Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Operation "Wagon Train" Sorts People By Skin Color



From the Salt Lake Tribune, this article describing how ICE agents acted when they raided the Swift Plant in Hyrum, Utah as part of ICE's "Operation Wagon Train" Raid on suspected undocumented workers:

"If only for a few minutes, Maria felt like an ''illegal alien'' in her homeland - the United States of America. She thought she was going on break from her job at the Swift & Co. meat processing plant here on Tuesday, but instead she and others were forced to stand in a line by U.S. immigration agents. Non-Latinos and people with lighter skin were plucked out of line and given blue bracelets. The rest, mostly Latinos with brown skin, waited until they were ''cleared'' or arrested by ''la migra,'' the popular name in Spanish for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), employees said."

Later, the article quotes Maria saying "she hopes the authorities are not targeting Latinos."

Gee, ya think just because they put the whites in one line and gave them blue bracelets and the latinos in another without any bracelets that they might have been targeting latinos?

Speaking of targeting latinos, how nice that the Washington Post now says this of Augusto Pinochet, who died earlier this week:

"It's hard not to notice, however, that [Pinochet] the evil dictator leaves behind the most successful country in Latin America. In the past 15 years, Chile's economy has grown at twice the regional average, and its poverty rate has been halved. It's leaving behind the developing world, where all of its neighbors remain mired. It also has a vibrant democracy. Earlier this year it elected another socialist president, Michelle Bachelet, who suffered persecution during the Pinochet years.

Like it or not, Mr. Pinochet had something to do with this success..."


And...

"In 'Dictatorships and Double Standards,' a work that caught the eye of President Ronald Reagan, [Jeanne] Kirkpatrick argued that right-wing dictators such as Mr. Pinochet were ultimately less malign than communist rulers, in part because their regimes were more likely to pave the way for liberal democracies. She, too, was vilified by the left. Yet by now it should be obvious: She was right.
In "Dictatorships and Double Standards," a work that caught the eye of President Ronald Reagan, Ms. Kirkpatrick argued that right-wing dictators such as Mr. Pinochet were ultimately less malign than communist rulers, in part because their regimes were more likely to pave the way for liberal democracies. She, too, was vilified by the left. Yet by now it should be obvious: She was right."


So Pinochet came to power in a U.S. backed military coup to unseat a democratically elected President and was later responsible for the deaths of two to three thousand dissidents, and was implicated in a car bombing in Washington D.C. that also led to the killing of an innocent American civilian. That's o.k., according to the Post, because "his" policies ultimately led to the creation of South America's most economically successful state.

In short, the Post's logic is that "so you killed a few thousand, your policies led to the economic prosperity of millions, so we'll forgive you." How "liberal" is it to say that right wing dictators are "less malign than communist rulers" because liberal democracies are more likely to follow dictatorships?.

Remember this the next time you hear the media derided as "liberal." The paper that brought about the downfall of Nixon through thorough, necessary reporting is now editorializing about how a mass murderer isn't so bad after all. Thousands died, but millions now live better, so all is forgiven.

And these people are charged with keeping us informed about the dangers of governmental power run amok?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gingrich: "Free speech should not be... cover for people who are planning to kill... people who have inalienable rights of their own"



I'm guilty of parroting Glenn Greenwald's posts a lot lately, but the stories he picks up on are so important, and so invisible in the mainstream media, that I feel the need to spread the word.

Today, Greenwald points out this article from Newt Gingrich in which Gingrich states:

"[F]ree speech should not be an acceptable cover for people who are planning to kill other people who have inalienable rights of their own."

Gingrich further comments that:

"We need an expeditious review of current domestic law to see what changes can be made within the protections of the 1st Amendment to ensure that free speech protection claims are not used to protect the advocacy of terrorism, violent conduct or the killing of innocents."

The article, which Gingrich authored, is a follow up to his speech given on 11/27/06, in which he said,

"This is a serious long term war, and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country, that will lead us to learn how to close down every website that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear of biological weapons.

"And, my prediction to you is that either before we lose a city, or if we are truly stupid, after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us to stop them from recruiting people before they get to reach out and convince young people to destroy their lives while destroying us.

"This is a serious problem that will lead to a serious debate about the first amendment, but I think that the national security threat of losing an American city to a nuclear weapon, or losing several million Americans to a biological attack is so real that we need to proactively, now, develop the appropriate rules of engagement."

Steve Earle once appropriately said, "It just gets tougher every day, to sit around and watch it while it slips away."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Observer: ICE Agents recorded their informant committing 13 murders, Left him on the payroll


Today Glenn Greenwald recommends this article from the British newspaper The Observer.

To summarize the facts, I cut and pasted from Greenwald's narrative below...

- "Although the subject of the investigation (the U.S. Government's conduct as part of its "war on drugs") receives little attention in the U.S., the incident reported by the Observer powerfully highlights exactly what the Bush administration is and how its "Homeland Security" Department operates."

- "In 2000, agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department (ICE)... recruited Guillermo Ramirez Peyro, known as "Lalo," to work as an informant for ICE as part of its investigation into a Mexican drug cartel... and they paid "Lalo" more than $220,000 to work as a spy for them, including the wearing of a wire."

- "In August, 2003, Lalo's cartel boss ordered him to participate in the murder of a Mexican lawyer. Lalo participated in the murder -- which was extremely brutal -- while wearing the wire supplied to him by ICE. "

- "After the initial murder, the ICE agents sought permission to continue using Lalo as their informant. Permission was given by high-level Justice Department officials in both Texas and Washington, including several Texans who are very close associates of both George Bush and Alberto Gonzales..."

- "Permission was given by Homeland Security and the DOJ to continue to work with Lalo. Over the course of the next six months, Lalo directly participated in the murder of 13 different Mexicans, usually extremely brutal murders, and all with the knowledge of ICE. Despite one murder after the next being perpetrated by their paid informant, they never intervened.

- "On January 14, 2004, Lalo kidnapped Luis Padilla in El Paso, Texas, drove him across the Mexican border, and then murdered him along with two other Mexicans, all while wearing an ICE wire. It was later revealed that Padilla -- who had lived in the U.S. (legally) since childhood and at the time with living (legally) in Texas with his wife and three children -- had nothing to do with any cartels and was abducted by Lalo as a matter of mistaken identity.

- "[A]round the same time, members of Lalo's cartel-- the cartel which ICE knowingly allowed to go on murdering -- went to the home of an undercover DEA agent in order to kill him (they obtained his identity and home address by torturing an informant). The DEA agent barely escaped with his wife and daughters, through sheer luck.

- The DEA had not known about ICE's ongoing work with Lalo. They thought, naturally, that ICE severed its connection to him once he began murdering people while wearing an ICE wire. But after the DEA's agent and immediate family were almost murdered by the cartel, they found out that ICE was still working with Lalo and they reacted with extreme anger.

- "Once the DEA's Gonzalez put these accusations in writing, the Bush Justice Department responded boldly and vigorously . . . by attacking, threatening and ultimately forcing the retirement of the DEA's Gonzales -- the whistleblower who brought this to light -- for the crime of complaining about it and putting it in writing, thereby risking discovery of what ICE had done (with the permission of the DOJ). Not only was no action taken against the perpetrators, but they were actively protected."



As Greenwald notes, the whole article truly needs to be read, but here is an excerpt...

"Janet Padilla's first inkling that something might be wrong came when she phoned her husband at lunchtime. His mobile phone was switched off. On 14 January, 2004, Luis had, as usual, left for work at 6am, and when he did not answer the first call Janet made, after taking the children to school, she assumed he was busy. Two weeks later she would learn the truth.
'It was love at first sight for Luis and me, and that's how it stayed, after two years dating at school and eight years of marriage,' says Janet. 'We always spoke a couple of times during the day and he always kept his phone on. So I called my dad, who owns the truckyard where he worked and he told me, "he hasn't been here". I called my in-laws and they hadn't seen him either, and they were already worried because his car was outside their house with the windows open and the keys in the ignition. He would never normally leave it like that.'

"Luis Padilla, 29, father of three, had been kidnapped, driven across the Mexican border from El Paso, Texas, to a house in Ciudad Juarez, the lawless city ruled by drug lords that lies across the Rio Grande. As his wife tried frantically to locate him, he was being stripped, tortured and buried in a mass grave in the garden - what the people of Juarez call a narco-fossa, a narco-smugglers' tomb.
Just another casualty of Mexico's drug wars? Perhaps. But Padilla had no connection with the drugs trade; he seems to have been the victim of a case of mistaken identity.

