Saturday, September 08, 2007

Something to Think About: Our Beloved Leader is Osama's BFF for a Reason....

In a new video, al-Qaeda leader bin Laden again taunts Bush, the United States – and then the Democrats for not forcing an American withdrawal from Iraq, which should help guarantee that the Democrats won’t dare press for a withdrawal from Iraq.

At a summit of Pacific Rim leaders in Sydney, Australia, President Bush then did his part, highlighting bin Laden’s Iraq comments:

“I found it interested that on the tape Iraq was mentioned, which is a reminder that Iraq is part of the war against extremists. If al-Qaeda bothers to mention Iraq, it’s because they want to achieve their objectives in Iraq, which is to drive us out.”

Except that U.S. intelligence has long concluded that al-Qaeda really wants the opposite: to bog the United States down in a hopeless, bloody war in Iraq that has been a boon for recruiting young jihadists, raising money and protecting al-Qaeda’s leadership holed up in base camps inside Pakistan.

Bin Laden continues to play the role of another cartoon character, Walt Disney’s Brer Rabbit, who escaped one famously tight spot by begging not to be thrown into the briar patch when that was exactly where he wanted to go. [For more details on this Bush-bin Laden symbiosis, see Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush.]

Cole Attack

At least since the attack on the USS Cole in October 2000, al-Qaeda’s strategy has been to draw the United States militarily into the Middle East as a way both to enhance al-Qaeda’s status in the Muslim world and to weaken the Americans by draining their resources and damaging their army.

However, the Clinton administration couldn't verify that al-Qaeda was behind the Cole attack until January 2001 and then turned over the evidence to the incoming Bush team, which didn’t act because it had other priorities.

By summer 2001, U.S. intelligence was picking up chatter indicating that al-Qaeda was disappointed by the lack of a response to the Cole provocation but was confident that the next blow would force Washington’s hand.

That next attack on Sept. 11, 2001, did compel an American military reaction, but al-Qaeda may have miscalculated as an effective U.S. counter-attack ousted al-Qaeda’s Taliban allies in Afghanistan and cornered bin Laden and other top leaders at Tora Bora.

At that crucial point, however, Bush failed to dispatch sufficient U.S. troops to seal off bin Laden’s escape routes, allowing many of al-Qaeda’s top leaders to flee into the rugged tribal region of Pakistan.

To al-Qaeda’s relief and amazement, Bush also began diverting key U.S. military resources away from Afghanistan toward Iraq, whose secular Sunni leader Saddam Hussein was an enemy of al-Qaeda’s Sunni fundamentalists.

Bush’s invasion of Iraq not only eliminated a key Sunni rival in Hussein but rallied thousands of angry Muslims to al-Qaeda’s banner. Soon, al-Qaeda even had an affiliate in Iraq led by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

As al-Qaeda gained strength in the Islamic world, bin Laden came to see Bush as a something of a strategic ally. When Bush found himself in a tight battle with Democratic Sen. John Kerry, bin Laden issued a videotape denouncing Bush on the Friday before Election 2004.

The tape had the predictable effect of giving Bush a last-minute boost in the polls, which CIA analysts concluded was precisely bin Laden’s intent. Bin Laden wanted to keep Bush around as a foil for another four years. [See Neck Deep for details.]

Prolonged War

Also, contrary to Bush’s repeated assertions that al-Qaeda wants U.S. troops to leave Iraq so it can establish a safe haven there, the terrorist group’s internal messages, which have been intercepted by U.S. intelligence, reveal that al-Qaeda fears most the impact of a sudden American withdrawal.

A July 9, 2005, letter attributed to al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri warned that a rapid U.S. pullout could cause al-Qaeda’s new recruits, who traveled to Iraq to wage war on the Americans, to simply give up the fight and go home.

“The mujahedeen must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal,” wrote Zawahiri, who worried that a premature departure of the Americans also might leave the depleted ranks of al-Qaeda foreign fighters at the mercy of angry Iraqis.

Another internal communiqué revealed that al-Qaeda’s real wish was for the United States to stay in Iraq indefinitely, so the terrorist group could continue recruiting and training young jihadists while buying time to overcome the hostility of Iraqis toward outsiders.

In a letter to Zarqawi, dated Dec. 11, 2005, “Atiyah,” another top aide to bin Laden, described the hard work needed to overcome the animosity of Sunni tribal leaders. In that context, Atiyah said the continued American presence was crucial.

“Prolonging the war is in our interest,” Atiyah wrote in a letter captured when Zarqawi was killed in June 2006. [See’s “Al-Qaeda’s Fragile Foothold.”]

So, the interests of President Bush and Osama bin Laden continue to dovetail perfectly. The open-ended “war on terror” has allowed Bush to consolidate previously unimaginable powers for a U.S. chief executive. Simultaneously, bin Laden has emerged as a hero to many Muslims offended by the American occupation of Arab lands.

Now, as Bush faces another Democratic challenge to his plans for continuing the Iraq War, bin Laden shows up again, essentially berating the Democrats for not forcing U.S. troop withdrawals.

“The vast majority of you [Americans] want it [the Iraq War] stopped,” bin Laden said. “Thus you elected the Democratic Party for this purpose, but the Democrats haven't made a move worth mentioning.”

That means if the Democrats do renew their efforts toward forcing American troop withdrawals, Bush and his supporters can simply accuse the Democrats of following bin Laden’s orders or playing into bin Laden’s hands.

The reality may be the opposite, but a few Republican floor speeches and a couple of well-placed op-eds should be enough to spook the already nervous Democrats.

Fox News commentator Sean Hannity offered a taste of how the new bin Laden tape will be used against both Democrats and the American Left.

“One of the things that also struck me is the language specifically that he [bin Laden] used,” Hannity said. “He seemed to adopt the very same language that is being used by the hard Left in this country, as he describes what’s going on in Iraq as a ‘civil war’; he actually used the word ‘neocons’; he talked about global warming; he denounces capitalism and corporations.”

In other words, any similarity in language between bin Laden and what many Americans say in common conversations will be used to discredit them. They will become bin Laden’s fellow travelers.

All the better to get Bush and bin Laden what they both really want: a prolonged war in Iraq – and possibly a U.S. attack on the Shiite government of Iran.

Another Step Down in the Downward Spiral of Civilization

I exaggerate but slightly.

Kicked off a plane for too high a hem and maybe a little too much chest showing


God knows, my bleeding heart doesn't extend to racial matters. I mean, I fully accept this is a racist country, still, and that in some vague way, blacks are owed something... like maybe a truly equal opportunity, but that "owed something" sure as... whatever... is not a one way street. I don't believe that owed somethings don't also owe us something as well; not exactly respect but like a good faith effort to be part of the larger society. Or maybe I just have trouble differentiating the pathology of poverty from otherwise racial matters.


What brings this up is this.

Despite my weak creds on racial matters, I have to ask: WTF were these guys thinking when the cartoon was drawn and, more importantly, allowed to be published? (Yeah, yeah, I know, the same kind of intelligence was used as approved all of Judy Miller's shit.)

Today's Slang Post

Actually, somewhat funny, a little depressing.

Krugman Predicts....

Here’s what will definitely happen when Gen. David Petraeus testifies before Congress next week: he’ll assert that the surge has reduced violence in Iraq — as long as you don’t count Sunnis killed by Sunnis, Shiites killed by Shiites, Iraqis killed by car bombs and people shot in the front of the head.

Here’s what I’m afraid will happen: Democrats will look at Gen. Petraeus’s uniform and medals and fall into their usual cringe. They won’t ask hard questions out of fear that someone might accuse them of attacking the military. After the testimony, they’ll desperately try to get Republicans to agree to a resolution that politely asks President Bush to maybe, possibly, withdraw some troops, if he feels like it.

There are five things I hope Democrats in Congress will remember.

First, no independent assessment has concluded that violence in Iraq is down. On the contrary, estimates based on morgue, hospital and police records suggest that the daily number of civilian deaths is almost twice its average pace from last year. And a recent assessment by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found no decline in the average number of daily attacks.

So how can the military be claiming otherwise? Apparently, the Pentagon has a double super secret formula that it uses to distinguish sectarian killings (bad) from other deaths (not important); according to press reports, all deaths from car bombs are excluded, and one intelligence analyst told The Washington Post that “if a bullet went through the back of the head, it’s sectarian. If it went through the front, it’s criminal.” So the number of dead is down, as long as you only count certain kinds of dead people.

Oh, and by the way: Baghdad is undergoing ethnic cleansing, with Shiite militias driving Sunnis out of much of the city. And guess what? When a Sunni enclave is eliminated and the death toll in that district falls because there’s nobody left to kill, that counts as progress by the Pentagon’s metric.

Second, Gen. Petraeus has a history of making wildly overoptimistic assessments of progress in Iraq that happen to be convenient for his political masters.

I’ve written before about the op-ed article Gen. Petraeus published six weeks before the 2004 election, claiming “tangible progress” in Iraq. Specifically, he declared that “Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt,” that “Iraqi leaders are stepping forward” and that “there has been progress in the effort to enable Iraqis to shoulder more of the load for their own security.” A year later, he declared that “there has been enormous progress with the Iraqi security forces.”

