorism, administration officials said Wednesday night.
The administration also plans to accuse the entire Revolutionary Guard Corps of proliferating weapons of mass destruction, the officials said. While the United States has long labeled Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, the decision to single out the Guard reflects increased frustration in the administration with the slow pace of diplomatic negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Both designations will put into play unilateral sanctions intended to impede the Revolutionary Guard and those who do business with it. This is the first time that the United States has taken such steps against the armed forces of any sovereign government.
The action against the Revolutionary Guard, first reported by The Washington Post, would set in motion a series of automatic sanctions that would make it easier for the United States to block financial accounts and other assets controlled by the Guard. In particular, the action would freeze any assets the Guard has in the United States, although it is unlikely that the Guard maintains much in the way of assets in American banks or other institutions.
The decision will be announced jointly on Thursday by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the administration officials said. “This is going to be a broad and wide-ranging effort,” a senior administration official said. “We will be freezing assets, and there will be ripple effects of where we can go from there.”
And that is EXACTLY the point of this move. Where do you think they can go from here? The more the Bush administration takes these steps, the easier it will be for them to argue with Americans that that secret attack on Iranians they will be taking in a few months was absolutely necessary for your safety, America, even though it had nothing to do with your safety.
You are being bamboozled again.
See, the problem is that because of centuries of gerrymandering there are particular districts in each state that are safely in one camp or the other, and there is no getting around it. What Republicans want to do is steal California delegate votes. They want the 20 or so votes from safe Republican districts (which will tilt the overall vote count). The problem is that these Republicans do not want to do this nationally (say in Texas or Florida or Ohio), just California, the biggest electorate prize.
Of course if this is done nationally, then it would wholly ruin democracy, as the only districts that will even get candidates to show up are the very very few that still happen to be competitive. As it is right now, because of the outdated electoral college system, only a few states actually count in the general election (Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, etc). Voters in states like Massachusetts, Texas, New York, and California (not to mention all the small states like Rhode Island—very liberal—or Wyoming—very conservative—that will also not get any candidates stopping by, even though that was supposedly the purpose of the electoral college—to make smaller states competitive), do not count.
I believe that we must remove the electoral college system from our election process. Make the election truly representative of the plurality of voters.
Because he declined to name waterboarding torture. Because he thinks the President of the United States can effectively be above the law if the President so believes it is necessary. This is evil stuff.
Matt calls him “completely unacceptable.” Having read the testimony, I’m afraid I have to abandon my early hopes and agree. An attorney general who believes a president has a permanent right to ignore the rule of law because peacetime is now wartime for ever, is an attorney-general defending the rule of one man over the rule of law. If I were a Senator, (heh, indeed) I’d vote no. This is the faultline of our time. If we are redefining war as a permanent state of being, and redefining presidential authority to give him/her extra-legal and extra-constitutional power to what s/he wants anywhere in the world, including the United States and to its citizenry, then American liberty is in extreme peril. To approve an attorney general who does not dissent from this position is a terrible precedent.
Don’t people see that this is what Cheney is doing? He is setting precedent after precedent for totalist, secret executive power. And with each precedent for unchecked, uncontrollable executive power – including the power to detain and torture within the United States – the America we have known is being surrendered. This is the other war – a constitutional war at home against American liberty and the Constitution – as dangerous in a different way as Islamism. One attacks our freedom from the outside; the other hollows out our freedom from within. The fight against both is the calling of the time.
I think we’re in denial about this. Following Mukasey’s statements with confirmation would set a precedent we may well deeply regret. Think of another terrorist attack. Think of the Cheney precedents. Think of Giuliani in the White House. Now think of what would be left of democracy and the Constitution the day after.
Mukasey had a good start the other day, telling the Senate that we didn’t liberate Nazi concentration camps “so we could then duplicate it ourselves.” Unfortunately, when the questioning got a little more specific, it turned out he wasn’t entirely sure what counted as torture and what didn’t.
This just shouldn’t be hard stuff. It’s a sign of the moral decay of the Bush era that we even find ourselves arguing about it.
