U.S. Cites Terror Exception

Like nuclear weapons, torture is fine for us to do it and fine for Israel to hide it while being a strong supporter of the policies, but not for Iran or North Korea or Syria. Uh huh.

From WaPo:

Bush administration lawyers, fighting a claim of torture by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, yesterday argued that the new law that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody does not apply to people held at the military prison.
In federal court yesterday and in legal filings, Justice Department lawyers contended that a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot use legislation drafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to challenge treatment that the detainee's lawyers described as "systematic torture."

Government lawyers have argued that another portion of that same law, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, removes general access to U.S. courts for all Guantanamo Bay captives. Therefore, they said, Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni national held since May 2002, cannot claim protection under the anti-torture provisions.

Bawazir's attorneys contend that "extremely painful" new tactics used by the government to force-feed him and end his hunger strike amount to torture.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said in a hearing yesterday that she found allegations of aggressive U.S. military tactics used to break the detainee hunger strike "extremely disturbing" and possibly against U.S. and international law. But Justice Department lawyers argued that even if the tactics were considered in violation of McCain's language, detainees at Guantanamo would have no recourse to challenge them in court.

Charles "McCarthy" Krauthammer: Anti-Americanism

I see Charlie the Tuna is resorting to McCarthy tactics by denouncing the creators of the film, "Syriana" as anti-American. Nothing says American patriot better, after all, than a spent psychiatrist profiting from war and fear while spinning nothing but lies.

No Shit, Sherlock: Senate Says No to Lobbyist Reforms

No way are the good whores men of Washington going to do without all the fancy meals, lavish trips, and other niceties supplied to them by the very interests which go against the needs and desires of the populace.


Bush's Afghanistan Isn't Doing Well Either

And this, from WaPo and Walter Pincus, is just the tip of the iceberg since Afghanistan actually got much worse after Bushies invaded:

Appearing with Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte, Maples said attacks within Afghanistan were up 20 percent between 2004 and 2005, suicide bombings increased "almost fourfold" and use of makeshift bombs, similar to those used in Iraq, had "more than doubled."

The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency told Congress yesterday that the insurgency in Afghanistan is growing and will increase this spring, presenting a greater threat to the central government's expansion of authority "than at any point since late 2001."

"Despite significant progress on the political front, the Taliban-dominated insurgency remains a capable and resilient threat," Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples said in a statement presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee at its annual hearing on national security threats.


Elsewhere, in the Mardi Gras Known as Bush-Occupied Iraq...

More than one in three soldiers and Marines who have served in Iraq have sought help for mental health problems, Army experts say.


Explusion of Shiites from Sunni-dominated towns is on the rise amid rampant sectarian violence. They are being told to leave or die.

More Rumors About VP Duck! It's Dick! Cheney's Imminent Departure

From The Carpetbagger Report (and like them, I don't think Cheney's going anywhere - I do suspect they have balls enough to try to fly him - and his 18% approval rating - as Prez in 2008):

As part of my ongoing fascination with the oddly anti-Bush articles appearing in Insight magazine, an off-shoot of Sun Myung Moon's far-right Washington Times, the latest issue suggests that we won't have Dick Cheney to kick around much longer.
    Senior GOP sources envision the retirement of Mr. Cheney in 2007, months after the congressional elections. The sources said Mr. Cheney would be persuaded to step down as he becomes an increasing political liability to President Bush.

    The sources reported a growing rift between the president and vice president as well as their staffs. They cited Mr. Cheney's failure to immediately tell the president of the accidental shooting of the vice president's hunting colleague earlier this month. The White House didn't learn of the incident until 18 hours later. […]

    "Nothing will happen until after the congressional elections," a GOP source said. "After that, there will be significant changes in the administration and Cheney will probably be part of that."
The opportunities for baseless speculation abound. Indeed, the article dovetails nicely with the Peggy Noonan-inspired boomlet about Cheney's pending departure from a couple of weeks ago. (For the record, I still don't believe Cheney is going anywhere. Bush is loathe to admit mistakes — and this would be a gigantic admission.)

In the "Finally, Someone Else Questions the Whole Iraq Mosque Debacle Story" Department

Finally. I've been biting my tongue but there is something that really stinks about the story of Al Qaeda blowing up the great Mosque last week. This seemed FAR more like an operation somebody (like us) might perpetrate than one al Qaeda would pull.

