Saturday, September 30, 2006

Der Nacht- und Nebel-Erlaß:

You know, history has a funnny way of repeating its self. I was just thinking of Nazi Germany's Der Nacht und Nebel Erlaß (The Night and Fog Directive, 1941) and how the Gestapo would show up in the middle of the night and take people away never to be seen again. I wonder why I've been thinking of that?

A Wikipedia entry goes like this:

"Up until the time of the "Night and Fog" decree, prisoners were handled by German soldiers in approximately the same way other countries did: according to national agreements and procedures such as the Geneva Convention. Hitler and his upper level staff, however, made a critical decision not to have to conform to what they considered unnecessary rules. The Third Reich, after all, was not a party to the Geneva Concentions and so observed it only as needed to reduce tensions with other nations."

Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel wrote:

"The prisoners are, in future, to be transported to Germany secretly, and further treatment of the offenders will take place here; these measures will have a deterrent effect because - A. The prisoners will vanish without a trace. B. No information may be given as to their whereabouts or their fate."

Arlen Specter, who could have fought harder to stop this tyrranical "anti-terror" bill said after voting for it: "I did my best to get Congress to do the job, and when I couldn't get sufficient votes, the next alternative is the courts. That part of the bill is unconstitutional and the court will clean it up. I think when it comes up, the court should disregard it. The court is not going to give up its authority on these matters."

This is all we have to count on now?

Our new authoritarian oligarchy and enemy propaganda:

Looks like King Chimpy is really on the war path -- where else would he be? -- now that the Senate has handed the keys to the government over to him. [There's still the outside chance that the courts might intervene to check his excesses, but that's a slim hope. All he needs is for Justice John Paul Stevens to choke on his Crème Brule and it's all over.] Yesterday, W. hit the campaign trail and accused the Democrats of embracing the "enemy's propaganda." (So much for respecting the other side’s view point.) Speaking in front of another one of his careful selected military audiences, he said, "Some have selectively quoted from this document [the NIE] to make the case that by fighting the terrorists -- by fighting them in Iraq -- we are making our people less secure at home. This argument buys into the enemy's propaganda that terrorists attack us because we're provoking them." [Inquirer]

Gosh W., wouldn't the logical conclusion of your charging lead you to just round up all those spouting the enemy's propaganda and send them to Camp W.? Now that the Congress has given you the power to designate who an "illegal enemy combatant" is and lock them up without charges or the legal recourse to challenge their detention in the courts, you can pretty much do whatever you want. In fact, why even go through the formality of holding elections at all? We all know who these folks are -- these Islamo-fascist appeasers on the democratic side-- just lock 'em up.

While W. was accusing his opposition in Congress of being terrorists, Alberto "waterboard" Gonzales was putting all federal judges on notice. He told an audience at the Georgetown Law Center that federal judges shouldn't be injecting their personal views into rulings involving the president's war powers. Since the constitution says the president is the commander-in-chief, it "provides the courts with relatively few tools to superintend military and foreign policy decisions, especially during wartime. Judges must resist the temptation to supplement those tools based on their own personal views about the wisdom of the policies under review." Yes, judges may be appointed for life but this, "has never meant, and should never mean, that judges or their decisions should be immune" from public criticism. [WaPo] Or from prosecution perhaps?

Sounds like a threat to me. If I were Federal Judge Anna Diggs Taylor (who he's obviously talking about here), I'd be thinking twice about suspending W.'s warranties domestic spying program. After witnessing John McCain just roll over on torture and Arlen Specter sputter and fume about the gutting of the 900-year old Writ of Habeas Corpus, but vote to gut it anyway, I wouldn't be feeling too secure about crossing the White House. If the GOP should happen to hold on to Congress, W. & Co. will be feeling free to cut out those few remaining vestiges of pre-9/11 American democracy, without much opposition.

The only thing I see standing in their way is a few "activist judges" who think we're still living in a free country. Get with the program, the United States is now being ruled by an authoritarian oligarchy. Now I understand what W. was seeing when he looked in Vlad "the impaler" Putin's eyes. A kindred spirit.