But now two more years have passed, and the independent commission of retired military officers appointed by Congress to assess Iraqi security forces has recommended that the national police force, which is riddled with corruption and sectarian influence, be disbanded, while Iraqi military forces “will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently over the next 12-18 months.”

Third, any plan that depends on the White House recognizing reality is an idle fantasy. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, on Tuesday Mr. Bush told Australia’s deputy prime minister that “we’re kicking ass” in Iraq. Enough said.

Fourth, the lesson of the past six years is that Republicans will accuse Democrats of being unpatriotic no matter what the Democrats do. Democrats gave Mr. Bush everything he wanted in 2002; their reward was an ad attacking Max Cleland, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, that featured images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Finally, the public hates this war and wants to see it ended. Voters are exasperated with the Democrats, not because they think Congressional leaders are too liberal, but because they don’t see Congress doing anything to stop the war.

In light of all this, you have to wonder what Democrats, who according to The New York Times are considering a compromise that sets a “goal” for withdrawal rather than a timetable, are thinking. All such a compromise would accomplish would be to give Republicans who like to sound moderate — but who always vote with the Bush administration when it matters — political cover.

And six or seven months from now it will be the same thing all over again. Mr. Bush will stage another photo op at Camp Cupcake, the Marine nickname for the giant air base he never left on his recent visit to Iraq. The administration will move the goal posts again, and the military will come up with new ways to cook the books and claim success.

One thing is for sure: like 2004, 2008 will be a “khaki election” in which Republicans insist that a vote for the Democrats is a vote against the troops. The only question is whether they can also, once again, claim that the Democrats are flip-floppers who can’t make up their minds.

Now for a public service announcement (might have made this PSA before, sorry if I'm repeating myself):

A number of us (cheap comrades, I mean) were, well, dismayed, when the Times started up this stupid TimeSelect thing. Notwithstanding rumors that it's days are numbered, the Times meanwhile has a free back door to TimeSelect material (which is why I have no, as opposed to few, qualms about posting Professor K.'s entire column).

The How-to: Simply set up a "My Times" page and select whatever you want from the otherwise TimeSelect offerings and, you know, voila!

Remember, kids; information (and the truth) wants to be free!

GOP Apocalypse

One can dream but with headlines like these from Times (right now), the concept of one of the GOP whackos actually getting elected is scary....
Bad News Puts Political Glare Onto Economy Romney’s Tone on Gay Rights Is Seen as Shift Hints of Progress, and Questions, in Iraq Data U.S. Rejects New York’s Bid to Insure More Children
A tanking economy (yeah, yeah, a phase in response to excess), pandering, unprincipled flip-flopping for votes, yet more lies about Iraq because thanks to Our Leaders there is no significant good news, and shooting down a state's efforts to ensure that uninsured children are insured.

This is what the GOP stands for.

Are the majority of those bothering to vote really going to re-elect this nihilism?

Operation Iraqi Freedom Slang

There's another post of slang coming soon. For now, here's how to talk like (or understand) an Iraqi vet:
angel : a soldier killed in combat, used among some US medical personnel.
battlefield Airmen : Air Force Special Operations Command [AFSOC] pararescue, combat control and weather troops. The term battlefield Airmen may be new, though AFSOC troops have been filling those combat jobs for many years.
battle rattle : Full battle rattle is close to 50 pounds worth of gear, including a flak vest, Kevlar helmet, gas mask, ammunition, weapons, and other basic military equipment. One component is the soft vest that covers the torso the shoulders and the back. It's made of soft material, a mixture of Kevlar and Twaron. These are sown together in sort of a sandwich fashion inside a nylon camouflage-pattern shell. The nylon vest has attaching points for load-bearing equipment. The second component of the system is ceramic plates that fit in pockets in the front and back of the vest. These plates protect the heart and lungs. Any TV news report from Iraq or Afghanistan shows American service members wearing "full battle rattle." Wearing the battle rattle has saved lives in both Iraq and Afghanistan. A soldier in full dress, including helmet, flak jacket, and automatic weapon said to be wearing "battle rattle" "play clothes" or "Mommy's comforts" -- terms that antedated the war in Iraq, though used less frequently because the gear was used by smaller numbers of troops. The term Battle Rattle was previously associated with a call to arms on warships in the 1812 period.
BIAP : Baghdad International Airport
Bombaconda : nickname for LSA Anaconda, , a major base near Balad, reflecting the frequent mortar attacks.
CC : Coalition Country -- the coalition of the willing allies
CHU : Containerized Housing Unit (pronounced “choo”) - Aluminum boxes slightly larger [22’x8’] than a commercial shipping container, with linoleum floors and cots or beds inside. This insulated CONEX shipping container has a door, window, top vent, power cabling, and an air conditioner. One version houses four people, while another is split into two, two-person rooms. The version with a shower and toilet shared between two rooms is called a "wet chu", which provides less crowded latrine and shower conditions than tents. The CHU gives soldiers a lot more living space than tents.
CHUville : a base consisting of a large number of CHUs.
Death Blossom : The tendency of Iraqi security forces, in response to receiving a little fire from the enemy, to either run away or do the "death blossom" spraying fire indisciminately in all directions. The term originated in the 1984 movie "The Last Starfighter" as a maneuver in which a single starfighter can single handedly wipe out an entire armada.
DFAC [Dining FACility] : A DFAC is where you eat. Soldiers eat in a dining facility, or DFAC (pronounced dee-Fak). Old soldiers show their age they call it a "chow hall" and if you say “mess hall” it dates you. DFACs are modern looking cafeteria, some decorated it with sports memorabilia, movie posters, and televisions with ESPN on.
dirt sailor : A member of the Navy’s Construction Battalions (Seabees). In Iraq, a sailor playing a part that is not a normal Navy role.
FOB : forward operating base.
FOB Taxi : any vehicle that never leaves the FOB.
fobbit : service member who never goes outside the wire off the forward operating base.
FRAGO : fragmentary order. Fragmentary order is an abbreviated form of an operation order, usually issued on a day-to-day basis, which eliminates the need for restating information contained in a basic operation order. FRAGOs do not take the place of an OPORD. A FRAGO determines timely changes to an already existing order. The important point here is that a frag order is issued based on the basic operation order and is not a "stand alone" directive. It will normally state the changes from the basic order such as enemy situation and new taskings. A more formal decisionmaking process may be required before issuing a FRAGO, especially if a major adjustment to the operation order (OPORD) is needed.
frankenstein : A Marine Corps monster truck, bulging and rippling with spot-welded seams of add on armor. "We scrounge around for what we need and 'Frankenstein' it together." As of December 2004, of the 30,000 estimated wheeled vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 8,000 of the older models did not have armor protection. Of those that were protected, about 6, 000 had full protection, while about 10,000 vehicles had received add-on kits, many improvised in theater. Green Zone : Heavily guarded area with several former Presidential Palaces in central Baghdad where US, coalition and iraqi authorities live and work. Much of the rest of Iraq is the "red zone". An attempt was made to rename it the International Zone (IZ), but this seems not to have stuck.
gun truck : an armored and heavily armed vehicle used for convoy security.
GWOT : global war on terrorism.
haji : 1: Arabic word for someone who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca; 2: used by the American military for an Iraqi, anyone of arab decent, or even of a brownish skin tone, be they afghanis, or even bangladeshis; 3: the word many soldiers use derogatorily for the enemy.
haji armor : improvised armor, installed by troops hiring Iraqis to update the vehicles by welding any available metal to the sides of Humvees
haji mart : any small store operated by Iraqis to sell small items to Americans.
haji patrol : 1: escort detail; 2: Local National unit is also referred to as the Haji patrol, with all the projects that are being performed by the local nationals.
haji shop : even the smallest base has some form of what soldiers call a "haji shop" or, in more politically correct terms, a shop run by locals. Frequently near the PX, the "Haji" shop would sell everything from cigarettes to knockoff sunglasses to pirated DVDs.
hillbilly armor : Improvised vehicle armor, salvafed from digging through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal to bolster armor on their vehicles. Typically a half-inch of scrap steel hastily cut in the shape of the door and welded or riveted on. Name derives from Tennessee National Guard 278th Regimental Combat Team, whose Spc. Thomas Wilson grilled SecDef Rumsfeld in December 2004 about the need for such scrounging. "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?" Spc. Wilson asked.
IED : improvised explosive device
ICDC : Iraqi Civil Defense Corps [obsolete]
inside the wire - inside an enemy combatant detention facility. Working "inside the wire" of the enemy combatant detention facility can lead to stress for the US troops working here. But experts and leaders are working hard to help servicemembers deal with the unique conditions of working in an isolated island base such as Guantanamo. Troops working inside the wire must pass through several sets of intimidating double gates. They always cover their nametapes and never call each other by their real names while they're near detainees. Vietnam-era phrase for the perimeter of any US base in Vietnam.
ITGA : Interim Transitional Government of Afghanistan.
Jingle trucks : [Afghanistan] (transport trucks with a narrow wheel base that are usually adorned with colorful stickers and chimes), the military contracted for host nation delivery trucks, known as “jingle trucks” because of the decorative metal tassels hanging from the bottom of the truck frames that jingled when the trucks moved. These trucks are contracted through Afghan Government officials. The NCO responsible for these contracts was known as the “jingle man.” The contract price was based on the destination and the type of truck used. Fuel tankers and trucks that could carry 20- and 40-foot containers were available. Although serviceable, these trucks would not pass standard US specifications.
KAF: That stands for Kandahar Air Field. That is the main base of operations for the Southern part of Afghanistan. The main post is big and has lots of people, it is a main transportation hub--both Helo and Fixed Wing--also Convoys of Humvees going in and out
KBR : Kellogg, Brown & Root -- The biggest contractor serving the Coalition Forces.
LN : Local National. A citizen of Iraq, if you're in Iraq, Afghanistan if you're in Afghanistan, etc. Usually encountered as labor brought on post to do construction or other labor.
Mortaritaville : nickname for LSA Anaconda, a major base near Balad, reflecting the frequent mortar attacks.
Muj (pronnounced: Mooj), short for Mujahadeen. Formally a person who wages jihad, informally used for the Irai Insurgents starting in 2005.
outside the wire -- outside the security perimenter surrounding the FOB.
OEF : Operation Enduring Freedom.
OGA : Other Government Agency - CIA
OIF : Operation Iraqi Freedom.
POG : People Other than Grunts [pronounced "pogue"] rear-echelon support troops. Arose in 2005 as a synonym for Fobbit, it seems.
PRT : This stands for Provincial Reconstruction Team. These are military, goverment departments and civilian aid organizations from our country and many others who come to a town and help to rebuild. The PRT coordinates construction projects and provide humanitarian assistance.
PSD : Personal Security Detail - private security contractors
Red on red : enemy-on-enemy fire. In June 2005 it was reported that Marines patrolling the desert near the Syrian border had, over the previous several months, seen a new trend in the Iraq insurgency. Insurgents were fighting each other in towns along the Euphrates from Husayba to Qaim. This suggested that there had been a split between Islamic militants and local rebels.
REMF : rear-echelon motherf**r - vietnam era phrase revived for the sandbox. The term REMF seems to have fallen into disuse, replaced by “fobbit”.
Remfland: the rear-echelon areas where support personnel live and work in relative safety -- the paradox being that in the Sandbox, unlike Vietnam, REMFland is more a state of mind than a physical location.
sandbox : Iraq
sandpit : Iraq
shake and bake : first used during the Vietnam War, and revived in Iraq, to refer to attacks using a combination of conventional bombs, cluster bombs (CBU), and napalm. In the battle of Fallujah in 2004 it was used in reference to a combination barrage of White Phosphorus and explosive artillery shells.
sustainer theater : AAFES' motion picture team has assembled an opening lineup of movies for the Balad Camp Anaconda theater dubbed "Sustainer." Before Soldiers can view first run shows at the Sustainer Theater the process of getting movies here takes weeks of time and effort, initially beginning at the Army Air Force Exchange Service headquarters in Dallas.
TCN : Third Country National: A citizen of a neutral country who is in the theater of operations as a contractor. The Nepalese truck drivers who were killed by Ansar Al Sunnah in the summer of 2004 were TCNs.
TCP : Traffic control point.
VBIED : Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devise. i.e.. Car Bomb.

