Friday, September 29, 2006

Are you better off now than you were six years ago?

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media

It is such a simple question. And yet, so effective because it makes one think and is broad enough that it can be applied to so many different situations.

For me, the answer is (somewhat thankfully) a mixed bag of yes and no. But for the vast majority of the country, as well as "the country", the answer is a resounding no. And it is the question that was used so effectively by Reagan, and lord knows why it isn't being used by the Democrats now.

Because, if you really boil it down, I don't think there are many people out there, certainly the vast majority of We the People, who can look at different parts of their lives and come up with a truthful "yes" to that question.

Six years ago, I was well on my way to being partner at Andersen. While I have landed safely and have been gainfully employed ever since (very luckily), the career path is now more of a dead end for me. But I am thankful that I have been employed this entire time. Six years ago, my marriage was falling apart due to a crippling eating disorder that plagued my former wife for her entire life and ultimately lead to a tragic end to it. I was in the midst of a horrific divorce that was made worse by very wealthy and nasty spiteful in-laws and nearly led me to have to declare bankruptcy. But through that all, I now have a phenomenal and beautiful (inside and out) wife and learned a lot from the dark days that I went through for much of the past six years.

But I digress, as I didn't really want this diary to be all about me. What I was thinking about yesterday during my 8 hours in the car to and from Boston, as well as on my way into work today was that there are so many things that have happened over the past few years that negatively impacted so many people in so many ways. And here we are, still struggling to break through and knock some sense into the rest of this country, despite all of the lies, despite all of the crimes, despite all of the suppression of rights, despite all of the faked hysteria and "feigned outrage", despite all of the hypocrisy, cronyism and criminal negligence.

We have an increasing gap between the super wealthy (or as Bush calls them "the haves and the have mores" or "my base") and the rest of the country. Wealth is way up - at the top tier, as evidenced by the recent Forbes 400 most wealthy list all being billionaires for the first time ever, while real wages and income of workers aren't doing so hot. Nearly fifty million people don't have any health insurance, and prices for healthcare are increasing at a rate way in excess of wages and inflation.

The economy, looking at it from a way that would affect peoples' lives, is in the tank. Yes, the stock market is stronger than it has ever been in terms of the levels (as my mother pointed out to me the other day in supporting the "strength of the economy"). But this is due more to corporate profits, which are being put into their officers' pockets, or even worse, kept in the company and not passed along to the employees. Yet, with a very low rate of personal savings as well as higher debt, funky mortgages allowing people to own homes that they may soon not be able to afford and higher prices for everyday goods and services, this doesn't bode well for the average person. Jobs are being lost and replaced (if at all) with lower paying jobs, with less (if any at all) benefits for employees. The minimum wage is disgustingly low - even in those states which have raised their minimum wage.

At best, negligence and at worst, criminal responsibility by Bush, Chertoff, "Brownie" and much of the government led to the loss of a major American city due to a hurricane that everyone saw coming, except those that were responsible for helping the citizens affected by it. Photo-ops and tough talk did nothing as there has been very little progress in the region and there are still hundreds of thousands of people whose lives were ruined, who lost everything, and at a minimum were severely traumatized by the shocking lack of empathy or support by those very "leaders" who love to talk about how their job is to "protect us".

We have an administration that, at best was incompetent with respect to recognizing a true terrorist threat (hell, our own National Security Advisor was due to give a major foreign policy speech on 9/11 about missile defenseand was not even focused on Al Qaeda). Then this same administration used their colossal incompetence to stir up fear in this country - betraying the trust of its citizens. Not to mention NOT hunting down those responsible for the attack, but lying, leaking classified information to reporters, endangering national security all to illegally invade and occupy a country that had nothing to do with the attacks.

We have a morally (and in many instances, intellectually) bankrupt administration, a complicit press who hides the truth that they were aware of months earlier while focusing on issues that are meant to do little more than divide the country, create scapegoats to divert attention from the real issues affecting the citizens of this country (like evil gay marriage, immigrants, lib'ruls, brown skinned people, poor people or anyone else that isn't a blood thirsty mental midget who can't think past "kill Kill KILL". We have elections that are outsourced to a major republican affiliated donor and supporter which we now know had its people alter the software in the voting machines for actual elections and that such machines can easily be hacked and results changed without leaving a trace.

Our true war heroes from years past are treated like they are terrorists. Our brave soldiers that are being sent to fight for lies are being killed on a daily basis with little mention on the news. We have lie after lie about all of the murder and destruction going on overseas in our name. And all of this death and destruction going on overseas is only INCREASING the threat of terrorism. The only discourse and debate going on is how much we are allowed to torture prisoners that we hold indefinitely without charging and whether all of our Constitutional rights should be suspended because of this "evil enemy that knows no bounds". But truly, what is a worse enemy of our freedoms than what we are faced with right here in our own country?

And (I won't harp on this because everyone else is doing a much better job than I would) we have an "opposition party" that is more concerned with dry powder than actually using every tool at their disposal to stop the continual eroding of our Constitutional freedoms and rights. We have a Congress that is more interested in promoting cronyism

Of course, the talking meatsticks, the "so called liberal media" as well as a good portion of that aforementioned "base" have willfully, hell, gleefully, lied and smeared anyone that dare speak truth to power, and have called for the murder of a Supreme Court Justice, call acts of patriotism treason, all while actually making statements and committing acts that could actually constitute treason.

Deficits are at an all time high. Debt is at an all time high - both personal debt and that of our country as a whole. People overwhelmingly think that this country is on the wrong track. The Constitution has been trampled on for nearly six years by the administration and the rubber stamp Republican Congress. And those that dare stand up and say "ENOUGH!" are branded as traitors, are threatened in clear cases of domestic terrorism or have their lives and livelihoods ruined.

Democrats should take a long hard look at this question - it is one that has so many answers. I am sure they will agree that the answer is "no". And I am sure that most of "We the People" will say "no".

And it is a very telling question, when it comes to the state of our nation, and the state of people's lives. Especially when you consider which party has been in charge of every branch of government as well as the major media over the past six years.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Afghan Women's Rights Activist Murdered Outside Her Home

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media

About that whole "things are going so great for women in Afghanistan" thing, well, never mind that.

In yet another horrific display of the results of cutting and running from Afghanistan (and yes, I did say it days before John Kerry did, thank you very much), Safia Amajan, a women's rights "activist" (if you can call promoting women's education and work such things as "activism"), was gunned down in front of her home in Afghanistan yesterday.

So, George, Dick, Laura and all of you others who have been touting the heckuva job that we are doing in Afghanistan (including you, Newsweek), I say the following with all sincerity and from the bottom of my heart:

Fuck you, you heartless lying criminals.

Why did this woman have to fight so hard for those very "freedoms" that we take for granted here in the United States? Those freedoms that you "promised" were on the march in Afghanistan? Those freedoms that you high-tailed it out of Afghanistan to "spread in Iraq" after not doing what you were supposed to do there in the first place? And why will this horrific crime get nary a mention from any of the talking meatsticks who would rather gleefully spew lies, spread hate and rewrite history?

You want to talk about "heroes". You want to talk about people that should be looked up to. You want to talk about people that fight for things that they believe in. Well, because you let the Taliban come back into power, because you think that a half ass job is more than enough, because you think that photo-ops will solve every colossal fuck up you have presided over, because you think that if you ignore things that they really didn't happen - this woman, who was brave enough to speak out and try to better the lives of women in Afghanistan (you remember Afghanistan, right - you know - the country you let Bin Laden escape from and then cut and ran from to sell the world a pack of lies about nonexistent "imminent threats") lost her life.

And what about that great Afghani government that you, Dick, are touting?

A Taliban commander, Mullah Hayat Khan, declared that Ms Amajan had been "executed". He said: "We have told people again and again that anyone working for the government, and that includes women, will be killed."

As for Stepford wife, plastic, emotionless, sanctimonious hypocritical Laura Bush, what about that declaration you made about the "emancipation of women" in Afghanistan and how much we should be kissing your dry drunk military deserting war criminal failure of a president husband's feet?

At the official end of the Afghan war, America's first lady, Laura Bush, was among those who declared that one of the most important achievements of overthrowing the Taliban was emancipation of women. However, since then female social workers and teachers have been maimed and killed, girls' schools shut down and female workers forced to give up their jobs. The few women out in the streets in Kandahar and other places in the south are covered in burqas. A report by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission spoke of the "systematic and violent campaign" directed against women.

