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Another world is not only possible, she's on her way. Maybe many of us won't be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing.
-- Arundhati Roy

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Falluja: A Chronicle of Genocide

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Sorry for the scare (YWA is now
01.14.05 (4:55 am)   [edit]
This is becoming a chore, and I am seriously allergic to chores.

I don't know where YWA will eventually end up, but I'll figure something out.

In case you weren't around last evening, tblog went on the fritz big time. Nobody's posts who uses this host were available; tbloggers thought they'd lost all their work; I went crawling back to blogger. The sad news is there.

Since the tblog administrator seems to be MIA, I wasn't sure anyone would be here to get the site up and running again. And since I had been considering dealing with the annoying problems of blogger again, just to be able to access my archives (tblog suddenly seems to have them filed in an inaccessible black hole somewhere), I figure yesterday's scare is a signal to get out while the getting's good.

Although tblog is much easier on my nerves for blogging, blogger always seems to be available to the reader. I'll keep this account open as a backup. And I'll try to think of this as a good thing, and not a problem. Two homes for YWA - like having a summer home on Cape Cod. Or something.

In the case of future blog problems, the current link to find YWA will be on my website's news page, which I've got to go change to blogger right now.

Apologies and thanks for hanging out with me. It would be more fun in the islands.

Prince Harry redux
01.13.05 (11:34 am)   [edit]
Is he crying out for attention, or what? He couldn't have timed his ignorant, thoughtless party dress any better.

The gaffe comes as Queen Elizabeth is due to host a reception for survivors of the Holocaust on January 27 before representing the nation at the Holocaust Memorial Day National Event, marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.


His prior 'scandals' include allegations of drug use, alcohol abuse and cheating on tests.


Prince Harry is due to train at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst later this year.

And then off to Iraq?

Iraq crumbling
01.13.05 (11:30 am)   [edit]
Minister of State Adnan Janabi, a key aide of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, has resigned to protest being detained and handcuffed by US troops at a checkpoint outside the Green Zone, where government offices and the US embassy are barricaded. It was revealed last week that Janabi was giving envelopes with $100 in them to journalists who covered the press conferences of the Iraqi National Accord, a party mainly made up of ex-Baathists that probably has little popularity in Iraq.
Juan Cole post

Hey, just Armstronging it.

According to the Al Furat newspaper, 53 political parties and organizations as well as 30 individuals have asked their names to be dropped from the election lists in a bid to show their rejection of elections under US occupation.
Xinhuanet article

Two aides to Iraq's top Shi'ite leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani have been killed in separate attacks apparently aimed at inflaming sectarian conflict among Iraqis already divided on whether Jan. 30 polls should go ahead.
Reuters article

Gunmen killed the director of a Baghdad election center Thursday, another in a series of attacks targeting election officials and candidates as the vote set for January 30 approaches.


Also on Thursday, the Democratic Islamic Party announced Iraqi presidential candidate Mithal al-Alousi was targeted for the second time in two weeks.

CNN article

FBI just can't catch a break
01.13.05 (11:22 am)   [edit]
A new FBI computer program designed to help agents share information to ward off terrorist attacks may have to be scrapped, the agency has concluded, forcing a further delay in a four-year, half-billion-dollar overhaul of its antiquated computer system. Since the attacks, Congress has given the FBI a blank check, allocating billions of dollars in additional funding. So far the overhaul has cost $581 million, and the software problems are expected to set off a debate over how well the bureau has been spending those dollars.


The bureau recently commissioned a series of independent studies to determine whether any part of the Virtual Case File software could be salvaged. Any decision to proceed with new software would add tens of millions of dollars to the development costs and render worthless much of a current $170-million contract.

Requests for proposals for new software could be sought this spring, the officials said. The bureau is no longer saying when the project, originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2003, might be finished.


Probably a wise decision.

Apparently the program was also considered by the Justice Department, which deemed it unusable for them as well.

The designer of the program is Science Applications International Corp (whose programs are used by Halliburton and the U.S. Navy), which has gotten a number of government contracts in Iraq, including one to "rebuild Iraq's mass media".

So, the FBI is having problems with the SAIC program, the Justice Department nixed it, and lo and behold, the Defense Department also had some problems with another program SAIC was to develop.

March 25th, 2004

Defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. has agreed to pay $484,500 to settle allegations it violated the False Claims Act when designing a computer system program for the U.S. Department of Defense.


The federal government alleged that SAIC repeatedly misrepresented its progress on the project.


The government also alleged it overpaid for SAIC's services and that SAIC's actions delayed the government's implementation of the system.

