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Saturday, 25 February 2006
More blood on Badr's hands?
Topic: Iraq

Iraqi government has imposed a curfew on Iraq in an attempt to quell the secrarian fighting spiraling out of control over the past few days. Interior minister Bayan Jaber says anyone with a gun caught on the street will be arrested. Of course, what he really means is anyone caught on the street without a gun will be shot.

Not that the Iraqi Interior Ministry has had a bloody hand in any of the violence going on for the past year or so but, Another Day in the Empire relates this interesting story about the Mosque bombing in Samarra.

"According to reports appearing on the humanitarian Iraqi League organization’s Iraqi Rabita website and translated into English by the Iraqi blogger Baghdad Dweller, at least two witnesses saw 'unusual activities by the ING [Iraqi National Guard] in the area around the mosque.' Two mosque guards reported four men in ING uniforms had blindfolded them and planted explosives. A second witness, Muhammad al-Samarrai, the owner of an internet cafe in the area, was told to stay in his store and not leave the area. From 11 pm until 6:30 am, ten minutes before two bombs were detonated, the area surrounding the mosque was patrolled by “joint forces of Iraqi ING and Americans,” according to al-Samarrai."

Naturally, it would be wise to figure that Zarqawi's bunch probably blew up the Golden Dome mosque, but the Badr Brigade and the Madhi Army would benefit, too, by being given licence to really get after the Sunnis. It would have to be either of these militias because the Iraqi "army" isn't capable of loading its own guns, never mind launching such an operation. The BBC reports "The number of Iraqi battalions able to fight the insurgency with no US help falls from one to zero, the US military tells Congress..."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:38 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 7 March 2006 5:01 PM EST
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Thursday, 23 February 2006
1001 Arabian nightmares.

Things are really running off the rails in Iraq. While Condi is running around the Middle East [NYT] trying to get Arab countries to help us overturn a free and fair election in Palestine, and not having any success, the democratic miracle in Mess-o-patomia is rapidly turning into a nightmare of monumental proportions. Yesterday, the Askariya Shrine in Samarra was leveled by, as yet unknown, attackers. Being one of the holiest sites for the Shiites, chaos quickly ensued, leading to a saturnalia of bloodshed and destruction that has cost more than 111 Iraqi deaths and the torching of maybe 100 Sunni mosques. Iraqi security forces are reported to be just standing around while Shiites kill Sunni clerics and generally wreck havoc. (They're supossed to be standing up so we can stand down, not just standing around!)

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani said ominously, "If the government security forces cannot provide the necessary protection, the believers will do it." I think what he means is the Badr brigade and other Shiite militias will do it. Of course, this blows the administration's plans for an early exit right out of the water. If this situation continues to spin out control, though, I would say our position in Iraq will become pretty much untenable PDQ. (Why do I have that picture of the Huey on top of the U.S. embassy in Saigon?) Zalmay Khalilzad's veiled threat to cut off US aid if Iraq's various sectarian groups couldn't form a national unity government seems just slightly irrelevant now. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of Sciri, as usual, blamed us for this whole mess. He said, "This declaration gave a green light for these groups to do their operation, so he is responsible for a part of that."

Of course, he's sort of right; we're supposedly there to provide stability so the Iraqis can rebuild, but it doesn't look like we're having much luck in that department, lately. Again, I have to ask, what are we doing there? Besides providing great targets for insurgents and every other whacko out there who hates America, I don't see why we're still spilling American blood for these medieval maniacs. Even if peace and love reigned in Baghdad, we still would have created a democratically elected Shiite theocracy whose leaders think Iran is too liberal.

Aelius Gallus is probably having a good laugh, but no one else is. But let’s not dwell on Iraq; let's talk about our addiction to oil and the wonders of switch grass.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:12 PM EST
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Hey, way to win hearts and minds on the sub-continent!
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Boy, Dubya is in for a real interesting trip...

The WaPo reports: "A decision two weeks ago by a U.S. consulate in India to refuse a visa to a prominent Indian scientist has triggered heated protests in that country and set off a major diplomatic flap on the eve of President Bush's first visit to India.

