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Lets's talk about democracy
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Tuesday, 29 March 2005
An "Arabian Spring" has sprung.

Reuters:

"In a speech in the White House Rose Garden, (president) Bush spoke optimistically about the future of Iraq and said it would serve as an example of freedom in "a long-troubled part of the world."

"The trend is clear, freedom is on the march," Bush said.

Bush has been touting signs of an "Arabian Spring" of advancing democracy in the Middle East early in his second term, citing elections in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian territories, peaceful demonstrations against Syria in Lebanon and what he called steps toward democratic reform in Egypt and Saudi Arabia." {Oh yeah, you bet. The democracy is marching in Saudi Arabia all right. Just change Wahhabi to Jeffersonian.]

Meanwhile back in Iraq:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament erupted in acrimony at only its second sitting on Tuesday and journalists were thrown out after lawmakers berated leaders for failing to agree on a new government, two months after historic elections.

As the meeting grew heated, the interim speaker ordered journalists to leave and Iraqi television abruptly switched to Arab music. Allawi walked out of the session shortly afterwords.

"You can say we are in a crisis," Barham Salih, a leading Kurdish politician, told reporters.

Some explosions were heard in Baghdad on Tuesday, where officials had warned residents to prepare for stepped up insurgent attacks.

It was unclear if they caused any damage. During the first National Assembly meeting, on March 16, militants lobbed mortar rounds at the heavily fortified Green Zone in the city's center, where lawmakers held their meeting.

Violence also continued in the rest of the country, with a car bombing in the northern city of Kirkuk that killed one person and injured more than a dozen others, police said.

Three Romanian journalists were kidnapped Monday near their hotel, their employers said. They were identified as reporter Marie Jeanne Ion, 32, and cameraman Sorin Dumitru Miscoci, 30, of Bucharest-based television station Prima TV, and Romania Libera newspaper reporter Ovidiu Ohanesian, 37.

The three disappeared shortly after an interview with Allawi, said Petre Mihai Bacanu, managing editor of Romania Libera."

Condi pushing for Iraqi bugout?
So everything is going swimmingly. What did Ayad Allawi say right after the elections? The insurgency only had a few months to survive? The race is on to see whether the insurgency ends before a government is formed.

Since it's all roses and puppies, maybe its time to leave. Robert Novack, of all people, thinks he knows what's up in the White House. Seems Condi is no noecon...

"Determination (is) high in the Bush administration to begin irreversible withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq this year is reinforced by the presence at the State Department of the most dominant secretary since Henry Kissinger three decades ago.

Condoleezza Rice is expected to support administration officials who want to leave even if what is left behind does not constitute perfection.

Bush administration sources that the escape from Iraq should begin once a permanent government is in place in Baghdad.

The most obvious change is the improved situation on the ground in Iraq, where it is no longer preposterous to imagine local security forces in control.

...withdrawal from Iraq short of an absolute military victory seems more feasible today than it did last September..."

Speaking of Condi, the Dept. of Stae came out with their Human Rights Report today, slightly late. We sure know how to dish it out, but we can't take it. Nothing about Gitmo, Afghanistan, or Iraq and gross violations of human rights and international law.

Condi is quoted as saying "in all that lies ahead, our nation will continue to clarify for other nations the moral choice between oppression and freedom, and we will make it clear that ultimately success in our relations depends on the treatment of their own people." But we can treat them however we want.

The Guardian recently reported on the horrible situation in Afghanistan regarding our utter lack of respect for any law at all. Not only do we "render people from our prisons around the world to other countries for torture, but we also going into sovereign countries and take people.

"Although the true extent of the US extra-legal network is only now becoming apparent, people began to disappear as early as 2001 when the US asked its allies in Europe and the Middle East to examine their refugee communities in search of possible terror cells...

Among the first to vanish was Ahmed Agiza, an Egyptian asylum seeker who had been living in Sweden with his wife and children for three years. Hanan, Agiza's wife, told us how on December 18 2001 her husband failed to return home from his language class.

"The phone rang at 5pm. It was Ahmed. He said he'd been arrested and then the line went dead. The next day our lawyer told me that Ahmed was being sent back to Egypt. It would be better if he was dead." Agiza and his family had fled Egypt in 1991, after years of persecution, and in absentia he had been sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court. Hanan said..."

It just goes on and on. Who is responsible for all this? Rummy?

Rummy getting sued again.

Human Rights First has brought suit against Rummy's pentagon torture policies. A press release says:

?Secretary Rumsfeld bears direct and ultimate responsibility for this descent into horror by personally authorizing unlawful interrogation techniques and by abdicating his legal duty to stop torture,? said Lucas Guttentag, lead counsel in the lawsuit and director of the ACLU?s Immigrants? Rights Project.

?He gives lip service to being responsible but has not been held accountable for his actions. This lawsuit puts the blame where it belongs, on the Secretary of Defense.?

Hmmm. This got me wondering. If you read most articles about new revelations coming out because of various organizations asking for documents through the Freedom of Information Act, you keep seeing the same thing.

Rummy is always right a the center of things. For instance...

In a story in the WaPo on "ghost detainees" the aforementioned memo on the FBI complaining to the DoD about their treatment of prisoners revealed the FBI had concerns that...

"...military interrogators at the island prison were using coercive interrogation methods that could compromise any evidence of terrorist activities they obtained.

FBI agents and officials had complained about the shackling of detainees to the floor for periods exceeding 24 hours, without food and water; the draping of a detainee in an Israeli flag; and the use of growling dogs to scare detainees.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who as White House counsel participated in detailed discussions about the legality of aggressive military interrogation techniques, has twice publicly expressed skepticism about the reliability of these FBI accounts. [Isn't he the boss of the Justice Dept?]

But the May 10, 2004, memo, written by an official whose name has not been disclosed, contains a highly detailed account of the efforts that FBI agents made to convince the Defense Department that its interrogation practices were wrongheaded.

They met, for example, with Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, who took over the prison in October 2002, and another Army general to "explain our position (Law Enforcement techniques) vs. DOD," the author wrote in a previously disclosed portion of the memo.

"Both agreed the Bureau has their way of doing business and DOD has their marching orders from" Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld."

In another article regarding the heavy redactions of a FBI memo:

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the top Army officer in Iraq at the time, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last spring that there was no system of keeping such detainees at Abu Ghraib, but he later acknowledged two cases in which it had happened, including that of one detainee who died in custody and another who was kept without registration at the behest of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld."

How is it that all this was going on and Rummy knew nothing? Never mind he wrote in the margins of a memo laying out various torture methods that he stood up for 8 hours a day what was all this about only making prisoners only stand for four hours... but good gosh golly things have changed since 9-11!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:58 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 29 March 2005 6:05 PM EST
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