Friday, December 30, 2005

Right After 9/11, Bush Wanted War Powers For Use Inside The United States

One aspect of Tom Daschle's recent op-ed in the Washington Post (which I linked to here) escaped my notice. Thanks to Will Bunch for pointing it out.

Let's look at Barton Gellman's story from last Friday's Post (my emphasis):
The Bush administration requested, and Congress rejected, war-making authority "in the United States" in negotiations over the joint resolution passed days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to an opinion article by former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) in today's Washington Post. ...

Daschle's article reveals an important new episode in the resolution's legislative history.

As drafted, and as finally passed, the resolution authorized the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons" who "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words 'in the United States and' after 'appropriate force' in the agreed-upon text," Daschle wrote. "This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused." ...

Republican legislators involved in the negotiations could not be reached for comment last night.
So ... has anyone bothered to get a comment from these fascists in the last seven days?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

All Of These Things Have Happened

Robert Steinback, Miami Herald:
One wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.

If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.

Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat -- and expect America to be pleased by this -- I would have thought our nation's sensibilities and honor had been eviscerated.

If I had been informed that our nation's leaders would embrace torture as a legitimate tool of warfare, hold prisoners for years without charges and operate secret prisons overseas -- and call such procedures necessary for the nation's security -- I would have laughed at the folly of protecting human rights by destroying them.

If someone had predicted the president's staff would out a CIA agent as revenge against a critic, defy a law against domestic propaganda by bankrolling supposedly independent journalists and commentators, and ridicule a 37-year Marie Corps veteran for questioning U.S. military policy -- and that the populace would be more interested in whether Angelina is about to make Brad a daddy -- I would have called the prediction an absurd fantasy. ...

What is there to say now? All of these things have happened. ...

I evidently have a lot poorer insight regarding America's character than I once believed, because I would have expected such actions to provoke -- speaking metaphorically now -- mobs with pitchforks and torches at the White House gate. ...
Meanwhile, the Republicans believe that the fan club of Bill Clinton's cat Socks was more worthy of investigation than George W. Bush's public admission of guilt regarding hundreds of crimes against the Constitution.

Wait a minute --

I have to post that paragraph again, this time in bold.

Meanwhile, the Republicans believe that the fan club of Bill Clinton's cat Socks was more worthy of investigation than George W. Bush's public admission of guilt regarding hundreds of crimes against the Constitution.

What a country.

Monday, December 26, 2005

"Little Red" Hoax; Muslims Monitored

About a week ago, I posted the story of a UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents after making a library request for Mao Zedong's "The Little Red Book". It turns out the story was a hoax.

However, this story remains true:
Mosques monitored for radiation

(Reuters) - U.S. officials have secretly monitored radiation levels at Muslim sites, including mosques and private homes, since September 11, 2001 as part of a top secret program searching for nuclear bombs, U.S. News and World Report said on Friday. ...

"In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program," the magazine said. ...

At its peak, the effort involved three vehicles in the Washington area monitoring 120 sites a day, nearly all of them Muslim targets such as prominent mosques and office buildings selected by the FBI, it said.

The program has also operated in at least five other cities -- namely Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, and Seattle -- when threat levels there have risen, it said.

One source quoted by the magazine said the targets were almost all U.S. citizens.
Glenn Greenwald sees through the bullshit. As does digby.

Year Of The Coup

James Carroll has written one of the more clear-eyed assessments of the current regime in the mainstream media (though I would strongly assert that the year of the coup was not 2005, but 2000).
Again and again, in the year now ending, the American people have been told by their leaders that strategies based on a new "repugnant philosophy" are required if the nation is to survive the challenge facing it. Forbidden incendiary weapons must be used in urban settings. Prisoners of war must be deprived of Geneva protections. Aggressive interrogations of enemies must approach torture. Commitments to provide US combat forces with adequate protective gear must be forsworn. Extrajudicial kidnapping of bad people must be justified. Allies must be pressured into joining secret networks of detention camps.

Human rights standards must be jettisoned. Traditional obligations to the United Nations must be ignored. Treaties that limit action can be cast aside. Distinctions between foreign and domestic espionage must be left behind, with US citizens subject to unmonitored surveillance by military agencies. Public libraries must be regarded as government peepholes. The lawyer-client privilege must no longer be regarded as sacrosanct. The press must be recruited into the project of information management. Dissent must be labeled as treason. ...

