Sep 30

The Betrayal of Our Military by the Bush Administration

The Republicans in Congress — and the White House — should be hounded from office for how they have betrayed the military. From Rumsfeld to Cheney to Rice to Bush, we have seen the arrogant abuse of power — to the detriment of the men and women in our armed services. We have seen career military brass hounded out of the service or forced into silence, because they dared to know more than the cardboard cutouts with no combat experience who are running the Bush Administration and Congress.

USA: Maj. General John Batiste’s testimony before Sen. Democratic Policy Committee

I challenge the American people to get informed and speak out. Remember that the Congress represents and works for the people. Congressional oversight committees have been strangely silent for too long, and our elected officials must step up to their responsibilities or be replaced. This is not about partisan politics, but rather what is good for our country. Our November elections are crucial. Every American needs to understand the issues and cast his or her vote. I believe that one needs to vote for the candidate who understands the issues and who has the moral courage to do the harder right rather than the easier wrong. I for one will continue to speak out until there is accountability, until the American people establish momentum, and until our Congressional oversight committees kick into action. Victory in Iraq is fundamental and we cannot move forward until accountability is achieved.

Thank you.

We’ve given you the tools to fight the War On Terror Mr. President but you’re not using them!

::

Sep 25

The NIE, Bush, and Terrorism

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone paying attention that Iraq has lead to an increase in terrorism and risk to the US or that the Cheney administration ignores, distorts, and lies about that data all the time.

In April, President Bush received the National Intelligence Estimate, which “represents a consensus view of the 16 separate spy services inside government.” NIEs are “the most authoritative documents that the intelligence community produces…and are approved by John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence.”

Nevertheless, it’s news once again as we now have another official government document saying this while we have post-document statements by Bush and others that are completely contradictory to the report’s conclusions.

Bush is mendacious and we are weakened by Iraq.

In other news, dog bites man. News at 11.

It’s not that I want to be flippant or diminish the importance of this latest datapoint, it’s just that… this has all been known. The same way that those of us paying attention and not actually shitting our pants after 9/11 knew that the entire case for the invasion of Iraq was built on lies. It’s been known since the State Department report on terror in early 2004 (that they tried to bury) that terrorism was increased by Iraq. That we were creating new generations of motivated, trained, deadly terrorists. It has been known to the general public since 1999 that Bush was an empty, terror-filled, bully, lying suit with daddy issues of near mythic proportions. None of this is new.

Then again, maybe I just have outrage fatigue.

Whatever traction this issue may have, it is the fault of the media and the American populace that it has taken this long and they have gotten this far.

Update 1: see also, Altercation

Update 2: I may have spoken too soon as to this getting any traction outside of the blogosphere and a minor piece on NPR. Here are 5 current major news orgs website front pages (click for full picture). Of them, only CNN even references the NIE and it does so obliquely (“Dems: Leaked intel shows U.S. needs new leaders”). FSM, I love our media. Double point bonus to Disney “Path to 9/11″/ABC with their riveting prosthetic tail for dolphin story (the other 4 were that woman who killed some people, some divers deaths, U2 and Green Day in New Orleans, and the housing bubble burst. Keep up the quality work, ABC!)

ABC:
ABC News

CBS:
CBS News

CNN
CNN

Faux News:
Faux News

MSNBC:
MSNBC

Sep 18

Not my president

Not my Congress, and it’s becoming not my country. Krugman on the “let’s make torture legal!” current Bushevik strategery:

What torture produces in practice is misinformation, as its victims, desperate to end the pain, tell interrogators whatever they want to hear. Thus Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi — who ABC News says was subjected to both the cold cell and water boarding — told his questioners that Saddam Hussein’s regime had trained members of Al Qaeda in the use of biochemical weapons. This “confession” became a key part of the Bush administration’s case for invading Iraq — but it was pure invention.

So why is the Bush administration so determined to torture people?

To show that it can.

The central drive of the Bush administration — more fundamental than any particular policy — has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president’s power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it’s a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they’re asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.

And many of our politicians are willing to go along. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is poised to vote in favor of the administration’s plan to, in effect, declare torture legal. Most Republican senators are equally willing to go along, although a few, to their credit, have stood with the Democrats in opposing the administration.

