Tuesday, May 31, 2005

What the hell is it gonna take?!!!

Congress should hang its head in shame for not having the guts to call BushCo what it is--an administration, a "president" (in name only), that has disgraced our country all over the world.

The 'I' word
By Ralph Nader and Kevin Zeese
May 31, 2005
THE IMPEACHMENT of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, should be part of mainstream political discourse.

Minutes from a summer 2002 meeting involving British Prime Minister Tony Blair reveal that the Bush administration was ''fixing" the intelligence to justify invading Iraq. US intelligence used to justify the war demonstrates repeatedly the truth of the meeting minutes -- evidence was thin and needed fixing.

President Clinton was impeached for perjury about his sexual relationships. Comparing Clinton's misbehavior to a destructive and costly war occupation launched in March 2003 under false pretenses in violation of domestic and international law certainly merits introduction of an impeachment resolution.

Eighty-nine members of Congress have asked the president whether intelligence was manipulated to lead the United States to war. The letter points to British meeting minutes that raise ''troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war." Those minutes describe the case for war as ''thin" and Saddam as ''nonthreatening to his neighbors," and ''Britain and America had to create conditions to justify a war." Finally, military action was ''seen as inevitable . . . But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Indeed, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, nor any imminent threat to the United States:

The International Atomic Energy Agency Iraq inspection team reported in 1998, ''there were no indications of Iraq having achieved its program goals of producing a nuclear weapon; nor were there any indications that there remained in Iraq any physical capability for production of amounts of weapon-usable material." A 2003 update by the IAEA reached the same conclusions.

The CIA told the White House in February 2001: ''We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has . . . reconstitute[d] its weapons of mass destruction programs."

Colin Powell said in February 2001 that Saddam Hussein ''has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction."

The CIA told the White House in two Fall 2002 memos not to make claims of Iraq uranium purchases. CIA Director George Tenet personally called top national security officials imploring them not to use that claim as proof of an Iraq nuclear threat.

Regarding unmanned bombers highlighted by Bush, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center concluded they could not carry weapons spray devices. The Defense Intelligence Agency told the president in June 2002 that the unmanned aerial bombers were unproven. Further, there was no reliable information showing Iraq was producing or stockpiling chemical weapons or whether it had established chemical agent production facilities.

When discussing WMD the CIA used words like ''might" and ''could." The case was always circumstantial with equivocations, unlike the president and vice president, e.g., Cheney said on Aug. 26, 2002: ''Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

The State Department in 2003 said: ''The activities we have detected do not . . . add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing . . . an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons."

The National Intelligence Estimate issued in October 2002 said ''We have no specific intelligence information that Saddam's regime has directed attacks against US territory."

The UN, IAEA, the State and Energy departments, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center, US inspectors, and even the CIA concluded there was no basis for the Bush-Cheney public assertions. Yet, President Bush told the public in September 2002 that Iraq ''could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given." And, just before the invasion, President Bush said: ''Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."
The president and vice president have artfully dodged the central question: ''Did the administration mislead us into war by manipulating and misstating intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to Al Qaeda, suppressing contrary intelligence, and deliberately exaggerating the danger a contained, weakened Iraq posed to the United States and its neighbors?"

If this is answered affirmatively Bush and Cheney have committed ''high crimes and misdemeanors." It is time for Congress to investigate the illegal Iraq war as we move toward the third year of the endless quagmire that many security experts believe jeopardizes US safety by recruiting and training more terrorists. A Resolution of Impeachment would be a first step. Based on the mountains of fabrications, deceptions, and lies, it is time to debate the ''I" word.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate. Kevin Zeese is director of DemocracyRising.US.

Defend your TV!!!

From Consumers Union.org comes this warning:

Don’t Let the Switch to Digital TV Hurt Consumers

You may not know it, but your TV could soon go dark. Congress is getting ready to take up legislation that would set a firm date for all television signals to switch from the signal you receive now to an all-digital one. Yet, millions of Americans do not have a TV capable of getting this new digital signal. Some consumers could wind up having to buy a brand new TV or a set-top converter box (estimated cost of at least $50 each).

Congress has to decide who should pay for the switch - consumers or the government. The government will auction off the channels that are currently used for local TV broadcasting potentially earning billions of dollars which could be used to pay for consumers’ set-top converter boxes.

Tell Congress to limit broadcaster control of local media, and to make sure that consumers don’t bear the financial burden for this digital switch.

To email a protest, go to Consumers Union website and have at it. Seems to me that the majority of Congress doesn't give two hoots in hell how tough they make it for lower income folks. Sheesh!

Stealth Theology...

Tell you what...these people are both nutty as fruitcakes and dangerous as hell to our nation. Read it and yell!!!

America's Religious Right - Saints or Subversives? By Steve Weissman t r u t h o u t Investigation

Part V: "The Ayatollah of Holy Rollers"

Tuesday 31 May 2005

Death by stoning for atheists, adulterers, and practicing male homosexuals.
Stoning - or possibly burning at the stake - for atheists, heretics, religious apostates, followers of other religions who proselytize, unmarried females who are unchaste, incorrigible juvenile delinquents, and children who curse or strike their parents.
And, oh yes, death to witches, Satanists, and those who commit blasphemy.
Does this sound like a radical Islamist nightmare, a replay of Afghanistan under the Taliban?
Welcome to the United States of America as Christian Reconstructionists hope to run it. Not as a democracy, which they see as secular heresy. But as a reconstructed Christian nation, complete with biblically sanctioned flogging and slavery.
The Bible rules, OK? And, in its name, a small elect of true believers are now seeking capital-D Dominion over every aspects of our government, laws, education, and personal lives.
An Unlikely Prophet
Reconstructionists have become the extremists to watch, and the key to understanding the current political zing of everyone on the religious right from Sunday-go-to-church Southern Baptists to neo-Nazis in Christian identity militias.

Rev. Rousas J. Rushdoony, founder of the Christian Reconstuctions, who would replace the US Constitution with "Biblical Law." (Photo: NNDB.com)
The movement and its "Dominion Theology" are relatively new, dating from the publication in 1973 of The Institutes of Biblical Law by the late Rousas John Rushdoony. A man of widely acclaimed brilliance and near-encyclopedic knowledge, Rushdoony claimed to descend from a long line of aristocratic Armenian clerics reaching back to the year 315. He himself was an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, not be confused with the generally liberal Presbyterian Church (USA).
Rev. Rushdoony was no liberal. Though gentle in his personal demeanor, he and his Chalcedon Foundation preached nothing less than a holy war "to demolish every kind of theory, humanistic, evolutionary, idolatrous, or otherwise, and every kind of rampart or opposition to the dominion of God in Christ."
As early as 1963, Rushdoony wrote a "Christian revisionist" historical account called The Nature of the American System, in which he rejected the separation of church and state. The authors of the Constitution, he wrote, intended "to perpetuate a Christian order."
He similarly opposed the secular bent of American public schools, becoming an early proponent of Christian home-schooling, which he defended as a First Amendment right of their parents.

