Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

VIDEO: The Case For Impeachment Of Alberto Gonzales

For more information, please visit Impeach Gonzales dot Org.

Craig Murray: The End Of Liberty

Nobody here has had anything to say about the police-state power-grab unveiled most recently in the UK, and that's ok with me. Or perhaps I should rephrase: the lack of comments is not nearly as troubling as the plan to give the police more powers -- powers they haven't even asked for!

But it didn't get past Craig Murray, whose most recent item at Atlantic Free Press is called "The End of Liberty". The former UK ambassador writes:
I am in general opposed to violence, except as a last resort. And I know that the police are not all fascists. Many policemen don't like the drive against civil liberties any more than I do. But, even granted that they are only doing their job, I can promise you this. The first policeman who stops me as I am peacefully going about my lawful business, and demands to know who I am and where I am going, will get punched on the nose.

As the government whittles away our basic freedoms, there comes a point where you either resist, physically, or we all lose our liberty. I think Reid and Blair's new proposal for a police power to "Stop and question" takes us to that point.

Of course, having skin of a regulation Scottish blue colour, I am not likely to be stopped. Jean Charles De Menezes was killed for having a slightly olive complexion and dark hair, and it is people of his hue and darker who will in fact be stopped and questioned.

The proposal is obvious madness - if the government was looking to provoke young British Muslims, no tactic would work better. Which does lead us, quite seriously, to be forced to question whether Reid and Blair are trying deliberately to cause an even further deterioration in community relations. There are two possibilities: either they are trying to provoke more "Islamic" violence, or they are very stupid.

Come to think of it, there is a third possibility. They may be trying to provoke more Islamic violence, and be very stupid.
Sign me up for the "third possibility".

And thanks once again to Craig Murray, who appears to be way too honest for the Foreign Service.

Study Calls Norway (And Iraq) The World's Most (And Least) Peaceful Nation(s)

It's kind of interesting to see how the BBC reports this story: Norway rated most peaceful nation
A study has ranked Norway as the most peaceful country and Iraq as the least in a survey of 121 countries.
The Global Peace Index, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, looked at 24 factors to determine how peaceful each country was.

It places the US at 96th on the list and the UK at 49th, while New Zealand ranks second and Japan fifth.
Clearly whaling was not among the considerations.
The authors say it is the first attempt to produce such a wide-ranging league table of how peaceful countries are.

Factors examined by the authors include levels of violence and organised crime within the country and military expenditure.
The formula seems to require some adjustments, but the results are still interesting.
The survey has been backed by the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former US President Jimmy Carter and US economist Joseph Stiglitz, who are all Nobel prize laureates.

Scandinavian and other European countries generally performed well in the survey.

But Britain's ranking comes partly from its involvement in Iraq and other conflicts.

The United States is 96th - between Yemen and Iran - [...] because of such things as its military spending, its involvement in Iraq, violent crime at home, and a high prison population.

The survey also places Russia and Israel at the wrong end of the scale - 118th and 119th respectively.

1 Norway
2 New Zealand
3 Denmark
4 Ireland
5 Japan

117 Nigeria
118 Russia
119 Israel
120 Sudan
121 Iraq
There's more, and you can read about it here.

Tom Toles: Why Bush Won't Pull The Lever

I'm assuming you are keeping up with Gonzo-Gate, as many other blogs have been covering it extensively.

If not, Greg Palast can bring you up to speed quickly.

Pakistan: Chief Justice Says President And Military Officers Pressured Him To Resign

The following report, from Salman Masood and Carlotta Gall of the New York Times, seems well worth preserving.

I don't have much to say about it at the moment, other than pointing out that the abuse of power described here is extremely flagrant, and very much in keeping with the approach used by President General Pervez Musharraf's red, white and blue friends.

As for the story, it's too important to ignore, and too good to cut. I've added a bit of emphasis:

Chief Justice of Pakistan Says Musharraf Pressed Him to Resign
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 29 — Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry [photo], the suspended chief justice of Pakistan, said today in a signed affidavit to the Supreme Court that on March 9, he was detained all afternoon against his will at the Army House in Rawalpindi, and was pressed to resign by the president of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and by four senior military and intelligence chiefs, most of them in uniform.

The affidavit was filed by one of Mr. Chaudhry’s lawyers, Aitzaz Ahsan, at a Supreme Court hearing concerning the suspension of the Chief Justice. His lawyers later provided copies to reporters.

The document offers the first detailed account of the March 9 encounter from Mr. Chaudhry, whose refusal to resign or accept being dismissed has attracted widespread support and created a political crisis for Mr. Musharraf.

There was no immediate government reaction to the affidavit. Mr. Musharraf has tried to play down the significance of the March 9 encounter, and has said that the government is merely examining complaints of misconduct against the chief justice, whose term was scheduled to run through 2011.

When Mr. Ahsan told the presiding judge today that he had filed the affidavit after completing his arguments in court, Justice Khalilur Rahman Ramday, who heads the 13-member court, replied: “You should not have done that.”

Mr. Chaudhry faces charges of misconduct and nepotism that originally were put before a five-judge inquiry panel called the Supreme Judicial Council. Those charges formed the basis of Mr. Musharraf’s request for Mr. Chaudhry’s resignation on March 9.

Mr. Chaudhry denied the allegations, and is now challenging them before the Supreme Court. His lawyers say that the president and the military chiefs have no authority under the country’s constitution to remove a chief justice.

In the first week of May, the Supreme Court suspended the proceedings of the inquiry panel, and instead ordered that the full court hear Mr. Chaudhry’s petition challenging the panel’s authority and impartiality. It is unclear when the Supreme Court will reach a decision in the case; lawyers say the hearings could go on for months.

Mr. Musharraf’s own future may depend on the outcome. He is likely to face several legal challenges in the Supreme Court this year as he seeks reelection as president while continuing to serve as chief of the army staff, the highest military post in the country. Seven and a half years after Mr. Musharraf seized power in a coup, calls are growing around the country for a change from military rule.

In the affidavit, Mr. Chaudhry says he arrived at the military headquarters in Rawalpindi for a planned meeting with the president at about 11:30 a.m. on March 9. When Mr. Musharraf met Mr. Chaudhry, the president was wearing military fatigues, the affidavit says, and he told Mr. Chaudhry of a complaint lodged against him by a judge from a provincial High Court. Mr. Chaudhry said the complaint was baseless.

According to the account, Mr. Musharraf then told Mr. Chaudhry that there were a few more complaints, and directed his staff to call in the prime minister, Shaukat Aziz.

At this point, the affidavit says, three top officials of Pakistani’s intelligence services entered the room: Lt. Gen. Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiyani, the director general of Inter Services Intelligence; Maj. Gen. Nadeem Ijaz, the director general of Military Intelligence and a close relative of President Musharraf; and Aijaz Shah, a retired brigadier who directs the country’s Intelligence Bureau.

With them was retired Lt. Gen. Hamid Javed, the president’s chief of staff. Mr. Chaudhry mentioned the four officials by their titles alone, and said that two of them were in civilian clothing, the others in uniform.