Corp Watch article

March 25th, 2004

In a scathing report yesterday, the Pentagon's inspector general sharply criticized contracts issued last year to San Diego's SAIC for reconstruction and humanitarian work in Iraq.


In particular, defense auditors highlighted problems with SAIC's work to create a free and independent Iraqi Media Network, or IMN, that was ostensibly to be modeled on Britain's BBC.

The Defense Contracting Command awarded the $15 million contract to SAIC on March 11, 2003, without an acquisition plan or competitive bidding. By the end of September, however, SAIC's costs under the contract had escalated to $82.3 million.

Sign on San Diego article

Read that last article. There are some real humdingers in it.

I wonder how this company keeps getting contracts.

SAIC has been awarded seven contracts by the Defense Department to provide experts and advisers on development of representative government in Iraq; restore and upgrade the country's broadcast media; and provide a group of Iraqi expatriates to assist coalition officials working in the country. The value of the contracts, which were obtained by the Center for Public Integrity under the Freedom of Information Act, was blacked out in copies provided by the Defense Department. A Pentagon FOIA officer said keeping the information secret "was an appropriate way to avoid substantial competitive harm to the contractor" and was "due to the sensitive nature of the Iraqi contracts."


The Pentagon has steadfastly refused to release any specific information on SAIC's media reconstruction work, which has been dubbed the Iraqi Media Network. What little information that has leaked out about the SAIC effort has come mainly from disgruntled employees and press freedom advocates, who have charged the company has bungled the job badly. One report said SAIC had ordered equipment that was incompatible with existing systems in Iraq. [...] There have also been widespread complaints from press freedom organizations about the SAIC effort, including charges of military censorship and cronyism.


David Kay, the former U.N. weapons inspector who was hired by the CIA to track down weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is a former vice president of SAIC. Kay left SAIC, where he oversaw homeland security and counterterrorism work, in October 2002.

Christopher "Ryan" Henry left a senior position at SAIC in February 2003 to become principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for policy.


Executive vice president for Federal Business and director Duane P. Andrews served as assistant secretary of Defense from 1989 to 1993, when he joined SAIC.

There are more.

The Associated Press describes Science Applications International Inc. (SAIC) as "the most influential company most people have never heard of." The Asia Times calls it "the most mysterious and feared of the big 10 defense giants."


SAIC might best be described as "the-company-of-what's-happening-now" in defense and intelligence. If it's important and it's happening, it's likely that SAIC has piece of the action. The company's ranks overflow with former or retired government person, many from the military and intelligence agencies. Much of SAIC's work is highly classified.

At any given point in time, SAIC's board of directors represents a Who's Who of former military and intelligence officials.


Long before the shooting began SAIC was already at work on Iraq.


[William] Owens also served as president, chief operating officer and vice chair of SAIC. And, Owens is a member of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's internal think-tank, the Defense Policy Board.

Veterans for Peace article (10/03)

SAIC is also a sub-contractor under Vinnell Corporation, another big defence contractor that has long been in charge of training for the Saudi National Guard, hired to reconstitute and train a new Iraqi army.
Peace Redding article

SAIC is also somehow involved in the electronic voting business.

"The American vote count is controlled by three major corporate players, Diebold, ESS, and Sequoia. There's a fourth, SAIC, Science Applications International Corporation, coming on strong. These companies, all four of them, are hard-wired into the Bush power structure and they have been given God knows how many millions of dollars by the Bush regime to complete a sweeping computerization of voting machines that were just used in the 2004 election.
Ratical article

Four main corporate entities are responsible for the proliferation and implementation of this "black box" voting technology: Diebold, ESS, Sequoia, and Science Applications International (SAIC). These ostensibly competitive businesses interconnect with one another and with major corporate sponsors, especially the famed Carlyle Group, of the Bush administration. Their people are his people, so to speak. And vice versa.
ReasonToFreedom article

SAIC was hired to investigate the reliability of Diebold machinery in Maryland.

Aviel Rubin, a professor at Johns Hopkins University's Information Security Institute, was asked to review the Diebold code accessible on the company's website and used by its machines. Rubin and his colleagues found numerous security issues with the code, including the use of a consumer version of Microsoft Access as the database in which votes were stored, a product that has few security measures. The report, which garnered front page news in a number of newspapers, was released only days after Maryland had purchased 11,000 Diebold DRE machines at a price of $55.6 million. Maryland then had the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) review Rubin's findings. SAIC verified Rubin's concerns, reporting that they had "identified several high risk vulnerabilities of the managerial, operational, and technical controls for [Diebold's] AccuVote-TS voting system." The SAIC report continued, "If these vulnerabilities are exploited, significant impact could occur on the accuracy, integrity, and availability of election results."
Couples Company article

I don't know if there's a competition thing going on there, or if there is anything at all untoward in it. A number of articles on the electronic voting fiasco hint that SAIC is involved in some shady way (and given what else we know, I guess that's a pretty safe bet).