How Big Media Shat on Al Gore in 2000

Fair and balanced, my ass. (But their rightist minority biases are reflected in an ever shrinking audiences*.) Read this and weep.

(*Actually, there can be a significant piece of reportage waiting to be done: How blogs, good or bad, are filling the vacuum created by usually incompetent, biased, untrustworthy Big Media so-called journalism.)

The Subject that Won't Go Away: Larry Craig, Continued

Actually, another reason for him to resign: to get him out of the picture....
The 2008 Republican National Convention is scheduled to be held September 1 through 4 of that year in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. That means that most prominent Republicans will have the opportunity to pass through the airport where Senator Larry Craig was busted for allegedly soliciting gay sex. They'll even have the chance to use that men's room.

And, well, the next generation seems a little weird herself....

Why I'm Bored by the New Yorker

Back in the old days, the New Yorker was an elitist mag. Actually, it was aimed at two elites, sort of: the sophisticated: the educated and the well-to-do, two groups with some overlap. With great writing, articles told you all you needed to know (sometimes more) about whatever. It had great writers doing great writing.

And lots of funny cartoons.

Nowadays, in the reflection of modern culture, it doesn't care about (pardon the expression) improving the reader. It just cranks out the same old Big Media B.S. but with a pseudo-intellectual gloss and specious pretension.

Like this week's biggie: If we stay in Iraq, things will get worse, if we leave, they'll get worse but less so.

For those of us whose eyes have been open on the subject since Our Leaders went public with their hard-ons for Iraq after 9/11, this is really old news. But I mean, let's look at the obvious: we majorly destabilize a country composed of three groups that want to kill each other; without an iron fist, so to speak, what would expect except violent, bloody anarchy or civil war? And that's just what we got; mission accomplished indeed.

Caretoon of, Like, the Milenium


Shocker: Rudy Lies

A new video produced by Robert Greenwald (no relation), entitled "The Real Rudy," presents a truly devastating indictment of Giuliani's placement of New York City's Emergency Command Center in the World Trade Center notwithstanding that the WTC had been previously attacked, that terrorists had vowed to attack it again, and that his principal advisor urged that it not be placed in Lower Manhattan.

Far more significant than the poor judgment exhibited by the decision itself is, I believe, what appears quite clearly to be Giuliani's blatant and deliberate lying when asked repeatedly by Chris Wallace about what happened and why. Rather than acknowledge responsibility or explain what happened, Giuliani -- based on all of the available evidence -- conclusively seems to lie in order to blame the decision on aides and to protect himself.

Even Chris Wallace, who actually does conduct decent adversarial interviews at times with figures who are otherwise glorified by Fox News, seems to realize what Giuliani is doing. This video should be viewed far and wide as it really does provide a vivid look at how Giuliani functions. It can be viewed here.
And then there's this:
[5 September] on the Republican Presidential Debate, Rudy Giuliani said, "I'm not running on what I did on September 11th."

Word for the Day

As in "Republican majority", I suppose:
Majority, n.: That quality that distinguishes a crime from a law.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Death of FOIL -- Of Course

Our American-hating Leaders shackle freedom:
Soft Crimes Against Democracy
What Ever Happened to Freedom of Information?
By Ruth Rosen

Disgraceful, shameful, illegal, and yes, dangerous. These are words that come to mind every time the Bush administration makes yet another attempt to consolidate executive power, while wrapping itself in secrecy and deception.

And its officials never stop. In May, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit group, filed a lawsuit seeking information from the White House Office of Administration about an estimated five million e-mail messages that mysteriously vanished from White House computer servers between March 2003 and October 2005. Congress wants to investigate whether these messages contain evidence about the firing of nine United States attorneys who may have refused to use their positions to help Republican candidates or harm Democratic ones.

The administration's first response to yet another scandal was to scrub the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request section from the White House Office website. One day it was there; the next day it had disappeared. Then, Bush-appointed lawyers from the Justice Department tried to convince a federal judge that the White House Office of Administration was not subject to scrutiny by the Freedom of Information Act because it wasn't an "agency." The newly labeled non-agency, in fact, had its own FOIA officer and had responded to 65 FOIA requests during the previous 12 months. Its own website had listed it as subject to FOIA requests.

For those who may have forgotten, Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act in 1966 to hold government officials and agencies accountable to public scrutiny. It became our national sunshine law and has allowed us to know something of what our elected officials actually do, rather than what they say they do. Congress expressly excluded classified information from FOIA requests in order to protect national security.

Scorning accountability, the Bush administration quickly figured out how to circumvent the Act. On October 12, 2001, just one month after the 9/11 attacks, Attorney General John Ashcroft took advantage of a traumatized nation to ensure that responses to FOIA requests would be glacially slowed down, if the requests were not simply rejected outright.

Most Americans were unaware of what happened -- and probably still are. If so, I'd like to remind you how quickly democratic transparency vanished after 9/11 and why this most recent contorted rejection of our premier sunshine law is more than a passing matter; why it is, in fact, an essential aspect of this administration's continuing violation of our civil rights and liberties, the checks and balances of our system of government, and, yes, even our Constitution.

On Bended Knee

Lies and deception intended to expand executive power weren't hard to spot after 9/11, yet they tended to slip beneath the political and media radar screens; nor did you have to be an insider with special access to government officials or classified documents to know what was going on. At the time, I was an editorial writer and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. From my little cubicle at the paper, I read a memorandum sent by Attorney General John Ashcroft to all federal agencies. Short and to the point, it basically gave them permission to resist FOIA requests and assured them that the Justice Department would back up their refusals. "When you carefully consider FOIA requests," Ashcroft wrote, "and decide to withhold records, in whole or in part, you can be assured that the Department of Justice will defend your decision unless they lack a sound legal basis or present an unwarranted risk of adverse impact on the ability of other agencies to protect other important records."

He then went on to explain, "Any discretionary decision by your agency to disclose information protected under FOIA should be made only after full and deliberate consideration of the institutional, commercial, and personal privacy interests that could be implicated by disclosure of the information."