Mr. Musharraf demanded to know how it was that the chief justice drove a Mercedes car, and said there had been complaints that Mr. Chaudhry had interfered in proceedings in another provincial high court, according to the affidavit. The president then insisted that Mr. Chaudhry resign from the supreme court, and if he agreed to do so, the president promised to “accommodate him,” the affidavit says.

Mr. Chaudhry says he responded: “I have not violated any code of conduct or any law, rule or regulation; I believe that I am myself the guardian of law. I strongly believe in God who will help me.”

This answer “ignited the fury” of Mr. Musharraf, who stood up angrily, told Mr. Chaudhry that the officers would show him the evidence gathered against him, and left the room along with his staff and the prime minister, the affidavit continues. Over the next four hours, Mr. Chaudhry said, the senior officers other than Mr. Shah repeatedly pressed him to resign, but presented him with no evidence.

Mr. Musharraf said in a recent television interview that he was dressed in uniform that day because of other military commitments he had later in the day. The president also denied that he had called the meeting in order to remove the chief justice from his post, and said that the chief justice had requested the meeting. Mr. Musharraf said he mentioned the complaints about the chief justice’s conduct only because they had recently been brought to his attention.

The prime minister has declined to comment on Mr. Chaudhry or the events surrounding his suspension because the matter is before the court. The information minister, Muhammad Ali Durrani, said that all cabinet ministers were under strict instruction not to comment on the proceedings. The chief military spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Chaudhry said in his affidavit that for four hours on that March afternoon, he was prevented from leaving the room where he had met with the president, and was monitored on a closed-circuit video camera. Finally, after 5 p.m., General Ijaz told Mr. Chaudhry that he could go home.

“This is a bad day, now you are taking a separate way,” General Ijaz said, according to the affidavit.

Mr. Chaudhry was further informed that he was “restrained to work as a judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of Pakistan.”

He said he was allowed to leave just two minutes after a new acting chief justice, Javed Iqbal, was sworn in on a live television broadcast, according to Muneer Malik, the president of the supreme court bar association and one of Mr. Chaudhry’s defense lawyers.

When Mr. Chaudhry reached his car, he saw that the flag and emblem had been removed and his escort was missing. His driver was crying, Mr. Malik said.

Mr. Chaudhry tried to return to his office, but was blocked from reaching it by soldiers, who ordered him to go home, he said. There he and his personal staff were kept under house arrest for several days, prevented from communicating with anyone outside the house or from seeing television broadcasts, and his children were prevented from going to school, the affidavit said, all in effort to pressure him to resign.
Thanks to Salman Masood, Carlotta Gall and the New York Times. I've been following this story for quite a while and I will continue to watch it like a hawk bird with very good eyesight, as our own future may hang in the balance as well.

VIDEO: Mike Gravel: Why No Senator Who Voted For The War Is Qualified To Be President

Mike Gravel explains why no Senator who voted for the war is qualified to be President.
The recent revelation by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) that senators knew the intelligence on the Iraq War was being cooked in the lead-up to the invasion refutes the claim that Congress was misled by the White House. As a result of this news, Democratic Presidential candidate Mike Gravel says it's clearly disingenuous for lawmakers to make the claim that they did not know then what they know now about Iraq.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Two Terrorists Shot Dead In Afghanistan

Looks like these two won't cause us any more trouble.

Let's just hope they didn't have any friends or families.

You know, the sort of people who might get the wrong idea.

[photo courtesy Robert Fisk dot com ]

A Tale Of Two Cynthias: McKinney Still Dreaming, Sheehan Throwing In The Towel

A Memorial Day message from Cynthia McKinney:
Stone Mountain, Georgia | May 28, 2007

Today I took a visiting friend to view the tomb of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King. We went inside Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King once preached, and listened to him give his own oration on how he would like to be remembered:
"If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don't want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize, which isn't important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards, that's not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. I'd like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to love somebody. I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try, in my life, to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

"Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind."
And for a moment I reflected on how Dr. King had been ridiculed in the "mainstream" press—all complicit in the U.S. Government's unethical and sometimes illegal program of COINTELPRO.

I remembered how his son, Martin III, had run for office in Atlanta and again was ridiculed by the local Atlanta newspaper.

I thought briefly of how that same local newspaper often through its black female editor derided the King Family, including Martin's widow Coretta, as if COINTELPRO never ended and murdering one of America's greatest sons was not enough.

Then my brain switched to thoughts of my Congressional Panel entitled "Murder of MLK" where TV's popular Judge Joe Brown appeared and announced unequivocally that the rifle known to all Americans as the murder weapon is, indeed, not the murder weapon. And Dr. William Pepper, longtime King Family friend and lawyer at the famous 1999 Memphis trial in which the jury found that the government was part of a conspiracy to assassinate Dr. King. In fact, in that trial, testimony revealed that a very sophisticated operation to kill Dr. King was hatched in the bowels of the Pentagon and brought together the Mob, local Memphis police, and US military intelligence to accomplish the objective. In fact, Dr. King's family had been under surveillance by our Government since the 1920s!

In short, everything you think you know about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s murder is a lie. What they teach our children in the schools about the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a lie.
Yes, indeed. One of the more interesting book titles on this case says it all: "Who Killed Martin Luther King Jr.?" -- by James Earl Ray.
How many other lies has our Government told us and that are substantiated and corroborated by the "mainstream" corporate press?
You could never count them all.
Why does our Government lie to us?
Because if we knew the truth about what they were doing, we would be collecting their heads in our baskets.
Today is a day of deep reflection because it is Memorial Day. I'm sad today because I believe the most fundamental values of our country have been purposefully undermined before our very eyes.
Absolutely true. All that happened before our very eyes, many of which were -- and some of which remain -- firmly closed!
I'm sad because the people seem so powerless against the lies our Government tells us, when the Government is not supposed to be them, it's supposed to be us!

And finally, I'm sad because I don't want Dr. King to have died in vain, yet, with every passing day I fear that might be the case.
In a strange parallel, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan has observed Memorial Day by submitting her resignation. Among other vital illusions shattered, she has come to believe that her son Casey died in vain in Iraq.

Of course Casey Sheehan didn't die in vain! His mother only thinks so because she still doesn't understand the reasons for which it is being fought. As disillusioned as Cindy Sheehan is now, she still has some mighty powerful illusions to shake.

Like thousands of other Americans -- and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis -- Casey Sheehan died for a very good reason, a noble cause, but one which we cannot discuss in our national news media. We can talk about all sorts of utterly trivial things, but we cannot say that all these people have died so that the control of Iraq's oil could be handed to the world's largest oil companies ... and so that the people who make money on the production and sale of war machines could get richer ... and to further America's "manifest destiny" of global conquest ... and to give our twice-unelected "president" the opportunity to present himself as "Commander-in-Chief", and a semi-plausible platform from which he could shred our Constitutionally "guaranteed" civil liberties.