Now I see James Wolcott smells something as well:

Here's what I don't get about the Golden Dome mosque bombing. That, once overtaken, the guards were tied up.

That eats up the clock when you're in a hurry and it spares lives, not exactly the M.O. of Al Qaeda, which tends to be more throat-cuttingly swift and savage. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are also not shy about claiming bragging rights for their crimes and atrocities, yet no one so far has taken awful credit for this desecration. Most odd, and no wonder the timing and execution of this event has given rise to dark speculation.

Each oil drop of dark speculation deepens the pool of paranoia that has become the mirror of our post 9/11 lives, which brings us to a certain movie that's about to be released that makes the sign of the V. And on that cryptic note...

The Times Sues Bushies for Documents Related to NSA Wiretaps

Good for them. It still doesn't forgive them their disastrous issues like the Select subscription wall and paying John Tierney and David Brooks and Tom Friedman money for their crap but it's a start in the right direction.

Bush Aides With Financial Ties to UAE/Dubai U.S. Ports Deal

What a surprise (NOT)!

From the NY Daily News (of all places):

The Dubai firm that won Bush administration backing to run six U.S. ports has at least two ties to the White House.

One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose agency heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port.

Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush's cabinet.

The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.

The ties raised more concerns about the decision to give port control to a company owned by a nation linked to the 9/11 hijackers.

"The more you look at this deal, the more the deal is called into question," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said the deal was rubber-stamped in advance - even before DP World formally agreed to buy London's P&O port company.
Boy, the Bushies all have hands in every cookie jar. I suspect that Bush himself, at least through family ties, stands to prosper from this deal as will VP Duck! It's Dick! Cheney.

Monitor Group Sues for White House Logs to Show How Often Lobbyist Abramoff Visited the Bushies

Of course, the Bushies don't know Jack Abramoff, never heard of Jack Abramoff, and didn't even notice his name on all the big checks they cashed.

From the wires:

A public-interest group has sued the Secret Service for access to White House visitor logs that the group says would show how often lobbyist Jack Abramoff met with President Bush and his staff.

Judicial Watch filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington under the federal Freedom of Information Act, claiming that the Secret Service failed to meet a Feb. 21 deadline for releasing the records or indicating how much more time it would need.

[snippy snippy snip]

The White House has refused to say how many times Abramoff, who raised $100,000 for Bush's re-election, has been to see the president or his aides. Bush's spokesman has said Abramoff was admitted to the White House complex for "a few staff-level meetings" and Hanukkah receptions in 2001 and 2002.

The president has said he does not know Abramoff personally.

The White House logs would answer a basic question about the extent of Abramoff's ties to the White House, Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said. The records "may show 30 visits by Jack Abramoff to the White House, or they may show three visits."
Uh huh.

Universal Agreement: Terror Threat Increased After Bush and Blair's Excellent Iraq Adventure

Why the fuck wouldn't the terror threat be MUCH higher is a better question for the Coulters, Limbaughs, and Michelle Malkins of the world.

From the wires:

Most people in 33 out of 35 countries worldwide believe that the US-led war in Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism, a survey for BBC World Service radio suggested.

An average of 60 percent in the 33 nations agreed that the March 2003 invasion had increased the likelihood of terrorist attacks, with just 12 percent believing the opposite. A further 15 percent thought it had no effect.

The survey of 41,856 people by Canadian pollsters GlobeScan and the US Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) also claimed there was overall support in 20 countries for US forces to withdraw in the next few months.

Bush Wears His Cute Bike Uniform to Church?

Rush & Molloy: Some pool correspondents believe Bush
wears his bike uniform under his suit when he goes to church; there is a mysterious “bulkiness.” [NYDN]
Hey, we know it's not balls nor brain.

Karl Rove Certainly Is An Authority on Nasty and Vicious

So we defer to his expertise, as detailed by Wonkette:

Karl Rove on blogs:
    "There is so much ugliness and viciousness and fundamental untruths that the blogosphere transmits. It also is a vehicle for ugly rumors, for scurrilous personal attacks, an avenue for the creation of urban legends which are deeply corrosive of the political system and of people’s faith in it."
Well, gee, I guess the fat, 7-chinned lady has now sung.