Statistics paint a bleak picture of women's lives with 35 female suicides in Kandahar alone and nearly 200 attempted suicides in the Herat region - one third of which were successful. Rights groups estimate that between 60 and 80 per cent of marriages in the country are forced. And the majority of those marriages involve girls under the age of 16.

But of course, none of this matters, since the US "officially" declared that the Afghan war is over. Just like all of the deaths to US soldiers and Iraqis as well as wounded troops and innocent civilians don't matter since we all know that the "Mission" was "accomplished" years ago.

Ms. Amajan was a former teacher. She wanted to help the 85% or so of Afghani women who are illiterate. She helped set up schools where women could learn crafts such as tailoring. She opened up a number of schools where nearly a thousand women learned how to make and sell their goods. She repeatedly asked for, and was denied, bodyguards and protection, despite numerous death threats.

And she did all this in Kandahar, which is where discrimination and repression of women's rights are the worst in the country.

Say a prayer for Ms. Amajan, as we are likely to be among the very few here in the US that will do so. And while you are, please say a prayer for women's rights in Afghanistan, which without Amajan's persistence and dedication, are likely to only get worse from this:

Human rights groups point out, however, that the battle for women's rights is in serious danger of being lost. There are now entire provinces where there is no girls' education; of the 300 schools shut or burnt down, the majority were for girls. The death rate at childbirth is the second highest in the world, and the number of women who have committed suicide, mainly through self-immolation, has risen by 30 per cent in two years.

I'm sure that the rest of the women in Afghanistan really appreciate the great "freedoms" that George and Laura Bush are touting so much.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Even Declassified 1960s CIA Docs Called it Torture

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media

For starters, I must give a hat tip to technopolitical over at Booman Tribune for leading me to this document. But it is simply amazing that, despite all of the talk about how much we can torture people before our "leaders" can't actually call it torture anymore, there is actually an old CIA document from the 1960s that defines tactics not nearly as horrific as those we have been hearing about as "torture and physical coercion and should never be considered otherwise".

Oh, yeah - I am serious (and please stop calling me "Shirley"....)

The originally classified and confidential Memorandum to J. Edgar Hoover from the CIA discusses brainwashing, mind control and interrogation - all from, as the report indicates, a "psychological viewpoint". Even more telling - especially in light of the time in history under which this document was prepared, is that the CIA view of "torture" is under the section dealing with Communist Control Techniques.

So can we compare the tactics approved of and pushed by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, McCain, Rice, Hadley and any of the other war criminals who are responsible for dragging this country's name through the gutter?

I'll give you a few passages because frankly, it is quite shocking how this document is used to talk about how the "Communists" can use mind control techniques and as stated on the very first page of the document (even before the Table of Contents):

We know how that men can be made to do exactly anything.....It's all a question of finding the right means. If only we take enough trouble and go sufficiently slowly, we can make him kill his aged parents and eat them in a stew." (Jules Romains. VERDUN. A.A. Knopf, 1939, P. 156)

In discussing the "involuntary re-education" of an individual, where he or she can be taught to believe, well, pretty much anything with enough pressure and tactics, the document said the following:

It is not necessary to use direct physical means to reduce a person to a state where involuntary re-education can take place.

Interestingly, the document also talks about propaganda, brainwashing and false confessions as well as the issues that go along with it. In laying out reasons why it is important to understand the psychology of those who are brainwashed and how to deal with people who have become brainwashed, the document says the following:

The propaganda-value of false confessions and the public anxiety concerning brainwashing loom, however, as major preoccupations. Statements of brainwashed individuals have been a sharp-edged tool in the Communist propaganda kit.


Another and even more effective propaganda goal may be the creation of a state of fear within the populace [of western bloc nations].

There is a large amount of information relating to brainwashing and the "result of a false confession", including the arrest, the collection of "evidence" the detention (including isolation) and other "parts of the process". And when discussing the interrogation techniques of Communist interrogators, there is the following (and startling) passage (scroll down to page 25):

Two of the most effective of these [ways to apply pressure] are creating fatigue and preventing the prisoner adequate sleep.


Continued loss of sleep produced clouding of consciousness and a loss of alertness, both of which impair the victim's ability to sustain isolation.

Another simple and effective type of pressure is that of maintaining the temperature of the cell at a level which is either too hot or too cold for comfort.


Still another pressure is to reduce the food ration to the point to which the prisoner experiences constant hunger.


The effects of isolation, anxiety, fatigue, lack of sleep, uncomfortable temperatures, and chronic hunger produce disturbances of mood, attitudes, and behavior in nearly all prisoners. The living organism cannot entirely withstand such assaults.

The Communists do not look upon these assaults as "torture". Undoubtedly, they use the methods which they do in order to conform, in a typical legalistic manner, to Communist theory which demands that "no force or torture be used in extracting information from prisoners." But these methods do constitute torture and physical coercion and should never be considered otherwise.

Well, well, well. So when it is others that are using these tactics (and they aren't nearly as bad as what we have heard of in Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, other countries where to where many innocent people are "rendered", or in Guantanamo), then it is most certainly torture and should never be considered otherwise"

But when it is done and ordered by Rumsfeld, Bush or any others that represent the United States, then we have a stark similarity to that "communist assertion" that is noted above.

Kind of like this comment from our very own Senator Richard Grassley:

"We don't have to draw a line against torture because America doesn't torture prisoners," he said. "The courts have said what we've been doing is only unlawful because Congress hasn't given the president authority to do it."

Hell, even the CIA knew this was torture back in the 1960s.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Torture, by any other name, is still torture

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media

George W. Bush - 9/21/06 "the singlemost potent tool we have in protecting America"

It's still torture.

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) - 9/21/06 "intelligence agencies should be given latitude to use "the methods necessary" to get information from detainees."

It's still torture.

Senator John McCain - 9/22/06 "But it's very important that we have this tool to collect intelligence."

It's still torture.

How low, as a country, have we sunk? Since when have we needed to "clarify the line" between what is considered torture and what is not? How can it be that our elected officials are now parsing words and splitting hairs to decide just how much beating, how much "cruel and inhumane treatment", just what wouldn't fall under "outrages upon human dignity"?

Has this country lost it's collective mind? This is "spreading freedom and democracy"? This is "bringing a message of peace"? This is keeping us safer? And tell me how dangerous these detainees are? As for all of the great and credible information that is gotten through these "alternative interrogation methods":

Dan Froomklin, 9/22/06: What little investigative reporting I've seen on the program thus far, by Ron Suskind among others, suggests that Bush's assertion is exaggerated or just plain wrong -- and that in fact the use of torture or near-torture has produced little or no valuable information. It's imperative that the media give the public a better sense of whether Bush is credible on this issue.

Excuse me, but What The Fuck?

Here's a thought - if you don't know whether it would legally be considered to be "torture", then there's a pretty damn good chance that is it torture. It doesn't matter what other name you call it. It doesn't matter that you only do it a little bit, or to only the "really bad people". It doesn't matter how you justify it to yourself, or whether it should be legal, even if it "technically" isn't.

Senator Richard Grassley - 9/21/06 "We don't have to draw a line against torture because America doesn't torture prisoners," he said. "The courts have said what we've been doing is only unlawful because Congress hasn't given the president authority to do it."

Um, Senator - do you realize that you just said that what "we've been doing is unlawful"? And not just by that pesky United Nations or that communist Red Cross. This is the Supreme Court, who if I can remind you - has seven of nine members appointed by Republican presidents. Let me say that once more for you -

You admitted that the United States is breaking the law with respect to torturing detainees

Dammit. This isn't "24". There is no friggin Jack Bauer to always save the day by "almost torturing" the bad guys. This is real life. With real people. Many of whom are innocent and will never be charged. And for those that are "guilty" of whatever it is that they may be guilty of (in addition to those many other things that you "say they are guilty of" but can't tell anyone why or what), it is still breaking the law.

What the hell kind of example do we set for the world? What other developed or civilized (or even many uncivilized) societies and countries have national debates about how much torture is ok? How much can we hurt someone before it breaks international law? And why are so many people so willing to let anyone that has already tortured, er, "questioned with alternative interrogation tactics" off the hook for the torture they already authorized.

Are we that barbaric? Are we that stupid? Are we that scared? Are you fucking kidding me?????

It's still torture.

And it doesn't work.

And it's illegal.

And you admitted to doing it.

In our name.

How dare you.

