Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Sergeant Schultz Defense

This post started out as a comment in response to this item at TPM Muckraker:

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales knew essentially nothing about the partisan culture and violations of federal law that were routine at the agency under his watch.

That's what we heard today from Glenn Fine, the Department of Justice Inspector General.

Fine told lawmakers on Capitol Hill today that his investigators interviewed Gonzales for their report, which found numerous senior officials were illegally using partisan considerations when hiring some prosecutors and judges.

Accompanying video

One might observe that Gonzales is like that Hogan's Heroes character, Sergeant Schultz, "I see nothing. Nu-u-u-thing!"

But that would be unfairly letting Gone-z0 off the hook. The fact of the matter is he expanded Goodlings hire/fire powers dramatically through an 'unpublished' (read 'secret') memo. From Wikipedia:

Goodling's authority over hiring expanded significantly in March 2006, when Gonzales signed an unpublished order delegating to Goodling and Kyle Sampson, his then chief of staff, the power to appoint or dismiss all department political appointees besides United States attorneys (who are appointed by the President). The delegation included authority over interim United States attorneys (who are appointed by the Attorney General) and heads of the divisions that handle civil rights, public corruption, environmental crimes and other matters.
Also, from the same Wiki article:
" Goodling worked alongside Tim Griffin as an opposition researcher for the Republican National Committee during the 2000 presidential campaign. " - that's as partisan a position possible even for somebody who's job is completely in the party, not the government.

Finally, Goodling's title at the time was White House Liaison. Even putting aside the issue of partisanship, Gonzales should have had an affirmative duty to maintain the independence of the Department of Justice. There was an impropriety in just giving that much power to someone with close ties to the administration. No way can you say that Gonzales, with his own ties to George W. Bush, didn't know exactly what he was doing.

And lest we forget, when Alberto Gonzales testified about the US Attorneys' Purge last April, he claimed to have amnesia no less than 74 times. And that was on just one day of testimony. Let's have Alternet refresh our memories:
When asked about the decision to fire eight federal prosecutors, Gonzales insisted he wasn't involved, then after e-mails about meetings he attended were released, okay, maybe he was involved. But just a little. Microscopically. An eensy teensy teeny wee bit of a tad. He did admit to making the decision to fire the US Attorneys but couldn't remember when he made the decision. Seems to be a perennial theme with this administration. "Had absolutely nothing to do with it. Oh, you have evidence? Nope. Sorry. Can't remember. Its all a blur."

At the hearing, Senators accused Bush's torture champion of being dishonest, deceitful, incompetent, evasive, inept, underhanded, misleading, smelling like rancid olive loaf and looking like he's wearing his father's burial suit. Not to mention scaring small children with a high squeaky voice that over broadcast airwaves has been known to activate smoke alarms, lawn sprinklers and TIVO recordings of Gladiator movies. And those were the Republicans.
The Sgt. Schultz defense just doesn't cut it here. That one of the most loyal of Bush loyalists gave unprecedented power to another Bush loyalist - who wasn't even qualified for the position she occupied - and didn't know exactly what was going to happen, simply strains all credibility. One really has to question how capable an Inspector General Glenn Fine is. He's sure doing a heckuva job.

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It's the Stupid Economy

Y'all know I don't do 'blink and link' blogging as a rule, but this post from ascap_scab at Reconstitution 2.0 deserves a look-in by all unrulies. Scabbers has done a fair bit of work on this, and documents the imminent collapse of the economy better than I've seen elsewhere. In fact Jolly Roger and his crew at Reconstitution do a fair bit of econ blogging, so I consider it a go-to site in that area.

When the dust finally settles on the Bush administration the smarter historians will look back at debacles such as the Iraq war, the gutting of the Constitution, the purging of the Department of Justice and such not just as crimes unto themselves. They will hopefully twig to the fact that all of the above were really committed to enable a much larger and more heinous crime - the transfer of America's wealth from the middle class into the hands of a tiny group who were obscenely wealthy to begin with. And while the chances of anyone ever being held accountable for all of these other crimes is slim to none, the chance that this wealth will ever be refunded to the thousands who have lost their homes, their jobs and their dignity is exactly zero.

Any bank robber would guess that the job gets easier if you have a guard on the inside in your pocket, even easier if you've also co-opted the cop that's most likely to respond to the alarm. the Bush crime syndicate has co-opted the entire federal government for Pete's sake! And they're wasting no time scooping up everything they can while they can. It's no co-incidence that all these bank failures are happening in the last months of Dumbya's term.

If the average American had any idea how directly Bush policies were aimed at sucking the last dollar out of his or her wallet, there would be massive riots on the streets of every city, town and village in the country. Get over to JR's place for a good read. Prepare yourself to be enraged.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Goodling Crossed the Line

From the New York Times:
Senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales broke the law by using politics to guide their hiring decisions for a wide range of important department positions, slowing the hiring process at critical times and damaging the department’s credibility and independence, an internal report concluded Monday.

The report, prepared by the Justice Department’s inspector general and its internal ethics office, singles out for particular criticism Monica Goodling, a young lawyer from the Republican National Committee who rose quickly through the ranks of the department to become a top aide to Mr. Gonzales.

Ms. Goodling, who testified before Congress in May 2007 at the height of the scandal over the firings of nine United States attorneys, introduced politics into the hiring process in a systematic way that constituted illegal misconduct, the report found.
(Underlining is mine.) So, the question is, if Ms. Goodling broke the law, if her behaviour constituted illegal misconduct, WHY HAS SHE NOT BEEN CHARGED?

