Saturday, October 14, 2006
But back then, regardless of his position on the political spectrum, his beat was freedom, anti-oppression, not in any partisan way but in a rather principled way. (See his old columns at The Nation.)
Then, to some degree unknown to me, 9/11 "changed everything" and he became, at the least, an enabler of Our Leaders. Given that Al-Qaeda is bad and Islamofascism is bad (query whether worse than Christofascism), contrary to Hitchens, it does not follow from that that the Iraq debacle is in any way whatsoever a good thing.
Given all that, it is funny in a sardonic way that Hitchen reverts to the "old" Hitchens for some modern day bashing of the admittedly despicable, despiseable, disgusting Henry Kissinger.
On the other hand, for an example of the intellectual, partisan, GOP-toadying wreck he has become, see the 16 October Wall Street Journal.
Whatever, the story is, Hitch opines, the GOP House leadership did nothing wrong.
Hitch truly bends so far over backwards that he ends up talking with his head up his ass -- a job well done for the party. Note that I guess 9/11 did change everything for him; he wasn't a partisan toady before 9/11.
Because the Mark Foley story began to break on the night of September 28, exploding the following day, many people may not have noticed the bill passed by the Senate that night.Link.
Our third story in the COUNTDOWN tonight, the Military Commission‘s Act of 2006 and what it does to something called habeas corpus. And before we reduce the very term habeas corpus to something vaguely recalled as sounding kind of like the cornerstone of freedom or maybe kind of like a character from Harry Potter, we thought a COUNTDOWN special investigation was in order.
Congress passed the Military Commission‘s Act to give the Mr. Bush the power to deal effectively with America‘s enemies—those who seek to harm the country. He has been very clear on who he thinks that is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America.
That fact that we‘re discussing this program is, uh, helping the enemy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So, the president said it was urgent that Congress send him this bill as quickly as possible, not for the politics of next month‘s elections, but for America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The need for this legislation is urgent. We need to insure that those questioning terrorists can continue to do everything within the limits of the law to get information that can save American lives. My administration will continue to work with the Congress to get this legislation enacted, but time is of the essence. Congress is in session just for a few more weeks and passing this legislation ought to be the top priority.
The families of those murdered that day have waited patiently for justice. Some of the families of with us today, they should have to wait no longer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Because time was of the essence and to insure that the 9/11 families would wait no longer, as soon as he got the bill, the president whipped out his pen and immediately signed a statement saying he looks forward to signing the actual law eventually.
He has not signed it yet, almost two weeks later because, of course, he has been swamped by a series of campaign swings at which he has made up quotes from unnamed Democratic leaders and because when he is actually at work he‘s been signing so many other important bills, such as the Credit Rating Agency Reform Act, the Third Higher Education Extension Act, ratification requests for extradition treaties with Malta, Estonia, and Latvia; his proclamation of German-American Day, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act; and his proclamation of Leif Erickson Day.
Still, getting the Military Commission‘s Act to the president so he could immediately mull it over for two weeks was so important, some members of Congress did not even read the bill before voting on it. Thus, as some of its minutia escaped scrutiny.
One bit of trivia that caught our eye was the elimination of habeas corpus, which apparently use to be the right of anyone who‘s tossed in prison to appear in court and say “Hey, why am in prison?”
(on camera): Why does habeas corpus hate America? And how is it so bad for us? Mr. Bush says it gets in the way of him doing his job.
BUSH: This legislation passed in the House yesterday is a part of making sure that, uh, we do have the capacity to protect you. Our most solemn job is the security of this country.
OLBERMANN: It may be solemn.
BUSH: Bush, so solemnly swear.
OLBERMANN: But is that really his job? In this rarely seen footage, Mr. Bush seems to be describing a different job.
BUSH: And will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
OLBERMANN: COUNTDOWN has obtained a copy of this “Constitution” of the United States, and sources tell us it was originally sneaked through the constitutional convention and state ratification in order to establish America‘s fundamental legal principles.
But this so-called “Constitution” is frustratingly vague about the right to trial. In fact. there‘s only one reference to habeas corpus at all, quoting: “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”
But even Democrats, who voted against the Military Commission‘s Act, concede that it doesn‘t actually suspend habeas corpus.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: The bill before us would not merely suspend the great writ—the great writ—the writ of habeas corpus, it just eliminates it permanently.
