Saturday, December 10, 2005


Shooting The Messenger - Again

When W and his Bush League minions get news they don't want to hear, they ignore it:
Staff Opinions Banned In Voting Rights Cases
Criticism of Justice Dept.'s Rights Division Grows

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 10, 2005; Page A03

The Justice Department has barred staff attorneys from offering recommendations in major Voting Rights Act cases, marking a significant change in the procedures meant to insulate such decisions from politics, congressional aides and current and former employees familiar with the issue said.

Disclosure of the change comes amid growing public criticism of Justice Department decisions to approve Republican-engineered plans in Texas and Georgia that were found to hurt minority voters by career staff attorneys who analyzed the plans. Political appointees overruled staff findings in both cases.
Score one for El Busho in The Bush League's ongoing battle against reality...

Friday, December 09, 2005


On Padilla and Torture

More and more, it's looking like Dick Cheney's "fight evil with evil" approach to al Qaeda was a waste of time, money, and reputation:
Senator probes Justice Dept handling of Padilla
Thu Dec 8, 2005 7:08 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter on Thursday said he was launching a formal inquiry into Justice Department treatment of an American charged by the government after being held by the military for more than three years as an "enemy combatant."

"I'm making a formal inquiry of the Department of Justice as to why they're handling (Jose) Padilla as they have," Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, told reporters. He said he may hold a committee hearing on the matter.

A U.S. appeals court on November 30 delayed Padilla's transfer to a civilian jail, saying the government must explain why it used different facts to justify his military detention from those included in last month's indictment, which charged him with conspiracy to murder and aiding terrorists abroad.
"I think there's a real question raised when you hold a citizen for three and a half years on a charge that he's going to explode a dirty bomb, and then, when the Supreme Court is considering taking jurisdiction of the case, to withdraw. That troubles me," Specter said.
Senator Spector should already know why the 'Justice" Department changed their tune:
This torture of top al-Qaida leaders may also cause problems for the government were there to be a trial for the alleged "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla. The tip that led to Padilla's initial detention on a material witness warrant in May 2002 came from intensive CIA interrogations of Zubaida, a close associate of Osama Bin Laden. In December 2003, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that Padilla be released from military custody and either charged in federal court or released. However, any prosecution of Padilla could be very problematic for the government, because the case for his guilt rests mostly (if not entirely) on secret interrogations of al-Qaida leaders, which now appear to have involved torture. If a criminal case is ever brought against Padilla, his lawyers are sure to challenge this crucial evidence on a number of grounds, including reliability and the fact that it was procured with torture in a way that "shocks the conscience."
(Source: Phillip Carter, Slate Tainted by Torture - How evidence obtained through coercion is undermining the legal war on terrorism.May 14, 2004)
Evidence gained through torture is often unreliable:
Qaeda-Iraq Link U.S. Cited Is Tied to Coercion Claim
By DOUGLAS JEHL (New York Times)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.

The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.

The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons.

The fact that Mr. Libi recanted after the American invasion of Iraq and that intelligence based on his remarks was withdrawn by the C.I.A. in March 2004 has been public for more than a year. But American officials had not previously acknowledged either that Mr. Libi made the false statements in foreign custody or that Mr. Libi contended that his statements had been coerced.
So - all this time and taxpayer money wasted in the name of "defending the homeland against terror" and what was achieved? The destruction of our reputation for honesty and justice, desperately-needed allies shying away from cooperation, al Qaeda trumpeting our hypocrisy on their recruiting posters, and some sound bites of how we're "getting tough" on terrorists by becoming a terrorist nation ourselves. Another triumph for our CEO President.


Jesus Bans Focus on the Family organization

Pity it's only humor, but I'm sure God would confirm this report if he was asked:
Jesus Bans "Christian" Group
Shocking announcement sends militant Focus on the Family organization into crazed tailspin

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Friday, December 9, 2005

In an astonishing but not completely unexpected announcement, Jesus H. Christ, vice president and CFO of All That Is Inc., appeared today on a large tortilla at a roadside taco stand in Zacatecas, Mexico, to announce that, effective immediately, the pseudo-Christian group Focus on the Family, led by Dr. James Dobson and best known for its blazing hatred of gays and its fear of glimpsing the human female nipple during nationally televised sporting events, is effectively banned from His Divine Beneficence.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Bush Administration to 100% of Torture

Extraordinary renditions (kidnapping suspects and shipping them off to other countries known to use torture) will continue - but the US promises that its own people won't be doing the "harsh" interrogating:
Posted on Wed, Dec. 07, 2005

Cruel treatment banned everywhere, Rice says, signaling policy shift

By Warren P. Strobel and Drew Brown

Knight Ridder Newspapers

KIEV, Ukraine - In what appears to be a major shift in U.S. policy on detainees, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that U.S. forces operating overseas are prohibited from mistreating suspected terrorists.