Dr. Gary North, Rushdoony's son-in-law and a major figure among Christian Reconstructionists. (Photo: NNDB.com)
"We must use the doctrine of religious liberty ... until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government," explained his son-in-law Gary North. "Then they will get busy constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God."
Rushdoony opposed labor unions, women's equality, and civil rights laws. He favored racial segregation and slavery, which he felt had benefited black people because it introduced them to Christianity. He largely denied the Holocaust. And he made it kosher for Christian leaders like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell openly to despise democracy.
"Supernatural Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies," wrote Rushdoony, "Democracy is the great love of the failures and cowards of life."
In the highly divided world of Christian denominations, Rushdoony was - in journalist Marghe Covino's exquisite phrase - the most unlikely "Ayatollah of Holy Rollers." Few members of the Assembly of God or other evangelical, Pentecostal, or charismatic churches even know his name, and they are only now becoming comfortable with some of his ideas.
Evangelicals, who provide most of the foot soldiers for the religious right, have long stressed a personal relationship with God and the importance of having a born-again religious experience. Rushdoony, as an Orthodox Presbyterian, focused less on how they felt their inner faith than on how they lived their lives and obeyed "God's law."
Evangelicals immerse themselves in the New Testament and some of their mega-churches at times seem almost New Age. Rushdoony was an Old Testament patriarch, following in the more austere tradition of Puritan rule in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Calvin's theocratic governance of early 16th Century Geneva, and the Mosaic law of the ancient Israelites.
Evangelicals - or at least most of them at present - believe that Christ will return to establish a Millennium of biblical rule, and many take as gospel the End Time stories of the Rapture that the Rev. Tim LaHaye has popularized in his "Left Behind" novels. Rushdoony saw LaHaye's dispensational prophecies as "cheap grace" and "escapist theology," preaching instead that Christ would return only after virtuous Christians created "a world order under God's law."
Nor are Evangelical leaders rushing to proclaim their adherence to the terrifying Christian theocracy that Rushdoony's Reconstructionists now seek. Few Americans want to live like Puritans or die at the stake for committing a sin. "Dominion Theology" is not an easy revolution to sell, at least not yet.
In the November 1998 issue of Reason, Walter Olson told of two of televangelist Jerry Falwell's associates who wrote an article in which they criticized the Reconstructionists for advocating ideas that even they, as biblical fundamentalists, found "scary." As an example, the authors mentioned "mandating the death penalty for homosexuals and drunkards."
Rushdoony dashed off a letter to the editor complaining. Reconstructionists, he wrote, had no intention of putting drunkards to death.
With denials like this, the Reconstuctions "allow everyone else to feel moderate," Olson concluded. "Almost any anti-abortion stance seems nuanced when compared with Gary North's advocacy of public execution not just for women who undergo abortions but for those who advised them to do so. And with the Rushdoony faction proposing the actual judicial murder of gays, fewer blink at the position of a Gary Bauer or a Janet Folger, who support laws exposing them to mere imprisonment."
But the gap between the Biblical "moderates" and Reconstructions is getting shorter every day. As an Evangelical Southern Baptist, Falwell still distances himself from Rushdoony over questions of theology. But, he increasingly talks of Christians exercising dominion over America's secular institutions.
So does the charismatic Pat Robertson. ""There is no way that government can operate successfully unless led by godly men and women operating under the laws of the God of Jacob," he wrote in The New World Order.
So do evangelical preachers like James Dobson, Don Wildmon, D. James Kennedy, and Tim LaHaye. Whatever they might believe about the End Times, and no matter how often they deny that they've become Reconstructionists, today's evangelical leaders no longer leave the future to the power of prayer while waiting passively for Christ to return.
"Christian Reconstructionism is a stealth theology, spreading its influence throughout the Religious Right," explains journalist Frederick Clarkson, who closely follows the field. As he sees it, the Reconstructionists gave evangelicals a new set of ideological tools. These included Rushdoony's apocalyptic vision of rule by biblical law, his analysis of America as a Christian nation, the prospect of complete control, intellectual self-confidence, and a positive program for political involvement.
All of these the evangelicals had historically lacked, while the Reconstructionists wanted the one thing the evangelicals had - a huge army of followers they could mobilize with their churches, Bible colleges, publishing houses, and broadcasting stations.
"As recently as the early 1990s, most evangelicals viewed Reconstructionists as a band of theological misfits without a following," says Clarkson. "All that has changed, along with the numbers and character of the Christian Right. The world of evangelicalism and, arguably, American politics generally will not be the same."
If Clarkson is right, and the evidence suggests that he is, Rushdoony has inspired a major revolution in American religious thought, one that now threatens to provoke a political revolution as well. But before taking to the barricades with Bible in hand, his troops would do well to realize that Rushdoony has smuggled into their kit some very un-Christlike politics.
Witch Hunting
No surprise to those who track the religious right, Rushdoony enjoyed a long friendship with Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society and the man who accused President Dwight Eisenhower of being a knowing Communist agent. Rushdoony took great interest in how the Birchers worked and even mentioned them admiringly in his epic Institutes of Biblical Law. "The key to the John Birch Society's effectiveness has been a plan of operation which has a strong resemblance to the early church," he wrote. Rushdoony denied ever becoming a Bircher himself, but not because of any political disagreement. As he told Marghe Covino of the Sacramento News & Review, "Welch always saw things in terms of conspiracy and I always see things in terms of sin." A witty bon mot, Rushdoony's response overstated the divergence. He, too, found conspiracies everywhere. But where his friend Welch saw Reds, Rushdoony saw Satan and his modern-day hellhounds, the followers not only of Karl Marx, but also of Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, John Dewey, and - of course - the Unitarians.
"All sides of the humanistic spectrum are now, in principle, demonic; communists and conservatives, anarchists and socialists, fascists and republicans," he explained.
Pushing his rightwing politics, Rushdoony was one of the first members of the secretive Council for National Policy, which the Rev. Tim LaHaye and others started to bring right-wing Christians, other conservative activists, and John Birchers together with wealthy patrons willing to fund them. He also served on the board of Dr. Jay Grimstead's Coalition on Revival (COR), an umbrella group that attempted to bridge the theological differences of competing sects within an increasing emphasis on dominating secular institutions.
Characteristically, Rushdoony soon found fault with both the Council and Coalition, as he did with most religious and political organizations. But both succeeded in selling his far right politics and theocratic religious ideas to millions of unsuspecting evangelicals, who had once led America's fight to keep church and state forever separate.
They should have known better, and so should we all. "The purpose of regeneration is that man reconstruct all things in conformity to God's order, not in terms of man's desire for peace," Rushdoony warned in his Institutes of Biblical Law. "This purpose and mission involves law and coercion."

Iranians having their say via blogs!

Also from The Nation's Katrina today:

So, for those of you who want to diversify your daily news-feed, here's my list of ten blogs that offer an unprecedented window on Iran's political culture, while helping to open up and make that society more accountable.

1) Hoder.com: Molavi says Hoder is "the godfather of blogging in Iran"; he has a wide following, and numerous Iranian bloggers link to Hoder's blogspot. Hoder's real name is Hossein Derakhshan; his blog, which he calls "Editor: Myself," comes via Toronto, where the Tehran-born Derakhshan now makes his home. He offers observations on the June election and said in a recent email interview that blogs have "given much more transparency to how campaigns operate." And blogs also, says Hoder, have "enabled the campaigns to reach out to a network of educated and influential young students who make up the majority of the blogging community."

2) Massih Alinejad was a reporter for Iranian reformist newspapers, but when she exposed financial corruption in Iran's Parliament, higher-ups banned her from entering the building and she could no longer do her job. She was, the government said, acting "rude and intrusive." So, she started a blog.

3) Mr. Behi, a 27-year-old Tehran-based political blogger, captures the reservations many Iranians have about the political process. Behi's blog recently told us that he "enthusiastically voted for [reformist candidate] Khatami" in the 1997 elections because he and other Iranians believed "Khatami's great promises for a better society." But these promises never panned out. He now says, "casting my vote will not change anything." But his pessimism is tempered by hope, as when he explains that during a recent bloggers' forum with reformer and presidential hopeful Mostafa Moin, the bloggers asked so many pointed questions "that I thought maybe I am not in the Islamic Republic!"

4) Indeed, Moin, whose blog is in Persian, is a leading reformer who has supported the student movement. He's not the only candidate to understand the power of going on-line--though he may be the only one who personally updates his blog every day. (The Guardian Council, which clears candidates to run for office, recently barred Moin from appearing on the ballot.)

5) Brooding Persian provides background and history on Iranian politics. In one recent entry, Brooding Persian writes that the June election has "1,010 potential candidates, 921 men and 89 women." Brooding Persian offer many articles about the election and breakdowns of voting patterns in recent years, mixing well-written prose with sharp, ironic observations. An example: "Here in this heartland of evil at the tender age of 15 you can just walk into any station and vote as you please."

6) Written by journalist Omid Memarian, The Iranian Prospect examines democracy, civil society and social issues including the ways in which Iran's regime represses the media. The government, the site informs us, has recently "arrested and tortured more than 21 journalists, bloggers and IT technicians" and it has closed down more than 80 magazines and newspapers.

7) Shahram Kholdi's blog paints an Iranian Constitutional referendum as "a debate over the constitutional legitimacy of the Islamic Republic itself." Kholdi says that former President Rafsanjani will likely prevail in the June election, but also points out that Iranians are so disillusioned that many will stay away from the polls, especially those living in the nation's largest cities.

8) Iran Votes 2005, written by Windsteed, 29, describes the Guardian Council as a kind of "filter" that must first approve a candidate before he or she can become an official candidate for president. We also learn on this site that a former soccer star and coach, Nasser Hejazi, is trying to seek the presidency. Windsteed, like a lot of the bloggers, echoes the point that a "calm mood" in the country indicates a "lack of trust or interest in the candidates" and in the prospects for democratic change in Iran anytime soon.

9) Iranian.com. Among other cultural and political items, you'll find a good interview with the presidential candidate Hooshang Amirahmadi who also directs the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University. Amirahmadi predicts that if the elections "do not generate enthusiasm or produce an acceptable president, Washington most likely will adopt a policy of explicit regime change. If this happens, the 'Iraqicization' of Iran will begin."

10) IranianTruth.com, edited by Nema Milaninia, the executive director of the International Students Journal, discusses, among many topics, the relationship between the United States and Iran. Milaninia calls attention to efforts in the US House to tighten sanctions against Iran, predicting that such legislative efforts will ultimately backfire. She reflects a widespread view that ordinary Iranians will feel alienated and says the moves will fail to "back the Iranian regime against the wall."
Let's hope that #9's prediction doesn't come to pass. Let's hope BushCo gets impeached before he gets thousands more people killed and wounded and destroys yet another country in his blood-thirsty madness.

Shut up!

From The Nation online comes this bit of information:

BLOG Posted 05/30/2005 @ 11:34am
Did Someone Say Withdrawal?

For the first time since the war in Iraq began twenty-six months ago, the House of Representatives debated the need for US troops to exit Iraq. The modest amendment, introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California last Thursday evening, called on President Bush to develop a plan for the withdrawal of US forces. With virtually no prior notice or lobbying, 123 Democrats and 5 Republicans voted for Woolsey's amendment. But with no support from either the Democratic or Republican leadership, and thus no chance of passing, no major US newspaper felt obligated to cover the unprecedented proceedings.

Instead, the House added $49 billion more for the Iraqi occupation--on top of the $82 billion recently appropriated--as part of the $491 billion 2006 National Defense Authorization Act. The massive defense bill establishes a new fleet of nuclear submarines, provides millions for new aircrafts and ships, adds $100 million for a missile defense system and expands research for bunker-busting bombs. All of this the House could easily support. But not a non-binding call for a withdrawal plan.

"We have never voted one time together, not one time in the 11 years I have been here," conservative North Carolina Republican Walter Jones said in reference to his support for Woolsey's amendment. "What I am saying here tonight is we have a responsibility. We should not be into some endless, endless war in Iraq." Republicans Howard Coble, John Duncan, Jim Leach and Ron Paul agreed.

"With more than $200 billion on the line," Woolsey asked, "Do the Members not think that the American people deserve to know what the President plans to do in Iraq?"
Apparently not, as Republicans countered with a time-honored strategy: portray those opposed to the occupation as soft, sissy appeasers. "Make no mistake about it," said House Armed Forces Chairman Duncan Hunter, "This amendment is a message-sender. It is a message-sender to people like Al Sadr...It is a message-sender to Zarqawi...It is a message-sender to our troops, who might, in seeing if this amendment should pass, feel that the resolve of the American people is fading away." To buttress their militarism, Republicans introduced combat veteran after combat veteran to speak on the House floor. "It is interesting that as a combat veteran, I spoke to literally thousands of other combat veterans, and it is amazing the differences of their opinions versus liberal politicians," said Rep. Duke Cunningham, Vietnam vet.

The majority of America must then be liberals, judging from recent public opinion polls. Iraq tops the list of American concerns in the latest Gallup poll, with three-fourths of those respondents advocating an immediate withdrawal. Sixty-four percent of conservative Democrats in a Pew survey want the troops brought home as soon as possible. And fifty-seven percent of Americans told CNN/USA Today/Gallup that the Iraq war was not worth fighting.

Rather than prepare an exit strategy, the US military is instead planning to consolidate its forces in four massive American bases in Iraq. The move is not part of a plan to establish a permanent US military presence, officials assured the Washington Post. But the structures have distinctly permanent characteristics, replete with blast-proof barracks. The funding came as part of the $82 billion supplemental approved a few weeks back.