Goverdhan Mehta said in a written account obtained by The Washington Post that he was humiliated, accused of "hiding things" and being dishonest, and told that his work is dangerous because of its potential applications in chemical warfare. Mehta denied that his work has anything to do with weapons. He said that he would provide his passport if a visa were issued, but that he would do nothing further to obtain the document: 'If they don't want to give me a visa, so be it.'

In his written account, the scientist said that after traveling 200 miles, waiting three hours with his wife for an interview and being accused of deception, he was outraged when his accounts of his research were questioned and he was told he needed to fill out a detailed questionnaire. In his written account, the scientist said that after traveling 200 miles, waiting three hours with his wife for an interview and being accused of deception, he was outraged when his accounts of his research were questioned and he was told he needed to fill out a detailed questionnaire. 'I indicated that I have no desire to subject myself to any further humiliation and asked that our passports be returned forthwith," he wrote. The consular official, Mehta added, "stamped the passports to indicate visa refusal and returned them.'" The State Department says it "regrets" that Mehta was "upset by the visa interview process." That ought to mollify him, right?

Speaking more of W.'s trip to India:

In preparation for his big trip to South Asia W. was trumpeting the wonders of outsourcing yesterday at the Asia Society. [Inquirer] Dubya' said, "It's true that a number of Americans have lost jobs because companies have shifted operations to India. We must also recognize that India's growth is creating new opportunities for our businesses and farmers and workers." They have? Last year the U.S. had a $10.8 billion trade deficit with India. Not to worry, though, W. says, "Younger Indians are acquiring a taste for pizzas from Dominoes Pizza Hut." He probably should have added that they shouldn't expect their pizzas delivered in 30 minutes or less. What the hell is he talking about? Indians eating American junk food is going to restore all the good paying jobs that have evaporated here at home?

And eventhough India now has a middle class of 300,000 people; out numbering the total population of the U.S. they're not making anywhere as much as an American would make for the same work. No doubt, they're making a whole lot more than they could have made a few years ago, but their relatively low wages are dragging down our standard of living. This probably has something to do with why 25 million Americans, mainly working poor, had to go to soup kitchens last year. AP reports, "Those seeking food included nine million children and nearly three million senior citizens, a report from America's Second Harvest says. Ertharin Cousins, executive vice president of the group said, '36 percent of the people seeking food came from households in which at least one person had a job. About 35 percent came from households that received food stamps. 'The benefits they are receiving are not enough,' cousins said."

I can personally attest to that. When my girl friend and I were both suddenly laid off a few years back we had to live on our unemployment, which wasn't anywhere enough to pay the rent and eat too, so we tried to get food stamps but all we qualified for was $20 a month. I can't even imagine how people who are really SOL are supposed to live on what the government barely provides. And this "cost saving" bill Congress just passed that zeroed out a slew of assistance programs is going to make things a lot harder for people who are already down on their luck. Common' Congress, let's get to work on making those tax cuts for the rich permanent! That big windfall for the wealthiest 1% isn't going to trickle down all by itself!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:03 PM EST
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Wednesday, 22 February 2006
Bad things coming in Iraq.

Gosh, just when everything was going so well in Iraq and al-Qaeda has to go ahead an blow up one of the Shiite's holiest mosques. Now, according to the media, there might be a chance of a civil war.

Not there's been one going for at least a year over there. Just like it took about a year for the media to notice there was this major insurgency going on even as the UN headquarters was headed to Pluto.

AP reports: "The president [Jafaari] warned that extremists were pushing the country toward civil war, as many Shiites lashed out at the United States as partly to blame." Of course, it wouldn't seem right if he didn't blame us. As I've written before, further down the page here, our insistance that the Iraqi security forces not kill and torture Sunnis they round up is being blamed this time for this attack in Samarra.