OK, that question was merely rhetorical. We all know that the reason Goodling has not been charged is the same reason for which she was hired. The Department of Justice, who would be responsible for laying those charges is full of partisan hacks hired through an illegal process of politicization - a massive program of obstruction of justice. The Republican-fascist bastards, who committed perjury when they took their oaths of office, are interpreting the law of IOKIYAR as being paramount and superceding all the real laws.

Goodling was hired by the Queen Bee of Partisan Corruption, Mary Beth Buchanan, after proving her partisan fanaticism working as an opposition researcher under Tim Griffin. Opposition research is of course a purely political function, and as partisan as you can get. Buchanan had to have been fully aware that Goodling was the most loyal of Loyal Bushies possible.

Rather than provide supervision of her activities, Alberto Gonzales expanded her authority (and that of Deputy AG Kyle Samson) by way of an 'unpublished' memo in March 2006, to include "the power to appoint or dismiss all department political appointees besides United States attorneys (who are appointed by the President). The delegation included authority over interim United States attorneys (who are appointed by the Attorney General) and heads of the divisions that handle civil rights, public corruption, environmental crimes and other matters." (see Wikipedia for Goodling's career details.) And what a coincidence! "Reportedly, Goodling "took a leading role" in Bud Cummins's dismissal." Cummings was replaced in that position by her old opposition research boss, Tim Griffin.

When interviewed by the inspector general, Mr. Gonzales said he was not aware that Ms. Goodling and other aides were using political criteria in their decisions for career positions. Mr. Gonzales resigned last summer in the face of mounting accusations from congressional Democrats that politics had corrupted the department.

His successor, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, said in a statement Monday after the report’s release that he was disturbed by their findings that improper political considerations were used in hiring decisions relating to some career employees.

So I guess we're expected to believe that two (three really, because John Ashcroft was not much better) successive Attorneys General could have this kind of illegal activity going on right under their noses and not even know about it. How convenient!

So what can we expect to see happen? Will Mukasey press charges against Goodling, along with Esther McDonald and Michael Elston, who were named in an earlier IG report as having also crossed the line? Not bloody likely. Will those hired illegally be let go and replaced by personnel who can redress the imbalance and blatant cronyism that these loyal Bushies have suffused into the DoJ? I doubt it. Will Congress exercise its authority and mount a full investigation into the department to at least expose the full extent of the corruption? Yeah, right - when Hell freezes over.

These hirees will simply continue on in their positions like the Bush SCOTUS appointments, like hundreds of circuit judges and thousands of little cogs in the wheel, corrupting everything they touch until the country is well and truly the police state that they were all hired to enable. I can almost smell the jackboot polish now.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sauce for the Goose

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill.
The eyes of all people are upon us.
-- John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts, 1630 --

A TERRIFIC POST from Bill W. (who is also a contributor at Crooks and Liars, who've also posted it) really lays on the line just how much harm the criminal Bush administration has done to international law, peace, and just incidentally, America's reputation. And it comes with a great video clip! (uploaded to YouTube by Bill W. - man, this guy does it all and gives you your correct change to boot.)

Sudan Cites US Example Why It Won't Comply With UN, ICC

One sad truth that Bill doesn't go into (and I'm racking my brains here to find a base he hasn't covered) - from the point of view of someone who isn't an American (I'm proudly Canadian, eh?) - is that this is just another example of the idea of American Exceptionalism that has been accepted and even nurtured under the good old Stars and Stripes for far too long.

Ah yes, American Exceptionalism - the bastard child of Manifest Destiny and the Monroe Doctrine. The not-quite-so-evil twin of Might Makes Right. Nurtured and fed on a falsehood that is older than the country itself - the idea that the US is so morally superior to everyone else that it can be described as The City on the Hill, The Beacon of Democracy, the Font of Everything That is Good in The World.

And the reason that the world doesn't have to be concerned about the actions of America or its leaders? - because they're just so darned peachy-keen, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed gee whiz golly gosh dripping with good intentions. And if those good intentions turn out to make some US businesses a tidy profit? Well all the better! We'll throw in a slice of hot apple pie, and teach your folks how to play baseball.

And if those good intentions lead to us backing a coup against your democratically elected leader and installing a business-friendly tinpot dictator who starts murdering the opposition? Well shucks, dang, and whoa there Bessie. That never happens! Except for a few times in Guatemala, Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, Panama, and enough places that it's hard to remember them all. But you can rest assured it will never happen again anyway. Trust us.

And not to seem too critical of our well-armed neighbour to the south, I'd like to add that this principle of Exceptionalism is running afoul of another principle that originated in the US, in fact the very principle that the ICC is based on. Yes, that's right, it's called the Nuremberg principle. The idea is that entire countries are not responsible for wars, their LEADERS are. Especially when the leaders in question have been caught in so many lies that no-one can even keep track anymore. And let's not forget that indispensable adjunct to the Nuremberg principle, that the leaders must be held accountable for their actions. Please let's not forget that.

If Bush and his gang of criminals are not held accountable, and significantly if that accounting is not spearheaded by America herself, any credibility you have internationally will be lost forever. Because in Bush's eye's it's not the country as a whole that benefits from this status of City on A Hill, it's himself personally. And that's just not right. As important as it is for the world that Bush be brought to justice it is equally important to America that they take an active role. Else you'll be painted with the brush of complicity in his crimes.

The eyes of all people are upon you.

To wind it up, I've got some more video for you that's to the point:
All Presidential Accountability Goes Out The Window!

Oh, and there's one other thing. Did I mention that this is all going on against the backdrop of a British Parliament report that US assurances that it does not torture can no longer be taken at face value? Well, I meant to. It seems relevant.