Talking Points Memo: IRS Is Being Used to Pursue Vendettas

Well, it's not exactly the first time this has happened. Since I got outspoken, I've had the tax men pouring over every paper clip I deduct and charging me penalties for things they never, ever, ever explain.

But here's the scoop from Josh:

The Washington Post ran a story yesterday suggesting that the IRS bowed to political pressure by investigating a Texas public interest group that crossed swords with Tom DeLay. The investigation came at the request of DeLay's crony, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), who himself was put up to making the request by a lawyer tied to DeLay's fundraising schemes.

But we think there's more to the story. In fact, there are indications that established rules to prevent political abuse of the IRS may not have been followed.

According to IRS rules, a request like Johnson's must be reviewed by a three-member panel set up to ensure that investigations are conducted for fair, nonpartisan purposes. But there doesn't appear to be any evidence that such a review ever took place.

Under the rules, the committee must keep a record of each of its decisions. As the Post reported yesterday, Texans for Public Justice Director Craig L. McDonald asked for all documents relating to his group’s case. McDonald shared those documents with us -- and they contain no record the IRS committee had reviewed Johnson’s letter or referred it for investigation.

Yet Again, President George Bush Shows His Appreciation to the "Heroes in Uniform": Veteran Health Care Cuts to Pay for His Tax Cuts to Billionaires

What a guy! It's really quite amazing that even just 34% of Americans don't want to kick his ass off the planet.

From the wires:

At least tens of thousands of veterans with non-critical medical issues could suffer delayed or even denied care in coming years to enable President Bush to meet his promise of cutting the deficit in half — if the White House is serious about its proposed budget.

After an increase for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing by leaps and bounds, White House budget documents assume a cutback in 2008 and further cuts thereafter.

In fact, the proposed cuts are so draconian that it seems to some that the White House is simply making them up to make its long-term deficit figures look better. More realistic numbers, however, would raise doubts as to whether Bush can keep his promise to wrestle the deficit under control by the time he leaves office.
Only in Bush's world would the only sacrifices come from the poor, like those who served risking life and limb at less than minimum wage in fictitious wars Bush won't contribute his own kids to fight.

Enabling is what people have been doing for Bush his entire, privileged life. It's time we say NO to Georgie Porgie.

Time to Impeach? Today and Tomorrow Are Action Days

From ImpeachBush.org:

Join the People's Impeachment Lobby taking place today and tomorrow, February 28 - March 1 and demand that the representative from your district support H.Res.635 calling for a Congressional inquiry to investigate the grounds for impeachment.

There are now 27 members of the House of Representatives, including John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee who are supporting a bill, H. Res 635, calling for "a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before Congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment." Tell your representative today that you want him or her to co-sponsor this important measure.

1) Click here, or go to ImpeachBush.org, where we have set up another easy-to-use mechanism so that impeachment campaign members and supporters can quickly send a message directly to your representative insisting they support H.Res.635. We have a sample message that you can use and customize before you send it.

2) Tell your friends and family and urge them to also send a message to Congress. You can forward this e-mail simply by clicking the email-this-page button above. After you have sent a message you will also be given a link that lets you send a message to your friends and family encouraging them to participate in the People's Impeachment Lobby.

3) Donate to help the impeachment campaign and to place the next major impeachment newspaper ad by clicking here. The full-page New York Times ad brought tens of thousands of new people into the impeachment movement and brought the crimes of this administration into public view in no uncertain terms. We want to place the next full page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle within the next ten days -- prior to the March 18 mass anti-war demonstration in San Francisco that will include a large impeachment contingent. Let's keep the pressure going and spread the word. Click here to help place this ad.

Apropos of Very Little: Salmon Portland Chase

I happened to find this Wikipedia entry for my ancestor, Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon Portland Chase today. That I am named Kate as was his daughter is not family destiny but pure accident although we do seem to share a certain impudence of facial expression.

In the "Sins of the Father" Department

Reading the book "Joseph McCarthy and the Press" last night (good so far - very insightful), I kept coming across the name Van Susteren from Wisconsin.

Now, Van Susteren is not a common name, even in immigrant sections of Wisconsin, and it made me think about one-time Faux News darling Greta, who got a face lift to join their vapid crew.

