Friday, April 25, 2008

Rejoice! "Islamo-fascism" is defeated!

The maladministration has issued new "talking points" to the RW "noise machine". From the S.F. Chronicle:
Don't call them jihadists any more.

And don't call al-Qaida a movement.

The Bush administration has launched a new front in the war on terrorism, this time targeting language.

Federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, are telling their people not to describe Islamic extremists as "jihadists" or "mujahedeen," according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Lingo like "Islamo-fascism" is out, too.
Here's the new rulz, as reported by the AP:
The memo, originally prepared in March by the Extremist Messaging Branch at the National Counter Terrorism Center, was approved for diplomatic use this week by the State Department, which plans to distribute a version to all U.S. embassies, officials said.

"It's not what you say but what they hear," the memo says in bold italic lettering, listing 14 points about how to better present the war on terrorism.

"Don't take the bait," it says, urging officials not to react when Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida affiliates speak. "We should offer only minimal, if any, response to their messages. When we respond loudly, we raise their prestige in the Muslim world."

"Don't compromise our credibility" by using words and phrases that may ascribe benign motives to terrorists.

Some other specifics:
  • "Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahedeen' in conversation to describe the terrorists. ... Calling our enemies 'jihadis' and their movement a global 'jihad' unintentionally legitimizes their actions."
  • "Use the terms 'violent extremist' or 'terrorist.' Both are widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy."
  • On the other hand, avoid ill-defined and offensive terminology: "We are communicating with, not confronting, our audiences. Don't insult or confuse them with pejorative terms such as 'Islamo-fascism,' which are considered offensive by many Muslims."
Looks like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Weine... -- ummm, sorry, "Savage", and their ilk -- are going to have to find some other derogatory and inflammatory terms. After all, if the rulz don't specifically prohibit something, it's not prohibited. And we have to daemonise our Enemies....

Déjà vu all over again....

"The Baddies have nukes! They're gonna kill us! We have pictures to prove it!!!"

As Glenn Greenwald reports (and as reported on page 2 of todays S.F. Chronicle), the maladministration claims the Syrians are trying to get nukular weapons. And the news report it just the same way they fell all over themselves for the Powell U.N. presentation in 2002.

Here's Glenn:

This Associated Press article, for instance, is 32 paragraphs long, yet it contains little other than unchallenged assertions by the Bush administration, using the now-familiar media conventions for disseminating government claims -- i.e., quoting administration accusations without challenge and then granting completely unwarranted anonymity to "intelligence officials" to echo those accusations:

The White House said Thursday that North Korea did secret work on a nuclear reactor with Syria...

Seven months after Israel bombed the site, the White House broke its silence and said North Korea assisted Syria in a secret nuclear program...

While calling North Korea's nuclear assistance to Syria a "dangerous manifestation" of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program and its proliferation activities, the White House said ...

The United States became aware North Korea was helping Syria with a nuclear project in 2003, said intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity...

The critical intelligence that cemented that conclusion, they said, came last year: dozens of photographs taken from ground level over a period of time, showing the construction both inside and outside the building...

The Israeli strike on Sept. 6, 2007, ripped open the structure and revealed even more evidence to spy satellites: reinforced concrete walls that echoed the design of the Yongbyon reactor...

The alleged Syrian nuclear reactor was within weeks or months of being functional, a top U.S. official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter...

But the U.S. official said the reactor was similar in design to a North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, which has produced small amounts of plutonium, the material needed to make powerful nuclear weapons...

The White House also used its statement as an opportunity to denounce the nuclear activities of Iran, which it says is a threat to the stability of the Middle East.

... and my first reaction was, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice ... ummm, uhh, ahhh ... won't get fooled again."

I recall at the time that there was some scepticism of the claim that the building was a nuclear facility.

Haven't we been through this (the "dog and pony" show) before? How'd that work out?

In today's print S.F. Chronicle, the headline reads "U.S. asserts North Korean link to Syria", and says:
"Seven months after Israel bombed the reactor, the White House broke its silence and said North Korea assisted Syria's secret nuclear program and that the destroyed facility was not intended for 'peaceful purposes'."

"Israel bombed the reactor" is asserted as fact, not as something the maladministration claimed.

