Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Alan Kuperman needs to be smacked
[This is a guest post by tas]
I'm about to scream after reading this New York Times op-ed on Darfur by one Alan Kuperman. Let me show you why.
Darfur was never the simplistic morality tale purveyed by the news media and humanitarian organizations. The region's blacks, painted as long-suffering victims, actually were the oppressors less than two decades ago — denying Arab nomads access to grazing areas essential to their survival. Violence was initiated not by Arab militias but by the black rebels who in 2003 attacked police and military installations. The most extreme Islamists are not in the government but in a faction of the rebels sponsored by former Deputy Prime Minister Hassan al-Turabi, after he was expelled from the regime. Cease-fires often have been violated first by the rebels, not the government, which has pledged repeatedly to admit international peacekeepers if the rebels halt their attacks.
I've been researching this conflict for a while and I do realize that there are two sides, and the Darfuri rebel groups aren't exactly heros here, either... But to paint a bad picture of the rebel groups and use that to compare them to the Sudanese government, in a manner which portrays Khartoum as being innocent, is absurd. It's the Sudanese government that has armed and given intelligence to the Janjaweed and given them the ability to attack Darfuri people, and it's the Sudanese government which has used its own airdraft and soldiers to join the Janjaweed on their attacks. And while there are Darfuri rebel groups also forcing this conflict, the fact that makes this a genocide is that the people of Darfur are completely overmatched by the Janjaweed and Sudanese military, and it's those two groups which are committing horrible crimes in Darfur. We're talking brutal murders, rape camps for women and children, burning down villiages, throwing dead animals in wells to poison the water supply... These are atrocious crimes aganst humanity that have led to the murder of over 400,000 Darfuri people. For Kuperman to pin the blame squarely on the Darfuri rebel groups while painting the Sudanese government in an innocent light is simply dishonest.
Unbelievably, Kuperman then goes on to blame the activists who have been clamoring against the Darfur genocide for that very genocide.
The rebels, much weaker than the government, would logically have sued for peace long ago. Because of the Save Darfur movement, however, the rebels believe that the longer they provoke genocidal retaliation, the more the West will pressure Sudan to hand them control of the region.
Hey Kupster, maybe if the United Nations and western powers had listened to the Save Darfur movement and taken the crisis as a serious problem sooner, we wouldn't be having this discussion. But the fact is that they didn't; nobody did. And the voracity of the genocide, perpetrated by the Sudanese government that you're defending, continued. So don't you dare blame us for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and don't blame us for the attitudes of the Darfuri rebel groups, either. If all of my friends and family were being slaughtered I think I'd be a little defiant, too. One shitty peace deal from an untrusted party doesn't heal all wounds, especially when it's not just the Darfuri rebels that have broken the previous cease fire agreements.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
The NBC News Verification Squad
Richard Engel, Middle East bureau chief for NBC news, asks What happened in Haditha, Iraq?.
If you didn't skip to the above link already...don't bother...because you won't found out much about what happened there.
But you will find this:
Witnesses, doctors and an Iraqi human rights group tell NBC News a consistent story, but one we have not been able to verify independently.
What the hell does that mean?
Plus all the articles from news articles quoting unnamed officials about the weight of the evidence.
How exactly does NBC News go about verifying stories?
Maybe this part later in the story explains what they mean:
NBC News asked the U.S. military to comment on this report. So far, the U.S. military here in Iraq only said that it takes the allegations seriously but cannot comment on ongoing investigations.
Does NBC News verification mean US Military confirmation?
I'm certainly not suggesting that the Marines should be considered guilty based on what's been reported and leaked the last few days. That would be undemocratic.
But why would NBC News put something so silly in their article?
Again, how exactly does NBC News verify its stories?
Eyewitness accounts, photographs, videos, corroborating accounts, assorted officials...I guess none of that carries any weight in NBC News' verification process.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Dark Wraith on Haditha Killings
Dark Wraith has spoken:
First, suffer me a minor point of decorum—a warning, if you will. So far, the Vietnam-era taunts about U.S. military personnel being "baby killers" have not found any popularity in the current era, and I hope such expressions of anti-war sentiment don't ultimately find favor. For my part, I would make it my life's gleeful and vengeful work to disgrace the user of that kind of language. Never again, that bile. (And yes, it did happen back then.) Dead civilians aren't I-told-you-so toys to prove just how right one faction was from the get-go about the awful disaster that has been this unconscionably wrongful military adventure on the far side of the world. Dead civilians don't prove anything; they're just dead.
That's just a sample, the entire essay is worth the time it takes to click to and read: Editorial: A Comment on Massacre.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Amnesty tackles Net Censorship
From my Raw Story article, Amnesty International launches Website in campaign against online censorship:
On its 45th anniversary, Amnesty International has launched a Website to combat online censorship, with the support of The Observer, a weekly British newspaper.
At Irrepressible.info net users are asked to sign a pledge "to call on all governments and companies to ensure the Internet is a force for political freedom, not repression." So far, at the time of this writing, the site claims that 6572 users have signed on.....
