30 July 2006

Will Bush's War Lead to his Impeachment?

Here's another excerpt from Schell's excellent article:

As the mere mention of Vietnam suggests, the repetition dilemma also has causes that go deeper into the past. I embarked on journalism in 1966 as a reporter in Vietnam. The experience led, naturally and seamlessly, to a decade of writing about the war, the opposition to the war and, finally, when the war "came home," to the constitutional crisis of the Nixon years and its resolution via Nixon's resignation under threat of impeachment. The war and the impeachment were connected at every point. It wasn't just that Nixon's wiretapping was directed against Daniel Ellsberg, war critic and leaker of the Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers; or that the "plumbers" outfit that carried out the Watergate break-in was founded to spy on, disrupt and attack war critics; or that Nixon's persistence in trying to win the war even as he withdrew American troops from it drove him into the paranoia that led him to draw up an "enemies list" and sponsor subversions of the electoral process--it was that his entire go-it-alone, imperial conception of the presidency originated in his pursuit of his war policy in secrecy and without Congressional involvement.

link: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060814/schell

Let's hope that the USA will find some saving grace in the eventual impeachment of Bush and Cheney. Though for all practical purposes of civil and decent society it can't stop there. These men must be put on trial for crimes against humanity and if found guilty in a legitimate court of law, they must be duly required to account and provide justice for their misdeeds and wrongdoings.

Cease Fire, Immediately

Sunday, July 30, 2006

To Kathy Gannon and whomever else it concerns,

I just read a story, "34 Youths Among 56 Dead..." about the conflict between Israel and Lebanon by Kathy Gannon. I was saddened to see her claim that the Hazbollah guerillas instigated the fighting (with a kidnapping.) This one-sided view reduces the conflict into a 'who started it' argument - when really, the most important thing right now is to have the violence end immediately. It is as if she (you) attempt to make excuses for Israel's behavior in this matter.

Besides the fact; It can be, more rightly, argued that Israel provoked the kidnappings via the ongoing nefarious occupation of Palestine, and more so, the kidnapping of several Hamas cabinet members. Israel's occupation of Palestine is devastating for Jews everywhere, their actions are breeding a fierce sentiment of anti-semitism throughout the Middle East, and elsewhere.

The situation would be similar if the United States, disapproving of a newly elected government in Canada, took up the kidnapping of several high ranking members of Canada's new government. In retaliation, and to hold a bargaining chip, the Canadians would abduct several US citizens, soldiers or government people. Instead of bargaining for the mutual return of each nation's politicians/people in a diplomatic manner, the US would decide to open fire, and begin "degrading" the Canadians' ability to resist.

Would this be considered acceptable?

Why does the US oppose cease-fire?

American citizens are endangered by the fighting! - Does this place the Bush Administration in dereliction of duty?

Why is the US refusal to intervene against the Israeli slaughter of so many innocent Lebanese (they could be Canadians, remember) acceptable?

It is not.

- As the (vastly) more powerful entity in the conflict, it is up to Israel to take the first step in the cease-fire process.

29 July 2006

Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

[added afternoon of July 29: If all of the Bush Administration's breaches of law were each an individual tree, we would have a forest to look at (albeit a dark and mirky one, where incredibly large venomous spiders lurk.) We, with this assemblage of trees (an impressive grove it is) also have a strong case for impeachment at least, and more likely, the immediate arrest of these treasonous and criminal trespassers. Will the Bush Administration be forced to account for their actions? Let's vote so this fall.]

Jonathan Schell

Anyone who wants to write about the constitutional crisis unfolding in the United States today faces a peculiar problem at the outset. There is a large body of observations that at one and the same time have been made too often and yet not often enough -- too often because they have been repeated to the point of tedium for a minority ready to listen but not often enough because the general public has yet to consider them seriously enough. The problem for a self-respecting writer is that the act of writing almost in its nature promises something new. Repetition is not really writing but propaganda -- not illumination for the mind but a mental beating. Here are some examples of the sort of observations I have in mind, at once over-familiar and unheard:

President George W. Bush sent American troops into Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction, but they weren't there.

He said that Saddam Hussein's regime had given help to Al Qaeda, but it had not.

He therefore took the nation to war on the basis of falsehoods.

His administration says that the torture at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere has been the work of a few bad apples in the military, whereas in fact abuses were sanctioned at the highest levels of the executive branch in secret memos.