Cursory denials from Syria were reported later by the AP:

Syria denies US nuclear allegations

Friday, April 25, 2008

PDT DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syria's government is denying U.S. allegations that it was involved in a clandestine nuclear program with North Korea.

The government is accusing Washington of misleading Congress about the country's nuclear activity.

Syria's statement Friday also alleges that the U.S. aided Israel in its bombing of a purported nuclear facility seven months ago.

The Bush administration said Thursday that North Korea was secretly assisting work on a nuclear reactor in Syria and the facility destroyed by Israel was not intended for "peaceful purposes.

But that wasn't in the papers. Instead, we have maladministration claims repeated without comment. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

* * * * *

Then there's this (from Glenn's post above):
[T]he IAEA is condemning both Israel and the U.S. -- Israel for the unilateral attack on Syria without even asking the IAEA to inspect the facility (an inspection Syria would have been required by the NPT to allow), and the U.S. for withholding from the IAEA its claimed evidence of Syrian nuclear activities.
That reminds me. UNSCR 1441 required all parties (including Iraq) that had relevant information on Iraq's alleged WoMD to turn that material over to the U.N. The U.S. harped on the reticence of the Iraqis to do so (despite the fact that Iraq did so by the deadline imposed in December of 2002, prompting the U.S. to say they had turned over "too much", some 12,000 pages, supposedly in an effort to snow the U.S. in paperwork or to obscure any real shenanigans in mountains of fluff). But the U.S. violated its obligations under UNSCR 1441, refusing to turn over its information despite repeated requests from Blix and el Baradei. They delayed for months, and when they finally did so, the U.N. inspectors looked at it, checked it out, and termed it "garbage, garbage, and more garbage"....

Dem's the facts. This should be better known.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

By their deeds shall ye know them....

I've pointed out the roots of today's Republican party.

But every once in a while, they just take off their robes for all to see. ThinkProgress reports:
Conservative House Candidate In Indiana Defends Speaking To Nazi Group On Hitler’s Birthday

On Sunday, Tony Zirkle — who is seeking the Republican nomination in Indiana’s 2nd Congressional district — delivered a speech to the American National Socialist Workers Party (ANSWP) on the 119th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birth. At the event, Zirkle “stood in front of a painting of Hitler, next to people wearing swastika armbands and with a swastika flag in the background.”

Asked by reporters why he spoke to a group like ANSWP, which refers to itself as “the largest and most active pro-white organization in America,” Zirkle said he’ll “speak before any group that invites me,” adding that he’s even “spoken on an African-American radio station in Atlanta.”

Zirkle told The News-Dispatch that he doesn’t “know enough about the group” to say whether he agrees with it’s ideology or not:

When asked if he was a Nazi or sympathized with Nazis or white supremacists, Zirkle replied he didn’t know enough about the group to either favor it or oppose it.

Ya think maybe the swastika arm-bands and the picture of Adolph in the background might have tipped him off? Well, maybe not, he's a Republican....

And wow. Talking to blacks is like giving a speech to a bunch of Nazis?!?!? That good ol' "moral relativism" sneaking in, I guess. He's certainly a brave soul to actually speak to blacks.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Just one question...

As reported by ThinkProgress, torture is a spectator sport for the maladministration:

Addington, Gonzales Witnessed Gitmo Interrogations In 2002; Approved Of ‘Whatever Needs To Be Done’

Last month, ABC News revealed that President Bush’s most senior advisers approved the use of harsh interrogation tactics. Days later, Bush confirmed to ABC he “approved” of the tactics.

In a forthcoming book, British international law professor Phillippe Sands further documents how the most extreme interrogation techniques — including stress, hooding, noise, nudity, and “dogs” — came directly from the White House and Pentagon.

Sands reveals that Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s lawyer Jim Haynes traveled to Guantanamo in 2002, witnessed an interrogation, and sent approval back to Washington. The “driving individual was Mr. Addington, who was obviously the man in control,” Sands said:

There was an extraordinary meeting held in September 2002, just before the techniques were to go up the chain of command, so to speak. [Gonzales, Addington, and Haynes] descended on Guantanamo, met with the combatant commander there Mike Dunlavey, watched some interrogations, and as I was told by Dunlavey and by his lawyer Diane Beaver, basically sent out the signal ‘do whatever needs to be done.’