Previously, the Bush administration had argued that its obligation to uphold a ban on "cruel, inhumane and degrading" practices under the Convention Against Torture, a United Nations treaty, applied only to U.S. territory.

"As a matter of U.S. policy, the United States' obligations under the CAT (Convention Against Torture), which prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment - those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States," Rice said during a stop in Kiev.
Remember when Don Rumsfeld said US personnel observing torture had no duty to interfere, only to object? The nationality of the person waterboarding you has little if any effect on the resulting suffering - and we're still seeing no real effort made to ensure the people being "harshly questioned" actually know anything.
The CIA inspector general is investigating a growing number of what it calls "erroneous renditions," according to several former and current intelligence officials.

One official said about three dozen names fall in that category; others believe it is fewer. The list includes several people whose identities were offered by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations, officials said. One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade, one official said.

"They picked up the wrong people, who had no information. In many, many cases there was only some vague association" with terrorism, one CIA officer said.
(Source: Washington Post, Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake Dec. 4, 2005 [emphasis added.])

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Murtha for President!

Read the whole thing on the Washington Post's website, but - WOW!
Rep. Murtha Holds a News Conference to Respond to President Bush's Speech

Courtesy FDCH eMedia
Wednesday, December 7, 2005; 2:46 PM

DECEMBER 7, 2005


MURTHA: Let me start by going through a timeline and then get to what the president said.

In May 1, 2003, the president declared it was a major -- end of major operations. Then he sent John Hamre to Iraq. John Hamre was undersecretary of defense in the Clinton administration. And he found all kinds of problems. He said: You got three months, three critical months to get this thing under control if you want to control the security; 12 months at the most, but three months are crucial, the first three months.
MURTHA: I went there -- now this was July (2003) that Hamre made his report and it was a very prescient report. I mean, it was a very accurate report about the predictions of what was going to happen. And we have a copy of it here for you.

In August 16th, I went to Iraq, from August 16th to the 20th. When I came back, I said to Secretary Rumsfeld: We require immediate attention of body armor. They said they were prepared. They said they had what they needed.

Forty thousand troops didn't have body armor. They needed armored Humvees. They needed jammers and Kevlar blankets they asked for. This was all levels of people in Iraq at the time.

And then I wrote to the president on September 4th and I said, "I believe you have miscalculated the magnitude of the effort we are facing. We should energize, Iraqitize and internationalize this effort."
Now, you remember, I wrote to the president in September 4th of 2003. I got a letter back in April 6th, 2004. The president didn't write back. I received a response from a deputy undersecretary -- paints a totally rosy, unrealistic picture, saying 200,000 Iraqis -- now, hear what I'm saying -- 200,000 Iraqis under arms, reconstruction projects and 70 percent of Iraqis feel -- or 2,200 reconstruction projects -- 70 percent of Iraqis feel life is good.
...Now, you'll see a document that's in this package here that told me six months before -- well, in the victory document he says we have 212,000 people trained now, Iraqi security people. Last year, we had 96,000.

Yet, they wrote to me six months before the last year's statement that said they had 200,000. Now, why don't I believe them when they say anything? ...
The whole speech is brilliant. Here's the part to e-mail Senator Lieberman:
Well, why would I say "collapse"? I mean, who told you "collapse"? The Bush administration tell you "collapse"?
You see, this is the problem. They got all these thousands of people out there talking this way and they say there's going to be a collapse, they say there's going to be more insurgencies, they say there's terrorist activity. That doesn't mean it's so.

I've seen damn little things that they have said was true turned out to be true. That's my problem.