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A Confluence of Gormlessness

My most recent post just happens to contain the following sentence: "Let us all hope that they pay dearly for this latest confluence of utter gormlessness in the service of unremitting evil." Some time after I wrote the post it occurred to me that confluence and gormlessness were pretty rarely-used words. Anyway I wondered if I could find the post by Googling "confluence of utter gormlessness," and yes, there it was right at the top of a very short list (most of the other Google hits were from either a) - databases from online dictionaries or b) - something called All Junky Pages Intentionally Illogical and Inconsistent - I wonder what that's all about.)

If I had stopped there it would have been enough to demonstrate the depths to which I will go just to provide myself the briefest minor amusement, which would hardly have been worthy of a post on the lowliest of cat-blogging and baby-pictures narcissistic mommy blog. (no offense to any of our readers who happen to be narcissistic mommy bloggers)

No, what made this random googling bloggable was when I widened my search to just 'confluence gormlessness' - at which point I stumbled upon a great post about six months old from Pandagon that contains the words confluence and gormlessness (although both are in the comments) - the post harkens back to a post from D-Day - the D-Day post recalls the impeachment of Bill Clinton:

Jesse L. Jackson in 1998:
Let us not be confused. Today Republicans are impeaching Social Security, they are impeaching affirmative action, they are impeaching women’s right to choose, Medicare, Medicaid, Supreme Court justices who believe in equal protection under the law for all Americans.
D-Day, Dec 21, 2007:
Being the anniversary week, C-SPAN decided to air large portions of the House debate [on the Clinton impeachment].

I couldn't stop watching.

You actually can read the transcripts here, but believe me when I tell you that the phony sanctimony from the Republicans is striking. I've never heard so many renderings of history, deep intoning about the Constitution and reverance for the rule of law come out in such a stream of pabulum in my life. Set against the background of the current Administration, which has lied us into war, spied on American citizens, tortured and indefinitely detained suspects without trial in secret sites all over the world, subverted the will of the people through deliberate deception, and brought this country to its knees, all in full view of many of these same lawmakers, the experience of watching them speak is almost otherworldly.

What the Republicans were actually doing is throwing a hissy fit.
Amanda Marcotte, Dec 22, 2007: began to really dawn on me that Republicans and their allies in the media are fundamentally opposed to the idea of democracy. It wasn’t just that the Republicans and the media were trying to oust a duly elected leader on trumped-up charges with the hope that the sexy parts would distract people from the fact that they were attempting a coup, though god knows that alone would be enough. It was also that the more the media and the Republicans persecuted Clinton, the more popular he got, and then the more frantic the persecution got. It really showed how conservatives and the mainstream media hate the workaday voter, and hate the very fact that we have any say at all. The more people liked Clinton, the more his enemies hated him, because he became this proxy for their very hatred of The People.

I suppose if the nation was better educated, we’d have seen it coming. Republicans and their Democratic allies have never met a pro-capitalist military coup they didn’t love, and while the attempted coup on President Clinton was not a military coup, it was still in the same spirit as the coups conducted worldwide.
It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day screwing that's being handed out to the American people by the government and forget the long term year-to-year and decade-to decade screwing that's pretty much always been going on. So I welcome the result of my idle googling for the opportunity it presented to me to rescue a couple of excellent blog posts from the memory hole.

And in case you didn't get the message, this post makes a lot more sense if you read the posts at Pandagon and D-Day that I linked to. And what really comes out of it is how much the rules change when the Republicans control Congress instead of the Democrats, or when a Democratic president occupies the White House instead of a Republican. I understand that the system provides a very weak 'choice' between the lesser of two evils. Still, I continue to believe that even though the lesser of two evils is still evil, it is also still lesser. These two posts and the subject matter they explore are ample evidence of that.

UPDATE: Here's a video that illustrates my last point. Who would argue that Congressman Wasserman Schultz (D - Florida) is just as bad as a Republican? And get a load of the former Bush aide, Brad Blakeman. Speaking to my main point, how many Republicans were arguing just the opposite on Executive privilege during the Monica Lewinski affair? And what a fucking jakehole Blakeman is, constantly talking over Rep. Wasserman and the guy from HuffPo - a constant tactic Repukes use, and that the Lamestream media continues to allow them to get away with.
Congresswoman Wasserman on Karl Rove's Refusal To Appear
'nother update: This video with Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D - CA) is even better. Great analysis from Jonathan Turley.
Sanchez: Rove Should be in jail

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

On the Road to His Time Horizon

Bush's 'Surrender' Rhetoric Comes Back to Haunt Him

There'll be a load of compromisin'/On the road to my [time] horizon
--Glen Campbell, "Rhinestone Cowboy"

Rhinestone Cowboy diplomacy has finally boxed the President in. After demonizing Democratic efforts, such as they were, to establish a timetable for getting out of Iraq ever since he got us into Iraq as a "date certain for surrender", Bush now faces an emboldened Iraqi Prime Minister who finally found his political footing. If I didn't know that the surge was a mirage based on buying off berzerkers in certain regions and fostering truces in other areas where the players are perfectly happy to wait us out and kill each other later than sooner, I would say that maybe the surge worked too well for the Bushies because, as blogger Juan Cole of Informed Comment told Air America's Rachel Maddow on Friday, it allowed Nouri al-Maliki the time he needed to make the transition from anti-Saddam conspirator to national leader with the full confidence in his own ability to direct the military to serve his ends.

Bush wants Al-Maliki to get the leaders of Iraq to sign off a new troop agreement that would serve the dual purpose of legitimating his invasion of Iraq as well as make it difficult for Barack Obama to end the occupation should he win the election in November. The problem is, Bush and John McCain have long maintained that they would listen to the Iraqi government if it told them that they wanted American troops to leave the country.

Instead of alienating the Iraqi people who apparently hate us like poison, Iraq's leaders are refusing to sign the agreement unless there's a time table for withdrawal.