Friday, September 22, 2006

DoE Willfully Pushed Cronies' NCLB Inferior Education Program

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media

Just when you thought these selfish criminals couldn't piss you off more, they go ahead and top themselves.

Forgetting the fact (just for a moment though) that this administration has quite possibly the most stunning array of incompetent and greedy cronies in every conceivable department - in many instances costing money and lives (hello, Brownie), we now find out that the ANNUAL billion dollar reading program from "No Child Left Behind" not only broke the law by dictating what curriculum schools should use but (shocker here) dictated that the curriculum to be used was that of an inferior quality but developed by a company with close political and financial ties to the Bush administration.

Yet, those shameless greedy bastards at the Department of friggin Education are playing politics and willfully providing America's children with inferior quality education just to give an extra few million dollars to their greedy soulless cohorts. And people wonder why America has fallen so far behind other developed countries in reading and math.

Remember back to March when we found out that Barbara Bush directed her Katrina donation to son Neil's educational company, Ignite!, which she was an investor in. And remember back to early 2005 when brother Jeb tried to ram Neil's educational software through the Florida school districts as part of No Child Left Behidn. Well, who wouldn't be surprised if more comes out about this, now that the fifty one page report by the Inspector General just released blasts the US Department of Education.

In fact, the report has six findings, all of them blasting the Department of Education for violations of NCLB as well as strong suggestions of other "statutory violations".

FINDING 1A - The Department Did Not Select the Expert Review Panel in Compliance With the Requirements of NCLB

FINDING 1B - While Not Required to Screen for Conflicts of Interest, the Screening Process the Department Created Was Not Effective

FINDING 2A - The Department Did Not Follow Its Own Guidance For the Peer Review Process

FINDING 2B - The Department Awarded Grants to States Without Documentation That the Subpanels Approved All Criteria

FINDING 3 - The Department Included Requirements in the Criteria Used by the Expert Review Panels That Were Not Specifically Addressed in NCLB

FINDING 4 - In Implementing the Reading First Program, Department Officials Obscured the Statutory Requirements of the ESEA; Acted in Contravention of the GAO Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government; and Took Actions That Call Into Question Whether They Violated the Prohibitions Included in the DEOA

Just lovely. What makes this even more timely is that the Inspector General also JUST RELEASED a report that blasted Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson for, yup, cronyism with respect to blocking contracts to Democrats, as well as directing contracts to "political friends".

Rep. George Miller (D-GA), who is the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee has a blistering release on his web site (linked above).

"Corrupt cronies at the Department of Education wasted taxpayer dollars on an inferior reading curriculum for kids that was developed by a company headed by a Bush friend and campaign contributor," said Miller. "Instead of putting children first, they chose to put their cronies first. Enough is enough. President Bush and Secretary Spellings must take responsibility and do a wholesale housecleaning at the Education Department.

"Everyone at the Department of Education who was involved in perpetrating this fraud on school districts should be fired - not suspended, not reassigned, not admonished, but fired. This was not an accident. This was a concerted effort to corrupt the process on behalf of partisan supporters, and taxpayers and schoolchildren are the ones who got harmed by it," said Miller.

Right on Page 2 of the Inspector General report, it outlines specific violations which are just mind blowing:

Specifically, we found that the Department:

  • Developed an application package that obscured the requirements of the statute;

  • Took action with respect to the expert review panel process that was contrary to the balanced panel composition envisioned by Congress;

  • Intervened to release an assessment review document without the permission of the entity that contracted for its development;

  • Intervened to influence a State's selection of reading programs; and

  • Intervened to influence reading programs being used by local educational agencies (LEAs) after the application process was completed.

These actions demonstrate that the program officials failed to maintain a control environment that exemplifies management integrity and accountability.

And what else did the report find? Well, how about stacking peer review panels, ignoring federal laws, funneling the money to big Bush contributors and manipulating the grant process:

The investigation, conducted by the Department of Education's Inspector General, found that the Department of Education made states' funding under the federal Reading First program contingent on their using a reading curriculum developed by McGraw-Hill, Inc. or one from a short list of commercial reading programs. The report concluded that the Department of Education had stacked peer review panels, ignored federal statutes, and manipulated state and local reading curriculum selection procedures to steer grants to its favored venders.

McGraw-Hill's Chairman and CEO, Harold McGraw III, and its Chairman Emeritus, Harold McGraw Jr., contributed a total of over $23,000 to the Republican National Committee and to President Bush's campaigns between 1999 and 2006. The Bush and McGraw families have been personally and professionally close since the 1930's, according to published reports.

I guess we can now once again officially call NCLB the "No Crony Left Behind" Act. Because who needs to educate our children. After all, if they were educated, they certainly would wake up and demand that these lying cheating murdering stealing negligent war criminals "be brought to justice".

But who cares about all that with a new season of Desperate Housewives about to start.....

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fmr. Diebold consultant admits company altered software for '02 GA election

Front paged at Booman Tribune, ePluribus Media and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

It looks like the new Rolling Stone due out tomorrow will have a doozy of an article by RFK, Jr. whick will look into whether the 2006 election can be hacked. Based on a few blurbs that were "sneak previewed" by Raw Story it looks like there is an even bigger story in that article - an admission by a Diebold consultant that machine software was altered in 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties on the day of the election.

If anyone remembers the 2002 election in Georgia, that is the one where Max Cleland's five to six point lead was erased overnight to a seven point loss, leading to a miraculous win by Saxby Chambliss, which even describes his come from behind win as "stunning and historical" in his Senate website.

And while many indicated that this was due at least in part to an infamous advertisement that compared Cleland (a war hero) to Osama Bin Laden, there was always a cloud hanging over this election as this was the first year of the Diebold machines in Georgia, and it just not passing the "smell test".

Now, I am not putting on a tin foil hat here, as we have seen over the past few weeks how easy it is for the Diebold machines to be altered and hacked, but I wanted to point something out from the upcoming article that may get lost in the hullabaloo of RFK Jr. exploring the potential for hacking the 2006 election.

What is interesting here is that the Diebold consultant, Christopher Hood has been outspoken about the good things that Diebold machines can do. He is quoted here talking about voter outreach and also is quoted talking about how many voters have only heard the criticisms of Diebold.

So when he speaks up, I think it lends some credibility, or at least more than someone who has always been a critic. Further, the Raw Story excerpt describes Hood as "an African American whose parents helped fight for voting rights in the South in the 1960s" and was "proud to be promoting Diebold's machines".

But Hood talks of what I would certainly call "funny business" going on in Georgia during August 2002 right before the primaries. Things like software patches that were not approved by the State, directions from Diebold's president to not share information with the county authorities, and early morning changes to machines on (I believe primary) election day.

The company was authorized to put together ballots, program machines and train poll workers across the state - all without any official supervision. "We ran the election," says Hood. "We had 356 people that Diebold brought into the state. Diebold opened and closed the polls and tabulated the votes. Diebold convinced (Georgia Secretary of State Cathy) Cox that it would be best if the company ran everything due to the time constraints, and in the interest of a trouble-free election, she let us do it."

So basically, there was a deal where Diebold had free reign over the entire Georgia election process for 2002. Which included training the workers, setting up the machines, counting the votes, and, well, just about everything else.

And then Diebold's president stepped in and made the story even more interesting:

Then, one muggy day in mid-August, Hood was surprised to see the president of Diebold's election unit, Bob Urosevich, arrive in Georgia from his headquarters in Texas. With the primaries looming, Urosevich was personally distributing a "patch," a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program. "We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn't do," Hood says. "The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done."

And thanks to the agreement between Cox and Diebold, there was no need to certify the change to the software, since Diebold was pretty much running the election process - at least the administration of it.

"It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state," Hood told me. "We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level."

What then happened on the day of the elections (and again, the blurbs lead me to think it was the primaries, but as we know from the recent video of the Princeton scientists (as well as the many other demonstrations) showing how to hack the Diebold machines without leaving a trace, the "patch" may (and I say this until there is definitive proof, but it does lead you to scratch your head and say "hmmmm") have set the stage for the general elections as well.

According to Hood, Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties - the state's largest Democratic strongholds. To avoid detection, Hood and others on his team entered warehouses early in the morning. "We went in at 7:30 a.m. and were out by 11," Hood says. "There was a universal key to unlock the machines, and it's easy to get access. The machines in the warehouses were unlocked. We had control of everything. The state gave us the keys to the castle, so to speak, and they stayed out of our way." Hood personally patched fifty-six machines and witnessed the patch being applied to more than 1,200 others.