The only question I have is: "Who brought the popcorn?"


Since the CIA destroyed the tapes of the tortu... -- umm, sorry, "interrogations" -- under orders from the maladministration, maybe the defence lawyers that were looking to subpoena the tapes can subpoena Addington and Gonzales to testify instead....

Compare and contrast

From the Washington Post (via the S.F. Chronicle):
Adel al-Nusairi remembers his first six months at Guantanamo Bay as this: hours and hours of questions, but first, a needle.

"I'd fall asleep" after the shot, Nusairi, a former Saudi police officer captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002, recalled in an interview with his attorney at the military prison in Cuba, according to notes. After being roused, Nusairi eventually did talk, giving U.S. officials what he later described as a made-up confession to buy some peace.

"I was completely gone," he remembered. "I said, 'Let me go. I want to go to sleep. If it takes saying I'm a member of al Qaeda, I will.' "

Nusairi, now free in Saudi Arabia, was unable to learn what drugs were injected before his interrogations. He is not alone in wondering: At least two dozen other former and current detainees at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere say they were given drugs against their will or witnessed other inmates being drugged, based on interviews and court documents.

Like Nusairi, other detainees believe the injections were intended to coerce confessions.

The Defense Department and the CIA, the two agencies responsible for detaining terrorism suspects, both deny using drugs as an enhancement for interrogations and suggest that the stories from Nusairi and others like him are either fabrications or mistaken interpretations of routine medical treatment.

Yet the allegations have resurfaced because of the release this month of a 2003 Justice Department memo that explicitly condoned the use of drugs on detainees.

Written to provide legal justification for interrogation practices, the memo by then-Justice Department lawyer John Yoo rejected a decades-old U.S. ban on the use of "mind-altering substances" on prisoners. Instead, he argued that drugs could be used as long as they did not inflict permanent or "profound" psychological damage. U.S. law "does not preclude any and all use of drugs," wrote Yoo, now a law professor at UC Berkeley. He declined to comment for this article.

18 USC § 2340:

Title 18, U.S. Code (Crimes and Criminal Procedure)
Chapter 113C (Torture)
Section 2340. Definitions
      As used in this chapter -

(1) "torture" means an act committed by a person
acting under the color of law specifically intended
to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering
(other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful
sanctions) upon another person within his custody or
physical control;

(2) "severe mental pain or suffering" means the
prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from -
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened
infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or
administration or application, of
mind-altering substances or
other procedures
calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or

the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will
imminently be subjected to death, severe physical
pain or suffering, or the administration or
application of mind-altering substances or
other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly
the senses or personality; and

(3) "United States" includes all areas under the
of the United States including any of
the places described in sections 5 and 7 of this
title and section 46501(2) of title 49.

Hey, CNN!!! Where's "Scooter"?

So FauxSnooze has hired Karl Rove to be a "contributor" (all the while refusing to point out that he's a McCain advisor ... not to mention all-round azo).

CNN, not to be outdone in a Rush To The Right, hires Tony Snow to try and attract the same foaming RW 28%ers that FauxSnooze has already got all sewn up.

Why, CNN? Didn't hiring the racist sack'o'sh*te (and RW foamer) Glenn Beck get you enough of the mental midget brigade?!?!?

I've got an idea: Why not hire convicted felons fresh from the maladministration in need of a job? There's a whole slew of them. "Affirmative Action" for Rethuglican crooks'n'liars, you see, one of the most "disadvantaged" groups around. I know "Scooter" Libby could use some love.....

Friday, April 18, 2008

Explaining to the brain-dead what we already knew

ThinkProgress brings us this tidbit:

Given the [National Defense university's] ties to the Defense Department, it’s therefore significant that it has chosen to publish a withering critique of the Iraq [war] written by Joseph J. Collins, a former senior Pentagon official who served under Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Collins’s conclusions were based, in part, “on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations,” and were completed in fall 2007. From his study:

Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle. […]

The war’s political impact also has been great. Globally, U.S. standing among friends and allies has fallen. Our status as a moral leader has been damaged by the war, the subsequent occupation of a Muslim nation, and various issues concerning the treatment of detainees. […]

To date, the war in Iraq is a classic case of failure to adopt and adapt prudent courses of action that balance ends, ways, and means. After the major combat operation, U.S. policy has been insolvent, with inadequate means for pursuing ambitious ends. It is also a case where the perceived illegitimacy of our policy has led the United States to bear a disproportionate share of the war’s burden.