Sep 14

Official Touts Nonlethal Weapons for Use on US Citizens!

Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, this just in:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said:

Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before they are used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions in the international community over any possible safety concerns, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

”If we’re not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation,” said Wynne. ”(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press.”

The Air Force has funded research into nonlethal weapons, but he said the service isn’t likely to spend more money on development until injury issues are reviewed by medical experts and resolved.

The fact that he even consider this a viable testing procedure is absolutely apolling.
Where’s the sanctity of being a citizen of the United States of America?

Civil liberties, we don’t need no stinking civil liberties.
The Military Industrial Complex is out of frigging control to even suggest such a test!
Corporate Facism in full bloom I’m sorry to say!

American terrorism is alive and well it appears!

::

Sep 12

Olbermann’s special comment to Bush

Olberman continues his stellar (and lonely) work as the only show host who speaks truth to power. His speech is both powerful and personal, a tightly controlled rage combined with the willingness to use his megaphone and eloquently delivered . Too bad no one will see it.

And lastly tonight a Special Comment on why we are here. Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space.

And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

And all the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and — as I discovered from those “missing posters” seared still into my soul — two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me… this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.

And anyone who claims that I and others like me are “soft”, or have “forgotten” the lessons of what happened here — is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante — and at worst, an idiot — whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

However. Of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast — of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds… none of us could have predicted… this.

Five years later this space… is still empty.
Five years later there is no Memorial to the dead.
Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.
Five years later this country’s wound is still open.
Five years… later this country’s mass grave is still unmarked.
Five years later… this is still… just a background for a photo-op.
It is beyond shameful.

When those who dissent are told time and time again — as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus — that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American…

When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have “forgotten the lessons of 9/11″… look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?
We have not forgotten, Mr. President.
You have.
May this country forgive you.

Read the full transcript and watch the video over on C&L

Sep 06

A public service announcement… what liberal media? pt. 523

ABC is about to air a docu mockudrama that is almost entirely fictional… and just so happens to attempt to portray the attacks of 9/11 as the fault of Bill Clinton. ABC has used every sleazy tactic in the book to obtain a patina of truthiness, including such things as saying that the movie was based on the 9/11 Commission Report (it wasn’t) and getting (GOP and 9/11 Commission chair) Kean to say that the movie is ‘basically true.’

Oh, and they’ve flooded the right wing echo chamber (including blogs) with preview DVDs, but refuse to give any to real media critics, progressives, or Clinton, Albright, or Berger (all of whom are portrayed in a negative light in the movie). Meanwhile, chumps like Hugh Hewitt and the mouthbreathers at Patterico and bloated drug whore con Limbaugh are treated to prostate massages and free tickets to the Star Trek porn convention.

So, in the interests of making ABC/Disney know that we do not appreciate this attempted libel, whitewash of history, and disingenuous fiction foisted off on the public, ThinkProgress is leading a campaign to let people know. Click on the banner below to go to their site.

Tell ABC to tell the truth about 9/11 - A project of ThinkProgress.org

Jul 10

Why the NSA’s warrantless surveillance doesn’t work

It’s a statistical impossibility.

To know if mass surveillance will work, Bayes’ theorem requires three estimations:

1. The base-rate for terrorists, i.e. what proportion of the population are terrorists;
2. The accuracy rate, i.e., the probability that real terrorists will be identified by NSA;
3. The misidentification rate, i.e., the probability that innocent citizens will be misidentified by NSA as terrorists.

No matter how sophisticated and super-duper are NSA’s methods for identifying terrorists, no matter how big and fast are NSA’s computers, NSA’s accuracy rate will never be 100% and their misidentification rate will never be 0%. That fact, plus the extremely low base-rate for terrorists, means it is logically impossible for mass surveillance to be an effective way to find terrorists.

But finding a few terrorists by mass surveillance of the phone calls and email messages of 300 million Americans is mathematically impossible, and NSA certainly knows that.

It’s my favorite kind of government program – both illegal and futile. That this also happens to be the only kind of action the Bush administration ever takes makes it even more fun. Data mining isn’t useless… it’s just useless when applied to this particular goal.