So, to make matters easier for Iraqi leaders Bush's speechwriter came up with some word melding of epic proportions.

On Friday the White House released this nugget:

In the area of security cooperation, the president and the prime minister agreed that improving conditions should allow for the agreements now under negotiation to include a general time horizon for meeting aspirational goals.

Clearly this statement means nothing and the White House hopes that Iraqi politicians are stupid.

Then yesterday an interview Al-Maliki did with German magazine Der Spiegel was released that revealed his approval for Barack Obama's 16-month timetable for withdrawal.

How bad is this for McCain?

Mark Ambinder of The Atlantic fields that question:
(Via e-mail, a prominent Republican strategist who occasionally provides advice to the McCain campaign said, simply, "We're fucked." No response yet from the McCain campaign, although here's what McCain said the last time Maliki mentioned withdrawal: "Since we are succeeding, then I am convinced, as I have said before, we can withdraw and withdraw with honor, not according to a set timetable. And I’m confident that is what Prime Minister Maliki is talking about, since he has told me that for many meetings we’'ve had."
That's okay, you guys were fucked already. TPM has more on the response to Maliki's statement from both campaigns.

Making matters worse for them--and no, it can't really get worse--Gordon Brown piled on with his support for Obama.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Verifying Sicko

oh La, Unrulies! Nosy is back from the land of tea and scones, full of stories (or something, depending on your point of view) from two weeks touring Great Britain one tourist trap at a time. Can't help that - it was a planned tour with my SO's church choir. So now here I am, back in the land of unregulated cranes (a Houston Chronicle story today verifies that neither Texas nor Houston regulates cranes, only 15 states do) with a story about medical care in Great Britain.

The Brits have a love-hate relationship with the National Health System. In some respects it's a fine system but, as with any limited resource, it must be managed. As a result, you end up with some rare stories of denied treatment, of people forced to choose which eye to retain, of some mis-appropriations of medical care but ask any Brit if they'd give up the NHS and the answer (at least in those I spoke with) is a resounding NO. They can read the results of the free-market madness called a racket by one of the reddest fishwrappers in the country and want nothing to do with it. We're number 42 in life expectancy, rank right there with Cuba and Croatia in infant mortality and we pay twice as much as anyone else in the world for health care. No one in their right mind wants our system, unless their mind is truly right.

Remember in Sicko where Michael Moore is searching for a cashier in a British hospital? My SO got ill while we were in Britain (on the last day, we missed Rosslyn Chapel (tourist trap) and the Scottish National Gallery (I'm bummed) and we had to get her to a hospital. We asked the concierge to find us a cab and off we were into the wonderful world of the NHS. We got to the Queen Margaret Hospital in some unspellable Scottish small town and she checked in. Remembering the horror stories of ten-hour waits in US hospitals, we had the Sudoku book, lots to read, vallium, you name it, the wait was two hours. Literally, in two hours, she'd been seen, medicine prescribed, apologized to for the hospital's inability to provide her the medicine and sent on her way. She tried to check out, asking the registrar at the front desk where to do so. The registrar gave her a blank stare. Where do I pay, my SO asked. The registrar shook her head and said "You're done, you can go." No money changed hands for the visit. In the states, it costs you $500 to walk in the emergency room door.

Then came the prescription. We had the taxi driver take us to a pharmacy where my SO got the prescription filled. With apologies that they couldn't find a way to get the NHS to pay for it, the pharmacist charged us the 5 pounds (about $10) that every prescription in the UK costs. Everything from ibuprofen to chemotherapy.

She's better, was better almost immediately, in fact. We got back and she looked up the side effects of the medicine an American doctor had prescribed for carpal tunnel syndrome, a high-powered NSAID. It turns out the urological side effects exactly match her symptoms, which disappeared immediately as I mentioned above. She had skipped the drug that morning. The entire trip was quite instructional but unnecessary, the drug her American doctor had charged her $50 to prescribe was causing the problem.

I want a NHS badly.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Head in the Sand Approach

How The Bush Administration Reacted to War Crimes Warnings

The release of Jane Mayer's The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. (See the book review in Salon) has really unleashed a flurry of activity in Greater Left Blogsylvania, due to the revelations it contains with respect to Bush Administration culpability over the detainee torture program. In particular, and I mentioned this in my last post, the fact that in a secret report last year the Red Cross found evidence of the CIA using torture on prisoners that would make the Bush administration guilty of war crimes has caused quite a stir. Understandably.

This is a brilliant piece of radio from KCRW in Santa Monica, with KCRW's Warren Olney discussing the book with Mayer. Harper’s legal affairs writer Scott Horton offers comments, together with Cliff May and Noel Francisco. . You can download a podcast here or just play it right here. Thanks to Harper's magazine for the embed code.

Jane Mayer discusses The Dark Side

(The actual discussion starts about 7:00 in)

The whole thing is deserving of comment, and particular attention should be paid to the pathetic wriggling of Noel Francisco in the role of Bush apologist. All he can really do is pull out the same old tired arguments that have already been debunked and anyway rely on factoids that can easily proven false. Sad really.

I've made up a transcript of the part of the show that struck me the most, from which I derived the 'head in the sand' title. Mayer describes a Pentagon meeting where the faction advocating a reckless disregard of the Geneva conventions propose that simply ignoring them would somehow be equivalent to making them go away altogether. Doug Feith has a reputation as one of the stupidest men on the planet, and I would say this just about proves it. The transcript begins about 33 minutes into the podcast, after some breathtakingly inane arguments from Noel Francisco.
Warren Olney:
"Who were the people that you say were warning about war crimes and urging against this course of action [torture program], and what happened to them?

