Saturday, November 12, 2005


Bush Ignores Facts About Iraq War Intelligence Stovepiping

Mr. Bush apparently wants this bit of history rewritten:

Prelude to a Leak
Gang fight: How Cheney and his tight-knit team launched the Iraq war, chased their critics—and set the stage for a special prosecutor's dramatic probe.

By John Barry, Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

...Cheney had long distrusted the apparatchiks who sat in offices at the CIA, FBI and Pentagon. He regarded them as dim, timid timeservers who would always choose inaction over action. Instead, the vice president relied on the counsel of a small number of advisers. The group included Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and two Wolfowitz proteges: I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, and Douglas Feith, Rumsfeld's under secretary for policy. Together, the group largely despised the on-the-one-hand/on-the-other analyses handed up by the intelligence bureaucracy. Instead, they went in search of intel that helped to advance their case for war.

Central to that case was the belief that Saddam was determined to get nukes—a claim helped by the Niger story, which the White House doggedly pushed...
(Source: Newsweek, Oct. 31, 2005 [emphasis added.])
Only the rigid "scripting" of W's public appearances by his Bush League minions keeps questions like "How can you claim your administration didn't distort pre-war Iraq intelligence when Vice President Dick Cheney set up the Office of Special Plans for the express purpose of distorting such intelligence?


Another Bush Lie Exposed

Newsweek reports on one of Mr. Bush's classic lies. Back when they thought the journalists would keep the political version of the mob's "omerta" code of silence, they said:
... on Bush's behalf, McClellan in 2003 said that any staffer found to have been "involved" in the leak would be booted.
Now, of course, Mr. Bush is breaking that promise:
Briefly facing American reporters, Bush fielded only five questions. But four were on a single issue: the fate of Karl Rove, his top White House aide, who has been named—but not indicted—in the federal leak probe. Bush gave lawyerlike answers. "The investigation on Karl, as you know, is not complete," he said, "and, therefore, I will not comment about him and/or the investigation."
(Source: Newsweek Wherever Bush travels, questions about Rove follow, Nov. 14, 2005.)
Mr. Bush's deference to the investigation fails to explain why his position changed from firing staffers "involved" in the Plame affair to those "convicted" of illegal activities.

Karl Rove's grand jury testimony establishes Mr. Rove's "involvement" in publicizing Valerie Plame's CIA status. Scott McClellan said anyone "involved" would be fired. Was Mr. McClellan lying then or is Mr. Bush breaking his word to the American people now?

Mr. Bush apparently feels that loyalty to his minions outweighs his duty of honesty to the voters. Small wonder there's so much cronyism and corruption coming to light - Mr. Bush seems to prize such "values" above honesty and fair-dealing.


Q: How is Bush's War Planning Like Torture?

A: Neither one works. Bush's glorious plan to destroy Saddam's WMDs - oops, I mean win the war on terror seems to be going badly. Iraqi terrorists are expanding their range:
"This exporting of terrorism is a concern not only for Jordan, but for everyone," said Tahir Masry, a former Jordanian prime minister. "We're worried that another Afghanistan is under development in Iraq."
(Source: Seattle Times Jordan attack indicates spread of Iraq violence, Nov. 12,
Juan Cole's blog Informed Comment has the details on how Bush's "Pax Americana" is turning the Middle East into anarchy central.


Bush Lied, 2000+ Died

Looks like the Democrats were ready for El Busho's standard speech this time:
Kerry later fired back. "This administration misled a nation into war by cherry-picking intelligence and stretching the truth beyond recognition," he said. "That's why Scooter Libby has been indicted."