What the patch ultimately was for and did is unknown as of now. It may be known when the Rolling Stone article is released tomorrow. We may never know.

But we do know that someone who was a "proud Diebold consultant" has suddenly come out and admitted that he, as well as others at the direction of Diebold's president were asked to alter machines in heavily Democratic areas under orders of secrecy.

And just the fact that this happened should make you outraged.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Olbermann Skewers Bush: "he is covering his own backside"

Front paged at Booman Tribune. Recommended at Daily Kos

Score another home run for Olbermann. On Friday's Countdown, he had both Newsweek's Howard Fineman and Georgetown Law Professor Jonathan Turley on to discuss Bush's press conference and the rush to pass legislation legalizing torture.

And as usual, Olbermann issued a blistering smackdown of Bush's desire to legalize torture. The transcript won't be up until Monday, but both MSNBC and Rawstory have clips of portions of the show.

I tried to get as much down as possible, so the wording may not be exact, but the general discussion is below. And it is a doozy.

Olbermann starts by saying that Bush is now "pretty much playing chicken with Congress - threatening to abandon all US efforts to question terror suspects unless the Senate sees fit to rewrite Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions -you know the one that prohibits the cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees" and is "rebuking former Sec'y of State for not believing what he wants him to believe."

And that was just his intro. The discussion with Fineman is below:

KO: Can the leader of the free world ever begin a sentence with "its unacceptable to think"

HF: Whether the president likes or not, there are millions of people on the planet who agree with what Colin Powell has to say, regardless of whether the President likes it or not"

KO: The President was threatening on a domestic level to "pack up his things" if things don't go exactly his way. What happens if the Senate says OK, we're calling your bluff"

HF: President will likely take it to the country that Democrats and even Republican critics are weak in the face of terrorism, but his critics will say that there are other ways that you can do it....I think there will be a deal, but it will be fuzzier than the President wants"

If it doesn't pass, and the CIA officers who are afraid of being sued don't do the interrogations of the detainees, then someone with further immunity - someone like the Vice President could.

KO: He could bring his hunting materials with him....If you are the Dems, what take do you position yourself in - do you stand aside for this?

HF: I think you stand aside for the most part. Not just Graham and McCain. Not just Powell. The key guy here is John Warner (R-VA). He is the establishment man. Defense, intelligence establishment. And if he is taking the side of the "rebels" here, then the Democrats should just sit back and watch.

KO: Last question - does the President do himself a favor when he appears as angry as he did during that news conference?

HF: Not really but he is not speaking to the people. I think he is speaking to history and he is speaking to himself. He may be a martyr to the political cause. He may lose this election but he is going to do it the way he wants to do it.

But that is just the warmup to the main event. Afterwards, Olbermann had Georgetown University Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley on to discuss what Olbermann called Bush's "covering his own backside".

Some of the exchange is below:

KO (intro): 194 countries agreed to uphold the laws laid out in the Geneva Conventions. Now the president of the United States wants to essentially reinterpret those international codes to an "American Law".

At issue general article three of the Geneva Convention which states that people in detention shall

"in all circumstances be treated humanely." It goes on to ban "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading punishment".

But the administration argues that all this is covered under an American law - the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act which states that

No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Olbermann then asks Turley point blank if this is to make it ok retroactively to treat detainees the way that the US has been treating them.

KO: The president's rush - fury to get this done in only his way is not about getting new information, not about new threats but about somehow making the way we have been treating detainees retroactively ok? Is he covering his own backside with this?

Turley: Quite frankly, there is evidence that he is.

They go on to discuss the fourteen people who will be interviewed by the Red Cross, and how they will reveal that they were subject to waterboarding, which Turley says is "undeniably torture under the international standards." Turley then goes on to say that the United States, and "specifically the President will be accused of a very serious violation of international law."

Turley feels that the administration is trying to get legislation passes as soon as possible because there is "a lot of trouble coming down this mountain".

The close with the following question from Olbermann - "if the President gets his way" (meaning that waterboarding and other torture is ok under US law) "have we just become exactly what the terrorists want us to become" to which Turley agreed and that we would redefine ourselves as a country. Turley closes by saying that if we are to celebrate Constitution day this week by giving the ok for torture is the most bizarre combination he has ever seen.

Bizarre? Yes. Horrific? Yes. Unconscionable? Absolutely. Par for the course with these criminals? Sadly, also yes.

And during the week of Constitution Day. How ironically disgusting, yet fitting for a president who sees the Constitution as a mere inconvenience.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Pentagon Issues Gitmo `Top Ten Fun Facts List' (seriously)

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media

Well, they stop short of actually calling it that, but they might as well with the absolute nonsense that is on the "Ten Facts About Guantanamo" list that was issued earlier in the week (word document at the top of the web site).

Is it me, or have things now just flown past obscene and vile and disgusting and shameful and disgraceful to bizarre and pathetic? Because when you see the items on this list, including (get this) high top sneakers, denim jean jackets, blue jeans and ping pong.

I swear, I kid you not.

Now, I must give a hat tip to the good folks at ThinkProgress for pointing out the lunacy. But in reality, I just don't know how to react to this, so I think that snark is the best answer here - not to minimize the fact that Gitmo is a symbol of the torture and complete disrespect for the Constitution, or that there are numerous detainees who have committed suicide while there, or have been released with no charges brought - but I just can't believe that this is something that anyone actually took the time to write, and then have approved for release by higher-ups at the Pentagon.

I'll provide the points on this list, just because I wouldn't have believed it unless I read them for myself, and you will see just how stupid, pathetic and just flat out wrong (no surprise there) these items are:

1) The detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility include bin Laden's bodyguards, bomb makers, terrorist trainers and facilitators, and other suspected terrorists.

2) More money is spent on meals for detainees than on the U.S. troops stationed there. Detainees are offered up to 4,200 calories a day. The average weight gain per detainee is 20 pounds.

3) The Muslim call to prayer sounds five times a day. Arrows point detainees toward the holy city of Mecca.

4) Detainees receive medical, dental, psychiatric, and optometric care at U.S. taxpayers' expense. In 2005, there were 35 teeth cleanings, 91 cavities filled, and 174 pairs of glasses issued.

5) The International Committee of the Red Cross visits detainees at the facility every few months. More than 20,000 messages between detainees and their families have been exchanged.

6) Recreation activities include basketball, volleyball, soccer, pingpong, and board games. High-top sneakers are provided.

7) Departing detainees receive a Koran, a jean jacket, a white T-shirt, a pair of blue jeans, high-top sneakers, a gym bag of toiletries, and a pillow and blanket for the flight home.

8) Entertainment includes Arabic language TV shows, including World Cup soccer games. The library has 3,500 volumes available in 13 languages -- the most requested book is "Harry Potter."

9) Guantanamo is the most transparent detention facility in the history of warfare. The Joint Task Force has hosted more than 1,000 journalists from more than 40 countries.

10) In 2005, Amnesty International stated that "the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times."

OK, take a moment to stop laughing, crying, shouting or screaming at the computer screen.

Now, correct me if I am wrong, but if these are "the worst of the worst Islamofascists" who only focus on bringing death and destruction to `Murka - and they are this way because they "hate our freedoms", then please answer these questions:

Why would they be interested in high top sneakers, blue jeans, denim jackets and other "symbols of `Murka"? Shouldn't we just give them an American flag lapel pin while we are at it?

There are approximately 460 detainees at Guantanamo. Are 35 teeth cleanings in nearly four years something to be bragging about? Are less than 100 fillings something anyone should be impressed with?

Was any of this dental work done after the prisoners were tortured and their teeth were knocked out? Were any of those pairs of glasses issued to people whose faces were kicked in?

Isn't the World Cup on once every four years? Isn't that like saying that the Olympics are broadcast? And wouldn't anyone that is only interested in killing `Murkins not interested in this?

About that transparency - didn't the military block the media's access entirely? And while the media did have access, didn't the following occur:

Journalists could not talk to detainees, they had to be accompanied by a military escort and their photos were censored.

What about that 4,200 calorie diet? Not to mention the fact that that is more than twice what is a normal diet, didn't we hear about hunger strikes? What about the following little nugget (and I don't mean chicken Mcnugget either):

There also has been a hunger strike since August. The number of inmates refusing food dropped to 18 by last weekend from a high of 131. The military has at times used force-feeding methods, including a restraint chair.

