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Friday, 3 March 2006
Our new dirty war in Iraq.
Topic: Iraq

Progress is progressing in Iraq and the "competent, capable Iraqi government [are] using their capable Iraqi security force to calm the storm that was inflamed by a horrendous, horrific terrorist attack yesterday," this according to U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch last Thursday. Lynch, doing his best Naji Sabr impression, went on to say, "We're not seeing civil war igniting in Iraq...We're not seeing death in the streets." The day he said this, safely behind the blast walls of the Green Zone, 129 Iraqis were killed.

The spin coming from the government and the corporate media then was that religious leaders were calming the situation and urging their followers to show restraint. Of course, now it turns out that while Muktada al-Sadr was preaching peace he was sending his Medhi army out to seize or burn down Sunni mosques and generally create bloody mayhem. The Badr brigade did their part along with the Iraqi Interior Ministry forces, which are pretty much indistinguishable nowadays, the evidence of this appearing in the form of dozens of bodies with their hands tied behind their backs and bullets in the back of their heads popping up everywhere. In fact, the religious leaders are doing such a great job keeping the peace that the government has very hastily imposed another car less curfew in Baghdad to prevent even more violence after today's Friday payers.

Even before the mosque bombing last week, insurgent attacks and Shiite counter-attacks around the country were topping over 500 every week. Things are decidedly worse now. The nature of the fighting is switching from the mundane car bombings and fire fights with U.S. forces of the past into organized, large scale ethnic cleansings. Last Saturday a group of gunmen stormed a Shiite house in northeast Baghdad and killed 11 men of the family. On the same day, 14 members of an Interior Ministry Shiite commando unit was killed in southwest Baghdad. Tom Lasseter of the Inquirer writes that, "An Interior Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of his life, said that American troops had to collect the bodies: 'We couldn't enter the area today, it's too dangerous."

In another incident last night, a few dozen heavily armed militants set fire to a power plant in Narawhan, just outside of Baghdad, and then moved on to destroy a brick factory where they also killed several Shiite workers. Within the last hour I've heard reports that Iraqi security forces were asking for U.S. military help to go into the area because they felt the situation was too dangerous for them to go in alone.

Despite all the happy talk about Iraqi army brigades almost being capable of operating without U.S. help, the fact is we're stuck with not only dodging IEDs and fighting insurgents, but now our troops are having to protect Iraqi police and soldiers from sectarian attacks. We're being sucked into an Iraqi dirty war here. We stood very little chance of ever winning an indigenous insurgency in the first place and now we're asking our military to try and separate two religious factions bent on wiping each other out. Staying the course is no longer an option; it's just a matter of how many more troops we have to lose before this dawns on Rummy & Co. Or until someone has the courage to stand up and tell W., who has no patience for people who tell him the truth.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:38 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 3 March 2006 12:39 PM EST
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Thursday, 2 March 2006
W.s big adventure in India.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Potus hits the ground running in New Delhi and signs on the dotted line in record time. Now the only problem is getting India's parliament and the U.S. Congress on board. For the Indians, as I understand it, many in the majority and the opposition parties hew to the Nehru policy of nonalignment and knuckling under to international or American interference in their nuclear sphere is a nonstarter. In the U.S., there's much opposition to this new plan based on the idea of not letting every Tom, Dick and Harry have nukes. But don't worry, W. says, this deal will reduce the price of gas. "It's in our economic interests that India have a civilian nuclear power industry to help take the pressure off of the global demand for energy. ... To the extent that we can reduce demand for fossil fuels, it will help the American consumer." (It always comes back to oil, doesn't it.)

That's great, but the next time W. drones on about Iranian and North Korean nukes and what a danger to the civilized world they are, he's going to get India thrown right back in his face. W. says, "times change" and those against this plan have to get over it and move on. Hey, I would be the first one to agree that change is a good thing, but in the realm of international politics and law, I don't think you can just unilaterally bend the rules on the NPT like this and not have it backfire when it comes to trying to convince the rest of the world to go along with you on keeping Iran from having their own civilian nuclear program.

The Pakistan angle:

And what are the Pakistanis going to think about this? W. has just signed off on a deal that says we'll sell their arch rival modern reactor technology, and on top of that, they can hold on to the reactors they've already got, which are busily making plutonium for bombs aimed at Islamabad. And they don't have to comply with any IAEA inspections or anything; such a deal! Whereas we're still punishing Pakistan for their nuclear program, India is getting rewarded for theirs. Pervez Musharraf staged a raid on an al-Qaeda base in Waziristan yesterday, just in time for the big presidential visit; he must be wondering what a tin pot dictator has to do to get little respect.