I understand Mukasey is supposed to be a reasonably good guy, by comparison with the run of Bush appointees. But if Mukasey won’t say that waterboarding is torture and claims that the President has some undefined power to violate statute law — even criminal laws, such as the ban on torture and other war crimes — under his “Article II powers,” then why should the Senate Judiciary Committee even bring his nomination to a vote? If he says he hasn’t read the latest torture memos or decided whether waterboarding is torture, Sen. Leahy ought to tell him to read the memos and observe a waterboarding session and come back when he’s done his homework.
I see no disadvantage in the Senate Democrats taking a firm stand on the rule of law and human decency.
(courtesy of Stefan Zaklin/European Pressphoto Agency)
This man should NOT be even considered as an Attorney General. Take a stand for what is right, Senators!
Glenn Greenwald writes:
I wrote about many of yesterday’s developments concerning telecom amnesty and warrantless surveillance in this morning’s post, but I want separately to highlight one critical fact. Citing various media reports, Jane Hamsher last night noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — in violation of all Senate customs and rules — apparently intends, in essence, simply to ignore the “hold” placed on the FISA bill by Chris Dodd and bring the bill to the floor for a vote (and certain passage).
I was somewhat skeptical of that interpretation. The one “principle” which all Senators share is the sacred holiness of their customs and institutional prerogatives. As Jane notes, Reid has never dishonored a “hold” before from his own caucus, and virtually never dishonors “holds” even when placed by the most far-right Republicans Senators. It seemed inconceivable that he would simply refuse to recognize a “hold” by one of the Senate’s most senior members on a bill of this importance, and the media accounts seemed vague on that score.
As a result, I emailed Reid’s office to ask if they actually intended to override and ignore Dodd’s “hold” and this is the patronizing (though crystal clear) dismissal I received back as a “response” from Reid’s spokesman, Jim Manley:
Reid will work with Dodd and other Senators to correct the deep flaws in the Protect America Act.
Clearly, Reid has nothing but contempt for Dodd’s principled stand, which was generated by (and in response to) the actions of tens of thousands of Americans concerned about our constitutional liberties and the rule of law. Reid is dismissively brushing that all to the side — as usual — to ensure the safe and smooth passage of a Draconian bill jointly demanded by the Bush administration, the telecom industry, and their lobbyists.
There is a reason that the Democratic Congress has been as accommodating to the Bush agenda, if not more so, than even the GOP Congress led by Bill Frist and Denny Hastert. It is because that is what their leadership, repeatedly, chooses to do. Dodd needs to demonstrate that yesterday was not a one-time event by demanding that his “hold” be honored, and the other Democratic candidates, as well as others in the Senate who claim to want to stop this bill, ought to do more than issue empty, right-worded statements and stand with Dodd to block this bill by any means available.
Why, Senator Reid, why? Why do you wish to provide telecom companies with RETROACTIVE IMMUNITY? Clearly because you wish to provide them immunity retroactively, it clearly implies there was some lawbreaking in the past by these companies, the kind of lawbreaking that will get these telecom companies into some serious trouble, and could even bring them down. Stand for your principles, man! Stop accepting their money! Don’t be like the Republicans! Shame on you, Mr. Harry Reid. You really are no better than the Republicans.
What in the heck did George W. Bush mean when he warned that if Iran progresses further in their nuclear technology that there would be World War III? Let’s read the account first:
Q [Putin] said — well, at least the quote said that — and he also said, “He sees no evidence to suggest Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb.” Were you disappointed with that message? And does that indicate possibly that international pressure is not as great as you once thought against Iran abandoning its nuclear program?
THE PRESIDENT: I — as I said, I look forward to — if those are, in fact, his comments, I look forward to having him clarify those, because when I visited with him, he understands that it’s in the world’s interest to make sure that Iran does not have the capacity to make a nuclear weapon. And that’s why, on — in the first round at the U.N., he joined us, and second round, we joined together to send a message. I mean, if he wasn’t concerned about it, Bret, then why did we have such good progress at the United Nations in round one and round two?
And so I will visit with him about it. I have not yet been briefed yet by Condi or Bob Gates about, you know, their visit with Vladimir Putin.
Q But you definitively believe Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon?
THE PRESIDENT: I think so long — until they suspend and/or make it clear that they — that their statements aren’t real, yeah, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon. And I know it’s in the world’s interest to prevent them from doing so. I believe that the Iranian — if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace.
But this — we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously. And we’ll continue to work with all nations about the seriousness of this threat.