"Now, as a result of documents disclosed in three separate court cases, it is becoming clear that his murder, along with at least 11 further brutal killings, at the Juarez 'House of Death', is part of a gruesome scandal, a web of connivance and cover-up stretching from the wild Texas borderland to top Washington officials close to President Bush."


Will we see the story on the news tonight, or is news of government agents doing nothing while an informant repeatedly murders people, while wearing a wire, not enough to draw national media attention?

Will Olbermann take notice? You can comment on his website by clicking here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Jose Padilla - "What does [the case] say about our country?"




In an article titled "Video Is a Window Into a Terror Suspect’s Isolation," the New York Times today reports that Jose Padilla's attorneys have obtained a videotape of Mr. Padilla being transported from his cell to the dentist to undergo a root canal.

Padilla is an American citizen was accused by then attorney General John Ashcroft of being involved in the detonation of a "dirty bomb" as well as a plot to blow up apartment buildings. However, as the article notes...

"Mr. Padilla’s status was abruptly changed to criminal defendant from enemy combatant last fall. At the time, the Supreme Court was weighing whether to take up the legality of his military detention — and thus the issue of the president’s authority to seize an American citizen on American soil and hold him indefinitely without charges — when the Bush administration pre-empted its decision by filing criminal charges against Mr. Padilla.

Mr. Padilla was added as a defendant in a terrorism conspiracy case already under way in Miami. The strong public accusations made during his military detention — about the dirty bomb, Al Qaeda connections and supposed plans to set off natural gas explosions in apartment buildings — appear nowhere in the indictment against him. The indictment does not allege any specific violent plot against America."


Several months ago, Judge Marcia G. Cooke of United States District Court in Miami dismissed the most serious charge, conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country, "saying that it replicated accusations in the other counts and could lead to multiple punishments for a single crime."

Now that Mr. Padilla's public defenders have obtained the videotape, they allege that he is unfit to stand trial. According to the article, his lawyers:

"argue that he has been so damaged by his interrogations and prolonged isolation that he suffers post-traumatic stress disorder and is unable to assist in his own defense. His interrogations they say, included hooding, stress positions, assaults, threats of imminent execution and the administration of “truth serums.”

The article quotes former Navy JAG officer Philip D. Cave:

"There’s nothing comparable in terms of severity of confinement, in terms of how Padilla was held, especially considering that this was pretrial confinement."

The article also quotes Dr. Angela Hegarty, director of forensic psychiatry at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, N.Y., who examined Padilla in June and September, and who, in an affidavit filed by the defense on Friday, said that Padilla:

"lacks the capacity to assist in his own defense... It is my opinion that as the result of his experiences during his detention and interrogation, Mr. Padilla does not appreciate the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him, is unable to render assistance to counsel, and has impairments in reasoning as the result of a mental illness, i.e., post-traumatic stress disorder, complicated by the neuropsychiatric effects of prolonged isolation."

In another affidavit filed by the defense, one of his public defenders, Andrew Patel, said:

"Mr. Padilla remains unsure if I and the other attorneys working on his case are actually his attorneys or another component of the government’s interrogation scheme... During questioning, he often exhibits facial tics, unusual eye movements and contortions of his body... The contortions are particularly poignant since he is usually manacled and bound by a belly chain when he has meetings with counsel."

According the article, Orlando do Campo, another of Padilla's attorneys...

"...said that Mr. Padilla was not incommunicative, and that he expressed curiosity about what was going on in the world, liked to talk about sports and demonstrated particularly keen interest in the Chicago Bears. But the defense lawyers’ questions often echo the questions interrogators have asked Mr. Padilla, and when that happens, he gets jumpy and shuts down."

Here is a roundup of bloggers' comments on the revelations of this latest filing.

First Glenn Greenwald writes in this article that:

"As I have said many times, the most astounding and disturbing fact over the last five years -- and there is a very stiff competition for that title -- is that we have collectively really just sat by while the U.S. Government arrests and detains people, including U.S. citizens, and then imprisons them for years without any charges of any kind. What does it say about our country that not only does our Government do that, but that we don't really seem to mind much?"

Check out the whole article. Greenwald is one of the most insightful political commentators out there right now. While many lawyers have never even bothered to learn the details and implications of Jose Padilla case, he's been laboring for years, trying to hold the administration's feet to the fire for actions like this. I've even approached him about attending TLC as he's got the warrior part down pat.

Digby points out, via a link at TalkLeft, that

"I know that all the tough guys on the right will say that Padilla is just being a typical whining malcontent but I have a feeling that most of them would crumble into blubbering babies after five minutes in his position. This treatment is extremely inhumane. They basically blinded, deafened and then isolated him, essentially destroying his mind. There is no reason on earth to put those goggles and earphones on him to go to the dentist in the prison in South Carolina except to keep him from ever feeling like a normal human being, part of the natural world. It's sick."

And here is a link to University of Miami law professor Michael Froomkin's take on the case. In a nutshell, Froomkin summarizes the Government's response to this motion by the defense, alleging that the Government's case against Padilla should be dismissed because of "outrageous governmental conduct."

"We deny everything. And even if it's all true the remedy is to sue us, not dismiss this case."

You can view the Government's response to this defense motion here.

Sadly, when I asked another public defender about the Padilla case today, she didn't know who he was. It's not her fault. She is a hard working public defender who has very little free time. She depends on the media to tell her when important things are happening in this country. But, while the New York Times article is insightful, most people have no idea who Padilla is or, if they do, they remember him as the "dirty bomber" as if Ashcroft's allegations, which were never even charged, were somehow true.

But how can we expect average Americans to take note of Padilla's case- which has immensely dangerous implications for all of us- when people like Jules Crittendon, columnist for the Boston Herald, writes today that...

"I Think We're Supposed to Feel Bad About This... Padilla...[y]ou may recall he is the gentleman from Chicago who converted to Islam, hobnobbed with al Qaeda, and, our government has alleged, came back here with a plan to blow up apartment buildings, and now apparently lives in a state of virtual sensory deprivation while awaiting trial on charges of providing support to terrorists."

Once again, the government, via John Ashcroft, accused Padilla in the press of plotting to detonate dirty bombs and with blowing apartment buildings, but never charged Padilla with any such thing!

But accusation has become akin to conviction in post 9/11 America.

It is very likely that Padilla will never stand trial based on the fact that the evidence against him, which was obtained via torture, will either be suppressed because its gathering violated the Constitution or will be so unreliable that a jury won't buy it.

So the chances are great that an American citizen, who was convicted in the court of public opinion, but who may not be convicted in the real courts at all, will have to be cut loose, back onto the streets of his own country, convicted by the media but rightfully and lawfully acquitted in court.

We are left, sadly, with the system we ultimately deserve. I'll probably end up on a watch list for this last statement, but we truly have a choice: Exercise our First Amendment Rights now or risk losing more of the rest of the Bill of Rights later.

Do we go out with a bang or a whimper? If you view the Padilla case as a legitimate exercise of governmental power, you deserve the goverment you have right now. If not, we better all get off our asses and exercise our rights before they vanish, just like Padilla's did.

This case is beyond sickening and yet what do we hear from most of the institutions who are supposed to be informing us about this case's implications on the rest of our liberties? Crickets, followed immediately by Brittney Spears updates.

God help us... The precious rights our ancestors fought and died for, and thoughtfully preserved in the Bill of Rights, are being taken away, right before our eyes, and no one seems to even notice.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Spence / Mayfield Settle Suit for $2 million



It's old news by now, but here are some things you might have missed regarding Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield and his attorney, Gerry Spence, agreeing to a settlement of $2 million in his civil case against the government for wrongfully holding him as a "material witness" for 14 days following the Madrid train bombings.

(1) Do You Fit The Sun's "Terrorist Profile:" , Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post describing the "typical breathless television report at the time" of Mayfield's arrest. The worst example is from the New York Sun in June, 2004. The Sun editorialized that:

"Mr. Mayfield 's political profile fits that of many disaffected, America-hating terrorists: he strongly opposes the Patriot Act, inveighs against American foreign policy related to Muslim countries, and is "particularly angered," according to his brother Kent, by close U.S. relations with Israel. Mr. Mayfield speculates that the Bush administration knew in advance about 9/11 but chose to let the attacks go ahead so as to justify going to war. And on his release from custody, he compared the U.S. federal government to Nazi Germany.