His administration lambastes leakers, but its own officials illegally leaked the name of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame, in order to politically discredit her husband.

He flatly stated to the public that all wiretaps of Americans were ordered pursuant to court warrants, whereas in fact he was authorizing and repeatedly reauthorizing warrantless wiretaps.

These wiretaps violated a specific law of Congress forbidding them.

His administration has asserted a right to imprison Americans as well as foreigners indefinitely without the habeas corpus hearings required by law.

Wars of aggression, torture, domestic spying and arbitrary arrest are the hallmarks of dictatorship, yet Congress, run by the President's party, has refused to conduct full investigations into either the false WMD claims, or the abuses and torture, or the warrantless wiretaps, or the imprisonment without habeas corpus.

When Congress passed a bill forbidding torture and the President signed it, he added a "signing statement" implying a right to disregard its provisions when they conflicted with his interpretation of his powers.

The President's secret legal memos justifying the abuses and torture are based on a conception of the powers of the executive that gives him carte blanche to disregard specific statutes as well as international law in the exercise of self-granted powers to the Commander in Chief nowhere mentioned in the Constitution.

If accepted, these claims would fundamentally alter the structure of the American government, upsetting the system of checks and balances and nullifying fundamental liberties, including Fourth Amendment guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures and guarantees of due process. As such, they embody apparent failures of the President to carry out his oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

link: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060814/schell

27 July 2006

Senior Officials Fear Detainee Abuse Charges

Detainee Abuse Charges Feared

Shield Sought From '96 War Crimes Act
By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 28, 2006; Page A01
An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.

link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/27/AR2006072701908.html

24 July 2006

Torture, Detainee Abuse and Transparency

[July 25 update From Conyersblog.us:

New Revelations About Torture

The Toronto Star is reporting that Jordan has been serving as a hub of torture involving detainees and that the United States has continued with renditions despite having made assurances to the contrary.]

On the subject of the US imprisonment of Iraqi people, I point out these two articles. The first one describes a Human Rights
Watch report, which found that detainee abuse has been much more widespread than the Pentagon and civilian war leaders would like to have us believe.

The second article is from Karen Greenberg via Tomdispatch. This is a well-written, poignant article. It describes the utter lack of transparency (during the current Bush years) regarding official policy and findings on the subject of detainee abuse.

Here are links to the articles with some highlights:
Iraqi detainee abuse widespread: report
Sun Jul 23, 2006 12:47am ET

By Kristin Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraqi detainees were routinely subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions and other forms of abuse by U.S. interrogators, according to a Human Rights Watch report released on Sunday that offers first-hand accounts from three former soldiers.

The U.S.-based watchdog group said its report discredits government arguments casting mistreatment of detainees as the aberrant and unauthorized work of a few personnel.


[if the link is broken, please try a site search using author and/or title.]
Tomgram: Karen Greenberg on Bush's Redacted Reality


The Color of "Transparency" Is Black

By Karen J. Greenberg


Now, a mere two years or so later, I began skimming through the introductory matter and the boldface headings of the Jacoby Report. I stopped first at "Detainee Operations Standard Operating Procedures." Here it would be in black and white -- or so I thought. But, as it happened, I was only half right. Startling amounts of the report were redacted or blacked out. Where there should have been text against white space, there was section after section filled with nothing but solid black blocs. Even some subsection titles were missing. Pure ink. Meant not to be read.

I will be voting the impeachment platform this November.

21 July 2006

An Axe to Grind?

Top-Secret World Loses Blogger

CIA Contractor Is Fired When Internal Post Crosses the Line
By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 21, 2006; Page A15
Christine Axsmith, a software contractor for the CIA, considered her blog a success within the select circle of people who could actually access it.


On July 13, after she posted her views on torture and the Geneva Conventions, her blog was taken down and her security badge was revoked. On Monday, Axsmith was terminated by her employer, BAE Systems, which was helping the CIA test software.
link to original

20 July 2006

HR 635

HR 635:

"Creating a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment." (Link to more information about Conyers' House Resolution 635)

Congressman John Conyers has this to say:

It's no wonder that the Republican party is abandoning the administration's rosy assessment of the occupation of Iraq. But if Republicans in Congress are now willing to question the conduct of the war, I'd like to know if they would be willing to investigate the lead up to the war through a special committee as proposed by H. Res. 635.

link to original

Behind the Iraqi Death Squads

Now, I wonder if this is part of that progress in Iraq that the Bush administration and its cronies in congress, in the war departments and on the networks are always talking about.