No news to us there. But, the thought occurs to me:

Why is it that people only start to pay attention when the critic's a member of the "military establishment"? These are things that many people pointed out early on in the Iraq debacle, even beforehand. But they were dismissed by the M$M as "BDS" rantings, politically motivated and uninformed, by people of no competence to judge these things, if not outright "surrender monkeys", "friends of OBL", or worse. This, of course, is nonsense, at the very least proven by the fact that the "DFH"s (as well as those carping, disaffected Army folks) were right all along.

We knew WTF we're talking about, and the folks that pushed for the war (and the folks at the top that ran the war) didn't. Not a f*cking clue did they have. Do we really need them to admit error to finally say that the obvious result was a disaster? Sure, it helps to get the "conservatives" (and other that supposedly "actually know something of these things") to do so as well, but why should it even be necessary; they were once wrong, and they can keep on being wrong as long as they want ... as long as we ignore them and anything they say, and make sure none of them ever gets near a position of responsibility again.

"Mickey Mouse" journalism

Leave it to ABC, ground-breaking pioneer of such wonderful journalisming as "The Path to 9/11", to manage to put on what is easily the most horrible "debate" yet this primary season.

The S.F. Chronicle reports:
ABC News drew both impressive ratings and a heap of complaints about how Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos moderated the Democratic presidential debate, criticism that Stephanopoulos on Thursday called a sign of how much people care.

By Thursday evening, more than 16,800 comments were posted on ABC News' Web site, the tone overwhelmingly negative. A prominent TV critic, Tom Shales of the Washington Post, said Gibson and Stephanopoulos "turned in shoddy, despicable performances."
Translated from Beltway-Speak™ into English: "how much people care" means "how outraged and upset people were at the hack-job ABC did".
The Obama campaign, whose supporters were most angered by the debate, quickly sent out a fundraising appeal Thursday titled, "Gotcha." The liberal advocacy group said it would run an ad protesting ABC if 100,000 people signed their petition.

"Last night, I think we set a new record because it took us 45 minutes before we even started talking about a single issue that matters to the American people," Obama said at a rally in North Carolina on Thursday. "Forty-five minutes before we heard about health care, 45 minutes before we heard about Iraq, 45 minutes before we heard about jobs, 45 minutes before we heard about gas prices."
That pretty much sums it up. Stephanopoulis and Gibson, OTOH, think that what's really important is whether you have a flag pin on your lapel.

Need to know what this all accomplished? Just pay attention to who was happy:
There was some positive feedback, with columnist David Brooks of the New York Times giving ABC News' performance an "A."
Maladministration flack and sycophant Brooks (who thinks he is in touch with the 'Merkun people if he goes to a Red Lobster) is quite happy about the debate. The questions he thought should be asked were asked. The questions that RW "Noise Machine"harpy Sean Hannity wanted asked got asked, ferchrisssake.....

I had the bad (or perhaps good) sense of timing to be leaving Philly in the hours before the debate, and being on a plane as the travesty unfolded. When I got to Salt Lake City, a bobblehead on CNN was explaining in a post-mortem that such questioning was necessary because the candidates didn't differ on the issues. How the would you know if you don't ask them about the issues, you bleating cud-chewer?

Perhaps the best commentary and analysis of this comes from the inestimable Digby over at Hullabaloo, in a piece on Glenn Greenwald's new book "Great American Hypocrites" (go buy it and read it):
The "issues" that Stephanopoulos and Gibson thought were of such interest to the Democratic primary electorate are the vaunted "character issues" which are pulled off the shelf in each successive election cycle and reused like an old winter blanket. These manufactured controversies are supposed to illustrate something important about the candidates --- indeed, journalists tout them as necessary to see if the candidates can "take it." Since the media see Republicans as being straight shootin' sons 'o guns who tell it like it is, there is no need to run them through the same meat grinder to find out if they are similarly "qualified."

It's absurd to think that Americans really care about flag pins or unreliable memories of a single event, (which have already been hashed out ad nauseum for weeks, by the way.) Of course they don't.