If those are the qualifications for a terrorist profile, we're in big trouble.

(2) FBI: "Not Enough Evidence": , (h/t sysprog in comments at Unclaimed Territory) here is an a probable reason for the $2 million settlement amount. According to an unclassified FBI email (link to original) from May 5, 2004, FBI agent Elizabeth Steele, emailed another agent (whose name was blacked out) that...

"I left you a voice mail this morning, but I figured this was a more secure way to leave the details for you.

There is a man living in the Portland area who has been tied to the Madrid bombings by a fingerprint found at the scene. His name is Brandon Mayfield, Muslim convert and attorney.

Earlier this week, an LA Times reporter in the Paris Bureau called the Legat in Spain, Ed Sanchez, to ask about information the reporter had heard that there was an American tied to the Madrid bombings. At that time, we don't think he had the name or location or the fact that the evidence is a fingerprint.

The problem is there is not enough evidence to arrest him on a criminal charge. There is a plan to arrest him as a material witness if and when he gets outed by the media.

Neither the National Press Office nor the Portland Division has received any media calls as of this morning, and *BLACKED OUT* thought is that, at some point; LA may receive a call from the Times trying to nail this down. If you do receive this call, we would ask that you confirm nothing and try to get out of them how much they have and whether or not publication is imminent. The powers that be are trying to hold off as long as possible on any arrest, but they want to make sure an arrest happens before anything hits the media.

To complicate things, the Legat just notified Portland that he received an inquiry from a Spanish publication about the same thing, and it had the details about the evidence that it said it planned to publish "soon".

Thanks for your help,
Beth Anne Steele / FBI Portland"


The AP article quoted Gerry Spence's take on this email: "The e-mail says that there wasn't enough evidence to arrest him on a criminal charge. I don't know if that makes your hair stand on end or what... Here the government is saying we don't have any grounds to hold him criminally, but if the media outs him then we are going to hold him as a material witness. It becomes a race to see if the government could arrest Mr. Mayfield before some member of the press outed him."

Yes, Mr. Spence, that does make my hair stand on end. My favorite part of the settlement, however, is not the amount but the fact that Mr. Mayfield (Mr. Spence) retained the right to contest the constitutionality of the PATRIOT Act. The patriotic defense lawyer (who beat a prosecutor named Giuliani in defending Imelda Marcos and who sucessfully defended Randy Weaver and who has never lost a criminal case) still gets a chance to strike down the unpatriotic, draconian provisions of the so called "Patriot Act." It's a good day to be a Warrior, in other words, and the case isn't over.

(3) "A Lot More Mayfields Out There?: , the LA Times reports that "a report on the Mayfield case in January, the Office of the Inspector General, the Justice Department's internal watchdog, said FBI experts had overlooked "important differences" between Mayfield's prints and those of the Algerian man, and had essentially ignored information from Spanish police that pointed to the other suspect."

The same article quotes Michael Cherry, president of Cherry Biometrics, an identification-technology company, stating that "misidentification problems could grow worse as the U.S. and other governments add more fingerprints to their databases." Mr. Cherry is quoted as saying,

"I really believe there are a lot more Mayfields out there," Cherry said. "We just don't know about these cases because the Spanish police don't always get to oversee them. We simply don't have an identification standard that fits with today's times."

According to the Bush administration, we don't have a Constitution that fits with today's times. Like the Geneva Conventions, they see it as quaint, and that attitude trickles down to FBI agents who play with people's liberty like toy soldiers in a spoiled child's game.

Just wait, however. The settlement amount will be used as a call for tort reform rather than as an admission of wrongdoing by a government who lied on an affidavit seeking a "sneak and peek" warrant. And the corporately owned and controlled media who reports it this shoddy, incomplete manner will be chastised as being "liberally biased."

Oh well, as one of Gerry's clients once said after hearing the words not guilty, and as Brandon Mayfield may well be saying now: "Fuck 'em. I'm free."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gonzalez: A "Grave Threat" to Our Liberties?



From a USA Today article regarding Atty. General Alberto Gonzalez' comments on the President's "Domestic / Terrorist Surveillance Program" we find the following quote:

"The administration has maintained that its warrantless surveillance program focuses on international calls involving suspected terrorists, and dismisses charges that it is illegal because it bypasses federal law requiring a judge-issued warrant for such eavesdropping."

That's right. The Bush administration's position is that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which allowed the President to use "all necessary and appropriate" actions to confront the horrors of 9-11, allows him to bypass a federal statute that requires a warrant for "such eavesdropping" as well as bypass the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement.

In short, a general statement passed hastily in the wake of 9/11, trumps a federal statute and the the Constitution Bush swore to uphold!

But there's also a backup plan. If the AUMF doesn't grant the President this power, Gonzales believes, his status as the "Unitary Chief Executive" puts him above the law. Here's what Alberto said:

"We believe the president has the authority under the authorization of military force and inherent authority of the constitution to engage in this sort of program, but we want to supplement that authority."

Shorter version: The Constitution puts us above the law, the Congress' general grant of authority puts above the law, but we want more power, without any judicial oversight!

With this in mind, I found this scary comparison between what Alberto's comments and the constitution of the former Soviet Union. (h/t Unqualified Offerings)

Here's what Alberto said as quoted by USA Today:

"Gonzales told about 400 cadets from the Air Force Academy's political science and law classes that some see the program as on the verge of stifling freedom rather that protecting the country.

“But this view is shortsighted,” he said. “Its definition of freedom — one utterly divorced from civic responsibility — is superficial and is itself a grave threat to the liberty and security of the American people.”"


Here is an excerpt from Article 39 of the Soviet constitution, as quoted by Richard Schifter in a 1987 address to the American Bar Association:

"Enjoyment by citizens of their rights and freedoms must not be to the detriment of the interest of society or the state. . . ."

Or, from Article 59...

"Citizens’ exercise of their rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of their duties and obligations."

So, to paraphrase Carl the Groundskeeper from Caddyshack, "We've got (similarities to the Soviet Union) goin' for us.. which is nice."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ritter on War With Iran?: "We're at war with Iran."



Building on a suggestion from W on the listserve, here is a link to a video interview of Former U.N. Weapons Inspector and former intelligence officer Scott Ritter by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.

You can read a transcript of the interview here, and here are a few snippets..

"Look, we’re already overflying Iran with unmanned aerial vehicles, pilotless drones. On the ground, the CIA is recruiting Mojahedin-e-Khalq, recruiting Kurds, recruiting Azeris, who are operating inside Iran on behalf of the United States of America. And there is reason to believe that we’ve actually put uniformed members of the United States Armed Forces and American citizens operating as CIA paramilitaries inside Iranian territory to gather intelligence.

"Now, when you violate the borders and the airspace of a sovereign nation with paramilitary and military forces, that’s an act of war. That’s an act of war. So, when Americans say, “Ah, there’s not going to be a war in Iran,” there's already a war in Iran. We’re at war with Iran. We’re just not in the declared conventional stage of the war. The Bush administration has a policy of regime change. They’re going to use the military, and the military is being used."

...

"Look, North Korea and Iran, you can’t compare; it’s apples and oranges.

North Korea is a declared nuclear power. They even declared their intent to have nuclear weapons. They haven’t hidden this from anybody. They withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in total conformity with the rule of law. They put the world on notice... the Bush administration said, “Well, they’re just bluffing,” well, they’re not bluffing. They just popped one off...

Now, we take Iran. Iran is a nation that says, “We don’t have a nuclear weapons program. We have no intention.” In fact, when North Korea exploded their device, the Iranians condemned it. They said nuclear weapons cannot be part of a global equation. And yet, we continue to try and lump them together as if North Korea and Iran are part and parcel of the same policy. Well, maybe they are part and parcel of the same incoherent approach that the Bush administration has taken to dealing with nuclear proliferation."


...

"Well, when we say “Supreme Leader,” first of all, most Americans are going to scratch their head and say, “Who?” because, you see, we have a poster boy for demonization out there. His name is Ahmadinejad. He’s the idiot that comes out and says really stupid vile things, such as, “It is the goal of Iran to wipe Israel off the face of the world,” and he makes ridiculous statements about the United States and etc. And, of course, man, he -- it’s a field day for the American media, for the Western media, because you get all the little sound bites out there, Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad, president of Iran. But what people don't understand is, while he can vocalize, his finger is not on any button of power. If you read the Iranian constitution, you’ll see that the president of Iran is almost a figurehead.