Where is the shame in Washington today? How does Donald Rumsfeld not blush in the presence of the soldiers he so routinely betrays? How does Dick Cheney maintain that straight face, treating core values as a joke? The recasting of the nation's moral meaning -- a blatant embrace of ends-justify-the-means -- is happening in plain daylight. No shadows here.

Every time the Bush administration is caught in one of its repugnant purposes (Thank God, again this year, for Seymour Hersh), the White House declares its intention to stay the course. Torture? Wiretapping? Kidnapping? Deceit? The president's eyes widen: Trust me, he says with a twisted smile. Then he leans closer to display a snarling defiance. The combination reduces his critics to sputters.

Perhaps Bush's savviest achievement has been to make the public think that Rumsfeld and Cheney are the dark geniuses behind the administration's malevolence. If Bush is taken as too shallow to have a fascist ideology; as too weak to stick with hard policies that undermine democracy; as a religious nutcase whose apocalyptic fantasies don't matter; as a man, in sum, the average citizen can regard as slightly less than average -- then what he is pulling off will not be called by its proper name until it is too late. 2005? Oh yes, that was the year of the coup.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Revolutionary Transformation Of Human Nature

Chris Floyd:
Countless words of condemnation have been heaped upon George W. Bush and his hard-Right regime -- a crescendo growing louder by the day, with voices from across the political spectrum. But the most devastating repudiation of the Regime's foul ethos was actually delivered almost 2,000 years ago by the man whose birth is celebrated at this season of the year.

We speak, of course, of Jesus of Nazareth, whose Sermon on the Mount, as reported in the Gospels, called for a revolutionary transformation of human nature -- a complete overthrow of our natural instincts for greed, aggression, and self-aggrandizement. ...

Bush professes to believe that Jesus is the son of God, whose words are literally divine commands. Yet anyone who compares what Jesus really said to Bush's actions in power -- the abandonment of the poor, the exaltation of the rich; the dirty insider deals, the culture of corruption, the politics of smear and slander; the perversion of law to countenance murder, torture and predatory war -- can readily see that this profession of faith is a monstrous deceit. ...

"Blessed be ye poor; for yours is the kingdom of God. ... But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation. ...

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. Thus you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven ..."


And what would happen today if a swarthy Middle Eastern man without wealth or political connections suddenly appeared in front of the White House proclaiming such a radical doctrine of mercy, forgiveness, charity, self-denial and love -- love even for the "evildoers" who "want to destroy our way of life"?

Would he be targeted by the lawless spy gangs that Bush has personally loosed upon the nation, as the New York Time revealed last week? Would he be condemned as a terrorist sympathizer and expelled from the country? Would he be seized and "rendered" to some secret CIA prison or Bush-friendly foreign torture chamber for "special interrogation"?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

What Would D. Boon Do?

A love letter from GYWO's David Rees.
- That my career as a political cartoonist literally began the night I asked myself "What would D. Boon do?" before clumsily trying to make the comic-strip equivalent of a Minutemen song -- which therefore means I owe D. Boon my livelihood -- is, for me, as a childhood worshipper of D. Boon, the greatest fact of all time.
I have no doubt that Boon would have given GYWO a blurb-worthy endorsement.

The smooth jazz of genocide responses

Damn.

One Hell Of A Friday News Dump

And a Christmas-Eve news dump at that (my emphasis):
Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report

Washington, Dec. 23 - The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.

The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said.

As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said.
One thing the Cheney administration has claimed is that it's spying externally, not on US citizens. Obviously, that's a bold-faced lie.
Is the Pentagon Spying on Americans?
MSNBC, December 13, 2005

A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. What they didn't know was that their meeting had come to the attention of the U.S. military.

A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a "threat" and one of more than 1,500 "suspicious incidents" across the country over a recent 10-month period.

The Defense Department document is the first inside look at how the U.S. military has stepped up intelligence collection inside this country since 9/11, which now includes the monitoring of peaceful anti-war and counter-military recruitment groups. ...