Amnesty is also asking bloggers to "add irrepressible content" to their Websites.
"If you have a website or blog, help us spread the word and undermine unwarranted censorship by publishing censored material from our database directly onto your site," Amnesty suggests. "The more people take part the more we show that freedom of expression cannot be repressed."
Website owners and bloggers can download html code at the Irrepressible Website which will allow new content to "appear each time a page is loaded."
"China has a competent overseas network of informers that regularly report dissident activities to its intelligence services in Beijing," reads one example of such content.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
My blogging speciality is the Sibel Edmonds' case. I thought Ron's audience might be interested in a brief summary of the story.
Philip Giraldi from Cannistraro Associates wrote a column in the April 24 (print) edition of The American Conservative magazine about her story.According to Sibel,
this is "a fantastic short piece by Phil Giraldi; it sums up the case very well, considering the length... as far as published articles go, this one nails it 100%"and
“Giraldi has it 100% right; this I consider the most accurate summary of my case.”I liberated the article from print (transcription errors are mine): ---------------------------------
Sibel Edmonds, the Turkish FBI translator turned whistleblower who has been subjected to a gag order could provide a major insight into how neoconservatives distort US foreign policy and enrich themselves at the same time. On one level, her story appears straightforward: several Turkish lobbying groups allegedly bribed congressmen to support policies favourable to Ankara. But beyond that, the Edmonds revelations become more serpentine and appear to involve AIPAC, Israel and a number of leading neoconservatives who have profited from the Turkish connection. Israel has long cultivated a close relationship with Turkey since Ankara's neighbours and historic enemies - Iran, Syria and Iraq - are also hostile to Tel Aviv. Islamic Turkey has also had considerable symbolic value for Israel, demonstrating that hostility to Muslim neighbours is not a sine qua non for the Jewish state.
Turkey benefits from the relationship by securing general benevolence and increased aid from the US Congress - as well as access to otherwise unattainable military technology. The Turkish General Staff has a particular interest because much of the military spending is channeled through companies in which the generals have a financial stake, making for a very cozy and comfortable business arrangement. The commercial interest has also fostered close political ties, with the American Turkish Council, American Turkish Cultural Alliance and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations all developing warm relationships with AIPAC and other Jewish and Israel advocacy groups throughout the US.
Someone has to be in the middle to keep the happy affair going, so enter the neocons, intent on securing Israel against all comers and also keen to turn a dollar. In fact the neocons seem to have a deep and abiding interest in Turkey, which, under other circumstances, might be difficult to explain. Doug Feith's International Advisors Inc, a registered agent for Turkey in 1989 - 1994, netted $600,000 per year from Turkey, with Richard Perle taking $48,000 annually as a consultant. Other noted neoconservatives linked to Turkey are former State Department number three, Marc Grossman, current Pentagon Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman, Paul Wolfowitz and former congressman Stephen Solarz. The money involved does not appear to come from the Turkish government, and FBI investigators are trying to determine its source and how it is distributed. Some of it may come from criminal activity, possibly drug trafficking, but much more might come from arms dealing.
Contracts in the hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars provide considerable fat for those well placed to benefit. Investigators are also looking at Israel's particular expertise in the illegal sale of US military technology to countries like China and India. Fraudulent end-user certificates produced by Defense Ministries in Israel and Turkey are all that is needed to divert military technology to other, less benign, consumers. The military-industrial-complex/neocon network is also well attested.
Doug Feith has been associated with Northrup Grumman for years, while defense contractors fund many neocon-linked think tanks and "information" services. Feith, Perle and a number of other neocons have long had beneficial relationships with various Israeli defense contractors.--------------------------------- end transcript
Bassett was a cowboy
Ken Silverstein at Harpers has a post outlining why Goss failed at the CIA - and he included this:
During the same period, (Nine-Fingers) Bassett is said to have sent a prank letter to a friend at the CIA who was then stationed in Vienna. I've heard various accounts of precisely what he wrote, but multiple former intelligence sources said that the letter contained exaggerated talk about sexual relationships. Two of the sources said that the letter was intercepted in Vienna by the KGB, which, believing it had Bassett in a compromised position, subsequently made a blackmail recruitment pitch to him. Bassett properly reported the contact to his superiors, they said, but was again reprimanded for sending the letter in the first place. “Bassett was a cowboy who violated procedures, but he had a lot of influence with Porter,” said one person.”Do you buy that?
Which was it? Did 9 Fingers send a 'prank letter'? Or was he 'exaggerating'? What sort of conduct do you think might be involved if the KGB thought it blackmail-worthy?
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Hurricanes Are Good Business For Pat Robertson
"If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms," Robertson said May 8. On Wednesday, he added, "There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest."You may remember that Robertson predicted that Orlando would suffer "earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor." Hurricanes are actually good business for Robertson. FEMA placed Robertson's organization Operation Blessing on their list of Katrina charities.