By the way, wasn't Samara the town the Marines went into almost at the same moment W. and Kerry started their first debate?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 5:25 PM EST
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Bush and his tin-ear.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Well, isn't this Dubai Ports World story just typical of the Bush administration? Just as they thought they were getting everybody's mind off Cheney shooting a lawyer, here comes this. Of course, it's SOP for Bush & Co. do things without telling anyone, but the political tin-ear on this one is truly mind boggling. I think Congress has finally had enough of this administration sort of operating its own government out of sight of anyone else. Last time I checked there were two other branches.

W. can't understand why everyone is so exercised about this. "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a [British] company," he says.

Geez, W. do you really need it explained to you? In a post 9/11 world like you're always reminding us, you don't turn over port operations in 6 of your most strategic ports to a country that supplied 2 of the 9/11 hijackers and gives a wink and a nod to the Taliban. It may be all much to do about nothing, but the political perception is more important. Imagine what all those pooor republican representivies with tough elections in their districts this year are thinking!

Man, what a mess W.'s handlers have got him into. They've got every governor from New York to Maryland, both democrats and republican, up in arms and filing law suits and Congress has finally emerged from their long slumber to directly challenge our "unitary executive." Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert are threatening to pass legislation to block the sale and in characteristic fashion our gun slinging president has threated a veto. "If they pass a law, I'll deal with it, with a veto." Yeah, you'll deal with it alright, right after the veto is overturned, because I think the votes are there. But that was yesterday, before they could tell W. what to say. Today, Scott McClellan, "the Oracle," said, "we probably should have briefed members of Congress about it sooner." Oh, you think?

But not to worry, McClellan says, "The president made sure to check with all the Cabinet secretaries that are part of this process, or whose agencies or departments are part of this process. He made sure to check with them - even after this got more attention in the press - to make sure that they were comfortable with the decision that was made." But after the fact, because he didn't find out about this until the deal had already gone through, so what difference does it make whether he's satisfied with the procesS? He was satisfied with the jobs George Tenet and Michael Brown did too.

What I don't get about this whole thing is that the government of Dubai won't be in charge of security at these ports, yet there were extra steps taken to make sure everything was on the up and up. McClellan says, "The Coast Guard and the Customs and Border Patrol remain in charge of our security. The Coast Guard remains in charge of physical security."

But last night on the NewsHour Clay Lowery, a lower rung treasury official said, they took evxtra time to go over this "transaction." "We went well beyond that 30-day transaction, and this company, we actually gave extra scrutiny, and the Department of Homeland Security actually worked with the company on creating an arrangement so that to enhance the security apparatus that we already have in place with this company because, as I said earlier, it is one that we have built up a track record with."

So, if it's really no big deal, why all the special attention? I mean, here we have David Sanborn who heads DP World's European and Latin American operations being nominated to head the the U.S. Maritime Administration, he should know whether DP World are straight shooters or not, right? Maybe, congress should have a nice long chat with Mr. Sanborn. The timing does seem a little strange, but that's business as usual in Dubya' Land. Not to fear, though, White House spokesman Trent Duffy says, "we're told he had nothing to do with the transaction." There you have it...Scooter Libby had nothing to do with the Plame leak and David Sanborn, who just happens to work for DP World and is being given the job of overseeing the ports and it's all just a funny coincidence.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:34 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006 5:12 PM EST
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Saturday, 18 February 2006
The disgrace that is Gitmo:
Topic: U.S. Military issues.

As expected, the Bush administration has rejected the UN human rights commission report on Gitmo that calls for the government to close down the camp "without further delay." [NYT]Truthiness secretary Scott McClellan said, "I think what we are seeing is a rehash of allegations that have been made by lawyers representing some of the detainees." (Isn't this the same guy who said no one in the administration was involved in the Plame leak?) And McClellan went on to repeat this tired old sawhorse, "We know that al-Qaeda detainees are trained in trying to disseminate false allegations....These are dangerous terrorists that we are talking about who are there." Right, except that the pentagon has admitted that only 45% of the Gitmo detainees have committed hostile acts against the US and only 8% have been classified as al-Qaeda fighters. [AP] And, oh yeah, by the way, none of them have been formally accused of doing anything.