"It means that they're actually collecting information about who's at those protests, the descriptions of vehicles at those protests," says [NBC News military analyst Bill] Arkin. "On the domestic level, this is unprecedented," he says. "I think it's the beginning of enormous problems and enormous mischief for the military. ... [M]ilitary intelligence is back conducting investigations and maintaining records on civilian political activity."
Also:
Many Americans' privacy is at risk, some say
Boston Globe

The National Security Agency, in carrying out President Bush's order to intercept the international phone calls and e-mails of Americans suspected of links to al-Qaida, has probably been using computers to monitor all other Americans' international communications as well, according to specialists familiar with the workings of the NSA. ...

"They have a capacity to listen to every overseas phone call," said Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University ...
Other recent stories include the Pentagon spying on an anti-war demo in San Diego, a "Vegan Community Project" in Indianapolis and a PETA protest over llama fur.

Another report indicated Pentagon investigators labeled a gay kiss-in at the University of California - Santa Cruz a "credible threat" of terrorism.

But that widespread criminal activity isn't enough for these domestic terrorists:
Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday called for "strong and robust" presidential powers, saying executive authority was eroded during the Watergate and Vietnam eras. ... "I would argue that the actions that we've taken there are totally appropriate and consistent with the constitutional authority of the president. ... You know, it's not an accident that we haven't been hit in four years" ...
Sounds like a veiled threat. Gimme more power ... or else.

Extra bonus lie (again, my emphasis):
The Bush administration requested, and Congress rejected, war-making authority "in the United States" in negotiations over the joint resolution passed days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to an opinion article by former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) in today's Washington Post.

Daschle's disclosure challenges a central legal argument offered by the White House in defense of the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. It suggests that Congress refused explicitly to grant authority that the Bush administration now asserts is implicit in the resolution.

The Justice Department acknowledged yesterday, in a letter to Congress, that the president's October 2001 eavesdropping order did not comply with "the 'procedures' of" the law that has regulated domestic espionage since 1978.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

D. Boon

Twenty years ago today, Dennes Dale Boon, guitarist and singer for the Minutemen, was killed in an auto accident in Arizona. He was 27.

D. Boon, bassist Mike Watt, and drummer George Hurley were an ambitious and prolific trio from San Pedro, California, who mixed punk, funk, folk, jazz, beat poetry, and leftist politics. Their creative peak was in 1984 -- when they released the 45-song Double Nickels on the Dime.

(If you don't know the band, you may have heard Boon's song "Corona" as the theme music to MTV's Jackass.)

Boon has always been, for me, one of rock's most compelling musicians. I love his treble-heavy guitar playing and he was an absolute joy to watch on stage. His political passion and commitment -- speaking out against the Reagan administration's illegal actions in Central America -- made me look critically at politics for the first time, setting me on a path that eventually led me to leave the United States for Canada.

Sadly, there isn't that much information on the Minutemen out there. A chapter in Michael Azerrad's book Our Band Could Be Your Life, which takes its title from one of the band's best songs, recounts the band's six-year history.

The band's page at Wikipedia is quite good and Sidemouse has some fanzine interviews and photos. You can download live recordings and video clips at Corndogs. Also, check out Mike Watt's Hootpage.
i'll put it into simple words
working men are pissed

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More on the Times/Bush Wiretap Coverup

Thanks to the always-informative Will Bunch at Attytood, we learn that the editors at the New York Times
were actively considering running the story about the wiretaps before Bush's November showdown with Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts. Top editors at the paper eventually decided to hold the story.
Because, really, why should the country's supposed "paper of record" bother with such silliness? And do you really think Americans deserve to know such things before they vote?

Not only that, check this out:
... Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ... on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story. The Times will not comment on the meeting, but one can only imagine the president's desperation. (my emphasis)
As Bunch notes:
Since the article was published, Bush has given two speeches and answered questions in a lengthy news conference. Keller has issued a short written statement.

When George W. Bush is now more open than you are, that's a problem.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

King George

The thought of writing about the Cheney administration's admission that it has been illegally spying on thousands of Americans has been depressing me.

The "liberal" New York Times refused to publish news of this obvious criminal activity for more than a year. Why? Because the White House asked them not to.

I wonder what big political event was happening a little more than a year ago? Hmmm ...

Anyway, I've found that shanikka at My Left Wing has done my work for me. Go and read.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Lesson In Totalitarianism

More news from the Land of the Free:
A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book."

Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.

The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number.