Glenn's book takes a nice long look at this phenomenon, examining the MSM's unabashed obsession with tabloid gossip and their eagerness to help the conservatives employ the death of 1000 trivial character slams, which we've all observed with slack-jawed incredulity over the past couple of decades. He carefully examines the long standing "Republicans are real men, Democrats are wimps" narrative that was consciously and carefully marketed to the mainstream media over the course of many years by the right wing propagandists. He takes us through the Dukakis campaign, through the bizarre case of Bill Clinton (where they feminized him by masculinizing his wife) to the recent atrocities of Gore and Kerry. It's not in the book, obviously, but we can see the same forces at work with Obama and Clinton just this past month.

The important thing to realize is that these themes have been completely internalized by the villagers. They really don't even question it anymore, it's completely natural to them. When you see George Stephanopoulos essentially explain that Democratic voters are choosing between an flaccid, unpatriotic "metrosexual" and a lying, delusional succubus, and it's simply his job to help them sort that out, you know that he's completely lost touch with what people actually need politics and government for. (It pays to remember that George made his bones by being the first in the media to use the word "impeachment" when Monica Lewinsky was revealed. He always knew which side his stale baguette was buttered on.)
Digby has a knack for getting to the heart of the situation, and the bolded part bears repeating.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Let the sliming begin -- Part Sept

Now Obama's a Commie! Here's the latest RW Mighty Wurlitzer "talking point"/meme as laid bare by ThinkProgress:
Yesterday, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol claimed that Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) now-infamous “bitter” remarks were Marxist in nature. On Fox News’s Hannity And Colmes last night, former Bush adviser Karl Rove echoed Kristol’s over-the-top characterization, saying “it was almost Marxian“:
Karl Rove: I don’t find a lot of people in rural America, I certainly don’t find the dominant view to be — “I’m so bitter that I’m going to hold on to my gun or I’m gonna” — You know, it was almost Marxian in this they cling to their religion. I mean, you know, it’s sort of like it’s the opiate of the masses.
Not only that, but he's big, black, and scary. Boo!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In the "take your boots off ...

... your socks, your pants, your shirt, and all the rest of your clothes, and take a bath before you come in" department, we have this ... ummm, "nugget" ... from John McCain:
In full disclosure and frankness and candor and straight talk, the Maliki movement to Basra had a very big downside to it. As you know, we saw a thousand police and military desert their posts. But the rest of the military did a pretty good job, did a pretty good job. We did secure the port of Basra. Maybe I’m digging for the pony here.
"I know it's in here somewhere...."

(h/t to ThinkProgress)

In the "old news" department

TalkingPointsMemo reports this:
An intriguing pattern has emerged in two special elections for the House in Louisiana and Mississippi: Both of the candidates backed by the National Republican Congressional Committee have had a bit of a, shall we say, white supremacy issue.

This is not to say that the two are white supremacists -- rather, they have both flirted with organizations and/or people who are known for, at a minimum, dabbling rather heavily in such sentiments.

The Mississippi case is fairly straightforward -- the GOP candidate is a mayor who had once agreed to accept a gift to his city from a white supremacist group, then backed off. The Louisiana example is a lot more complicated, involving attempts to cover up payments connected to the infamous Klansman/Neo-Nazi David Duke.

Both seats were held by the GOP before resignations by incumbents set up the special elections -- and both are heavily contested and have attracted the attention of the national parties, especially the Louisiana contest.
For those that have have been sleeping for forty years, news flash: The Republicans have taken in the racist contingent in the U.S. into their party. David Duke, former head of the KKK, was the Republican candidate for governor in Louisiana, for those that still need a clue. That's your "Republican base"....

"Taxi to the Dark Side" now available on line

I recommended "Taxi to the Dark Side" previously as a "must see!"

You can go watch it here. Go now, and do the right thing. Tell your neighbours, tell your friends, too.

Update: is reporting that "[t]his video is currently not available. Please try again later." Sorry about that, folks, but keep trying, maybe they'll put it up again. Or just go rent it. They could use the love....

A little thing YOU (and everyone) can do

Please take a moment and visit this site:

Restore The Rule Of Law

I thank you for it, as does the ghost of Sir Thomas More, and good people everywhere.

Pass it on to your friends and neighbours too.