Jane Mayer:
It was so explicit that they were warning about war crimes that there was actually a meeting that took place in the Pentagon. ... It would have been in the summer of 2005 - in which the general counsel of the Navy, Alberto Mora took out the statutes and the law books and read it out loud in a meeting at which Stephen Cambone and Doug Feith were attending. Doug Feith's the number three in the Pentagon at this point.

There was this kind of game playing going on about the law, and now I'm not a lawyer, so maybe this is just how lawyers work, but basically in that particular meeting the question was, 'Should America hew to the Geneva Conventions as a matter of policy if not law? Should we try to live up to at least treating people along the standards that are spelled out in the Geneva conventions, which require humane treatment? And in that meeting the people who opposed doing so said, "If we adopt this law, if we admit this law rules, then we're going to be accused of breaking it, so it would be better if we would just say, 'it doesn't have any applicability' ." At which point Alberto Mora, who was the top lawyer for the Navy said, "You don't have any choice folks. This law exists whether you want to admit it exists or not, and you're going to be breaking it if you're breaking it." So, there are many examples, but that's the one that comes to mind.
This ostrich-like idea that if you simply pretend that a law doesn't exist you can break it with impunity shows a disregard for reality that is astonishing even for the Bush administration. Let us all hope that they pay dearly for this latest confluence of utter gormlessness in the service of unremitting evil.

Gentlemen, the Hague awaits.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gitmo Tapes Released

Recently we are learning more and more about the Bush administration's vulnerability to war crimes charges. Back in mid June McClatchy reported that:
The Army general who led the investigation into prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison accused the Bush administration Wednesday of committing "war crimes" and called for those responsible to be held to account.

The remarks by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who's now retired, came in a new report that found that U.S. personnel tortured and abused detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, using beatings, electrical shocks, sexual humiliation and other cruel practices.

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes," Taguba wrote. "The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."
You'd think that would have Bush and his evil minions squirming a little, and canceling any plans for travel outside of the US after their terms end. Then just days ago it was revealed:
(From Raw Story:)
In a secret report last year, the Red Cross found evidence of the CIA using torture on prisoners that would make the Bush administration guilty of war crimes, The New York Times reported Friday.

The Red Cross determined the culpability of the Bush administration after interviewing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, according to the article.

Prisoner Abu Zubaydahwho said he had been waterboarded, "slammed against the walls" and confined in boxes "so small he said he had to double up his limbs in the fetal position."
Mayer cited "sources familiar with the report" to explain the confidential document as a warning "that the abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the U.S. government in jeopardy of being prosecuted.

The report was submitted to CIA last year and concluded that American interrogation methods are "categorically" torture that violates both domestic and international law, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported Friday.
Great reaction from Jonathan Turley in the video accompanying that Raw Story, by the way. The information about this Red cross report was revealed in Jane Mayer's The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. (See the book review in Salon)

On the heels of these two damning stories came the fruits of a Canadian Supreme Court decision last May that granted Omar Khadr access to materials held by the Canadian Government concerning his treatment in America's Gulag, Guantanamo Bay prison.

Included in those materials is a tape of Khadr being interviewed in 2003 by an unidentified agent of CSIS - The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. Watching the video, he certainly doesn't seem to be very sympathetic.

You can see the tape and a report on, from Raw Story, or on (Sorry, no embeds available yet.) It's very interesting to compare and contrast the way this story is being handled in Canada, the UK and elsewhere with the way the US Lamestream Media treats it. More on that later in a separate post.

UPDATE: We now have YouTube vid to embed!

(Thanks to the most excellent TPM folks)

Compared to actual tapes of CIA-conducted interrogations, which we are never likely to see, these are pretty tame, I'm sure. Nevertheless, one finds it hard to believe that Khadr represents "the worst of the worst" as we have been told ALL Gitmo detainees are. What we see here is not a hardened terrorist, but a frightened kid who has been abused and manipulated by every authority figure he's ever had the misfortune to know.

Make no mistake, there will be considerable fallout from the release of these previously secret materials on both sides of the border. Just read this report from last week (thanks again
Canada knew Khadr was abused at Gitmo: report
...newly released documents show Canada was aware that he was deprived of sleep for weeks to soften him up for interrogation.

The U.S. Air Force and Department of Foreign Affairs documents say Canadian official Jim Gould visited Omar Khadr in 2004 in Guantanamo Bay and was told that measures were taken to make the then-17-year-old more pliable.
"In an effort to make him for amenable and willing to talk, (name omitted) has placed Umar (Omar) on the `frequent flyer program,''' the reports read.
Last month a Canadian Federal Court judge ruled that the U.S. military's treatment of Khadr violated international laws against torture, but did not disclose details.

Judge Richard Mosley said the way the military prepared Khadr for interrogation with visiting Canadian government officials broke human rights laws, including the Geneva Conventions.
Mosley also chastised the interrogator from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, saying Canada "became implicated' when the agent proceeded to meet Khadr despite learning of the efforts to prime the prisoner.
(Underlines mine) - In Canada, the mere fact that officials knew this was happening and did nothing about it is at the very least an embarrassment, and possibly grounds for criminal charges. It certainly leaves the government open to lawsuits from Khadr (Maher Arar was awarded $10 Million by Canadian courts for the role Canada played in his abduction and torture by FBI thugs.) What does that say about the complete inability of the US justice system to even stop this program, let alone charge the criminals responsible for it?

More from

Excellent coverage from McClatchy

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Bastille Day

"Courage, mes enfants - on les aura"
(General Pétain, WWI (trans. 'courage, my children - we'll get them.')