How is it that some people still believe that the Bush administration is doing its best to protect us against hideous foes? Is it simply because, as Cynthia McKinney writes:
We, the American people, have been lied to.
Of course we have been lied to. We've been lied to over and over and over and over ... But is that the problem? How many people have still not figured out that the government is mostly lying?
Our young men and women are dying in a far-off land; those of us who dissent are spied upon by an Administration that violates the Constitution. Our economy has been wrecked by massive theft occurring in the guise of war and disaster profiteering. Our tax money has been used to fly people to places around the world so they can be tortured -- whether they're guilty of anything or not. And innocent people all over the planet die as a result of policies carried out in our name that include subversion, sabotage, terrorism, torture, death squads, and drug trafficking. Innocent Afghanis die today so that the U.S. can control both the heroin and the oil trades.
Yes, exactly! And the Democrats in Congress are just as happy about all this as the Republicans. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was ...
Dr. King was murdered because certain people in power felt that he threatened the American way of life. Today, it's people in Afghanistan, Colombia, Haiti, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Palestine, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Democratic Republic of Congo who die for this thing called the American way of life. Yesterday, it was Cuba, Vietnam, Guatemala, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Chile, Argentina, Libya, Grenada, Nicaragua, Indonesia, and East Timor.
And many other countries as well, unfortunately.
What exactly is that American way of life?

Well, Agence France Presse just ran a story announcing that two separate studies found that the U.S. has the most expensive health care system in the world, yet the worst, most notable for its lack of universal coverage.

According to the Pentagon, we have 16,000 single moms serving in Iraq, an unprecedented number.

The 2000 Presidential Election result was based on the illegal denial of the right to vote of duly registered voters by way of a purposefully corrupted "convicted felons list" that included people guilty of nothing but being black, Democrat, and registered to vote in Florida.

The 2004 Presidential election results in Ohio, according to Professor Bob Fitrakis of Ohio, were tallied on machines that housed Republican Party-oriented websites and that used software written by Republican Party loyalists.
And that's not even the half of it. And what are we planning to do? Are we going to vote our way out of this problem?
A recent study found that one-third of adults in Washington, DC -- our nation's capital city -- are functionally illiterate, not being able to fill out job applications, read maps, or understand bus schedules.

The Innocence Project just announced its 200th innocent released from a prison system that now occupies the number one slot in the world for number of people incarcerated.

The University of Michigan just released a study confirming what we already knew: that hazardous waste facilities predominate in poor, minority neighborhoods. Hull House of Loyola University released a study finding that it would take 200 years for black Chicagoans to catch up to the quality of life experienced by white Chicagoans.

According to United for a Fair Economy it will take 1,664 years to close the home ownership gap between blacks and whites.

Our country now claims the top slot as the debt capital of the world.

And with the amount of money that we've already spent on the war, according to the National Priorities Project, Americans could have had instead:

1.8 million new teachers;
Over 20 million college scholarships;
Health insurance for over 60 million children;
Or nearly 4 million new housing units.

Is this the American way of life that our children are dying for and the government lies to us for?
Oh yes! Absolutely!!
Or is it the record profits of Exxon, Microsoft, Apple (and I love my macs), and others while the share of national income going to wages and salaries is at a record low?
All part of the same deal, my dear.
We should expect more from our elected leadership.
But I want to know: Why? Why should we expect anything from our "elected" leadership other than crime and corruption? The system is so mangled -- not worn-out, but deliberately vandalized, and for partisan political gain -- that it doesn't even make sense to call office-holders "elected" anymore, as Cynthia McKinney well knows.
The Democrats didn't fight for their own true election results in 2000 or in 2004, so why should we expect them to impeach an illegitimate Administration that has violated the U.S. Constitution and international law, lied to the American people, and sent our young men and women into harm's way?
Exactly! Why should we expect anything from them other than what they continue to do??
In fact, the Democrats have just now made themselves complicit in impeachable crimes of the Bush Administration. On March 17, my birthday, at the antiwar protest at the Pentagon, I declared that by voting to fund George Bush's wars, the Democrats had become explicitly complicit in war crimes, torture, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace.
Happy Birthday. My birthday has also been scarred with a national disgrace. But whose birthday hasn't?
The American people voted for peace in last November's election. And they voted for justice. We didn't get peace and we don't have justice.
And the next logical question is: Can we achieve peace or justice by voting?
What about a livable wage for America's workers?
Never. Never again. Don't we get it yet? This is Free Trade! This is unbridled movement of goods and services! This is globalization! Isn't it grand??

It means companies can afford to ship their work to wherever labor costs them the least. That means American consumers can afford to buy seemingly endless streams of cheap plastic crap from China. But it also means American workers will never again make a livable wage -- until and unless workers make a livable wage all over the world.
What about the right of return for Katrina survivors?
Perhaps the Democrats in Congress don't care too much about that.
What about repealing the Patriot Act, the Secret Evidence Act, and the Military Tribunals Act?
Perhaps the Democrats in Congress don't mind those laws very much.
Why is impeachment "off the table"?
You'd have to assume the Democrats mostly like the way things are going.
How can the Pentagon "lose" 2.3 trillion dollars!
How indeed? Maybe they spent it on the coup d'etat that happened the day after they announced the loss?
Why can't we get that money back for jobs, health care, education, and our veterans?
Because that money is all gone -- it was spent consolidating power in the hands of the people who took away our jobs, ruined our educational system, shat upon our veterans, and cannot wait to strip all your assets when you need health care. That's why. We can't get that money back until we get our country back!
One year to the day before he was murdered Dr. King, under tremendous pressure from other blacks and "civil rights leaders" to tone down his antiwar rhetoric, responded thusly:
"For those who say to me, 'stick to civil rights,' I have another answer. And that is, that I've fought too long and too hard now, against segregated public accommodations to end up segregating my moral concerns. I'm not gonna do that. But others can do what they want to do. That's their business. If other civil rights leaders, for various reasons, refuse or can't take a stand or have to go along with the Administration, that's their business. But I must say tonight, that I know that justice is indivisible: injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
I'm deeply disappointed on this Memorial Day 2007 in what the current leadership of both political parties has allowed our country to become.
It's tough not to agree with that sentiment.
Many of you know I'm a Star Trek Trekkie. And in a powerful exchange between Spock and Bones, the following is said:
SPOCK: "Evil does seek to maintain power by suppressing the truth."

BONES: "Or by misleading the innocent."
I believe the innocent people of our country have been purposely misled while the truth has been suppressed.
I don't think there's any doubt about that.
I will continue to work to expose the truth -- as I have done in the past. And I certainly hope that by next year's Memorial Day, the United States will have once again become the beacon of peace and justice and truth that we know it can be. And that Dr. King's sacrifice and that of his family will not have been in vain.
It is certainly a lot to hope for. One might also hope -- one might fervently wish -- that the soul of the nation could somehow be redeemed, that the damage done -- to the country and especially to the rest of the world -- in three generations of spilling innocent blood could somehow be repaired.

But of course none of the damage will be repaired -- not in a year, not in a decade, not in a century. In Iraq, as in every country touched by the poisonous hand of American foreign policy, "Reconstruction" is not a plan but a category of fraud to be found under "War Profiteering".

Personally, I'll be surprised if we're not at war with Iran and living under Martial Law, long before next Memorial Day.

But don't take my word for it. I could be wrong. I've been wrong once or twice before.

Pakistani PM: Thou Shalt Not Criticize The Regime

ISLAMABAD, May 28 (AFP) - Pakistan's Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz Monday warned against criticism of the army after the country's suspended top judge issued a veiled attack on the military rule of President Pervez Musharraf.
Make that "General President Pervez Musharraf", or possibly "President General Pervez Musharraf".