Here's another one to visit (h/t to Digby and John Amato at Crooks'n'Liars)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Exporting kangaroo ... courts

Seems the "show trials" in Guantánamo have hit a little snag: Not enough lawyers. Who would have thunk it?:
When military officials announced war crimes charges against six detainees for the Sept. 11 attacks two months ago, the move was part of an effort to accelerate the Bush administration’s sluggish military commission system, which has yet to hold a single trial.

But the Sept. 11 case immediately hit a snag. Military defense lawyers were in short supply, and even now, two months later, not one of the six detainees has met his military lawyer.
Well, seeing as they forced out Col. Morris Davis, and Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, perhaps someone should have seen this coming.

But not to worry! Someone's on top of the problem. We're out-sourcing the kangaroo courts!:
Dozens of Afghan men who were previously held by the United States at Bagram Air Base and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, are now being tried here in secretive Afghan criminal proceedings based mainly on allegations forwarded by the American military.

The prisoners are being convicted and sentenced to as much as 20 years’ confinement in trials that typically run between half an hour and an hour, said human rights investigators who have observed them. One early trial was reported to have lasted barely 10 minutes, an investigator said.

The prosecutions are based in part on a security law promulgated in 1987, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Witnesses do not appear in court and cannot be cross-examined. There are no sworn statements of their testimony.

Instead, the trials appear to be based almost entirely on terse summaries of allegations that are forwarded to the Afghan authorities by the United States military. Afghan security agents add what evidence they can, but the cases generally center on events that sometimes occurred years ago in war zones that the authorities may now be unable to reach.

“These are no-witness paper trials that deny the defendants a fundamental fair-trial right to challenge the evidence and mount a defense,” said Sahr MuhammedAlly, a lawyer for the advocacy group Human Rights First who has studied the proceedings. “So any convictions you get are fundamentally flawed.”
Why does all this sound familiar?

(h/t to ThinkProgress on these two N.Y. Times stories)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Why did this take so long to come out?

While it was no surprise to anyone with more than a dozen neurones and an eye on the news (in particular, Sy Hersh's work), we just have this just in:
In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, sources tell ABC News.

The so-called Principals who participated in the meetings also approved the use of "combined" interrogation techniques -- using different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time -- on terrorist suspects who proved difficult to break, sources said.

Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.

The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.

At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

As the national security adviser, Rice chaired the meetings, which took place in the White House Situation Room and were typically attended by most of the principals or their deputies.
So why did this take so long to come out?

Simple answers to simple questions:

They knew what they were doing was wrong, and they didn't want anyone to know they did this. Nope, it was "just a few bad apples" that did the dirty work....

Don't believe me? Try this (from later in the article):
According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."
OK? Clear now?

(h/t to commentator AnnieW over at Glenn Greenwald's blog)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Irony is dead

The Dubya maladministration and the Rethuglicans have stoned it to death, beheaded it, and drawn and quartered the carcass.

From MSNBC, we have this:
Attorney General Michael Mukasey and three other top Bush administration officials are weighing in against legislation that would allow reporters to protect the identities of confidential sources who provide sensitive, sometimes embarrassing information about the government.
On the other hand, we had this a while back:
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday formally recommended criminal contempt charges against former White House counsel Harriet Miers and chief of staff Joshua Bolten for their failure to comply with an investigation into the firing of eight US Attorneys.

The charges were presented in a resolution that, if passed by the House as a whole, would present a case for criminal proceedings to the US Attorney for the District of Columbia. But the justice department has said it will not purse the charges because the White House has invoked executive privilege.
"Secrecy for me, but not for thee...."

Monday, April 07, 2008

"No kings"

The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9:
No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States
We have no king. No sovereign.