Sure enough, Greta is the daughter of Joe McCarthy's campaign manager and staunchest defender, short of Roy Cohn whom I had the displeasure to meet before he died, Judge Urban Van Susteren. In fact, Joseph McCarthy was best man at the wedding of Greta's mom and dad. Urban had an interesting slant: a wealthy industrialist who was ALSO a judge. Hmmm. Not a combination everyone would be comfortable with - certainly not me.

Here's a snippet from online about Greta, the Scientologist, and her dad.

Holy Shiite, Batman: Death Toll in Iraq Much Higher for Past Few Days Than Reported

Try more than 1,300 in just a few days. And then consider that this is probably just some since it takes ages to determine how many died in anything (note Katrina) and how hard the Bushies work to hide numbers they don't like.

From WaPo:

Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside of major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad's main morgue. The toll was more than three times higher than the figure previously reported by the U.S. military and the news media.

Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday -- blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound -- and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Good Night and Good Luck, Redux

I'm going to bed with "Joe McCarthy and the American Press" by Edwin R. Bayley, a relatively old book now that I've been meaning to read for years. It was in my bookcase when I bought the house and on the night I've decided to sell it (the house, not the book), it seems like high time.

I'll let you know how it is.

In The "Gee, This Isn't Torture" Department

Posted at Crooks and Liars (and sheesh to the max):

Knight Ridder reports (via Kevin Drum) that:
    Military interrogators posing as FBI agents at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, wrapped terrorism suspects in an Israeli flag and forced them to watch homosexual pornography under strobe lights during interrogation sessions that lasted as long as 18 hours, according to one of a batch of FBI memos released Thursday.
ReddHedd goes on to give us more information, but this is sickening.

As Larry Johnson notes, what movies are these guys watching? He thinks "Man on Fire."


Andrew Young - When He Sells Out, He Sells Out BIG

Attaturk at Rising Hegemon points out - quite sadly - that Andrew Young, former Carter Admin man and (I believe) the second black mayor of mostly black Atlanta, has not only defended Bush's fool performance at Coretta Scott King's funeral, Young is ALSO outfront as a defender of Wal-Mart against its critics.

When the mighty fall, they fall very hard, very loud, and all too often, in the direction of the closest large checkbook. Sigh!

Andy? Karma's going to get you.

Just look at me. I'm convinced I must have been Evita Peron in one life and Eva Braun in another to deserve my current run of luck.

Karma: Die Now, Pay Later

Jill Carroll

Definitely one to put in the aw shit category:

The U.S. Ambassador to Iraq says he has it on good intelligence Jill Carroll is still alive and OK.

Remember all the "good intelligence" we got cooked up by the White House test lie kitchens? Things like:

  • Saddam was about to launch missiles at the West Coast which could strike us in just 45 minutes?
  • Saddam had a huge nuclear program?
  • Saddam had WMD everywhere?
  • Iraq would fucking pay for itself? Would be a cakewalk? Our soldiers would have flowers - rather than road bombs - tossed at their feet? We'd be in and out of there in 3-6 months?
IOW, hearing the US Ambassador toady to Bushies say Christian Science Monitor journalist Jill Carroll, now captured many weeks ago, is still alive is tantamount to ... well... it's ain't good, boys and girls.

Our National Symbol: Let's Forego the Eagle In Favor of the Owl

You know, when men like Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Tom Jefferson were helping found this country, an eagle seemed like a really appropriate national symbol which is probably why the eagle beat out the turkey for that honor.

Think eagle, and you think wide wing span, fierce, cranky, independent, and assuredly aggressive when needed. That's to some degree who we needed to be to survive.

But perhaps the time of the eagle has long since passed. Oh, not that we aren't still cranky, aggressive, and eager to flex our wings right in somebody else's face - just look at our little bantamweight rooster of a president and he does it daily (and twice on Sunday when he naps instead of attends prayer).

I ask with no mock seriousness: why not replace the eagle with the owl?

Yes, the owl has in some mythologies been seen as a purveyor or overseer of death and destruction (but then, so has the U.S.). Yet the owl is also rooted in a concept of wisdom, of smarts that come from watching, and - er, yeah - of being able to swoop down and murder a kitten in record time. You know, sorta like the United States.