Mark Foley: Wow!

The WaPo reports: "Six-term Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) resigned yesterday amid reports that he had sent sexually explicit Internet messages to at least one underage male former page."

Wow, I'm truly shocked. Foley has been my parent's representative for years, and although it was hardly a secret that he was gay, it didn't make a difference to them. Not even to my Bush loving, gun toting, marine father! Foley always was there for them whether it was intervening on their behalf with the IRS or with FEMA. In the past, I've spoken to his staff at his Port St. Lucie office and they were always sympathetic and helpful. Especially, during this past year as my parents struggled with the government to get relief in the aftermath of hurricane Wilma and the destruction of their home.

Foley has been a great moderate Republican representative for his district and this is just a tragedy. I don't know what was going on in his mind or what on earth he was thinking, but obviously he's made some crucial errors in judgment that have ruined his very successful political career. It's a real shame. I've never voted for a Republican, but I would have voted for him. For his sake, I hope he's able to work out his personal problems and move on, because I believe he is a good man.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Dining with dictators:

This has been a bust week for W., what with all the dictators in town and all. First there was Pervez Musharraf -- who came to power in a bloodless coup -- and now Nursultan Nazarbayev is in town. Luckily, he desposed of that little Altynbek Sarsenbayev problem before he got to town. Sarenbayev's "killers" were convincted in one of those show-trials dictators are so fond of earlier on this month. Now, it's on to fancy parties, meetings with oil tycoons and getting his picture taken with W. for the folks back home.

So what if Nazarbayev is a despot, he's not as bad as some of the other dictators in Central Asia; he's no Turkmanbashi or Islam Karimov. (Wait, Rummy still likes him.) And, by the way, W. just became a dictator himself. In case you were on Mars this week, W. got the go ahead from Congress last night to do pretty much anything he wants: torture, stage show trials, keep his black prisons open, round up new types of suspects with broader definition's of who's been naughty and nice etc. All in all a pretty good week for the boy king. If he's really lucky Arlen Spector's domestic spying bill will be voted on today and it'll be a clean sweep.

When in Rome. . .

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Freedom fries are back!

Yesterday, 7-11 announced that its canceling its contract with Citco to provide gas at its stations. Citco, as we all know, is the American arm of Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the Venezuelan oil company. 7-11 says it's doing this because of Hugo Chavez' speech at the UN last week, but we all know its just a slimy PR move.

7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris says, "Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans' concern over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela's president. Certainly Chavez's position and statements over the past year or so didn't tempt us to stay with Citgo." [AP]

Right, I'm so sure. This couldn't have more to do with the fact that 7-11 has been planning to sell their own brand of gas for over a year and just saw a good opportunity to make some PR hay, could it? How despicable.

The news of this move has promted right wingers and nut jobs to crawl out of from under their rocks to make some hay of their own. Florida congressman Adam Hasner has called for the state of Florida to end its contract with Citco at the state's 7 Turnpike rest stops. Hasner says, "We must send a clear message to Chavez, and the current government of Venezuela, that the state of Florida and our citizens will not support institutions that seek the destabilization of America and our institutions and freedoms." [NBC6]

Yes, calling W. some naughty names and giving 12 million gallons of cheap heating oil to the poor is destabilizing the country. Sure today it's cheap oil; tomorrow they'll want access to health care, good paying jobs and the the rich to pay their fair share. Where will it end?

Don Wildmon, of the American Family Association, has launched a boycott of Citco. "Regardless of your feelings about the war in Iraq, the issue here is that we have a socialist dictator vowing to bring down the government of the U.S. And he is using our money to achieve his goal." What part of the speech called for the overthrow of the government? I must have missed that. You W. is just the president, he's not the government. But it's all the same thing to these people.

I saw, 'right on Don Wildmon,' tell Hugo Chavez to take his 1.5 mm barrels of oil he sends to the US everyday and shove it. That'll show him! Let the Chinese have it and those thousands of Americans who work for Citco can go work at one of those new service sector jobs I've heard so much about.

Do you want freedom fries with that order?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Renditions coming back to bite the CIA?