Even the ones who have been found to be "no longer enemy combatants" are apparently too dangerous to release. Adel Abu Hakim and Abu Bakker Qassim, two ethnic Uighurs, have been at Gitmo for four years and even though they were cleared nine months ago, they're still stuck. The WaPo reports that U.S. District Judge James Robertson, who heard their case, says the court has "no relief to offer" because the government can't find a place for these poor suckers to go and, though, he suggested they be given restricted asylum in the US, only the executive could do that and they're not going to. Seemingly, no country in the world will give them political asylum because they're afraid to offend China. Robertson wrote "The detention of the petitioners has now become indefinite. This indefinite imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay is unlawful."

Luckily, that type of judicial activism is now a thing of the past since W. signed the Defense Authorization Bill back in December. Lindsay Graham and Carl Levin added legislation to the bill denying Gitmo detainees the right to petition the courts for Habeas Corpus. "We're not going to turn the war over to the judges," Graham says. "If you're an enemy combatant, they will look at your case every year. If there's someone who is there untold years, Congress will get involved."

Boy, I bet everyone suffering under what Judge Robertson calls the "Kafka-esque term 'no longer enemy combatants'" will feel a lot better about their indefinite imprisonment knowing that Congress is looking out for them. Baher Azmy, a lawyer for one of the detainees says this new law, "Frees the government to bring anyone it wants to Guantanamo, which is why they chose it in the first place. It could end up as a place beyond the law where the executive branch can do whatever it wants to. " "Could end up?" I think it already has, with the help of Senators Graham and Levin.

Not that being held at Gitmo is so terrible, right? Rummy said it was like a trip to the tropics and they're getting three-squares a day---what else do they want? Even if they don't want to eat they still have to eat. Camp spokesman Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin says they force feed people in "a humane and compassionate way," so back off all you bleeding hearts out there. And they've got this great new comfy chair (like the Spanish Inquisition skit in Monty Python) that they strap detainees into and then put a tube up their nose. Like the manufacturer's ad says, "It's like a padded cell on wheels!" What could be finer you ask, maybe a little diarrhea? The NYT says lawyers for some of the hunger strikers claim "the liquid formula they were given was mixed with other ingredients to cause diarrhea" and another lawyer said his client told him this formula sometimes "caused detainees to defecate on themselves."

How pleasant! The U.S. has no intention of closing down Gitmo anytime soon and in fact they're adding to it. A new barracks is being build for more staff and there's a new psychiatric facility going up as well. Now, why would they need a psychiatric hospital, I wonder? [APA statement] Could it be that people who know they're going to be locked up in that hell hole for the rest of their lives are going a little crazy, so crazy, in fact, that they're trying to kill themselves by starving to death?

What a disgrace! Gitmo is a total betrayal of all we supposedly stand for and our soldiers are fighting and dying for. In what koo koo world does holding people indefinably without charge and without legal recourse become lawful? This is example A of what an unchecked executive's power can do. Instead of enabling this sort of outrageous violation of everything we hold dear, Congress should be closing the purse strings on this monstrosity. But they're too cowardly and one day they're going to wake up and find out their nothing more than rubber stamp puppets doing the bidding of an out of control dictator.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:07 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 18 February 2006 2:08 PM EST
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Friday, 17 February 2006
We're not leaving...
Topic: Iraq

FOX News reports:

KEWAUNEE, Wis. — Peace activist Jill Bussiere wants the United States to bring its troops home from Iraq immediately, so she went door-to-door in this community in the hopes of getting others to join her cause.

Bussiere helped organize a petition drive that resulted in a referendum on Iraq being put on the ballot during Kewaunee's upcoming spring election. It asks whether the city's leaders should urge the U.S. to begin an immediate withdrawal of its troops, beginning with the National Guard and Reserves.

The effort in Wisconsin — in tiny villages like Frederic and Ephraim and the larger cities of Madison and La Crosse — is designed to influence later races for Congress, said coordinator Steve Burns at the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice in Madison

Oh, would it were only possible, but no matter how many cities vote for withdrawal we've got lot's of bases in Iraq and we're not giving them back any time soon.

