Friday, September 22, 2006

Curt Weldon strikes out again:

[Please God, tell me this is the last story I have to comment on about Curt Weldon's "Able Danger" program, which neither able nor dangerous.]

The NYT reports today that the DOD's investigator general's office has found that a special military intelligence group code-named "Able Danger" never had Muhamed Atta in their sights.

The report says:

"We concluded that prior to Sept. 11, 2001, Able Danger team members did not identify Mohamed Atta or any other 9/11 hijackers. While we interviewed four witnesses who claimed to have seen a chart depicting Mohamed Atta and possibly other terrorists or ‘cells’ involved in 9/11, we determined that their recollections were not accurate."

Curt Weldon naturally was outraged: "I am appalled that the Department of Defense inspector general would expect the American people to actually consider this a full and thorough investigation." He says the inspector general had, "cherry-picked testimony from witnesses in an effort to minimize the historical importance of the Able Danger effort." That's funny, I thought cherry picking information to backup erroneous conclusions was more Weldon's style.

Please Curt, go back to Paris and pick up some new conspiracy theories for "Ali" or Gorbanifar or whoever. This is getting a little old. I know, go find those Roosky suitcase bombs buried in California. They haven't found them yet either.

For the many posts on this subject search:

Justice denied for Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit.

In the midst of the mainstream media's extensive coverage of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez calling W. the "devil" at the UN Assembly, what got overlooked was his demand that the United States government turn over a wanted terrorist presently in U.S. custody. Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban exile and former CIA operative, was very reluctantly arrested last year in Miami and has been cooling his heels in a San Antonio immigration center ever since. Instead of either extraditing him to Venezuela (where the plot was hatched), like Chavez wants, or trying him here for the October 6, 1976 bombing of Cubana flight 455, which killed in midair all 73 civilians aboard, the administration has decided to give him a get-out-of-jail-free card. Due to the administration's fear of losing the all important Cuban vote in Miami, it's willing to allow a mass murderer to walk free. (Naturally, as hell bent on defeating terrorism as this president is, he's not about to send a man -- who is innocent until proven guilty -- to be tried in a Venezuelan court, where he might not receive due process.)

W. has said time and again that countries which harbor terrorists will be bombed into the stone age, but when it comes to Cuban terrorists, that's all out the window. Especially when it's this country that's harboring them. It should be noted here that Posada is not the only terrorist allowed to freely walk the streets of Miami. Orlando Bosch, considered a hero in the Cuban "exile community," is most infamously known for firing a bazooka at a Polish freighter in downtown Miami in 1968, to this day potters around Calle Ocho hawking his crappy paintings.

As bad as the bombing of the Venezuelan plane is, though, Posada is also implicated in having had a hand in the single greatest international terrorist attack on American soil before 9/11. This was the September 21st 1976 car bombing and assassination of former Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier and 25 year-old American Ronni Karper Moffit, in the heart of embassy row in Washington DC. [Chile also wants the US to extradite Posada]

For thirty years the families of Letelier and Moffit have been trying to get the US government to release classified documents that would prove that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was behind this despicable act, but to no avail. The Clinton administration under pressure did release 24,000 documents related to the case and actually launched an FBI investigation, which in 2000 recommended indicting Pinochet. Unfortunately, instead of doing the right thing then, Janet Reno instead punted to the incoming Bush administration. (And I mean she punted it. She's got a hell of a leg!)

Since then, despite W.'s vaunted war against terror, the administration has stonewalled all attempts by the families to find out who killed their loved ones. The NYT's Larry Rohter did a piece on this yesterday and reported that, "no one in the Bush administration would comment on this case. William Blier, head of the unit in the office of the United States Attorney in Washington that is in charge of the case, declined a request for information on the status of the investigation. He referred the question to a press spokesman, Channing Phillips, who also would not comment."