It is something to be looked into. But not by me. In the immortal words of the Senate panel on new torture restrictions: too complex.

Congressional weenies wimp out again
01.13.05 (10:16 am)   [edit]
At the urging of the White House, Congressional leaders scrapped a legislative measure last month that would have imposed new restrictions on the use of extreme interrogation measures by American intelligence officers, Congressional officials say.


The Senate had approved the new restrictions, by a 96-to-2 vote, as part of the intelligence reform legislation. They would have explicitly extended to intelligence officers a prohibition against torture or inhumane treatment, and would have required the C.I.A. as well as the Pentagon to report to Congress about the methods they were using.

But in intense closed-door negotiations, Congressional officials said, four senior members from the House and Senate deleted the restrictions from the final bill after the White House expressed opposition.


In interviews on Wednesday, both Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican negotiator, and Representative Jane Harman of California, a Democratic negotiator, said the lawmakers had ultimately decided that the question of whether to extend the restrictions to intelligence officers was too complex to be included in the legislation.


In addition to Ms. Collins and Ms. Harman, the lawmakers in the conference committee negotiations were Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, and Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan.

NY Times article

Yeah. Way to go, Senators. Too complex.

Goofball Lieberman was even one of two Senators who introduced the new restrictions in the first place.

Laugh or cry.

Defying Pentagon orders
01.13.05 (10:00 am)   [edit]
A US National Guard unit has defied a Pentagon request that sought to stop television news crews filming six flag-draped soldiers' coffins arriving in Louisiana.

The Pentagon has barred US media from filming the coffins of US service members arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

But the Louisiana National Guard allowed a CBS news crew on Wednesday to film the arrival of six soldiers' coffins at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, near New Orleans, Louisiana.


The six soldiers, who had served in the Louisiana National Guard, all died last Thursday after their armoured vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Baghdad.


Despite the Pentagon request, Lieutenant-Colonel Pete Schneider, a spokesman for the Louisiana National Guard told CBS: "What we thought was, we're going to do what the family asked us to do."

Aljazeera article

This is not the Army Rumsfiend wishes he had, I'm sure.

Armstrong, Armstrong, Armstrong
01.13.05 (9:56 am)   [edit]
I'm afraid Mr. Ho Williams is going to get all the nasty attention, and the pimps are going to skate free. As always.
What gives a delicious twist to the story is that it exposes Williams, a black conservative, as a homophobic sexual hypocrite and closet case who didn't practice what he was preaching. Williams was trotted out on CNN and other cable nets repeatedly last year during the gay marriage controversy to trash those who argued that marriage equality for same-sex lovers was a "civil right," an argument which Williams' pigmentation--in the eyes of TV news producers--gave him standing to make. As originally reported by New York magazine back in 1998:

"Armstrong Williams, the conservative talk-show host who instigated a firestorm last week by asking the senator from Mississippi whether homosexuality is a sin, is being sued for sexual harassment by a former employee who happens to be male. Last year, Stephen Gregory -- the former YMCA personal trainer whom Williams promoted to executive producer of his show -- alleged in his suit that the boss grabbed his buttocks and penis, tried to kiss him, and climbed into his hotel-room bed asking for "affection" while they were traveling together. Williams immediately held a press conference to denounce Gregory's allegations as "false, baseless, and completely without merit."

After the man who was suing him produced affidavits from other men on whom Williams had pressed his unwanted attentions, Williams was forced to admit his denial was a lie, and settled the lawsuit--which alleged 50 seperate incidents of rejected physical advances--for $200,000.
Direland post

But, let's not lose sight of the other part of this current equation.

"Perhaps the most fascinating Williams TV appearance took place in December 2003, the same month that he was first contracted by the government to receive his payoffs. At a time when no one in television news could get an interview with Dick Cheney, Mr. Williams, of all 'journalists,' was rewarded with an extended sit-down with the vice president for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a nationwide owner of local stations affiliated with all the major networks. In that chat, Mr. Cheney criticized the press for its coverage of Halliburton and denounced 'cheap shot journalism' in which 'the press portray themselves as objective observers of the passing scene, when they obviously are not objective.'

"This is a scenario out of 'The Manchurian Candidate.' Here we find Mr. Cheney criticizing the press for a sin his own government was at that same moment signing up Mr. Williams to commit.

This administration excels at that.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The waiting is over
01.13.05 (8:56 am)   [edit]
When I originally posted on the Armstrong Williams scandal, I wrote that I couldn't wait to see what The Black Commentator had to say.