When the President is a General, what's critical of the government is critical of the army, and vice versa. And that's one of the reasons why the President is not supposed to be a General. Nonetheless, the PM
said the courts should “think about taking action” after a string of lawyers at a seminar attended by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Saturday called on Musharraf to quit as army chief.
So, according to the Prime Minister, the courts should "think about taking action" against the former Chief Justice, who was sacked because he wanted to -- and still does want to -- enforce the law? Clearly enforcing the Constitution is less to be admired than supporting the men with the heavy weapons. Or at least that's how the PM sees it.
It does not suit any Pakistani to speak against the armed forces because it effects our defence, integrity and prestige. We strongly condemn it,” Aziz told reporters.

The armed forces had always helped Pakistan in times of need and the lawyers' remarks against them “have hurt the sentiments of all Pakistanis,” the premier added. “The judiciary should now think about taking action on this.”
I agree they should think about taking action, but I doubt the action I have in mind would suit Mr. Aziz.
About 5,000 lawyers and opposition party members had rallied outside the Supreme Court to greet Chaudhry ahead of Saturday's seminar on the independence of the judiciary.
And in my ever-so-frozen view, the judiciary should support the people who are putting their necks on the line in favor of an independent judiciary -- and not the Prime Minister, who wants to diminish everybody's independence by dictating what people must and must not say.

But that's just me.

Seven blasts rock Quetta; train track damaged

The main railway line linking Quetta with the rest of the country was disabled as seven bomb explosions shook the Balochistan capital on Monday. Six people were injured in the blasts.

According to official sources, the six men — all labourers — were injured when unidentified people hurled a hand grenade on a house in the Sariab neighbourhood.

The second blast happened in Ghafoorabad, causing extensive damage to the railway line linking Quetta with the rest of the country.

A railway official said all Quetta-bound passenger trains would be stopped at different stations preceding Quetta till the rehabilitation of the track.

The track would be made usable by Tuesday evening, he added.

Another blast took place in the Satellite Town when two persons [riding] on a motorbike hurled a grenade [at] the house of a retired heath inspector. A number of cars parked near the house were damaged.

One of the bombs exploded near a Wapda office, smashing windowpanes in nearby offices.

Bush: Iraq, Afghanistan, Yada Yada, Sacrifice, Destiny, Yada Yada, Happy Memorial Day!

Another Memorial Day, another wreath, another steaming pile of equine fecal matter, and another barbecue. The CBS headline told the whole sorry tale:

Bush: Iraqi, Afghan Wars "Our Destiny"
Speaking under overcast skies [...]
How could the sun have shone?
[...] after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and meeting privately at the White House with the families of some fallen servicemen and women, Mr. Bush called the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan a part of the nation's destiny.
Yes, indeed. Our foreign policy has long been based on a thoroughly shameful and lunatic idea of endless national expansion called "manifest destiny" -- not just a garden-variety lunatic idea but one which has brought America and indeed the whole of humanity to the very brink of ruin.

And this is our destiny!! Happy Memorial Day!!
He said they follow a rich tradition of similar American sacrifices throughout this country's history.
Rich? That's a great choice of words; we do have a very long tradition whereby thousands of poor Americans and millions of ever poorer foreigners are sacrificed so that a relatively few families of merciless scoundrels can get even richer! And we are so conditioned to absorb the lies along with the loss that we usually feel more grief than anger.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the bogus war,
violence continued in Iraq where a suicide car bomber struck a busy commercial district in central Baghdad, killing at least 21 people and damaging a shrine revered by Sunnis and Shiites alike.
Ah yes, well, that figures, doesn't it? In the pseudo-sectarian "call it anything but" Civil War that America has brought to Iraq, religion has very little to do with anything. That doesn't fit in with what we're constantly told, does it? Well, what does that say about what we're constantly told?
Speaking of the more than 368,000 buried through history at Arlington National Cemetery, Mr. Bush said, "Nothing said today will ease your pain. But each of you needs to know our country thanks you and we embrace you and we will never forget the terrible loss you have suffered."
Not "never". "Never" is a very long time. We can't really be sure about anything forever! But we can be fairly sure that Bush managed to remember the terrible loss that other people have suffered while he and his buddies have accumulated mind-numbing wealth and power -- we can be sure that George Bush managed to remember -- what where we talking about? -- at least until he reached the end of the quoted sentence. Or maybe at least almost half that long.
In his speech, Mr. Bush said the freedoms that people enjoy in this country today "came at a great cost and they will survive only so long as there are those who are willing to protect them."
As happens so often with this miserable failure, he's got it only partway right. The freedoms that people enjoy in this country today came at a great cost and they survived only as long as the American people were willing -- and able -- to protect them from their government.
"They know that one day this war will end, as all wars do. Our duty is to make sure this war was worth the sacrifice" and that the fighting men and women succeeded — and "where tyrants and terrorists are frustrated and foiled ... where our nation is more secure from attack."
Is this insanity or deliberate propaganda? Either way it makes no sense to any astute observer. The only way Bush will consider the "sacrifice" "worthwhile" is if it leads him to the greatest pot of Texas Tea in the land.
"This is our country's calling," Mr. Bush said. "It's our country's destiny."
As long as our entire electoral system -- from campaign finance law to media coverage to rigged elections -- is thoroughly dysfunctional, he is probably right. Our destiny is to be ruled by others whose agenda differs significantly from our own.
"On this day of memory, we mourn brave citizens who laid their lives down for our freedom," he said. "May we always honor them, may we always embrace them and may we always be faithful to who they were and what they fought for."
It's enough to elicit a sick laugh. This miserable little man could not possibly be less careful -- or more ironic! "Always" is right up there with "Never" on the list of dangerous words to say. And the president has never shown any sense of honor, for himself or for the troops, yet he asks us to honor them always. And people still gobble this stuff up?
At least 3,452 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the war in Iraq in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 325 members of the U.S. military have died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department.
At least. And how many have died in Germany? And how many have died en route to Germany?

Do you like the way we sacrifice our lives -- and the future of our nation's economy -- so a few of the president's richest supporters can guarantee themselves virtually limitless wealth? That's the freedom they're always talking about -- not our freedom; our freedoms are still being taken away. Do you like that, too?

... Sacrifice, Destiny, Yada Yada, Happy Memorial Day!

English Police Baffled At Plan To Give Them Additional Powers

According to a leaked letter from the British counter-terrorism minister, Tony McNulty, to the prime minister, Tony Blair, plans are afoot to grant new powers to British police -- powers which the police themselves have not sought.

As the Guardian phrased it,
The new powers, contained in a leaked letter from the counter-terrorism minister, Tony McNulty, to Tony Blair, would make it an offence punishable with a £5,000 fine for a person to withhold their identity or refuse to answer questions.