Bush's Special Relationship with God revealed

From the second-best source of investigative reporting on the planet:
Voice Of God Revealed To Be Cheney On Intercom

December 7, 2005 | Issue 41•49

WASHINGTON, DC—Telephone logs recorded by the National Security Agency and obtained by Congress as part of an ongoing investigation suggest that the vice president may have used the Oval Office intercom system to address President Bush at crucial moments, giving categorical directives in a voice the president believed to be that of God.
I know the Onion portrays itself as satire rather than straight news, but one has to take them seriously after their breaking the Bush Seeks U.N. Support For 'U.S. Does Anything It Wants' Plan...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Reuters: US "renditions" on shaky legal ground

Can you say "War Crimes Tribunal?"
Lawyers say US "renditions" on shaky legal ground
Tue Dec 6, 2005 10:25 AM ET

By Mark Trevelyan, Security Correspondent

BERLIN (Reuters) - Secret U.S. transfers of terrorist suspects are open to challenge under several statutes of international law, despite Washington's most robust defense yet of their legality, human rights lawyers said on Monday.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended the practice of "rendition", which she defined as transporting terrorist suspects from one country to another "to be questioned, held or brought to justice".
Human rights lawyers said some of the cases which have come to light amounted to "disappearing people", a practice recognized as illegal for decades since its widespread use by Latin American governments in the 1970s.

"If we're actually taking people, abducting them and then placing them in incommunicado detention, which appears to be the case, we would be actually guilty then of a disappearance under international law, in addition to a rendition," said Meg Satterthwaite of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law.
Too bad they're reverting to a "dueling talking heads" style in reporting this - but at least they're reporting it.

Meanwhile, George Bush just told a big lie. He said the United States does not secretly move terrorism suspects to foreign countries that torture to get information. Condoleeza Rice is a bit more accurate:
"The United States has not transported anyone, and will not transport anyone, to a country when we believe he will be tortured. Where appropriate, the United States seeks assurances that transferred persons will not be tortured," Rice said.
(Source: Reuters, supra.)

Reuters was nice enough to present the counter-argument:
(Meg Satterthwaite of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law noted) "It's kind of absurd to say that we don't know that they're at a risk of torture, or that we believe that X or Y government would not torture this individual, when we know through our own State Department reports that myriad people have been tortured in the same facilities, same locations."

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Reality vs. The Bush League: Human Rights Respected?

The Bush League's message as spouted by Condoleeza Rice and Scott McClellan:"Trust us, we're the US Government?"
Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern told the New York Times that Ms Rice told him in Washington that she expected allies to trust that America does not allow rights abuses.
On Friday White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that the US does not violate human rights.

"When it comes to human rights, there is no greater leader than the United States of America, and we show that by holding people accountable when they break the law or violate human rights," he said.
(Source: BBC News Rice 'to talk tough on CIA claim', Dec. 4, 2005)
Reality paints a different picture:
Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake
German Citizen Released After Months in 'Rendition'

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 4, 2005; Page A01

In May 2004, the White House dispatched the U.S. ambassador in Germany to pay an unusual visit to that country's interior minister. Ambassador Daniel R. Coats carried instructions from the State Department transmitted via the CIA's Berlin station because they were too sensitive and highly classified for regular diplomatic channels, according to several people with knowledge of the conversation.

Coats informed the German minister that the CIA had wrongfully imprisoned one of its citizens, Khaled Masri, for five months, and would soon release him, the sources said. There was also a request: that the German government not disclose what it had been told even if Masri went public. The U.S. officials feared exposure of a covert action program designed to capture terrorism suspects abroad and transfer them among countries, and possible legal challenges to the CIA from Masri and others with similar allegations.
The CIA inspector general is investigating a growing number of what it calls "erroneous renditions," according to several former and current intelligence officials.

One official said about three dozen names fall in that category; others believe it is fewer. The list includes several people whose identities were offered by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations, officials said. One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade, one official said.

"They picked up the wrong people, who had no information. In many, many cases there was only some vague association" with terrorism, one CIA officer said.
(Emphasis added.)
The next step for W and his Bush League minions is to find some low-level operatives and charge them with "misinterpreting" Rumsfeld's and Cheney's orders.

Note that many of these innocents were picked up after they were identified "by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations." In other words, torturing the "high value" al Qaeda folks yielded bad intelligence. One can speculate an al Qaeda cell agreeing upon some mutually disliked but innocent person for them to identify as their leader if captured. If that person suddenly "disappears" - the rest of the group knows their buddy was grabbed by the CIA.

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