Saturday, February 25, 2006

Bush's utopia:

So I see a British business man, Syed Bukhari, who was accused of trying to sell weapons to the Columian Farc movement in an FBI sting operation was released from custody in the UK today because the FBI wouldn't provide the evidence the judge requested. He had been in custody for a year and a half and the FBI spent two years developing the case and then....nothing. [BBC]

Sounds just like the case in Germany with Abdelghani Mzoudi, the 9/11 conspirator who has been repeatedly tried and then released because the CIA won't provide even written testimony from other 9/11 suspects buried deep in a CIA gulag somewhere (presumably in another country where human rights are respected), that would prove the government's case. For all this spying and rendering, the U.S. government sure doesn't seem to be very serious about bringing real terrorists to justice. Better to just lock them up for eternity and be done with it, I guess. But, hey, that got that Iyman Faris guy who was plotting to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blow torch, that was a very credible threat thwarted, and then there's Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, who were arrested trying to sell missile launchers to an FBI informant.

These cases were cited by the government as success stories in defense of the NSA domestic spying program, but I wonder why you would need to employ that program in the case of an FBI sting? In any case, all of these cases and many more are now being challenged in court due to the disclosure of the spying program and many defense attorneys are now want to know if their clients were convicted on evidence obtained illegally from the warranties wiretap program. So even the few terror convictions the Justice Department has actually been able to get might go out the window.

But hey, stupid Justice Department, didn't you read the memo? We don't do the criminal prosecution thing anymore, that's why we set up Gitmo. It's out of sight, out of mind, and out of the federal court's jurisdiction. The ACLU released documents showing that in 2002 and 2003 FBI agents at Gitmo observed torture and extreme mistreatment of prisoners during interrogations by the military and members of "other governmental organizations," and complained to their superiors that any information gleaned in this fashion would not be admissible in court. But these defenders of the legal niceties of dotting every "I" and crossing every "T" just don't get it, they don't know about the "new paradigm." The president is the Commander-in-Chief and he can hold anyone for as long as he wants and torture them into the Stone Age if he wants to. He's got a bevy of lawyers and yes-men, like John Yoo, who will write legal opinions saying the constitution gives W. the right to sell American children to the royal family of Dubai for camel jockeys if he so chooses or any other damn thing he wants--- and it's all totally legal.

I'm all for catching the bad guys before they can do us harm, I was in D.C. on 9/11, but judging by the track record of this administration so far, I would say they're expending a lot time and resources and not getting very much in return. While the NSA has the FBI chasing down hot leads at Pizza Hut, I'm afraid someone with a much more dangerous weapon than a blow torch is out there running circles around the bunch that brought us Katrina. And we're undermining our standing in the world as the defenders of freedom and all that is right and moral, by continuing to hold on to the 45% of the prisoners at Gitmo that the pentagon admits have never lifted a finger against us. Only 8% they say have ties to al-Qaeda, so what are we doing here? There is absolutely no doubt that this administration's policies from Gitmo to Iraq are just wrongheaded and deluded.

Or what Edward Hallet Carr would call "utopian." W. & Co. want to make "political theory a norm to which political practice ought to conform....The utopian, who proports to recognize the interdependence of purpose and fact, treats the purpose as if it were the only relevant fact, and constantly couches opitave prepositions in the indicative mood...These prepositions are items in a political progamme disguised as statements of fact." Now, he was talking about the pendulum that swings back and forth between utopians and realists in political thought, but it sure seems to apply in this case. They've got a plan and no matter what the reality of the situation is they're charging ahead, no matter if it winds up killing us all in the end.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Our good friends in the UAE.

Enslaved because of their size, young boys are trafficked into the UAE and forced to ride camels for sport...this from iAbolish.

"Small boys are chosen as jockeys due to their size and weight - and Asian boys in particular are recruited because they tend to be the smallest children available. They weigh less and tend to scream louder and at a higher pitch than most adults, causing camels to run faster.