Here's what John Yoo had to say in his memorandum as to the legality of torture as practised by the Dubya maladministration, though (from p. 11):
We discuss below several canons of construction that indicate that ordinary federal criminal statutes do not apply to the properly-authorized interrogation of enemy combatants by the United States Armed Forces during an armed conflict. These canons include the avoidance of constitutional difficulties, inapplicability of general criminal statutes to the conduct of the military during war, inapplicability of general statutes to the sovereign, and the specific governs the general. The Criminal Division concurs in our conclusion that these canons of construction preclude the application of the assault, maiming, interstate stalking, and torture statutes to the military during the conduct of a war.
"The king can do no wrong." What is a crime of general applicability -- one that applies to all -- such as the assault statutes, doesn't apply when the sovereign does it. Likewise, the Convention Against Torture, signed and ratified as a treaty by the U.S., which provides:

Article 1

1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

Article 2
1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

doesn't apply, either. No rulz.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jeremiah Wright

Much as "white Amur'kah" is all askeered of the Rev. Wright's preaching, I think it worthwhile -- on the fortieth anniversary of the slaying of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- to provide this excerpt from another minister, the Rev. Amos C. Brown, published in today's S.F. Chronicle, talking about his own sermon this Easter:
Yes, I did list the social sins of America, which we, like Cleopas and his friend, must make a U-turn from: That is, to get off at the exit of enlightenment, make a right turn on the street of understanding and stop at the house of the abiding presence where Jesus talks to us and shows us how to admit our mistakes and receive our pardon.

Chronicle staff writer Cecilia M. Vega covered our worship celebration. She was there because, in the wake of the confusion over Rev. Jeremiah Wright's allegedly inflammatory and unpatriotic sermons delivered in the home church of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in Chicago, she wanted to find out if this were the rule, rather than the exception, in black pulpits in America.

In her report, she characterized my style of preaching as fiery, and that it sounded vaguely familiar to the confrontational sermons delivered by the Rev. Wright.

Her response reminded me of the dictum: "Two men look outside of prison bars, one saw mud and the other saw stars." Unfortunately, blacks and whites in America have been prisoners for the most part of two realities, one of privilege and power and the other, of too much oppression and denial.

As regards to Wright's and my style of preaching; we are not angry; we are not inflammatory; we just tell the truth with passion and enthusiasm. And we will not be silent when persons mischaracterize our witness as anger.

If white preachers - Billy Graham, Pat Robinson, Jerry Falwell and others - can exercise their freedoms, and sometimes say the wrong things - as the facts document - we should be able to say the right things on the behalf of social justice and peace, and not be demonized by detractors.

Finally, I present as a lesson the wisdom of an old adage: "People tend to hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they do not know each other, and they don't know each other because of a lack of communication."

When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who we honor today on the 40th anniversary of his assassination, delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in August 1963, he began by emphasizing the evils, the shortcomings and injustices of America.

He said, "In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the 'unalienable Rights' of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.' "

It is my prayer and hope that we would learn from this, that we would open up communication, get over the racial divide in faith communities and in every town and city. We must not derail this national election with the diversionary tactics of making one sermon of the Rev. Wright the issue.

Let us all make a U-Turn and get on the right track that will enable us to elect leadership that will have answers to the loss of homes, a crumbling infrastructure, poor educational opportunities, Social Security, global warming, crime and the crisis of spirit in America.
Say "Amen", someone....

And let's get off this scare-mongering, "racism"-accusing, mischaracterisation of what the Revs. Wright and King, Jr. have said. If someone is afraid that loud black men are demanding what this country has so long denied, both de jure and de facto, they are just afraid of giving up what was not rightfully theirs. And forgetting that our country is not a "zero-sum game".

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The "Ticking Time Bomb" as a legal defence

I've posted in the past about the "Ticking Time Bomb" argument for engaging in torture (here and here, for starters).

Today, the OLC memo of John Yoo comes out, and -- lo and hehold! -- Yoo thinks that the argument that we "need to" (and therefore should) torture is not only a policy argument, but above and beyond that, also a legal defence!!!:
In part IV, we discuss defenses to an allegation that an interrogation method might violate any of the various criminal prohibitions discussed in Part II. We believe that necessity or self-defense could provide defenses to a prosecution.
(from Yoo's torture memo, page 2)

Another gem in the first footnote on page 2:
The Fifth Amendment further provides that "No person [...] shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself [...]" These provisions are plainly inapplicable to the conduct of interrogations.
But of course not. Who could have thought that interrogations might be intended to produce confessions? (Note: Before you scream that the Fifth protects only against such in the context of an Article III criminal prosecution [or potential one], I know that ... but I also know that the maladministration is about to start military commission trials against six detainees in Guantánamo, in part based on such coercive interrogations...)

I'm sure I will have more to add later ... stay tuned.

(h/t to Prof. Lederman at Balkinization for the links to the PDFs)