The true power in Iran rests with the Supreme Leader. The Supreme Leader is the Ayatollah Khamenei. He is supported by an organization called the Guardian Council. Then there’s another group called the Expediency Council. These are the people that control the military, the police, the nuclear program, all the instruments of power. And not only has the Supreme Leader issued a fatwa that says that nuclear weapons are not compatible with Islamic law, with the Shia belief system that he is responsible, in 2003 he actually reached out to the Bush administration via the Swiss embassy and said, “Look, we would like to normalize relations with the United States. We’d like to initiate a process that leads to a peace treaty between Israel and Iran.” Get this, Israel and Iran. He’s not saying, “We want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.” He is saying, “We want peace with Israel.” And they were willing to put their nuclear program on the table.

Why didn’t the Bush administration embrace this? Because that leads to a process of normalization, where the United States recognizes the legitimacy of the theocracy and is willing to peacefully coexist with the theocracy. That’s not the Bush administration's position. They want the theocracy gone. They will do nothing that legitimizes that, nothing that sustains peace. They rejected peace. So, it’s not Ahmadinejad that represents the threat to international peace and security when it comes to American-Iranian relations. It’s the Bush administration."

NY Sun Shows Padilla's Face, Calls Him Al-Muhajir




In a stunning example of the mainstream media as propaganda tool, Glenn Greenwald correctly observed that the photo of "Al Queda's New Leader in Iraq" as featured in today's New York Sun, is actually a photo of American citizen Jose Padilla. The Sun, either indifferently or mistakenly, assures its "readers" that the photo represents "Al-Muhajir's Evil Presence" when Padilla is safely held in a South Carolina military brig where he's been since 2003, when Ashcroft declared him a "Dirty Bomber."

The photo on top is from today's Sun and below is the obviously darkened mug shot of Jose Padilla. Stunning, but Murdoch owned no doubt.

The German magazine Spiegel features an interview with Ron Suskind and asks the author of "The One Percent Doctrine" and "The Price of Loyalty" to describe what he knows about the CIA's "interrogation" of Al Queda operative Kalid Shiek Mohamed. According to Suskind,

"The thing they did with Mohammed is that we had captured his children, a boy and a girl, age 7 and 9. And at the darkest moment we threatened grievous injury to his children if he did not cooperate. His response was quite clear: "That's fine. You can do what you want to my children, and they will find a better place with Allah."

Later, Suskind describes his opinion of what Bush knew and when he knew it:

"The president understands more about the mistakes than he lets on. He knows what the most-skilled interrogators know too. He gets briefed, and he was deeply involved in this process from the beginning. The president loves to talk to operators."

Read the whole article, as well as Suskind's books. "The One Percent Doctrine" is an amazing description of Bush's War on Terror, as carried out by Cheney. One revealing anecdote: The CIA's nickname for Cheney is "Edgar", as in Edgar Bergan. In other words, they think of Bush as the Dummy and Dick as the ventriloquist.

Finally, here is a quote from the Washington Post's Dan Froomkin with interesting implications:

"What will life be like with oversight? We've just gone through not only six years of congressional obedience, but six years of ignorance. Congressional oversight has historically put enormous amounts of important, otherwise secret information into the public domain -- about the government and the private sector alike. If you think bloggers have been a potent political force thus far -- just wait until oversight gives them better material to work with."

Amen.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Justice Dept. Argues No Habeas Rights for Non-Citizen "Enemy Combatants"



In one of the first cases to test the limits of the "Military Commissions Act", which was passed last month, the Justice Department is arguing that Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident and citizen of Qatar, who has been in a South Carolina military brig since 2003 accused of being an Al Queda sleeper agent, no longer possesses the right to contest his detention through a writ of habeas corpus.

As the Washington Post puts it, "Critics of U.S. detention policies warned yesterday that a brief legal document filed by the Justice Department this week raises the possibility that any of the millions of immigrants living in the United States could be subject to indefinite detention if they are accused of ties to terrorist groups."

As the article states:

"In a six-page motion filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Justice Department lawyers argue that an anti-terrorism law approved by Congress last month allows the government to detain any foreign national declared to be an enemy combatant, even if he is arrested and imprisoned inside the United States."

This isn't really news, but the interesting aspect of Al-Marri's case is that, unlike most of those currently held in Gitmo, he was not captured on foreign soil, but was apprehended in the U.S., which according to Robert Chesney, a specialist in national security law at Wake Forest University gives him a "much stronger constitutional argument."

As the article concludes,

"Douglas Kmiec, a Pepperdine University law professor who was a Justice Department official during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, said the Justice brief signals that this administration believes Congress has given it clear authority to declare foreign nationals as enemy combatants, wherever they are captured.

"It not only opens up the universe of people who may be subjected to these specialized procedures, but it does it emphatically with Congress's approval," Kmiec said. "It remains to be seen whether that changes the judicial dynamic."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Unfair and Imbalanced: Memo Shows Fox News is Faux News



The Huffington Post has obtained a leaked, internal memo from Fox News Vice President of News, which instructs its affiliates how to "spin" the election and its aftermath. Among the highlights....

- "Let's be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled with the prospect of a Dem-controlled congress."

- "The question of the day... is What's the Dem plan for Iraq?"

- "We'll continue to work the Hamas threat to the US that came hours after the election... Just because the Dems won the war on terror isn't over."

So much for fair and balanced. It's a good thing "Fox Broadcasting has nothing to do with the Fox News Channel," as Bill O'Reilly said today.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Operation Northwoods: Can You Handle the Truth?


Take a look at this article from May, 2001 and ask yourself why the release of information that confirms "Operation Northwoods" wasn't widely discussed? After all, this article isn't on some small-time, little-known, conspiracy-driven website - it's on ABCNEWS.com and the documents that prove the existence of this program are available online even today.

Operation Northwoods was revealed in James Bamford's book Body of Secrets in 2001 but I wonder if the events that happened just four months later prevented us from properly discussing and considering the implications of such an operation?

As Bamford summarized it:

"Operation Northwoods, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war."

You can see the documents, via the National Security Archive online here.

More on this and the PNAC later...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Yet Another Image to Remember the Election By



Here is how the British Paper, the Guardian, sees the recent GOP "Bounce."

Racist Desperation Tactics



Here is an ad sent by the New York Republican Party. Yes, that's a darker skinned hand over a wide-eyed white girl's mouth.

Sick. Let's hope it's a sign of desperation that backfires.

Saddam to Hang for 1982 Killings



But isn't Uncle Donnie shaking hands with the evil despot in 1983? Who was the VP then, by the way?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Corporate Oligarchy Demonstrated



Either we have some really generous corporations out there that think enough of the electoral process that they give pretty much equally to both parties, or we a little diversification going on.

Check out this list of top ten corporate donors for both parties. (h/t billmon from crawfordslist) See any similarities? Wonder why that is? As exciting as it is to witness the party who brought us the "K Street Project" to crumble under scandals that all point to hypocracy and greed, it's naive to assume that things will be completely different with a Democratically-controlled congress.

I push for the Democrats to win because I believe they are, at least at the moment, less beholden to corporations than the GOP, but I also fear that "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" might be lyrics to best describe any new revolution. Deepthroat's advice to "Follow the money," also seems like a throwback expression that still fits today.

Still, the shitstorm we've been caught in recently makes me want to seek any port, even if Spence's observation that both arms lead to the same corporate heart still ring true. At this point, I'll take less beholden over completely beholden. Some influence, in between election cycles, has got to be better than none at all?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Bloodthirsty Bitches and Pious Pimps of Power" Gerry's New Book



In case you haven't heard, Gerry has a new book out with a great title: "Bloodthirsty Bitches and Pious Pimps of Power." (The Amazon link is here.)

From a New York blogger named Mickey Z here is a quote from the book....

"I’ve come to believe that the members of Team Hate are what and who they are because of what and who we are. The mirror is always at work. None of our bloodthirsty women and none of our pious pontificators could survive one segment on the tube but for the fact that they are speaking to us, the real us, that is, that part of us that resonates to the rantings of hate ... As we, they are angry because they, too, must have been forgotten, misled, lied to; because they are disappointed and have felt pain; and because their expectations have not been met. They are as trapped as we ... But they have learned to profit from it. We and they were born in the same culture, one that was not of their choosing, nor ours. They, as we, are like children who have grown up in a slaughterhouse and have forgotten the soft touch of a lamb. Might there one day be remembrance."