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Bush had "resorted to his old playbook of discredited rhetoric" and was "attacking those patriotic Americans who have raised serious questions about the case the Bush administration made to take our country to war."
(Source: Washington Post Bush Spars With Critics Of the War, Nov. 12, 2005 [emphasis added.])
Hopefully, W's "blame the victims" strategy will backfire. Now that "Bush the Liar" has become a favored media topic, and El Busho's lame duck status slides into a paralyzed fowl presidency, the media will start publicly fact-checking his speeches.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Veteran's Day

Honor their sacrifices.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


CIA Says Torture Doesn't Work

Yet another installment in the ongoing battle of Reality vs. the Bush League. Today's debate pits former Deputy Attorney General (and torture advocate)John Yoo against people that know what they're talking about:
Yoo, in an appearance this week on C-SPAN, cited the March 2002 arrest of Abu Zubayda, sometimes called al-Qaida's No. 3 leader, who presumably had operational knowledge of terrorist plots under way.

"I wonder whether people would want to give up the ability to interrogate in that way, and the cost of that being those plots and those operations would succeed?" Yoo said.

But intelligence officers said that torture, or tactics just short of it, rarely produced good information, and were more likely to produce bad information.

Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief of operations and analysis in the CIA Counterterrorist Center, said detainees would say virtually anything to end their torment.

Baer agreed, citing intelligence reports from Arab security services that yielded useless information. "The Saudis and Egyptians torture people all the time, but I have yet to see anything that helped us on the jihad movement and (Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al) Zawahri," he said.

Ibn Sheikh al Libi, an al-Qaida training camp commander who was captured, was a principal source of the Bush administration's prewar claim that Iraq had provided chemical weapons training to bin Laden's network. He was subjected to aggressive interrogation techniques - and the information on Iraq and al-Qaida turned out to have been invented.
(Source: Knight Ridder Washington Bureau Operatives say CIA exemption on torture a mistake, Nov. 10, 2005 [emphasis added].)


Responding to the Ticking Time Bomb Scenario

Q: Well, what would you do if you knew through hard information that captured "very bad guy" Joe Terrorist knew where the ticking time bomb full of nuclear-bomb-carrying mutated bird flu virus-infected anthrax was hidden?

A: I'd also know that, if tortured, Joe Terrorist would tell lies until after the bomb went off.
- - - - -

Q: What if you took Joe Terrorist to the city where the bomb was going to go off - wouldn't that force him to talk?

A: That's like saying that making attempted suicide a death penalty offense would deter people from attempting suicide.
- - - - -

Q: But what if you knew that Joe Terrorist would tell the truth under torture?

A: I'd also know that the world was flat, and that space aliens had already disarmed the bomb. The whole problem with your scenarios is that they assume people don't tell lies under torture - and we know this is not true. For example, the US Army reported a 50% increase in "actionable intelligence" from prisoners in Abu Ghraib after they stopped the abuse. (Source: New York Times General Says Less Coercion of Captives Yields Better Data, September 7, 2004.) Why do you keep pushing the need for torture when we know it is not only morally reprehensible but less reliable than standard interrogation methods?


That Darned Liberal Media

Isn't it terrible how liberals control all the media? Consider this interesting example:
Adam Clymer, retired political correspondent for the Times, recalls an episode during the 1988 presidential campaign, when Miller was deputy Washington bureau chief.

Then the political editor based in New York, Clymer was awakened just after midnight one morning by a call from Miller, he says. She was demanding that a story about Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis be pulled from the paper.

The story was too soft, she complained -- and said Lee Atwater, the political strategist for Vice President George H.W. Bush, believed it was soft as well. Clymer said he was stunned to realize that Atwater apparently had either seen the story or been told about it before publication. He and Miller argued, he recalls, and he ultimately hung up on her, twice.
(Source: Washington Post The Reporter's Last Take, Nov. 10, 2005 [Emphasis added.])
After all, who but a liberal would deny the fair, balanced judgement of Republican dirty tricks expert Lee ''Smashmouth'' Atwater:
Shortly before his death he said he had converted to Catholicism and, in an act of repentance, issued a number of public and written apologies to individuals he had attacked during his political career, including Dukakis. In a letter to Tom Turnipseed dated June 28, 1990, he stated, "It is very important to me that I let you know that out of everything that has happened in my career, one of the low points remains the so called 'jumper cable' episode," adding, "my illness has taught me something about the nature of humanity, love, brotherhood and relationships that I never understood, and probably never would have. So, from that standpoint, there is some truth and good in everything."

