Where in the World is America’s War Czar?

July 13, 2007 at 7:00 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Y’all remember Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, you know, the new War Czar. Since he was confirmed three weeks ago have we heard a single thing from him? Where in the world is Lt. Gen. Lute? Anyone have a guess? You’d figure with the two most important wars our country is fighting, he’d be out there doing…well, something.

Al-Qaida, Stronger Than Ever

July 11, 2007 at 9:28 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, corruption, War on Terror | 2 Comments

Looks like these past six years have been a complete and utter failure.

A new National Intelligence Estimate presents a sobering analysis of terrorism threats to the United States, concluding that Al Qaeda has reconstituted its core structure along the Pakistani border and may now be a stronger and more resilient organization today than it appeared a year ago, according to three U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the draft document.

So what can be done?

First of all, fire the failed leaders! Remove Bush and Cheney from power. Now!

Quote of the Day – Bennie G. Thompson

July 11, 2007 at 11:09 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, secret combinations, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Courtesy of The Gavel, Committee on Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson responds to Michael Chertoff’s “gut feeling.”

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

Over the past five years, tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been dedicated to standing up and building capacity at the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security is charged with deterring, preventing and responding to the threat of terrorism. To that end, systems have been erected to identify risks and communicate them to the American public. With all the resources you have at your disposal and all the progress that you assure us that you are making, I cannot understand why you are quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying you have a “gut feeling” that we are entering a period of heightened risk this summer.

Words have power, Mr. Secretary. You must choose them wisely—especially when they relate to the lives and security of the American public. What color code in the Homeland Security Advisory System is associated with a “gut feeling?” What sectors should be on alert as a result of your “gut feeling?” What cities should be asking their law enforcement to work double shifts because of your “gut feeling?” Are the American people supposed to purchase duct tape and plastic sheeting because of your “gut feeling?”

The Committee on Homeland Security has repeatedly emphasized the importance of getting specific, actionable information to our first preventers in law enforcement and other emergency response providers. I urge you to follow up on your “gut feeling” and share whatever information our nation’s first preventers need to be on alert and prepared. Otherwise, we run the risk of communities taking it upon themselves to mobilize for every possible threat. This not only would result in communities depleting their scarce homeland security resources but runs contrary to your efforts to move toward a risk-based approach to homeland security.

This fall, we will be marking the sixth anniversary of the most deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil. With likely action on legislation to implement the unfinished business of the 9/11 Commission, Congress is poised to give you more and better opportunities to work with law enforcement in a constructive manner.

Mr. Secretary, I urge you to clarify your comments by providing concrete direction to the State, local and tribal stakeholders and if necessary make the required changes to the Nation’s threat level to ensure that the American public can take the necessary steps to protect their families, businesses and communities.

I would be happy to convene a classified briefing of our Members to discuss the threat to our nation if you believe that such a briefing is warranted.

Sincerely,

Bennie G. Thompson

Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security

Well said.

Crying Wolf

July 11, 2007 at 9:34 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Republicans, secret combinations, War on Terror | Leave a comment

There they go again. The Bush administration in an attempt to change the subject is warning of an increased threat this summer. Only problem is that Mr. Chertoff’s warning comes from a “gut feeling” and not from any actual evidence of a new threat.

Huh, interesting timing to have a “gut feeling” as we’re going to have the Democrats bring up bills this week to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Rove: Troops to Come Home Before 2008 Election

July 9, 2007 at 12:09 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Military, Republicans, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Karl Rove has revealed once again the White House’s strategy for the 2008 elections, just like he had revealed the strategy for the 2002 elections. What is the strategy? Well, according to THE math (as opposed to the real math), Iraq will not figure in to the 2008 elections because, according to him, troops will be home before then. Or at least begin the “post-surge redeployment”, the Bush administration’s new catchy phrase that totally avoids describing what in actuality it really is: a withdrawing of troops from the field of operations. See, Bush is vetoing any such actions now because they are not on HIS timetable. His timetable is timed perfectly with November of every even year. That’s the timetable of most concern to the Bush White House. Whatever works to make Republicans stay in power is what works for Bush. They assume many things wrongly because of this. For example, the surge is a failure, not complete, but a failure nonetheless. Violence continues. Political solutions are somewhere at the bottom of the dank Euphrates that runs through Baghdad.

But none of that matters. It is all a matter of perception. This is why the public face is what it is. They are selling a story. They have to follow the script.

