Thursday, July 08, 2004

Our good friends the Saudis and their 14th century justice system.

As I mentioned at the other blog, the New York Times said we made a deal with the Saudis to send five suspected Al-Quaeda detainees from Gitmo back to Saudi Arabia in exchange for 5 Britons being held hostage by them. (No one knows, by the way, what ever happened to these suspects.)

One of those Britons being held on trumped up charges said he was threatened with crucifixion! This involves the "criminal" being tied to a wooden X, the head is partially severed and is left that way to hang for three days in public.

These are our good friends the Saudis; and even better friends of the Bush family. Barbarians, yes, but rich!

I found a little more info on the Saudi "justice" system on a site discussing a man accused of "witchcraft."

"Saudi Arabia has no written penal code, code of criminal procedure, or code of judicial procedure, allowing police and judges wide discretion in many cases to determine what activities constitute criminal offenses and what sentences such "crimes" deserve. Because there is no constitutional court there is no way for an individual to challenge a sentence without directly or indirectly appealing to the king.

The king and his appointed Council of Ministers have near absolute authority to interpret written law, while the government-appointed Council of Senior Religious Scholars has final authority over interpretations of the Shari`a. The Council's interpretations give precedence to the Hanbali school of jurisprudence, especially as explicated by the fourteenth century jurist Ibn Taymiya.he Hanbali school is considered to be the most conservative of Sunni Islam's four schools of jurisprudence.

All four schools of jurisprudence agree on three main categories of crimes. Boundary crimes (hudud) are those whose punishments and evidentiary and procedural requirements are clearly delimited in the Quran and the collected deeds and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed (al-sunna).

Punishments for boundary crimes include execution by beheading or stoning, crucifixion, amputation (of a hand, or a hand and a foot, depending on the crime), banishment, or flogging, and persons convicted of boundary crimes cannot be pardoned."

Speaking of (burning) schools, according to Human Rights Watch in 2002:

"Women and girls may have died unnecessarily because of extreme interpretations of the Islamic dress code...

Eyewitnesses, including civil defense officers, reported that several members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (mutawwa'in, in Arabic) interfered with rescue efforts because the fleeing students were not wearing the obligatory public attire (long black cloaks and head coverings) for Saudi girls and women.

The mutawwa'in, a law-enforcement agency that has sought to ensure the application of the kingdom's strict gender segregation and dress code for women, has drawn criticism for abusive practices including harassment, physical abuse, and arbitrary arrest.

There were 835 students and fifty-five women teachers in Intermediate School No. 31 when the blaze started at about 8:00 in the morning, according to Saudi press reports. Saudi newspapers suggested that the school, located in a rented building, was overcrowded, and may have lacked proper safety infrastructure and equipment, such as fire stairs and alarms.

Yesterday's edition of Arab News (Jeddah) cited a report prepared by Mecca's Civil Defense Department about the rescue effort at the school. The report noted that mutawwa'in were at the school's main gate and, "intentionally obstructed the efforts to evacuate the girls. This resulted in the increased number of casualties." The religious police reportedly tried to block the entry of Civil Defense officers into the building. "We told them that the situation was dangerous and it was not the time to discuss religious issues, but they refused and started shouting at us," Arab News quoted Civil Defense officers as saying.

"Whenever the girls got out through the main gate, these people forced them to return via another. Instead of extending a helping hand for the rescue work, they were using their hands to beat us," Civil Defense officers were quoted as saying. The officers also said they saw three people beating girls who had evacuated the school without proper dress. A Saudi journalist told Human Rights Watch that the mutawwa'in at the scene also turned away parents and other residents who came to assist."

This is the kind of society we are trusting to keep supplying us with the crude we need to run our country. For this we turn a blind eye to a regime which in many ways is even more brutal than the Taliban were. (We're back in business with them. See)

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Sovereign Iraq, my eye

It turns out the Iraqi "interim government" provided intelligence for the air strikes on the Al-Zarqawi "safe house" in Fallujah yesturday.

"After consultations between Iraqi government officials and multinational forces-Iraq, Iraqi security forces provided clear and compelling intelligence to conduct a precision strike this evening on a known Zarqawi safe house in south-eastern Falluja," Mr Allawi said in his statement.

Apparently, the intel wasn't all that compelling and the strike anything but precise. They missed their target, once again, and 15 people were killed.

It's good to see the Iraqis are having "consultations" with us before we go ahead and do whatever we feel like doing anyway.

It's a little difficult to buy the whole notion that we've turned over anything resembling "sovereignty." Besides all the poinson pills Paul Bremer put into the mix before he ran away with his tail between his legs, including unilateraly fixing the tax rate at 15% and making it a crime to drive without two hands; the Asia Times points out:

A barrage of binding decrees passed during the United States occupation of Iraq, combined with a lack of resources, heavy debt and the continuing presence of a massive US force, provide clear evidence that the recent handover of authority to Iraqis does not equal real control over the economy...

Juan Cole, an Iraq expert at the University of Michigan, sees limited sovereignty for the Iraqis from another perspective. He says the new US ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, will maintain control over some $18.3 billion in US aid to Iraq...

"The caretaker government is hedged around by American power," Cole wrote on his online blog Wednesday. "Negroponte will control $18 billion in US aid to Iraq. [US Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld will go on controlling the US and coalition military. There isn't much space left for real Iraqi sovereignty in all that."

But they'll gain some really great death squads! Negroponte isn't there to dust pottery off in Babylon and he sure ain't there for the waters.

Monday, July 05, 2004

More airstrikes in Fallujah

As previously noted on June 24 and 26 at "Let's talk about democracy," the U.S. is using fixed wing aircraft to bomb so called Abu Musab al-Zarqawi "safe houses" in Fallujah, a city of 200,000 civilians. Dozens of people have been killed.