I guess when you force feed people, they gain weight.

What about those Red Cross visits? Well, it is nice to say that they visit often, but what does the Red Cross actually say about the "facilities"?

Christophe Girod - the senior Red Cross official in Washington - said it was unacceptable that the 600 detainees should be held indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay without legal safeguards.


Mr Girod said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was making the unusually blunt public statement because of a lack of action after previous private contacts with American officials.

"One cannot keep these detainees in this pattern, this situation, indefinitely," he said during a visit to the US naval base where the Taliban and al-Qaeda suspects are being held.

As for the last point, why would any "fun fact" sheet want to point out that Amnesty International called Guantanamo a gulag? Doesn't that seem like something that the Pentagon would want to gloss over?

Just like all of the other facts about Guantanamo, torture, rendition, secret CIA prison camps and well, pretty much everything else that these liars and war criminals have done over the past six years.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Over 130 Iraqis Found Tortured Over the Past Three Days

Front paged at Booman Tribune. Recommended at Daily Kos and My Left Wing

Thirty MORE tortured and bullet-ridden bodies were found around Baghdad today, although estimates are that it could be as many as fifty bodies. That is in addition to the sixty five tortured and bullet ridden bodies found on Wednesday and the twenty which were found on Thursday.

And that isn't even the worst news - the United Nations thinks the numbers are a lot closer to 100 bodies per day.

Yet, Chimpy McDryDrunk and Captain Blackheart still say how much safer Iraq and the world is with Saddam out of power. Civil war? Where? How dare you insinuate that? Don't you know that only emboldens the terrorists?

I haven't written much about Iraq for a while, not only because it was too depressing, but it seemed to be more of the same horrific news that we all know about but don't seem to see or hear about anywhere else. You know, that whole "don't want to waste our beautiful mind" thing....

But this is just completely over and above being "sectarian violence" or even a civil war. This is now outright barbaric. And our troops are stuck in the middle of this (without proper body armor or equipment) for what now? What course are we staying?

This is "spreading freedom"? This is "progress"? Pardon the language but give me a fucking break. This is unspeakable (and thankfully, we know that the news won't dare speak of it).

But just see what is going on in Iraq now.

Friday, September 15:

Police found 30 bodies bearing signs of torture Friday, the latest in a wave of sectarian killings sweeping the Iraqi capital despite a monthlong security operation.


All the bodies found Friday had signs of torture, and one that washed up on the banks of the Tigris River had been dismembered.

A spokesman for a prominent Sunni Arab political party was shot and killed by gunmen, said a party official who did not want to be identified because he fears for his life.

But wait - our troops (who don't forget how much the flag pin wearing chickenhawks "support" so much) are being killed at higher rates as well:

A U.S. Marine was killed Friday in Anbar province, and an American soldier was killed Thursday evening by a roadside bomb northwest of Baghdad, the military said. The soldier was the fifth to have died on Thursday, making it a particularly bloody day for U.S. forces.

Thursday, September 14:

Not a good day either. As noted above, five of our troops were killed on Thursday. But that doesn't include those who were "wounded" - no doubt that these were just minor flesh wounds that don't need to be counted. Of course, we know how the US has lied about the death count by excluding, you know, deaths. And how is that "security crackdown" going in Baghdad?

The U.S. military acknowledged a "spike" in the murder rate this week, despite a month-old security crackdown in the capital for which Washington sent in thousands of extra troops. Six died on Thursday, four around Baghdad, including two in a suicide car bomb attack that also wounded 25 Americans.

And what do the Iraqi officials say? Well, they are pretty much throwing up their hands to this, as it has become "commonplace" for them:

"It's barbaric but sadly we've become used to it," the Interior Ministry official said of bodies found around the capital, in both Sunni and Shi'ite areas. "Forty bodies, 60 bodies -- it's become a daily routine."

A daily routine. Gee, it really sounds like a real love fest going on in Iraq. That is some "last throes", Dick.

Wednesday, September 13:

Sixty five tortured and bullet ridden bodies found around Baghdad, and at least 25 more killed on "other violence". But we don't want to discuss torture because as Bush told Matt Lauer, "we don't want the enemy to adapt". But just for shits and giggles (not), let's see what actually went on:

The hands of most of the dumped victims were bound, and they were blindfolded. Most of the dead appeared to have been shot to death, and many showed signs of having been tortured.

The apparent resurgence in execution-style murders, which are often associated with sectarian violence and death squads, came as U.S. and Iraqi patrols have been sweeping Baghdad neighborhoods in search of insurgents and sectarian militiamen.

And what about that "other violence"? Well, it targeted police stations in three areas of Baghdad, with over 90 wounded:

Other violence in Baghdad on Wednesday targeted police convoys or stations. At least 14 people were killed and 67 wounded after a car bomb and an improvised explosive device went off near Al Shaab Stadium in east Baghdad at around 10 a.m. The blast appeared to be targeting a police convoy.

Two hours later, a bomb in a parked car exploded near a police patrol from the Zayona police station in east Baghdad. Eight police officers were killed and 19 civilians were wounded.

Two mortar shells landed on al Rashad police station in southeastern Baghdad, killing a policeman and wounding two others, police said. Two more policemen were killed when two mortar rounds landed near their station in Baghdad's eastern neighborhood of Mashtal. Three others were injured.

This is way WAY more than just "totally fucked up". This is something that was anticipated by all those except for the ones who were in charge of the illegal invasion and occupation. These deaths are on the hands of the war criminals who had no plan and who continue to have our troops under equipped, overworked and without proper armor in a place and a country that they never should have been in to begin with.

I've said it many many times and will say it again. Bring. Them. Home. Right. Fucking. Now.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

More Bad News Regarding the EPA

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media

We know how much the Bush administration hates science. We know how the EPA under Christie Whitman and the White House declared the air around Ground Zero safe, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary (and leading to countless deaths and long term health problems for workers and people who spent time around Ground Zero after 9/11). We know the disdain that these criminals have for the environment. And we know how much more important tax cuts for the ultra wealthy are than actually doing something to keep our environment, well, protected.

And just as the Bush Administration has recently waived any whistleblower protections under the Clean Air Act and the Solid Waste Disposal Act, proposed $300 million LESS in funding for the EPA from FY 06 to FY 07 (and a full $1 Billion less than in FY 2004), a record $100 million of which Congress is still reviewing, we now hear that the FY 2008 budget cuts for the EPA will be even greater than in past years.

Because who needs that pesky environmental tree hugging nonsense? Besides, it frees up more money to divert to killing all them terra-ists...

Not to sound like one of them crazy lib'ruls again, but the environmental issues facing the US and the world really are the key to so many things. A less polluted environment leads to less health issues, which leads to less cost in the area of health care. A less polluted environment would be a to the overall global economy. A less polluted environment leads to less global warming which leads to, well, president Al Gore says it so much better than I can. But you get the picture.

So why am I bringing this all up now? Well, a memo from Lyons Gray, the CFO of the Environmental Protection Agency to EPA leadership dated June 8, 2006 outlines the additional "disinvestments" (and yes, that is the word they are using) that will be made over the next few years. And this just so happens to be the week that the cuts are being presented to the Office of Management and Budget.

The first page of the memo already had an ominous tone, by indicating that the need will be to

[e]valuate our priorities across the Agency to identify priorities, reduce duplication and identify opportunities for consolidation and streamlining.

On the surface, that would sound like something that we should be proud that a governmental agency would be looking into. With all of the redundancy and wasteful spending that we hear about, you would look at this as a step in the right direction. However, the phrase that sticks out is the one bolded above. If there is truly a way to consolidate and streamline, that is great. But the first page of the memo also notes that these cuts would have "long term consequences" on the Agency, which doesn't sound too promising. But of course, there has never been any long term plan from this administration, other than to pump as much money to the ultra wealthy and their cronies as possible.

So what are the major cuts, or should I say "disinvestments"?

Well, for starters, there will be a 20% reduction over the next five years in the EPA's labs and research centers. Doesn't really sound like it is "consolidating" for the better, nor does it sound like this is "reducing duplication" either. And according to a press release by PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility):

The plan calls for closing 10% of EPA's network of laboratories and research centers in which much of the agency's basic and applied science concerning pollution monitoring, toxicological effects and other public health issues is conducted. By 2011, the laboratory network, comprised of approximately 2000 scientists, would shrink by 20%.