I would guess that if you're a CIA agent worried about being prosecuted under the War Crimes Act for those pesky "alternative" interrogation procedures David Addington and Al Gonzales told you were A-Okay, you're probably heaving a sigh of relief about now. It appears it's a slam dunk that Congress is going to rubber stamp W.'s diktat that interrogators who might have gone a little too far, get a pass -- and retroactively no less.

That's the good news. The bad news is that, since W. hasn't gotten around to admitting that his administration kidnaps people from all over the world and sends them to third countries for torture sessions; Congress hasn't yet had a chance to make that legal too. If you happen to have been one of those agents involved in rendering foreign nationals in Germany or Italy over the past few years, you might want to make sure your insurance policy on torture is up to date.

Newsweek reports that German prosecutors are preparing to bring charges in the 2004 rendition case of German national Khaled el-Masri. El-Masri -- for all you trying to keep track of all the rendition cases -- was abducted in Macedonia by masked CIA officials in 2004 and flown to Afghanistan where he was beaten and imprisoned for four months. After figuring out that el-Masri had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, the CIA flew him to Albania where they dumped him in a field in the middle of nowhere.

Although, his lawsuit against the CIA was dismissed on national security grounds, the Germans are still interested. Well, reluctantly so anyway. It seems that a report by the German TV show "Panorama" last week has forced the hands of prosecutors in Munich. Panorama says it has discovered the identities of 20 CIA agents who participated in el-Masri's rendition. Just as in the 2003 case of Osama Nasr Mostafa Hassan (aka Abu Omar) who was snatched off the streets of Milan, the agents left plenty of calling cards behind them. The article says Panorama aired "records showing the officials had massages at a Majorca hotel after the alleged abduction." A former German counterterror official quoted in the article says local prosecutors now have no choice but to issue arrest warrants.

The Bush administration might have no problem dismissing the Italian arrest warrants for 19 CIA agents involved in the Abu Omar case, but Germany is a whole other can of worms. Remember, Angela Merkel is W.'s back massage buddy, if she quashes the investigation things could go south for her in a hurry. W. isn't exactly beloved in Germany. There were already suspicions that Gerhard Schroeder and his government's complicity in el-Marsri's kidnapping, this might just bust the German intelligence service's role out into the open, making things very uncomfortable for Angela.

She apparently hasn't yet cottoned on to the fact that being W.'s friend can drastically shorten your political career and wreck your reputation. Just ask Jose Maria Aznar, Silvio Berlusconi, Tony B-liar, Vincente Fox, Steven Harper, Colin Powell, Christine Todd Witman, Ari Fleischer, Scott McClellan, John Snow, Hamid Karzai, Pervez Musharrif, Nuri al-Maliki, King Abdullah II, etc.

What really amazes about the CIA in these rendition cases -- that we know about anyway -- is the fact that they would leave such an easy trail behind them to follow. I mean, if the Italians could track their every move by credit card and cell phone records, how undercover were they? W. is all about hiding every little thing from the public his government does in their name, yet these guys were gallivanting around Europe snatching up people and putting them on planes, which could be very easily tracked, like they were on vacation or something.

To me, this just shows the sense of impunity this government operates under. They can commit the most outrageous crimes and no one is allowed to call them on it. This is starting to change, though. The CIA interrogators at W.'s black prisons who refused to keep torturing until their status was "clarified," which then forced W to transfer the "al-Qaeda 14" to Gitmo, have come to the realization that crime doesn't pay. Whether W. & Co. have figured that out is yet to be seen.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Case closed!

Wow, that was quick!

John Negroponte just put out 4 pages of the 30 page NIE to put things into context, so the American people's minds won't be confused about all this stuff the dumbocrats are putting out.

Ap reports reports that in those 4 pages it shows that Iraq is a "cause celebre," for the terrorists and things are going to get worse before they get better.

I'm glad they cleared that up!

Big deal!

[Sorry for that previous post. I was in a bit of rush.]

Anyway. . . AP reports that W. says he's going to declassify some of the NIE in question so everyone can see how "naive" his critics are about the contents of the report. He says, "you read it for yourself. Stop all this speculation." [We report. You decide.]