The China angle:

But don't get the idea that India has all their nukes pointed at Pakistan; China is in the cross-hairs, too. With the help of Israel and all the high tech weaponry we've given them, which they naturally turned around and resold to the rest of the world, India is well on its way to having its Triad of land, sea and air delivery systems. In order to arm this Triad, you've got to figure they've got more than just a few H-bombs to play with. If I were Chinese, I'd be defiantly looking at this new friendship between India and the U.S. with some trepidation and would continue to help Pakistan build even more bombs. Remember, they've got their own issues with India over Kashmir. Gosh, I wonder why the Chinese are so hell bent on building up their military? Are they feeling a bit surrounded these days?

With all the pitfalls of opening the nuclear floodgates in South Asia one wonders what the hell this administration is thinking about. All you have to do is flash a little money in front of this bunch and they'll sell their grandmother. Yes, India is a big and growing market, but couldn't we sell them something other than nuclear power plants? Don't we have anything other than that to sell them? Judging by our trade deficit with them, I guess we really don't. What about those Domino's pizzas W. was talking about?

DP World is just the tip of the iceberg?

Even as W. has got a hard sell in front of him on this India deal, he's got another big problem in Congress, and that's the DP World take over of our ports. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for the administration, now it turns out that the Anti-Defamation League has a problem with it based on the DP World's parent company, Ports, Customs & Free Trade Zone Corp., enforcement of the Arab League's boycott on Israel.

But don't worry, as W. said the other day while he was feting Silvio Berlusconi (aka Jesus), "If there was any doubt in my mind...that our ports would be less secure and the American people endangered, this deal wouldn't go forward." Just because the 9/11 Commission report found the UAE to be "A persistent counterterrorism problem," I wouldn't take their word over W.'s. If he says there's no doubt in his mind, you can take that to the bank, his judgment up this point has been pretty solid, right?

The WaPo reports the administration is now reviewing whether, "Another Dubai-owned company set to take over plants in Georgia and Connecticut that make precision components used in engines for military aircraft and tanks...[the] secretive Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is investigating the security implications of Dubai International Capital's $1.2 billion acquisition of London-based Doncasters Group Ltd.."

Well, if we're going to turn over our ports to rich Arabs with connections to OBL why not turn over our aerospace industry, too? But to counter the Arabs we'll sell our defense sofware buisness to the Israelis. That ought to play in Peoria, especially in an election year.

An Israeli company, "Check Point's proposed $225 million purchase of Laurel-based Sourcefire raised red flags with government cybersecurity officials...Check Point was built by Gil Shwed, whom Forbes magazine has described as an Israeli billionaire who served in the electronic intelligence arm of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Sourcefire makes network defense and intrusion detection software for an array of customers, including the Defense Department. The company has deep roots in the National Security Agency. Its founder and chief technology officer, Martin Roesch, has served as an NSA contractor. Its vice president of engineering, Tom Ashoff, developed software for the secretive spy agency."

Great now the Isrealis can spy on us too!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:39 AM EST
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Tuesday, 28 February 2006
W.'s trippin' on India.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Today, W. is off on his big trip to India and Pakistan. He's bringing a suitcase full of deals that will benefit the U.S. nuclear industry---as if they needed anymore government handouts---but whether he'll be able to get Congress to go along the whole thing is another matter. See, the only little spot of bother with the plan to help India build more nuclear power plants is that W. would be giving them a pass on their bombs in return for buying reactors made in the USA. There is perception of double standards. While we're busy threatening the Iranians on their bomb-making plans, we're signing off on India's. Whereas Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has been playing by the rules, the Indians are a nuclear pariah. Rep. Edward Markey (D.Mass.) spells out what many in Congress feel about this boneheaded policy, "American cannot credibly preach nuclear temperance from a barstool." I thought the whole idea of non-proliferation was...well, non-proliferation. Singling out countries for different treatment based on what kind of money a special interest can make is not a good way to go about reducing our chances of being vaporized. (1)

Of course, I understand our new interest in getting cozy with India, they've got a booming economy and their a potential ally against the Chinese, but enabling their appetite for more nukes doesn't seem like the best strategy in that part of the world. If anything, we should be trying to disarm South Asia. Right now, the Indian government is making kissy faces at Pakistan, but that could change in an instant. As W. said himself, "The world changes. It's never static." Thinking ahead isn't exactly W. & Co.'s strong suit, though, so I shouldn't expect miracles.