REPORTER: Mr. President, if you decide…

BILL MOYERS: But the White House press corps will ask no hard questions tonight about those claims. Listen to what the President says:

PRESIDENT BUSH: This is a scripted…(laughter)

REPORTER: Thank you Mr. President–

BILL MOYERS: Scripted. Sure enough, the President’s staff has given him a list of reporters to call on.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Let’s see here… Elizabeth… Gregory… April…Did you have a question or did I call upon you cold?

APRIL: No, I have a question (laughter)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Okay. I’m sure you do have a question

ERIC BOEHLERT: He sort of giggled and laughed. And, the reporters sort of laughed. And, I don’t know if it was out of embarrassment for him or embarrassment for them because they still continued to play along. After his question was done. They all shot up their hands and pretended they had a chance of being called on.

APRIL: How is your faith guiding you?

PRESIDENT BUSH: My faith sustains me because I pray daily. I pray for guidance.

ERIC BOEHLERT: I think it just crystallized what was wrong with the press coverage during the run up to the war…I think they felt like the war was gonna happen. And, they– the best thing for them to do was to get out of the way.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you for your questions.

Be on the watch, America. The Bush administration will try once again to pull the wool over your eyes. Please see through their muck.

Redeployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for the FIFTH Time

July 9, 2007 at 11:48 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, War on Terror, World Events | 5 Comments

An Army Reservist in Miami is being ordered back to Iraq for a fifth time. He’s not upset at being sent back, as he finds his duty to his country honorable. But he is suing the Army to hold off his redeployment so he could finish up his degree in engineering, and to make sure he doesn’t lose his house (which he would if he were redeployed).

The United States military, as currently designed, an all-volunteer force with only so many, can only handle so much continuous fighting before they become a “broken” military. Apparently that end will come next April when the military will basically run out of soldiers. This is scary stuff. Our military is so badly weakened by our actions in Iraq that, well, if we are tested by a truly powerful enemy, we really won’t have the capability to defend ourselves.

General Michael Rose wrote: (h/t Hellmut at Headlife)

It is hardly an overstatement to say that had Britain not ended the American War of Independence when it did, it could never have been in a position to defeat Napoleon.

Today, of course, the United States finds itself in much the same position as Britain in 1781. Distracted and diminished by an irrelevant, costly and probably unwinnable war in Iraq, America could ultimately find itself challenged by countries like China and India. Unless it can find a leader with the moral courage of Pitt, there is a strong probability that it will be forced to relinquish its position as the global superpower — possibly to a regime that does not have the same commitment to justice and liberty that the United States and Britain have worked so hard to extend across the world over the past two centuries.

The sound of the first shot fired at Lexington in 1775 echoed across the world. So too did the firing of the last shot six years later at Yorktown. That second echo brought salvation for Britain, and ultimately great benefit to the entire world.

Smart thinking says that we should be far more concerned about our national security than the national security of another nation. The greater threat lies not from the cave-dwelling terrorists, but from other nations who might just take advantage of our weakened position to increase their power vis a vis us.

There really is nothing more we can do in Iraq right now that is worth the cost we are incurring. We must reduce our costs if we are to ensure our position in the world stays the way it is. Otherwise in perhaps just a few years, we will find ourselves no longer in charge of the direction of this world. And that is a far scarier position for us to be in than with an unstable Iraq.

“No One Can Fight the Power of the Government”

July 8, 2007 at 6:41 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Pakistan, secret combinations, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

So says General Musharraf of Pakistan, the man George W. Bush would rather defend than attack Al-Qaida.

US Aborted Strike On Al-Qaida Because of Musharraf in Pakistan

July 7, 2007 at 5:41 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Military, Pakistan, Republicans, secret combinations, War on Terror | 1 Comment

Well well well, it seems the United States under George W. Bush would rather protect a military dictator who holds nukes and nearly used them on his rival than take out Al-Qaida.

A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials.

The target was a meeting of Al Qaeda’s leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations.

But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected the 11th-hour appeal of Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning.

So here’s the question. What is Bush’s top priority if it isn’t taking out those who attacked us on 9/11?

Some Truth From Iraq

July 7, 2007 at 9:23 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Military, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

It is so refreshing to read a more truthful and accurate account of what is going on in Iraq. It is such a shame that these kinds of reports are so few and far in between. Don’t ever read Michael Gordon’s pieces in the New York Times if you want to know what is REALLY going on in Iraq. Today, however, we have a retired Foreign Service Officer who worked in the middle of it all saying it like it really is:

Baqubah is a battlefield, the site of a major push against al-Qaeda and other insurgents. The houses that haven’t been destroyed are riddled with bullet holes. Many of the Iraqis I worked with are dead, and many others have fled.