My question is: if, as he claims, the NIE doesn't conclude that his Iraq war has been a recruiting boon for al-Qaeda, but rather that, as he says, "because of our successes against the leadership of al-Qaida, the enemy is becoming more diffuse and independent," then why didn't he come out with this good news back in April when he got it?

Wait! Is the fact that al-Qaeda has become more diffuse and independent really any better? Wouldn't the really good news be that he had found and killed the man behind 9/11? Or that the war in Iraq had got al-Qaeda on the run?

But, W. says this is all about politics, anyway: "Here we are, coming down the homestretch of an election campaign and it’s on the front page of your newspapers. Isn’t that interesting." Imagine; declassifying secret intelligence for political gain! What depths won't the Defeatocrats sink to?

You know, I don't know what the big deal is anyway. The fact that terrorism is on the up-swing because of W.'s little war is no surprise. As the Post points out, most experts find the NIE "unexceptional." There were predictions O' Plenty of the mess we've now found ourselves in, before and immediatly after the war began.

Remember, Jeffery Record's Army War College report in 2004 blasting the administration's war aims in the WOT? Record wrote: "[T]he global war on terrorism as currently defined and waged is dangerously indiscriminate and ambitious, and accordingly . . . its parameters should be readjusted." And more ominously, "A cardinal rule of strategy is to keep your enemies to a manageable number. The Germans were defeated in two world wars . . . because their strategic ends outran their available means."

Could he have been predicting the sorry state our military, particularly our Army, finds itself in today? The NYT reports:

"Other than the 17 brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan, only two or three combat brigades in the entire Army -- perhaps 7,000 to 10,000 troops -- are fully trained and sufficiently equipped to respond quickly to crises, said a senior Army general."

It turns out the Third Infantry Division is going back again, and while they're trying to get up to speed for Iraq, the Times writes that "the Army assigned the division other missions it had to be ready to execute, including responding to hurricanes and other natural disasters and deploying to Korea if conflict broke out there. . . Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, who took command in June, says officials at Army headquarters ask him every month how ready his division is to handle a crisis in Korea. The answer, General Lynch says, is that he is getting there." [Lets hope the North Koreans don't do anything crazy.]

And in 2005 there was this article in the Boston Globe, about two studies done about foreign fighters in Iraq. Both studies, one by the Saudis and one by an Israeli think tank found that:

"The vast majority of these foreign fighters are not former terrorists and became radicalized by the war itself. The studies, which together constitute the most detailed picture available of foreign fighters, cast serious doubt on President Bush's claim that those responsible for some of the worst violence are terrorists who seized on the opportunity to make Iraq the 'central front' in a battle against the United States. "

Peter Bergen, a terrorism specialist at the nonpartisan New America Foundation, is quoted saying, "The president is right that Iraq is a main front in the war on terrorism, but this is a front we created. 'To say we must fight them in Baghdad so we don't have to fight them in Boston implies there is a finite number of people, and if you pen them up in Iraq you can kill them all," says Bergen. ''The truth is we increased the pool by what we did in Iraq."

So, again, why is this such a big surprise and why isn't the Rummy/Cheney cabal in jail?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Where's the fraction of the outrage?

Boy, the administration is really struggling with the revelation by the Wapo and other major papers that the latest NIE finds that the:

" 'centrality' of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the insurgency that has followed, [has been] the leading inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks and cells that [they] are united by little more than an anti-Western agenda. . . It concludes that, rather than contributing to eventual victory in the global counterterrorism struggle, the situation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position."

Administration spokesmen came right and said. 'this is what we've been saying all along.' Since is buying that nonsence, John Negroponte now says, according to the WaPo again, the conclusion reached by the NIE that the "Iraq war has increased the threat from terrorism is only 'a fraction of judgments,'" whatever that means.

Even though it's pretty clear from what I've read that the consensus is that Iraq has turned into one big Jihad University, at tax payer expense no less, this is only a few voices and just listening to them "distorts the broad framework they create."

Talk about double-speak! They've been outed and caught redhanded.

Where's the outrage?
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