The math people at the NSA are smart enough to know this basic formulation, which naturally begs the question of why we the operation is ongoing anyway. The answer, of course, is that it was never really about terrorists or fighting a war, but about expanding the Executive’s control over the country. This is what happens when authoritarians take over all branches of the government.

Jun 29

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

The Supreme Court actually upheld the Constitution! The President is actually subject to the Rule of Law! Democracy! We actually have to treat prisoners humanely and in accord with treaties to which we are signatories! Awesome!

Shorter Supreme Court: 9/11 did not rewrite the Constitution

Really, this ruling should not be surprising, but with the administration’s attempt to pack the court with authoritarian fundamentalists and yesterdays bullshit decision regarding the DeLay gerrymandering, I was not optimistic.

It feels good to be surprised sometimes.

In a sharp rebuke of President George W. Bush’s tactics in the war on terrorism, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down as illegal the military tribunal system set up to try Guantanamo prisoners.

By a 5-3 vote, the nation’s highest court in a landmark decision declared that the tribunals, which Bush created right after the September 11 attacks, violated the Geneva Conventions and U.S. military rules.

“We conclude that the military commission convened to try (Salim Ahmed) Hamdan lacks power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate” the international agreement that covers treatment of prisoners of war, as well as the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court majority.

Majority opinion: Stevens, Souter, Ginsberg, Breyer
Concurring: Kennedy
Dissent: Scalia, Thomas, scAlito (surprised?)
Abstain: Roberts

Can I get a “hell yeah!” (HELL YEAH!). Thank you, my people. The more I think about the impact of this opinion, the more excited I become. I haven’t felt this good since every poll anywhere said Kerry won in election 2004. Wooo! … oh, nm.

It must burn the Busheviks to realize that they are still 2 votes short of total control.

Read the opinion. The SCT website is slammed, so I stored a copy of the opinion here on grumpasaurus, which may be faster for you to download.

The analysis is long, so I’m putting it after the jump.

In sum: the President has to comply with the law, Congress intended for him to comply with the law… and he didn’t comply with the law. Oh yeah, and torture is illegal, the tribunals are illegal, and we must treat all prisoners humanely with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions as a floor of acceptable behavior.

Huh. Imagine that.
Continue reading

Jun 21

Idiotarian rightwing torturgasmic choads

Hello, boys and girls! Are you worried that you might be retarded? Have you begun to question your sanity, or your grip on life?

If so, here are some of the signs to look for:

  1. Do you hold right wing view points?
  2. Do you ever actually think about the dribbling bile that came in through your ear and comes out of your mouth?
  3. Do you display a complete lack of capacity in the fields of logic, reason, and morality?
  4. Is your name Michael Smerconish?

If you have been

This post was spurred by the first few minutes of last night’s Scarborough Country, which I happened to catch because it was on a few minutes after Olberman. This having television thing does have its drawbacks. I think I lost 20 IQ points just in the first 30 seconds.

Thanks for being here. I‘m Michael Smerconish, in again tonight for the big guy, who‘s still feeling under the weather. We start with new details in the brutal murder of two American soldiers in Iraq. In a moment, reaction right here in studio from an American hero and one of the most recognizable faces of the Iraq war. He‘s going to tell us firsthand what a hellish nightmare Iraq can be.

But first: A militant Islamic Web site claims the new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq personally carried out the killings of two soldiers found dead in Baghdad last night. Those bodies showed signs of torture. They were killed in a, quote, “barbaric” way, and American troops had to literally fight their way to the bodies, which were booby-trapped with explosives.

It‘s a horrific story, and as I watch it unfold, I have to ask myself where are the people who worked themselves into a lather about the naked pyramid pictures at Abu Ghraib or those who wanted trials at The Hague because we played Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud for the detainees down at Gitmo. Tonight in America, some are no doubt sitting in barcaloungers kvetching over which American soldiers will next be put on trial for alleged war atrocities, and meanwhile, these dirtbags—they‘re thinking about whose head they want to chop off next.

The stupid! It burnnnnns!

I’m going to try and outline the logic here. If space-time folds upon itself and we all die, then, well… oops.