And what, I wondered, did such constraints and lack of accountability have to do with finding and prosecuting terrorists? Why the new restrictions? Angered, I wrote an editorial for the Chronicle about the Justice Department's across-the-board attempt to censor freedom of information. ("All of us want to protect our nation from further acts of terrorism. But we must never allow the public's right to know, enshrined in the Freedom of Information Act, to be suppressed for the sake of official convenience.")

Naively and impatiently, I waited for other newspapers to react to such a flagrant attempt to make the administration unaccountable to the public. Not much happened. A handful of media outlets noted Ashcroft's memorandum, but where, I wondered, were the major national newspapers? The answer was: on bended knee, working as stenographers, instead of asking the tough questions. Ashcroft had correctly assessed the historical moment. With the administration launching its Global War on Terror, and the country still reeling from the September 11th attacks, he was able to order agencies to start building a wall of secrecy around the government.

In the wake of 9/11, both pundits and the press seemed to forget that, ever since 1966, the Freedom of Information Act had helped expose all kinds of official acts of skullduggery, many of which violated our laws. They also seemed to forget that all classified documents were already protected from FOIA requests and unavailable to the public. In other words, most agencies had no reason to reject public FOIA requests.

A few people, however, were paying attention. In February 2002, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to evaluate the "implementation of the FOIA." Ashcroft's new rules had reversed former Attorney General Janet Reno's policy, in effect since 1993. "The prior policy," Leahy reminded the GAO, "favored openness in government operation and encouraged a presumption of disclosure of agency records in response to FOIA requests unless the agency reasonably foresaw that disclosure would be harmful to an interest protected by a specific exemption."

And what was the impact of Ashcroft's little-noticed memorandum? Just what you'd expect from a presidency built on secrecy and deception -- given a media then largely ignoring both. The Attorney General's new policy was a success. On August 8, 2007, the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government issued "Still Waiting After All These Years," a damning report that documented the Ashcroft memorandum's impact on FOIA responses. Their analysis revealed that "the number of FOIA requests processed has fallen 20%, the number of FOIA personnel is down 10%, the backlog has tripled and the cost of handling a request is up 79%." During the same years, the Bush administration embarked on a major effort to label ever more government documents classified. They even worked at reclassifying documents that had long before been made public, ensuring that ever less information would be available through FOIA requests. And what material they did send out was often so heavily redacted as to be meaningless.


Ashcroft's quashing of the FOIA, following on the heels of the Patriot Act, was just the beginning of a long series of efforts to expand executive power. In the name of fighting "the war on terror" and "national security," for instance, Bush issued an executive order on November 1, 2001 that sealed presidential records indefinitely, a clear violation of the 1978 Presidential Records Act in which Congress had ensured the public's right to view presidential records 12 years after a president leaves office.

And what did this have to do with preventing a potential terrorist attack? Absolutely nothing, of course. It just so happened that 12 years had passed since Ronald Reagan left the Oval Office. Many people believed, as I did, that locking down Reagan's papers was an effort to stop journalists and historians from reading documents that might have implicated Papa Bush (then Reagan's vice president) and others -- who, by then, were staffing the younger Bush's administration -- as active participants in the Iran-Contra scandal.

When the White House claimed that its administrative office was not subject to the FOIA, an August 24th editorial in the New York Times -- now more alert to Bush's disregard for the rule of law -- asked, "What exactly does the administration want to hide?" It rightly argued that the "administration's refusal to comply with open-government laws is ultimately more important than any single scandal. The Freedom of Information Act and other right-to-know laws were passed because government transparency is vital to a democracy."

How true. It's taken a long time for our paper of record to realize that "soft" crimes are actually hard assaults against our democracy. The restrictions on FOIA and an executive order to seal presidential records may seem tame when compared to the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and Guantanamo, not to mention warrantless surveillance, the extraordinary rendition of kidnapped terror suspects to the prisons of regimes that torture, and the imprisonment of so-called enemy combatants.

But don't be lulled into thinking that the act of censoring information, of shielding the American people from knowledge of the most basic workings of their own government, is any less dangerous to democracy than war crimes or acts of torture. In fact, it was the soft crimes of secrecy and deception that enabled the Bush administration's successful campaign to lure our country into war in Iraq -- and so to commit war crimes and acts of torture.

You don't have to be a historian to know that "soft" crimes are what make hard crimes possible. They can also lead to an executive dictatorship and the elimination of our most cherished civil rights and liberties.

For the Record: Our Leaders' (In)Justice Department Continues to Reduce Freedom

Freedom for individuals gets trumped again by freedom for corporations to make money over all: this is not another step towards anti-American fascism?
The Justice Department on Thursday said Internet service providers should be allowed to charge a fee for priority Web traffic.

The agency told the Federal Communications Commission, which is reviewing high-speed Internet practices, that it is opposed to "Net neutrality," the principle that all Internet sites should be equally accessible to any Web user.

Several phone and cable companies, such as AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp., have previously said they want the option to charge some users more money for loading certain content or Web sites faster than others.


Reply All:2 Should the 'Net be neutral? Craigslist founder Craig Newmark debates the issue with former White House spokesman Mike McCurry. (5/24/06)
The Justice Department said imposing a Net neutrality regulation could hamper development of the Internet and prevent service providers from upgrading or expanding their networks. It could also shift the "entire burden of implementing costly network expansions and improvements onto consumers," the agency said in its filing.

Such a result could diminish or delay network expansion and improvement, it added.

The agency said providing different levels of service is common, efficient and could satisfy consumers. As an example, it cited that the U.S. Postal Service charges customers different guarantees and speeds for package delivery, ranging from bulk mail to overnight delivery.

"Whether or not the same type of differentiated products and services will develop on the Internet should be determined by market forces, not regulatory intervention," the agency said in its filing.

The agency's stance comes more than two months after Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras cautioned policy makers to enact Net neutrality regulation.

Such a regulation could prevent rather than promote Internet investment and innovation and have "significant negative effects for the economy and consumers," the Justice Department said in the filing.

Supporters of Internet regulation have said that phone and cable companies could discriminate against certain Web site and services.

However, the agency said it will continue to monitor and enforce any anticompetitive conduct to ensure a competitive broadband marketplace.

A Small Glimmer of Light, a Small Victory for Freedom and Rule of Law

A federal judge struck down a key part of the USA Patriot Act on Thursday in a ruling that defended the need for judicial oversight of laws and bashed Congress for passing a law that makes possible "far-reaching invasions of liberty."


The ACLU had challenged the law on behalf of an Internet service provider, complaining that the law allowed the FBI to demand records without the kind of court supervision required for other government searches. Under the law, investigators can issue so-called national security letters to entities like Internet service providers and phone companies and demand customers' phone and Internet records.

In his ruling, Marrero said much more was at stake than questions about the national security letters.

He said Congress, in the original USA Patriot Act and less so in a 2005 revision, had essentially tried to legislate how the judiciary must review challenges to the law. If done to other bills, they ultimately could all "be styled to make the validation of the law foolproof."

Noting that the courthouse where he resides is several blocks from the fallen World Trade Center, the judge said the Constitution was designed so that the dangers of any given moment could never justify discarding fundamental individual liberties.

He said when "the judiciary lowers its guard on the Constitution, it opens the door to far-reaching invasions of liberty."

Regarding the national security letters, he said, Congress crossed its boundaries so dramatically that to let the law stand might turn an innocent legislative step into "the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values."

He said the ruling does not mean the FBI must obtain the approval of a court prior to ordering records be turned over, but rather must justify to a court the need for secrecy if the orders will last longer than a reasonable and brief period of time.

A March government report showed that the FBI issued about 8,500 national security letter, or NSL, requests in 2000, the year prior to passage of the USA Patriot Act. By 2003, the number of requests had risen to 39,000 and to 56,000 in 2004 before falling to 47,000 in 2005. The overwhelming majority of the requests sought telephone billing records information, telephone or e-mail subscriber information or electronic communication transactional records.

And the more lucid version:
A federal judge struck down parts of the revised USA Patriot Act on Thursday, saying investigators must have a court's approval before they can order Internet providers to turn over records without telling customers.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the government orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review and that the recently rewritten Patriot Act "offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers."
Meanwhile, there's another victory!
Meanwhile, civil liberties groups notched another court victory in the fight against broad assertions of national security used to keep us in the dark. U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy on Wednesday said that if the National Security Agency wants to withhold public documents about its warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, it needs to come up with a better excuse than “they’re secret.” Ruling in a Freedom of Information Act suit, Kennedy ordered the Justice Department to come up with some more substantial reasons for withholding the documents by Oct. 26. “While the court is certainly sensitive to the government’s need to protect classified information and its deliberative processes,” wrote Kennedy, “essentially declaring ‘because we say so’ is an inadequate method for invoking exemption.” To which we can only add, amen.

For the Record: Our Leaders Loved Benchmarks Until Our Quislings and Puppets Failed to Meet So Many of Them

From the War Room:
The case of the disappearing benchmarks

How should we judge whether the "surge" is working? Should it matter that the Iraqi government isn't making the progress toward political reconciliation that the "surge" was supposed to make possible? Should it matter that the Iraqis haven't met a whole lot of the "benchmarks" both they and the Bush administration said they'd be meeting?

