Saturday, June 11, 2005

Bush's War the Fix was in

via Josh Marshall, The Times

MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.

The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.

The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.

Regardless of how anyone feels about the war in Iraq or the after-the-fact justification of "liberating" the Iraqi people it has to disturb anyone that cares about morality and the USA's moral standing in the world that we were lied into a quigmire. That the mostly, though not exclusively conservative adventures in the middle-east are a large part of what has led to so much lost life and billions down a rabbit hole.

Wing-Nut watch, who is James Sensenbrenner?

Well he's the newest Republican poster child. While Tom Delay has grabbed the top spot for congressional corruption, Sensenbrenner is the current champ for rapid power mongering and mental instability.
Via The Huffington Post:
Could he top this? Yes, indeed, just yesterday. Under the committee rules, Democrats can demand a hearing on any subject. They asked for one on the Patriot Act-- after a series of hearings tilted outrageously toward supporters of the Act as it is. Sensenbrenner grudgingly went along-- then scheduled the hearing for 8:30 am on Friday, warning Democrats that if they were not there promptly on time, the hearing would be cancelled. The ungodly hour was obviously chosen to minimize the attention given to the hearing. But when the witnesses began to bash the Patriot Act, and Republicans on the committee got angry-- one excoriated a representative from Amnesty International, and Sensenbrenner gaveled him down without allowing a response-- Sensenbrenner decided he had had enough. He gavelled the hearing adjourned in the middle of it, ordered the microphones turned off, and stalked out, creating a cause celebre the early hour had been intended to prevent.

and Think Progress has more
This is the same Sensenbrenner who wants to give Congress the authority to ‘police the behavior’ of judges, a full-fledged assault on the separation-of-powers doctrine.

Jimmy boy seems to have a problem with both self control and the democratic processes of civil government.

Friday, June 10, 2005

A former sergeant describes sex techniques used on detainees

Well, you know that the wing-nut sheep like Bill O'Reilly and Toby Keith are into this sought of thing, that's part of the reason they're not only not bothered by it, but titillated by it. The combination of physical pain and sexual humiliation is like catnip, they can't resist it.
So what happened in the interrogation room?
It was her and me and the detainee in a small room about 15 feet across. He’s in a “three-piece suit.” People have said I’m soft or naïve. [FOX News Channel host] Bill O’Reilly said, “These people would want to kill you and your wife in a heartbeat.” But it wasn’t like I was feeling sorry for the guy. To be honest, the overwhelming emotion was anger. Like, “Screw this guy.” She asked, “Are you going to comply tonight?” Then she started to take off her outer top. She had a tight T-shirt on, and she touched her chest and tried to arouse him and then rubbed her chest on his back. I don’t want to create the impression I was sitting there, saying, “This is awful, awful, awful.” I was curious. I was wondering, “Is this going to work? Is he going to say, ‘No, stop rubbing your chest on me, and I’ll start talking to you.’” It was surreal, actually. Then she took red ink from a dry-erase marker and pretended it was menstrual blood and smeared it on his face. He shot out of his chair, screaming. One of his ankle chains came off. It was as though he had been burned -- or scalded.

So when BushCo says it respects Islam, when BushCo says they're christians, when BushCo says they're doing their best to fight terrorism and spread democracy, we all know that's just double-speak. They are doing a great job on one thing, recruiting the next generation of terrorists.
I have no use for rigid dogmas of any kind, Islam, Jewish, Christian or otherwise, but if we are all to get along in this world it benefits me and my country to have respect these the people that hold certain personal beliefs. When people like Osama Bin Laden or Pat Robertson make religion more about power then the spirit, then that's where most people should let their beliefs be informed by tolerance and rationalism. Just say no to torture and dogma.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Backing up the Downing Street memo

Via Think Progress
Memo leak discloses civil war concerns
By David Rennie in Washington
(Filed: 17/09/2004)
The White House was thrown on the defensive yesterday by the leaking of a top secret, deeply pessimistic intelligence assessment of Iraq's prospects.