Richard Walden, president of the disaster-relief group Operation USA, asked of Operation Blessing's inclusion on FEMA's list. "That gives Pat Robertson millions of extra dollars."That is exactly why Operation Blessing was placed on the FEMA list. Faith-based programs and school vouchers are nothing more than Republican kick backs to the Christian Right. Republicans hand out money to the Christian Right the same way they hand out contracts to Halliburton. It all business in a very Godfather-like manner. Robertson used Operation Blessing has a front for aid relief to Rwanda. Robertson performed a fundraising drive, on his show, that he says raised $1.2 million. Operation Blessing bought planes to send relief supplies to Rwanda. Only one flight was used for relief. The planes were used to send equipment to the diamond mining corporation African Development Corporation. The owner of the African Development Corporation is Pat Robertson. Let us not forget that Robertson is good buddies with former Liberia dictator Charles Taylor. Robertson's company Freedom Gold Limited mined in Liberia. Taylor owner 10% of Freedom Gold Limited. Robertson defended Taylor as a "Christian." Robertson is probably factoring how much money Operation Blessing will be invested into his other enterprises. Hurricane season is coming. A tsunami buys a lot of gold and diamond mining equipment.
(Editor's Note: Welcome PageOneQ and Raw Story readers. Read more great articles by Michael Hussey at his blog Pushing Rope, and be sure to visit the homepage for Why Are We Back In Iraq? - which is now a group blog - for lots more if it's your first time here. Anyone interested in guest blogging here can leave a comment or send an email to Ron Brynaert at Yahoo)
Snow: A Kiss Is Just A Kiss
Funny exchange with Tony Snow at today's White House briefing (link):
Q So you seem to be lowering expectations in terms of specific announcements.
MR. SNOW: I think I'm lowering your expectations. I've tried never to create those expectations.
Q But nobody, in your words, is going to be "kissing in Times Square tomorrow."
MR. SNOW: Right.
Q I understand that. But if you have --
MR. SNOW: Well, there may be people kissing in Times Square for different reasons. (Laughter.)
Q If you have --
MR. SNOW: I said, "kissing," Lester. (Laughter.)
Perhaps to make up for the jibe, Snow spent an inordinate amount of time providing a "full answer" to an unexciting question by WorldNetDaily's Les Kinsolving later in the briefing.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Today's Glenn Greenwald
Since I slammed Glenn Greenwald the other day I figure I'll cheer him for his post today on how the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee caved in.
But by and large, what happened yesterday with Gen. Hayden's nomination is exactly what would have happened in 2002 and 2003. Democrats are afraid to challenge the President due to their fear -- always due to their fear -- that they will be depicted as mean, obstructionist and weak on national security. And so, even with an unbelievable weakened President, and even with regard to the most consequential issues -- and can one doubt that installing Gen. Hayden as CIA Director is consequential? -- Democrats back away from fights, take no clear position, divide against each other, and stand up for exactly nothing.
Sad but incredibly true.
The other day I started a post about how Democratic Senators were so confused about the different NSA programs, as reported on at The New York Times and USA Today, that they botched the Hayden hearing...but, unfortunately, I've been busy working on something for Raw Story so I haven't been able to finish it. Maybe next week it will be blog-ready (something else I didn't get to finish was a post that shows how clueless the authors of a controversial book about Barry Bonds are about his stats...but that will definitely be posted when done).
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
When Wingnuts Collide
"Putting the [National] Guard on the border is a symbolic act. ... But I am afraid that in this case the symbolism is manipulative and deceptive."Bush made the statement: "Some in this country argue that the solution is to deport every illegal immigrant -- and that any proposal short of this amounts to amnesty."Kathryn Jean Lopez retorted, "Do you know anyone who seriously argues such a thing?" Actually, yes. Lou Dobbs. Bush will twist any argument. His administration and supporters keep stating that Democrats do not want terrorists wiretapped. Bush fails to mention that AT&T built technology and aided the NSA in wiretapping American customers. AT&T attempted and failed to suppress documents. Wingnuts are experiencing what is like to be on the other side of Bush's straw men rhetoric. Personally, I don't feel bad for National Review contributors crying. The National Review is continuing their history of publishing racist screeds.
Glenn Greenwald Knows Gannon
I missed this a few weeks ago.
Glenn Greenwald wrote:
John Aravosis of AmericaBlog all but single-handedly broke and drove the Jeff Gannon story with original reporting on his blog.
That's really nice, Glenn.
Guys like Glenn don't stand up for blogs. They stand up for Blogs.
Don't forget to mention all those fantastic schools being built, jackasses
This is a post by tas.
VOA reporter Alisha Ryu said yesterday that she told her bosses in December that "it would really be impossible for me to do any kind of work" in Iraq. "I couldn't live with the idea that someone else could have died who was working with me. . . . For all journalists, it's really become impossible to move around."So which wingnut cliche should we apply to this news item: Mission Accomplished?, Last Throes?, or how about their old standby about all of those schools being built? How will the wingnut blogs, who never fail to claim that the "liberal" media ignores the good news coming from Iraq, handle the news that the Bush administration can't even pay a reporter to work there because it's too much of a safety hazard?