Here's an idea: Why don't we judge the success of the "surge" against the standard that George W. Bush himself set for it earlier this year?

At a Cabinet meeting on Feb. 5, 2007, the president explained: "What we're trying to do with this reinforcement of our troops is to provide enough space so that the Iraqi government can meet certain benchmarks or certain requirements for a unity government to survive and for the country to be strong. The success of that plan is going to depend upon the capacity and willingness of the Iraqis to do hard work, and we want to help them do that work."

That seems pretty simple to us. If the Iraqis were to do the "hard work" and "meet certain benchmarks," the "surge" would be a success. If they wouldn't or couldn't, then it would be a failure.

But for a lesson in setting goal posts when it's politically necessary and then moving them when the ball falls short, watch how the White House first embraced the idea of "benchmarks" as a test for the "surge" and then tore them down once it became clear that they wouldn't be met."

Previewing the "surge" on Jan. 10, 2007, a senior administration official said that "the Iraqi government needs to meet the benchmarks it has set in order to do the things on which a broader reconciliation are required." The benchmarks the senior administration official mentioned were all ones that remain unmet today: "They're the oil law; they're de-Baathification, narrowing the limitations of the de-Baathification law; they're provincial elections to bring the Sunnis back into the political process at the local level. There is also continuing, and we would hope even accelerating, the transition of security responsibility to Iraqis elsewhere in the country and in Baghdad, because if this works it will actually enable Iraqis sooner to provide security in Baghdad. And we have -- would like, and the Iraqis have made clear that one of their benchmarks is to take responsibility for security in the whole country by the end of the year."

In his weekly radio address on Jan. 13, 2007, the president himself said: "America will hold the Iraqi government to benchmarks it has announced. These include taking responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November, passing legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis, and spending $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction projects that will create new jobs. These are strong commitments. And the Iraqi government knows that it must meet them, or lose the support of the Iraqi and the American people."

Again, none of these benchmarks has been met. Does that matter? Counselor to the President Dan Bartlett said it would as he previewed Bush's State of the Union address on Jan. 23, 2007. Bartlett said the president would "make very clear that a key element of the new Iraq strategy requires an active and willing partner in the Iraqi government, that they have to take steps to achieve concrete benchmarks that everybody recognizes have to be achieved in order to get political progress on the ground."

On Feb. 2, 2007, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley reiterated that the benchmarks provided the standard against which the "surge" would have to be judged. "One of the advantages about the benchmarks that we have talked about and the president talked about is they are gauges for whether that strategy is succeeding, both narrowly, in terms of the Baghdad security plan, but also more broadly, because, as you know, some of those benchmarks involve the reconciliation effort," Hadley said. "So we are going to try and monitor the progress and our response is going to be, if we don't see progress, we're going to be talking to the Iraqis and emphasize the importance that we, and they take the steps that they need to do."

On Feb. 14, 2007, Bush said he was "paying close attention to whether or not the [Iraqi] government is meeting these benchmarks" and that he would "continue to remind Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki that he must do so."

On March 8, 2007, Hadley reminded us all that "these benchmarks people keep talking about ... are largely Iraqi benchmarks that they have set for themselves and that the president has endorsed, because they are the key elements of a national reconciliation among the groups."

Observing the fourth anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 19, 2007, the president said: "There's a lot more work to be done, and Iraq's leaders must continue to work to meet the benchmarks that [they] have set forward."

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, on March 28, 2007: "We believe in benchmarks, and we worked with the Iraqi government on benchmarks." The president, on May 10, 2007: "One message I have heard from people from both parties is that the idea of benchmarks makes sense. And I agree. It makes sense to have benchmarks as a part of our discussion on how to go forward." White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, on May 10, 2007: "Keep in mind, benchmarks also are not new. The president talked about them in [the] State of the Union. We talked about them in Amman in November. Secretary [Condi] Rice put a list of 17 together in a letter to Sen. [Carl] Levin. So you do need to have metrics." The president again, on May 17, 2007: "We understand that benchmarks are important."

Not too long after that -- as the Iraqi parliament prepared for its long summer break with virtually all of its work unfinished -- the White House backsliding began. Here's Snow on July 13, 2007: "If you simply look at benchmarks, you're going to miss a lot of the fine-print reporting ... that does give you a sense of a whole lot that's going on right now."

On Aug. 18, 2007, the president said that while "America will continue to urge Iraq's leaders to meet the benchmarks they have set" -- remember when America was going to "hold the Iraqi government to benchmarks it has announced"? -- we should all be "encouraged by the progress and reconciliation that are taking place at the local level." On Aug. 28, 2007, the president said it's "important to note that many of the goals behind these benchmarks are being achieved without legislation."

On Aug. 30, 2007, Snow told reporters it would be a "mistake to limit one's view of what goes on in Iraq to the benchmarks." Snow said the reports from ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus will present a view of Iraq "that's broader simply than the benchmarks," some of which he said are "not even appropriate right now." The "real question," Snow said, is "what's going on in Iraq?"

Right, but there was a time -- and it wasn't so long ago -- that the administration was insisting that the benchmarks would tell us "what's going on in Iraq," that they would be, in Hadley's words, the "gauges for whether [the president's] strategy is succeeding."

With the GAO reporting that Iraqis have met just three of the 18 benchmarks they set for themselves, those gauges have now all but disappeared.

Here's ambassador Crocker, talking to Katie Couric this week: "The legislative benchmarks are important, but I've been of the view, during most of the five months that I've been out here, that Iraq could achieve all of those legislative benchmarks and still not achieve national reconciliation. Conversely, you can get reconciliation without achieving the benchmarks. It's not, I think, a good litmus test for where this country is actually going."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

How Democracy Gets Stolen for Dummies

Bowing Before an American Tyranny

By Robert Parry
September 6, 2007

The 9/11 tragedy did become a demarcation point for the United States, although not in the way many Americans understand. Before that date six years ago, there existed an American Republic – albeit one in decline – but afterwards a New Age authoritarian state quickly took shape.

Though some defenders of the old Republic rose up, nobody was strong enough to protect it.

How this historic calamity happened – one of the most under-reported events of modern times – is the centerpiece of our new book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, which looks at the roles of aggressive Republicans, accommodating Democrats, bullying pundits and careerist journalists.

But the fact that the eclipse of the Republic did happen has gained more corroboration from a new book by Jack Goldsmith, the former chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) who clashed with senior White House lawyers over their expansive interpretation of presidential power.

“We’re going to push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop,” explained Vice President’s Dick Cheney’s legal counsel David Addington, according to Goldsmith’s new book, The Terror Presidency.

Goldsmith wrote that Addington “and, I presumed, his boss viewed power as the absence of constraint.”

However, “the absence of constraint” in the context of political leaders wielding the extraordinary authority of a powerful state is synonymous with tyranny, the antithesis of a democratic Republic with checks and balances, rule of law and respect for the will of an informed electorate.

This Bush tyranny combined its lust for unrestrained power with a parallel contempt for logic and objective information, becoming what might be called an imperial presidency in an anti-empirical world. Rationality and legality were brushed aside; action and toughness were all that mattered.

Even as President Bush stripped away the inalienable rights guaranteed by the Founders in the Constitution, he kept much of the population confused with misdirection, by asserting that he was taking these actions to defend "liberty" and "freedom."

In spring 2003, after becoming assistant attorney general at the influential Office of Legal Counsel, Goldsmith encountered the administration’s sophistry in the legal opinions that were the cornerstones of Bush’s claims of virtually unlimited presidential power in “wartime.”

“As I absorbed the opinions, I concluded that some were deeply flawed, sloppily reasoned, overbroad, and incautious in asserting extraordinary constitutional authorities on behalf of the President,” wrote Goldsmith, who regards himself as a conservative Republican though with a rational bent.

Goldsmith also was stunned to encounter the ideological extremism of Bush’s White House, which chafed at even the modest limits put on Bush’s spying power by the secret court created in 1978 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

In one February 2004 meeting, Addington remarked, “We’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious [FISA] court,” according to Goldsmith’s book.

The very idea that a senior government official would, even flippantly, welcome a terrorist attack as a way to panic the American people and further enhance Bush’s powers underscores how contemptuous the White House had become of the Founders’ vision of a constitutional Republic based on law and reason.

No Dissent

Bush’s White House also would brook no dissent from legal experts within the Justice Department. When Goldsmith questioned the legal reasoning behind Bush’s unilateral decision to waive the Geneva Conventions in regard to the “war on terror,” Addington lashed out angrily.

“The President has already decided that terrorists do not receive Geneva Convention protections,” Addington snapped. “You cannot question his decision.”

But Goldsmith proved to be a gutsy – if short-lived – bureaucratic infighter. When he suspended a legal opinion that permitted harsh interrogations of detainees, he did so without giving the White House advance warning.

On another occasion, when Goldsmith torpedoed a memo that permitted torture by narrowly defining it, he timed his move with the delivery of his resignation letter so the administration would find it tricky to reverse his opinion without drawing unwanted attention to the internal dispute.

Goldsmith left his influential position at the Office of Legal Counsel in July 2004 to return to academia.

