Thursday, June 16, 2005


Bush League Justice

A lawyer will be appointed for you, but the prosecution won't let that lawyer see you until you've already agreed to plead guilty:
Commander Swift read a letter in which the chief prosecutor, Col. Fred Borch of the Army, wrote that he would ensure that a defense lawyer be given access to Mr. Hamdan and that "such access shall continue so long as we are engaged in pretrial negotiations."

Commander Swift said, "I was deeply troubled that to ensure that Mr. Hamdan would plead guilty as planned, the chief prosecutor's request came with a critical condition that the defense counsel was for the limited purpose of 'negotiating a guilty plea' to an unspecified offense and that Mr. Hamdan's access to counsel was conditioned on his willingness to negotiate such a plea."

General Hemingway testified that Commander Swift was mistaken and that, "in the first place, the chief defense counsel is the individual who appointed Lt. Cmdr. Swift to defend Mr. Hamdan, not the prosecutor."
(Source: New York Times Lawyer Says Military Tried to Coerce Detainee's Plea, June 16, 2005 [emphasis added.])
Note the clever use of irrelevant detail - Commander Swift didn't say he was appointed by the prosecutor, he said the prosecutor wouldn't let Commander Swift see Mr. Hamdan until after Mr. Hamdant agreed to plead guilty. There have been a number of false guilty pleas in recent years after coercive police interrogations. Remember the Central Park Jogger case? The actual rapist committed several other attacks while the prosecutors were busy convicting black youths later proved innocent by DNA evidence. We can't afford similar mistakes at Guantanamo that might allow dangerous terrorists roam free while possibly innocent folks rot in prison with their pictures prominently displayed on Al Qaida recruiting posters.


Gitmo Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

The closer Fearless Leader's grip on power comes to its constitutionally-mandated end, the more Congress seems willing to call him on his hubris. Case in point:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican senators called on Wednesday for the rights of foreign terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay prison to be legally defined even as the Bush administration said the inmates could be jailed there "in perpetuity."
At a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Republican Chairman Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said Congress should help to define the legal rights of the inmates at the prison, which the panel's top Democrat called "an international embarrassment."
(Source: Reuters Guantanamo inmates can be held 'in perpetuity'- US, June 15, 2005
First the House passes restrictions to the misnamed "'Patriot' Act" and now the Senate takes a stand on the prisoner situation at Guantanamo.

Are they posturing to show a pretence of independence before giving W and his Bush League minions everything they want? Are they looking forward three or four years to the war crime trials of various Bush League honchos? Have they really gotten to the point where they're mad as heck and aren't going to take it anymore? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


A Win for Privacy

The "'Patriot' Act" hits a snag:
The House voted 238-187 to scale back the government's powers to conduct secret investigations that were authorized by the Patriot Act, a post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism law.

"We can fight terrorism without undermining basic constitutional rights. That's what the message of today is about," said Rep. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who pushed the measure through the House with the support of 38 Republicans.
(Source: Reuters US House votes to curb Patriot Act, defies Bush, June 15, 2005)
maybe Tom DeLay was too busy avoiding indictment to keep the troops in line - or maybe they just figure they'll put all the secret investigation stuff back in during the conference committee stage...


The Bush League vs. States' Rights

Can I believe my eyes? Is The Bush league actually putting citizens' safety before corporate profits?
For the first time, the Bush administration is endorsing mandatory requirements for heightened security at chemical plants, many of which homeland defense experts consider highlyvulnerable to catastrophic terrorist attack.
Until this week, administration officials had embraced the chemical industry's proposals for voluntary security precautions, though they had warned that the day might arrive when industry foot-dragging would compel a crackdown.
(Source: Washington Post Chemical Security Upgrades Are Urged, June 15, 2005.)
Well, no - it turns out there's another reason for this surprising shift:
The chemical council has dropped its opposition to mandatory security in part because several states are drawing up their own chemical security laws, creating the danger of a hodgepodge of regulations, officials said.
(Source: Chemical Security Upgrades Are Urged)
So, W and his Bush League minions plan to enact federal regulations (written by chemical industry lobbyists, no doubt) to supercede proposed (more effective) state regulations? What ever happened to the hazards of big government? Doesn't the Bush Administration still believe in States' Rights?

(The concept of federal-level regulations to prevent a "race to the bottom" is a good one. However, imposing federal regulations that revoke more effective state laws is not good.)

Monday, June 13, 2005


Committee of Pots Discovers Kettles are Black - Demand Changes

The UN needs reforms, but the US isn't in a very good position to make these criticisms:
UNITED NATIONS, June 12 - A Congressionally mandated panel will report this week that the United Nations suffers from poor management, "dismal" staff morale and lack of accountability and professional ethics but will acknowledge the broad changes proposed for the organization by Secretary General Kofi Annan and urge the United States to support them.

Among its recommendations, the panel says the United Nations should put in place corporate style oversight bodies and personnel standards to improve performance. It also calls on the United Nations to create a rapid reaction capability from its member states' armed forces to prevent genocide, mass killing and sustained major human rights violations before they occur.
(Source: Warren Hoge, New York Times U.S. Panel's Report Criticizes U.N. and Proposes Overhaul June 13, 2005)
"Corporate-style management systems" like the highly effective systems employed by Custer Battles? Maybe the UN should hire Paul Bremer as a consultant - he sure got the Coalition Provisional Authority running well in Iraq:
Iraq is becoming 'free fraud' zone
Corruption in Iraq under US-led CPA may dwarf UN oil-for-food scandal.
By Tom Regan

A former senior advisor to the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which ran Iraq until the election of an interim Iraq government last January, says that the US government's refusal to prosecute US firms accused of corruption in Iraq is turning the country into a "free fraud zone."
(Source: Christian Science Monitor, April 7, 2005. [emphasis added.])
Maybe that's not fair, though - maybe the committee wants the UN to model itself on a Fortune 500 company - like General Motors...