In a February 1991 article for Life Magazine, Atwater wrote:

My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The '80s were about acquiring -- acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn't I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn't I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don't know who will lead us through the '90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.
(Source: Wikipedia [emphasis added.])

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Is it Torture? Depends Upon What ''It'' Means

Here's why King George and his Bush League minions keep babbling about "not torturing" the folks held in former KGB gulags:
The report, by John L. Helgerson, the C.I.A.'s inspector general, did not conclude that the techniques constituted torture, which is also prohibited under American law, the officials said. But Mr. Helgerson did find, the officials said, that the techniques appeared to constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under the convention.
In BushSpeak, subjecting folks to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" for the purposes of extracting information is not torture.

Here's a dictionary definition:
Torture: An act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person, for a purpose such as obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation or coercion, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind.
Too bad Bush can't pronounce "dictionary."


Why Real Americans Oppose Torture

Yeah, what he says:
Posted on Wed, Nov. 09, 2005


It's time for Bush to quote McCain: `We do not do torture'


Knight Ridder Newspapers

...A recent news report that the Central Intelligence Agency has been stashing high-value al-Qaeda prisoners in secret jails in Eastern Europe, jails built by and once operated by the Soviet KGB, only intensifies the debate and the need to tell the world that we do not torture prisoners.

The first reaction on Capitol Hill was to call for an investigation of how the information on those secret prisons leaked to the press - when instead the lawmakers should be demanding an investigation of precisely how this American gulag was created and on whose orders.

What are we doing creating a prison system into which a prisoner disappears, perhaps for life, with no trial, no conviction, no legal protection, no nothing? And no one will ever know he is in there or his name.

Once we begin doing this to foreigners, how long until we are willing to do it to American citizens? When do we start suspending habeas corpus and all those other protections for individual Americans in the name of some greater need, as determined by political leaders?
Read the whole thing - and shove it down the pro-torture "Bush only does it to really bad people overseas" crowd.


Bush Unites the World - Against US

Here's the latest on George "Brain Under Threat of Indictment" Bush's highly successful coalition building efforts. Nobody can say he doesn't inspire folks to join forces for the common good:
UN casts record vote against US embargo on Cuba

By Evelyn Leopold
Tuesday, November 8, 2005; 3:45 PM

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Nearly every country in the U.N. General Assembly told the United States on Tuesday to lift its four-decade old economic embargo against Cuba in a record vote of 182 to 4 with 1 abstention.
(Source: Washington Post [emphasis added.])
Other than pandering to pro-right-wing-dictatorship voters in Florida, can somebody please explain what purpose the Cuba sanctions serve? If free trade encourages human rights in China, why not in Cuba? Or is it just that, unlike China, Fidel Castro doesn't loan the US money to finance the Bush deficit?


Bush vs. Reality: These Polls Matter

From the BBC:
Democrats in US rack up victories
President George Bush's Republicans have fared badly in state and local polls, losing races across the US.

Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger was defeated on a raft of proposals that would have made sweeping changes in California.

Democrats held onto the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia, where President Bush personally entered the fray to support a Republican candidate.

Only in New York City did a Republican do well, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg winning re-election by a large margin.
A billionaire who founded the Bloomberg financial news service, he spent up to $100m of his own money in his re-election campaign.
(Source: BBC News, Nov. 9,2005. [Emphasis in original.])
Maybe voters in the US aren't happy about setting up secret prison systems, torturing suspects, enacting the American Taliban's political dream list, etc.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Reality vs. the Bush League: The Torture Issue

The White House Press Corps gets tough on poor Scotty:
Q I'd like you to clear up, once and for all, the ambiguity about torture. Can we get a straight answer? The President says we don't do torture, but Cheney --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's about as straight as it can be.