A wise man once told me it feels today in this country what it must have felt like in Berlin, in 1936, with so much hate in the air. I can't wait to read Gerry's take on the current state of our "union."

Easier to Declare Martial Law?



From the listserve comes this link to an article by the San Francisco Independent Media Center describing a provision in the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007." According to the article this provision...

"allows the President to declare a "public emergency" and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to "suppress public disorder."

I haven't had the time to examine the allegations in the article including a claim that:

"Section 1076 of the massive Authorization Act, which grants the Pentagon another $500-plus-billion for its ill-advised adventures, is entitled, "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies." Section 333, "Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law" states that "the President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of ("refuse" or "fail" in) maintaining public order, "in order to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy."

But, could it be that this bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate, is an another instance of the Bush Cabal attaching a provision to a defense appropriation bill, knowing that a vote against it would open the door to charges, like O'Reilly made on Letterman or like Lynne Cheney made against Wolf Blitzer, that if you're not with us, you must be with the terrorists?

Brings to mind the scene in Fahrenheit 9-11 when Rep. John Conyers admits that many votes are conducted without representatives truly knowing what's contained in them?

Here is a link to Sen. Patrick Leahy's Senate website, which includes this statement:

"Also expected to be included in the conference report is a widely opposed provision to allow the President more control over the National Guard. The conference committee has made changes the Insurrection Act, which governs when the President can call to action the National Guard without the consent of state governors to restore public order. Under the changes, the President would now be able to invoke the Act during such regular occurring events as a natural disaster. Because posse comitatus restrictions that prevent the military’s involvement in law enforcement do not apply when the Insurrection Act is invoked, the changes would nullify these long-standing laws."

As I said, I haven't had time to examine the actual bill that was signed, significantly, the same day the Military Commissions Act was signed.

But if the article's allegations can be verified, the ramifications are chillling, aren't they?

Brings to mind Bush's remarks, made during Katrina's aftermath, (see this CNN link with the headline "Bush Eyes Bigger Role for Military in Disasters") that Posse Comitatus hindered his ability to respond to a natural disaster. I wondered then, as I do now, that Katrina would be used to tear down these restrictions, opening the door not to natural disaster relief, but to the horrifying disaster of a "Unitary Chief Executive" given the power to label "enemy combatants" and to conscript the National Guard to round up "undesirable" protesters, even over the objections of the nation's governors.

Let's hope this story gets investigated and reported outside of the blogosphere. It's like I always say to my friends who question why I like to work as a public defender: "One day you'll realize why you need those rights and it'll be too late to realize you've surrendered them all in the name of cracking down on criminals."

More on this story later...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Waterboarding is like dunking, isn't it?

Dick Cheney submitted to an "interview" (h/t Glenn Greenwald) with a right-wing talk show host and was hit with hard-hitting questions such as

""Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" In reply to the latter question, Cheney replied: "It's a no-brainer for me""

Who's opposed to a little dunking if it can save lives, really? The "dunking" they're referring though isn't of the same type Foley tried to perform on the pages. They're talking about waterboarding, which can be seen clearly in this video, created by a former U.S. serviceman so we could see what all the fuss was about. Be warned; it's disturbing.

I bring this up because I left this comment at Greenwald's post.

"[x] says waterboarding is "stress but more intense than leaving the lights on."
If you have the stomach for it, here is a link to a video of a former member of the U.S. military who paid to have himself waterboarded (or "dunked" as dick might call it)so we could see what all the fuss was about.

Be warned though. It's difficult to watch, but equally disturbing to realize this is what's being done in our names, and now sanctioned by our representatives."


Apparently this sounded phony as another commenter noted...

"This is sooo phony - like that Michael Fox Democrapic commercial."

He is of course referring to Rush Limbaugh's assertion that Michael J. Fox, who displayed symptoms of his well-documented Parkinson's disease in an ad for the Democratic Senate candidate in Missouri, was putting on an act.

Here's what I wrote back, since it seems a little phony of me to accuse someone who dares act out the symptoms of their debilitating disease in public is faking it.

"[Y]accuses me of being phony for pointing out what waterboarding actually looks like and for commenting that watching it happen, knowing that it was approved by Congress, is sickening.

Then [Y] parrots Rush, saying that Michael J. Fox is being phony, apparently just like me.

On Countdown, discussing Rush's contention that Fox is acting, Sam Seder pointed out that Rush's real role is to insulate his listeners from reality. Thus, in Rush, [X] and [Y]'s world acts that send Japanese soldiers to prison at hard labor become simply "dunking" and waterboarding is just a little more "intense" than leaving the lights on.

Watch the video, and see if you still think it’s funny, or phony.

What's truly phony is describing what's on it as "dunking,” or declaring "we don't torture" while you ask for U.S. law to change to avoid future war crimes prosecutions, or believing that people who display the symptoms of Parkinsons, and who desperately need the medical advances of stem cell research to overcome them, are putting on an act.

Why don't you and Dick go "dunk" each other and see if people who are concerned about still seem phony?"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Rule of Six

From a suggestion by Alan on the listserve, comes this article by Judy Sorum Brown about a way to think about something perplexing. Since the article says it better than I can...

"When we are trying to figure out something perplexing (for which we often use the term, "a problem"), or when we are facing into uncertainty, it seems natural to our western way of thinking to find the right answer through questions like this: "Exactly what is the cause of this? What's going on here? How are things going to unfold? What is likely to happen? What should be our plan?

Many of the most heated arguments, whether within our own heads, or among colleagues or with family members, are about who has the right answer to the question before us.

The "rule of six," a Native American thinking process or discipline, requires that instead of coming up with the one best answer to the question, we instead come up with at least six possible, or good, answers. And then having done that, we hold all six in our head and do not choose among them.

This is very hard for the Western mind. Even when we think of two possibilities, it is for the implicit purpose of having those two possibilities fight it our, until one wins. Thinking about more than one cause of an event or more than one possibility of an outcome is, in our mind, simply an invitation for us to quickly choose the right one.

The Native tradition, by contrast, holds that there is a generous and open space after we notice something. And that is the space within which to hold many possible interpretations, or causes, or developments.

The ability to hold six possibilities in our mind accomplishes several things. It keeps our perceptions open to a wider range of data; it allows us to be 'systems thinkers' seeking multiple roots of causality in multiple dimensions of a situation; it keeps folks from having to fight with each other about who is right at a time when they should be listening with curiosity to why each other sees things differently.

And since we are not forcing ourselves to invest our ego in a single "best" idea, we naturally become more flexible in our thinking, and if our "favorite" of the possibilities doesn't turn out to be born out by the unfolding of data, we can more easily shift out emotional commitment to another idea which in the course of time has proved stronger; and we can make that shift earlier and more easily.

So in a sense, the rule of six allows us to remain aware and realistic, more flexible in our thinking, present to the world and to the thoughts and perceptions of others, and perhaps even more compassionate with ourselves when we are "of two minds" or more about something."

Why You Need to Read Blogs




This Newsweek Online article, entitled "Are the Faithful Losing Faith?", details the results of the latest Newsweek poll on voting patterns. It describes bad news for the GOP, including a finding that "fifty-five percent of likely voters ... would vote for the Democrat in their district if the election were held today."

Sounds like great news for Democrats, right? However, on the issue of impeachment, the article continues:

"Other parts of a potential Democratic agenda receive less support, especially calls to impeach Bush: 47 percent of Democrats say that should be a “top priority,” but only 28 percent of all Americans say it should be, 23 percent say it should be a lower priority and nearly half, 44 percent, say it should not be done. (Five percent of Republicans say it should be a top priority and 15 percent of Republicans say it should be a lower priority; 78 percent oppose impeachment.)"

So, if you read this article, doesn't it sound as if the "Impeachment Part" of the Democrat's agenda is receiving low support? After all, the polling data regarding impeachment is described in negative terms, such as "receiv[ing] less support," concluding, once again in negative terms, that less than half of Democrats say impeachment should be a "top priority."

In short, the tone of the Newsweek article is that potential calls for impeachment are not being well received.

But, as Glenn Greenwald points out, if we break Newsweek's code, we can easily see that the other side of their conclusion that "44% of all Americans" say impeachment "should not be done" is that a minority of those polled believe this President should not be impeached.

So why isn't this the headline and why do we have to "parse the statement" to get to this finding? After all, this public call to impeach the Bush far exceeds the public call to impeach Clinton. But, like the proper conclusions to draw from the polling data, we have to figure this out on our own.