Though the resistance from Goldsmith and a few others did complicate Bush’s consolidation of unlimited presidential power, the amassing of executive authority has continued to advance in the three years since Goldsmith left.

In September 2006, for instance, the Republican-controlled Congress pushed through the Military Commissions Act, which in effect creates an extra-constitutional legal system for handling a wide range of cases that Bush asserts involve “unlawful enemy combatants” and their accomplices, whether foreign or domestic.

Even after Democrats wrested control of Congress from the Republicans in November 2006, Bush continued to expand his powers. In May 2007, the Bush administration reversed long-standing legal policies and cleared the way for using powerful spy satellites against domestic targets.

Also in spring 2007, Congress acquiesced to giving Bush another blank check to fund the Iraq War. Then, just before the August recess, Democrats caved in to Bush’s demands for even more sweeping authority to spy on Americans who communicate or travel abroad.

So, the larger questions have yet to be resolved: Can Bush’s pursuit of what Goldsmith termed the “absence of constraint” be halted and reversed? Will some “larger force” finally materialize to stop the pushing from Addington and other Bush loyalists?

Can the great American Republic be salvaged and revived?

And the answer: Not if history's the judge.

Larry Craig: Right Wing Principle in Action

That is, a complete absence of principle. Proven a liar and a moron, he's clearly unfit for a public role. He is absolutely no leader.

Micro$oft and the Triumph of the Corruption of Capitalism

One wonders why a democracy would make corporations "more equal" than people (citizens).

Here's how M$ tried to make it's new word processing format a standard. (Maybe when I have time I'll explain how the .doc format is actually a true standard.)
"It turns out there's an interesting correlation between Transparency International's 'corruption perceptions index' and voting behavior in ISO's OOXML decision. Countries with a lower score (more corruption) on the 2006 CPI were more likely to vote in favor of OOXML, and those with a higher score were less likely. According to the analysis, 'This statistics supports with a P value of 0.07328 the hypothesis that the corrupted countries were more likely to vote for approval (one-tailed Fisher's Exact test). In other words, simplified a bit: the likelihood that there was no positive correlation between the corruption level and probability of an approval vote, that is, this is just a random effect, is about 7%.' Of course, correlation doesn't prove causality."

"Just days after Microsoft's attempt to buy the Swedish vote on OOXML came to light, SIS declared its own vote invalid. The post at Groklaw references a ComputerWorld article with revelations from Microsoft: 'Microsoft Corp. admitted Wednesday that an employee at its Swedish subsidiary offered monetary compensation to partners for voting in favor of the Office Open XML document format's approval as an ISO standard. Microsoft said the offer, when discovered, was quickly retracted and that its Sweden managers voluntarily notified the SIS, the national standards body. "We had a situation where an employee sent a communication via e-mail that was inconsistent with our corporate policy," said Tom Robertson, general manager for interoperability and standards at Microsoft. "That communication had no impact on the final vote." ...'"

Really, now, shouldn't one be ashamed for supporting this vile company in anyway if one absolutely need not to?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Links, We Finally Have Links Again!

Look over there, or there. Wherever.

Blogger has finally made adding links as easy as, well, posting to a blog!

Olbermann Gives Our Beloved Leader a Big Wet Kiss

And so he is back from his annual surprise gratuitous photo-op in Iraq, and what a sorry spectacle it was. But it was nothing compared to the spectacle of one unfiltered, unguarded, horrifying quotation in the new biography to which Mr. Bush has consented.

As he deceived the troops at Al-Asad Air Base yesterday with the tantalizing prospect that some of them might not have to risk being killed and might get to go home, Mr. Bush probably did not know that, with his own words, he had already proved that he had been lying, is lying and will be lying about Iraq.

He presumably did not know that there had already appeared those damning excerpts from Robert Draper's book “Dead Certain."

“I'm playing for October-November," Mr. Bush said to Draper. That, evidently, is the time during which, he thinks he can sell us the real plan, which is “to get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence."

Comfortable, that is, with saying about Iraq, again quoting the President, “stay... longer."

And there it is. We've caught you. Your goal is not to bring some troops home, maybe, if we let you have your way now. Your goal is not to set the stage for eventual withdrawal. You are, to use your own disrespectful, tone-deaf word, playing at getting the next Republican nominee to agree to jump into this bottomless pit with you, and take us with him, as we stay in Iraq for another year, and another, and another, and anon.

Everything you said about Iraq yesterday, and everything you will say, is a deception, for the purpose of this one cynical, unacceptable, brutal goal: perpetuating this war indefinitely.

War today, war tomorrow, war forever!

And you are playing at it! Playing!

A man with any self respect, having inadvertently revealed such an evil secret, would have already resigned and fled the country! You have no remaining credibility about Iraq.

And yet, yesterday at Al-Asad, Mr. Bush kept playing, and this time, using the second of his two faces.

The president told reporters, “They (General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker) tell me if the kind of success we are now seeing continues, it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces."

And so, Mr. Bush got his fraudulent headlines today. “Bush May Bring Some Troops Home."

While the reality is, we know from what he told Draper, that the president's true hope is that they will not come home; but that they will stay there, because he is keeping them there now, in hope that those from his political party fighting to succeed him will prolong this unendurable disaster into the next decade.

But, to a country dying of thirst, the president seemed to vaguely promise a drink from a full canteen -- a promise predicated on the assumption that he is not lying.

Yet you are lying, Mr. Bush. Again. But now, we know why.

Who'd Believe this Crap? Our Beloved Leader's Unbelieveable, Incredible Lies

Our Beloved Leader claims, undoubtedly on orders, that the Iraqi armed forces were dismantled without his knowledge by his Iraq viceroy.


But we only report, you decide. A little raw data:
May 22, 2003
From: Paul Bremer
To: The President of the United States
Through: The Secretary of Defense

Mr. President:

After a week on the ground, I thought it might be useful to give you my first impressions of the situation here. We have two important goals in this immediate period. We must make it clear to everyone that we mean business: that Saddam and the Baathists are finished. And we must show the average Iraqi that his life will be better.

I have now visited cities in the North and South and have traveled around Baghdad every day, speaking often to Iraqis on the streets or in stores. As I have moved around, there has been an almost universal expression of thanks to the US and to you in particular for freeing Iraq from Saddam's tyranny. In the northern town of Mosul yesterday, an old man, under the impression that I was President Bush (he apparently has poor TV reception), rushed up and planted two very wet and hairy kisses on my cheeks.( Such events confirm the wisdom of the ancient custom of sending emissaries to far away lands).

No doubt you have seen reports of demonstrations criticizing America. But these relate almost entirely to the continued lack of order (which is largely a Baghdad phenomenon) and basic services. No one publicly supports Saddam.

The dissolution of his chosen instrument of political domination, the Baath Party, has been very well received. Several Iraqis have told me, literally with tears in their eyes, that they have waited 30 years for this moment. While the resulting dismissal of public servants has caused some inefficiencies and griping, in most cases younger civil servants have expressed pleasure, even joy, at the measure. (At a minimum they are attracted to the prospect of promotion opportunities.) I will parallel this step with an even more robust measure dissolving Saddam's military and intelligence structures to emphasize that we mean business. We are seeing signs that the outlawed organizations are behind some of the street violence here.

We will combine these declaratory policies with vigorous steps to impose law and order on the streets of Baghdad. This, far more than the much-discussed evolution of political structures, is what dominates the life of the average urban resident. General McKiernan and I are cooperating closely to increase the visible presence of police and armed forces on the streets. People must no longer fear to send their children to school or their wives to work.

Restoring law and order is a necessary but insufficient condition for success. We face a series of urgent issues involving the restoration of basic services. We have made great progress under Jay Garner's leadership. Iraqis in the north and south have more electricity, and residents of Basra have more water, than they had before the war. In Baghdad our priority remains getting electricity back to prewar levels, for on it also depend the water and sewer systems.

I have relaunched the political dialogue with Iraqi leaders. My message is that full sovereignty under an Iraqi government can come after democratic elections, which themselves must be based on a constitution agreed by all the people. This process will take time. Patience will be a virtue (though evidence of it is thus far lacking). At the same time, I am stressing that we are prepared to move that process as quickly as the Iraqis provided it is one that leads to a representative government at peace with its neighbors.

Our immediate goal will be to arrange a National Conference this summer which will set in motion the writing of a constitution, and reform of the judicial, legal and economic systems. As the Iraqis are progressively more prepared to assume responsibility, we would be prepared to give it to them. But we must be firm and clear: a legitimate sovereign Iraqi government must be built on a well-prepared base.


Jerry Bremer
May 20, 2003
May 23, 2003

The Honorable L. Paul Bremer
Coalition Provisional Authority

Dear Jerry:

Thank you for your May 22nd letter. Your leadership is apparent. You have quickly made a positive and significant impact. You have my full support and confidence. You also have the backing of our Administration that knows our work will take time. We will fend off the impatient as you and your team steadily improve the lives of the Iraqi people.

I am told living conditions for ORHA are terrible. Improve them quickly so decisions are sound and life is bearable.

All my best.


George W. Bush

Okay, so I have trouble believing Our Leader wrote that or, for that matter, ever read it....