  1. We invade a country, we torture the prisoners we capture
  2. Moral persons “moonbat lefties” criticize this torture
  3. Criticism == Dissent
  4. Dissent == Treason
  5. Treason == barcalounger. Also, kvetching
  6. Therefore, the lefties should quit complaining about torture. Or they might lose their barcalounger. And why do you hate America?
  7. ???
  8. Profit!

The thing that never fails to amaze me is the hypocrisy of these flip flopping authoritarian bedwetters. Here’s the actual structure of the arguments on the table:

    Moral persons Moonbat Lefties:

  1. Torture is wrong (morally and legally)
  2. Torture is ineffectual
  3. Therefore, torture should not be practiced.

And thus, the depraved, brutal torture and killing of two of our soldiers is wrong, just as we were are wrong to be torturing our prisoners. What the fascist bullies miss is that because we tortured them, we have no moral authority to condemn them when they torture us. This is why we are a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and why we used to follow them; they are as much about protecting us as they are about protecting Them.

    Smeghead logic:

  1. We tortured them
  2. They tortured us (and want to kill us)
  3. Therefore, torture is justified

The position of the Just has been consistent: torture is wrong, no matter who is doing it. For the hypocrites of the right, torture is only bad if it’s the other guy who’s doing it.

Who’s the relativst flip-floppers now, bitches?

As a rejoinder appropriate to the idiotarian’s level, I present to you…
Separated at Birth?
Smerconehead
The Smerconehead

Jun 20

Just when you thought you couldn’t be angrier

Ron Suskind comes out with his new book, The One Percent Solution. It looks to be an interesting and important book… which will be completely ignored by the punditocracy and the American public, of course, but it deserves a look.

Synopsis of the below: pursuant to Bush’s orders, we tortured a mentally ill travel agent for al Qaida, because the preznit called him a “top operative” and didn’t want to “lose face.”

One example out of many comes in Ron Suskind’s gripping narrative of what the White House has celebrated as one of the war’s major victories: the capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. Described as al-Qaeda’s chief of operations even after U.S. and Pakistani forces kicked down his door in Faisalabad, the Saudi-born jihadist was the first al-Qaeda detainee to be shipped to a secret prison abroad. Suskind shatters the official story line here.

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries “in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3” — a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail “what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said.” Dan Coleman, then the FBI’s top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, “This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.”

Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda’s go-to guy for minor logistics — travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was “echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President,” Suskind writes. And yet somehow, in a speech delivered two weeks later, President Bush portrayed Abu Zubaydah as “one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.” And over the months to come, under White House and Justice Department direction, the CIA would make him its first test subject for harsh interrogation techniques.

Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. “I said he was important,” Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. “You’re not going to let me lose face on this, are you?” “No sir, Mr. President,” Tenet replied. Bush “was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth,” Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, “Do some of these harsh methods really work?” Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety — against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, “thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target.” And so, Suskind writes, “the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered.”

I want to repeat and restate what we just read because I’m having trouble coming to grips with it.

We captured an al Qaida functionary. The guy, Abu Zubaydah, is (and was) mentally ill. His function was to do minor administrative tasks. Like make travel plans for wives of al Qaida people.

Bush called him “one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States” knowing that this was a lie, because the CIA and FBI had told him the dude was a consierge (not consiglieri!).

Bush personally approved the illegal (also immoral, inhuman, and inexcusable) torture of Zubaydah after learning he was mentally ill and knowing that he was not an important cog in the machine, because Bush had called him a “top operative” in order to not “lose face.”

Under torture, Zubaydah, who has at least three personalities in him, told about all sorts of “plots.” Including ones against shopping malls, the Statue of Liberty, and your trash can. Or maybe your mailbox. Depends on what Hami3 had for lunch that day. We then wasted resources “protecting” these places from “credible threats,” and, not coincidentally, scaring the populace and increasing their bedwetting/need for paternalist figure feelings for domestic elections.

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach him now.

Update Wolcott, of course, summarizes the issue best:

The Bush Doctrine

…torturing the mentally ill.

…hiring the intellectually handicapped.

Update 2: Froomkin has more in The Cheney Supremacy