He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.
Awfully nice of those agents to give the student a first-hand look at "fascism and totalitarianism".

Friday, December 16, 2005

Not A Peaceful Welcome

Brian Williams talks with the Chimp:
Williams: A lot of people have seen in this series of speeches you're giving on Iraq, a movement in your position. They call it an acknowledgement that perhaps the mission has not gone as it was originally planned — three points: That the U.S. would be welcomed as liberators, that General Shinsecki, when he said this would take hundreds of thousands of troops in his farewell speech, might have been right. And third, that it wasn't a self-sustaining war in terms of the oil revenue. Do you concede those three points might not have gone as planned?

Bush: Review them with me again.

Williams: Number one — that we'd be welcomed as liberators?

Bush: I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome. ...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Frank Rich: It Takes A Potemkin Village

The Times has stuck Frank Rich's latest behind its TimesSelect pay service, but Maccabee (and Kos readers) have these snips (and more):
When a government substitutes propaganda for governing, the Potemkin village is all. Since we don't get honest information from this White House, we must instead, as the Soviets once did, decode our rulers' fictions to discern what's really happening. What we're seeing now is the wheels coming off: As the administration's stagecraft becomes more baroque, its credibility tanks further both at home and abroad. The propaganda techniques may be echt Goebbels, but they increasingly come off as pure Ali G. ...

Mr. Bush's "Plan for Victory" speech was, of course, the usual unadulterated nonsense. Its overarching theme - "We will never accept anything less than complete victory" - was being contradicted even as he spoke by rampant reports of Pentagon plans for stepped-up troop withdrawals between next week's Iraqi elections and the more important (for endangered Republicans) American Election Day of 2006. The specifics were phony, too: Once again inflating the readiness of Iraqi troops, Mr. Bush claimed that the recent assault on Tal Afar "was primarily led by Iraqi security forces" - a fairy tale immediately unmasked by Michael Ware, a Time reporter embedded in that battle's front lines, as "completely wrong." No less an authority than the office of Iraq's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, promptly released a 59-page report documenting his own military's inadequate leadership, equipment and training. ...

But this variety of Bush balderdash is such old news that everyone except that ga-ga 25 percent instantaneously tunes it out. We routinely assume that the subtext (i.e., the omissions and deliberate factual errors) of his speeches and scripted town meetings will be more revealing than the texts themselves. What raised the "Plan for Victory" show to new heights of disinformation was the subsequent revelation that the administration's main stated motive for the address - the release of a 35-page document laying out a "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" - was as much a theatrical prop as the stunt turkey the president posed with during his one furtive visit to Baghdad two Thanksgivings ago. ...

As breathlessly heralded by Scott McClellan, this glossy brochure was "an unclassified version" of the strategy in place since the war's inception in "early 2003." But Scott Shane of The New York Times told another story. Through a few keystrokes, the electronic version of the document at whitehouse.gov could be manipulated to reveal text "usually hidden from public view." What turned up was the name of the document's originating author: Peter Feaver, a Duke political scientist who started advising the National Security Council only this June. Dr. Feaver is an expert on public opinion about war, not war itself. Thus we now know that what Mr. McClellan billed as a 2003 strategy for military victory is in fact a P.R. strategy in place for no more than six months. That solves the mystery of why Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey of the Army, who is in charge of training Iraqi troops, told reporters that he had never seen this "National Strategy" before its public release last month.

In a perfect storm of revelations, the "Plan for Victory" speech fell on the same day that The Los Angeles Times exposed new doings on another front in the White House propaganda war. An obscure Defense Department contractor, the Lincoln Group, was caught paying off Iraqi journalists to run upbeat news articles secretly written by American Army personnel and translated into Arabic (at a time when American troops in harm's way are desperate for Arabic translators of their own). ...