Congress, to be sure, raised nary a peep.

Please note that both Hunter and Cunningham are from the San Diego area...and we just cannot seem to be rid of those two, no matter how outrageously they behave. More, I'd sure like to know why not a word came from Pelosi and Reid. Not one word....

Monday, May 30, 2005

Better pay attention to this! (scroll down for posts)

May 30, 2005
Too Few, Yet Too Many

One of the more bizarre aspects of the Iraq war has been President Bush's repeated insistence that his generals tell him they have enough troops. Even more bizarrely, it may be true - I mean, that his generals tell him that they have enough troops, not that they actually have enough. An article in yesterday's Baltimore Sun explains why.

The article tells the tale of John Riggs, a former Army commander, who "publicly contradicted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld by arguing that the Army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan" - then abruptly found himself forced into retirement at a reduced rank, which normally only happens as a result of a major scandal.

The truth, of course, is that there aren't nearly enough troops. "Basically, we've got all the toys, but not enough boys," a Marine major in Anbar Province told The Los Angeles Times.
Yet it's also true, in a different sense, that we have too many troops in Iraq.

Back in September 2003 a report by the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the size of the U.S. force in Iraq would have to start shrinking rapidly in the spring of 2004 if the Army wanted to "maintain training and readiness levels, limit family separation and involuntary mobilization, and retain high-quality personnel."

Let me put that in plainer English: our all-volunteer military is based on an implicit promise that those who serve their country in times of danger will also be able to get on with their lives. Full-time soldiers expect to spend enough time at home base to keep their marriages alive and see their children growing up. Reservists expect to be called up infrequently enough, and for short enough tours of duty, that they can hold on to their civilian jobs.

To keep that promise, the Army has learned that it needs to follow certain rules, such as not deploying more than a third of the full-time forces overseas except during emergencies. The budget office analysis was based on those rules.

But the Bush administration, which was ready neither to look for a way out of Iraq nor to admit that staying there would require a much bigger army, simply threw out the rulebook. Regular soldiers are spending a lot more than a third of their time overseas, and many reservists are finding their civilian lives destroyed by repeated, long-term call-ups.

Two things make the burden of repeated deployments even harder to bear. One is the intensity of the conflict. In Slate, Phillip Carter and Owen West, who adjusted casualty figures to take account of force size and improvements in battlefield medicine (which allow more of the severely wounded to survive), concluded that "infantry duty in Iraq circa 2004 comes out just as intense as infantry duty in Vietnam circa 1966."

The other is the way in which the administration cuts corners when it comes to supporting the troops. From their foot-dragging on armoring Humvees to their apparent policy of denying long-term disability payments to as many of the wounded as possible, officials seem almost pathologically determined to nickel-and-dime those who put their lives on the line for their country.

Now, predictably, the supply of volunteers is drying up.
Most reporting has focused on the problems of recruiting, which has fallen far short of goals over the past few months. Serious as it is, however, the recruiting shortfall could be only a temporary problem. If and when we get out of Iraq - I know, a big if and a big when - it shouldn't be too hard to find enough volunteers to maintain the Army's manpower.

Much more serious, because it would be irreversible, would be a mass exodus of mid-career military professionals. "That's essentially how we broke the professional Army we took into Vietnam," one officer told the National Journal. "At some point, people decided they could no longer weather the back-to-back deployments."

And we're already seeing stories about how young officers, facing the prospect of repeated harrowing tours of duty in a war whose end is hard to imagine, are reconsidering whether they really want to stay in the military.

For a generation Americans have depended on a superb volunteer Army to keep us safe - both from our enemies, and from the prospect of a draft. What will we do once that Army is broken?
E-mail: krugman@nytimes.com

If there's anything evil running loose, it's the BushCo administration! They seriously need to be gotten rid of.

No police strategy?!!! (scroll down to posts)

Well this is a fine state of affairs! Thanks to BushCo's lack of planning for after war (dumbasses),
Basra, Iraq's good police are far outnumbered by the bad ones. It seems quiet, but it surely isn't. Take a look at this:

Basra out of control, says chief of police Families can still stroll but militia gangs hold power in port city
Rory Carroll in Basra
Tuesday May 31, 2005
The Guardian

The chief of police in Basra admitted yesterday that he had effectively lost control of three-quarters of his officers and that sectarian militias had infiltrated the force and were using their posts to assassinate opponents.

Speaking to the Guardian, General Hassan al-Sade said half of his 13,750-strong force was secretly working for political parties in Iraq's second city and that some officers were involved in ambushes.

Other officers were politically neutral but had no interest in policing and did not follow his orders, he told the Guardian.
"I trust 25% of my force, no more."

The claim jarred with Basra's reputation as an oasis of stability and security and underlined the burgeoning influence of Shia militias in southern Iraq.

"The militias are the real power in Basra and they are made up of criminals and bad people," said the general.

"To defeat them I would need to use 75% of my force, but I can rely on only a quarter."

In fact the port city, part of the British zone, is remarkably peaceful. It is largely untouched by the insurgency and crimes such as kidnapping and theft have ebbed since the chaotic months after the March 2003 invasion.

In marked contrast to Baghdad, razor wire and blast walls are uncommon in Basra and instead of cowering indoors after dark families take strolls along the corniche.

But Gen Sade said the tranquillity had been bought by ceding authority to conservative Islamic parties and turning a blind eye to their militias' corruption scams and hit squads.
A former officer in Saddam Hussein's marine special forces, he was chosen to lead Basra's police force by the previous government headed by Ayad Allawi and he started the job five months ago.

He praised the establishment of a competent 530-strong tactical support unit and claimed that 90% of ordinary crime was detected.

But he was frustrated that a weak, fledgling state left him powerless to purge his force of members of Iraq's two main rival Shia militias: Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army and the Badr Brigade of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri).

Sciri is one of the dominant parties in the Shia-led government in Baghdad and Mr Sadr, a radical cleric, has become a mainstream political player since leading two uprisings against occupation forces last year.

Both groups have been implicated in targeting officials from Saddam's ousted regime. Since such people tend to be Sunni Arabs, the score settling is often perceived as sectarian.

"Some of the police are involved in assassinations," said Gen Sade. "I am trying to sort this out, for example by putting numbers on police cars so they can be identified."

In March, police watched impassively as their friends in the Mahdi army members beat up scores of university students at a picnic deemed immoral because music was played and couples mingled. Gen Sade identified the officers, but did not punish them for fear of provoking the militia.

If there is trouble at Basra, university staff still phone the police, said Professor Saleh Najim, dean of the engineering college. "But you can't be sure they will do their duty."

The police chief felt cut off from his superiors at the interior ministry in Baghdad and lamented that a government commission was forcing some of his best officers to resign over alleged links with the ousted regime. He did not know how long he would keep his job.

Colin Smith, a deputy chief constable and Britain's senior police adviser in Iraq, said the Basra force's ability to patrol and investigate crimes was an "exponential development" from two years ago and he expected improvements to accelerate.

"I'm optimistic. It's a five to 10 year project, it won't be overnight," he said.
He criticised previous British and American trainers for setting the bar too high for a force being built from scratch. "Too often we have given the Iraqis plans that don't work. We still don't have an Iraq police strategy."

For example police stations were given expensive cameras to photograph suspects without heed to the Iraqis' difficulty in replacing the batteries, said Mr Smith.

"A lot of the time we're not moving forward but rectifying the mistakes made in the past two years."

Apparently, they made one hell of a number of, not only mistakes, but stupid mistakes! Sheesh!

Global Strike Nuclear Plan...(scroll down for posts)

A metaphorical "nuclear option"—the cutoff of debate in the Senate on judicial nominees—has just been defused, but a literal nuclear option, called "global strike," has been created in its place.

n a shocking innovation in American nuclear policy, recently disclosed in the Washington Post by military analyst William Arkin, the administration has created and placed on continuous high alert a force whereby the president can launch a pinpoint strike, including a nuclear strike, anywhere on earth with a few hours' notice. The senatorial "nuclear option" was covered extensively, but somehow this actual nuclear option—a "full-spectrum" capability (in the words of the presidential order) with "precision kinetic" (nuclear and conventional) and "non-kinetic" (elements of space and information operations)—was almost entirely ignored.

The order to enable the force, Arkin writes, was given by George W. Bush in January 2003. In July 2004, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated to Adm. James Ellis Jr., then-commander of Stratcom, "the president charged you to ‘be ready to strike at any moment's notice in any dark corner of the world' [and] that's exactly what you've done." And last fall, Lieut. Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of the 8th Air Force, stated, "We have the capacity to plan and execute global strikes."

These actions make operational a revolution in U.S. nuclear policy. It was foreshadowed by the Nuclear Posture Review Report of 2002, also widely ignored, which announced nuclear targeting of, among others, China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya. The review also recommended new facilities for the manufacture of nuclear bombs and the study of an array of new delivery vehicles, including a new ICBM in 2020, a new submarine-launched ballistic missile in 2029, and a new heavy bomber in 2040.

The review, in turn, grew out of Bush's broader new military strategy of pre-emptive war, articulated in the 2002 White House document, the National Security Strategy of the United States of America , which states, "We cannot let our enemies strike first." The extraordinary ambition of the Bush policy is suggested by a comment made in a Senate hearing in April by Linton Brooks, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, who explained that the Defense Secretary wanted "bunker buster" nuclear bombs because "it is unwise for there to be anything that's beyond the reach of U.S. power."

The incorporation of nuclear weapons into the global strike option, casting a new shadow of nuclear danger over the entire planet, raises fundamental questions. Perhaps the most important is why the United States, which now possesses the strongest conventional military forces in the world, feels the need to add to them a new global nuclear threat. The mystery deepens when you reflect that nothing could be more calculated to goad other nations into nuclear proliferation. Could it be that the United States, now routinely called the greatest empire since Rome, simply feels the need to assert its dominance in the nuclear sphere?

History suggests a different explanation. In the past, reliance on nuclear arms has in fact varied inversely with reliance on conventional arms. In the very first weeks of the nuclear age, when the American public was demanding demobilization of U.S. forces in Europe after World War II, the U.S. monopoly on the bomb gave it the confidence to adopt a bold stance in postwar negotiations with the Soviet Union over Europe. The practice of offsetting conventional weakness with nuclear strength was soon embodied in the policy of "first use" of nuclear weapons, which has remained in effect to this day. The threat of first use under the auspices of the global strike option is indeed the latest incarnation of a policy born at that time.