The reason for some of this destruction lies, as our newspapers tell us, in the outpouring of al-Qaeda operatives from Baghdad, a result of the latest U.S. troop “surge” into the capital. Much of the responsibility, however, is ours.

The actions of American troops have prompted much of the resistance in Diyala province. More important, these actions are symptomatic of other factors, including the short attention span of the American people, the regular rotation of our troops, the understandable desire of each commander to distinguish himself, and our very American belief that we can solve problems quickly when others can’t. We have allowed all of these factors to run away with the war in Iraq.

Kiki then goes on to describe several incidents that highlight our failures. I recommend reading the entire piece if you want an accurate portrayal of the problems in Iraq. Kiki’s conclusion:

And we Americans? We are trumpeting our “new” initiative of enlisting Sunni tribal chiefs to our side. We are busy “building confidence” among the Iraqi security forces who, we now admit, have had sectarian tendencies. We’re also mounting a massive campaign against . . . our “enemies.”

We have forgotten or not bothered to remember what we have done over the past months.

But the Iraqis have not forgotten. They have lived this chapter before. Only it was better then, last year.

So well said.

Luck Saved the Day in London

June 29, 2007 at 8:44 am | Posted in Great Britain, London, violence, War on Terror | 2 Comments

It seems London was saved from a horrible terrorist attack by sheer luck. An ambulance driver sent to the square to help someone out noticed the Mercedes and smoke coming out if the passenger window. The driver called the police who came and found a massive bomb in the vehicle, certainly meant to kill in the hundreds in a very busy part of London.

Police were alerted to the Mercedes sedan by a London ambulance crew, which had been summoned to the nearby “Tiger, Tiger” nightclub about 1 a.m. for a report of a person who was ill. They noticed the car, saw smoke inside its passenger compartment and called police, who summoned the bomb squad, Clarke said.

About 200 liters, or 50 U.S. gallons, of fuel were discovered in canisters inside the sedan, along with large numbers of nails, which increasingly have been used in bombs to heighten their lethality.

News reports indicated that up to a thousand patrons were packed into the nightclub, and the streets nearby were busy as well. In addition to drawing crowds almost around the clock, Haymarket is extremely close to many of London’s most famous attractions, including Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.

“It is obvious that if the device had detonated, there could have been significant injury or loss of life,” Clarke said. ” . . . it certainly could have been into the hundreds.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see many more such incidents, but where the bomb doesn’t fail, and rather goes off. Londoners were lucky today, and should thank God in their prayers tonight.

The United States Military Purposefully Killed Seven Children in Afghanistan, Meanwhile, Bad Guy Got Away

June 19, 2007 at 10:13 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, corruption, Military, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | 3 Comments

And you wonder why Afghanistan is such a mess, why after SIX LONG YEARS we still have not defeated the rabble Taliban (some of them are the same rabble group, I might add, that defeated the Soviet Union in the 80s). Well, earlier this week the United States military killed seven children in an air strike. The target was some bad dude named Abu Laith al Libi. Supposedly he’s a leader among the Taliban. That’s fine and dandy, but apparently he got away in time, so he was not killed. The latest word, according to NBC is that the military knew there would be children at this facility and decided to take the risk anyways:

U.S. special operations forces were targeting the leader of al-Qaida in Afghanistan — one of the organization’s top commanders — when they launched an attack against a compound that killed seven children Sunday in Paktika province of eastern Afghanistan, U.S. officials tell NBC News.

According to several officials, and contrary to previous statements, the U.S. military knew there were children at the compound but considered the target of such high value it was worth the risk of potential collateral damage.

Those same officials tell NBC News the target of Sunday’s attack was Abu Laith al Libi, the al-Qaida commander in Afghanistan and a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden. The sources report that although six sets of remains besides those of the seven children were recovered, it’s not clear whether Abu Laith is among those killed.

It’s funny how the United States military chooses to sacrifice the lives of innocents without giving them any kind of choice in the matter. Just what are we fighting in Afghanistan for anyways?

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Failed States, the Legacy of the Bush Administration and Republicans

June 19, 2007 at 9:20 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Christianity, condoleezza rice, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Pakistan, Religion, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, Somalia, Syria, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | Leave a comment

Republicans and the Christian Right should be well familiar with this particular verse from the Bible, Matthew 7:15-20:

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

By their fruits, ye shall know them. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. A corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. Any Christian knows this parable. What does this mean for our world today? Let’s look at the fruits of the Bush administration and the Republican party.