And Another Great Moment in the Triumph of Capitalism; or Proof that Intellectualism is without Worth in the Modern World

"Peter Murray Rust, a chemist at Cambridge University, was lost for words when he found Oxford University Press's website demanded $48 from him to access his own scientific paper, in which he holds copyright and which he released under a Creative Commons license. As he writes, the journal in question was "selling my intellectual property, without my permission, against the terms of the license (no commercial use)." In the light of this kind of copyright abuse and of the PRISM Coalition, a new FUD group set up by scientific publishers to discredit open access, isn't it time to say enough is enough, and demand free access to the research we pay for through our taxes?"

An Interesting Moment in Capitalism

Screen names censored not for obscenity, profanity or offensiveness -- just because the controlling company would be offended. (Of course, the company is Micro$oft.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Freedom in America

Americans have long maintained that a man’s home is his castle and that he has the right to defend it from unlawful intruders. Unfortunately, that right may be disappearing. Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.

These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

This paper presents a history and overview of the issue of paramilitary drug raids, provides an extensive catalogue of abuses and mistaken raids, and offers recommendations for reform.
Link and links.

Voting in the Modern Era: An Exercise in Futility?

What advantage was e-voting to bring the voters? A wasted vote? One easier controlled by others?
More than seventy thousand votes in the recent Scottish elections were rejected by the electronic counting machines, with no human oversight.

The news has dismayed observers, with new First Minister Alex Salmond describing the news as "astonishing", and deeply disturbing. He told the BBC that he had been under the impression that all discounted ballots were checked by a person.

The discovery of the automatic discounting of votes was uncovered in a BBC investigation. The organisation says the Scotland Office ordered certain types of ballot papers should be automatically rejected as spoilt by the counting machines.

If a ballot had a mark in one column, but no mark in the other, the machines were instructed to count the visible vote and discard the other one. Then the ballot papers were to be filed alongside all the others.

In total, 140,000 ballots were logged as spoilt. The BBC says more than half of these were rejected by the machines, with no chance for a person to judge whether or not the ballot was actually spoilt.


National Insecurity

So when we were in China in July, we toured an elite school. One of the classes was of 7, 8, 9 year olds (approximately) learning to program. Well, if they're being taight that at that young age, where do they go from there?

Here, I guessed:
Chinese military hacked into Pentagon
By Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington and Richard McGregor in Beijing
Published: September 3 2007 19:00 | Last updated: September 3 2007 20:53

The Chinese military hacked into a Pentagon computer network in June in the most successful cyber attack on the US defence department, say American ­officials.

The Pentagon acknowledged shutting down part of a computer system serving the office of Robert Gates, defence secretary, but declined to say who it believed was behind the attack.

Current and former officials have told the Financial Times an internal investigation has revealed that the incursion came from the People’s Liberation Army.

One senior US official said the Pentagon had pinpointed the exact origins of the attack. Another person familiar with the event said there was a “very high level of confidence...trending towards total certainty” that the PLA was responsible. The defence ministry in Beijing declined to comment on Monday.

Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, raised reports of Chinese infiltration of German government computers with Wen Jiabao, China’s premier, in a visit to Beijing, after which the Chinese foreign ministry said the government opposed and forbade “any criminal acts undermining computer systems, including hacking”.

“We have explicit laws and regulations in this regard,” said Jiang Yu, from the ministry. “Hacking is a global issue and China is frequently a victim.”

George W. Bush, US president, is due to meet Hu Jintao, China’s president, on Thursday in Australia prior to the Apec summit.

The PLA regularly probes US military networks – and the Pentagon is widely assumed to scan Chinese networks – but US officials said the penetration in June raised concerns to a new level because of fears that China had shown it could disrupt systems at critical times.

“The PLA has demonstrated the ability to conduct attacks that disable our system...and the ability in a conflict situation to re-enter and disrupt on a very large scale,” said a former official, who said the PLA had penetrated the networks of US defence companies and think-tanks.

Hackers from numerous locations in China spent several months probing the Pentagon system before overcoming its defences, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Pentagon took down the network for more than a week while the attacks continued, and is to conduct a comprehensive diagnosis. “These are multiple wake-up calls stirring us to levels of more aggressive vigilance,” said Richard Lawless, the Pentagon’s top Asia official at the time of the attacks.

The Pentagon is still investigating how much data was downloaded, but one person with knowledge of the attack said most of the information was probably “unclassified”. He said the event had forced officials to reconsider the kind of information they send over unsecured e-mail systems.

John Hamre, a Clinton-era deputy defence secretary involved with cyber security, said that while he had no knowledge of the June attack, criminal groups sometimes masked cyber attacks to make it appear they came from government computers in a particular country.

The National Security Council said the White House had created a team of experts to consider whether the administration needed to restrict the use of BlackBerries because of concerns about cyber espionage.

The Wingnut Mind, As it Were

Thomas Sowell offers superb Exhibit of the Right-wing Mind

Thomas Sowell, from his Townhall column today:
We all believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. Some on the left believe that they are innocent even after being proven guilty.
Thomas Sowell, March 2007, on Lewis Libby's conviction on four felony counts:
In the course of this pointless investigation, it turned out that some of Scooter Libby's statements conflicted with the statements of some reporters. So Libby was prosecuted for perjury and obstruction of justice -- and a Washington jury convicted him.
Not only did Libby's recollections differ from that of some reporters, some of those reporters differed among themselves as to what had been said and some differed in their later testimony from what they had said in their earlier testimony.
The information about Joe Wilson's wife was so incidental and trivial at the time that it is hardly surprising that it was not fixed in people's minds as something memorable. Only later hype in the media made it look big.
With Libby handling heavy duties in the White House, there is no reason for his memory to be expected to be better than that of others about something like this -- much less to convict him of perjury. . . .
A man's life has been ruined because his memories differed from that of others -- whose memories also differed among themselves -- and media liberals are exulting as if their conspiracy theories had been vindicated.
Or, put another way, Sowell -- like most of the Bush-following movement -- believes Libby to be innocent even after he was proven guilty. My favorite example, from right-wing talk radio host, National Review contributor, and rule-of-law tough guy Mark Levin: "The way I see it, Lewis Libby was about to become a political prisoner and the president prevented that."
My second favorite example comes courtesy of Fred Thompson, whose stump speech throughout the Summer included both a stirring sermon regarding the Critical Importance of the Rule of Law and a demand that convicted felon Lewis Libby be pardoned because he did nothing wrong. Here is Thompson in the very same speech:
People will be able to rely upon the rules, usually long established, and their consistent application. This engenders respect for the law. It is a sad irony that a nation that is so dedicated to the rule of law is doing so much to undermine the respect for it. . . .
I didn't know Scooter Libby, but I did know something about this intersection of law, politics, special counsels and intelligence. And it was obvious to me that what was happening was not right. So I called him to see what I could do to help, and along the way we became friends. You know the rest of the story: a D.C. jury convicted him. . . . I have called for a pardon for Scooter Libby.
And this to say nothing of the whole slew of right-wing political figures who have been convicted of crimes yet defended as innocent and kept in right-wing political power circles -- from Oliver North to Eliot Abrams to John Poindexter. Yet, fascinatingly, Sowell can still write this sentence without any of this occurring to him: "Some on the left believe that [people] are innocent even after being proven guilty."
Neither Thomas Sowell nor this specific episode, standing alone, is particularly significant, but I cannot help being endlessly amazed by the capacity of right-wing authoritarians so blatantly to hold and espouse completely contradictory thoughts at once without realizing they are doing it. This is yet more evidence that Psychology Professor Bob Altemeyer, in his book The Authoritarians (.pdf), has provided the definitive account of the psychological impulses driving right-wing followers:
A high [right-wing authoritarian] can have all sorts of illogical, self-contradictory and widely refuted ideas rattling around in various boxes in his brain, and never notice it. . . .
Research reveals that authoritarian followers drive through life under the influence of impaired thinking a lot more than most people do, exhibiting sloppy reasoning, highly compartmentalized beliefs, double standards, hypocrisy, self-blindness, a profound ethnocentrism, and -- to top it all off -- a ferocious dogmatism that makes it unlikely anyone could ever change their minds with evidence or logic.
As Altemeyer acknowledges, everyone of every type is prone to contradictory and self-interested reasoning. But, as his research demonstrates, those whose primary allegiance is to authority figures and whose identity is centrally grounded in their authority-based political movement have, as their overarching goal, a defense of their movement and attacks on the enemy. Holding blatantly contradictory thoughts at the same time, like the ones expressed here by Sowell, become normalized -- mere tools for achieving the only goal that matters.
When Sowell went to write the sentence "some on the left believe that [people] are innocent even after being proven guilty," a basically functioning brain should have alerted him to the fact that he and his ideological comrades constantly do exactly that, and did precisely that all year long with regard to the conviction of Lewis Libby. Somehow, though, that function fails, and Sowell -- without realizing he is doing so -- accuses the "left" of doing what he himself and his political movement just did in the most prominent criminal case of the year. That is but a vivid illustration of how warped and removed from basic logic is the "reasoning" of this political movement.