Note the threat there. If we supposedly want to avoid World War III, we need to prevent Iran from having “the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” It’s no longer even a matter of them having nuclear weapons, but they can’t even go on track to have them.
So let’s get into Bush’s insane and childish logic here. First of all, Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which specifically allows countries to proceed with nuclear technology. (note importantly that India is NOT, yet Bush signed a massive deal with them to share our nuclear technology—but hey we were never fair in terms of following international law, so why start now, right?). The NPT specifically, and most importantly, legally allows a country like Iran to have a nuclear energy program. George W. Bush would have the United States of America violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty by taking away from Iran what is rightfully and legally theirs: access to nuclear energy. Now, if George W. Bush feels the NPT is not a good treaty, he can order the United States to relinquish its terms to the treaty (as he did with the ABM treaty so long ago). After all, we’re already violating the spirit of the NPT by signing the deal with India, who does NOT belong to the NPT and probably never will.
Secondly, why would George W. Bush think that if Iran would gain nuclear technology and knowledge it would lead to a WORLD war? When you talk about World Wars, you’re talking about something along the lines of what we saw in the 1910s and 1940s. Is George W. Bush saying that multiple countries will be involved in a prolonged conflict that will lead to the deaths of millions of people?
Think about this, if Iran merely has the knowledge of nuclear technology, they can’t USE that knowledge to start wars. Knowledge in and of itself is practically useless. It must be put into PRACTICE in order for it to become forceful. So how could the KNOWLEDGE of nuclear technology lead Iran to START a world war? It couldn’t. So who would be STARTING that next World War?
Just follow George W. Bush’s own logic, guys. He is basically telling you that HE AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA will be STARTING THE NEXT WORLD WAR. We will be the instigators of WORLD WAR THREE.
I was one of those who was highly disappointed with the 2000 election. There were so many factors that took away the presidency from the rightful person and put it in the hands of a childish, boy emperor, a petulant, self-serving, babbling idiot, who has left the blackest mark on our country…since, well, I can’t honestly think of a worst president.
I can’t say how angry I have been these past seven years at Ralph Nader, siphoning votes away from Al Gore (Ralph Nader got like 70,000 votes in Florida in 2000, plenty to defeat Bush). Republicans have seen the power of a third party candidate taking votes away from the likely winner (they faced a similar situation in 1992 with Ross Perot giving the victory to Bill Clinton), and some Republican candidates have tried to mimic that for a Senate seat.
George Bush was given the presidency and the world (with the exception of a few) mourned his administration. 9/11 occurred on his watch. He began expanding warrantless wiretapping right from the beginning of his administration in February 2001 (according to QWest CEO). He ordered the CIA and the military to torture suspects a practice previously we abhorred and usually denounced when we heard other countries practice. He used politics of division rather than union and immediately angered half of his own country. He rightfully went after Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan after we were attacked, but instead of focusing on our real enemy, he chose to go after Saddam, with no really good reason to do so. He contracted out security to lawless men who murder innocent Iraqis. He continues to bamboozle America into further war, increasingly raising the specter of war with Iran.
Al Gore went away from the spotlight during this time, but in 2002, as the country was seeing red and Iraq was its target, he spoke out prophetically against the war, and made us who felt he was our real president, long for his leadership instead of the idiot we got.
For Al Gore, winning the Nobel Peace Prize today is the latest twist in a remarkable decade of soaring highs and painful lows. In the span of the last decade he went from being the vice president to being the presumptive Democratic nominee for president to winning the popular vote for president only to lose in the Electoral College — after an intervention by the Supreme Court made his 537-vote loss in Florida official.
Mr. Gore’s decision to give up the fight after the Supreme Court decision left some of his more die-hard supporters bitter, and he by and large retreated from public view for several years. He rarely inserted himself in the public debate, though he did venture out to speak against the invasion of Iraq before it happened. But, associates have said, it was during that quasi-exile that Mr. Gore broke free of the political consultancy that had come to surround him to find his true voice, returning to the environmental issues to which he had devoted his early political career.
Even before Mr. Gore’s so-called “user generated” cable television network, Current, won an Emmy, or the film on climate change in which he starred, “An Inconvenient Truth,” won an Oscar, he was growing in stature for another reason: his early opposition to the Iraq war.