And why would we at Les Enragé be celebrating a French holiday? I'm glad you asked.
From the sidebar at
sans-culottes translates literally to 'no breeches'. The name was chosen by the working class French Revolutionaries (you know, the "off with their heads" crowd) opposed to aristocracy who triggered what would eventually end dynastic rule across Europe. Les enragés (angry ones) were a distinct group of sans-culottes.
We are that 'off with their heads' crowd. OK, some of us don't mean that literally, being opposed to the death penalty and all, but I for one have observed that heads WON'T roll when they're stll attached to necks. Hence the guillotine logo.

Proper forms of celebration include but are not limited to drinking copious amounts of white wine with a delicious Quiche Lorraine, while watching the Bastille Day fireworks. What? You used up all your fireworks over a week ago? Shame on you!

Once you've got a belly full of good wine and quiche, you might feel the urge to hit the streets with torches and pitchforks. While this would be decidedly unruly, such activities should be confined to fairly sizable mobs. There is after all safety in numbers.

Some time ago I reminded all of you that Democracy is NOT a Spectator Sport. History has shown that desperate times call for desperate measures, and sometimes, quite often in fact those desperate measures can be effective. Rise UP!! You have nothing to lose but your chains.
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Rise Up!
I leave you with just a few revolutionary quotes. Courage, mes enfants.
"We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a feather-bed."
-- Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1790 --

Free people, remember this maxim: we may acquire liberty,
but it is never recovered if it is once lost.
-- Jean Jacques Rousseau --

"A coward has asked the question is it safe?
Expediency asks the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?
But conscience asks the question is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position
that is neither safe nor politic nor popular
but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.
–- Martin Luther King Jr. --

"It does not require a majority to prevail,
but rather an irate, tireless minority
keen to set brush fires in people's minds."
-- Samuel Adams --

"What the founders intended was for ordinary Americans, ordinary people
to assume the patriot's task and lead the fight to restore democracy,
and to see themselves as leaders."
-- Naomi Wolf --

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Friday, July 11, 2008

SILENCE! You Bubbleheaded Boobie!

I don't know about you, but I good use a good laugh after this week. I found myself several times on a mental tirade of foul epithets. And then this morning I remembered this little jewel that I found at a while back at Randal Graves, the Undisputed Master of the Run-on Sentence.

I propose a game just for giggles:

- Pick any public figure of your choice
- Alliterate an insult in your best Dr. Smith fashion

For instance: Karl Rove - You Tin-plated Tyrannical Traitorous Turncoat! Fie on your Foul Flight, You Fibber and Fractious F*kker!

Give it a try! It's got to have a least some small measure of therapeutic value.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Goodbye To My Dear Friend The 4th Amendment

Here's the list of the wankers who voted to let the 4th amendment go away today. Democrat wankers below:

Baucus (D-MT) Bayh (D-IN) Carper (D-DE) Casey (D-PA) Conrad (D-ND) Feinstein (D-CA)
Inouye (D-HI) Johnson (D-SD) Kohl (D-WI) Landrieu (D-LA) Lincoln (D-AR) McCaskill (D-MO) Mikulski (D-MD) Nelson (D-FL) Nelson (D-NE) Obama (D-IL) Pryor (D-AR) Rockefeller (D-WV) Salazar (D-CO) Webb (D-VA) Whitehouse (D-RI)

And as per usual, Glenzilla is pretty much right on the money.
With their vote today, the Democratic-led Congress has covered-up years of deliberate surveillance crimes by the Bush administration and the telecom
industry, and has dramatically advanced a full-scale attack on the rule of law
in this country. As I noted earlier today, Law Professor and Fourth Amendment
expert Jonathan Turley was on MSNBC's Countdown with Rachel Maddow last night
and gave as succinct an explanation for what Democrats -- not the Bush
administration, but Democrats -- have done today. Anyone with any lingering
doubts about what is taking place today in our country should watch this (video below):

Maddow's introduction to Jonathan Turley's segment on Countdown last night, including the phrase " finger salute to the rule of law.." would be hilarious if it weren't true. Watch:

30 Felony counts, for which Bush is now, at least temporarily, absolved.

As I've expressed before, the Bill of Rights, the first Ten Amendments to the Constittion are inextricably woven together, regardless of how they're numbered. When you take one of those away, the others become weaker.

Expect the next attacks to be on the First Amendment.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Blogs Against Kleptocracy - Food Speculators

Oil's sharp retreat in the last two trading sessions on the world commodity markets has revealed what everybody already suspected: The speculators are leaving the field having already made a bundle-o-cash.
Investors, like locusts, are opportunistic. They also move in swarms, descending on whatever is unprotected and likely to yield a bountiful harvest. This time around, hedge funds are widely blamed for leading the commodities frenzy, hiding behind what analysts call "supportive market fundamentals" while whipping up prices to the breaking point.

— Marketwatch

But hold on... If you think that unfettered speculation in energy futures is a danger to your well being, wait till you hear which commodity the 'locusts' are turning their attention to next:


Garden variety crop price manipulation has been going on for decades, but now speculators are turning their attention to what they call 'owning structure'. In other words, owning the means of food production as well as the distribution system. Everything from farms to fertilizer, processing to packaging, all in the hands of multi-billion dollar hedge-funds. But...unlike agribusiness, where the outlook is somewhat longer term and profits comparably smaller, hedge-fund investors demand enormous short-term gains. And how do you engineer such gains? Well, as Jim Hightower puts it:
...If you can lock down production and stockpile the supply – you can control price. If corn prices are lower than what investors want them to be, simply store the corn and force prices up. Or, if corn prices are down in the U.S., ship it to Japan or wherever else might be more profitable.
In short, engineer famine for the sole purpose of satisfying your investors, a situation that should not be tolerated in this, or any other country. This is the point where we transition from being a Corporate Kleptocracy to being just a normal kleptocracy.