Asia Times reports:

In a prestigious engineering magazine in late 2003, Lieutenant-Colonel David Holt, the army engineer "tasked with facilities development" in Iraq, was already speaking proudly of several billion dollars being sunk into base construction ("the numbers are staggering"). Since then, the base-building has been massive and ongoing.

In a country in such startling disarray, these bases, with some of the most expensive and advanced communications systems on the planet, are like vast spaceships that have landed from another solar system. Representing a staggering investment of resources, effort and geostrategic dreaming, they are the unlikeliest places for the Bush administration to hand over willingly to even the friendliest of Iraqi governments."

See, we're not going anywhere. We'll hide out in those bases and let the Iraqis catch the bullets for us and if they get into real trouble we'll send in the Air Force to "shake and bake" the insurgents.

Ashraf Fahim for the ATimes writes:

Joost Hiltermann, of the International Crisis Group (ICG), told Asia Times Online it would be strange if America didn't intend to stay in Iraq. "One of the reasons they invaded, as far as I can tell, is because they needed to shift their military operation from Saudi Arabia," he said, "and Iraq was probably the easiest one in terms of a big country to support their presence in the Gulf." The idea that the US wanted to swap Iraq for Saudi Arabia was acknowledged by then-deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz in an interview with Vanity Fair in 2003.

Persistent reports that the US is constructing permanent bases in Iraq lend credence to the view that the Bush administration plans to stay. The Chicago Tribune reported in March 2004 that the US was building 14 "enduring" bases in Iraq, and the Washington Post reported in May that US forces would eventually be consolidated into four large, permanent air bases.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:10 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006 4:11 PM EST
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Pakistan on the brink?
Topic: War on Terror

Pakistan is really beginning to worry me. Yesterday the cartoon protests moved back to Karachi when 40,000 demonstrators turned out to burn Danish flags. There have been at least five deaths associated with the seemingly unending protests and they're spreading all over the country. They've gone beyond the initial spontaneous expression of outrage over the Muhammad cartoons to full blown orchestrated attempts to destabilize the Musharraf regime. The NYT reports that "The protests have...become enmeshed with Pakistani politics as opposition parties and Islamic groups opposed to the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, have led the protests and directed the anger over cartoons into denunciation of General Musharraf's alliance with the West. "(And keep in mind his military and intelligence services are full of like-minded wackos.)

As I wrote earlier on this week, the problems in Baluchistan are even more troublesome than what's going on with these protests. The ongoing resistance to the Pakistani government in that state has ramped up again and in the latest violence three Chinese engineers and their driver were killed. Selig S. Harrison wrote a column on Musharraf's "other war" on the 15th in the WaPo: He warns that Musharraf is diverting military resources away from the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban to regain control of the region that supplies most of the country's energy needs. Harrison writes: "According to U.S. intelligence sources, six Pakistani army brigades, plus paramilitary forces totaling some 25,000 men, are battling Baluch Liberation Army guerillas in the Kohlu Mountains and surrounding areas. The independent Pakistani Human Rights Commission has reported 'indiscriminate bombing and strafing' by 20 U.S.-supplied Cobra helicopter attack gunships and four squadrons of fighter planes, including U.S.-supplied F-16 fighter planes, resulting in 215 civilians dead and hundreds more wounded, many of them women and children."

The U.S government feels that this perfect little war is an "internal matter" for Pakistan to handle and hasn't brought it up with Musharraf and I agree with Harrison that this policy "should be reversed." (That's all we need is more enemies!) Harrison also points out that this area of the world is of major strategic importance. The Chinese, along with helping to maintain the energy infrastructure in Baluchistan, are also helping the Pakistanis build a port at port at Gwadar, "close to the Strait of Hormuz, with a projected 27 berths, enough for a major Pakistani military base that could be used by Beijing." (hmm...the Chinese navy stationed on the Strait of Hormuz, no problem there.)

Then add the war in Afghanistan into the mix and you've got one hell of a bad situation going to hell in a hand basket. A front page story in the NYT on Wednesday says most of the suicide bombers in Afghanistan are being recruited and financed in Pakistan. When and if W. goes to Pakistan next month he's going to have a full plate of very nasty issues to deal with. Of course, he'll probably gloss over all the big issues and just stick to signing Musharraf for some more F-16s. The business of the U.S. is business, after all, and he's the CEO-in-Chief.