Sunday, June 12, 2005


GM's Highly Paid Management Killing Company

The folks who built the GM Aztek are losing their jobs while the folks who ordered them to make that money loser get incentive bonuses. What's wrong with this picture? Forbes magazine said this:
But that's not the biggest problem. When they brought Aztek out, the AWD wasn't ready, so GM launched the vehicle and sold it for five months without AWD. This might work in places such as California and Texas, where there's rarely snow or ice. But I think this omission cost the Aztek half its potential sales. Even worse, the vehicle is now labeled a loser, a label that's practically impossible to change.

Once again, GM blows a crucial launch. This worries me.
(Source: Jerry Flint, Forbes Magazine The Pontiac Aztek: GM Stumbles Again January 26, 2001.
Fast forward to 2005:
What ails GM today is much the same as what ailed it then -- and it's not just a matter of big pension plans, health care costs for workers or undervalued Asian currencies. The problem is that GM has forgotten how to make cars that people want to buy.

That's why the 25,000 layoffs that GM announced on Tuesday were only part of the week's distressing news for the automaker. The company also said that it is hard at work at a concept car called the Buick Centieme, a seven-passenger "crossover" vehicle designed to compete with popular rivals from Honda, Ford and Chrysler. (Crossovers have SUV attributes, but are built on car, not truck, platforms.) GM's lack of a seven-seat crossover wagon to sell in 2005 is a problem now, but the new model car won't arrive until sometime between 2007 and 2009. Will it be substantially better than what I could buy today? GM has never behaved as if it understood that the competition is always moving forward. The car I can buy today is not something I want in four years. The company might as well still be stuck in the Mona Lisa center.
(Source: Maryann N. Keller Washington Post Dull at Any Speed
Yeah, when sales go down, manufacturing plants must shut down, too. However, GM is pushing further worker salary and benefit cuts as the solution. Where are the management salary cuts? They're the ones that screwed up, shouldn't failure be punished with something other than a multi-million dollar golden parachute?


Terrorism Expanding

Looks like some of the explosives stolen from Saddam's (unguarded after the US invasion) weapons depots have made it across the border into Iran:
Bombs kill 7, wound 73 in Iran before election
Sun Jun 12, 2005 1:03 PM ET

By Hossein Jasseb

AHVAZ, Iran (Reuters) - Bomb blasts in Tehran and the southwestern oil city of Ahvaz killed at least seven people and wounded 73 on Sunday, five days before Iran's presidential election.

Four bombs in Ahvaz, capital of the partly Arabic-speaking province of Khuzestan, targeted government buildings.

"We had six martyrs and 70 wounded," Ahvaz governor Mohammad Jaafar Sarrami told Reuters.

The Popular Democratic Front of Ahvaz, which is campaigning for an independent Khuzestan, denied it was behind the attacks, but said another Arab group calling itself the Ahvazi Revolutionary Martyrs' Brigades had claimed responsibility.
I expect the right-wing blogosphere's reaction to be filled with phrases like "poetic justice." Rather than enter into a debate over whether and to what extent Iran supported "terrorists" versus "freedom fighters," I'll merely note it is in nobody's interest for the car bomber philosophy of "one less person, one less vote" to get exported into yet another country. After all, it's only a matter of time before Iran's conspiracy theorists start blaming the CIA for these bombs, and decide revenge is necessary...


Bush League Losing the Drug War, Too

Seems like the war against terror isn't the only war W and his Bush league minions are losing in Iraq:
"The pattern is similar to what we have seen in other post-conflict situations," Ghodse said at a recent news conference. "Whether it is due to war or disaster, weakening of border controls and security infrastructure make countries into convenient logistic and transit points, not only for international terrorists and militants but also for drug traffickers. It is therefore all the more important that both the government of Iraq as well as the international community act swiftly and take preventive measures before the situation escalates."
(Source: Washington Post Iraq Used For Transit Of Drugs, Officials Say, June 12, 2005.)
Increased terrorism, contents of unguarded ammunition bunkers disappearing, "dual-use" equipment for making WMDs vanishing, increased opium poppy farming in Afghanistan, and now drug smuggling across Iraq's largely unguarded borders and the threat of drug-smuggling riches corrupting yet another government in the South America cocaine model. Wow, I'm sure impressed with W's "leadership" and "vision."

But maybe that's unfair, after all, who could have forseen such chaos? Other than the British, of course:
Memo: U.S. Lacked Full Postwar Iraq Plan
Advisers to Blair Predicted Instability

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 12, 2005; Page A01

A briefing paper prepared for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers eight months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq concluded that the U.S. military was not preparing adequately for what the British memo predicted would be a "protracted and costly" postwar occupation of that country.
In its introduction, the memo "Iraq: Conditions for Military Action" notes that U.S. "military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace," but adds that "little thought" has been given to, among other things, "the aftermath and how to shape it."
Saying that "we need to be sure that the outcome of the military action would match our objective," the memo's authors point out, "A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise." The authors add, "As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point...
(Emphasis added.)
The problem with ignoring reality is that sooner or later it bites you in the butt - just to get your attention. I wonder whether W and his Bush League minions are paying attention yet?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?