And PEER's Executive Director Jeff Ruch hits the nail right on the head with the following assessment:

"EPA planning is now driven entirely by external fiscal targets without regard to the effects upon public or environmental health. The Bush administration seeks to `disinvest' in environmental science, pollution control and global sustainability."

"The Bush administration is trying to spin this lobotomy as a diet plan for a trimmer, shapelier EPA," Ruch added. "In fact, it is a plan to cut and run from historic standards of environmental protection under the guise of deficit management."

I will disagree with one of Ruch's comments - there has never been any real "guise of deficit management" under this administration, considering that the record surpluses have turned to record deficits, with deficits each year under Bush, billions of dollars in "supplemental emergency spending bills" which aren't even included in the willfully distorted budgets. Not to mention the "cost estimates" for Iraq, Medicare bills and many other spending "initiatives" which end up costing billions more than the price tags that were initially slapped on them.

Other cuts include increased buy outs of senior level staff, which is in addition to the extremely high level of EPA staff which are eligible to retire in the next three years. This would further gut the staffing of the EPA - most likely to a level which would make it very difficult to accomplish anything meaningful. Additionally, there are slated "savings" which would be accomplished by reducing the oversight of state and Indian tribal environmental agencies. Because, as the government and business community have consistently shown over the past six years - we can always do so well by "self policing".

Just look at the wild successes of the mining industry, the financial industry, the oil and gas industry and any of the other industries that have done oh-so-much to make sure that they were operating for the greater good without taking advantage of the system to maximize profits at the expense of screwing over anyone and everyone that they can get away with screwing over.

Why should a pesky thing like the environment be any different?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Taliban: Back and Badder than Ever

Front paged at Booman Tribune

So much for yet another flat out lie told by Cheney with respect to Afghanistan and the Taliban. Remember this statement he made just three days ago:
I mean, take Afghanistan. Afghanistan was governed by the Taliban, one of the worst regimes in modern times, terribly dictatorial, terribly discriminatory towards women. There were training camps in Afghanistan training thousands of al-Qaeda terrorists. All of those training camps today are shut down. The Taliban are no longer in power. There's a democratically elected president, a democratically elected parliament and a new constitution and American-trained Afghan security forces and NATO now actively in the fight against the remnants of the Taliban. We are much better off today because Afghanistan is not the safe haven for terror that it was on 9/11.

Remnants of the Taliban? Um, no, Dick - sorry. Because that "cut and run" strategy from Afghanistan has now led to a Taliban resurgence which is making them stronger and more dangerous.

Even Bush's newest bestest friend, Bin Laden loving Pakistani President Musharraf has indicated recently that the Taliban has adopted Al-Qaeda tactics and is more dangerous to the region than Al Qaeda.

We have already heard how the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan has led to renewed restrictions on women's freedoms. And we are hearing of renewed violence, increases in suicide bombings, an influx of NATO troops fighting along southern Afghanistan, assassinations of officials and other "cheery" news:

Figures tabulated by CAPS (Conflict and Peace Studies) indicate a recent 60 percent increase in attacks across Afghanistan, from 85 in July to 136 in August. Police have borne the brunt, with deaths jumping more than fourfold in that period. Civilian deaths have tripled, with 92 losing their lives in August.

Yeah, Dick - I wonder what Karzai and Musharraf would say about the US and its efforts in Afghanistan. I'm sure they are just thrilled with the fact that you and Bush decided to let Bin Laden escape, take most of our forces out of the country and let the Taliban come back into power.

Well, we do know what Musharraf would say:

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, speaking in Brussels Tuesday, said the Taliban now pose a greater danger than Al Qaeda. "The center of gravity of terrorism has shifted from al Qaeda to the Taliban," he told European lawmakers."

"This is a new element, a more dangerous element, because it [the Taliban] has its roots in the people. Al Qaeda didn't have roots in the people," he said.

The CSM article linked above centers around a discussion with a Taliban militant who is discussing their tactics and their resurgence in Afghanistan. And while it should be taken with a grain of salt, there are some facts that can't be ignored which would lend a level of credence to his points. Certainly moreso than that smirking idiot who occupies the White House, or the lying criminal of a Vice President who may very well be the most evil lying scum on the face of this earth.

And when we hear how things are going so well in Iraq and how we are turning another corner, fighting terrorism, not being caught in the middle of a civil war and not able to defeat the insurgency in the Anbar province, there is this quote that shows just how much the illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq is spreading freedom:

He (the Taliban fighter) speaks a warning, of how the "new" Taliban has become more radical, more sophisticated, and more brutal than the Taliban ousted by US-led forces in 2001 - and of how its jihadist agenda now mirrors that of Al Qaeda, stretching far beyond Afghanistan.

Among the keys to the Taliban resurgence - which is sparking lethal violence on a scale unknown here for almost five years - are crucial lessons drawn from Iraq.

"That's part of our strategy - we are trying to bring [the Iraqi model] to Afghanistan," says the fighter. "Things will get worse here."

Those "things" include suicide attacks, assassinations of government officials, moderate clerics, and civilians, along with guerrilla tactics now in use against Western forces in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, where NATO claims to have killed more than 500 insurgents in 10 days of intense fighting.

Well, even if he is exaggerating, things certainly have been getting worse in Afghanistan. And I don't think that the large and ever growing percentage of us who have been questioning and challenging the FUBAR situation in Iraq is helping the terrorist cause. Methinks that it is probably more of the torture, rendition, use of chemical weapons, illegal occupation as well as the arrogance of the neocon war criminals.

But who am I - just a crazy lib'rul who must hate America?

The thing is - it isn't just this Taliban militant or Musharraf who are saying these things about the Taliban. According to Waheed Mozhdah, a Taliban-era Foreign Affairs Ministry official, and author on the Taliban:

"The world is small now, and just as McDonald's is being globalized ... so can violence be transmitted from one place to another," says.

"The tactics have been imported from Iraq: suicide bombers, remote-controlled roadside bombs," says Mr. Mozhdah. "These things we didn't have in the [past] jihad, and they have been very effective...."


Another factor chills many Afghans. "[The Taliban] have become more violent. They slaughter people, beheading them, and this didn't exist before," says Mozhdah. "They used to regard video cameras as haram [forbidden by religion], but now they use these videos as a tool. It shows how Al Qaeda has affected the Taliban."

Nice job--cutting and running from Afghanistan to invade another country based on lies. Which led to a situation in Afghanistan that is worse than it was before 2001. And a situation in Iraq that is so bad that it can't even be described. With the added bonus of the Taliban, who used to ban the use of video cameras, now using videos to instill fear. Just like in Iraq.

And let me guess - nobody could have anticipated that the Taliban would make a resurgence and learn from the violent tactics used in Iraq.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Let's not forget how Bush purposely let Zarqawi slip away

Front paged at Booman Tribune

Not that this is a new revelation or anything, but in light of all of the lies being force fed to the American public as well as the rewriting of history we shouldn't let this little nugget of information fall down the memory hole.

jasonwhat had a diary up over the weekend that didn't get much play (hell, I didn't even see it until I was searching to see if this story was diaried recently) which points out that, for over a year, Bush had Zarqawi in his sights and didn't pull the trigger. And guess why? Because it would hurt the case for invading Iraq. And the best part - Saddam knew about Zarqawi and was trying to have him captured.

I kid you not.

Let's take a trip down memory lane - back to 2002. According to Michael Scheuer, a former CIA agent with over 20 years of experience, six of which were as head of the Bin Laden unit:

[d]uring 2002, the Bush Administration received detailed intelligence about Zarqawi's training camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Mr Scheuer claims that a July 2002 plan to destroy the camp lapsed because "it was more important not to give the Europeans the impression we were gunslingers".

"Mr Bush had Zarqawi in his sights almost every day for a year before the invasion of Iraq and he didn't shoot because they were wining and dining the French in an effort to get them to assist us in the invasion of Iraq," he told Four Corners.

"Almost every day we sent a package to the White House that had overhead imagery of the house he was staying in. It was a terrorist training camp . . . experimenting with ricin and anthrax . . . any collateral damage there would have been terrorists."

And how much did Bush care about keeping people safe and hunting down terrorists? Well, you guessed it, not nearly enough when compared to stacking as many lies together as possible to invade Iraq. In fact, the Pentagon even drew up plans not once but TWICE to attack the terrorist training camp in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq but the plans were killed by the White House;

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.


The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.