He had initially voiced it in 2002 in an address that his newly galvanized supporters now describe as uncannily prescient and unfairly dismissed, though it was seen as a politically off-kilter at a time of great popularity for President George W. Bush.
The Prize certainly comes as vindication to Mr. Gore, whose early dedication to environmental issues had earned him the derisive nickname “Ozone Man” — “Ozone,” for short — from President George H.W. Bush during the 1992 presidential campaign.
Al Gore went private and became a true leader of the world. He created a TV network, he created a documentary that won him the Oscar for Best Documentary, and he went around the world and raised awareness, enough so that blogs like this write a post with well over 300 comments on global warming. This is raising awareness. And because of this Al Gore won the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Conservatives hate this, because they think they see a hypocrite (they of course never look in the mirror—if they did they might have a Dorian Gray moment). They try to downplay the importance of the Nobel Prize, claiming it is political, blah blah blah.
But in the world of power and influence, Al Gore has shown that striving for peace is more powerful and more influential than creating war.
As Noam Scheiber writes:
Watching Al Gore take a well-deserved victory lap this afternoon, I couldn’t help wondering what George W. Bush must be thinking. I mean, I know the guy still believes history will vindicate him and all, but, really, this has got to be pretty painful. Bush, according to various accounts of the 2000 campaign, absolutely despised Gore. He regarded him as a preening, self-righteous phony.
So Bush somehow manages to avenge his father’s defeat and vanquish the vice president of the United States. And yet, seven years later, it’s Gore who’s being hailed around the world as a prophet and a savior and Bush who, if he’s still being discussed at all, is mentioned only as the punchline to some joke, or when his poll numbers reach some new historic low. It must eat him up.
I don’t know if it eats up Mr. Bush, who never cared much of what others thought of him (at least publicly), but it sure brings satisfaction to those of us who wonder why Bush ever became our president.
So says QWest CEO who refused to join in and illegally spy on Americans BEFORE 9/11.
Do you hear this Congress? Don’t you dare give these companies ANY immunity!
Here we start getting to the reasons why Democrats not winning the White House in 2004 will hurt us as Americans for a good long while to come, and why hardcore conservatives weep with joy. Because decisions like these from the Supreme Court today.
A German citizen who said he was kidnapped by the Central Intelligence Agency and tortured in a prison in Afghanistan lost his last chance to seek redress in court today when the Supreme Court declined to consider his case.
The justices’ refusal to take the case of Khaled el-Masri let stand a March 2 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va. That court upheld a 2006 decision by a federal district judge, who dismissed Mr. Masri’s lawsuit on the grounds that trying the case could expose state secrets.
The Supreme Court’s refusal, without comment, to take the case was not surprising, given that a three-judge panel for the Fourth Circuit was unanimous. Nevertheless, today’s announcement prompted immediate expressions of dismay, and it could exacerbate tensions between the United States and Germany.
The Fourth Circuit acknowledged the seriousness of the issues when it dismissed Mr. Masri’s suit. “We recognize the gravity of our conclusions that el-Masri must be denied a judicial forum for his complaint,” Judge Robert B. King wrote in March. “The inquiry is a difficult one, for it pits the judiciary’s search for truth against the executive’s duty to maintain the nation’s security.”
The ordeal of Mr. Masri, who is of Lebanese descent and was apparently the victim of mistaken identity, was the most extensively documented case of the C.I.A.’s controversial practice of “extraordinary rendition,” in which terrorism suspects are abducted and sent for interrogation to other countries, including some in which torture is practiced.
The episode has already caused hard feelings between the United States and Germany, whose diplomatic ties were already frayed because of differences over the war in Iraq. Mr. Masri’s lawyer in Germany, Manfred Gnjidic, said the high court’s refusal to consider the case sends a message that the United States expects other nations to act responsibly but refuses to take responsibility for its own actions.
“We are very disappointed,” Mr. Gnjidic said in an interview today with The Associated Press. “It will shatter all trust in the American justice system.”
Indeed it will. So sad.
Read this piece from CNN about a “firefight” in Baquba. Note the shift at work. It is slowly changing from Al-Qaeda being our big enemy in Iraq to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard being our main enemy.
U.S.-led coalition forces launched an airstrike west of Baquba on Friday morning, killing about 25 insurgents after a “heavy firefight” with troops, a U.S. military statement said.