The Home Office confirmed that the power would be included in a counterterrorism bill to be announced in early June
but the plans were
greeted with a barrage of criticism yesterday, after it emerged that senior police officers had neither requested the change nor been consulted
the idea was also attacked by MPs, civil liberties and Muslim groups as unnecessary and harmful.
My opinion? Score one for the counter-terrorism minister. The storm will blow over and eventually they'll do it anyway. Even though one
of the country's most senior police officers told the Guardian [...] "We've got adequate powers ... if you are stopped and say 'sod off' to a police officer, you're going to get nicked."
To which this very cold blogger can only reply: "Bush and Blair have told us all to 'sod off' more than once, on matters of the utmost importance, they should long ago have been stopped, and it is now high time they were nicked!

But no, let's enhance the powers of the police instead. ;-(
Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said the proposed new power was unnecessary and would lead to people being stopped randomly.

"I have no doubt that [...] it will be completely counter-productive. I can't help but think this is more political gesturing [...]"

All criminal offences, however minor, are now arrestable and if someone is suspected of withholding information about terrorism that can also lead to an arrest, she said. "This new power doesn't fill a gap because there is no gap."

Under terrorism laws, police have powers to carry out searches without reasonable suspicion, under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Since September 11 2001, all of London has been declared by the home secretary as an area where such stops can be carried out, as are all railways and airports, and other sensitive urban areas which could be targeted.

Monday, May 28, 2007

In Memoriam: Must Be Close To A Million By Now

... funeral for a victim of Tuesday's bomb in Najaf... at least 25 people were killed and 60 wounded when a car bomb exploded near a popular market in Amil district in southwestern Baghdad...
Iraqi people follow coffins on cars during funeral procession of a number of students killed on Tuesday in Waziriya by gunmen, at the city of Sadr, northern Baghdad, Iraq...
Iraqi children and women mourn during a funeral procession for a number of students killed on Tuesday in Waziriya by gunmen, at the city of Sadr, northern Baghdad...
The death toll in the monstrously Orwellian "Global War On Terror" must be close to a million by now ... unless it's well past that horrific mark already. And this only includes unnecessary deaths; it doesn't count the millions whose homes have been destroyed; more millions leaving everything behind and fleeing from the bombing; tens of thousands -- most of them completely innocent -- held prisoner in utterly deplorable conditions. Lost, maybe forever; dead, but not really; still suffering, still mourned -- how can you count this?

How can anyone add it all up, let alone add it all up and say "the cost was worth it"?

How can anyone look at all this without asking: All this for what?

And how long will take us to figure out how to stop it?

Have a nice picnic.

4th Annual DemocracyFest To Include Greg Palast, Mark Crispin Miller, Bev Harris, Mike Gravel, and more...

This looks interesting: Can you get to New Hampshire for the second weekend in June?

It's June 9th and 10th, to be precise, for the 4th annual DemocracyFest. This year it's at the Wayfarer Inn, near Manchester, NH.

Confirmed speakers include Greg Palast, Mike Gravel, Bev Harris, John Edwards, Mark Crispin Miller, Carol Shea Porter and Howard Dean.

In addition to these and several other speakers, there will also be workshops and panels on a wide variety of topics, plus live music and great networking opportunities, according to the preliminary accounts.

It might also be an excellent place to meet some federales.

For the schedule, tickets, and more information, visit DemocracyFest dot Net.

In Memoriam: The Bill Of Rights

The first ten amendments to The Constitution of the United States are collectively called "The Bill of Rights". The rights enumerated in these amendments were supposed to be inviolable. Emphasis below is mine.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

In Memoriam

Sunday, May 27, 2007

NYT Interviews Carlotta Gall On Unrest In Pakistan

Transcript courtesy of the New York Times; audio is available here.
GREG WINTER. Welcome to the New York Times World View podcast, a weekly conversation with Times foreign correspondents from across the globe.

I’m Greg Winter, a foreign editor at The Times.

This week I speak with Carlotta Gall, our correspondent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, about the political crisis confronting Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

A pivotal American ally in the region, General Musharraf is facing the most serious challenge to his rule since he seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999. With little warning or explanation, General Musharraf suspended the chief justice of the nation’s Supreme Court in March, setting off a storm of protest that has riled the country for two months and left dozens dead.

Times correspondent Carlotta Gall has been covering this story and she joins us now from Islamabad.
I have it from a most trusted source that we can believe everything we see under the byline "Carlotta Gall". This is one of the reasons I've been paying so much attention to her lately.
Carlotta, why was the chief justice suspended? And why has his suspension caused such an uproar?

CARLOTTA GALL. Well, it’s quite interesting because the government hasn’t actually released the official documents. But they have sort of leaked their case, which is that he was abusing his power, that he was demanding perks on the job. Nothing, really, that perhaps merits such an immediate removal from office in the way it was presented. So it was the way that it was done, the fact that his meeting with General Musharraf was shown on TV; the general was in uniform. He was then sort of hustled into his car and pushed and moved around by the police. So that made everyone very upset because they saw it on TV. So it’s quite interesting that it became a huge deal very quickly just because of the way he was being pushed around. He was then put under house arrest for a couple of days. And there was, I think, huge distaste in the legal ... in the courts and in the legal profession. But also I think generally among the people, that there was quite a visceral reaction to this is the way the army and the authorities treat people — without respect and in a heavy-handed manner. So that’s really why it became a very public cause. And I would say that mostly it’s lawyers who are supporting him, and political parties. But there has been an element of public support for him and very much because of the way it was handled.

GREG WINTER. And what is the motive here for the government to try to remove him even if it’s just a temporary move?

CARLOTTA GALL. Well, that again. Because they haven’t really laid their cards on the table, it is still being speculated about. But there are several reasons that most opposition politicians and even government people are suggesting he had made a bit of a name for himself: someone who was taking up the cases of the disappeared, as they’re called. There’s quite a large number of people in the last five years who have been detained but never appeared in court. They’ve rather disappeared into the system. They’ve been picked up by intelligence agencies. And there’s become a campaign to force the government to acknowledge their existence and say what they’re being charged with or why they’re being held. And the Supreme Court, and led very much by the chief justice himself, took this case up and demanded that the government and the intelligence agencies reveal who they were holding and under what terms. So that seems to have probably made him enemies in the government. But perhaps more, the political parties believe that because in the end it’s election year, because Musharraf has to try and seek a way to extend his term and keep his uniform as he wants, he’s going to have to tackle constitutional issues. And if anyone wants to bring a case appealing against his changes of the Constitution, it’ll go to the Supreme Court. And so the government was looking to have a more malleable person heading the Supreme Court. And this is the main theory from the opposition party just to why he was removed now.

GREG WINTER. As you mentioned, General Musharraf is both president and the chief of the army. And he wants the current Parliament to grant him the authority to keep holding both posts before a new crop of lawmakers are voted in. He also wants the outgoing Parliament in which his allies hold sway to re-elect him as president. Now as you mention again, opposition parties may bring cases to the Supreme Court to challenge both of those moves. But what would happen to those cases now that the chief justice, whose name is Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, now that he’s been suspended. What would happen to those cases?

CARLOTTA GALL. Well that’s the huge debate. And that’s what’s going on now. He’s challenging his dismissal. There’s a judicial council looking at that. He’s got lawyers who’ve made several petitions to — against the illegality of what’s happened. So the big debate is now: is he going to win or is the government? Is he going to manage to get reinstated or is the government going to succeed in sacking him? And there is an acting judge at the moment in his place.