Looked at another way, the results of this poll are even more astounding. If "28 percent of all Americans" say impeachment should be top priority and , 23 percent "say it should be a lower priority," why doesn't Newsweek point out that a majority of those polled believe this President should be impeached. After all they agree on impeachment, but differ only on how much of a priority it should be.

But we have to break their code to figure this out!

Tragically, most readers of Newsweek's "Online Exclusive" poll would have missed this analysis and would likely have walked away thinking, as the article implied, that impeachment wasn't playing well in Palookaville.

To get to what wasn't stated, but what was clearly true, you had to read between the lines, or go to a blog that had already done so. That's why I go straight to blogs, like Greenwald's or Digby's, rather than trying to read between the lines of the corporate media sites.

What makes finding the right blogs, amongst a sea of bad ones, is that it gives you a look inside the "filter" that the news is pushed through, before it reaches you and me.

Friday, October 20, 2006

"Emotion Detection Technology" Anger Alerts



This article describes a new technology being tested at telephone-based customer service call centers to alert supervisors when a customer's anger level reaches a certain point. In short, a computer measures 200 elements of voice tone, word choice, etc., and the new article describes a "major attraction of [the] emotion-detection technology is its promised ability to help identify customer frustration." The article continues...

"The software conducts a flow analysis of each call, examining 200 elements to give a holistic picture of the customer experience. Besides emotion detection, Perform uses two other methods to analyze customer experiences with call centers. The software allows users to create lexicons of words and phrases a caller may say that could raise red flags: cancellation, frustration, or a competitor's name."

While the new technology may be promising for companies seeking a better way to identify customers who are upset, what about the technology's potential for corruption? In other words, in an age when the President willingly violates the Fourth Amendment and allows agencies to eavesdrop on purely domestic phone calls between citizens, wouldn't this new technology make Dick Cheney's dark eyes light up?

We are told that the new "Military Commissions Act,"- which allows the President to determine who is an "unlawful enemy combatant" and who is thus able to retain their ability to be tried in U.S courts, to contest their detentions via writs of habeas corpus, and their ability to retain rights to counsel, to speedy trial and to confront their accusers- will not be used to punish his political enemies. "Don't you worry your pretty little heads," we're assured. "This power will only be used against terrorists."

But try to fathom now that (1) we don't know how much eavesdropping is being conducted, and that (2) soon this new "emotion detection technology" will allow computers to search speech for phrases which may be deemed to "purposefully and materially support[] hostilities against the United States" as is criminalized under the new MCA.

The implications are terrifying for anyone who believes the Fourth Amendment should be anything but a "quaint" reminder of an earlier, pre-9/11 mindset, to paraphrase the Attorney General's assessment of the Geneva Conventions application to the GWOT.

While the implications of this new technology and our lack of knowledge about the scope of eavesdropping is truly terrifying, it is even more shocking to read this description of the "enemy at home" by the Rishwain Research Scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Disesh D'Souza.

"In this book I make a claim that will seem startling at the outset. The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11. … In faulting the cultural left, I am not making the absurd accusation that this group blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world.

I realize that this is a strong charge, one that no one has made before. But it is a neglected aspect of the 9/11 debate, and it is critical to understanding the current controversy over the ‘war against terrorism.’ … I intend to show that the left has actively fostered the intense hatred of America that has led to numerous attacks such as 9/11. If I am right, then no war against terrorism can be effectively fought using the left-wing premises that are now accepted doctrine among mainstream liberals and Democrats.”

In other words, (1) you can be made to disappear at the Decider's whim, without access to a court or a lawyer if he concludes that you "purposefully and materially support[] hostilities against the United States," (2) phone calls between citizens are being eavesdropped upon at unknown levels and the ability of search these calls for phrases is now available, and (3) many mainstream, right-wing "intellectuals" believe, as D'Souza does, that "the left [in America] has actively fostered the intense hatred of America that has led to numerous attacks."

Is it too far of a stretch to believe the MCA will be "stretched" soon to allow the those they believe "caused" 9/11 to be described as "purposefully and materially supporting hostilities" against the U.S. to be deemed "unlawful enemy combatants" and removed to those new detention facilities being constructed inside the U.S. by a Halliburton subsidiary?

I sure hope so.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Olbermann: "Beginning of the End of America"



Keith Olbermann, who moved from ESPN to MSNBC, from sports to news, is telling things like they truly are. Sadly, when someone sent him some harmless powder, with a warning that he stop his criticism of the Bush Administration, the New York Post thought it was funny. IN fact, when Olbermann asked for additional tests at the hospital to see if powder was indeed harmless soap powder, as preliminary tests indicated, the Post's Richard Johnson mockingly wrote "[w]hether they gave him a lollipop on the way out isn't known."


I was afraid he'd back off, but he hasn't. Here is a link to his latest comment on the Military Commissions Act, which Bush signed this week. A few excerpts if you don't have time to read the whole comment...


"This President now has his blank check.


He lied to get it.

He lied as he received it.

Is there any reason to even hope, he has not lied about how he intends to use it, nor who he intends to use it against?

"These military commissions will provide a fair trial," you told us yesterday, Mr. Bush. "In which the accused are presumed innocent, have access to an attorney, and can hear all the evidence against them."

'Presumed innocent,' Mr. Bush?

The very piece of paper you signed as you said that, allows for the detainees to be abused up to the point just before they sustain "serious mental and physical trauma" in the hope of getting them to incriminate themselves, and may no longer even invoke The Geneva Conventions in their own defense.

'Access to an attorney,' Mr. Bush?

Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift said on this program, Sir, and to the Supreme Court, that he was only granted access to his detainee defendant, on the promise that the detainee would plead guilty.

'Hearing all the evidence,' Mr. Bush?

The Military Commissions act specifically permits the introduction of classified evidence not made available to the defense.

Your words are lies, Sir. They are lies, that imperil us all.

"One of the terrorists believed to have planned the 9/11 attacks," …you told us yesterday… "said he hoped the attacks would be the beginning of the end of America."

That terrorist, sir, could only hope.

Not his actions, nor the actions of a ceaseless line of terrorists (real or imagined), could measure up to what you have wrought.

Habeas Corpus? Gone.

The Geneva Conventions? Optional.

The Moral Force we shined outwards to the world as an eternal beacon, and inwards at ourselves as an eternal protection? Snuffed out.

These things you have done, Mr. Bush… they would be "the beginning of the end of America.""


Sadly, since the MCA provides the president with the authority to decide who is an "enemy combatant" and precludes even habeas review for U.S. citizens classified this way, the next warning Olbermann receives could be a trip to Gitmo.


Seriously.


The MCA allows even a U.S. citizen to be classified as an "unlawful enemy combatant" if they "purposefully and materially support[] hostilities against the United States."


It's not a stretch to conclude that an administration which reads the Constitution to allow the "unitary chief executive" to disobey both U.S. law and disregard the Constitution in times of "war" would also read this act to include prosecution of people like Olbermann.


Or you. Or me.


Is it?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Federal Judge's View of "Detainee Treatment"

Here is the comment a federal bankruptcy judge wrote into NPR after hearing John Yoo's remarks on Morning Edition. (Notice, in bold, the way he refutes the conventional wisdom" expressed in the press, that American citizens still enjoy the right to habeas corpus!).

"Listening to John Yoo talk about this new legislation was chilling. I'm a federal judge, and have taught constitutional law for 16 years. The very idea of holding anyone without trial, without the right to see the evidence that was used to justify naming them an "enemy combatant," and depriving them of the ability to challenge why they are even there is so repugnant to a constitutional democracy that I am shocked that this man actually claims to be defending American values. These are the tactics of the old Soviet Union, not of a country that stands for freedom and the rule of law.
I also quibble with his contention that U.S. citizens still have the right to habeas review. I've read the law. The president can form his own tribunal, which can determine who is an "enemy combatant" (not just an alien enemy combatant), and the decision of that tribunal would not be subject to habeas review. Moreover, persons targeted by this tribunal would not even have access to the military tribunal trial created under this law.
How easy it would be for a president to use such a law to make his political enemies simply disappear. Can this be America? -- Leif Clark, San Antonio, Texas"



Keith Olberman also comments, somewhat tongue in cheek, on his Tuesday Countdown, on the "murder of habeas corpus" that occurred under the so-called Detainee Treatment Bill.