Apparently, W. & Co. aren't concerned about finding and punishing the people behind a car bombing orchestrated by a foreign government on the streets of Washington DC. Would it be incredibly cynical of me to think that the fact that 41 was at that time the director of the CIA has anything to do with this seemingly incomprehensible lack of interest in this case on the part of 43?

I wonder what the American people would say about that. Perhaps, they would say that when it comes to fighting terrorism this president talks a good game, but when it really comes down to it, he's all hat and no cattle.

A compromise made in hell.

As I suspected, the fix is in with this "compromise" the McCain-3 has come to with the administration on detainee rights. Although, W. didn't get his tribunal rules as written and he doesn't get to gut Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the Senate bill gets around the little problem of the Conventions by reworking the War Crimes Act instead. By enumerating which interrogation methods could be prosecuted under the Act -- death; mutilation; rape; hostage taking etc. -- anything short of those is fair now fair game. W. get's to "interpret 'the meaning and application' of the relevant provisions in Common Article 3," according to the WaPo.

The real sticking point for the supossed Senate "dissidents," the WaPo says, was not letting W. "appear to be reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions." Then once that was understood, they proceeded to negotiate some weasel wordage such as "serious and non-transitory mental harm, which need not be prolonged," for the length of interogations. W.'s henchmen wanted the language to read that the War Crimes Act would bar "severe" harm to suspects but the Senators got the word "serious" in its place.

Don't worry, though, the new law would require W. to publish the rules he comes up with in the Federal Register. (I can already see W.'s pen crossing out that particular constitutionally questionable provision in a signing statement.)

The McCain -3 have basically left everything pretty much as it was before this all came to a head, except for rejiggering slightly what W. wanted by giving detainees the right to see a summary of the secret evidence against them and only allowing testimony gained through coercion if it's deemed "probative" by a tribunal judge.

The issue of taking away the right of Habeas Corpus for detainees is still in the bill, but this may yet be in play as even some House Republicans are moving away from the Bush position on this. The Graham/Levin push seeking to not only prevent detainees from using the Habeas Corpus petitions in the future, but also wiping out all cases pending, is a particularly loathsome aspect of this bill. There are people being held in Gitmo who will have no legal recourse to challenge their detentions -- ever. Ironically, the al-Qaeda big shots will be given more protections if the law passes as it currently reads. Of course, if this portion of the bill gets in, you can be sure it will be challenged in the courts. That is, though, if McCain & Co. haven't already legislated the courts out of the process, which is yet to be seen.

All in all, I'd say this entire process has been a big disappointment to all us who were hoping that the Congress would finally stand up to W. and his march toward autocracy. The Democrats don't come out of this looking any better than the Republicans either. The only Democrat really involved in this whole process has been Carl Levin and he's on their side. His work with Lindsay Graham on undermining the fundamental legal protections of Habeas Corpus will be coming back to haunt all Americans sooner or later. When you start chipping away at something that basic, you're really on a slippery slope.

And what does the democratic Senate leader Harry Reid have to say about this shameful back down: "It is time to make the tough decisions to give the American people the real security they deserve." Wow, that's really standing up for you principles! Just trust in John McCain, Lindsay Graham and John Warner to do what's right and keep your head down. That's a strategy for victory.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

AG Gonzales confused about Arar case:

What a major duche bag Alberto "waterboard" Gonzales is. When he was asked by reporters about the Canadian commission report which found that the US had sent Canadian citizen Mehar Arar to Syria for a little torture, his answer was:

"Well, we were not responsible for his removal to Syria. I'm not sure that he was tortured." (and by the way I've never heard of him, even though he's law suit against me in on appeal.

Right, he knows nothing. Wasn't this the guy who as W.'s counsel wrote the legal memo that ok'd rendition? (You know, there's that "New Paradigm" that allows us to outsource our torturing these days.) In an interview last night on NPR, Arar said Gonzales comments were outragous. Well, welcome to my world. So what else is new? His lawyer is quoted in the Times saying that she expected an apology. What planet is she on? Here's an administration run by a man who can't think of one thing he's ever done wrong.