OLBERMANN: And there is considerable debate whether the conditions for suspending habeas corpus, rebellion or invasion, have even been met.
LEAHY: Conditions for suspending habeas corpus have not been met.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER ®, PENNSYLVANIA: We do not have a rebellion or an invasion.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, we‘re not in a rebellion nor are we being invaded.
OLBERMANN: OK, maybe the debate wasn‘t that considerable. Nevertheless, 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.
But, for prosperity:
One participant, who requested anonymity, said he was uncomfortable with the attention [Congressman Jim] Kolbe[, R-Ariz.] paid to one of the former pages. He was "creeped out by it," he said, adding that there was a lot of "fawning, petting and touching" on the teenager's arms, shoulders and back by Kolbe.
Friday, October 13, 2006
However, there's a few areas in which I take complete exception with my comrades.
And that's baselessly imputing to Our Leader any true leadership as opposed to being a front for the policies of others. W is a true Bush; he's in this because that's how the Bushes get rich: using and leveraging electoral office and politics for wealth from the private sector. I assure you, W does not lead in any significant way other than as a frontman.
Anyway, this is one lefty piece that imputes to him leadership that I have no doubt whatsoever he doesn't exert. He ain't no leader, he's a faker. And we waste energy acting as if he is anything more than, pardon the expresiion, a shrill shill.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Thank God for GOP-enhanced "homeland security" so another 9/11 can't and won't happen, that planes can't just fly all over Manhattan and then fly right into buildings:
A single-engine airplane owned by Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle sputtered out of the hazy skies and slammed into the side of an exclusive Manhattan apartment tower Wednesday, killing Lidle and a flight instructor but miraculously leaving no one in the building seriously hurt.Link (including for above photo, more or less)
The plane, a Cirrus SR20 registered to Lidle, 34, took off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey at 2:29 p.m. without filing a flight plan, officials said. A flight plan was not required, however. After circling the Statue of Liberty, it headed north up the East River, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in an evening news conference. It disappeared from radar near the Queensboro Bridge and a 911 call about the crash was logged at 2:42 p.m., Bloomberg said.
It's amazing or, rather, typical of the water-carrying nature of modern Big Media journalism that a huge noise isn't being made about this obvious failure of the nation's leadership.
Here the situation is for dummies:
5 years after planes were flown into the World Trade Center on 9/11...
...a plane freely flew over Manhattan...
...eventually flying into a building.
That it did so accidentally as opposed to intentionally is irrelevant.
And the coverage is a joke; the emphasis is on a dead ballplayer, not on, well, the Goddam security breach.
No problem accepting tabloid and the low-end media spinning it that way but the Times? WTF???
Manhattan Plane Crash Kills Yankee Pitcher
The United States increasingly relies private military companies to carry out its foreign policy. This is a statement of fact and yet it is a bit dodgy to say. In "contested" spaces such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan (inside Pakistan actually), Philippines, Colombia (don't forget the American contractors still held there), Africa (West, East, you name it), the Balkans, etc., private military companies and their contractors carry out the will of the President. Perhaps more importantly and clearly less recognized is the direct and lasting impact these contractor have on the local populations they interact with.Link.
From training military forces in the Balkans to compelling warring parties to meet at Dayton, to providing personal security to Hamid Karzai, Haitian dictators, and more, these companies extend the foreign policy options of the United States in ways too few care to see or appreciate. In March 2004, a most public example of their utility in shaping the image of America happened in Fallujah when contractors were ambushed, burned, dragged through the streets, and ultimately hung from a bridge. The attack on these men was not motivated by their higher pay. These men were attacked as agents of the United States Government (specifically the CIA). The fallout from this ambush was arguably a milestone in the Iraq War as the war of images, perceptions, actions, and words heated up against the United States.
Other examples of contractors representing the United States on the ground include the infamous Aegis video. However, perhaps more long-lasting are the impressions made by our non-security contractors. Failures to build schools, bridges, and other facilities will stand as demonstrations of how the Americans did not truly want to better Iraq. We don't have to look to KBR and other firms and allegations of running empty trucks on dangerous routes in order to bill the US Government more money. No, we can look at companies that performed like Custer Battles that through greed did their own part to sabotage our efforts at peace and stability in Iraq. The same can be said of the sadistic contractors in Abu Gharib who got little actionable intel from their inhumane treatment (it is hard to argue they didn't create more enemies globally than they tried to learn about through their actions).