The paper flatly contradicted the repeated insistence by President George W Bush and senior aides that "progress" is being made in Iraq and that conditions there are far better than the media reports.

Several officials told the New York Times that the latest national intelligence assessment on Iraq - an authoritative, 50-page survey of current thinking, commissioned and approved by the CIA's director - offered three scenarios for the next year in Iraq, all of them bleak.

and this
Leaked documents show a gulf between public statements on Iraq and private talks with the White House. Francis Elliott reports
19 September 2004
The Prime Minister was also told by an adviser he would have to "wrongfoot" Saddam Hussein into providing an excuse to go to war, and that Mr Bush had no answer to the question of "what happens the morning after".

An extraordinary cache of leaked documents this weekend forced Mr Blair to deny that the planning for post-invasion Iraq had been inadequate. Amid a deteriorating security situation in the country, Mr Blair blamed terrorists for trying to stop the creation of a stable and democratic Iraq. But the leak also lays bare the gulf between what Mr Blair and his aides said in public about Iraq and their private discussions with the White House.

When do the impeachment hearings begin?

Are we living in a sideways economy

WSJ.com - As Rich-Poor Gap Widens in the U.S., Class Mobility Stalls: The notion that the U.S is a special place where any child can grow up to be president, a meritocracy where smarts and ambition matter more than parenthood and class, dates to Benjamin Franklin. The 15th child of a candle-and-soap maker, Franklin started out as a penniless printer's apprentice and rose to wealth so great that he retired to a life of politics and diplomacy at age 42. The promise that a child born in poverty isn't trapped there remains a staple of America's self-portrait....

But the reality of mobility in America is more complicated... the gap between rich and poor has widened... the odds that a child born in poverty will climb to wealth -- or a rich child will fall into the middle class -- remain stuck.... Americans are no more or less likely to rise above, or fall below, their parents' economic class than they were 35 years ago. Although Americans still think of their land as a place of exceptional opportunity... the evidence suggests otherwise....

The moral of this modern fable and modern economy, is that its hard to move uptown, but once you do, you and your offspring have a tremendous advantage in the rat race.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Bush lost, now, how does he and his apologists shift blame

Good Intentions Gone Bad by Rod Nordland
Living and working in Iraq, it's hard not to succumb to despair. At last count America has pumped at least $7 billion into reconstruction projects, with little to show for it but the hostility of ordinary Iraqis, who still have an 18 percent unemployment rate. Most of the cash goes to U.S. contractors who spend much of it on personal security. Basic services like electricity, water and sewers still aren't up to prewar levels. Electricity is especially vital in a country where summer temperatures commonly reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet only 15 percent of Iraqis have reliable electrical service. In the capital, where it counts most, it's only 4 percent.

The most powerful army in human history can't even protect a two-mile stretch of road. The Airport Highway connects both the international airport and Baghdad's main American military base, Camp Victory, to the city center. At night U.S. troops secure the road for the use of dignitaries; they close it to traffic and shoot at any unauthorized vehicles. More troops and more helicopters could help make the whole country safer. Instead the Pentagon has been drawing down the number of helicopters. And America never deployed nearly enough soldiers. They couldn't stop the orgy of looting that followed Saddam's fall. Now their primary mission is self-defense at any cost—which only deepens Iraqis' resentment.

The four-square-mile Green Zone, the one place in Baghdad where foreigners are reasonably safe, could be a showcase of American values and abilities. Instead the American enclave is a trash-strewn wasteland of Mad Max-style fortifications.

I agree with this with qualifiers , " ridding the world of Saddam would surely be for the best, and America's good intentions would carry the day." The qualifiers were that OK, its a lie based on the adminstration trying to morph Saddam into 911, but into the center of the world's worse terrorists, not to mention WMD that BushCo knew didn't exist, but that getting rid of at least one of the world's worse tyrants would somehow make it worth while. Here we are 1,500 and counting American dead, wounded count over 10,000, and a projected cost of 200,000 billion and what have we got? A major dent in world wide terror? No. Made America safer? No. Iraq becoming a real democracy? The middle-east going down the path to democracy? No.
Many are reservists who, when they get home, often face the wreckage of careers and family.