And what about the Pakistan leg of the trip, anyway? They've got illicit nukes too, how is W. going to circle that square? (My bet that little inconsistency in our schizophrenic foreign policy won't come up.) Besides showing up for a few minutes to have pictures taken and giving our bastard in Islamabad a 'that-a-boy' for sort of helping out in the 'war on terror,' what advantage do we gain by this visit? You'd think any administration that claimed it was bent on spreading democracy around the world and preventing nuclear proliferation would snob a dictator like Musharraf. At the very least, you would think he would tell Musharraf to stop looking the other way while al-Qaeda and the Taliban conduct their war in Afghanistan right under his nose, but he probably won't. (2) Gosh, that doesn't leave a lot to for W. and Musharraf to discuss over their state dinner, does it? There's always the earthquake relief thing, I guess.

(1) Mohamed ElBaradei warned that 30 countries could have nukes within the next 10 to 20 years if we don't get serious about disarmament and non-proliferation. A world full of nukes, "is the beginning of the end for us," he said back in December. But, of course, he wouldn’t roll over and play dead when Cheney was trying to get everyone to believe Saddam had restarted his nuclear program, so what does he know?

(2) Hamid Karzai visited Pakistan two weeks ago and it was reported that he gave Musharraf evidence that Mullah Omar, among others, was in Pakistan and gave locations of terrorist training camps operating along the border. The AP reported that Pakistani Interior Minister, Aftab Khan Sherpao, said he would capture these Afghani fugitives "if they are here." [Inquirer]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:10 PM EST
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Monday, 27 February 2006
Operation Enduring Waste of Time.
Topic: War on Terror

While things in Iraq spin out of control, more so than usual, in Afghanistan a prison revolt at Kabul's main prison has turned into a stand off between government troops and about 2,000 inmates. The AP reports that, "The area now under the inmates' control includes a wing that houses 70 women prisoners and about 70 children who live with them."

My first question would be, why the hell are there children in one of Afghanistan's most notorious prisons, known for torture and summary executions in the Soviet occupation days? Well, we kept children prisoners at Gitmo, so I guess it's not that much of a biggie, right?

AP: "A man claiming to be a spokesman for the Block One inmates called The Associated Press and demanded retrials for all the prisoners, saying many were innocent while others were serving unfairly harsh sentences. The man, who identified himself only as Maqsodi, said the riot would continue until the government met prisoners' demands. 'Two-thirds of the prisoners here are innocent. The courts were unfair,' he said."

Meanwhile, the U.S. has its own gulag at Bagram airbase where prisoners are served cherries and cream every morning. The NYT reports:

"The U.S. military on Sunday defended its detention of about 500 inmates at its main base in Afghanistan, saying they are treated humanely and provided the 'best possible living conditions.' The New York Times on Sunday reported that inmates are held by the dozen in wire cages at the Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul -- some for as long as two or three years without access to lawyers or the chance to hear the allegations against them. The report, citing unnamed military officials and former detainees, said that inmate numbers had grown sharply, partly because 'enemy combatants' caught during the hunt for al-Qaida and Taliban militants in Afghanistan were no longer being transferred to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

Gosh, I wonder why? Could it be there's too much of a spotlight on that particular gulag right now? No one pays any attention to Bagram, so it's an ideal locale.

The military assures everyone that these are all bad people who mean us harm, all the way over in Afghanistan, but a 2004 Human Rights Watch report about Bargram says:

"U.S. forces sometimes take into custody all men of military age found within the vicinity of an operation. Other times, it seems persons are targeted for arrest because U.S. officials have determined they are a security risk or are useful for intelligence purposes—for instance, clerics or local tribal leaders who might be politically involved with the Taliban, or civilians spotted near the site of a recent attack. Human Rights Watch has interviewed many Afghans who were arrested for simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Hmmm...where have I heard that before? But, naturally, they're all lying because that's the way they're trained at Jihad University. Of course, it it were true that most of the people we've been holding on to for years on end weren't really that valuable as sources of Intel or anything else, one might wonder why were wasting our time and resources on them.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:38 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006 2:12 PM EST
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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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