This compensatory role for nuclear weapons emerged in a new context when, after the protracted, unpopular conventional war in Korea, President Eisenhower adopted the doctrine of nuclear "massive retaliation," intended to prevent limited communist challenges from ever arising. And it was in reaction to the imbalance between local "peripheral" threats and the world-menacing "massive" nuclear threats designed to contain them that, in the Kennedy years, the pendulum swung back in the direction of conventional arms and a theory of "limited war" to go with them. Meanwhile, nuclear arms were officially assigned the more restricted role of deterring attacks by other nuclear weapons—the posture of "mutual assured destruction."

Today, though the Cold War is over, the riddle of the relationship between nuclear and conventional force still vexes official minds. Once again, the United States has assigned itself global ambitions. (Then it was containing communism, now it is stopping "terrorism" and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.) Once again, the United States is fighting a limited war—the war in Iraq—and other limited wars are under discussion (against Iran, North Korea, Syria, etc.). And once again, nuclear arms appear to offer an all too tempting alternative.

Arkin comments that a prime virtue of the global strike option in the eyes of the Pentagon is that it requires no "boots on the ground." And Everett Dolman, a professor at the Air Force School at Maxwell Air Force Base, recently commented to the San Francisco Chronicle that without space weaponry, "we'd face a Vietnam-style buildup if we wanted to remain a force in the world."

For just as in the 1950s, the boots on the ground are running low. The global New Rome turns out to have exhausted its conventional power holding down just one country, Iraq. But the 2000s are not the 1950s. Eisenhower's overall goal was mainly defensive. He wanted no war, nuclear or conventional, and never came close to ordering a nuclear strike. By contrast, Bush's policy of preventive war is inherently activist and aggressive: The global strike option is not only for deterrence; it is for use.

A clash between the triumphal rhetoric of global domination and the sordid reality of failure in practice lies ahead. The Senate, on the brink of its metaphorical Armageddon, backed down. Would the president, facing defeat of his policies somewhere in the world, do likewise? Or might he actually reach for his nuclear option?
Copyright 2005 Jonathan Schell

Sunday, May 29, 2005

NSA.Secret Keys to Windows(scroll down for posts)

So. Nobody ever doubted it if they were paying attention. Just didn't have proof:

How NSA access was built into Windows
Duncan Campbell 04.09.1999

Careless mistake reveals subversion of Windows by NSA.

A CARELESS mistake by Microsoft programmers has revealed that special access codes prepared by the US National Security Agency have been secretly built into Windows. The NSA access system is built into every version of the Windows operating system now in use, except early releases of Windows 95 (and its predecessors). The discovery comes close on the heels of the revelations earlier this year that another US software giant, Lotus, had built an NSA "help information" trapdoor into its Notes system, and that security functions on other software systems had been deliberately crippled.

The first discovery of the new NSA access system was made two years ago by British researcher Dr Nicko van Someren. But it was only a few weeks ago when a second researcher rediscovered the access system. With it, he found the evidence linking it to NSA.

Computer security specialists have been aware for two years that unusual features are contained inside a standard Windows software "driver" used for security and encryption functions. The driver, called ADVAPI.DLL, enables and controls a range of security functions. If you use Windows, you will find it in the C:\Windows\system directory of your computer.

ADVAPI.DLL works closely with Microsoft Internet Explorer, but will only run crypographic functions that the US governments allows Microsoft to export. That information is bad enough news, from a European point of view. Now, it turns out that ADVAPI will run special programmes inserted and controlled by NSA. As yet, no-one knows what these programmes are, or what they do.

Dr Nicko van Someren reported at last year's Crypto 98 conference that he had disassembled the ADVADPI driver. He found it contained two different keys. One was used by Microsoft to control the cryptographic functions enabled in Windows, in compliance with US export regulations. But the reason for building in a second key, or who owned it, remained a mystery.

A second key

Two weeks ago, a US security company came up with conclusive evidence that the second key belongs to NSA. Like Dr van Someren, Andrew Fernandez, chief scientist with Cryptonym of Morrisville, North Carolina, had been probing the presence and significance of the two keys. Then he checked the latest Service Pack release for Windows NT4, Service Pack 5. He found that Microsoft's developers had failed to remove or "strip" the debugging symbols used to test this software before they released it. Inside the code were the labels for the two keys. One was called "KEY". The other was called "NSAKEY".

Fernandes reported his re-discovery of the two CAPI keys, and their secret meaning, to "Advances in Cryptology, Crypto'99" conference held in Santa Barbara. According to those present at the conference, Windows developers attending the conference did not deny that the "NSA" key was built into their software. But they refused to talk about what the key did, or why it had been put there without users' knowledge.

A third key?!

But according to two witnesses attending the conference, even Microsoft's top crypto programmers were astonished to learn that the version of ADVAPI.DLL shipping with Windows 2000 contains not two, but three keys. Brian LaMachia, head of CAPI development at Microsoft was "stunned" to learn of these discoveries, by outsiders. The latest discovery by Dr van Someren is based on advanced search methods which test and report on the "entropy" of programming code.

Within the Microsoft organisation, access to Windows source code is said to be highly compartmentalized, making it easy for modifications to be inserted without the knowledge of even the respective product managers.

Researchers are divided about whether the NSA key could be intended to let US government users of Windows run classified cryptosystems on their machines or whether it is intended to open up anyone's and everyone's Windows computer to intelligence gathering techniques deployed by NSA's burgeoning corps of "information warriors".

According to Fernandez of Cryptonym, the result of having the secret key inside your Windows operating system "is that it is tremendously easier for the NSA to load unauthorized security services on all copies of Microsoft Windows, and once these security services are loaded, they can effectively compromise your entire operating system". The NSA key is contained inside all versions of Windows from Windows 95 OSR2 onwards.

"For non-American IT managers relying on Windows NT to operate highly secure data centres, this find is worrying", he added. "The US government is currently making it as difficult as possible for "strong" crypto to be used outside of the US. That they have also installed a cryptographic back-door in the world's most abundant operating system should send a strong message to foreign IT managers".

"How is an IT manager to feel when they learn that in every copy of Windows sold, Microsoft has a 'back door' for NSA - making it orders of magnitude easier for the US government to access your computer?" he asked.

Can the loophole be turned round against the snoopers?

Dr van Someren feels that the primary purpose of the NSA key inside Windows may be for legitimate US government use. But he says that there cannot be a legitimate explanation for the third key in Windows 2000 CAPI. "It looks more fishy", he said.

Fernandez believes that NSA's built-in loophole can be turned round against the snoopers. The NSA key inside CAPI can be replaced by your own key, and used to sign cryptographic security modules from overseas or unauthorised third parties, unapproved by Microsoft or the NSA. This is exactly what the US government has been trying to prevent. A demonstration "how to do it" program that replaces the NSA key can be found on Cryptonym's website.

According to one leading US cryptographer, the IT world should be thankful that the subversion of Windows by NSA has come to light before the arrival of CPUs that handles encrypted instruction sets. These would make the type of discoveries made this month impossible. "Had the next-generation CPU's with encrypted instruction sets already been deployed, we would have never found out about NSAKEY."


Terrorism name change..(scroll down for posts)

Dontcha love it? Now "terrorism" is "violent extremism"....and forget bin Laden and al Qaeda:

Review May Shift Terror Policies:

The Bush administration has launched a high-level internal review of its efforts to battle international terrorism, aimed at moving away from a policy that has stressed efforts to capture and kill al Qaeda leaders since Sept. 11, 2001, and toward what a senior official called a broader "strategy against violent extremism.



Hah! Galloway strikes again! (scroll down for post)

Interview with British MP George Galloway
Interview by Thom Hartmann
05/26/05 - AM 620 KPOJ
Listen to Thom Hartmann's interview with George Galloway - this British Parliamentarian has been taking the President (and British Prime Minister) to task on the Iraq war. Click HERE to listen to the interview now.

[Thom Hartmann] George Galloway![Thom Hartmann] Thom Hartmann here with you on AM 620 KPOJ in Portland and we're also going to record this and play it on our national program. Thanks so much, Mr. Galloway for being with us today.

[George Galloway] You're most welcome.

[Thom Hartmann] First of all, my apologies if I have your title wrong. I'm calling you mister. Is that how?

[George Galloway] Mister, mister's more than adequate.

[Thom Hartmann] OK. I'm wondering, what is your opinion on the legality of Guantanamo Bay and what do you think of the construction of a death chamber there, which was reported by the BBC yesterday?

[George Galloway] Well, it's an utterly illegal process which is being followed. People are being taken, in some cases from third countries. One of the British citizens, for example, was taken from the Gambia. Others have been taken from Pakistan. Others still from, from Afghanistan. They're taken by force, drugs forcibly injected into them, hooded, chained, and taken to a cage in the tropics where by all accounts they're being kept in conditions that you wouldn't keep a dog in in your country or mine. And if you did, you'd be, you'd be had up for cruelty by the authorities.And then there's very clear evidence of systematic torture. There's the desecration of the Koran which may or may not have happened, depending on which edition of Newsweek you are prepared to believe. This is a big scar on the face of the United States. And it seems to me that too few citizens of the United States have fastened on to the fact that the protestations by your president and your government of being interested in human rights and democracy and freedom are quite negated by the very existence of Guantanamo Bay.

But of course, that's not the end of it. Bagram Air Base is exactly the same kind of place. Abu Ghraib prison, well we perhaps, on a family show, shouldn't probe too deeply into the disgusting obscenities that were going on there. And, it turns out, that where the United States itself is not prepared to physically torture people, it merely subcontracts out the task; sending people to the likes of Uzbekistan and Egypt and other prison states where less squeamish governments will torture people for the United States and give the U.S. the testimony they get as a result. Which, of course, it goes without saying, is almost never of any use because anyone will say anything under torture.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.