The Minister of Civil War

Bayan Jabr, Paul Bremer, and the rise of the Iraqi death squads

Posted on Thursday, July 20, 2006. An excerpt of an article from the most recent issue, available on newsstands now. Originally from Harper's Magazine, August 2006. By Ken Silverstein.

In May 2005, Shiite militia groups in Iraq began depositing corpses into the streets and garbage dumps of Baghdad. The victims, overwhelmingly Sunni, were typically found blindfolded and handcuffed, their corpses showing signs of torture—broken skulls, burn marks, gouged-out eyeballs, electric drill holes; by that October, the death toll attributed to such groups had grown to more than 500. In November, American troops discovered more than 160 beaten, whipped, and starved prisoners—again, mostly Sunni—at a secret detention center run by the country's Interior Ministry. Since then, Shiite militias have become so integrated into the Iraqi government's security apparatus and their work so organized, systematic, and targeted that they are commonly referred to in Iraq (and in the American media) by their proper name: death squads. The death squads, which have expanded their area of operations from the capital across much of the country, are now believed to be responsible for more civilian deaths than the Sunni and foreign insurgents who are the United States' ostensible enemies there. By any reasonable measure, Iraq is in a state of civil war, and some of its most ruthless and lawless combatants are members of the government's own security units.

The rise of the death squads corresponds almost precisely to the April 2005 appointment of Bayan Jabr as interior minister in Iraq's transitional government. The Interior Ministry, which is something like a combined FBI and Department of Homeland Security, controls billions of dollars and more than 100,000 men in police and paramilitary units. Jabr was a former high-ranking member of the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade, the military arm of the fundamentalist Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) that is now the dominant political force in the country. After taking over the Interior Ministry, he quickly purged it of Sunnis, and members of the Badr Brigade were widely incorporated into the ministry's police and paramilitary units.

link to original

18 July 2006

Dissent and Reprisal

When the Palestinian people elected a Hamas government, Israel decided that the Palestinians needed to be punished for making the wrong decision. The Palestinian people weren't happy with what they had, i.e. life restricted to the confines of parcels of land that ultimately are under the control of the state of Israel. After 40 years of often times brutal treatment and punitive measures imposed by the Israeli state, the fact that the Palestinian people decided to make their voices heard in the voting booth was unacceptable to the government of Israel.

When Hamas won, Israel pulled the plug on Palestine, it withdrew aid funds and set up an even stricter embargo on goods passing to and from Palestinian inhabited areas of Israel. Within a short time after the Hamas victory, Palestinian areas began experiencing shortfalls. Paychecks stopped coming through and shortages of food developed. To many, this constriction of the passage of goods and services into Palestine from Israel has been interpreted as a collective punishment (whether or not Israel says it is or isn't.)

I can imagine a day when I go to the polls to register my opinion and dissent. I can even imagine with the hyper-marketing of political campaigns and electronic voting being what they are; finding the candidate of my party - the party of dissent - the winner. Because of this, the powers that be decide that I am not worthy of the receipt of a pay check. I begin to grow hungry. Desperation creeps in and what happens next? The violence being perpetrated against me and my people becomes sufficient to draw a group of people from my community out into an act of retaliation.

It is simple. Take away my bread and I will starve to death. Or I will fight. The choice is mine and all of ours to make. So when a group of Palestinians (allegedly associated with Hamas) abducted Israeli soldiers, it was no surprise, given the duress under which the people have been driven by occupation and embargo.

What happened next was predictable. But the response of the Israeli military has lost all sense of meaning in its monstrous proportion.

We must urge Israel, Lebanon and Palestine; the USA, Iran, Iraq and Syria to join the global human community and take the extra efforts and steps needed to enforce an immediate and peaceful resolution to these conflicts. The people of the USA and Israel, as the nations in power, must take the lead in pushing for an unconditional cease-fire.

“A soldier was abducted in Gaza? All of Gaza will pay.”