But what’s quite interesting is this whole tussle has actually hardened the supreme court. And most people feel now the Supreme Court — all the judges on the Supreme Court — are starting to feel the weight of their office and feeling that they must do the right thing according to their office. So even people in the government are admitting that the whole mess of the last two months has actually strengthened the Supreme Court and made it harder, perhaps, for President Musharraf to get away with — from the constitutional issues where in the past, you know, chief justices have been more malleable and have often ruled in the favor of the government. So it’s very much up in the air. And this is why I think the political parties are getting so animated and everyone is talking of dark clouds, you know, massing because no one really knows how it’s going to play out.

GREG WINTER. Earlier this month, the protests over Mr. Chaudhry’s suspension grew particularly violent, with dozens being killed in Karachi. Can you tell us what happened and why tensions escalated to that degree?

CARLOTTA GALL. Well it was interesting because, again, it was over the chief justice. He was going to speak at the Bar Association in Karachi and he’s been doing this around the country. And he had a huge rally in Lahore the week before, which went peacefully. I mean it took an — it was a 25-hour cavalcade that he made driving down to the city, and a huge reception. But it all passed peacefully. He tried to do the same in Karachi and it went — it became very violent. And there’s a lot of accusations flying, but opposition parties are saying that it was the police who just left the city and didn’t install security measures properly. And that they also left a free hand to one of the opposition parties that’s opposed to the people — who supports the government and is opposed to the opposition parties that support the chief justice. And so what we saw was what Karachi has seen a lot in the past, of political clashes between political parties. And many of them are armed. There’s particularly one group that’s getting a lot of blame — the M.Q.M. — for having armed supporters on the street who opened fire on their rivals. And the police were just nowhere to be seen. So it was a real — either bungled or, perhaps more sinister, it was an effort to discredit the chief justice or to attack their party rivals. It quickly got out of hand and as you know, over 40 dead by the end of the day.

GREG WINTER. How serious of a challenge is this to General Musharraf’s office? I mean how likely is he to lose office?

CARLOTTA GALL. Again, that’s the great debate. His rivals, the opposition parties, say it’s only a matter of time now. He’s lost the confidence of a lot of people. At a lot of these rallies that are in support of the chief justice, you do hear people shouting, “Go Musharraf, Go.” But I think he is still chief of the army; he’s still president. And he doesn’t have any intention of going anywhere. So he can probably continue, unless, I think, there are more incidents like this, which really show that he’s losing control. Now there was a lot of talk after Karachi, but now he’s had a week of calm. And, you know, it looks like perhaps he can ride it out. But things can change very fast in Pakistan, so no one really knows. In the end, I think, he’s got, still, the backing of America. He’s still got the backing of, crucially, the army in Pakistan. And until those equations change, he can probably continue.

GREG WINTER. What has been the American reaction to the crisis?

CARLOTTA GALL. Well, as you know, America has backed Musharraf since 9/11 as a very important regional ally, probably the most important ally in the war against terror. So that remains the message coming from Washington. And it’s interesting that although he’s a military dictator who seized power in a coup seven and a half years ago, there’s not a lot of talk about the need for, you know, more democracy or for him to step down and hand over to a democratic government. So the most the American administration is saying is: abide by the Constitution; keep a peaceful state of affairs. So certainly the people of Pakistan feel they’re very much still backing President Musharraf.

GREG WINTER. Who really controls the keys to General Musharraf’s political future? Is it the voters? The Parliament? Or is it, as you said before, the army?

CARLOTTA GALL. I think it shows that Musharraf is keeping his uniform and he’s keeping the post, not only of president but chief of army staff — head of the army. That shows where the power lies. He doesn’t — he’s being pushed by many including the Commonwealth to give up his uniform and he’s not. And I think that proves everything — that the real power comes from his position as army chief. And I think the army has immense clout in Pakistan. It also has immense respect among the people. It is seen as not corrupt, and professional. And so I think they are the most important thing — equation in politics in Pakistan. And as long as the president has the backing of the army, he can carry on. When that changes, or they feel that he’s losing it — and we’ve seen this in the past — if the army feels that the president’s not handling things well, that’s when you see political changes.

GREG WINTER. Some of General Musharraf’s own supporters are urging him to quiet the criticism by opening the presidential election to his opponents living in exile. You recently talked to one of them: Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister who left the country under a cloud of corruption allegations. What did she have to say about this?

CARLOTTA GALL. She’s very worried, like many people are, about the extremism in Pakistan and argues that democracy is the way to dilute that extremism. You know, the sort of Islamist moves and the terrorism in Pakistan. And, so, she feels that the army, with its strong hand, has not been able to change that. So she argues that, of course, she wants to come back. She feels that she still has the largest popular party in Pakistan and should be allowed to come back. She says the corruption allegations are concocted and a ploy to keep her out of the political scene. But she does argue very much that only with democratic elections and free political association can you actually counter things like radical Islam. And so she’s calling for — to be allowed back and for, I think, and she’s not really calling for sort of any overthrow of Musharraf. I think she’s calling more for some sort of working relationship where they can bring in party politics back to the country, but also avoid any further violence.

GREG WINTER. Finally, there are, of course, everyday citizens now taking part in these protests over the judge’s suspensions. Is this outpouring over his case an expression of something larger, perhaps dissatisfaction with the government? Or is this an indication that he has actually become a well-known figure and a figurehead of some kind of opposition force?

CARLOTTA GALL. I think this is what actually we need to see to work on more to see really what is the feeling among the people. Certainly some of his rallies there have been very ordinary people turning out. And, you know, the immediate interviews we’ve done on the streets and the roads is that people want change. They’re quite tired of this government, just as any people get tired of one leader. But there is a great frustration over poverty, high prices, inflation, some very basic needs of the people. And, so, I think that can be garnered very quickly by political parties or opposition parties against Musharraf. On the other hand, he has had a fairly happy reception from people, certainly in the first years of his tenure, because people were so relieved to have a steady hand and some signs of prosperity and certainly some stability. So it all really depends now if he can make his case to persuade people that he can still improve things or if they will blame him for everything and demand change.

GREG WINTER. Carlotta Gall, Times Afghanistan and Pakistan correspondent, thanks so much for speaking with us.


GREG WINTER. And thanks for listening. I’m Greg Winter of The New York Times. We’ll be back next week with another edition of World View.
I can definitely get in on the thanks. Thanks to the New York Times, thanks to host Greg Winter, and special thanks to Carlotta Gall.

There'll be no embedded reporting for this brave young woman, who has spent the past decade or more covering the wars in Chechnya, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Messy, dirty, "little" wars, and unless I am much mistaken, all very useful templates for anyone who wants to see more chaos in the Middle East.

The parallels continue to amaze me.

Dahr Jamail on The New American Way: Torturing Detainees To Death

Sitting in seventh place, at the moment, on Project Censored's 2007 list of unknown stories, is this piece by Dahr Jamail:

US Operatives Torture Detainees to Death in Afghanistan and Iraq
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released documents of forty-four autopsies held in Afghanistan and Iraq October 25, 2005. Twenty-one of those deaths were listed as homicides. The documents show that detainees died during and after interrogations by Navy SEALs, Military Intelligence, and Other Government Agency (OGA).