Speaking of tort reform
01.13.05 (5:48 am)   [edit]
Business lobbyists and their political allies have created a perception that America’s legal system has run amok. They point the finger at consumer and patient lawsuits, which they imply are concocted by “greedy trial lawyers.” They argue that lawsuits have detrimental effects on society and the economy, and effectively suggest that people should turn the other cheek when their rights are violated. President Bush and Vice President Cheney mimic these erroneous claims and make attacks on the legal system a central part of their campaign stump speeches. “See, everybody is getting sued,” says the President, and the lawsuits are “junk and frivolous.”

But Public Citizen’s examination of public records finds that for the most part it is businesses rather than consumers and their lawyers doing the suing, and that businesses are far more often guilty of filing frivolous pleadings than the trial lawyers they demonize.

· Businesses file about four times as many lawsuits as individuals represented by trial lawyers.


· Businesses are far more likely than individual tort plaintiffs to be sanctioned for frivolous litigation.


Oddly enough, Vice President Cheney, who frequently attacks lawyers in his speeches, typifies the hardball litigation stance of corporate America. During Cheney’s five- year tenure as its CEO,the Halliburton corporation filed over 150 lawsuits, seeking money from othercorporations,individuals, and insurance companies.

Frequent Filers: Corporate Hypocrisy in Accessing the Courts (pdf)

Well, what a surprise.

(Thanks to TJ for the snag.) we go, Iran
01.13.05 (5:06 am)   [edit]
UN inspectors are preparing to visit an Iranian military base that Washington says may be part of a covert atomic arms effort.

However, the inspectors will have only partial access to the site, a senior Iranian official said on Thursday.
Aljazeera article

Inauguration events
01.13.05 (5:03 am)   [edit]
From an email from Impeach Bush:

George W. Bush and his administration have been doing everything in their power to “sanitize” Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20th by trying to banish thousands of people holding Impeach Bush signs and banners. But they have not succeeded.

Not only will ImpeachBush members cover the parade route, but we will have the opportunity to sit in bleachers prominently arranged at 4th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. NW. We are joining with the antiwar movement, which has obtained a permit to build bleachers and hold a mass rally along the Inaugural route at 4th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. NW. This is the first time in Inaugural history that the antiwar movement has secured access to build bleachers along the parade route.

George W. Bush and the presidential motorcade will have to drive right in front of the bleachers and mass rally. Military family members whose loved ones are in Iraq, members of the Arab-American and Muslim communities, and people from all walks of life will hold signs reading “Bush Lied: Thousands Died,” “Impeach Bush,” “Save the Bill of Rights,” among other slogans.

Hm. I wonder.

Buses and car caravans are coming from more than fifty cities. People are flying from the West Coast to join us at 4th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. Volunteers are making signs, posters, handing out leaflets, answering phones and doing the one hundred and one other tasks to make this an effective mobilization.

If you are unable to come to Washington DC but want to help by making a much-needed contribution, we are in urgent needs of funds to cover the many costs. We have grown stronger only because of the continued generosity and commitment of ImpeachBush/ members.

Oh, those wacky Brits
01.13.05 (4:47 am)   [edit]
Our famous son can't take all the bad press here at YWA.

Prince Harry apologized Wednesday night after a tabloid newspaper printed a picture of him wearing a Nazi soldier's uniform to a costume party.

Early editions of Thursday's issue of "The Sun," showed Prince Harry - the second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana - clutching a cigarette and a drink and wearing a swastika armband.

Asked to comment on the photo, the 20-year-old prince issued a statement saying he is "very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone... It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize."

The Queen's former assistant press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, said he was "astounded" to hear that "a member of the Royal Family, albeit a young member of the Royal Family, can be so incredibly stupid, given that he has had a first class education."
CBS article

Must be the poor breeding then.

Heil Harry: prince goose-steps out of line

Maybe another famous British son is doing better...

The son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pleaded guilty on Thursday to a role in a foiled mercenary plot in west Africa under a plea bargain to avoid prison.


Thatcher, who has lived for the past eight years in South Africa, was arrested in Cape Town last Aug. 25 on charges of funding a foiled coup in Equatorial Guinea.


The Cape High Court agreed to a deal for Mark Thatcher to pay a fine of 3 million rand ($500,000) or face five years in jail in South Africa, in addition to a further 4-year prison sentence suspended for five years.

Prosecutors said Thatcher was free to leave South Africa.

"There is no price too high for me to pay to be reunited with my family and I am sure all of you who are husbands and fathers would agree with that," Thatcher said on the steps of the court after the hearing.