"... COUNTDOWN has learned that habeas corpus actually predates the Constitution, meaning it‘s not just pre-September 11 thinking, it‘s also July 4th thinking.
In this those days, no one could have imagined that enemy combatants might one day attack Americans on native soil. In fact, COUNTDOWN has obtained a partially redacted copy of a colonial “declaration,” indicating that back then, depriving us of trial by jury was actually considered sufficient cause to start a war of independence based on the, then fashionable idea that “liberty” was an inalienable right.
But too today, thanks to modern post-9/11 thinking, those rights are now fully alienable—for your protection
.


OLBERMANN: The reality is without habeas corpus, a lot of other rights lose their meaning. But if you look at the actual Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments of that pesky Constitution, you‘ll see just how many remain for your protection.
  • OK, No. 1 is gone. I mean, if you‘re detained without trial, you lose your freedom of religion and speech, press, assembly, all the rest of that. So, you don‘t need that any more. And you know, you can‘t petition the government for anything.
  • No. 2, While you are in prison, your right to keep and bear arms just might be infringed upon even if you‘re in the NRA, so that‘s gone.
  • Three, well OK, no forced sleepovers at your house by soldiers. Three‘s all right.
  • Four, you‘re definitely not secure against searches and seizures, as it says here, with or without probable cause. And, in prison that‘s not limited to just the guards, so forget the fourth.
  • Five, grand juries and due process, obviously out, so forget five and the little trailer up here.
  • Six, well trials are gone too, let alone the right to counsel. Speedy trials? You want it when?
  • Seven, well this is about—I thought we just covered trials and juries earlier so forget the seventh.
  • Eight, well, bail‘s kind of a moot point isn‘t it?
  • And nine, other rights retained by the people. Well, you know, if you can name them during your water boarding, we‘ll consider them.
  • Ten, powers not delegated to the United States federal government. Well, they seem to have ended up there anyway.

So as you can see, even without habeas corpus, at least one tenth of the Bill of Rights, I guess that‘s the Bill of Right, now—remains virtually intact. No. 3 is still safe.
We can rest easy knowing that we will never, ever have to quarter soldiers in our homes as long as the third amendment still stands strong.
The president can just take care of that with a signing statement."

Well stated. Let's hope it's well listened to.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

FPD's Move to Dismiss Padilla's Case due to "Outrageous Conduct"

The Federal Public Defender's Office in the Southern District of Florida, who represents Jose Padilla, has filed a motion to dismiss his criminal case because of "Outrageous Governemntal Conduct." The motion itself is not available online but I read about it at this blog, which has extensive excerpts, including:
  • "In an effort to gain Mr. Padilla’s "dependency and trust," he was tortured for nearly the entire three years and eight months of his unlawful detention. The torture took myriad forms, each designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and, ultimately, the loss of will to live. The base ingredient in Mr. Padilla’s torture was stark isolation for a substantial portion of his captivity.
  • For nearly two years – from June 9, 2002 until March 2, 2004, when the Department of Defense permitted Mr. Padilla to have contact with his lawyers – Mr. Padilla was in complete isolation.
  • Mr. Padilla’s dehumanization at the hands of his captors also took more sinister forms. Mr. Padilla was often put in stress positions for hours at a time. He would be shackled and manacled, with a belly chain, for hours in his cell. Noxious fumes would be introduced to his room causing his eyes and nose to run. The temperature of his cell would be manipulated, making his cell extremely cold for long stretches of time. Mr. Padilla was denied even the smallest, and most personal shreds of human dignity by being deprived of showering for weeks at a time, yet having to endure forced grooming at the whim of his captors.A substantial quantum of torture endured by Mr. Padilla came at the hands of his interrogators.
  • In an effort to disorient Mr. Padilla, his captors would deceive him about his location and who his interrogators actually were. Mr. Padilla was threatened with being forcibly removed from the United States to another country, including U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was threatened his fate would be even worse than in the Naval Brig. He was threatened with being cut with a knife and having alcohol poured on the wounds. He was also threatened with imminent execution. He was hooded and forced to stand in stress positions for long durations of time. He was forced to endure exceedingly long interrogation sessions, without adequate sleep, wherein he would be confronted with false information, scenarios, and documents to further disorient him.
  • Additionally, Mr. Padilla was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations.
  • For most of one thousand three hundred and seven days, Mr. Padilla was tortured by the United States government without cause or justification. Mr. Padilla’s treatment at the hands of the United States government is shocking to even the most hardened conscience, and such outrageous conduct on the part of the government divests it of jurisdiction, under the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment, to prosecute Mr. Padilla in the instant matter."
A news article with further details is here, but why isn't there more press coverage of this?

In other news, the Navy JAG who, along with Neil Kaytal, defended Osama bin Laden's driver, Hamdan, was denied a promotion and will leave the Navy. A news article is here. Big surprise, but what great legal work at great personal sacrifice. Makes me proud to be a lawyer but ashamed of what my government will do in my name. The NPR story which described the $40,000 of his own money that Kaytal spent on the Hamdan case and the way that Lt. Cmdr. Swift was described as a guaranteed loser of a case and turned it into one of the most important Supreme Court cases of our times. From the NPR story...

"Katyal [with Swift] went to Guantanamo to meet his client for the first time. Hamdan, who comes from a culture of gifts, gave the lawyer what Katyal calls "literally theonly possessions he had," a few prized sweets -- a date and some raisins.
He had just one question for the lawyer: "Why are you doing this?" As Katyal recounts the meeting, he told Hamdan: "I am doing this for you because my parents came from India to America" for one simple reason, "America doesn't treat people differently because of where they come from. We fought a civil war in part about the idea that all people are guaranteed certain rights, and chief among those is a right to a fair trial."


America may indeed try to not treat people differently because of "where they came from" but when you make the government look bad, you pay the price.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Garrison Keillor's Amazing Article



Garrison Keillor has summarized the "Detainee" Treatment Act beautifully (as pointed out by Amme). My favorite part...

"None of the men and women who voted for this bill has any right to speak in public about the rule of law anymore, or to take a high moral view of the Third Reich, or to wax poetic about the American Ideal.

Mark their names. Any institution of higher learning that grants honorary degrees to these people forfeits its honor.

Alexander, Allard, Allen, Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Burr, Carper, Chambliss, Coburn, Cochran, Coleman, Collins, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeMint, DeWine, Dole, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Frist, Graham, Grassley, Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchison, Inhofe, Isakson, Johnson, Kyl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Lott, Lugar, Martinez, McCain, McConnell, Menendez, Murkowski, Nelson of Florida, Nelson of Nebraska, Pryor, Roberts, Rockefeller, Salazar, Santorum, Sessions, Shelby, Smith, Specter, Stabenow, Stevens, Sununu, Talent, Thomas, Thune, Vitter, Voinovich, Warner.

To paraphrase Sir Walter Scott:
Mark their names and mark them well.
For them, no minstrel raptures swell.
High though their titles, proud their name,
boundless their wealth as wish can claim,
these wretched figures shall go down to the vile dust from whence they sprung,
unwept, unhonored and unsung."

He then goes on to describe going to the Bush's Methodist Church in Dallas, on tour to promote his book "Homegrown Democrat"...

"I got some insight last week into who supports torture when I went down to Dallas to speak at Highland Park Methodist Church. It was spooky. I walked in, was met by two burly security men with walkie-talkies, and within 10 minutes was told by three people that this was the Bushes' church and that it would be better if I didn't talk about politics. I was there on a book tour for "Homegrown Democrat," but they thought it better if I didn't mention it. So I tried to make light of it: I told the audience, "I don't need to talk politics. I have no need even to be interested in politics--I'm a citizen, I have plenty of money and my grandsons are at least 12 years away from being eligible for military service."

And the audience applauded!

Those were their sentiments exactly. We've got ours, and who cares?The Methodists of Dallas can be fairly sure that none of them will be snatched off the streets, flown to Guantanamo Bay, stripped naked, forced to stand for 48 hours in a freezing room with deafening noise. So why should they worry? It's only the Jews who are in danger, and the homosexuals and gypsies. The Christians are doing fine. If you can't trust a Methodist with absolute power to arrest people and not have to say why, then whom can you trust?"

The man can write.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hold Your Tongue Around Cheney or "Feel the Steel"



From a New York Times article describing what happened to Steven Howards, a Golden, CO environmental consultant who happened to see Dick Cheney on a public street while Howards was walking his 8-year old son to a piano lesson. According to the article, Howards said to Cheney, "I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible."