Helene Cooper, the NYT's Editorial Observer, wrote yesterday that if the U.S. really wants to stabilize the situation in Pakistan a way to go about it would be to help Pakistani manufacturing, which accounts for 45% of its jobs. Cooper believes the US should lift its tariffs on Pakistani textiles in order to put more Pakistanis to work. I don't really go for the whole free trade argument myself; more textile jobs in Pakistan could mean lost jobs in North Carolina, but I do agree that unless we start putting more money into jobs, education and health care---and less into F-16s to prop up dictators---in those blighted areas of the world like Pakistan. we're in for a whole heap of trouble down the road. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have put us into the position where we we're not able to handle one more crisis and if Pakistan goes up in flames we're going to have a lot more to worry about than whether Mahmoud Amandinejad is calling us names again.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:28 AM EST
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Wednesday, 15 February 2006
Cheney and Abu Ghraib.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Dick Cheney emerged from his lair today and admitted to Brit Hume of FOXNEWS in a hard hitting interview that the shooting of his friend a Texas lawyer was his fault. "You can't blame anybody else. Ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend...The image of him falling is something that I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired and there's Harry falling. And it was ... one of the worst days of my life at that moment," Cheney said.

Interesting how he qualifies that by saying, "at that moment." He's over it, I guess, now it's back to screwing up the country. Asked if it was the right thing to do to leave it up to Katarine Armstrong (who's mother got him hhired at Halliburton) to inform the American public that the vice president shot someone, he gave no ground (even if it means setting Scott McClellan up for more abuse).

"I thought that was the right call. I still do," Cheney said. "I had no press person with me .... I was there on a private weekend with friends." [Reuters] He has no press person with him? What the hell kind of lame excuse it that?

Also, talking to FOX, Cheney said he had authority to declassify information. In response to a question about "Scooter" Libby saying his "superiors" had OK'd him leaking info from an NIE about Iraqi weapons capability, Shooter said, "There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority and obviously focuses first and foremost on the president but also includes the vice president...I've certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions."

The WaPo: Cheney was referring to an executive order on classification of information first signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995. In March 2003, just days after ordering U.S. troops into Iraq, President Bush amended order to, among other things, give the vice president the same classification power as the president."

[see moreon Cheney at Non Sum Dignus]

Limited and targeted spying?

The WaPo reports:

"The National Counterterrorism Center maintains a central repository of 325,000 names of international terrorism suspects or people who allegedly aid them, a number that has more than quadrupled since the fall of 2003, according to counterterrorism officials.

Timothy Sparapani, legislative counsel for privacy rights at the American Civil Liberties Union, says 'We have lists that are having baby lists at this point; they're spawning faster than rabbits. If we have over 300,000 known terrorists who want to do this country harm, we've got a much bigger problem than deciding which names go on which list. But I highly doubt that is the case.'"

The WaPo article goes on to say:

"Its [NCTC]central database is the hub of an elaborate network of terrorism-related databases throughout the federal bureaucracy. Terrorism-related names and other data are sent to the NCTC under standards set by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6, signed by President Bush in September 2003, according to a senior NCTC official. The directive calls upon agencies to supply data only about people who are "known or appropriately suspected to be . . . engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism. 'We work on the basis that information reported to us has been collected in accordance with those guidelines,' Vice Adm. John Scott Redd, the center's director, said in a statement."

Well, that's reassuring. I'm sure those several hundred thousand names are all legitimately dangerous terrorists and not anti-war protesters that demonstrate outside military facilities and Halliburton HQ, or anything like that.

On the torture front:

While the government is busy reading our email and listening in on our conversations and making little lists of who's naughty and nice, Abu Ghraib has reared its ugly head again.

The NYT reports: "An Australian television network broadcast [The SBS] today previously unseen pictures of Iraqi prisoners being abused by American soldiers." Of course, the pentagon says there nothing new here, everything has already been investigated and 'we nailed those two dozen Pfcs to the wall.'