And what about that whole "1% doctrine" relating to a preemptive strike? Well, intelligence indicated that Zarqawi was planning on using ricin in Europe, and this was, according to Gen. John M. Keane, the Army's vice chief of staff at the time,

Zarqawi represented "one of the best targets we ever had."
Sadly, however, Bush was more interested in invading Iraq than he was in taking out Zarqawi.

In a cruel and ironic twist (as I mentioned above), while Rice and Cheney and every other neocon war criminal insisted on the ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda, the Senate Intelligence Report released last week (see page 109) indicates the following:

Postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zaraqwi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi.


Saddam's regime "considered Zarqawi an outlaw" and blamed his network, operating in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, for two bombings in Baghdad.

We know the rest of this story - police in the UK uncovered a terror plot, arrested six suspects and found a ricin lab which was connected to the training camp in Iraq. Zarqawi is erroneously (and that is a generous word) linked over and over to Saddam by the neocon war criminals. The US "gets its war" with Iraq, redeploying troops from Afghanistan - letting Bin Laden escape in the process. Zarqawi's camp is attacked during 2003 - after him and many of his followers have long since left the area. Zarqawi goes on to plan and commit many attacks against our troops, innocent civilians and becomes "public enemy number one". According to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey:

"Here's a case where they waited, they waited too long and now we're suffering as a result inside Iraq,"

And all of those lives could have been saved - innocent lives, our own troops' lives - not to mention all of the hundreds of billions of dollars and goodwill that was pissed away.

So in all of the hullabaloo about ABC/Disney and their lies - let's not forget who really let not one but two terrorists get away when he had the chance. Bush let Bin Laden slip away in Tora Bora. Bush purposely let Zarqawi slip away in northern Iraq to "sell" his illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq. And Saddam, for all the evil that he has done, was actually trying to have Zarqawi captured - according to the Republican controlled Senate Intelligence Report.

Just another war crime to add to the list.....

Monday, September 11, 2006

Fuck you very much, George and Dick

Front paged at Booman Tribune. Recommended at My Left Wing

I don't think I have ever used a word stronger than "dumbass" in my titles, so pardon the exception I am making here and today.

I just was ushered out of Penn Station around 8AM, along with hundreds of other commuters because "Penn Station is closed". Dozens of cops on the inside, yet there was no explanation other than "please leave NOW". And it must have been real important and a real emergency - based on the fact that there was a line of 50 at the taxi stand right outside Penn Station, people handing out the free daily "Metro" newspapers, and a few hundred more people just milling about on Seventh Avenue.

I have to take a flight to Chicago next Monday, returning to NY the next day, and I have already spent more time figuring out if I want to check my bag, how much toothpaste I would bring so as to not waste or throw out a new tube and how much earlier I need to get to the airport, just because there was a terror threat in the London airports a month or so back.

This is just a snippet of where we are, and how far we, as a country have fallen, over the past five years. And I reserve great outrage for two of the men who are the most responsible for the downfall of civilization over this time - Bush and Cheney.

First of all, the fucking nerve that Bush has to show his smirking bitch ass in NYC today - spending time with police, firefighters and first responders when it was his (and Christie Whitman's) lies about the air around Ground Zero being safe enough for people to get back to work and on with their lives, even though they damn well knew that the air was toxic. Let me ask you this, Georgie boy - how many thousands of death warrants did you sign that day when you sent people back into that area? How many people have developed cancer, respiratory diseases and a lifetime of disabilities because of your arrogance? Just who the fuck do you think you are to come here and disgrace this city - after you and your Department of Homeland Security have stiffed NYC time and time again when it comes to the funds necessary to truly keep this city safe?

So I have to check my toothpaste, people get kicked off of planes because of the t-shirt they are wearing, and US citizens are denied re-entry into the US because their family member was found guilty of supporting terrorism. Yet, the ENTIRE Bin Laden family was rounded up and flown out of the US, even while US airspace was still closed. And how dare anyone get pissed about the bullshit "security" measures that are being taken to "keep `Murka safer"? Please......

And Dick, as for your lying criminal self, you deserve a very special place in the bowels of hell. On the eve of the anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history (which you have ultimately profited from and have orchestrated every US action and crime since), you have the absolute gall to go on national television and once again insult a tremendous portion of this country. Where the hell do you get off making statements like the following:

"Suggestions, for example, that we should withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq simply feed into that whole notion, validates the strategy of the terrorists,"

You know what validates the strategy of the terrorists, Dick? Torture. Rendition. Lying. Using illegal chemical weapons on innocent civilians. Suppressing our rights here in the US. And you know what else "validates the strategy of the terrorists"? Statements like this:

Cheney unapologetically defended the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, saying the administration would have done "exactly the same thing" even if it knew before the war that Iraq did not have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

You know, that whole lying thing again. We knew that Iraq didn't have those "stockpiles". Yet you lied and invaded a sovereign nation that was no "imminent threat" to the US. And then, you go on national TV and reiterate that you would have done exactly the same thing had you not been able to cover up known that Iraq was no imminent threat.

Oh, and while we are at it, you know that whole "cut and run" thing? Well, why not talk about how the Taliban is now resurgent and suppressing women's rights in Afghanistan. Or how about the assertion by the CIA field commander at Tora Bora who said last year how the US let Bin Laden slip away? You know Bin Laden, right? The one who masterminded the attacks which occurred five years ago today? The one who Bush "doesn't think too much about"?

So stop disgracing this solemn day. Stop your goddamn lies. Stop insulting most of this country and a larger portion of the world in general by saying how those who disagree with your warmongering war crimes and lies "hate America" or "want the terrorists to win".

Because you two are "doing a heckuva job" yourselves in emboldening the terrorists with your words and actions. And for that, I say, fuck you. Fuck you very VERY much.

Hijacking Tragedy

Front paged at Booman Tribune

It was exactly one year ago when I posted my 2nd diary on DKos - a piece remembering 9/11, as well as the hypocrisy of those who were supporting the "freedom walkTM" (remember that?). And as bad as the hypocrisy and divisiveness in this country was one year ago, it has sadly gotten so much worse over the past year.

I really don't know where I am going with this, other than the fact that, being someone that was in NYC on 9/11 when the attacks happened, I still have an overwhelming sense of sadness, grief, reflection and disgust at all that has happened to this country that I once loved so dear, and am now trying so very hard to help right.

The overwhelming attention to the ABC lies which will be broadcast tonight and tomorrow are just the latest in what has been a glaring and scathing indictment of not ony Bush, Cheney and the neocon war criminals, but those in the mainstream media, in right wingnutistan, and even friends or family (who I am unfortunately not nearly as close with as I was a few short years ago) who have chosen to hijack (and yes, I am aware that I am using that word to describe it) the tragedy, the sadness, the grief, the mourning and any sense of decency towards the horrific events that unfolded that day as "theirs" in the name of torture, illegal acts, suppression of freedoms and rights, murder and so called "patriotism" - which, by the way includes those stupid fucking American flag lapel pins that the hypocritical monsters wear with a smug attitude and only serve to cheapen what this country is all about and the ideals it was founded on.

And today, as I was reflecting back on my actions and thoughts that day, I just got, shall we say, a wee bit full of complete disgust towards the selfish, soulless, petty, simpleminded chickenhawk fearmongerers and what they have done to this national tragedy.

Last I checked, men, women, people of all races, wealthy people, middle income people, poor people, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Asians, Democrats, Republicans, atheists and any other "group" were either killed, had a family member who was killed, knew someone who was killed or was otherwise effected by the terrorist attacks. This was a tragedy that belonged to ALL OF AMERICA, not just "`Mukra".

Not just republicans. Not just neocons. Not just "conservatives".

I remember each and every thing I did and saw those first few hours after the towers were hit. I remember walking down Third Avenue around noon on 9/11 with a friend, heading towards his apartment since I lived outside of NYC and had no way to get home. Third Avenue runs uptown only, yet there was bus after bus filled with police, firemen and other rescue workers speeding DOWN the street, towards Ground Zero. I remember seeing Building 7 fall a few hours later.

I remember smelling smoke and foul odors a full month later at my friend's apartment all the way up on 86th Street. I remember watching people walk around looking like zombies - all trying to process what had just happened to our city - our country. I remember thinking, "where the hell is Bush during this time". I remember thinking "why were no fighter jets scrambled once the planes were off track". I remember an overwhelming sense of patriotism myself, as the city, and country, and world rallied behind us. Hell, I even remember cheering from the stands as Bush threw out the first pitch at the World Series, despite having to wait over an hour longer to get into Yankee Stadium.