<< Previous Blogs Against Kleptocracy


Monday, July 07, 2008

Judge Orders Your Youtube Viewing Records Released To Viacom

Yes, you read that title correctly.

From Wired:

Viacom filed suit against Google in March 2007, seeking more than $1 billion in damages for allowing users to upload clips of Viacom's copyright material. Google argues that the law provides a safe harbor for online services so long as they comply with copyright takedown requests.

Although Google argued that turning over the data would invade its users' privacy, the judge's ruling (.pdf) described that argument as "speculative" and ordered Google to turn over the logs on a set of four tera-byte hard drives.

The judge also turned Google's own defense of its data retention policies -- that IP
addresses of computers aren't personally revealing in and of themselves
, against it to justify the log dump.

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

The Logging database contains:

'...for each instance a video is watched, the unique “login ID” of the user who watched it, the time when the user started to watch the video, the internet protocol address other devices connected to the internet use to identify the user’s computer (“IP address”), and the identifier for the video.'
Google correctly argued that “the data should not be disclosed because of the users’ privacy concerns,” citing the VPPA, 18 U.S.C. § 2710. However, the Court dismissed this argument with no analysis, stating “defendants cite no authority barring them from disclosing such information in civil discovery proceedings, and their privacy concerns are speculative.”
So you see, it's only speculative what they will do with your user data if you've ever watched a youtube.

But get this, Viacom had attempted to compel the source code for Google's Search, Google/Youtube Video and the Google Advertising Schema!

Here's the rundown on the whole list Viacom wanted and what the judge granted and denied:

(1) The cross-motion for a protective orderbarring disclosure of the source code for the search function is granted, and the motion to compel production of that search code is denied;

(2) The motion to compel production of the source code for the Video ID program is denied;

(3) The motion to compel production of all removed videos is granted;

(4) The motion to compel production of all data from the Logging database concerning each time a YouTube video has been viewed on the YouTube website or through embedding on a third-party website is granted;

(5) The rnotion to compel production of those data fields which defendants have agreed to produce for works-in-suit, for all videos that have been posted to the YouTube website is denied;

(6) The motion to compel production of the schema for the Google Advertising database is denied;

(7) The motion to compel production of schema for the Google Video Content database is granted; and

(8) The motion to compel production of the private videos and data realted to them is denied at this time except to the extent it seeks production of specified non-content data about such videos

So ordered.
Dated: July 1, 2008New York, New York

Louis L. Stanton

A couple of interesting relational tidbits to go with this madness. Judge Stanton is an 81 year old Reagan appointee. He has been overturned on copyright cases, as well as others, notably in a case about a biography of L. Ron Hubbard.

Philippe Dauman's (current CEO of Viacom and it's general counsel for quite a few years) attitude about the suit can be viewed and read here. He's wrong on DRM, fair use, technology, net neutrality, you name it.

And last, the ever present connection to government power: Viacom's chief lobbyist is Wayne Berman, who also lobbies for AT&T, Chevron and The Carlyle Group among others. He is also a "Bush Ranger" having raised at least $200,000 for Bush's campaign. Berman's wife, Lea, is the White House Social secretary.

Figures, doesn't it?

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

AT&T Whistleblower: Spy Bill Creates 'Infrastructure for a Police State'

"The Judicial Logic of a Dictatorship"

From WIRED: Mark Klein is the engineer who blew the whistle on AT&T's involvement in the Bu$hCo™ ILLEGAL warrantless wiretapping program. He told everybody about the secret room in Los Angeles where the telecom giant allowed NSA to tap into the trunk carrying pretty much all domestic communication on the west coast. This led to a lawsuit against AT&T, a lawsuit that will probably be pining for the fjords if the FISA Amendment Act of 2008 gets passed. In an interview with WIRED's Ryan Singel, Klein sounds off against this latest instance of obstruction of justice by the US Government (a wholly-pwned subsidiary of Bu$hCo™)
...It’s a Congressional coup against the Constitution.

The Democratic leadership is touting the deal as a "compromise," but in fact they have endorsed the infamous Nuremberg defense: "Just following orders." The judge can only check their paperwork. This cynical deal is a Democratic exercise in deceit and cowardice.
Congress has made the FISA law a dead letter--such a law is useless if the president can break it with impunity. Thus the Democrats have surreptitiously repudiated the main reform of the post-Watergate era and adopted Nixon’s line: "When the president does it that means that it is not illegal." This is the judicial logic of a dictatorship.

The surveillance system now approved by Congress provides the physical apparatus for the government to collect and store a huge database on virtually the entire population, available for data mining whenever the government wants to target its political opponents at any given moment—all in the hands of an unrestrained executive power. It is the infrastructure for a police state.
...which for the Ruling Crime Syndicate is a much higher priority than other infrastructure projects like highways, bridges, flood control, air traffic control, hospitals, etc. Because somehow in their way of thinking the government giving you medical treatment when you need it infringes on your freedom, whereas spying on you doesn't.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Justice Denied

Maher Arar is back in the news.
A U.S. court ruled Monday that a complaint by Maher Arar, a Canadian who accuses U.S. authorities of illegally deporting him to Syria, where he was tortured, cannot be heard in federal court.

Arar, a Canadian citizen born in Syria, was stopped at a New York airport on his way home from vacation in September 2002. U.S. officials accused him of links to al-Qaeda and deported him to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured for months.

He claims those who sent him to Syria recklessly and knowingly intended to subject him to torture. Before he was secretly whisked away to Syria, he was confined for 12 days in New York and alleges he had to endure cruel, inhumane and degrading conditions.

Arar had argued his constitutional rights were violated when he was confined without access to a lawyer or the court system and then forcibly returned to Syria, where U.S. authorities had reason to believe he would be tortured.