Asked why VOA has not sent another reporter to Iraq, Ryu said, "They didn't have any volunteers to replace me."
Of course, there are still other reporters in Baghdad. And the news they're reporting isn't pretty. On the 5/20/06 broadcast of BBC radio's From Our Own Correspondent, BBC Baghdad correspondent Jim Muir had this to say about the desperate situation of the country. His comments are short and important, so I'm printing them in their entirety. Throughout, I'll bold the parts I think are most important and add my own comments.
None immune from Baghdad strifeSo much the supposed good news.
By Jim Muir, BBC News, Baghdad
I wonder what it is like to have to bargain over the telephone for the life of your husband, your wife, or your child.
It is hard to imagine the anguish, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the anonymous voice to name an impossible ransom, and waiting again, to see if a lower price for the life of your loved one is acceptable.
The family of the man who runs a big shop in the area where we live, may soon be finding out - if they are lucky.
A few days ago, a convoy of 4x4 vehicles pulled up outside the shop.
Armed men got out and went in. They seized him, and drove him away. Nobody knows if they were from a party militia, or off-duty policemen, or just well-organised gangsters. [tasnote: "Nobody knows if they were ... off-duty policemen"; you have to love it when off-duty policemen are thrown into the "nobody knows" equation]
It is the kind of random thing that happens probably dozens of times a day here. Unless it is somebody very prominent, it does not even get reported. [tasnote: Did he just say that random kidnappings happen dozens of times a day in Iraq and it doesn't even get reported? This is the kind of shit you hope you read wrong, but nope.. That's just what he said.]
The family will now be praying that the phone does ring.
The cousin of a good friend of mine - let's call him Adnan - was among the lucky ones. His wife and child were kidnapped. The phone did eventually ring.
The demand was for a million dollars. Adnan does not have that kind of money. But he did manage to raise $100,000, and they eventually settled for that.
Adnan got his family back, at a price, and he was lucky in that as well.
The cousin of someone who works with us here was kidnapped six weeks ago. A ransom was agreed over the phone. When a relative went to deliver the money, he was also robbed at gunpoint of his own car, mobile and cash.
The hostage has not been freed. There is just silence.
And the longer the silence, the greater the chance that the kidnap victim might turn up along with the dozens of bodies found on an average day here, scattered around different parts of town.
Often, they have been bound and blindfolded, and tortured, before being shot, almost certainly the victims of blind sectarian revenge.
There is clearly a big overlap between the purely criminal, and the sectarian.
One local shop owner who was ransomed recently, was released after the usual haggling process. But his captors told him:
"You're lucky you're not a Sunni. If you had been, we'd have killed you as well." [tasnote: Odd. Don't we hear from our media that the insurgents, those agitating the most violence in Iraq, are Sunnis?]
There is a huge overlap too, between sectarian provocation or revenge killings, and what we, for want of a better word, call the insurgency.
Take the village, to the north of Baghdad, from which another of our co-workers comes.
It is a Shia village, but it is in a largely Sunni area. Just last week, seven of the villagers, on their way to work in the provincial capital, were pulled out of their minibus and shot dead - it is presumed, by Sunni insurgents. [tasnote: I suppose this crime could have been committed by off-duty policemen, too.]
Just a few days later, another three, on their way home, were also stopped and shot dead in their car.
So just in that one village, 41 children are now abruptly left without fathers. In that particular village, some very wise religious and tribal leaders have restrained people from seeking revenge. But other areas have not been so lucky - the bodies of random victims turn up every day.
It is a fair bet that every Iraqi you meet has similar stories, from personal experience. Nobody is exempt.
Even the new vice-president, Tariq al-Hashemi, who is a Sunni, has lost both a brother and a sister, killed in separate shooting attacks in the past few weeks. The other vice-president, Adel Abdul Mehdi, who is a Shia, also lost a brother, kidnapped and murdered.
As much as anything, it is the corrosive tide of sectarianism that has come in so fast over the past three months, which has made many ordinary Iraqis feel that the fabric of their society is coming apart.
Add to that, the rampant criminality, the depredations of sectarian militias sometimes operating under official cover, massive corruption in government - especially in the crucial oil sector.
Along with the implacable hard core of the Sunni-based insurgency and the sometimes aggravating presence of the American and other foreign forces, and it is not surprising that many feel the country is descending into a period of strife, if not outright civil war, that could run for years.
This is the daunting challenge that faces the long-overdue national unity government when it struggles to its feet.
Even hopeful western diplomats who have been busy encouraging its formation, admit it may be five or 10 years before things really come right. [tasnote: Five to ten years.. Think about that. Wasn't Iraq supposed to be a cakewalk? If the Bush adminitration admitted before the war that we could be there for a decade and still be possible be spinning our wheels, would the country still have supported his march to war?]
If they go wrong, the country will fragment into its component parts, which may be more of a problem than a solution.