These documents present irrefutable evidence that U.S. operatives tortured detainees to death during interrogation,” said Amrit Singh, an attorney with the ACLU. “The public has a right to know who authorized the use of torture techniques and why these deaths have been covered up.”

The Department of Defense released the autopsy reports in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace.

One of forty-four U.S. military autopsy reports reads as follows: “Final Autopsy Report: DOD 003164, (Detainee) Died as a result of asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) due to strangulation as evidenced by the recently fractured hyoid bone in the neck and soft tissue hemorrhage extending downward to the level of the right thyroid cartilage. Autopsy revealed bone fracture, rib fractures, contusions in mid abdomen, back and buttocks extending to the left flank, abrasions, lateral buttocks.

Contusions, back of legs and knees; abrasions on knees, left fingers and encircling to left wrist. Lacerations and superficial cuts, right 4th and 5th fingers. Also, blunt force injuries, predominately recent contusions (bruises) on the torso and lower extremities. Abrasions on left wrist are consistent with use of restraints. No evidence of defense injuries or natural disease. Manner of death is homicide.
Whitehorse Detainment Facility, Nasiriyah, Iraq.”

Another report from the ACLU indicates: “a 27-year-old Iraqi male died while being interrogated by Navy Seals on April 5, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq. During his confinement he was hooded, flex-cuffed, sleep deprived and subjected to hot and cold environmental conditions, including the use of cold water on his body and head. The exact cause of death was ‘undetermined’ although the autopsy stated that hypothermia may have contributed to his death.

An overwhelming majority of the so-called “natural deaths” covered in the autopsies were attributed to “arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease” (heart attack). Persons under extreme stress and pain may have heart attacks as a result of the circumstances of their detainments.

The Associated Press carried the story of the ACLU charges on their wire service. However, a thorough check of LexisNexis and ProQuest electronic data bases, using the keywords ACLU and autopsy, showed that at least 95 percent of the daily papers in the U.S. did not bother to pick up the story. The Los Angeles Times covered the story on page A4 with a 635-word report headlined “Autopsies Support Abuse Allegations.”

Fewer than a dozen other daily newspapers including: Bangor Daily News, Maine, page 8; Telegraph-Herald, Dubuque, Iowa, page 6; Charleston Gazette, page 5; Advocate, Baton Rouge, page 11; and a half dozen others actually covered the story. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Seattle Times buried the story inside general Iraq news articles. USA Today posted the story on their website. MSNBC posted the story to their website, but apparently did not consider it newsworthy enough to air on television.

Janis Karpinski, U.S. Brigadier General Commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, was in charge of seventeen prison facilities in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2003. Karpinski testified January 21, 2006 in New York City at the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush administration. Karpinski stated: “General [Ricardo] Sanchez [commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq] signed the eight-page memorandum authorizing a laundry list of harsh techniques in interrogations to include specific use of dogs and muzzled dogs with his specific permission.” Karpinski went on to claim that Major General Geoffrey Miller, who had been “specifically selected by the Secretary of Defense to go to Guantanamo Bay and run the interrogations operations,” was dispatched to Iraq by the Bush administration to “work with the military intelligence personnel to teach them new and improved interrogation techniques.” When asked how far up the chain of command responsibility for the torture orders for Abu Ghraib went, Karpinski said, “The Secretary of Defense would not have authorized without the approval of the Vice President.”
American Civil Liberties Website, October 24, 2005
Title: “US Operatives Killed Detainees During Interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq”

Tom, March 5, 2006
Title: “Tracing the Trail of Torture: Embedding Torture as Policy from Guantanamo to Iraq”

Author: Dahr Jamail
Faculty Evaluator: Rabi Michael Robinson
Student Researchers: Michael B Januleski Jr. and Jessica Rodas
This story, published in March 2006, was merely a snapshot of the ongoing and worsening policy of the Bush administration regarding torture. And not just time, but places show snapshots of the criminal policy of the current administration—Iraq, like Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, and other “secret” U.S. military detention centers in Eastern European countries are physical examples of an ongoing policy which breaches both international law and our very constitution.

But breaking international and domestic law has not been a concern of an administration led by a “president” who has claimed “authority” to disobey over 750 laws passed by Congress. In fact, when this same individual does things like signing a secret order in 2002 which authorized the National Security Agency to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by wiretapping the phones of U.S. citizens, and then goes on to allow the secret collection of the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans, torture is but one portion of this corrupted picture. This is a critical ongoing story, not just because it violates international and domestic law, but this state-sanctioned brutality, bankrupt of any morality and decency, is already coming back home to haunt Americans. When U.S. soldiers are captured in Iraq or another foreign country, what basis does the U.S. have now to ask for their fair and humane treatment? And with police brutality and draconian “security” measures becoming more real within the U.S. with each passing day, why wouldn’t these policies be visited upon U.S. citizens?

While torture is occasionally glimpsed by mainstream media outlets such as the Washington Post and Time Magazine, we must continue to rely on groups like the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International who cover the subject thoroughly, persistently, and unlike (of course) any corporate media outlets.

Since I wrote this story, there continues to be a deluge of information and proof of the Bush administration continuing and even widening their policy of torture, as well as their rendering prisoners to countries which have torturing human beings down to a science.

All of this, despite the fact that U.S. laws prohibit torture absolutely, clearly stating that torture is never, ever permitted, even in a time of war.
This might not be news, exactly, but it is still germane, IMVHO. Or as Project Censored says:
To stay current on this critical topic, please visit the following websites regularly:

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Mike Gravel On Radio Saturday

This just in from Lydia Cornell:
On Saturday May 26th, Senator Mike Gravel will be the guest on the Basham and Cornell Radio Show at 9 am PST on AM 1230 KLAV in Las Vegas. Mike is currently a candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination for President of the United States. He is a former 2-term Senator from Alaska from 1969 to 1981.

The Basham and Cornell Radio Show broadcasts nationally Saturday mornings at 9 am Pacific (12 noon Eastern). All shows are simulcast on the Internet and can be listened to at
I've written to Lydia mentioning this post and asking her to bring it to the Senator's attention.

We'll see what happens.

Tell The Truth -- Tell Me Who's Been Spyin' On You!

You wouldn't want to miss this piece by Alyssa Giachino in The Villager, but please don't tell anybody you heard about it from me:

Police spied on many local groups during convention
With the public release of more than 600 pages of surveillance notes by the New York Police Department last week, organizations that protested at the 2004 Republican National Convention confirmed their suspicions that dozens of nonviolent groups were being monitored.

Some reacted with outrage, saying civil liberties were trampled on and that public expression of political dissent is under attack. Others were gleeful, feeling vindicated that their paranoia about infiltration proved valid.

Then there was the reaction of civil rights attorney Ronald Kuby, who said he is deeply offended that his name was not included.
Poor Mr. Kuby. At least his name has now been mentioned on a very prestigious blog -- not!

But the damage had been done:
“My street credibility has been seriously compromised,” Kuby said sarcastically. “Am I not a greater threat to national security than LL Cool J? Have I not protested the war more loudly than Alicia Keys?”