Iraq

A failed state. The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine have released their annual report of the world’s failed states. Iraq is the second worst failed state in the world, only two points better in the rankings than the world’s worst failed state, The Sudan. We’re now well over four years into our war in Iraq. Let’s put that in perspective. World War II, if started on March 20, 2003, would have ended last December or so. What is worse about this is that unlike The Sudan, America has pumped billions of dollars into Iraq with so little to show for it.

That is not to say that all failing states suffer from international neglect. Iraq and Afghanistan, the two main fronts in the global war on terror, both suffered over the past year. Their experiences show that billions of dollars in development and security aid may be futile unless accompanied by a functioning government, trustworthy leaders, and realistic plans to keep the peace and develop the economy. Just as there are many paths to success, there are many paths to failure for states on the edge.

So I ask you, Americans, and especially Christian conservatives, what do these fruits tell you about the tree from which they come? Now some of you may say, the tree really is terrorism. The answer to that is, no. The tree is America. We entered Iraq with the supposed intent to recreate the Middle East, and Iraq itself. After four years, what are the fruits of our labors? An utterly failed state. Jesus said, evil fruit cannot come from good trees.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Afghanistan

Recently a US airstrike killed seven children along with many others. More than one hundred die in three days of heavy fighting. The Taliban (living over in neighboring Pakistan) continue to plague the Americans now SIX YEARS after we attacked them. Six years. And they are still around? Afghanistan is ranked as the 8th worst failed state in the world, behind only The Sudan, Iraq, and a bunch of African states.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Pakistan

The Bush administration continues to support the highly corrupt and repressive military dictator, Musharraf, regardless of how much he punishes reformers in Pakistan. Pakistan is ranked as the 12th worst failed state in the world. Only Haiti, Central African Republic and Guinea separate Pakistan from her neighbor Afghanistan.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Lebanon

Poor, poor Lebanon, the world’s pawn, played by all parties against her own will. Israelis bomb her to the stone age. Hezbollah is a parasitic virus, destroying the country from within. Syria assassinates her leaders. The United States sacrifices her democracy on the altar of supposed Israeli preference (though if the United States were smart, they would have reined in Israel last summer, because it is in Israel’s best interest to have a stable country to her north. Now because of their idiotic bombing campaign, Lebanon is failing). Lebanon is ranked as the 28th worst failed state in the world.

Palestine

Not a state (and apparently not ever going to be a state), this is probably the worst of Bush’s failures. Is it really in the best interest of our ally, Israel, to have a failed non-state as her neighbor? Is it really in Israel’s best interest to have 1.4 million starving raving lunatics in a 25 mile strip of land right on her border? Is this Condoleezza Rice’s idea of “birth pangs?”

Why are these failed states so important to the world? The Foreign Policy magazine states it well in their introduction:

It is an accepted axiom of the modern age that distance no longer matters. Sectarian carnage can sway stock markets on the other side of the planet. Anarchic cities that host open-air arms bazaars imperil the security of the world’s superpower. A hermit leader’s erratic behavior not only makes life miserable for the impoverished millions he rules but also upends the world’s nuclear nonproliferation regime. The threats of weak states, in other words, ripple far beyond their borders and endanger the development and security of nations that are their political and economic opposites.

These are the fruits of the Republican philosophy to the world. These are the fruits of neo-conservatives. These are not the fruits of good trees. These must be cast into the fire, metaphorically speaking. We must do what needs to be done with these kinds of philosophies, let them pass the way of the dodo bird, to be a relic of history, never to be seen again. At least, if Americans want a better world.

Supposed Suicide Bomb Teams Sent to US

June 18, 2007 at 6:30 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iraq, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, violence, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

from Pakistan of course. Uh, so er, just what are we doing in Iraq?

Why General David Petraeus Is Not To Be Trusted

June 18, 2007 at 11:55 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Military, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

(Via Dick Polman)

General Petraeus in September 2004 on Iraq:

I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up. The institutions that oversee them are being reestablished from the top down. And Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously…There are reasons for optimism…Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired…Progress has also been made in police training…Considerable progress is also being made in the reconstruction and refurbishing of infrastructure for Iraq’s security forces…Iraq’s security forces are developing steadily and they are in the fight. Momentum has gathered in recent months. With strong Iraqi leaders out front and with continued coalition – and now NATO – support, this trend will continue.

Why should we take anything that General Petraeus says seriously? Note that this was two months before November 2004, the worst month for US casualties in Iraq, with 135 some odd dead. And of course, two months before the general presidential election. General Petraeus surely wasn’t trying to influence voters to “stay the course” for Bush. Nah. So why should he be trusted to say anything but what Bush WANTS HIM TO SAY?

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?

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.

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