The big test in the hard times that lie ahead, is whether Iraqis really do feel Iraqi, or whether they turn out to be Shias, Sunnis, Kurds or whatever, first.
This my post. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
Why are we back in Iraq? The best answer is greed. One could argue apathy and ignorance had a part in this war, but greed is the main reason. I have not been able to explain why all our oil got under their sand. We are liberating it to our gas tanks.
I have no blog. I did not write well when I was in school. I have no published works. I chose the name alfdom, years ago, to be a chat id. I wanted a simple easy name. It is letters from my given name, Alfredo and my last name. I learned much later that dom has different meanings in cyberspace. I had many strange conversations because of my choice of names.
About every 10 months, the MSM runs stories about how the ALF and the ELF are terrorist groups. I have no ties to either group. I have nothing to do with Earth First. I like animals, I have dogs and cats. I also like to eat meat. I helped my grandparents raise and butcher cattle , pigs and chickens. I like to fish and would enjoy pulling a perch out of my lake. I would enjoy having my own lake. I am not a terrorist, a communist, or a pacifist so there is no reason to check my phone records. There is no pattern to see there.
I could change my id, but that damage is done. The name alfdom is littered all over the shoulder of the information superhighway. So I keep the id, it is still a free country. A young lady is free wave a confederate flag and wear little flags on her person. I can not understand why anyone would want that flag. You could say I do not want to understand or be around people who like this flag. I do not understand why people wave the Mexican flag. I do not plan on gong to Mexico and waving an American flag.
I read this blog to try and make sense of what is happening. I usually leave more confused. I hope I can contribute to the information overload. I will try to keep the snowclones to two per post.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Steven Emerson: International Man of Mystery
The next day, a whole team came to my Connecticut Avenue condominium – FBI officials, federal counterterrorism experts, detectives from both the District of Columbia and Metropolitan Police Departments – the latter being the guards of the Capitol area. Here were the possibilities: "You can stop what you're doing, don't write about it anymore, don't say anything, don't appear on television, and maybe after a while people will just forget about it." "We can see if the federal witness protection program can handle you. This will mean moving to a different city and assuming a new identity." "Maybe we can put you up in New York in a safe house for about a year. After that, you're on your own."Investigative reporter John Sugg asked the FBI about Emerson's claim.
"'You pushed the right button asking about your friend Steve Emerson,' Russell said. 'We've never given any thought to putting him in the witness protection program.' Is there any truth to the allegation of an assassination team? 'No, none at all,' Russell responded."Emerson sued Sugg for libel. Judge James D. Arnold ordered Emerson to provide proof to Sugg and the Weekly Planet lawyers of his witness protection offer and that he was not fired from AP for making up sources. Emerson could not comply and dropped the suit. That doesn't stop Emerson from trying to maintain his international man of mystery mystique. I imagine lefty journalists like David Corn must be jealous that Emerson lives an exciting live of danger and Michael Ledeen goes on espionage missions to Italy.
Impeachment by Internet
Is there any way to expedite the impeachment process? Yes!
OK, so you're fed up. You've contacted your representatives in support of House Resolution 635 (Conyers). You've attended demonstrations. You've written letters to the editors. You've passed around and signed petitions. You've joined political action committees. You have even attended public town hall forums on impeachment and joined local efforts to pass state resolutions for impeachment. You've lent your support for Democratic candidates for Congress in November. You've donated to candidates. You bought Center for Constitutional Rights, "Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush." You even read it. Every time the subject of impeachment rolls around in your brain, some voice in there is yelling, "Impeach the MF Already!!" We want impeachment, and we want it now!! Did you read Congressman Conyers op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday, "No Rush To Impeachment" Well, here's the bad news... wanting impeachment now is like wanting to lose thirty pounds by next week. It's just not going to happen that way.....
Is there any way to expedite the impeachment process? Yes!
And it's one button away. You can, within the next five minutes, report directly to the House Judiciary Committee to report fraud and abuse by the government. Fraud Is An Impeachable Offense. This button is your Unique Opportunity To Report Directly To Government on Impeachable Offenses by the Bush Administration.
If you have information with respect to waste, fraud or abuse by the government or private business conduct that you want the House Committee of the Judiciary to be aware of, please submit the information in the space below:
REPORT FRAUD AND ABUSE IN GOVERNMENT BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION TO THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
What is conspiracy to defraud the United States?
What offenses qualify as impeachable fraud?
The Supreme Court has defined the phrase "conspiracy to defraud the United States" as "to interfere with, impede or obstruct a lawful government function by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest." In criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement "between two or more persons" to follow a course of conduct that, if completed, would constitute a crime. The agreement doesn't have to be express; most conspiracies are proved through evidence of concerted action. But government officials are expected to act in concert. So proof that they were conspiring requires a comparison of their public conduct and statements with their conduct and statements behind the scenes. A pattern of double-dealing proves a criminal conspiracy.
The concept of interfering with a lawful government function is best explained by reference to two well-known cases where courts found that executive branch officials had defrauded the United States by abusing their power for personal or political reasons.