A mocking banner strung from the third storey of an office block opposite the courthouse read "Save me mummy." It was not clear who placed it. On the steps outside the court one man chanted "Shame on you, shame on you."

Thatcher also agreed to assist South African investigations into the plot against the government of Equatorial Guinea, a tiny country flush with newly-found oil wealth.

Reuters article

Punk and stoolie.

The plea bargain drew an angry reaction from the youth wing of South Africa's ruling African National Congress.

"This is indeed an abomination and miscarriage of justice," a league statement said, adding that Thatcher had got away with "nothing more than a slap in the wrist."

And he didn't even have to apologize.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Judge Roy Bean gets a new life
01.13.05 (4:29 am)   [edit]
The Supreme Court transformed federal criminal sentencing on Wednesday by restoring to judges much of the discretion that Congress took away nearly 20 years ago when it enacted sentencing guidelines and told judges to follow them.

The guidelines, intended to make sentences more uniform, should be treated as merely advisory to cure a constitutional deficiency in the system, the court held in an unusual two-part decision produced by two coalitions of justices.


From now on, Breyer said, writing for the majority in this portion of the decision, judges must consult the guidelines and "take them into account" in imposing sentences. But at the end of the day the guidelines will be advisory only, with sentences to be reviewed on appeal for "reasonableness."


I can only imagine the litigation over what is "reasonable". Maybe it's time to get that law degree. There should be plenty of work.

And I would expect that it will redirect some drug transport, as traffickers avoid states where judges hand out harsher sentences.

Let's see...what other types of activities will it affect?

Houston, we have a problem
01.12.05 (1:44 pm)   [edit]
Bush administration hard-liners have been considering launching selected military strikes at insurgent training camps in Syria and border-crossing points used by Islamist guerrillas to enter Iraq in an effort to bolster security for the upcoming elections, according to former and current administration officials.

Some former and serving U.S. intelligence officials who have usually been opposed to any expansion of U.S. military activities in the region are expressing support for such strikes.

Information Clearinghouse article

Perhaps that's more to do with another reason....

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will travel to Russia on January 24 for talks with President Vladimir Putin, sources said, amid reports that he is shopping for a missile that can strike anywhere in Israel.
Turkish Press article

One former senior CIA official, usually an administration critic, said, "We should send a cruise missile into south-side Damascus and blow the Mukharbarat headquarters off the map. We should first make clear to them that they are the target."

But are the hawks likely to get their strikes?

Former CIA Syria expert, Martha Kessler doesn't think so. "I don't think the administration can afford to destabilize another country in the region," she said.

Kessler pointed out that Syria has tried, often in vain, to cooperate with the United States, only to be either snubbed or ignored.

According to Kesssler, Syria offered to station U.S. forces on its soil before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The Syrians have also opened their intelligence books that identify assets in Europe, including front companies, to the administration in an attempt to help track down al-Qaida.

But Kessler said a chief reason for not moving against Damascus is that any strikes would "destabilize Lebanon," where the Lebanese Hezbollah movement awaits orders from Iran before launching retaliations against Israeli attacks.

"Damascus is not the heartbeat of this Iraqi insurgent movement," she said.

However, one administration official said, "We have got one hell of a problem."
Information Clearinghouse article

Oh, we do, indeed.

Call for investigation of alleged violations of law in Fallujah attack
01.12.05 (1:13 pm)   [edit]
To prevent more harm, we should support: 1) a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Fallujah, allowing unrestricted access for independent relief agencies such as the Red Crescent; 2) an independent investigation into violations of international law in Fallujah, as called for by Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Nov. 16; and 3) a campaign to deny any further supplemental budget requests that may, in fact, fund war crimes.

Join us in working to make respect for individual and collective rights, as expressed in international law and the U.S. Constitution, a central theme of our community's relations with the rest of the world.

Jim McDermott, M.D., represents the 7th District in Congress. Richard Rapport, M.D., is in the neurological surgery department at Group Health. Other authors are 17 area doctors and medical professionals.
  Seattle Post-Intelligencer article

As you might imagine, Congressman McDermott is regularly charged with being a "traitor". Check out some of his other stands and maybe send him a supportive message.

To: Allies for Humanitarian Legal Action for Iraq
Please see Embargoed Press Statement, Petition, with Title page ADD. on Attachment.

Thank you for any help or advise to support this legal action to stop the massacre and breeches of Geneva Conventions in Falluja and elsewhere in Iraq. This petition, a legal complaint, is the beginning, emergency needed action. The hospital and medical aide petition is first emergency need and includes possible exposure to 'DU' weapons used on hospital and clinic bombing. The petition will also include soldiers who are suffering irreparable harm under order to commit these violations.