"The State Department legal adviser, John B. Bellinger 3d, noted that, following the instances of abuse in late 2003 and their disclosure early in 2004, there had been numerous public investigations, prosecutions and internal reviews. 'And it's unfortunate, in fact, that these photographs are coming out further and fanning the flames,' Mr. Bellinger said, referring to the Australian broadcast."

Yes, blame the messenger, that's it! I think it's pretty likely most Iraqis haven't forgotten about Abu Ghraib, but the reminder that there really hasn't been an independent investigation into who really ordered the stuff that went on there is timely. (That's what's really eating the pentagon.)

Oddly, the photos that the SBS showed were the same ones the ACLU has been trying to get the government to give up for quite a while.

The SBS reports says, "The latest photographs reveal further abuse including new incidents of killing, torture and sexual humiliation, the program’s producers said. Dateline said the photos are the subject of a legal battle in the United States. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been granted access to the photographs under Freedom of Information provisions, but the US government is currently appealing the decision."

Abu Ghraib: Jihad University:

Meanwhile, the boneheaded decision to use Abu Ghraib, Saddam's notorious torture prison, in the first place is being compounded by squeezing Iraqis in there like sardines.

NYT: American commanders in Iraq are expressing grave concerns that the overcrowded Abu Ghraib prison has become a breeding ground for extremist leaders and a school for terrorist foot soldiers. 'Abu Ghraib is a graduate-level training ground for the insurgency,' said an American commander in Iraq."

It seems that since we've stopped turning over Iraqis we capture to the Iraqi interior ministry because of their little torture and killing problem, the American military prisons have become even more over crowed than they were before. [Iraqi death squad caught in the act.BBC]

"The overall detainee population stood at 14,767 this week, an increase from 10,135 in June 2005 and a significant jump even from the end of December, when the number stood at 14,055, according to American military statistics. Abu Ghraib held 4,850 detainees as of Jan. 31, a steep increase from 3,563 last June but a slight dip from 4,924 in late December."

Amazingly, some officers are actually saying we might want to differentiate between those who just get caught up in sweeps and those that are really dangerous. Imagine that!

"These decisions have to be intelligence driven, on holding those who are extreme threats or who can lead us to those who are," another American officer in Iraq said. 'We don't want to be putting everybody caught up in a sweep into Jihad University.'"

Too late.

More torutre news:

You know, Guantanmao is really a big time black eye for the US. But, what to do? If you let those 500 or so guys out, they're going to start spouting all this stuff about being tortured, which naturally are all lies. All a-Qaeda types are instructed to say they were tortured so you can't believe any of it.

Today, the long awaited UN Human Rights report came out and says "The United States government should close the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities without further delay."

The NYT: "In a response included in an appendix to the 54-page report, the United States noted that the investigators had turned down an invitation to visit Guantanamo Bay, and it rejected the findings and faulted the investigators for using selective information to support their conclusions. The investigators declined to go to the camp after being told that they would be denied the opportunity to interview detainees."

There isn't much point in going if you can't talk to the detainees, but never mind about all that, everybody knows the UN Human Rights commission is full of anti-American types.

So, if the FBI sees torture taking place at Gitmo, they must be involved in some turf war with the pentagon or something.

CNN: A memo from a senior FBI counterterrorism official has outlined three alleged cases of abuse in 2002 that FBI agents had become aware of while serving at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base prison. The complaints included allegations of a female interrogator grabbing a detainee's genitals and bending back his thumbs and a prisoner being gagged with duct tape. Another complaint talked of a dog being used to intimidate a prisoner and jailers subjecting the same prisoner to what the FBI official called "intense isolation" in a "cell that was always flooded with light."

All made up, it didn't happen!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:37 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006 12:04 PM EST
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Tuesday, 14 February 2006
Pakistan next to be liberated by democracy?
Topic: General News.

What was I saying about Pakistan just a few days ago? [Below] If any regime is in the most danger of being overthrown by this massive overreaction to the Muhammad cartoons, it's Pervez Musharraf's. There has been days and days of violence all over the country and today Lahore saw the worst of it.