Kuby was referring to the surprising appearance of several household names in hip-hop and R & B in the police documents, which also listed Russell Simmons and Jay-Z, all of whom were invited to participate in the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network concert that was scheduled during the R.N.C.
Speaking of "No Big Surprise", they didn't have me on their list either.
Many of the organizations that participated in organizing activities related to the R.N.C. were aware of police surveillance, and even joked during planning meetings about the presence of undercover police or federal agents.

“It’s interesting to see hard proof, hard copies,” said Nancy Kricorian, director of the New York chapter of the antiwar group Code Pink, which is mentioned numerous times in the police documents. “Because you can have your suspicions. It’s kind of affirming to see the evidence.”

Although Kricorian was not surprised that Code Pink was mentioned in the documents, she said, “That doesn’t make it right.”
Right or not, is it not inevitable?
“For women whose immigration status is an issue or for women whose communities have contentious histories with the police, the fear of police surveillance might make them think twice about participating in political organizing or in showing up at a demonstration,” she said. “That is why there are civil liberties protections against this kind of spying — the spying itself has a chilling effect on organized dissent.”
Which is exactly why they do it! No?
It is unclear which elements of the surveillance program may have violated civil rights. Police say much of the material was collected from Web sites and listservs, and many of the planning meetings were open to the public.

“Some information is not solely based on Internet stuff, and that is of questionable legality,” Kuby said. “There has to be some kind of criminal predicate to investigate political activity.”
There may be questions about information learned off the Internet, but regardless of legalities, it should be clear that organizing an effective secret political resistance group using the Internet is not possible.
The New York Civil Liberties Union, which together with The New York Times, sued the city to obtain the police records, has called the surveillance program “broad, clumsy and often unlawful.” The monitoring of the diverse groups that participated in events around the R.N.C. equated political dissent with violence, the N.Y.C.L.U. said.
Nonsense! The monitoring of diverse groups shows that this administration -- this Rove-Bush-Cheney-RNC administration -- sees all dissent as dangerous, violent or not. As well they should. When you're lying as much as they are, and implementing a set of policies as vicious and evil as their legislative agenda, all forms of dissent -- especially those containing the truth about what you're doing -- are very dangerous indeed.
Civil liberties attorney Martin Stolar said the documents are “just the tip of the iceberg,” and other kinds of surveillance likely took place that the public is still unaware of. Dozens of groups appear in the files, including Not In Our Name, Kensington Welfare Rights, New York City Anarchist Tribes, United for Peace and Justice, Grandmothers Against the War and the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, as well as the magazine High Times.

“These organizations that are not talking about anything criminal end up in police files,” Stolar said. “That’s of concern because it harks back to the old days when they used to keep files and dossiers on organizations and groups that did nothing illegal but had dissenting opinions.”

However, he also said, “Unless you’ve been sleeping through the late 20th and early 21st centuries, you are kind of aware of [police surveillance]. It’s to be expected.”
Unless you've been sleeping? Unless you've been sleeping under a rock!! And yet so many people appear to have been doing just that very thing!
The surprise seems to lie in the detail with which the police recorded the minutiae involved in coordinating multiple organizations.

“The whole thing was surprising because it’s such a bizarre waste of resources,” Kuby said. “There are real terrorists who want to kill all of us; none of them made it on the list. For every Depends-wearing granny using a walker that is being followed by the police, there is some loonzy kazooney jihadist that is going unmonitored.”
Wrong! Right! Right! Wrong! Right! and Wrong again!! Score three out of six for our friend Kuby there.

It's not surprising at all. It is a bizarre waste of resources. There are indeed real terrorists. Some of them may want to kill a lot of people, but nobody wants to kill us all! Kuby may be right to say no terrorists got on the list, but it was very wrong and very dumb to equate the number grannies against the war (of whom there are doubtless a great many) to the "loonzy kazooney" jihadists, of whom there are relatively few, especially if we don't count those who were motivated and trained in their "personal jihad" by "trusted associates" who just happened to be working for the FBI, or the NYPD.

Street cred ain't what it used to be, Sir Kuby. Sorry about that, sir!
John Penley, a longtime Yippie activist, criticized the lack of transparency and local input into the monitoring program, and said the Police Department has likely overreached its authority by expanding into states other than New York, and even outside of the United States.

“The N.Y.P.D. has now expanded to an international intelligence-gathering service,” he said. “You can see how easily they can overstep their boundaries, and there is apparently no civilian oversight. As history tends to show, police departments tend to abuse things like this.”
Yep. That's what they do.
Aron Kay, better known as the “Yippie Pie Man,” is named multiple times in the police documents, where he was identified as an “eccentric activist” who was “calling for like-minded activists to target President Bush for a ‘pie in the face’ attack during his appearance at the RNC.”
Some may think such a gesture would have been perfect. I happen to agree with them.
The Villager appears to have fans in the N.Y.P.D., as one of the documents mentioned that “Local media reports quote Kay as stating that denial of camping permits in New York City Parks could potentially incite violent protest action.” An article had appeared in the Feb. 25, 2004, issue of The Villager in which Kay was quoted saying that a denial of the Yippies’ request for a camping permit for Tompkins Square Park “May cause a problem; it may cause a riot.” Kay subsequently said he had only intended to invoke 1968’s Chicago Riots, rather than current events, and regretted having made the comment.
It's always unfortunate when historical parallels go unnoticed. Or when historical allusions go unchecked. Or when comments require to be regretted.

Note that it didn't matter whether a protest or a protest group were violent or non-violent; the super spies spied on everybody:
St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, which provided meeting space for planning activities and meals for thousands of protesters during the R.N.C., is named in the police documents, as well.

Reverend Frank Morales said, “It is immoral, potentially illegal and inappropriate” for the police to monitor peaceful meetings inside a church. “St. Mark’s has traditionally championed the right of protest but also the importance of the ethic of nonviolence,” he said.
So, ... How free is freedom of speech? And what happens if you speak freely through a battery-powered amplifier?
Geoffrey Blank, who earned notoriety for using a battery-powered megaphone without a permit in Union Square, said he is “exuberant” that the documents were made public.

He plans to use the references to him as evidence that the police targeted him for arrest during the R.N.C. In October 2006, Blank was convicted on two counts of resisting arrest and one count of using amplified sound without a permit, all from incidents in 2004.

“I remember the police following me, so it’s not like this is some mystery to me,” he said. “I was saying [during the trial] these charges have nothing to do with resisting arrest. These charges are just a smokescreen for silencing me because of what my message was because I was outspoken against Bush, against the war in Iraq.”
Wow! "Using amplified sound without a permit" is a crime? All those years I played in rock bands we never had a permit -- not once!! Is there a new law or something? And is it retroactive?

In other words, how much trouble am I potentially in, here. And furthermore, is there a category for "Satire without a Permit"?
Robin Eublind, an actor with Billionaires for Bush, a satirical street theater group [photo], said the multiple appearances of his group in the police documents is part of the Billionaires’ nefarious strategy to dampen the impact of other protest groups.

“We’re trying to usurp their media hit on the revelation of surveillance,” he said, adding that the Billionaires thrive on media attention.

“There’s no such thing as bad press or bad surveillance when you’re media whores,” he said.