While not all camel jockeys are slaves, nearly all those who are slaves are from poor villages in Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka. The economic deprivation experienced by some families in these villages prompts them to sell their sons to recruiters for the camel racing industry in the UAE. Families can receive from $2,000 to $3,000, the equivalent to twenty years of income in some areas."

See more about the UAE at Democraticunderground.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Networking the ports deal.

I think it may be time for W. to sit Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert down and give them the Ned Beatty speech from Network.

"You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it. Is that clear? You think you merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case. The Arabs have taken millions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back. It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity. It is ecological balance. You are an old man, who thinks in terms of nations, and peoples. There are no nations, there are no peoples, there are no Russians, there are no Arabs, there are no Third Worlds; there is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems. One vast and interwoven, interacting, multi-variant, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reichmarks, Rubles, Pounds and Sheckles."

Read the rest of my rants on this subject at LTAD.

Appeasement---then and now

In his column, "Appeasement--Then and Now," Victor Davis Hansen of the right wing Hoover Institution attempts to compare the present on-going nuclear standoff with Iran to the 1930's, when European "intellectuals and idealists" chose appeasement over confrontation with Hitler. Hansen writes, "The point of comparison is not to suggest that history simply repeats itself, but to learn why intelligent people delude themselves into embracing naive policies." Indeed, but why bother going back 70 years, when we would be much better served by reviewing the more recent history of a small cabal of neocons deluding themselves, and our government, into the naive belief that after invading Iraq little children would shower their American liberators with flowers and a Western style democracy would flourish in the heart of Middle East. But that particular historical example wouldn't have endeared his readers to the new neocon crusade against Iran that Hansen is trying to sell this time around. According to him, it's better to forget our history in order to repeat it.

Hansen's highly dubious argument for going to war with Iran is based on the very shaky historic parallel between Adolph Hitler taking advantage of a war weary Europeans whose inaction then led to WW II and Iranian president Mamoud Ahmadinejad who today is supposedly intimidating European Union "idealists" into letting him get the bomb. Just as the Europeans deferred their day of reckoning with Hitler by relying on multilateral action in the League of Nations so, too, today the referral of Iran to the U.N. is only putting off an inevitable confrontation with the Islamo-fascists in Iran. (We'll just forget also that the U.S. claims their occupation of Iraq is U.N. sanctioned.) And it's not bad enough that they are Islamic fascists; they're also anti-Semitic--just like Hitler.

Hansen does a brilliant job of deflection here by writing, "Anti-Semitism, of course, is the mother's milk of fascism. It's always, they say, a small group of Jews --- whether the shadowy cabinet advisors and international bankers of the 1930's or the manipulative neoconservatives and Israeli leadership of the present --- who alone stir up the trouble." Yes, indeed, don't look at that man behind the curtain, you're an anti-Semite! (That defense always works well for Henry Kissinger when people bring up uncomfortable questions about his war crimes.) The fact that Israel would be the country to benefit most from an attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure is totally coincidental.

Obviously, the trust of Hansen's column is that the U.S. has to step in with force to pull Israel's chestnuts out of the fire for them. There's no doubt, Iran is a legitimate threat to Israel and visa versa, but I hardly think Ahmadinejad & Co. are seriously going to "liquidate the Jews" by dropping a bomb on Israel. After all, not only would such an attack kill Palestinians, but it would also result in Tehran being wiped off the map by Israel's formidable nuclear arsenal.

The real question is: is it in the United States' best interest to risk setting off a regional conflagration that would send oil prices into the stratosphere and further destabilize the already chaotic situation in Iraq? My answer would be no. By the time we're done paying for Iraq we will have written enough IOUs to China to reach the moon and our military will be a mere shadow of its once powerful self. We can't afford to further endanger our economy and our national defense to start another war to stop Iran from maybe getting a bomb some time in the distant future. Between now and then a lot of things could change inside Iran.

Let's keep our eye on the ball here and not get distracted by those who would distort history to advance the agenda of a foreign power. As George W. Bush once famously said, "There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again."
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