Anyway, this flap over Gonzales' comments have all been misinterpreted. The Justice Department says today that the AG got his timing wrong. He thought Arar was sent to torture camp after this sort of thing was turned over to the Department of Heimat Security. Spokesman Charles Miller says, "He had his timeline mixed up."

You see, even though he is responsible for creating the legal justification for sending Mehar to Syria and he was actually in charge of overseeing this disgrace of sending an innocent man with a Canadian passport to Syria to be imprisoned and beaten for 10 months, he just got his timeline mixed up.

Case closed.

The devil is in the details:

As I wrote a few days ago, it's great that the Senate Armed Services Committee is putting up a big road-block to W.'s plans for torture and kangaroo courts at Gitmo, but I don't trust McCain and his fellow "rebels" not to sneak in a few crucial things W. wants while everyone is focuses on secret evidence and Common Article 3.

The alternate bill John Warner is sponsoring would retain Linday Graham's prohibition against allowing detainees to file Habeas Corpus claims against their detentions. This is a big deal. David McColgin, an attorney for one of the Afghan detainees at Gitmo wrote a LTTE today in the Inquirer pointing this out.

". . . The senators' bill is seriously flawed. It would bar the detainees from challenging their detention in federal court. The majority of the 430 detainees, such as the Afghani man I represent, were not picked up on the battlefield and will never be charged with a crime. So they will never have a trial in the tribunals Bush and the senators are fighting over. They have never been able to challenge, or even see, the evidence that supposedly justifies their detention. . . Their only hope for a fair hearing came when the Supreme Court said they could challenge their detention in federal court through habeas corpus petitions. But the senators' bill would do away with that right and leave them worse off than detainees charged with crimes, who would face tribunals."

The WaPo reports that now the Judiciary Committee is wants a piece of the action. Arlen Spector wants to review what the ASC has been up to. According to the article, Spector says that Congress "cannot act to delete the remedy of habeas corpus" and called the bill "unconstitutional."

The devil is in the details (can you smell the sulfer?) and I'm convinced the bill that comes out of all of this will contain some very poison pills no matter what happens. Or it may not happen at all, because Congress let's out next week and as messed up as things are in the Senate, the House is also having problems with this leglisation. When the two Houses meet there could be total stalemate (hopefully.)

CIA shut down secret prisons, not W.:

Meanwhile, the FT reports today that all of this supossedly came to a head not so much because Karl Rove thought this would be a good issue to beat the Dems over the head with during the elections but because:

"CIA interrogators had refused to carry out further interrogations and run the secret facilities, according to former CIA officials and people close to the programme. The former officials said the CIA interrogators’ refusal was a factor in forcing the Bush administration to act earlier than it might have wished. . . former CIA officials said Mr Bush’s hand was forced because interrogators had refused to continue their work until the legal situation was clarified because they were concerned they could be prosecuted for using illegal techniques. One intelligence source also said the CIA had refused to keep the secret prisons going."

But I thought these quaint restrictions against "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment," were so vague that no one knew what was going too far. Now that the Supreme Court has said 'you have to abide by Common Article 3' all of a sudden everyone knows what it means.

The fact that these black prisons were shut down by the intergogators themselves shows you they knew what was waht. Not that they think it's wrong mind you, but they want to be immunized.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A new appraoch to Iran? Can you smell the sulfer?

It's been a pretty exciting week at the UN General Assembly this week. Hugo Chaves thrilled the crowd by accusing W. of trying to take over the world, calling him the "devil" and urging everyone to read Noam Chomsky, of all things! [Can you smell the sulfer?] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was much more understaned but essentially said the same thing, except for the Noam Chomsky thing.