[George Galloway] And all sorts of wild goose chases are no doubt embarked upon as a result of all this. So I'm afraid Guantanamo is a blot on the landscape and the fact that the United States occupies it in Cuba without Cuba's agreement is just the icing on the cake.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. George Galloway, Member of Parliament in the, in Great Britain, of the House of Commons. Why do you believe that Tony Blair decided to join president Bush in waging war when, as has recently emerged with this Downing Street memo, he knew that the case was flimsy, and do you think that either Blair or Bush or people in their administration should be prosecuted on any, on any level for this activity?

[George Galloway] Well, first of all I am sure that they will not be prosecuted, because it is only losers that are prosecuted. In the international system that we have there's no chance of the likes of Henry Kissinger, for example, the greatest living war criminal in the world today with the blood of millions of people in Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos and Chile and East Timor or in many other places on his hands. He will never appear in a court or be behind bars. That's for the tin pot tyrants, the tiny tyrants like Milosevic; they get sent there. The big tyrants never face justice.

I wish I knew the answer to your first question, why did Tony Blair join it? Certainly, it's been utterly ruinous to his political reputation. He will, he will be followed into the history books and into the grave with this mark of Cain on his forehead. He will be remembered for nothing other than that he followed George W. Bush over a cliff; took the rest of us with them, and we haven't yet reached the bottom, I'm afraid. All I can say from my own conversations with Mr. Blair, man to man, are that I think that both him and George W. Bush are possessed of a kind of messianic belief that somebody, God perhaps, gave them the job of shouldering the white man's burden, which is the world. That someone gave them the right to step outside of international law; go anywhere, do anything, pay any price in other people's blood, to reshape the world in their image; in the image that they want to see. And I think that both men will be damned in history. Both men have made their respective countries the two most hated countries in the world. They have endangered the lives and safety of our citizens. They have damaged our economic and cultural and social interests, and they should face prosecution, but never will.

[Thom Hartmann] Mr. Galloway, you called for a police inquiry into ballot fraud and ghost voting in Bethnal Green and Bow. In America, now, we just have this, just recently released, Congressman John Conyers went to Ohio and held hearings, 13 or 12 members of Congress, several weeks of hearings under oath, and determined that there was considerable election fraud in this last election where George Bush became president. And of course we know now that, in fact it was first reported on the BBC - Americans didn't know it but, but folks in the UK knew - within weeks of the 2000 election, that George Bush's brother Jeb and Kathleen Harris in Florida had conspired to remove the names of thousands of legally registered, tens of thousands of legally registered African Americans - largely Democratic voters - from the rolls there in Florida. What do you think is the solution to making elections, both in the United States and the United Kingdom, and around the world for that matter, open, fair and accurate?

[George Galloway] Well, you know, we're used to sending observers to third world countries and former banana republics to observe their elections. But the British election recently, and your election just a little more distantly, and the one in 2000 for that matter, really, if they had been observed by third world observers would have been declared bogus and deeply flawed.

Your president stole the presidency in Florida using his brother and his brother's close friends to cheat the people of the United States out of their freely elected president who was undoubtedly Al Gore. Even if you only counted the votes that actually made it through the hoops in order to be cast, the president was really Al Gore. And in Ohio, and I've read the stuff that Congressman Conyers is doing and I commend it, it's clear enough on the face of it that there was substantial fraud in that state and thus delivering the Electoral College vote for president Bush.

In our country, the government have vastly inflated the number of people voting by post which, as the courts have found, is wide open to electoral fraud, and electoral fraud there has been. I don't need to deal with the allegations, which are in their thousands. I can just deal with the cases that have already been dealt with. Six new Labour councillors were struck off and thrown out of the council in Birmingham, which is Britain's second city, having been caught red-handed in a room around a table at the dead of night, at midnight, with thousands, and I mean thousands, of other people's ballot papers that they were happily filling in, and they are now facing criminal prosecution as a result. Another new Labour councillor in the town of Blackburn, where the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw represents, and he was a close associate of Jack Straw, and he was a 65 or 67 year old man, has just been sent to prison for three and a half years for having been caught red-handed doing exactly the same thing.

When you add the thousands of allegations that there now are of voter fraud in the last election then I've called for the police to move in en masse, because we are heading down the road towards a kind of corruption that we never thought we'd see. Perhaps it's an innate sense of democratic superiority on our part. We use to think that that kind of ballot-rigging and voter fraud was something that happened in other countries, not in the mother of democracies, Great Britain.

[Thom Hartmann] Now this was a vote by mail problems that you had in the UK. Here in Oregon, we have the only vote by mail system in the state and I think we always thought that it was impregnable. It was, it was immune to this sort of thing.

[George Galloway] Well, yours may be, yours may be. Ours is very far from that. And when the electoral rolls are in the state that they are in... In my own constituency, for example, there were no less than 14 voters registered in one flat in Brick Lane, which is a heavily Asian, Bengali area, a Bangladeshi area in my constituency, and when we went there, not only were there not 14 voters living there, which would have been odd in any case given the size of the apartments, but there were no voters living there. Indeed, there was no one living there, it was utterly derelict. Now, somebody registered them and many hundreds, maybe even thousands of others for votes that they would cast by post who simply didn't exist. And of course, the scam is that someone picks up the ballot papers when they are posted out by the authority, fills them in and returns them.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. George Galloway, Member of Parliament, Member of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. What lessons have you learned, if I can change the topic just for a moment to economics, and then if you have another moment,

[George Galloway] Of course.

[Thom Hartmann] I'd like to get back to the loss of freedoms in the wake of 9/11, but I'm curious about privatization in the UK. It's all the rage in the United States. I was over there when you were privatizing your railroads, could you speak to the citizens of America about the dangers of privatization, please?

[George Galloway] Well, what a way to run a railroad! That's what most people in the country are saying now, and how's this for a turnaround? British Rail, which was owned by the state, which was a nationalized railway, was probably the least loved institution in the United Kingdom when Mrs. Thatcher privatized it. Now, fully 80% of the people of the country, 80, eight zero percent of the people of the country want the railways taken back into public ownership because they realize now that we're paying three times the subsidy to the private owners of the privatized railways that we were paying to the nationalized railways and we've got a dirtier, more dangerous, and more expensive service as a result. It takes longer now to go from London to Birmingham on the train than it does to go from where I'm sitting in the House of Commons to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and it's only 110 miles from London to Birmingham. We've had a whole series of railway disasters caused by people cutting corners to save costs, to make more profits. We've had delays that would make your hair stand on end; people in the depths of winter being delayed 5, 7 hours on railway journeys, and we have rolling stock which has not improved since the public sector days. All that's happening is that we're giving huge state subsidies to private owners who are putting it in their pockets.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.

[George Galloway] Now, we are the only country in the whole world that privatized our Air Traffic Control space; even the United States did not do that.

[Thom Hartmann] We're talking about it here.

[George Galloway] Yes, you're talking about it. Mr. Blair was ahead of you. He was ahead of Mrs. Thatcher, who wouldn't have dreamt of any such reckless measure. And we've now handed over control of our Air Traffic Control space to people whose primary responsibility, who's very legal and fiduciary duty is to use their investment to make a profit for their shareholders. That's got to be legally their first priority; to make a profit for their shareholders.

Now, just like an equally deadly privatization, though it doesn't sound like it, it might sound banal, when we privatized the cleaning services in hospitals, we immediately passed on to companies a duty not primarily to keep the hospitals clean, but primarily to make a profit for their shareholders. The result has been an explosion, a veritable explosion, in re-infection rates; so-called MRSA which is a kind of super bug mutant, which is actually killing 10,000 people a year in Britain. And there are many hospitals, including the one in my own constituency, miscalled the Royal London Hospital, though you'd never find a member of the royal family in it, I can assure you, where you're as likely to come out sick as you are to come out cured because of the state of the cleaning services in the hospitals. And that's directly linked to the privatization of that service.

So I say to the people of the United States that the rest of the world is falling out of love with privatization. Some things are too important to be left to the private sector. And just as some things are too important or specialized to be left to the public sector, nobody's saying that every cafe or fish and chip shop on the corner should be owned by the state - that would be absurd. But there are some things like Air Traffic Control, like national railway networks, like the cleaning of hospitals, like the teaching of our children in schools which are too important to be left to people who are doing it for profit.

[Thom Hartmann] Well said, and in fact, Senator Bill Frist, the fellow who's leading the United States Senate now, his family fortune was built on hospitals, previously public hospitals being made private, and we're seeing the consequences of that in the United States with exploding health care costs and other problems.

[George Galloway] Yes. Well we say here - it might be a little unfair - we say here that if you fall down in the United States, the ambulance man must feel for your wallet before he feels for your pulse.

[Thom Hartmann] Yes, and to some extent it actually is true. My last question for you is sort of a two part here. I know you have to get back to the work you're doing and I very much appreciate you spending your time with us, sir.

[George Galloway] You're welcome.

[Thom Hartmann] First of all, Senator Norman Coleman, whose committee you testified before and to whom you spoke the week before last, as I recall, or last week - recently. There are reports, which I've been unable to absolutely confirm, but apparently, from the searches of the senate web site, it looks like your testimony has disappeared from the record.

[George Galloway] That's right.

[Thom Hartmann] Do you know about that, and what are your thoughts on that?

[George Galloway] It has been. It has been. It has been airbrushed from the, from the record. And in a way, if you saw the testimony, you'll know why. Because what I managed to do, and I thank God for the breath that he gave me to do it, was blow away the smokescreen that these people are trying to throw up to divert attention from the very real crimes, high crimes and misdemeanors that they themselves are responsible for. And I've had, and I'm not exaggerating this, more than 12,000 emails from the United States. 12,000 emails, and it's not easy in the United States to find out the email address of a British parliamentarian.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.

[George Galloway] And these people have all written to me. Many of them have drawn attention to the fact that although for one day, just 24 hours, my testimony was on the web site it has now been wiped off it. And that tells you all you need to know, really, about the quality of the commitment to democracy and open government that these people really have as opposed to the talk that they talk.

[Thom Hartmann] Well, and finally, with regard to democracy, what do you see the problem with the new laws we're debating, enhancing actually the so-called Patriot Act here in the United States. I know you have these kinds of things going on in the UK, the curtailment of freedoms, the loss of liberties in the wake of 9/11. I'm assuming that you've probably seen the Power of Nightmares, the BBC documentary which nobody in the United States has seen. Do you think that these changes are necessary or useful? What's your, what's your opinion of this?