One is the Watergate case, where a federal district court held that Nixon's Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, and his crew had interfered with the lawful government functions of the CIA and the FBI by causing the CIA to intervene in the FBI's investigation into the burglary of Democratic Party headquarters. The other is U.S. v. North, where the court found that Reagan administration National Security Adviser John Poindexter, Poindexter's aide Oliver North, and others had interfered with Congress's lawful power to oversee foreign affairs by lying about secret arms deals during Congressional hearings into the Iran/contra scandal.
Finally, "fraud" is broadly defined to include half-truths, omissions or misrepresentation; in other words, statements that are intentionally misleading, even if literally true. Fraud also includes making statements with "reckless indifference" to their truth.
The White House Criminal Conspiracy
By Elizabeth de la Vega
The Nation, October 31, 2005
Categories of Impeachable Offenses:
From "The Constitution In Crisis"
In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.
There is a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violated a number of federal laws, including:
(1) Committing a Fraud against the United States;
(2) Making False Statements to Congress;
(3) The War Powers Resolution;
(4) Misuse of Government Funds;
(5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment;
(6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and
(7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence.
...These charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct.
IMPEACHMENT BY INTERNET
1. Come up with an instance of fraud by the Bush administration. Describe the facts briefly, referring to quotes and corroborations.
2. Report instances of fraud by the Bush administration directly to the House Judiciary Committee. ONE INSTANCE AT A TIME. DON'T REPEAT YOURSELF.
3. Report as often as you like.
4. Try to keep a log of your reports, and at the end of the day/week/month, send a copy of your files to your state representatives.
That's all there is to it. Keep filing. It feels better than writing an original "Bush Is A Criminal" diary on Daily Kos. OK, right, we all know he's a criminal, but just what kind of criminal is he? (Don't forget Cheney, Gonzales, Rumsfeld et al) File your little heart out. Every day come up with a new criminal charge.... impress the House Judiciary with your constitutional prowess. Delight in the picture of your charges piling up before the Committee members, knowing that soon, maybe even today the charges you have filed will reach critical mass..... Become a legal nuisance... but while you're doing it remember:
KEEP IT CLEAN. KEEP IT BRIEF. KEEP IT ACCURATE. KEEP IT POLITE... AND KEEP IT LEGAL
Now go ahead and try it. File a charge. Keep it under 200 words. Press the button. Smile. File another. Want to have more fun? Put IMPEACHMENT BY INTERNET in your signature and go hop around the web. Have a great day!!
Thanks, Ron, for the invitation to post here.
I have a few pieces on the censored news about the air war on Iraq, and about the 10th of March, 2003 -- the day Bush chose as the launch of the Iraq invasion, and a few bits and pieces about "why are we back in Iraq?" when it is clear we never left, and it is also clear the Bush plan is for a permanent US presence in Iraq. The biggest break in this story was a year ago "US Bombed Iraq in 2002 to Goad Sadaam Into War." And that story was found, investigated and developed by our own Ron Brynaert.
For that reason, and hundreds of more stories, I am proud to appear on "the same page."
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Bring On The Guest Bloggers!
Six invitations to guest blog have been sent out.
I'll wait for each to post before introducing them...but they're all familiar names at this blog: three bloggers I'm friends with, a longtime reader, and two others who may be blogging under different names (mystery guest bloggers).
I'm busy on a story which will keep me busy the next few days...so I've pushed back the template redo (maybe next weekend) but one thing that will change is that only the first two paragraphs of posts will be seen on the homepage.
It's up to the guest bloggers how often they want to post here...and although I already have a full crew...I'd still like to add a couple more...including another female blogger (so far 6 of the 7 - including me - are male) and a conservative (a free-thinking Republican whom can dialogue with the left but also be counted on to outrage liberals from time to time). I also intend to "commission" posts now-and-then from other friends I have in the blogosphere or media or elsewhere.
Anyway. This blog's about to become a "We" for real.
Friday, May 19, 2006
I'm going to redo the template this blog and change some things around. I'll also be incorporating guest bloggers...so now the "We" in my title might make literal sense.
Meanwhile, I saw this great video linked at Huffington Post from You Tube (link) so enjoy:
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Guest Bloggers Wanted
Since the majority of my time is now devoted to working on stuff for Raw Story it's been really hard to keep blogging here, and I could really use a few guest bloggers to chip in from time to time.
So if anyone's interested drop me a line or leave a comment.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Scary If True
Via RAW STORY, ABC's Brian Ross and Richard Esposito report at the ABC NEWS blog, The Blotter that a senior federal law enforcement official warned them that the government is tracking news organization phone calls to plug up leaks.
Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.
Hopefully more will come out about this, because, if true, this would be a disturbing encroachment on the freedom of the press to operate within a democratic society (you know...the kind of thing we're supposed to be fighting for over there - and now I guess here).
Disturbingly, there are a number of comments (can't say commenters because who knows how many were left by the same person) at the ABC blog which are gleeful about the report.