The private military industry in general has a direct and immediate impact on foreign populations which American policymakers and the media do not see or accept overall. Although the media has been increasingly critical, it has thus far largely relegated project failures and shortcomings to the company and barely connected the company back to the US and local populations now altered perception of America and its power.
In the case of Iraq, the private military industry is frequently in the “last three feet” of contact with the Iraqi public. Waving guns, driving the wrong way and ready to pop a round into a radiator of a "deserving" vehicle in a (appropriately) paranoid environment, they operate with immunity (relative or actual) and radically and substantially alter Iraqi public opinion of Americans and America by their behavior. These contractors do not wear the uniform of the US military and yet this "Coalition of the Billing" directly represents the US and the "Coalition" whether we like it or not.
In the war on terror, when “hearts and minds” are needing to be won, or at least not pissed off, how are these de facto agents of the US, which the US does not acknowledge as extensions of the US Government, contribute to shaping the perception of the US?
Do they contribute to the American image at all?
The bad news was that, before September 11, in those weeks just after George W. Bush took office, CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) personnel were told to "back off" certain targets of investigations begun by Bill Clinton. He said there were particular investigations that were effectively killed.Link.
Which particular investigations? The agent was willing to risk his job to get this story out, but we had to press repeatedly for specifics on the directive to "back off." The order, he said reluctantly, spiked at least one fateful operation. As he talked, I wrote in my notebook, "Killed off Conn. Labs investigation." Connecticut Laboratories? I was clueless until my producer Meirion Jones, a weapons expert, gave me that "you idiot" look and said, "Khan Labs! Pakistan. The bomb." Dr. A. Q. Khan is known as the "Father" of Pakistan's atomic bomb.
And boy did it work. Our Leader is awesome:
In his first weeks in office, Bush cast aside the Clinton administration’s delicate negotiations that had hemmed in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. The new President then brushed aside worries of Secretary of State Colin Powell and South Korean President Kim Dae Jung about dangerous consequences from a confrontation.Link.
At a March 2001 summit, Bush rejected Kim Dae Jung’s détente strategy for dealing with North Korea, a humiliation for both Kim, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Powell, who wanted to continue pursuing the negotiation track. Instead, Bush cut off nuclear talks with North Korea and stepped up spending on a “Star Wars” missile shield.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Bush got tougher still, vowing to “rid the world of evil” and listing North Korea as part of the “axis of evil.”
Clinton's policy was a failure because it only worked twelve years, give or take, and could not survive our leaders' necessary changes:
Months before 9/11 and the "global war on terror" -- and two years before the Iraq War -- George W. Bush tested out his tough-talkin' diplomacy on communist North Korea. Bush combined harsh rhetoric and intimidating tactics to demonstrate to Pyongyang that there was a swaggering new sheriff in town.Link.
In his first weeks in office, Bush cast aside the Clinton administration's delicate negotiations that had hemmed in North Korea's nuclear ambitions. The new president then brushed aside worries of Secretary of State Colin Powell and South Korean President Kim Dae Jung about dangerous consequences from a confrontation.
At a March 2001 summit, Bush rejected Kim Dae Jung's détente strategy for dealing with North Korea, a humiliation for both Kim, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Powell, who wanted to continue pursuing the negotiation track. Instead, Bush cut off nuclear talks with North Korea and stepped up spending on a "Star Wars" missile shield.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Bush got tougher still, vowing to "rid the world of evil" and listing North Korea as part of the "axis of evil."
More substantively, Bush sent to Congress a "nuclear posture review," which laid out future U.S. strategy for deploying nuclear weapons. Leaked in 2002, the so-called NPR put North Korea on a list of potential targets for U.S. nuclear weapons.
The Bush administration also discussed lowering the threshold for the use of U.S. nuclear weapons by making low-yield tactical nukes available for some battlefield situations.
By putting North Korea on the nuclear target list, Bush reversed President Clinton's commitment against targeting non-nuclear states with nuclear weapons. Clinton's idea was that a U.S. promise not to nuke non-nuclear states would reduce their incentives for joining the nuclear club.