According to Mark Kimmet the military spokesperson:

"It is standard operating procedure to conduct a detailed collateral damage estimate prior to approval of this type of mission. The collateral damage estimate was within permissible limits, and this operation was within standing rules of engagement."

In other words, you can't make an omlet without breaking a few eggs.

The supposed purpose of these attacks is to root out that "terror mastermind" al-Zarqawi, but the problem is they keep missing him. At least, when the Israelis conduct their "extra-judicial executions" they hit the target.

Nothing a few tons of explosives won't do for a woeful lack of good intelligence on the ground, though.

In this latest attack, as reported by the BBC: "The raid took place in the east of the city at about 1915 (1515 GMT).

A US military spokesman said four 500-pound (227kg) bombs and two 1,000-pound (454kg) bombs were dropped." That's a lot of fire power in a populated civilan center.

Al-Jazeera reported: a family of 10 lived in the house. Most of those killed on Monday were residents of the bombed house, but among the dead were also two bystanders, reported our correspondent."

I wonder if these raids have been okay'ed by the new Iraqi "government?"

(Way to win those hearts and minds!)

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Dick Cheney decries foreign influences!!! (Not the Reverend Moon, though)

On Saturday July 3rd, in Wheeling West Virginia Vice-president Dick Cheney vowed that this election would not be decided by foreign powers. He implied John Kerry was a pawn of foreign interests because he wouldn‚t reveal the names of the European leaders who had expressed the view that Bush should go. The crowd assembled then started chanting "U.S.A." (That'll show 'em!)

This is rich coming from the an administration that takes orders from Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia and cavorts with the likes of Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

On January 19, 2001 Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church sponsored an Inaugural Prayer Luncheon for Unity and Renewal to honor George W Bush. John Ashcroft was the keynote speaker and received a standing ovation from the 1700+ attendees. Reverend Moon also received an award for his work in support of traditional family values. (Another failing of John Kerry, according to Cheney.)

The Moon/Bush family relationship apparently goes way back. In September 1995 George H.W. Bush went down to Argentina, with his son W, to convince some newspaper publishers to let Moon into the biz. "I want to salute Reverend Moon, who is the founder of The Washington Times and also of Tiempos del Mundo," Bush declared. "A lot of my friends in South America don't know about The Washington Times, but it is an independent voice.

The editors of The Washington Times tell me that never once has the man with the vision interfered with the running of the paper, a paper that in my view brings sanity to Washington, D.C. I am convinced that Tiempos del Mundo is going to do the same thing" in Latin America."

Not quite:

According to Free Republic: Bush's endorsement of The Washington Times' editorial independence also was not truthful. Almost since it opened in 1982, a string of senior editors and correspondents have resigned, citing the manipulation of the news by Moon and his subordinates. The first editor, James Whelan, resigned in 1984, confessing that he had "blood on his hands" for helping the church achieve greater legitimacy."

And further helpful deeds provided by Bush and family, for which I'm sure, were totally altruistic purposes and certainly not for financial gain or with W's upcoming election bid in mind:

"In September 1995, Bush and his wife, Barbara, gave six speeches in Asia for the Women's Federation for World Peace, a group led by Moon's wife, Hak Ja Han Moon. In one speech on Sept. 14 to 50,000 Moon supporters in Tokyo, Bush insisted that "what really counts is faith, family and friends." Mrs. Moon followed the ex-president to the podium and announced that "it has to be Reverend Moon to save the United States, which is in decline because of the destruction of the family and moral decay." [Washington Post, Sept. 15, 1995]

Other interesting tidbits from the all American, family values proponant, Reverend Moon:

"Americans who continue to maintain their privacy and extreme individualism are foolish people," Moon declared. "The world will reject Americans who continue to be so foolish. Once you have this great power of love, which is big enough to swallow entire America, there may be some individuals who complain inside your stomach. However, they will be digested."

During the same sermon, Moon decried assertive American women. "American women have the tendency to consider that women are in the subject position," he said. "However, woman's shape is like that of a receptacle. The concave shape is a receiving shape. Whereas, the convex shape symbolizes giving. ... Since man contains the seed of life, he should plant it in the deepest place.

"Does woman contain the seed of life? ["No."] Absolutely not. Then if you desire to receive the seed of life, you have to become an absolute object. In order to qualify as an absolute object, you need to demonstrate absolute faith, love and obedience to your subject. Absolute obedience means that you have to negate yourself 100 percent."

For news stories related to the "Prayer Breakfast in honor of W"

Be sure to check out Free Republic. They are a gold mine of useful info.


Congressman Lincoln on Preemptive war.

To his law partner William Herdon February 15, 1848 regarding the Mexican War which he opposed:

"Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him,--"I see no probability of the British invading us"; but he will say to you, "Be silent: I see it, if you don't."

And furthermore:

"The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood."

He found himself in John Kerry's predicament of being against the war but for the troops (Remember the $87 billion emergency appropriation?):

[Feb, 1 1848]

"This vote has nothing to do in determining my votes on the questions of supplies. I have always intended, and still intend, to vote supplies; perhaps not in the precise form recommended by the President, but in a better form for all purposes."

The chicken hawks of his time were "...untiring in their efforts to make the impression that all who vote supplies or take part in the war do of necessity approve the President's conduct in the beginning of it; but the Whigs have from the beginning made and kept the distinction between the two.

In the very first act nearly all the Whigs voted against the preamble declaring that war existed by the act of Mexico; and yet nearly all of them voted for the supplies. As to the Whig men who have participated in the war, so far as they have spoken in my hearing they do not hesitate to denounce as unjust the President's conduct in the beginning of the war."

"Party of Lincoln" my ass!

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