Los Angeles-based Humanitarian Law Project/International Educational Development (HLP/IED and San Francisco-based Association of Humanitarian Lawyers (AHL), who filed petition have solid evidence, including photos, of breeches of International Law that govern members of The Organization of American States, of which USA is a member.

Karen Parker JD, attorney for petitioners is the Humanitarian Lawyer who successfully sued the USA on behalf of the people of Grenada. She is the foremost International Legal Expert on Weaponry and Humanitarian law.

We believe this is the right action to take that can halt these atrocities and war crimes in Iraq.

Final Press Release Wording Attached and Letterhead which will be added for press copy.


We request our Trusted Congressional Representatives support to speak out to stop U.S. War Crimes and that Jay Inslee and Dennis Kucinich will be prepared to speak out. Congressman Jim McDermott's office is standing by to help.

There will be financial help needed for legal work. Emergency Filing expense was $5,000. paid out of AHL that was saved for 'DU' Petition. The 'DU' Petition will be $10,000. to file, should you know of any resources, emergency grants, etc., for help to aide needed legal actions.


Petition submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

God's appointee
01.12.05 (12:38 pm)   [edit]
I can tell you one reason why BubbleHead has to talk about his relationship with God so much...kings are God's representatives on earth.

"I fully understand that the job of the president is and must always be protecting the great right of people to worship or not worship as they see fit," Bush said.

"That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban. The greatest freedom we have or one of the greatest freedoms is the right to worship the way you see fit.

"On the other hand, I don't see how you can be president at least from my perspective, how you can be president, without a relationship with the Lord."
WaPo article

Well, then Bubbleboy, I don't think you do understand your job. Because, that would seem to say that anyone who didn't believe in "the Lord" could not be president of this country.

We can not worship, if we see fit. But we have to believe.

Bush has often said that he is a religious man who supports freedom of religion, but yesterday may be the first time he has so clearly suggested in his use of words that he harbors the feeling that these two principles are to some degree in conflict.

You don't use the "other hand" construction for two concepts that complement each other. And his suggestion that someone is not qualified to be president unless they are religious is sure to spark some further discussion.

Just did. Or, I guess, my blogoranting can't really be considered discussion. Anybody want to discuss?

"I think people attack me because they are fearful that I will then say that you're not equally as patriotic if you're not a religious person," Bush said. "I've never said that. I've never acted like that. I think that's just the way it is."

Say what?

Well, DoubleDumb, you've said it now, then, haven't you?

Bush also notes that he has the power of "the bully pulpit, which I use and like using, frankly."

We hadn't noticed.

Go on, admit all your character flaws.

Most of the time, Bush is not particularly forthcoming when he meets with reporters, preferring to take a defensive course in which he relies heavily on statements recycled from prepared scripts.

But it appears that he's a little more relaxed and loquacious when he talks to the Washington Times, the newspaper widely considered conservative in outlook and founded in 1982 by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a self-proclaimed messiah.

Self-proclaimed messiah and buddy to Poppy Bush.

ABC News's Note reports that Bush's next interview comes this afternoon, when he and the first lady sit down with Barbara Walters. It's Bush's first broadcast interview since the election, and will be on ABC's "20/20" on Friday.

I'm sorry I'm going to have to leave the watching of that to those with stronger stomachs.

...but hey, you do what you will anyway.

Further on Sgt. Benderman
01.12.05 (12:17 pm)   [edit]
Background in previous post.

January 12, 2005

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- A Fort Stewart veteran of the 2003 invasion of Iraq refused to deploy for a second combat tour days after telling commanders he was seeking conscientious objector status.


Lt. Col. Cliff Kent, a Fort Stewart spokesman, said Benderman is considered absent without leave because he had orders to deploy to Iraq while the Army processed his conscientious objector claim. Kent says the Army has not decided whether to bring charges against Benderman.

News4Jax article

January 11, 2005

On Friday, January 7, 2005 Sergeant Kevin Benderman, stationed with the 2-7 Infantry Battalion at Ft. Stewart, Georgia, refused an order from the Command Sergeant Major of his unit Samuel Coston to deploy to Iraq and requested a General Courts-Martial.


The 2-7 Chaplain, Captain Matt Temple in a letter addressed to Benderman today stated that: "It is unfortunate that you have chosen the course of action you have taken. You should have had the moral fortitude to deploy with us and see me here in Kuwait to begin your CO application. To expect me to complete an interview with you within 48 hours of a major deployment was unreasonable and quite inconsiderate of my own time. I would have gladly helped you once we got here. As an NCO in the US ARMY, I expected a greater display of maturity from you. Furthermore, for you to have media personnel contacting me at my personal email address without first acquiring my permission was very unprofessional of you. You should be ashamed of the way you have conducted yourself. I certainly am ashamed of you. I hope you will see your misconduct as an opportunity to upgrade your character and moral behavior for your own good and the good of your fellowman." Benderman said the letter disgusted him, stating "Nothing in my career as a professional soldier has prepared me to respond to something like that letter from the Chaplain."