Though the White House doesn't know that its jig is up, everyone else does. Americans see that New Orleans is in as sorry shape today as it was under Brownie three months ago. The bipartisan 9/11 commissioners confirm that homeland security remains a pork pit. Condi Rice's daily clarifications of her clarifications about American torture policies are contradicted by new reports of horrors before her latest circumlocutions leave her mouth. And the president's latest Iraq speeches - most recently about the "success" stories of Najaf and Mosul - still don't stand up to the most rudimentary fact checking.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Face Transplant

Pat Oliphant, December 6, 2005:



In related news, the Organic Consumers Association reports:
Public comments are now being accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its newly proposed federal regulation regarding the testing of chemicals and pesticides on human subjects. On August 2, 2005, Congress had mandated the EPA create a rule that permanently bans chemical testing on pregnant women and children, without exception. But the EPA's newly proposed rule, is ridden with exceptions where chemical studies may be performed on children in certain situations like the following:

1. Children who "cannot be reasonably consulted," such as those that are mentally handicapped or orphaned newborns, may be tested on. With permission from the institution or guardian in charge of the individual, the child may be exposed to chemicals for the sake of research.

2. Parental consent forms are not necessary for testing on children who have been neglected or abused.

3. Chemical studies on any children outside of the U.S. are acceptable.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

25 Years

Congressman Jack Murtha on Hardball with Chris Matthews, November 30, 2005:
Matthews: What are the military folks you get access to saying about how long it will take if we continue on the president's course, to have an Iraqi army that can defend that government?

Murtha: I've heard estimates up to 25 years. Now we've already spent $277 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Matthews reminds us that the Cheney administration:
said that this war would be paid for not by us, the American taxpayer, but paid for by Iraqi oil. They said there were WMD there. They said they were involved in 9/11. They said they would greet us as liberators. On every point they've been wrong.
Back in September 2004, John McCain was asked how long the US military would remain in Iraq. He said "probably" 10 or 20 years, adding "That's not so bad. We've been in Korea for 50 years. We've been in West Germany for 50 years."

The US is building 14 permanent military bases in Iraq.

Seriouslythough.com:
Several military analysts agree that if the United States does not pull out of Iraq within the next year then the country will face a military draft for the first time in a generation. Lawrence Korb, Assistant Defense Secretary in the Reagan White House, claims that due to a significant dip in recruitment since the War On Iraq coupled with a decline in reenlistment, the "breaking-point" for the United States military will be in mid-2006.

Surprise!

Now, a very great man once said
That some people rob you with a fountain pen.
It didn't take too long to find out
Just what he was talkin' about.


New York Daily News:
Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid intended to help small downtown businesses that were reeling from the 9/11 attacks often went instead to huge international corporations, companies with little attachment to the stricken area and businesses that were never in jeopardy.

The beneficiaries included a stock brokerage firm that had closed more than a month before the terrorists hit, a giant real estate firm that repeatedly said it wasn't hurt by the attacks, scores of wealthy self-employed floor traders ...

The fast and furious distribution of nearly $1 billion in small business aid — part of the $21.4 billion promised to New York overall — was done by the Empire State Development Corp., a quasi-governmental agency with no experience in disaster relief. ...

The development corporation didn't require businesses to explain how the attacks, and not preexisting business problems, had caused the firms to lose money.
Charles A. Gargano is chairman of Empire State Development Corp.
Appointed by Governor George E. Pataki, Ambassador Gargano has served as the head of New York State’s economic development agency since 1995. The Governor also appointed him vice chairman of the Board of Commissioners of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 1995. ... Gargano's public service began in 1981, when he was named deputy administrator of the Federal Urban Mass Transportation Administration by President Ronald Reagan. In 1988 he was appointed Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago by President Reagan. He was re-appointed in 1989 by President Bush and served until 1991.
Solidly Republican -- "with no experience in disaster relief". Sounds like "Brownie" Part Deux.

Los Angeles Times:
On Their Own in Battered New Orleans

....Lost amid continued talk of billions in federal aid is the fact that most homeowners and businesses are being left to make the toughest calls on their own. Lost is that New Orleans' recovery — which President Bush once suggested would be one of the largest public reconstruction efforts the world had ever seen — is quickly becoming a private market affair. ...

The situation in which residents find themselves is an extreme example of a trend underway for a quarter-century, a shift of economic risk from business and government to working families, and an increasing reliance on free markets to manage society's problems.

Safety nets such as unemployment compensation, employer-provided healthcare insurance and pensions, and, recently, effective disaster relief have been reeled in or removed. Increasingly, families from the working poor to the affluent are left largely to buy and sell their own way to safety even when their individual efforts seem utterly outgunned, as they do in the case of Katrina.
What? All that money you paid in taxes? ... Suckers! [/republicans]