Check out Ken Silverstein's article on Israel's recent military activities: link to original (Harper's.org)
And what will all this collective punishment in Lebanon buy Israel? Not much, wrote Henry Siegman, the former president of the American Jewish Congress and Senior Fellow and Director for the U.S./Middle East Project at the Council on Foreign Relations, in an interesting op-ed on the conflict published in the U.K.'s the Guardian. Siegman wrote that Israel's military campaigns in Gaza and Lebanon will not provide protection to its citizens but “may well further undermine their security by destabilizing the wider region,” and that the country's “political and military leaders remain addicted to the notion that, whatever they have a right to do, they have a right to overdo.” Siegman also takes a longer view of history than most of the American media, saying, “No matter how one judges the rights and wrongs of the recent Hamas assaults and Israeli reprisals, in Gaza the fundamental casus belli is Israel's occupation that has now lasted for nearly 40 years.”

12 July 2006

"A Statue to Reason"

Ken Silverstein shares an interview with AbuKhalil, who is a professor of political science as well as a blogger. (Angry Arab News Service) AbuKhalil discusses some of his positions on the situation in the Middle East, specifically regarding Israel and Palestine. This from Harper's.org:

His views, he said, are also incompatible with those espoused by Hamas. “I'm neither a fan of Hamas's ideology nor of its practices,” he told me. “I don't believe it has credible solutions or an ideology that can unite Palestinians in a national struggle to regain their land. That said, in the current crisis I view Hamas as a victim, not a culprit.”

AbuKhalil is suspicious of all religious movements, whether Islamic, Jewish or otherwise. “During the French revolution, the Jacobins wanted to erect a statue to reason in place of a statue to religion,” he said. “That's an attitude that would be useful today, especially with all the religious fervor and fanaticism we are seeing.”
link to original

10 July 2006

Fasting for Peace

Ted Glick says that it is time to bring the troops home. He writes:
Ordinary Iraqis and ordinary Americans and ordinary people everywhere want and deserve food, education, health care and housing. The resources exist for this to happen, but they are being used instead for bombs and guns and to enrich the already obscenely rich corporate elite of the world.

We must end this war, and we must turn this country around, and 2006 must be seen by future historians as the year that this great turning began to happen. It can happen if we all do our part, in whatever ways we can.
Diane Wilson is quoted in his article:
A majority of Americans don't want this war and want the troops to come home. Not because war is too tough or that some folks are lily-livered and want to cut and run, but because this war is based on lies and a lot of tangled agendas clearly having to do with oil.

05 July 2006

Purveyors of Terrorism

The Washington Babylon series over at harpers.org is packed full of insightful commentary about the state of affairs in D.C. The most recent posting deals with the Bush Administration's hawking of the war on terror, and their hawking of Al Quaeda as a legitimate organization of terrorism.

Terrorism is a real threat, but “Al Qaeda” is less of an organization than it is an impulse. And while bin Laden isn't the all-powerful terrorist mastermind he's often portrayed to be, the war in Iraq, Guantanamo, extraordinary renditions, and other Bush Administration brainstorms have ensured that his message is broadcast loud and clear throughout the world."
link to original

04 July 2006

Growing Acidity of Oceans May Kill Corals

The best science available points to the conclusion that carbon dioxide emissions are having an increasingly severe impact on the ocean's chemistry. A pH change of only a tenth of a percent can have drastic and far reaching consequences considering the oceans' constancy of chemistry.

Check out this article from the Washington Post:
Growing Acidity of Oceans May Kill Corals
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 5, 2006; Page A01

The escalating level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making the world's oceans more acidic, government and independent scientists say. They warn that, by the end of the century, the trend could decimate coral reefs and creatures that underpin the sea's food web.

Although scientists and some politicians have just begun to focus on the question of ocean acidification, they describe it as one of the most pressing environmental threats facing Earth.

Putting Their Lives on the Line

Anti-war protestors have joined American military men and women by putting their lives on the line, so long as the Iraq war is ongoing. Demonstrators have pledged to abstain from caloric intake, by partaking in a fast. Some protestors say they will continue to fast until the troops are brought back to the United States.

This type of dedication, on the part of the peace activists, is what will sway popular public opinion away from the insidious lies of the Bush administration. Instead of focusing on the fear based rhetoric, the public will begin to be swayed by the human response that we all have toward those who are suffering.

The American media establishments will not be able to ignore those Peace Activists who are dying on the side walk, in front of the White House. At least, that's the idea.

I'll say it again; it's time to kick Bush, Cheney and Co. out of the White House.