A war is bad whenever you fail to make a moral case, and worse when you can't even comprehend the consequences, and the consequences just keep coming..

Wartime Prosecutions Come Under Scrutiny

I just read this article at Military.com and I'm still trying to absorb the emotional impact. I wasn't aware of much of this, except for the case of 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano. whose family was on Good Morning America a couple weeks ago. As I listened to them tell their story I was immediately sympathic. This quote is from the Military article, but was mush like what they said on GMA, " the man who puts his life on the line again and again, who makes life-or-death decisions in the blazing heat, exhaustion, fear and confusion of war." Yet it is also true that the men Pantano shoot were unarmed and "Further complicating that case, Pantano acknowledged shooting his victims more than 60 times and hanging a sign over their corpses as a warning." 60 times? Wouldn't that suggest that Pantano completely lost it. I can buy into a temporary insanity defense of his actions, but not a defense based on motives purely of self-defense.
"There have been some convictions in which the sentences are amazingly light," said Gary D. Solis, a retired Marine who teaches law at the U.S. Military Academy.

In the 27 months since the Iraq war began, at least 10 servicemembers have been convicted of a wide array of charges stemming from the deaths of Iraqi civilians.

A soldier who admitted executing a wounded Iraqi teenager received three years in prison. His co-defendant got a one-year term. A captain convicted of charges in the fatal shooting of another wounded Iraqi was dismissed from the armed forces, but received no prison time.

But only one sentence has exceeded three years, and last month two men - a Marine Lieutenant and an Army Sergeant - were cleared entirely of murder charges. Still pending are courts-martial on murder charges for six Army soldiers.

Many of the deaths have been horrific. Prosecutors said one man drowned after Army soldiers forced him into the Tigris River as punishment for breaking a curfew. The lieutenant who allegedly ordered the action received 45 days on an assault conviction.

A prisoner died after being dragged out of his holding cell by the neck, stripped naked and left outside for seven hours. The Marine Major who commanded the facility was convicted of dereliction of duty and maltreatment and dismissed from the service.

And at Fort Carson, Colo., three Army soldiers are awaiting courts-martial on murder charges in the death of an Iraqi general who was allegedly placed headfirst in a sleeping bag, tied up with electrical cord and crushed by soldiers who sat and stood on him during an interrogation.

and there was this
Pantano had plenty of support from fellow veterans, as was evident Friday, when he met with supporters at a fish fry at an American Legion post in Wilmington, N.C. Harold Davis, a 75-year-old Korean War veteran, had tears in his eyes as he told Pantano that the military never would have charged a serviceman during Korea.

No one ever told me that it was going to be easy standing up for what's right, its not easy being the good guy/gal and no one expects perfection from our military in such stressful situations as the combat in Iraq, but you can't torture and murder people. The rationalization that Saddam was worse just doesn't cut it, because then we're just haggling over numbers of his tortured and murdered versus ours. Culture of life remember, culture of life. A soldier has every right in the world to defend himself, not to torture, not to murder; why conservatives and war apologists don't see that is beyond me.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Bolton suffering from life long meltdown

Via Political Strategy
A former Bolton deputy says the U.S. undersecretary of state felt Jose Bustani "had to go,'' particularly because the Brazilian was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war.

...An official British document [the Downing Street Memo], disclosed last month, said Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed in April 2002 to join in an eventual U.S. attack on Iraq. Two weeks later, Bustani was ousted, with British help.

The whole Bush inspections charade played out pretty well. Most of what I read by AWOL's supporters on the web tells me they bought into the whole melodrama or at least think that they can make others believe it by sheer force of the hot air emitted.

Creationism: God's gift to the ignorant

Advocates see veterans of war on terror joining the ranks of the homeless