"'Bout time you guys are roped in," writes 'Brad.'
"Excellent the Media needs looking after, Traitors most of them.......," writes 'ken wiley.'
"good, you seditionist creeps deserve what you get. who knows how many serviceman have died because of your "right to know,"" writes 'jeff bynum.'
This one - which took aim at the veracity of the blog post - did make me chuckle:
"$10 says this is the same source that provided them national guard documents," writes 'Poser.'
I could finish this off with a knock at my own side for acting as "gleeful" when Judith Miller was the reporter caught in the state's vice, but, at least, in her case there were court judgements and warrants and from what we know so far about this new scenario there aren't any.
This is Spook 86, a blogger who claims to be "a former member of the U.S. intelligence community," writing at In From the Cold:
I'm not a lawyer, but at first blush, there doesn't appear to be anything illegal about this practice, particularly if the acquisition of records followed a criminal referral to the Justice Department. The media is anxious to connect the warning to Ross as part of the NSA program, but I'm guessing that the records in question are, indeed, the result of justice department investigations into unauthorized leaks. That would indicate that the investigation is moving along quickly, and indictments of suspected leakers can be expected in the coming months. As for Mr. Ross (and other journalists), they might want to prepare for a grand jury appearance. I'm sure that federal prosecutors have lots of questions about those calls to their buddies in the intelligence community.
Well, I'm not a lawyer nor a spook, but it would seem to me that if this alleged government tracking of journalists' phone calls were part of an investigation by the Justice Department then the media organizations would've been informed of such a thing.
As they were in the Plame investigation.
On Sunday, Frank Rich at The New York Times wrote, "Like the N.S.A. database on 200 million American phone customers that was described last week by USA Today, this program may have more to do with monitoring "traitors" like reporters and leakers than with tracking terrorists."
Scary if true.
More at ABC's The Blotter (link):
The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly seeking reporters’ phone records in leak investigations.
“It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration,” said a senior federal official....
Officials say the FBI makes extensive use of a new provision of the Patriot Act which allows agents to seek information with what are called National Security Letters (NSL).
The NSLs are a version of an administrative subpoena and are not signed by a judge. Under the law, a phone company receiving a NSL for phone records must provide them and may not divulge to the customer that the records have been given to the government.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Right Redefines To Make Right
Saturday's Washington Post contains a column written by Richard A. Falkenrath, a Brookings Institute clown (I mean scholar) and former deputy homeland security adviser for President Bush, entitled The Right Call on Phone Records.
Evidently the author is employing "right" in a partisan sense because, aside from the fact that he's written a rush to judgement before enough has been revealed for any thinking person to decide on the NSA program's legalities, Falkenrath commits one of the most grievous sins that any writer can do:
Falkenrath distorts language to score points.
From Falkenrath's column:
On Thursday, USA Today reported that three U.S. telecommunications companies have been voluntarily providing the National Security Agency with anonymized domestic telephone records -- that is, records stripped of individually identifiable data, such as names and place of residence.
Last Thursday, Leslie Cauley reported in her USA Today article, NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls, that, according to sources, "Customers' names, street addresses and other personal information are not being handed over as part of NSA's domestic program."
"But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information," Cauley noted.
Falkenrath probably spent hours trying to figure out how he could soft peddle this story by using the word "anonymous" to describe the data obtained by the government.
He knew he couldn't use "anonymized" to describe just the phone numbers themselves so he finagled it by linking it with the term "individually identifiable."
Perhaps Falkenrath is trying to say that the numbers are "anonymized" since the names aren't attached to the number, and since many people may use the same telephone line there is no way for the NSA to know who was on the call.
But that doesn't make any sense since the only information the phone companies would have without monitoring the calls would be the name of the person who pays the telephone bill, so there is no way for them to "anonymize" the data in that way.
Making something "anonymous" makes it untraceable and unverifiable.
To put it plainly, Falkenrath is lying through his teeth when he characterizes this data as "anonymized" and if he possessed any real character he'd make himself anonymous and keep his irrationally partisan prevarications to himself.
Friday, May 12, 2006
A Dialogue With The Right
Polling By Phone About Taps
In all honesty, I'm not exactly sure how I feel about the data-mining of tens of millions of American's phone conversations (but that's completely depending on how the data has been used...if it's being used for anything other than terror investigations then I would be adamantly against it).
But I am exactly sure how I feel about the concept of polling people by telephone to measure the country's feelings on telephone surveillance.
What exactly is the plus/minus for people who don't talk to pollsters on phones?
And what - could one presume unscientifically speaking - would be the percentage of people that would be against telephone surveillance, wiretapping and datamining, that would never talk with a pollster by phone?
According to the data for the Washington Post/ABC News Poll (link), 502 adults were "randomly selected."
How many adults were called?
I dunno. Maybe it's just me but I can't believe that anyone would even use telephones to ask such questions. I would think any question that deals with how Americans qualify their privacy would probably be tough to accurately measure, but calling people to ask them about how they feel about the government tapping their phones is just plain lunacy.