"A Colorado man who was arrested in June on harassment charges after he approached Vice President Dick Cheney to denounce the war in Iraq filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday accusing a Secret Service agent of civil rights violations.
"In his suit, filed in Federal District Court in Denver, the man, Steven Howards, an environmental consultant who lives in Golden, Colo., says he stepped up to the vice president to speak his mind in a public place and found himself in handcuffs -- in violation, the suit says, of the Constitution's language about free speech and illegal search and seizure. . . .
"The suit joins two others -- in West Virginia and another in Denver -- charging that Secret Service agents or White House staff members violated the law in keeping people with opposing political views away from President Bush or Mr. Cheney....

[After talking to Cheney] Mr. Howards said he then went on his way. About 10 minutes later, he said, he was walking back through the area when Agent Reichle handcuffed him and said he would be charged with assaulting the vice president. Local police officers, acting on information from the Secret Service, according to the suit, ultimately filed misdemeanor harassment charges that could have resulted in up to a year in jail."

The criminal complaint was later dropped by D.A. Mark Hurlbert (of Kobe Bryant fame) but imagine Mr. Howards' reaction when, according to the Denver Post, the secret service agent...

" came out of the shadows,' Howards said. 'He didn't accuse me but asked me if I had assaulted Cheney. I said no, he grabbed me and handcuffed me behind my back in front of my son. As he led me away, I told him I can't abandon my son. He said he'd call social services.'"

Imagine Howards' horrified reaction, but imagine also the reaction of an 8-year old boy, on the way to his piano lesson, to see a federal agent "come out of the shadows" arrest your dad, and then "call social services" to make sure you were properly taken care of.

This hits home with me since just last year I had to explain to my own 9-year old daughter that I was late picking her up because I'd been arrested. I was only held about ten minutes, and the officers treated me very well, even apologetically, but my crime was refusing to shut my mouth when a judge told me that if I opened my mouth and said one more word to interfere with her speaking directly to my client, in court, pre-arraignment, that she'd bring in the sheriffs.

The worst part was explaining this to my daughter. I thought she was too young to understand that it wasn't only bad people who were arrested. Fortunately for me, she understood and we both learned a lesson.

I can post a transcript of the hearing if anyone's interested. But the lesson of that episode and of Mr. Howards' encounter with Cheney is that we are all about ten seconds away from "feeling the steel" of handcuffs, even when we are just doing our jobs or exercising our First Amendment rights.

In Dick Cheney's America, you shut up and don't talk back or you feel the steel.

But, if you do shut up and don't oppose this mentality, you'll likely feel it eventually anyway, won't you?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

O'Reilly Forgets Foley's a Republican

With so many facts emerging in the Mark Foley fiasco, apparently Bill O'Reilly "accidentally" forgot exactly which party Foley hailed from. According to Bradblog...

Just amazing. Fox's O'Reilly Factor just covered the Mark Foley (R-FL) issue in two different segments, one of them with a page who says he received communications from Foley, and another with Ann Coulter.
Never mind the content of either segment for now. Incredibly, during a total of three different cutaways to video footage of Foley, he was labelled at the bottom of the screen eachtime as "(D-FL)" !
Three different times. In two different segements. Each cutaway about 15 seconds or more. Showing Foley as a DEMOCRAT. Amazing.



Here's a comment I left at David Feige's blog, where I found the screenshot.

O'Reilly has been calling himself a "warrior" lately, referring to his belief that he's battling a cultural war against "secular humanists." It looks like anything goes in this war of his, including misleading your viewers with false propaganda. It's shocking but it also tells us what we're up against. These people feel their power draining away and it looks like they'll sacrifice principles like the writ of habeas corpus, which originated in the Magna Carta, as well as anything resembling the truth, as you point out. I shouldn't be surprised but I truly didn't think he would sink this low. We shouldn't misunderestimate how low they'll sink, as this screen shot shows.

Unbelievable.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ashcroft Quit Flying Commercial in July '01 because of the "threat assessment"

From a CBS News article dated 7-26-01, we hear that Atty. Gen. Ashcroft

Fishing rod in hand, Attorney General John Ashcroft left on a weekend trip to Missouri Thursday afternoon aboard a chartered government jet...

In response to inquiries from CBS News over why Ashcroft was traveling exclusively by leased jet aircraft instead of commercial airlines, the Justice Department cited what it called a "threat assessment" by the FBI, and said Ashcroft has been advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term.

"There was a threat assessment and there are guidelines. He is acting under the guidelines," an FBI spokesman said. Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department, however, would identify what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it. A senior official at the CIA said he was unaware of specific threats against any Cabinet member, and Ashcroft himself, in a speech in California, seemed unsure of the nature of the threat. "I don't do threat assessments myself and I rely on those whose responsibility it is in the law enforcement community, particularly the FBI. And I try to stay within the guidelines that they've suggested I should stay within for those purposes," Ashcroft said.

Asked if he knew anything about the threat or who might have made it, the attorney general replied, "Frankly, I don't. That's the answer." Earlier this week, the Justice Department leased a NASA-owned G-3 Gulfstream for a 6-day trip to Western states. Such aircraft cost the government more than $1,600 an hour to fly. When asked whether Ashcroft was paying for any portion of the trips devoted to personal business, a Justice Department spokeswoman declined to respond. ...

The Justice Department insists that it wasn't Ashcroft who wanted to fly leased aircraft. That idea, they said, came strictly from Ashcroft's FBI security detail. The FBI had no further comment.

By itself, perhaps this is explainable, but what happens when you put it beside this story, things suddenly get a little more conspiratorial, don't they?

"A new book by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post alleges that Rice failed to take the July 2001 warning seriously when it was delivered at a White House meeting by Tenet, Cofer Black, then the agency's chief of top counterterrorism, and a third CIA official whose identity remains rotected... Woodward wrote that Tenet and Black considered the briefing the "starkest warning they had given the White House" on the threat posed by Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. But, he wrote, the pair felt as if Rice gave them "the brush-off."
Ashcroft, who resigned as attorney general on Nov. 9, 2004, told the Associated Press on Monday that it was "disappointing" that he never received the briefing, either.
... Monday evening, Rice's spokesman Sean McCormack issued a statement confirming that she'd received the CIA briefing "on or around July 10" and had asked that it be given to Ashcroft and Rumsfeld.
"The information presented in this meeting was not new, rather it was a good summary from the threat reporting from the previous several weeks," McCormack said. "After this meeting, Dr. Rice asked that this same information be briefed to Secretary Rumsfeld and Attorney General Ashcroft. That briefing took place by July 17."
David Ayres, who was Ashcroft's chief of staff at the Justice Department, said... that Ashcroft could recall only a July 5 briefing on threats to U.S. interests abroad.
He said Ashcroft doesn't remember any briefing that summer that indicated that al-Qaida was planning to attack within the United States.
The CIA briefing didn't provide the exact timing or nature of a possible attack, nor did it predict whether it was likely to take place in the United States or overseas, said three former senior intelligence officials...

In the briefing, Tenet warned in very strong terms that intelligence from a variety of sources indicated that bin Laden's terrorist network was planning an attack on a U.S. target in the near future, said one of the officials.
"The briefing was intended to `connect the dots' contained in other intelligence reports and paint a very clear picture of the threat posed by bin Laden," said the official, who described the tone of the report as "scary."...

Nor is it clear why the 9/11 commission never reported the briefing, which the intelligence officials said Tenet outlined to commission members Ben-Veniste and Zelikow in secret testimony at CIA headquarters. The State Department confirmed that the briefing materials were "made available to the 9/11 Commission, and Director Tenet was asked about this meeting when interviewed by the 9/11 Commission."
The three former senior intelligence officials, however, said Tenet raised the matter with the panel himself, displayed slides from the PowerPoint presentation and offered to testify on the matter in public.
Ben-Veniste confirmed to McClatchy Newspapers that Tenet outlined for the 9/11 commission the July 10 briefing to Rice in secret testimony in January 2004. He referred questions about why the commission omitted any mention of the briefing in its report to Zelikow, the report's main author... Zelikow didn't respond to e-mail and telephone queries from McClatchy Newspapers."


Of course, it's nice to know that Zelikow and Rice wrote a book together in 1996, and that this meeting wasn't detailed in the final draft of the 9-11 commission report.

Also brings to mind an eerie program called Operation Northwoods.