Yesterday, W. did his best impression of his 2002 speech to the assembly when he said all he cared about was thw well-being of the Iraqi people. (Don't destroy your oil wells!) This time around it's the Iranian people's turn. He told them:

"You deserve an opportunity to determine your own future. The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation’s resources to fund terrorism and fuel extremism and pursue nuclear weapons." [NYT]

Now, most Iranians would probably agree with him, except for the nukes thing, they support that. This is the problem the administration's approach. The Iranians are chaffing under Ahmadinejad's heavy handed domestic policies. The economy sucks and they can't even have any fun! He's thowing liberal professors out of universities, arresting bloggers, confiscating satelite dishes (the horror!), and shutting down newspapers left and right. And most Iranians weren't happy that Iran spent so much money on Lebanon and Hezbollah etc.

There are a millions reasons young Iranians would like Ahmadinejad to get lost. But there's only one thing keeping the lid on: George W. Bush and what he did to Iraq and what they'll fear he'll do to Iran. Ahmadinejad is playing the nationalism card brilliantly, playing Russia and China off the West -- an Iranian specialty -- and playing W & Co. like a violin.

Give it time?

WaPo reports that General John Abizaid was "asked point-blank whether the United States is winning in Iraq, Abizaid replied: 'Given unlimited time and unlimited support, we're winning the war.'"

What the hell does that mean? How much time are we talking about here? And what unlimited support is he refering to? There are according to an AP report today, already "147,000 U.S. troops in Iraq - up more than 20,000 from June." Things aren't getting any better. In fact, now that we're going after the Shiites, we're gettign drawn into an Iraqi Intifada.

AP reports:

"Shiite militias are encouraging children - some as young as 6 or 7 - to hurl stones and gasoline bombs at U.S. convoys, hoping to lure American troops into ambushes or provoke them into shooting back, U.S. troops say."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Shinawatra a' go-go:

AP reports:

"BANGKOK, Thailand - The Thai military launched a coup against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Tuesday night, circling his offices with tanks, seizing control of TV stations and declaring a provisional authority pledging loyalty to the king. An announcement on Thai television declared that a "Council of Administrative Reform" with King Bhumibol Adulyadej as head of state had seized power in Bangkok and nearby provinces without any resistance."

He's going, he's not going. He's quiting, he's not quitting. He's in control, he's not in control. Who knows what the hell is going on? Wow, I knew Shinawatra was unpopular, but this is rediculous! It's ironic that this is happening as Shinawatra is hobnobbing with world leaders at the UN in New York. So much for the spread of democracy. Here's another diplomatic nightmare for W. & Co., this time in the heart of Southeast Asia. I wonder how they're going to handle this one. I'm going to guess, badly.

It's bad enough one of the most important countries in the region is imploding, but before this the Tai military was already busy creating more terrorists in the south of the country with their heavy-handed security crackdowns. W. was probably counting Shinawatra as a good ally in the WOT. Not only that but he's one of those 'screw those checks and balances' kind of guy that W. so admires. (Of course, this is probably why he's in so much trouble too.)

But, there was that little problem with Shinawatra's cozy relationship with the regime in Burma. Last year when Shinawatra visited W., some Republicans in Congress wanted W. to rebuke the Tai leader. Rep. Chris Smith (R. NJ) told W. that, "friends don't let friends enable dictatorship," but the White House maintained that the Shinawatra regime was, "a long-standing ally and a democratic partner." [FOX]

W. and Shinawatra were suposedly "concerned" about the Burmese regime's treatment of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, but as you can see she's still under house arrest. Something tell me things aren't going to get any better under the leadership of the Tai military. I guess, we won't be having those Cobra Gold excersizes with the Royal Tai army next year after this.

Well, give it a little time to fade from the public eye and we'll be doing business with whoever is in power, just as long as they keep going after the insurgency in the south. Al-Qaeda may not be there yet, but they will be eventually the way things are going.
hit counter script Top Blog Lists Favourite Blogs Top List
My Zimbio
Top Stories