If the Washington Post/ABC News pollsters phoned people and asked how many would be willing to talk to pollsters then I guess the results would be something close to one hundred percent since the only people responding to the question would be those people already talking to pollsters.
Do you see what I'm getting at?
People who respond to pollsters on the telephone aren't going to be as concerned about privacy issues as people who don't want to talk to pollsters by phone at all.
Would a door-to-door poll work better?
I don't know.
I live in New York City and it's damn sure hard to find anyone who thinks that government tapping or data-mining is okay, but I have no idea how other parts of the country feel about it.
All I know is that trying to figure out this shit by phone is just plain stupid, period.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Abramoff Visit Revealed
(UPDATE: I forgot to edit this post to reflect the revised Raw Story article. Abramoff couldn't have met Bush on March 6, 2001 since the president was in Chicago at the time of Jack's visit. But, interestingly, as updated at RAW STORY, the Washington Post reported that Abramoff visited with Rove that day to seek jobs for two of his cronies, on the same day Bush nominated Pizzella, as I reported.)
From my article at Raw Story,Bush nominated Abramoff associate same day Abramoff visited the White House in 2001:
Convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff went to the White House the same day President Bush nominated one of Abramoff's former colleagues to be Assistant Secretary of Labor, RAW STORY has found (EDITOR'S NOTE: My article originally stated that Abramoff met Bush this day but, as alluded to above, has been changed).
President Bush announced his intent to nominate Patrick Pizzella, who worked with Abramoff at his former lawfirm Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, the same day Abramoff made a visit to the White House, according to Secret Service records released today.
On Mar. 6, 2001, Abramoff entered at 4:23 p.m. and left at 4:49 p.m., according to Cox News Service, which obtained the records from the government watchdog Judicial Watch today (Article).
A White House press release shows that Bush nominated Patrick Pizzella the very same day.
More at Raw Story.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
America Needs Propaganda
America needs propaganda in order to win this war, which really shouldn't even be singled out as this war, since our planet is always at war, and war depends on propaganda, and propaganda depends on war, so America is depending on propaganda.
America doesn't need nuance.
America doesn't need self-criticism.
America doesn't need anything that might dissuade or condemn or in any way distract us when we go to war, which is always.
America needs propaganda, God damn it!, and America needs a non-stop assembly line kicking out propaganda products, one by one, ten by ten, as many as it takes, and it will take quite a lot, cause the world is always at war, and we need propaganda in order to win this war, and all wars, even though we can't ever really win, since there's always more war around the corner or heading down the highway or falling out of the sky or pouring out of the open pores on every human being that has ever existed.
DRAFT HOLLYWOOD to give America the propaganda it craves and needs, Andrew Klavan opines in a column for the L.A. Times.
Strangely...Andrew Klavan, an author and screenwriter, wrote the script to a sick, little film called "A Shock To The System" with Michael Caine ("sick" being a compliment since the film rocks) about a businessman who rises in power at his firm by killing his wife and any office competitors that get in his way.
And Michael Caine even gets away with it.
"He was your superior, wasn't he?" Caine's character is asked by a policeman investigating a murder.
"No, he was my boss," Caine replies.
I guess it's okay for Andrew Klavan to write movies which attack the corporate world and employ Doestoyevskian themes to show the dark side of our culture but the late Stanley Kubrick should be ashamed of himself for making "Dr. Strangelove" because when it comes to war only propaganda for our side matters and films that can be considered in the antiwar genre are unAmerican and an aid to our enemies.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Is Cheney Presiding Over NSC Meetings?
I believe that this might be the biggest thing I've reported in my short career as a blogger and journalist.
Bush apparently gave Cheney power to preside over National Security Council meetings.
Although Cheney's alleged desire to chair principals meetings has been reported before, the results of a RAW STORY investigation suggest that the Vice President may have gotten what he wanted.
Practically unnoticed, a National Security Presidential Directive issued Feb.13, 2001, and signed by President George W. Bush, formally gave the vice president that duty, albeit at the President's discretion.
"When I am absent from a meeting of the NSC, at my direction the Vice President may preside," Bush wrote.
But before the document was officially released, an article in the New York Times published in February, 2001 claimed that "officials who read the directive today and who were familiar with its development" said that it "rejected suggestions that Vice President Cheney head important meetings of the National Security Council."
Read the rest of the article at Raw Story.
(NOTE: ouch...four days later I realized I mixed up NSA and NSC in the original title of this blog post...that's why I appreciate having editors at RAW)
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Cheney Don't Talk Torture
From my article on Vanity Fair interview with Vice President Cheney at Raw Story (link):
Vanity Fair national editor Todd Purdum had the chance to speak to Cheney twice but the Vice President refused to respond "on the record on some of the most controversial and interesting topics..."
"Asked how he could have possibly objected to Senator John McCain’s amendment banning cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners and detainees in American custody, Cheney declines to answer on the record, because, his aides explain, the issue touches on sensitive, classified matters," Purdum writes.