But my thought behind the owl as a new national symbol is that:

  1. it's harder to take with the same two-dimensional egotestical (a word I coined for my first male editor who stood towering over me as he raged, "If you don't register as a Republican, you aren't worth anything! It's like kissing your vote goodbye!") fervor that some like Ollie North pray to the eagle
  2. it would symbolize the American citizen's need and RESPONSIBILITY to watch over the action of its leaders and both the treatment of and treatment by its soldiers
  3. it stands more for smarts than for brawn and after six years of Psycho Cowboy from Crawford, we can all stand a bit more intelligence - even
    most of Texas
  4. the owl looks less like Donald Rumsfeld

What say ye?

And no, stop looking at me askance. I haven't consumed alcohol in like years.

GOP Governors Worried About Bush

Like the rest of us aren't?

From the Conservative Nut Network (CNN):

Republican governors are openly worrying that the Bush administration's latest stumbles -- from the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina to those of its own making on prescription drugs and ports security -- are taking an election-year toll on the party back home.

The GOP governors reluctantly acknowledge that the series of gaffes threatens to undermine public confidence in President Bush's ability to provide security, which has long been his greatest strength among voters.

"You've got solid conservatives coming up speaking like they haven't before, it's likely that something's going on at the grass roots," said Republican Mark Sanford of South Carolina. "Whether it's temporary or not remains to be seen."

The unease was clear in interviews with more than a dozen governors over the weekend, including nearly half of the Republicans attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association. The annual conference was taking place in a capital enthralled by the political firestorm over government plans to approve takeover of operations at some terminals at six U.S. ports by a company owned by the United Arab Emirates government.

Apparently Not Everyone Forgot About Bush's Spying OR the Probable Cause Clause in the Fourth Amendment

CNN is asking:

Should a special counsel be appointed to investigate the legality of the Bush administration's eavesdropping program?

Right now, 71% of nearly 130K respondents say YES.

Go vote.

That's go vote, not how to vote. :) Not being a Republican, I don't feel obligated to tell you what to do and, perhaps not being a Republican yourself, you aren't waiting to see what Karl Rove tells you to say. ;)

Bush Administration: Corporate Interests Always Prevail Over National Security

David Sirota is on this like a cheap suit on the 80s Ralph Nader:

A little-noticed Wall Street Journal story confirms what I've written about the UAE port scandal: that it has everything to do with Big Money's efforts to prioritize the free trade agenda over national security concerns. And now, the second Bush administration security official is admitting as much.

Here is the excerpt from the print edition (some of the excerpt is only in print and not online):
    "Behind the scenes, business lobbyists are pushing for a compromise to resolve the Duvai deal without reopening the legislation that governs foreign takeovers at a moment when the issue is so hot politically...

    A number of lawmakers, among them Senate Banking Chairman Richard Shelby (R., Ala.), have called for the committee [that approves such deals] to operate with more transparency, and some have urged that the law be changed to allow Congress to override any deal.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business interests, backed by the administration, oppose such changes, arguing they could harm the climate for foreign investment in the U.S. and disrupt U.S. companies' ability to invest overseas."
Luckily, Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has already released details of legislation that he is going to be introducing that would force national security concerns to take precedent in trade and commerce negotiations. Incredibly, though, even the Bush administration's top national secuirty officials are toeing the corporate line. Here's White House National Secuirty Adviser Stephen Hadley quoted in the Wall Street Journal piece:
    "What the Congress and the companies are able to work out, we'll support and cooperate with so long as it does not involve a summary decision by the Congress that blocks this transaction."
This is the second Bush security official to publicly prioritize the corporate agenda over national security (the first one being Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff). And their message is disgusting:

The supposedly "tough on terrorism" White House will only support Congressional national security legislation as long as it doesn't mess with the administration's corporate agenda.
Emphasis mine after I tossed my cookies listening to Hadley on "Face the Nation" yesterday morning. And no, this is not a euphemism, except I had a slice of toast rather than cookies for breakfast.


Iraq in Civil War

CBS News tonight says that if it's not already in outright civil war, it is hard on the brink.

Seven soldiers killed just on Wednesday and more than 200 Iraqis since.

What does Bush do? He calls for an end to violence.

Too bad the president doesn't take his own advice.

Good Night and Good Luck, Jill Carroll

Another deadline passed tonight and nothing has been heard from Christian Science reporter Jill Carroll in more than two weeks. Considering the violence in Iraq, I wonder if she is alive. I hope so. But I don't know for how much longer.