But to Bush and his neoconservative advisers, Clinton's assurance that non-nuclear states wouldn't be nuked was just another example of Clinton's appeasement of U.S. adversaries. By contrast, Bush was determined to bring these "evil" states to their knees.
In March 2002, however, Pyongyang signaled how it would react, warning of "strong countermeasures" against Bush's nuclear policy shifts.
In March 2002, the New York Times reported that "North Korea threatened ... to withdraw from the [1994 nuclear suspension] agreement if the Bush administration persisted with what North Korea called a 'hard-line' policy that differed from the Clinton administration's approach. North Korea also renewed its complaints against delays in construction of two nuclear reactors promised in the 1994 agreement to fulfill its energy needs." (NYT, March 14, 2002)
And a time line of just what our leaders did just the past few years starts here:
"Why should I care about North Korea?"But whatever the threat in North Korea, we will not militarily attack a rogue nation that possesses nuclear weapons -- not when we're bogged down in real threats like Iraq and Afghanistan and is maybe ramping up to slap Iran around a little.
-- President George W. Bush
Clearly, the Bush Administration is, by far, the causal factor in Kim Jong Il's entry into Earth's 'Nukular' Club. They can blame Clinton all they want. At least he did something about this rising calamity. In 1994, the Clinton Administration reached an agreement with the DPRK that successfully froze North Korea's nuclear production for the next eight years.
Bush, on the other hand has offered NOTHING except provocation and motivation for the DPRK to invest in nuclear weapons. Although many factors led to this devastating milestone, the buck unambiguously stops with the Bush administration.
To begin, after Secretary of State Colin Powell said the administration will "pick up where President Clinton left off," Bush took less than 24 hours to declare that the Bush Administration negotiations will take a different tone.
Enter the Axis of Evil! -- a clever 'new direction' to effective diplomacy, no doubt.
See here. And this:
Bush on his North Korea plan: Clinton's "didn't workLink.
Maybe it is, but there's another "substantial change" the president seems unwilling to acknowledge: When Bill Clinton left office, North Korea wasn't claiming to have tested nuclear weapons and threatening war against anyone who does anything about it. It is now.
And speaking of Slick Willy's failed North Kore policy:
More on the next post....
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
This is of course pathetic. More pathetic is sending back a GOP Congress next month. And note that I would presume these guys may well be amongst likely voters....
And here's an overview of how our leaders succeeded with North Korea. And here's another angle on that.
Not just stenography: Kaplan and Zakaria do dictation tooMore here. (Emphasis added.)
by Weldon Berger | Oct 10 2006 - 8:52am
Two leading journalists contributed to and kept secret a report the Bush administration used to argue for the invasion of Iraq. Newsweek senior editor Fareed Zakaria, an ardent proponent of the invasion who has now given it up as a lost cause, and Robert Kaplan, a highly touted foreign affairs journalist and another advocate of the invasion, both attended a secret meeting convened in November of 2001 by Paul Wolfowitz, then the assistant secretary of defense. The two journalists and a handful of unnamed others collaborated to produce the report that, in Kaplan's words to the New York Times, assembled "a forceful summary of some of the best pro-war arguments at the time."
Both men signed confidentiality agreements as a condition of attending the meeting. What this means is that two nationally known journalists who have together written dozens of Iraq-related stories not only knew the administration were marshalling Iraq invasion talking points barely a month after 911 but helped them do it, and then kept that information hidden from their readers even as the administration insisted until almost the moment of the invasion that no decision to attack had been made.
NYT Buries the Lede - The People Who Shot the Iraqi VP's Brother Were Speaking EnglishMore here.
by Cenk Uygur | Oct 10 2006 - 3:54pm
This morning on The Young Turks we focused on the fact that the Iraqi Vice President's brother has been assassinated. You might wonder why since unfortunately this is not big news. This is the third sibling of the Vice President who has been shot and killed. There is near chaos in the streets of Baghdad.
Political and ethnic murders are now completely commonplace. But there was something extraordinary in the New York Times story. And, of course, they buried it in the thirteenth and fourteenth paragraphs of the article.
Witnesses say the men who shot the Iraqi VP's brother were speaking in a foreign accent and -- in English!
This is great, together with our success dealing with the other member of the Axis of Exis, nuclear-powered North Korea!