But the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, affirming a lower court decision, ruled two to one Monday that Arar's claims that it was a violation of due process to send him to Syria could not be heard in federal court.

"Arar has not adequately established federal subject matter jurisdiction over his request for a judgment declaring that defendants acted illegally by removing him to Syria so that Syrian authorities could interrogate him under torture," Reuters reported the ruling as saying.

The court concluded that adjudicating the claims would interfere with sensitive matters of foreign policy and national security. It also said that Arar, as a foreigner who had not been formally admitted to the U.S., had no constitutional due process rights.
(For more on the history of this case see's In Depth coverage of the story
from the beginning, and all the posts done here at Les Enrages that refer to Arar's case.)

Please note the section in bold above. To attach the correct language to it, Maher Arar was kidnapped by the FBI on September 26, 2002. That's right, kidnapped. To characterize the event as an arrest lends it a dignity it simply doesn't deserve. No arrest warrant was issued or applied for. No formal charges were laid. No habeas corpus hearing was ever held. That Arar was denied his constitutional rights seems to be a given, or in legal terms he has a prima facie case.

I'd like to make a point that I think is simple but important and often ignored. The distinction between kidnap and arrest is NOT that the latter is carried out by a government and the former by a criminal. It is that an arrest is conducted under the scrutiny of the court system and follows due process. That badges may have been flashed and so forth only adds the phrase "under color of authority" to the crime.

In fact in every detail we see that the US government and its agencies has scrupulously avoided any judicial review of these acts. That smacks of a conspiracy at the highest levels of the Bush Department of Justice. Arar should seek criminal charges against anyone involved in this sordid episode, up to and including the Attorney General at the time (John Ashcroft) and the subsequent AG (Alberto Gonzales) for not charging the kidnappers. That might just send a powerful message to Michael Mukasey, the current AG. He must know that his tenure will not last beyond the installation of a Democratic government next January.

But the sad truth of it is, the Maher Arar case is just a tiny element of a much bigger story. Much, much bigger. As Station Agent says in this post,
If ever a subject needed a definitive book written about it, the U.S. Attorneys Purge is it. The problem is coming up with a thesis for the book because the sheer evil genius of the purge is that it works for the Bush administration on so many levels that to take just one motive and run with it would leave so many other wings of the scandal behind.
Yes, the Prosecutors' Purge Scandal would by itself provide material for a major book, a tome, nay an encyclopedia - the author of which would be confronted with an overwhelming amount of evidence of criminal obstruction of justice by Bu$hCo™. But even that is only a small element in the much larger story of the perversion of justice on every level in BushMerika.

Think for instance of the $BILLIONs that have gone missing in Iraq ‡, on top of the $BILLIONS that have been distributed to crony organizations with little or no actual work having been done. Consider the various gang rapes that Blackwater and KBR employees have gotten away with scot free in a lawless environment that Paul Bremer set up to help enable Bush crimes there. (‡= TPM Muckraker posted this story on just how the administration has dodged investigation of corruption in Iraq while I was writing this piece. Instant update.)

It's as if the Bush administration wants to strip Lady Justice herself and subject her to various humiliating stress positions. Perverts!

Behind it all we see the same theme applied over and over and over - the appointment of people into key positions who will ignore the plain language of the law in order to get a result that is politically expedient to the GOP and their corporate masters. They are not looking for officers of the court, they're looking for accessories after the fact at every level up to and especially including seats on the Supreme Court, and the office of Attorney General. This is croniest at the worst imaginable, the wholesale appointment of partisan hacks into the very positions that are meant to monitor and prevent government abuses.

And in every case another theme is the connecting thread. The GOP, government agents and their corporate partners in crime ALWAYS avoid responsibility. Examples include Scooter Libby, Blackwater, KBR, the telecoms, and of course the FBI agents who kidnapped Maher Arar. The principle in play is that you are innocent even after having been proven guilty. And there are plenty of victims like Maher Arar and Jamie Leigh Jones who will continue to be denied justice in both civil and criminal courts because that's how Bu$hCo™ set it up.

On the other side of the coin are those who have been persecuted without proper cause by the Bush Department of Injustice. Examples include Don Siegelman, Dr. Cyril Wecht, Dr. Bernard Rottschaefer, plus hundreds of Iraqis, Afghanis, Uyghurs, and an assortment of suspicious-looking brown people who have been subjected to unbelievably dehumanizing abuse up to and including murder. Of whom Maher Arar is just one.

And all of them prosecuted persecuted under the guiding principle of the Bush DOJ: Forget about being assumed innocent until proven guilty. If you're not one of us, you're guilty until proven otherwise, maybe even long after proven otherwise. Most astonishingly, even if the Bushlicking Supreme Court rules that you are being denied your rights, the Bushlicking Department of Justice (or in the case of Military Commissions the Department of Defense) will continue to hold you in confinement.

That's how Bu$hCo™ set it up. They have in fact committed one huge horrific crime in order to enable the commission of a multitude of other crimes. It is an obstruction of justice case the scope of which the world has never known, and which the very mechanisms of justice are unprepared to correct.

For a blogger to merely list all of the perversions of justice that the Bush administration has perpetrated would be a monumental task. It would take the resources of an entire government department (such as DOJ if it wasn't itself a major part of the problem) years, maybe decades just to sort it all out. Something on the order of the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.

Simply put, the entire Bush regime could be accurately described as the crime of the millennium - unlikely to be surpassed before the year 3001. The case of Maher Arar will be seen as a mere speck of shit in the great stinking pile that has been created by The Bush Department of Injustice.

“There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration
has committed war crimes.
The only question that remains to be answered is whether those
who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”
-- Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba --

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