Benderman has also garnered the support of an American icon and war hero, Colonel James "Bo" Gritz, USA (Ret.), who profiled Benderman for three days running on his radio show "Freedom Call". Gritz has labeled previous charges by the Army in connection with Benderman’s refusal to deploy and statements to the press "ridiculous," savaging the officers of 2-7, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush on the air while calling Benderman "a hero" and his immediate superiors "weenies." One of the most decorated soldiers in U.S. Army history, Gritz led the only raid on a prisoner of war camp during the Vietnam War at Son Tay, North Vietnam.

On Monday afternoon, Benderman says he is still in the dark as to what the Army plans for him. "I have learned nothing from anyone in my chain of command informing me on the disposition of my case, despite my attempts to communicate with them. Perhaps tomorrow," he said.


In further developments this weekend, it has been confirmed that Specialist J.R. Burt and Specialist David Beals, also of 2-7 attempted suicide rather than deploy to Iraq, and an additional seventeen soldiers in 2-7 Infantry Battalion have gone AWOL for the same reason. Army sources who have been granted anonymity because they feared retaliation stated that both Burt and Beals are being harassed and mistreated on the Psychiatric Ward of Winn Army Hospital by unit commanders and a civilian, Dr. Capp who in apparent violation of state law is reported as informing them of the harsh punishments they may expect should they refuse deployment. In addition, SFC Johnson, 2-7 platoon sergeant for Spec. Beals reportedly told him recently "…when I get you to Iraq, I’m going to get you killed," in the presence of several witnesses who say this incident was a catalyst in Beals’ attempted suicide.

Axis of Logic article

More personal information, as well as Sgt. Benderman's statements and a message from his wife are available through links in the sidebar at Project for the Old American Century. (Scroll down to "Voice from the Military".)

Deep pockets
01.12.05 (11:58 am)   [edit]
Michael Georgy of the Scotsman reports from Baghdad that interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi admitted on Tuesday that "pockets" of Iraq won't be able to vote on January 30 because of poor security. I suspect the pockets amount to about 3 million persons.


Jordan's ambassador to the US, Karim Kawar, is among the few officials in the region or in Washington to admit the truth: The January 30 elections in Iraq have no real validity. He estiamtes that 40% of the country won't be able to vote.

An election in which the names of the candidates in the various lists are still not known 18 days before the polls open is a sick joke, not an election. What could it possibly mean, to vote for anonymous politicians?

  Juan Cole post

We know about sick jokes passing for elections.

And hey, there were a number of Americans who claimed to be willing to vote for an anonymous politician rather than for Bush.

It's kind of interesting that the candidates are anonymous to avoid being killed by the guerillas. So, do they think the guerillas will leave them be once they have an office?

The elections are like all the other Wizard of Oz spectacles put on by the Bush administration in Iraq since April 9, 2003 -- the appointment of Garner, the appointment of Bremer, the appointment of an Interim Governing Council, the capture of Saddam, the "transition to sovereignty," etc., etc. Each of these was supposed to be some magical turning point and the beginning of sunshine and rainbows, and instead the situation has deteriorated every single month for the past nearly two years.

POAC graphic

01.12.05 (11:47 am)   [edit]
I think that I’ve discovered a previously undisclosed National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) relating to nuclear weapons.

Moreover, I worry that it lays the groundwork to build new nuclear weapons and resume nuclear testing.

The source? National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) Policy Planning Director John Harvey’s biography! Prepared for a recent CISAC conference, Harvey’s biography lists his role as “point for NNSA … on the drafting and implementation of National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD)-28 on Nuclear Weapons Command, Control, Safety, and Security.”

I’ve never seen another reference to NSPD 28. Steven Aftergood doesn’t have it on his comprehensive list of NSPDs. [He just put it up, with a very generous link to ACW.]

The directive must have been signed sometime between June 2003-April 2004. That would exclude the classified stockpile plan reduction plan which, again according to John Harvey, was signed in May 2004.

So, what’s in it?

Continue reading NSPD 28 at Arms Control Wonk.

I'm assuming it would be something directing the development and testing of "mini nukes".

No Pundit Left Behind
01.12.05 (11:30 am)   [edit]
If anyone is interested in ferreting out other Armstrong Williamses whom the WH is pimping, please see this post at Daily Kos.

Pass it on.