W. is supossed to be visiting Pakistan next month to put in a good word for good old Pervez, but he might not be there by the time Potus hits the runway. I'm not saying the Pakistani authorities aren't used to protests like this, but the rampant poverty, the poor response to the earthquake and the ongoing war in Afghanistan---just ramping up for the summer---along with the "outrage" over the Danish carttons, all makes the situation very dicey. If Musharraf dose go let's hope its not OBL taking over, because, remember, they have the Islamic bomb.

Katrina and Cheney:

The administration has launched a shock and awe campaign to convince everyone that critics of their handling of hurricane Katrina are all full of it. Heimat Security director Frances Townsend said, "I reject outright the suggestion that president Bush was anything less than fully involved, "with the governemnt response to Katrina. That might not be the tact they want to take in defending the administration, because that means to me that he knew exactly what was going on and blew it. It would be a better strategy to blame Michael Brown who Townsend said "had become bitter...trying to find someone else, anyone else to blame."

Does she mean just like the Cheney cabal is doing right now by blaming Harry Whittington? (Man, he's going to be able to call in some big time favors when this is all over!) It wasn't Dick's fault he swung around and pulled the trigger before looking, it was Whittington's fault for not knowing to keep his head down around Cheney. The Inquirer this morning says the "NRA drills member on three fundamental safety rules:Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, and always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. Hunters add a fourth commandment: Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it. "This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot," the NRA says on its Web site and in its promotional pamphlets. "Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. Think first. Shoot second." Wish he had followed those rules before going into Iraq.

Eventhough the White House rejects any "suggestion that president Bush was anything less than fully involved," in knowing about the Cheney shooting, the WaPo says the White House "deferred to Cheney on providing information to the public" and then he very properly deferred to a private citizen and who took "14 hours after the shooting to disclose it publicly."

As to why it took so long for the public to become informed about this, the story is that Cheney was more concerned about making sure his victim was OK...and then later that day..."The rest of the party had dinner." Katharine Armstrong said: "The last thing that was on our mind was the media. We were thinking about Harry." (riiiiight!)

The WaPo: "In a telephone interview, Armstrong said that she, her mother and her sister, Sara Storey Armstrong Hixon, decided on Sunday morning after breakfast to report the shooting accident to the media. 'It was my family's own volition, and the vice president agreed. We felt -- my family felt and we conferred as a family -- that the information needed to go public. It was our idea,' Armstrong said."

Well, that was nice of them to let everyone know the vice-president shot someone, I certainly wouldn't expect the government to ruffle these fine people's feathers by jumping the gun, so to speak, that would be uncouth.

New plan for Hamas:

TheNYT reports today that, "The United States and Israel are discussing ways to destabilize the Palestinian government so that newly elected Hamas officials will fail and elections will be called again, according to Israeli officials and Western diplomats."

That's a great plan! Defund the PA and make things so painful for the Palestinian people that they will overthrow their own leaders. That strategy worked real well in Haiti, I don't see any danger of things going badly in the Middle East. And it's not like Hamas isn't going to turn us and Israel into the bad guys and prop themselves up by blaming us for everything that goes wrong, just like Castro does. So all in all, a really good way for us to distance ourselves from criticsm that we're nothing more than Israeli puppets.

Khalil Shikaki, a pollster and the director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, in an interview for the Times story says that because "Fatah ran a lousy campaign...Israel and Washington want to do it over...The Palestinian Authority could collapse in six months." Not that's the way to show the world you're serious about spreading democracy.

Iraq do-over:

I heard Brig. Gen. William McCoy, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraqa say today on NPR's Morning Edition that the U.S. never intended to rebuild Iraq, the plan was really just to give them a leg up. So, that explains why we've squandered how many billions of dollars over there?

James Glanz has written a number of articles for the NYT pointing out all the flaws in the US plan for rebuilding Iraq and to say we really meant just to help them out a little bit is quite an admission of lowered expectations.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:18 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006 11:29 AM EST
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