The firefight involved assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, the statement said.
The forces’ operation was targeting a commander with suspected links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force. According to the U.S. military, he was “involved in the movement of various weapons from Iran to Baghdad.”
Do you see it? In a few months, they won’t be as cautious with their words against Iran, and Al-Qaeda will completely be removed from their lexicon in Iraq. This is the work of men who have a strategy in mind to deceive and convert Americans into fundamentalist supporters of war with Iran. Note that nothing really has changed in reality, just in how they REPORT reality.
Not looking very good at all for Blackwater. Not only does the United States military corroborate what Iraqi civilians at the scene say but apparently Blackwater, feeling that mere machine guns weren’t deadly enough, used a grenade launcher to kill civilians.
The U.S. military reports appear to corroborate the Iraqi government’s contention that Blackwater was at fault in the shooting incident in Nisoor Square, in which hospital records say at least 14 people were killed and 18 were wounded.
“It was obviously excessive, it was obviously wrong,” said the U.S. military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident remains the subject of several investigations. “The civilians that were fired upon, they didn’t have any weapons to fire back at them. And none of the IP or any of the local security forces fired back at them,” he added, using a military abbreviation for the Iraqi police. The Blackwater guards appeared to have fired grenade launchers in addition to machine guns, the official said.
This incident really is far worse than Abu Ghraib. I hope our governmental leaders understand this. Hey Romney, when are you going to fire that Blackwater VP from your policy board? When are you going to speak out against launching grenades at civilians?
Dang, I never thought I would have to make that kind of argument before…
That is the question the father of one of the victims in Blackwater’s murderous rampage two weeks ago asks.
The carnage has sparked outrage and demands to reform the private contractor industry. Almost three weeks later, the collective memory of Iraqis at the scene is raw.
“It was catastrophic. So many innocent people were killed,” recalled Zina Fadhil, 21, a pharmacist. That day, she huddled in fear inside her store about 100 yards from the square as Blackwater helicopters hovered above. Like other eyewitnesses, she said she saw Blackwater guards firing down from the helicopters, an allegation the security firm denies.
“I am a peaceful person, but I wished I could have shot those people in the helicopters,” Fadhil continued, her soft voice rising.
Not one of the victims or family members interviewed had been aware that Blackwater was immune to prosecution in Iraq under an order by U.S. administrators after the 2003 invasion.
“Why is the blood of Iraqis so free for everyone to spill?” asked Sahib Nasr, the father of one of the victims.
Shoot first, ask questions later? Is that really how we want the world to perceive us, America?
Kadhum, the doctor, and her son Haitham, who were in the flow of cars the officers were trying to stop, didn’t react quickly enough. A Blackwater guard fired, striking Haitham as he sat in the driver’s seat, three witnesses said.
“The bullet went through the windshield and split his head open,” recalled traffic police officer Sarhan Thiab. “His mother was holding him, screaming for help.”
The car, which had an automatic transmission, kept rolling. Another officer, Ali Khalaf, tried to stop the vehicle as another spray of bullets killed Kadhum.
Thiab fled first, then Khalaf, followed by bullets that struck a traffic light pole, a billboard and their police guard post. Then the Blackwater guards escalated their firepower, engulfing the sedan in flames.
In sworn statements to State Department investigators reported by ABC News, four Blackwater guards said they fired upon the sedan because it was traveling at high speed and would not stop. Khalaf and other eyewitnesses said it was moving slowly and posed no threat.
Imagine if that was your mother and brother. If you cannot handle that being done to your family, how can you tolerate that being done to other people’s families?
On Monday, inside his spacious cream-colored house in Baghdad’s Khadisiya neighborhood, Firoz Fadhil Abbas questioned whether anyone would be held accountable for the shootings.
He has met several times with U.S. military investigators, and every time they apologized for his brother’s death, he said. But such words have done little to ease the clan’s loss.
“It looks like everything is back to normal. The company is back in operation,” Abbas said. “And we’ve lost the head of our family. There’s no justice here.”
Mohammed Osama Fadhil, Osama’s 14-year-old son, quietly listened to the conversation. Seated near him was his brother, Ahmed, a solemn 7-year-old. Finally, Mohammed spoke, focusing on Blackwater.