And then it all changed. And maybe people are right when they say that "9/11 changed everything". Because it showed both how great, thoughtful and kind people can be, as well as how meanspirited, divisive, duplicitous and selfish people can be.

How DARE Ann Coulter say that the 9/11 widows are enjoying their "payout" and are cashing in on 9/11. How DARE the wingnuts claim this tragedy as the impetus for all of the death, destruction and suppression of rights that we have experienced. How DARE Bush, Cheney or anyone else lie about how Iraq had anything, ANYTHING to do with 9/11 - especially to advance a criminal agenda both here and abroad. How DARE anyone point to rational, reasonable people who love this country but hate all of the immoral and illegal things that have been done in its name over the past five years as "traitors", "terrorist sympathizers" or any other despicable epitaph that they can conjure up. And of course, how DARE Disney, ABC or whoever else use the fifth anniversary of one of the worst days this country has ever seen to advance a political agenda.

Those that have been using this horrible day for personal, political or any other gain should rot in hell. Those that point the finger elsewhere and call those who disagree with their closed minded arrogant bullshit-masquerading as patriotism actions horrible names should be cursed with a lifetime of explosive diarrhea. Those who have used this tragic event to divide this country to the point where intelligent discourse is nonexistent, where facts have no place in the news, where "truthiness" counts more than the truth and where Tom Cruise is more important than lies by our top government officials are the lowest form of scum.

And those who have hijacked this tragedy in the way that they have over the past five years have no place in this country - or in any civilized nation on this planet. I reserve the greatest contempt for them.

How DARE anyone use this day to deny anyone else the right to remember, reflect, speak out, demonstrate, mourn or act in any way they feel comfortable doing - especially with lies and finger pointing. That is not patriotism. That is not American.

That is just vile.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Reporters talk of MSM suppression of rendition & torture stories

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media

And things just keep getting worse for that "evil Lib'rul media". An article in the new Columbia Journalism Review has some choice quotes and anecdotes from NY Times, Washington Post and other investigative journalists who talk of the concerted efforts to suppress, soften or outright bury stories of Afghan prisoner torture, rendition and other similar stories in the months and years after 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq.

The WaPo's Dana Priest, the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, the NY Times' Carlotta Gall and others lay out their struggles to get their stories printed and out to the public in a damning compilation of stories. They speak of higher-ups not wanting to believe the stories, not wanting to print stories, softening the headlines and burying any stories on "A-18 type" pages.

The story in a long one, with dozens of examples, which include the Gonzalez torture memos, the Abu Ghraib torture in addition to those that I mentioned above. And while you should definitely read the entire story, I'll give you some snippets. For starters, this one outlines how the American networks weren't all that interested in covering the rendition story:

Indeed, by the summer of 2004, soon after the Abu Ghraib photos surfaced, European journalists from outlets like The Financial Times, the London Independent, The Ottawa Citizen, and Calla Fakta (Cold Facts), a Swedish TV program, were driving the coverage of renditions. A British reporter named Stephen Grey began to track CIA flights by their tail numbers. Grey eventually detailed some 300 flights of a single jet to forty-nine different destinations in the British publication, New Statesman. Grey, a freelancer who in the past year had written about renditions for The New York Times, says that before publishing his piece he tried to get U.S. networks interested. One show was particularly interested, but eventually the idea fell through. "They said, `Can't you find somebody who's innocent; we'd much prefer that,'" says Grey, who won't name the show he was referring to. "The nub of the story wasn't innocence; it was that people were sent to places where they were likely tortured."

Or how Carlotta Gall, the Afghanistan correspondent for the NY Times couldn't get anyone to listen to her story (or take it seriously) about the Afghan detainee torture deaths, which finally broke on 60 Minutes at least 2 years after we here at Big Orange knew about it:

It was early December 2002, and Gall, the Afghanistan correspondent for The New York Times, had just seen a press release from the U.S. military announcing the death of a prisoner at its Bagram Air Base. Soon thereafter the military issued a second release about another detainee death at Bagram. "The fact that two had died within weeks of each other raised alarm bells," recalls Gall. "I just wanted to know more. And I came up against a blank wall. The military wouldn't release their names; they wouldn't say where they released the bodies."


But the death certificate, the authenticity of which the military later confirmed to Gall, stated that Dilawar -- who was just twenty-two years old -- died as a result of "blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease."

Gall filed a story, on February 5, 2003, about the deaths of Dilawar and another detainee. It sat for a month, finally appearing two weeks before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. "I very rarely have to wait long for a story to run," says Gall. "If it's an investigation, occasionally as long as a week."

Gall's story, it turns out, had been at the center of an editorial fight.


Doug Frantz, then the Times's investigative editor and now the managing editor of the Los Angeles Times, says Howell Raines, then the Times's top editor, and his underlings "insisted that it was improbable; it was just hard to get their mind around. They told Roger to send Carlotta out for more reporting, which she did. Then Roger came back and pitched the story repeatedly. It's very unusual for an editor to continue to push a story after the powers that be make it clear they're not interested. Roger, to his credit, pushed." (Howell Raines declined requests for comment.)

"Compare Judy Miller's WMD stories to Carlotta's story," says Frantz. "On a scale of one to ten, Carlotta's story was nailed down to ten. And if it had run on the front page, it would have sent a strong signal not just to the Bush administration but to other news organizations."

Instead, the story ran on page fourteen under the headline "U.S.Military Investigating Death of Afghan in Custody." (It later became clear that the investigation began only as a result of Gall's digging.)

Yet, the NY Times eagerly lapped up Judy's total bullshit stories and ran them all front and center with big ominous headlines. So much for "All the news that's fit to print".

The article goes on to discuss how the Bush Administration's defense, the complicity of the media, the unwillingness of the military to talk, as well as the patriotism of `Murka after 9/11 made the media willfully blind to what was going on around the world in our formerly good name. And in a hauntingly true statement about how things have changed over the past 20-30 years, we have this quote:

There is a final factor that has shaped torture coverage, one that is hard to capture. In most big scandals, such as Watergate, the core question is whether the allegations of illegal behavior are true. Here, the ultimate issue isn't whether the allegations are true, but whether they're significant, whether they should really be considered a scandal.

Forget the truth, because truth doesn't sell. Scandals sell. And that is both a shame and a crime.

Dana Priest also talks about the rendition story, and how it was buried in the WaPo the day after Christmas, only after she practically begged the paper not to run the story on Christmas.

With [Barton] Gellman working on his assessment of the counterterrorism effort, Priest took the lead on the detainee story. The resulting piece was extraordinary. Published on December 26, 2002, with a co-byline, it had revelation after revelation about the U.S. treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda suspects. It detailed a "brass-knuckled quest for information" that included "stress and duress" interrogation techniques -- keeping prisoners in painful positions for hours, for example -- as well as extraordinary renditions, the practice of shipping suspects to countries where they could be tortured. Citing "Americans with direct knowledge and others who have witnessed the treatment," the paper reported that "captives are often `softened up' by MPs and U.S. Army Special Forces troops who beat them up and confine them in tiny rooms."

The article contained both denials from officials that torture was allowed but also quotes from officials all but boasting of abuse. One official "directly involved" in renditions confidently explained, "We don't kick the [expletive] out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the [expletive] out of them."
Priest and Gellman wrote, "Each of the current national security officials interviewed for the article defended the use of violence against captives as just and necessary. They expressed confidence that the American public would back their view."

I could go on and on, including the horrific treatment of the horrific torture at Abu Ghraib:

What came next was less a media storm than scattered sprinkles. The New York Times covered the story of the photos on page 15, the Los Angeles Times on page 8, and The Washington Post on page 24, though none chose to publish the photos themselves. The photos should have made for compelling TV coverage, but there was no avalanche of coverage there either. Only NBC and, obviously, CBS had segments on the photos the day after.

As I said above, I highly recommend checking out the entire story, as it is an excellent compilation of reporters' actual accounts and frustrations with the major newspapers and networks in dealing with these crimes approved of, though up by and perpetrated by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neo con war criminals.

And it shows in greater detail than we have known to this point how the major media was more than complicit in burying stories, softening headlines and discouraging reporting of the atrocities going on around the world by this administration. Stories that no doubt, if given the proper coverage, would have resulted in a Kerry presidency, or a serious push for impeachment of these criminals.