[George Galloway] Well I'm afraid I'm an advocate of the great Dr. Johnson, the English man of letters who said that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. He didn't mean, of course, the patriotism which is a noble, genuine love for what's best about your country and its beauty and its achievements and so on, but those who wrap themselves in flags and blow the tinny trumpet of patriotism as a means of fooling the people. As a means of getting them to fall in behind the colours and march off to ignoble wars; wars of conquest, wars of aggression, wars for exploitation.

And that's what I think this Patriot Act is all about. It's about fooling the American people into believing that if you just arm the state with enough fly swats you'll be able to whack away all the beasts that are coming your way. But the truth is, these mosquitoes are coming out of a swamp; a very real swamp of grievance, of bitterness and hatred at our injustice and at the policies that we are following. And unless we drain that swamp by reversing the policies of injustice that have germinated this threat then it doesn't matter how many Patriot Acts you pass, it doesn't matter how many fly swats you hand out, how many mosquito nets you wrap yourself in, you're not going to be able to stop them hurting us again.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. Well said. Mr. George Galloway, thank you so much for sharing your time with us today.
[George Galloway] You're welcome. Any time.
[Thom Hartmann] I do appreciate it. I truly appreciate it.
[George Galloway] Thanks.
[Thom Hartmann] Thank you very much for being here on the Thom Hartmann program.[George Galloway] Bye

Thom Hartmann is a nationally syndicated talk show host and the award-winning, best-selling author of 14 books. http://www.thomhartmann.com George Galloway is a British Member of Parliament who just won re-election, and recently took on U.S. Senator Norm Coleman.

Dem, GOP after religious. (scroll down for post)

On the face of it, this article has to do with Bush's "Faith-Based Initiative", but in actuality, from the political side, they're after voters. On the religious side, they're after converts and power, and some are trying to help unfortunates while they're at it. So here's the opening words. Go to www.latimes.com/nation to read the rest:

May 29, 2005
latimes.com : Nation

A U.S. Faith Initiative for Africa
Secretary of State Rice and black pastors discuss a joint effort to fight AIDS.By Peter Wallsten and Tom Hamburger, Times Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — Escalating its courtship of a politically powerful constituency, the Bush administration is teaming up with some of the nation's best-known and most influential black clergy to craft a new role for U.S. churches in Africa.The effort was launched last week, when more than two dozen leading African American religious figures met privately with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and senior White House officials at the State Department, according to administration officials and meeting participants.....

1)Defense & 2)Infiltration (scroll down for posts)

First, from AP, we have the case of a furious woodpecker...

May 27, 2005, 1:03 PM EDT
Car owners are covering their mirrors in an attempt to outsmart a territorial woodpecker who apparently believes his reflection is an enemy.
Tim Taylor, who owns Thruway Auto Glass, said he replaced 30 smashed mirrors last year and 18 this year, all from cars of people who live in this area east of Syracuse claimed by the bird as his territory."
People come in pretty mad. One guy's been in here three times already because he keeps forgetting to cover up the mirrors," Taylor said.
During breeding season, male woodpeckers aggressively defend their turf, even against imaginary foes, said bird-watcher Benjamin Burtt.
Anne Miller has had two mirrors on her Pontiac Grand Prix smashed and watched the bird attack her neighbor's Malibu."I told him to shoo. He did. Then he came right back and finished the job," the Madison County resident said. "Instead of flying off, he walked across the windshield and did the passenger mirror. I was flabbergasted."

Second, Fundies Other Infiltration:

May 28, 2005
latimes.com : Print Edition
For the Young, Hip and Christian, These Stores Rock.
Religious bookstores expand their offerings and become destinations for live music and good, clean hangin' out.
By Claudia Zequeira, Times Staff Writer

It's Saturday night in Norwalk and Vanessa Ruiz, a high school student, is rocking sideways to a catchy, bluesy melody played by a live band. She doesn't know the words but tries to sing along, forming a wide smile with each breath. An 18-year-old Paramount resident, Ruiz came with a friend to The Node Bookstore & Cafe in Norwalk to study and check out the music. And she did it, in part, for Jesus.
Ruiz, who attends an Assemblies of God church regularly, was one of nearly 100 teenagers and young adults gathered at the Firestone Boulevard shop, where customers say they find a cool and sacred way to spend their day. And their money.
The store, which opened in January, is the brainchild of Pastor Richard Salazar of the New Harvest Christian Fellowship and is considered the latest expression of a growing evangelical oriented retail market that is keying in on the young.
The Node carries an array of merchandise in its music, book, gift and apparel sections. It also has a cafe that serves nachos and pastries, several iMac computers ideal for doing homework and a row of iPod listening stations where teens can choose from about 2,500 Christian songs.
What can a young Christian find here? The latest CD by Jars of Clay, an alternative rock band; edgy T-shirts declaring "Satan, You're Fired!" and "Daddy's Girl" (in this case, the reference is to God); Bible covers (pink ones for girls and metallic ones for boys); and rubber bracelets with the words "Live for Him" emblazoned across, to name but a few items.
And hundreds of books, such as the hugely popular "Left Behind" series and the similarly successful VeggieTales, a collection of children's stories based on the cartoon characters.
Live music is another big draw. Because of The Node's close relationship with Christian radio station KFSH-FM (95.9), The Fish, the store regularly holds performances on Saturday evenings by up-and-coming acts the station seeks to promote.
A for-profit business owned by New Harvest, the store is a cross between a Barnes & Noble, a Virgin Megastore and a similar Christian shop Salazar visited while doing missionary work in Manchester, England. It is also the pastor's attempt "to bring a little West Hollywood to Norwalk."
For Salazar, it is a means of spreading the Gospel and responding to a market he knows well.
"The old style isn't working. If you look at statistics, the Christian bookstores are closing down, because, to be honest, you can go to Sam's Club and Wal-Mart and get a Christian book at a cheaper price. What we have to offer is the ambience and a good Christian environment," he said.
Salazar said that a significant percentage of his clients are non-practicing Christians or not Christian. The word "Christian" is absent from the store's marquee, he said, because of his desire to appeal to all kinds. "We wanted to be able to invite the person who just wanted to have a cup of coffee," he said. "This is a business."
Catherine Stellin, vice president of the Intelligence Group, a trend forecasting company with offices in Los Angeles, said the concept of a lifestyle store for Christians "is relatively new but has the potential to get much bigger. People are looking for ways for religion to become more incorporated into their lives."
In Riverside, the Harvest Christian Fellowship bookstore-cafe (no affiliation with Salazar's church) becomes similarly packed with teenagers and young adults, especially on Sunday evenings before and after services in the church next door.
Completed in 2003, the modern, glassy structure holds hundreds of Christian books and music titles. In its ample cafe, Starbucks is served. A video tower displays images of church services and performances by Christian bands.
Harvest Christian Fellowship Assistant Pastor Jeff Lasseigne said the store was designed to capture young people's attention.
"Some congregations feel that if they update, they compromise their message, but that's not true," he said. "If you don't change with the times, you're not going to reach that next generation you're trying to minister to."
Christian entrepreneur Aurelio Barreto opened the first of his five C28 retail stores in April 2001 in Riverside. The others are sprinkled across malls between Riverside and San Diego County. A sixth C28 (a reference to the New Testament's Colossians 2:8, which warns about the worldly vanities) is about to open in Palm Desert.
Besides selling trendy apparel, accessories and CDs, Barreto's shops offer Christian music shows.
Many of the T-shirts sold by Barreto under the Not of This World label, which he created and owns, feature the names of Christian hard core and rock bands. Other items include hooded sweatshirts announcing "Godly Chicks Rock."Christian products are a $4.2-billion-a-year business, up from $4 billion in 2000, according to a study conducted in 2002 by CBA International, a trade organization of Christian retailers. And music accounts for 15.2% of CBA members' sales.Many who visit these stores say they like to put their dollars where their faith is. Another reason, they say, is to experience a feeling of belonging often absent in the secular world.
While looking at gift items at The Node, Cassandra Gaitan, 20, said she felt "accepted" there.
"I feel the world is becoming more vulgar, so this is a nice atmosphere," she said. "The people who work here are friendly and they are sympathetic [that] Christians can be passionate about their religion."
Observers offer various reasons for the interest in Christian youth-oriented cafes and shops. Some point to an increase in evangelicals' numbers and a more religious society. Others point to savvy marketing.Watching from afar are those who believe such marketing is a double-edged sword.
Craig Detweiler, a theology professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena who has written a book about the relationship between pop culture and religion, said Christian retailers can be a wonderful addition to the community but should seek to strike an ethical balance between religion and commerce.
"Jesus had a marketplace theology," he said. "At the same time, there was a moment when he threw the moneylenders out of the temple. He had very little patience for selling salvation or for those who were cornering the market on spiritual matters."
On Saturday, as Ruiz and her 18-year-old friend, Charlene Abdullah, packed their books and prepared to go home, both teens said they felt good at The Node and would return."This is exciting," said Ruiz. "There's hardly any places in our society where you express how you feel about God…. I feel safe here."


Saturday, May 28, 2005

Was there. Saw that. Leaving US. (scroll down)

Just found this on http://jack-dalton.blogspot.com

Holocaust Survivor Says He's Leaving the U.S.
by Joey Picador -- http://www.justicefornone.com

One of our neighbors is moving. I've been in this neighborhood for about six years now, but didn't really know them very well at all - just waves and nods, mostly.So I heard the moving van pull up this morning. When I got home this evening I happened to spy my neighbor (he's like 85 years old - I don't know exactly, but he's old, talks and moves very slowly) standing on the sidewalk next to the van. I walked over and shook his hand, and we started talking. I asked him where he was moving, and he said, "Back to Germany."

I had been stationed in Germany for two years while in the military, so I lit up, and commented about how beautiful the country was, and inquired if he was going back because he missed it.

"No," he answered me. "I'm going back because I've seen this before."He then commenced to explain that when he was a kid, he watched with his family in fear as Hitler's government committed atrocity after atrocity, and no one was willing to say anything. He said the news refused to question the government, and the ones who did were not in the newspaper business much longer. He said good neighbors, people he had known all his life, turned against his family and other Jews, grabbing on to the hate and superiority "as if they were starved for it" (his words).He said he was too old to see it happen right in front of his eyes again, and too old to do anything about it, so he was taking his family back to Europe on Thursday where they would be safe from George W. Bush and his neocons.