Q Yes, but Cheney has gone to the Senate and asked for an exemption on --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, he has not. Are you claiming he's asked for an exemption on torture? No, that's --

Q He did not ask for that?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- that is inaccurate.

Q Are you denying everything that came from the Hill, in terms of torture?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, you're mischaracterizing things. And I'm not going to get into discussions we have --

Q Can you give me a straight answer for once?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me give it to you, just like the President has. We do not torture. He does not condone torture and he would never --

Q I'm asking about exemptions.

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me respond. And he would never authorize the use of torture. We have an obligation to do all that we can to protect the American people. We are engaged --

Q That's not the answer I'm asking for --

MR. McCLELLAN: It is an answer -- because the American people want to know that we are doing all within our power to prevent terrorist attacks from happening. There are people in this world who want to spread a hateful ideology that is based on killing innocent men, women and children. We saw what they can do on September 11th --

Q He didn't ask for an exemption --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and we are going to --

Q -- answer that one question. I'm asking, is the administration asking for an exemption?

MR. McCLELLAN: I am answering your question. The President has made it very clear that we are going to do --

Q You're not answering -- yes or no?


Q Why does the CIA need an exemption from rules that would govern the conduct of our military in interrogation practices?

MR. McCLELLAN: There are already laws and rules that are on the books, and we follow those laws and rules. What we need to make sure is that we are able to carry out the war on terrorism as effectively as possible, not only --

Q What does that mean --

MR. McCLELLAN: What I'm telling you right now -- not only to protect Americans from an attack, but to prevent an attack from happening in the first place. And, you bet, when we capture terrorist leaders, we are going to seek to find out information that will protect -- that prevent attacks from happening in the first place. But we have an obligation to do so. Our military knows this; all people within the United States government know this. We have an obligation to do so in a way that is consistent with our laws and values.

Now, the people that you are bringing up -- you're talking about in the context, and I think it's important for the American people to know, are people like Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi Binalshibh -- these are -- these are dangerous killers.

Q So they're all killers --

Q Did you ask for an exemption on torture? That's a simple question, yes or no.

MR. McCLELLAN: No. And we have not. That's what I told you at the beginning.

Q You want to reserve the ability to use tougher tactics with those individuals who you mentioned.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, obviously, you have a different view from the American people. I think the American people understand the importance of doing everything within our power and within our laws to protect the American people.

Q Scott, are you saying that Cheney did not ask --

Q What is it that you want the -- what is it that you want the CIA to be able to do that the U.S. Armed Forces are not allowed to do?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into talking about national security matters, Bill. I don't do that, because this involves --

Q This would be the exemption, in other words.

Go read the entire transcript here for the full details of Scotty's refusal to state the White House's pro-torture lobbying efforts in plain language.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Another Crack in the Reagan Evil Alliance

Ronald "The Great Prevaricator" Reagan's carefully-crafted alliance between big business' money and the Religious Right's grassroots organizers is showing another crack:
With increasing vigor, evangelical groups that are part of the base of conservative support for leading Republicans are campaigning for laws that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which scientists have linked with global warming.
(Source: New York Times When Cleaner Air Is a Biblical Obligation, Nov. 7, 2005.)
Looks like another possible wedge issue, especially in areas routinely threatened by hurricanes and tornados. When you're worried about your house getting washed away due to rising sea levels and hurricanes strengthened by global warming, it's harder to spare the time to regulate other people's personal lives...

Sunday, November 06, 2005


The Peril Named Alito

Analysis is beginning to show our peril:
But in (Alito's) more than 60 dissents over that time - as in the strip-search case - he's been more outspoken about areas of law that he finds dissatisfying and how he might change them.

Those opinions reveal more of a conservative activist, a judge who'd make it harder to prove race- and gender-discrimination claims, limit Congress's regulatory reach and - as the strip-search case suggests - lower the bar for search and seizure standards.
(Source: Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau Alito shows a different side in his dissents, Nov. 4, 2005.)

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