UPDATE: Remarkably, Sowell's two sentences from today actually contain another completely separate contradiction. His claim that "we all believe that people are innocent until proven guilty" would likely come as quite a surprise to Jose Padilla and scores of other people imprisoned for years with no charges and no trial based on the belief among Sowell's political comrades that those accused of being Terrorists by the Leader should be presumed to be guilty and no trial is necessary even in order to imprison them indefinitely.
The political movement of which Sowell is a part actually believes that its loyal members who are convicted of crimes are innocent, while those who have been convicted of nothing but who are accused by the Leader should be presumed guilty. In just two short sentences, Sowell espouses two standards which are the very opposite of the ones he and his political movement actually embrace.

UPDATE II: Our country's authoritarians are glorifying the Leader today like it's 2003, all for his very brave (and covert) sneaking into Iraq. Jules Crittenden (cousin of David Frum) uses language typically reserved for Jesus to describe Bush's every movement:
NPR reporting he's landed, enroute to an econmic summit in Australia. Web reports now coming in.
AP: He's in Anbar, landed at Al-Asad. . . . he's expected to meet with al-Maliki and Sunni tribal leaders who've joined the United States and the Iraqi government against al-Qaeda.
He is risen. This is the same Jules Crittenden who, back in January on the day of the President's speech unveiling the Surge, began his post this way: "George Bush will address us tonight, and show us the way forward." He will show us the way forward.
Similarly, Blue Texan notes that Glenn Reynolds -- in addition to linking to the Crittenden post above -- also linked to a post which began this way: "Unlike the last Commander-in-chief, is there any doubt that the men and women who serve our country love President Bush." Finally, Fred Kagan, writing in National Review, declared that Bush's trip "should be recognized as at least the Gettysburg of this war" -- at least -- and that the Leader's Glorious Visit "could well mark a key turning point in the war in Iraq and the war on terror."
He is Jesus. He is Lincoln. He is beloved by Our Troops. He "shows us the way forward." He is Our Leader.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Rudy Beats Crime -- in his Lies

How much credit does Giuliani deserve for fighting crime?
By Wes Allison
Published on Saturday, September 1st, 2007 at 06:13 p.m.

SUMMARY: Rudy Giuliani touts his crime-fighting record from his days as mayor of New York, but many experts don't think he deserves all the credit he takes.

The brash-talking former mayor, the candidate vying for the title of real law-and-order star, has made it a centerpiece of his campaign: Under his leadership, New York City ascended from crime capital to America’s safest big city.

At campaign stops, in interviews and in speeches, Giuliani, a top Republican contender for president, tells voters that he led the Big Apple’s amazing transformation, driving down crime and returning the streets to residents and visitors alike.

And it’s true. The violent crime rate dropped by 56 percent during the eight years he served as mayor. Murder, down nearly two-thirds. Robbery, down 67 percent. Aggravated assault, down 28 percent.

A city pegged as ungovernable was suddenly born again.

But Giuliani’s big claims come with big caveats. While the statistics he cites are accurate, independent experts and studies of the phenomenon suggest Giuliani exaggerates his role. Consider:

• Violent crime in New York began falling three years before Giuliani took office in 1994, U.S. Justice Department records show. Property crime began falling four years before. The decline accelerated during his administration, but the “turnaround” he claims credit for started before him.

• New York was no anomaly, but was part of a trend that saw crime fall sharply nationwide in the 1990s, particularly in big cities. The city with the best record for reducing violent crime during this period? San Francisco.

• Independent studies generally have failed to link the tactics of the Giuliani administration with the large decrease in crime rates.

Rather, many criminologists believe the decline in New York, as in Chicago, San Diego, Miami and elsewhere, was the result of a complex mix of social and demographic changes, including a break in the crack cocaine epidemic, an improving economy, and increased prison terms for proven lawbreakers.

Better policing tactics and policies were likely part of it, experts say, but not to the extent Giuliani claims.

“Demographics have an awful lot to do with this, and these are very, very large social forces,” said Jeffrey Fagan, co-director of the Center for Crime, Community and Law at the Columbia Law School in New York. “It’s hard to imagine policing, no matter how smart and effective it is, giving the kind of leverage ... to move a macro force like crime.”

To be sure, even Giuliani’s critics, including Fagan, praise him for reorganizing the New York Police Department and providing the resources it needed. He gave precinct captains decision-making authority and backed CompStat, an innovative program that tracked crime and held commanders responsible for their sectors.

He also brought confidence to a police force that felt besieged and demoralized under the previous Democratic administration. Howard Safir, the city’s police commissioner from 1996 to 2000, said Giuliani deserves the credit because he provided leadership and badly needed support.

More pointedly, Giuliani instituted a zero-tolerance approach to crime-fighting, which allowed police to stop and frisk suspicious people and make arrests for minor infractions that once had been ignored. This approach was based on a theory called “Broken Windows,” by criminologists George Kelling and James Q. Wilson, which contends that low-level disorder leads to increased blight and crime. Cracking down on minor offenses such as loitering, prostitution and aggressive panhandling is the way to prevent more serious ones.

“I was criticized for being too aggressive about the enforcement of the laws ... but the reality is, I began with the city that was the crime capital of America,” Giuliani told Fox News Sunday in May. “When I left it was the safest large city in America. You don’t do that by not aggressively enforcing the laws.”

A 2001 study by Kelling and William Sousa, published by the conservative Manhattan Institute, supported Giuliani’s application of the Broken Windows theory, and it noted the increase in misdemeanor arrests in the 1990s correlated with New York’s decrease in homicides.

But whether the two are related remains a matter of debate. As one team of skeptical researchers noted, the decrease in murders also corresponded with the rise in New York Yankees baseball championships.

Violent crime in New York began to turn in 1990, but polls found most New Yorkers didn’t feel it. They were receptive in 1993 to Giuliani’s campaign promises to hire more cops and target not just the murder but the mayhem.

When he took office in 1994, Giuliani kept his word. Over the next eight years, the NYPD grew from 28,000 officers to 40,000. He hired William Bratton, a Broken Windows disciple who cracked down on graffiti, fare-jumping and other minor offenses in the city’s transit system. Crime in the subways dropped about 27 percent.

Bratton and a deputy commissioner, the late Jack Maple, also developed what Giuliani later called the crown jewel of his administration: CompStat.

Before Bratton, crime statistics were compiled downtown, and then largely shelved. Bratton invested in new computers that allowed the department to track crimes weekly. Precinct commanders, on the hook for crime rates in their sectors, had the latitude to try new tactics.

“The precinct commander would have known his stats for the week, and the people downtown would know the stats. So when they had these weekly meetings, they were more or less discussing crime in real time,” said Dennis C. Smith, a professor at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service who has studied CompStat since its inception. “That was transformative.”

Dozens of cities have implemented similar programs based on New York’s apparent success. Giuliani has promised that if elected president, he will use CompStat-style programs to improve the federal government.

But Andrew Karmen, a sociologist and criminologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, notes that crime is now rising in several CompStat copycats, including Boston and Baltimore. “CompStat is not some sort of sure-fire, miracle way of organizing an agency and getting maximum output from it,” said Karmen, author of New York Murder Mystery: The True Story of the Crime Crash of the 1990s.

Safir, who replaced Bratton, says the proof that CompStat works is the continuing decline in crime in New York, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg has improved the system.

“CompStat is not brain science, CompStat is holding people accountable for performance,” said Safir, chairman of First Responders for Rudy. “I’ve watched lots of police departments that implemented CompStat fail because they were unwilling to make the hard choices.”

From a political standpoint, Giuliani’s crime-fighting policies are tough to assail: Intuitively, they just make sense.

But from the standpoint of the social scientist, public policies have costs and consequences — some unintended.

Part of Giuliani’s effort was a program called “Stop and Frisk,” which encouraged police to stop suspicious people on the street to look for guns, outstanding warrants or drugs.

Aside from questions it raised about constitutionality, a 1999 study by the New York Attorney General’s Office found that “Stop and Frisk” was unevenly applied — minorities were stopped disproportionately — and led to relatively few arrests. Often, people were detained but never charged. Although Giuliani’s policies appear to have passed the ultimate test — crime did go down — researchers seeking empirical evidence have come up short.

In a 2003 review, the National Research Council found little data to support the claim that the Broken Windows theory of policing works.

“There is a widespread perception among police policymakers and the public that enforcement strategies (primarily arrest) applied broadly against offenders committing minor offenses lead to reductions in serious crime,” the report said. “Research does not provide strong support for this proposition.”

One researcher who examined New York’s use of Broken Windows concluded that it wasn’t much of a factor.

“I am pretty confident even without Broken Windows policing in New York City, crime would have come down to the extent that it did,” said Bernard Harcourt, a professor of law and criminology at the University of Chicago. “New York was a leader, but not in every category, and on every comparison.” Kelling, the father of Broken Windows, says critics raise “a valid point that science has not proven that it was Broken Windows or it was the police department in New York City. But one has to ignore a hell of a lot of coincidences to deny that it’s not.”

Giuliani has promised to take the strategies he used in New York to the nation. The idea is that if he could shine the Big Apple, he can restore order to Washington, and keep America safe. There would just be a whole lot more at stake.
Link and more.