“They killed many others before,” he said. “Have they done anything to help those people, so that we can expect something?”
This is a clear case of murder, whether accidental or purposeful, those civilian guards fired on civilians and killed at least fourteen. For no excuse good enough to warrant the actions they took. And they are really above the law. They are not bound to Iraqi law. They are not bound to the military code. They are not bound by American law either. The Bush administration ensured that these mercenary guards are above the law.
Is this what you really want, America? If not, then make it known to Congress, the only power left to subdue this out of control executive. This is evil stuff. This is not the characteristics of a Christian nation, or any nation professing a belief in some sort of higher being. These are not the standards we were founded upon. These are not the standards our forefathers died for. Why do we accept them now?
This is Blackwater, where guards who are above the law yell out to people “Shut Up or I’ll Shoot You”.
The convoy then continued around the traffic circle, according to a confidential Iraqi police diagram obtained by NEWSWEEK and provided to American investigators. According to the accompanying incident report, the Blackwater guards opened fire on an Iraqi Army checkpoint on a nearby road leading away from the square. The convoy also apparently sideswiped at least one Iraqi civilian vehicle in the circle. Samir Hobi, 40, says he got out of his car and complained to the Blackwater guards about the damage. He says one of the guards shouted back: “Shut up or I’ll shoot you.”
This comes from a piece in Newsweek describing the events of that fateful day when Blackwater fired without provocation onto the civilian population, killing at least 11 innocent Iraqis.
Diab says that he stopped oncoming traffic to allow the Blackwater vehicles to pass. As the convoy pulled into the circle, according to Diab, the Blackwater guards began throwing bottles of water from their vehicles—a signal to stay back. Yet shortly after the convoy slowed to a stop in the circle, he says, the Blackwater guards “started shooting randomly.” One of the bullets hit the driver of a white Kia that had stopped near the roundabout. (Blackwater guards have said they felt threatened because they believed the car was continuing to move toward them.) Diab says that he and another policeman, Ali Kalaf Salman, rushed to the car and tried to pull open the doors. As they did, the Blackwater guards intensified their fire.
The Blackwater men said in their written statements that they believed a policeman was “pushing” one of the vehicles—which the guards suspected to be a car bomb—toward the circle, which prompted them to fire. When asked whether he was pushing the Kia, Salman, the undercover police office, laughs. “When you see someone get shot, you try to help them,” he says. Salman says he was carrying a 9mm Glock, but kept it holstered throughout the shooting. ABC reported that Blackwater guards also said they saw one person pull out what appeared to be a trigger device for a bomb. But the Iraqi policemen suggest that perhaps the edgy Blackwater guards mistook everyday items for lethal weapons. “I pulled my radio out to call an ambulance, and they shot at me,” says Diab.
When the traffic police arrived at the white Kia, a woman in the car “was crying and holding her son,” says Salman. As the shooting intensified, the two policemen said they were forced to flee on foot across the square. They say they looked on as the guards fired at the Kia from all directions. “Whenever they saw movement inside the vehicle, they started shooting,” says Salman. Eventually, the men said, the Blackwater guards launched larger projectiles—perhaps rifle-fired grenades—at the white Kia, setting it on fire. The video obtained by NEWSWEEK shows a large-caliber shell casing at the scene.
For a trigger-happy, highly nervous group, this makes much sense. You see a vehicle you feel nervous about. Shoot first, ask questions later. You see someone go towards that vehicle and it looks to you like they are pushing the car closer to you, shoot first, ask questions later. Who cares for the dead, right?
Remember, America, you pay their salaries with your taxes. Is this the kind of organization you want representing you? Are their actions not terrorist in nature? Who shoots at civilians without provocation? Who is above the law? American tax-payer funded organizations? That’s what you’ve got. People who say “shut up or I’ll shoot you.” Seems to me this is a highly dangerous organization to keep loose like this…you never know when they might turn their guns on you.
Republican Congressmen and women are now boycotting MSNBC because of David Schuster’s strong stance against the poor little old Rep Blackburn of Tennessee. She thought she was going in for a safe interview, for a free shot at evil dastardly liberals. She was shocked, SHOCKED to find someone hit back. How DARE HE! “I’m a Republican Congresswoman! How dare you stick it to me!”
What a bunch of sissies!