He seemed resolute, but troubled, nonetheless, as if being too young on one end and too old on the other to fight what he saw happening was wearing on him.

I gotta tell you - it was chilling. I let him talk, and the whole time, my gut was churning, like I had mutated butterflies in my stomach. When he was finished, he shook my hand, gripping it really hard, until his knuckles turned white and he was shaking. He looked me in the eyes, hard, and said, "I will pray for your family and your country." He let go of my hand and hobbled away.

I have related this event to you in the hopes it will serve as a cautionary anecdote about the state of our Union, and to illustrate the path we Americans are being led down by a group of fanatics bent on global economic and military dominion.When a man who survived the fruits of fascism decides its time to leave THIS country because he's seeing the same patterns that led to the Holocaust and other Nazi horrors beginning to form here, it is time for us to recognize the underlying evil inherent in the actions of those who claim they work for all Americans, and for all mankind. And it is incumbent upon all Americans, Red and Blue, Republican and Democrat, to stop them."


Bush-& his 30 million Fundies... (scroll down)

Below is one paragraph of a Harper's Mag article that is damned scary. And I'm dead serious about that. I now understand just how the US Air Force Academy became the fundie training center that it is. The rest of the article is at:


And here's just one paragraph:

"Pastor Ted, who talks to President George W. Bush or his advisers every Monday, is a handsome forty-eight-year-old Indianan, most comfortable in denim. He likes to say that his only disagreement with the President is automotive; Bush drives a Ford pickup, whereas Pastor Ted loves his Chevy. In addition to New Life, Pastor Ted presides over the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), whose 45,000 churches and 30 million believers make up the nation's most powerful religious lobbying group, and also over a smaller network of his own creation, the Association of Life-Giving Churches, 300 or so congregations modeled on New Life's "free market" approach to the divine. "

These people are like bin Laden's people....absolutely dedicated to what they believe they are meant to do....

Don't forget this one! (scroll down to posts)

A little reminder that should not be forgotten from www.usndemvet.com :

"Our citizens live in freedom because patriots are willing to serve and sacrifice for our liberty," Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address.


"Lt Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of report. A civilian occupation made it necessary for him to move to Montgomery Alabama. He cleared this base on 15 May 1972 and has been performing equivalent training in a non flying status with the 187 Tac Recon Gp, Dannelly ANG Base, Alabama."

And we all know what that "civilian occupation" consisted of: campaigning on behalf of a Repub.
Much more important than BushCo's immediately disgarded "Statement of Intent" above. So just another illustration of this chicken hawk's modus operandi...say one thing, do another. We're about buried in his shit already, but it just keeps piling up.

Guilty? Damned right. (scroll down to posts)

Like all heads of government who pull this kind of shit, to escape prosecution they run and hide. The problem for BushCo is that they've caused the world to hate them, so where they gonna go? And even if they find a country willing to take them, they'd best remember what happened to the Nazis who ran and hid in places like South America after WWII. Took years sometimes, but they got caught and captured and returned to the Hague to stand trial for their war crimes.
So okay. They're in a pickle. Damned if they do and damned if they don't. I figure they'll do just what they're doing now: Ignore every charge, deny every charge, and pray those charges will be forgotten...especially if they can divert attention from themselves by attacking those who are charging them. It's their normal method. Works just fine in most cases. All they have to do otherwise is stay in office and keep power and massive money flowing in....and lie and lie and lie.
Very last sentence in this article should stand their hair on end, however. No way would I want to be in their shoes:

Go to Original
Stripping Rumsfeld and Bush of Impunity
By Matthew Rothschild
The Progressive
July 2005 Issue

When Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last year, he was asked whether he "ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise, and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison." Sanchez, who was head of the Pentagon’s Combined Joint Task Force-7 in Iraq, swore the answer was no. Under oath, he told the Senators he "never approved any of those measures to be used."
But a document the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) obtained from the Pentagon flat out contradicts Sanchez’s testimony. It’s a memorandum entitled "CJTF-7 Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy," dated September 14, 2003. In it, Sanchez approved several methods designed for "significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee." These included "sleep management"; "yelling, loud music, and light control: used to create fear, disorient detainee, and prolong capture shock"; and "presence of military working dogs: exploits Arab fear of dogs."
On March 30, the ACLU wrote a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, urging him "to open an investigation into whether General Ricardo A. Sanchez committed perjury in his sworn testimony."
The problem is, Gonzales may himself have committed perjury in his Congressional testimony this January. According to a March 6 article in The New York Times, Gonzales submitted written testimony that said: "The policy of the United States is not to transfer individuals to countries where we believe they likely will be tortured, whether those individuals are being transferred from inside or outside the United States." He added that he was "not aware of anyone in the executive branch authorizing any transfer of a detainee in violation of that policy."
"That’s a clear, absolute lie," says Michael Ratner, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who is suing Administration officials for their involvement in the torture scandal. "The Administration has a policy of sending people to countries where there is a likelihood that they will be tortured."
The New York Times article backs up Ratner’s claim. It says "a still-classified directive signed by President Bush within days of the September 11 attacks" gave the CIA broad authority to transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogations. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International estimate that the United States has transferred between 100 and 150 detainees to countries notorious for torture.
So Gonzales may not be the best person to evaluate the allegation of perjury against Sanchez.
But going after Sanchez or Gonzales for perjury is the least of it. Sanchez may be personally culpable for war crimes and torture, according to Human Rights Watch. And Gonzales himself was one of the legal architects of the torture policies. As such, he may have been involved in "a conspiracy to immunize U.S. agents from criminal liability for torture and war crimes under U.S. law," according to Amnesty International’s recent report: "Guantánamo and Beyond: The Continuing Pursuit of Unchecked Executive Power."
As White House Counsel, Gonzales advised President Bush to not apply Geneva Convention protections to detainees captured in Afghanistan, in part because this "substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act," Gonzales wrote in his January 25, 2002, memo to the President.
Gonzales’s press office refused to provide comment after several requests from The Progressive. In his Senate confirmation testimony, Gonzales said, "I want to make very clear that I am deeply committed to the rule of law. I have a deep and abiding commitment to the fundamental American principle that we are a nation of laws, and not of men."
Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel John Skinner says the ACLU’s suggestion that Sanchez committed perjury is "absolutely ridiculous." In addition, Skinner pointed to a recent Army inspector general report that looked into Sanchez’s role. "Every senior-officer allegation was formally investigated," the Army said in a May 5 summary. Sanchez was investigated, it said, for "dereliction in the performance of duties pertaining to detention and interrogation operations" and for "improperly communicating interrogation policies." The inspector general "found each of the allegations unsubstantiated."
The Bush Administration’s legal troubles don’t end with Sanchez or Gonzales. They go right to the top: to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush himself. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International USA say there is "prima facie" evidence against Rumsfeld for war crimes and torture. And Amnesty International USA says there is also "prima facie" evidence against Bush for war crimes and torture. (According to Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, "prima facie evidence" is "evidence sufficient to establish a fact or to raise a presumption of fact unless rebutted.")
Amnesty International USA has even taken the extraordinary step of calling on officials in other countries to apprehend Bush and Rumsfeld and other high-ranking members of the Administration who have played a part in the torture scandal.
Foreign governments should "uphold their obligations under international law by investigating U.S. officials implicated in the development or implementation of interrogation techniques that constitute torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment," the group said in a May 25 statement. William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, added, "If the United States permits the architects of torture policy to get off scot-free, then other nations will be compelled" to take action.
The Geneva Conventions and the torture treaty "place a legally binding obligation on states that have ratified them to exercise universal jurisdiction over persons accused of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions," Amnesty International USA said. "If anyone suspected of involvement in the U.S. torture scandal visits or transits through foreign territories, governments could take legal steps to ensure that such individuals are investigated and charged with applicable crimes."
When these two leading human rights organizations make such bold claims about the President and the Secretary of Defense, we need to take the question of executive criminality seriously.
And we have to ask ourselves, where is the accountability? Who has the authority to ascertain whether these high officials committed war crimes and torture, and if they did, to bring them to justice?
The independent counsel law is no longer on the books, so that can’t be relied on. Attorney General Gonzales is not about to investigate himself, Rumsfeld, or his boss. And Republicans who control Congress have shown no interest in pursuing the torture scandal, much less drawing up bills of impeachment.
Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the ACLU, the American Bar Association, and Human Rights First (formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) have joined in a call for a special prosecutor. But that decision is up to Gonzales and ultimately Bush.
"It’s a complete joke" to expect Gonzales to appoint a special prosecutor, concedes Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
John Sifton, Afghanistan specialist and military affairs researcher for Human Rights Watch, is not so sure. "Do I think this would happen right now? No," he says. "But in the middle of the Watergate scandal, very few people thought the President would resign." If more information comes out, and if the American public demands an investigation, and if there is a change in the control of the Senate, Sifton believes Gonzales may end up with little choice.
Human Rights Watch and other groups are also calling for Congress to appoint an independent commission, similar to the 9/11 one, to investigate the torture scandal.
"Unless a special counsel or an independent commission are named, and those who designed or authorized the illegal policies are held to account, all the protestations of ‘disgust’ at the Abu Ghraib photos by President George W. Bush and others will be meaningless," concludes Human Rights Watch’s April report "Getting Away with Torture? Command Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees."
But even as it denounces the "substantial impunity that has prevailed until now," Human Rights Watch is not sanguine about the likelihood of such inquiries. "There are obviously steep political obstacles in the way of investigating a sitting Defense Secretary," it notes in its report.
By not pursuing senior officials who may have been involved in ordering war crimes or torture, the United States may be further violating international law, according to Human Rights Watch. "Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, whenever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction," says the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Geneva Conventions have a similar requirement.
Stymied by the obstacles along the customary routes of accountability, the ACLU and Human Rights First are suing Rumsfeld in civil court on behalf of plaintiffs who have been victims of torture. The Center for Constitutional Rights is suing on behalf of a separate group of clients. The center also filed a criminal complaint in Germany against Rumsfeld and Gonzales, along with nine others. The center argued that Germany was "a court of last resort," since "the U.S. government is not willing to open an investigation into these allegations against these officials." The case was dismissed.
Amnesty International’s call for foreign countries to nab Rumsfeld and Bush also seems unlikely to be heeded any time soon. How, physically, could another country arrest Bush, for instance? And which country would want to face the wrath of Washington for doing so?
But that we have come this far—where the only option for justice available seems to be to rely on officials of other governments to apprehend our own—is a damning indictment in and of itself.
The case against Rumsfeld may be the most substantial of all. While "expressing no opinion about the ultimate guilt or innocence" of Rumsfeld, Human Rights Watch is urging his prosecution under the War Crimes Act of 1996 and the Anti-Torture Act of 1996. Under these statutes, a "war crime" is any "grave breach" of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment," as well as torture and murder. A "grave breach," according to U.S. law, includes "willful killing, torture, or inhuman treatment of prisoners of war and of other ‘protected persons,’ " Human Rights Watch explains in "Getting Away with Torture?"
Rumsfeld faces jeopardy for being head of the Defense Department when those directly under him committed grave offenses. And he may be liable for actions he himself undertook.
"Secretary Rumsfeld may bear legal liability for war crimes and torture by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantánamo under the doctrine of ‘command responsibility’—the legal principle that holds a superior responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates when he knew or should have known that they were being committed but fails to take reasonable measures to stop them," Human Rights Watch says in its report.
But Rumsfeld’s potential liability may be more direct than simply being the guy in charge who didn’t stop the torture and mistreatment once he learned about it.
First of all, when the initial reports of prisoner mistreatment came in, he mocked the concerns of human rights groups as "isolated pockets of international hyperventilation." He also asserted that "unlawful combatants do not have any rights under the Geneva Convention," even though, as Human Rights Watch argues, "the Geneva Conventions provide explicit protections to all persons captured in an international armed conflict, even if they are not entitled to POW status."
Secondly, he himself issued a list of permissible interrogation techniques in a December 2, 2002, directive that likely violated the Geneva Conventions, according to Human Rights Watch. Among those techniques: "The use of stress positions (like standing) for a maximum of four hours." On the directive, Rumsfeld, incidentally, added in his own handwriting next to this technique: "However, I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?" He also included the following techniques: "removal of all comfort items (including religious items)," "deprivation of light and auditory stimuli," "isolation up to 30 days," and "using detainees’ individual phobias (such as fear of dogs) to induce stress."
On January 15, 2003, Rumsfeld rescinded this directive after the Navy registered its adamant objections. If, during the six weeks that Rumsfeld’s techniques were official Pentagon policy at Guantánamo, soldiers mistreated or tortured prisoners using his approved techniques, then "Rumsfeld could potentially bear direct criminal responsibility, as opposed to command responsibility," says Human Rights Watch.
Rumsfeld may also bear direct responsibility for the torture or abuse of two other prisoners, says Human Rights Watch, citing the Church Report. (This report, one of Rumsfeld’s many internal investigations, was conducted by the Navy Inspector General Vice Admiral Albert Church.) "The Secretary of Defense approved specific interrogation plans for two ‘high-value detainees’ " at Guantánamo, the Church Report noted. Those plans, it added, "employed several of the counter resistance techniques found in the December 2, 2002, [policy]. . . . These interrogations were sufficiently aggressive that they highlighted the difficult question of precisely defining the boundaries of humane treatment of detainees."
And Rumsfeld may be in legal trouble for hiding detainees from the Red Cross. "Secretary Rumsfeld has publicly admitted that . . . he ordered an Iraqi national held in Camp Cropper, a high security detention center in Iraq, to be kept off the prison’s rolls and not presented to the International Committee of the Red Cross," Human Rights Watch notes. This prisoner, according to The New York Times, was kept off the books for at least seven months.
The Geneva Conventions require countries to grant access to the Red Cross to all detainees, wherever they are being held. As Human Rights Watch explains, "Visits may only be prohibited for‘reasons of imperative military necessity’ and then only as‘an exceptional and temporary measure.’"
The last potential legal problem for Rumsfeld is his alleged involvement in creating a "secret access program," or SAP. According to reporter Seymour Hersh, Rumsfeld "authorized the establishment of a highly secret program that was given blanket advance approval to kill or capture and, if possible, interrogate ‘high value’ targets in the war on terror." Human Rights Watch says that "if Secretary Rumsfeld did, in fact, approve such a program, he would bear direct liability, as opposed to command responsibility, for war crimes and torture committed by the SAP."
The Pentagon vehemently denies the allegation that Rumsfeld may have committed war crimes. "It’s absurd," says Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Skinner. "The facts speak for themselves. We have aggressively investigated all allegations of detainee mistreatment. We have had ten major investigations on everything from A to Z. We’ve also had more than 350 criminal investigations looking into detainee abuse. More than 103 individuals have been held accountable for actions related to detainee mistreatment. Our policy has always been, and will always remain, the humane treatment of detainees."
What about Bush? If Donald Rumsfeld can be charged for war crimes because of his command responsibility and his personal involvement in giving orders, why can’t the commander in chief? Hina Shansi, senior counsel at Human Rights First, believes the case against Bush is much more difficult to document. And Sifton of Human Rights Watch says that since Bush is known as "a major delegator," it may be hard to pin down "what he’s briefed on and what role he plays in the decision-making process."
Amnesty International USA, however, believes that Bush, by his own involvement in formulating policy on torture, may have committed war crimes. "It’s the memos, the meetings, the public statements," says Alistair Hodgett, media director of Amnesty International USA.
There is "prima facie evidence that senior members of the U.S. Administration, including President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, have authorized human rights violations, including ‘disappearances and torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment,’ " Amnesty states in "Guantánamo and Beyond."
The first solid piece of evidence against Bush is his September 17, 2001, "Memorandum of Notification" that unleashed the CIA. According to Bob Woodward’s book Bush at War, that memo "authorized the CIA to operate freely and fully in Afghanistan with its own paramilitary teams" and to go after Al Qaeda "on a worldwide scale, using lethal covert action to keep the role of the United States hidden."
Two days before at Camp David, then-CIA Director George Tenet had outlined some of the additional powers he wanted, Woodward writes. These included the power to " ‘buy’ key intelligence services. . . . Several intelligence services were listed: Egypt, Jordan, Algeria. Acting as surrogates for the United States, these services could triple or quadruple the CIA’s resources." According to Woodward, Tenet was upfront with Bush about the risks entailed: "It would put the United States in league with questionable intelligence services, some of them with dreadful human rights records. Some had reputations for ruthlessness and using torture to obtain confessions. Tenet acknowledged that these were not people you were likely to be sitting next to in church on Sunday. Look, I don’t control these guys all the time, he said. Bush said he understood the risks."
That this was Administration policy is clear from comments Vice President Dick Cheney made on Meet the Press the very next day.
"We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will," Cheney told Tim Russert. "We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in, and so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective."
If, as The New York Times reported, Bush authorized the transfer of detainees to countries where torture is routine, he appears to be in grave breach of international law.
Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture explicitly prohibits this: "No State Party shall expel, return, or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture." Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions is also clear: "Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive."
On February 7, 2002, Bush issued another self-incriminating memorandum. This one was to the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Director of the CIA, the National Security Adviser, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was entitled "Humane Treatment of Al Qaeda and Taliban Detainees." In it, Bush asserted that "none of the provisions of Geneva apply to our conflict with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan or elsewhere throughout the world." He also declared, "I have the authority under the Constitution to suspend Geneva as between the United States and Afghanistan," though he declined to do so. And he said that "common Article 3 of Geneva does not apply to either Al Qaeda or Taliban."
This memo "set the stage for the tragic abuse of detainees," says William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA.
Bush failed to recognize that the Geneva Conventions provide universal protections. "The Conventions and customary law still provide explicit protections to all persons held in an armed conflict," Human Rights Watch says in its report, citing the "fundamental guarantees" in Article 75 of Protocol I of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions. That article prohibits "torture of all kinds, whether physical or mental," "corporal punishment," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment."
In the February 7, 2002, memo, Bush tried to give himself cover by stating that "our values as a Nation, values that we share with many nations in the world, call for us to treat detainees humanely, including those who are not entitled to such treatment." He added that the United States, "to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity," would abide by the principles of the Geneva Conventions.
But this only made matters worse. His assertion that there are some detainees who are not entitled to be treated humanely is an affront to international law, as is his claim that the Geneva Conventions can be made subordinate to military necessity.
The Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture all prohibit the torture and abuse that the United States has been inflicting on detainees. Article 2 of the Convention Against Torture states that "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."
Article VI of the Constitution makes treaties "the supreme law of the land," and the President swears an oath to see that the laws are faithfully executed.
As more information comes out, the case against Bush could get even stronger, says Sifton of Human Rights Watch. If, for instance, Bush said at Camp David on September 15, 2001, or at another meeting, "Take the gloves off," or something to that effect, he would be even more implicated. "Obviously, if he did make such an explicit order, his complicity would be shown," says Sifton. Somehow, that message was conveyed down the line. "There was a before-9/11 and an after-9/11," Cofer Black, who was director of the CIA's counterterrorist unit, told Congress in 2002. "After 9/11, the gloves came off."
The White House press office refused to return five phone calls from The Progressive seeking comment about the allegations against Bush. At his daily press briefing on May 25, the President’s Press Secretary Scott McClellan was not asked specifically about Bush’s culpability but about Amnesty International’s general charge that the United States is a chief offender of human rights.
"The allegations are ridiculous and unsupported by the facts," McClellan said. "The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity. We have liberated fifty million people in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . . We’re also leading the way when it comes to spreading compassion."
Amnesty International USA does not intend to back off. "Our call is for the United States to step up to its responsibilities and investigate these matters first," Executive Director Schulz says. "And if that doesn’t happen, then indeed, we are calling upon foreign governments to take on their responsibility and to investigate the apparent architects of torture."
Inquiries to the embassies of Belgium, Chile, France, Germany, South Africa, and Venezuela, as well as to the government of Canada, while met with some amusement, did not reveal any inclination to heed Amnesty’s call.
Schulz is not deterred. Acknowledging that the possibility of a foreign government seizing Rumsfeld or Bush might not be "an immediate reality," Schulz takes the long view: "Let’s keep in mind, there are no statutes of limitations here."