Social Insecurity
01.12.05 (10:50 am)   [edit]
I keep avoiding the subject. If you want someone who is fixated on it and will answer pretty much any conceivable question you have, I hope you are reading Talking Points Memo. Or Jonathan Schwartz provides a number of links to explanations.

I'll take up the issue of what "young people" think about the SS fiasco for a short post here, though, because I've just read a couple of posts on the subject from those two sources. The first is from Josh Marshall at TPM:

Do reporters respond when the president tells flagrant lies?

(No, it's not a trick question.)

Today the president said: "Most younger people in America think they'll never see a dime [from Social Security]. Probably an exaggeration to a certain extent. But a lot of people who are young, who understand how Social Security works, really do wonder whether they'll see anything."


So here, for instance, he states that young people think they'll never collect Social Security benefits. Then he says that's "probably an exaggeration to a certain extent." And then he goes on to say that it's precisely the young people who are knowledgable about Social Security who think this. The clear implication, the meaning he intends to convey, is that this dire prediction is at least more true than not, when in fact, as we've noted, to the extent we can know anything about the future, it's not even close to being true.

The other is from Jonathan Schwartz at A Tiny Revolution:

In any discussion about Social Security, you constantly hear about a 1995 poll finding that more 18-34 year-olds believed in UFOs than believed Social Security would exist when they retired. This is always brandished as proof that we have to do something about Social Security.

I agree completely -- the ultimate arbiter of all public policy must be what 18-34 year-olds believe.


We must immediately start preparing our defenses against UFO attack!!!!!


Dude, relax. I'm sure it's in our Star Wars plan somewhere.

In the Bush dictionary
01.12.05 (9:59 am)   [edit]
ac·count·able : adj. due for a promotion

Stop me if you've heard this one: a high-ranking Bush administration official makes a tragic mistake, gets caught, and finds himself promoted. The latest example is Robert Joseph.
  Carpetbagger article

Bush Dynasty
01.12.05 (9:49 am)   [edit]
There’s a personal risk, too, for Bush if he picks the “Salvador option.” He could become an American version of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet or Guatemala’s Efrain Rios Montt, leaders who turned loose their security forces to commit assassinations, “disappear” opponents and torture captives.

Like the policy that George W. Bush is now considering, Pinochet even sponsored his own international “death squad” – known as Operation Condor – that hunted down political opponents around the world. One of those attacks in September 1976 blew up a car carrying Chilean dissident Orlando Letelier as he drove through Washington D.C. with two American associates. Letelier and co-worker Ronni Moffitt were killed.

With the help of American friends in high places, the two former dictators have fended off prison until now. However, Pinochet and Rios Montt have become pariahs who are facing legal proceedings aimed at finally holding them accountable for their atrocities. [For more on George H.W. Bush’s protection of Pinochet, see Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

One way for George W. Bush to avert that kind of trouble is to make sure his political allies remain in power even after his second term ends in January 2009. In his case, that might be achievable by promoting his brother Jeb for president in 2008, thus guaranteeing that any incriminating documents stay under wraps.

President George W. Bush’s dispatching Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to inspect the tsunami damage in Asia started political speculation that one of the reasons was to burnish Jeb’s international credentials in a setting where his personal empathy would be on display.
  Consortium News article


The Armstrong Williams WH payola story
01.12.05 (9:40 am)   [edit]
This isn't just a story about a self-serving pundit "entrepreneur," or the erosion of public trust in the media, or hypocrisy, or using covert propaganda to sell controversial Bush programs like Medicare reform and NCLB, or the misuse of taxpayer dollars, or the undermining of the American people's trust in the public sector.

It is the story of the conservative movement and its well-oiled marketing machine; a packaging and distribution system of ideas that has been shaping American public opinion for more than a quarter century. It is also one of the most important stories behind the 2004 election.


While the leaders of the conservative movement like to boast that the power of their movement lies in the power of its ideas, the ideas of today's conservative movement are the same old failed policies from years gone by, spit-shined and with user-friendly names. The power of the conservative movement is not in its ideas, rather it is in the marketing of these ideas, primarily through effective packaging, promotion and distribution.

Read: The Conservative Marketing Machine

For all the truth in this and other articles about "the left" needing to get good and slick in the advertising department in order to reach the other half of America, I don't think I'd like living in that version, either. A country where people are willing to remain ignorant and be manipulated by slick promos and feel-good slogans? Where the "ideas" don't count - just the packaging? No thanks. I'm looking for a place where people want to understand what's really happening to them and to the rest of the world in their name.

Off topic
01.12.05 (9:06 am)   [edit]
Why didn't they have these when I was a kid? I would have known what to get mom for Christmas. Only $5.

(Found the links at Jesus' General. Where else?)