Posted by: quiscus | January 23, 2009

January 23, 2009

1.  “Of all the horrible things done by America over the last 8 years, nothing was more shameful than the formalization, the normalization, of torture.

It was the 2004 election which sealed the shame, for America knew, Americans knew, indeed all the world knew that torture had happened.  Was happening.  Would continue to happen if George Bush was reelected.  I still don’t know what Americans thought that election was about, but to many of us from outside it was about whether Americans were the sort of people who would elect George Bush once he had shown them his soul.
America then showed its soul to the world, and it was hard not turn aside in contempt and disgust.  Hard to look at what the shining city on the hill, the nation which stood against both Nazism and the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union, had become.  In pain, in anger, led by a man who looked into the eyes of Putin, a mass murderer, and liked what he saw, Americans had given up their souls.
Sadly, like all those who sell their souls to the devil, Americans did not receive what they paid for.  Bush made America weaker and terrorists stronger.  He did exactly what bin Laden had wanted, indeed he did more than bin Laden could have ever dreamed.  The response to 9/11, of unjustified war, of torture and hatred, had destroyed America’s soul.  And once the soul was gone, the body followed, rotting slowly from within, a slow decline visible in every sphere of public life, from economic decline based on untrammeled greed, celebrated as a virtue rather than the weakness and sin it is, to the complete destruction of any pretense of a viable press, capable of telling truth from lies.
It is also true that when one has done something truly shamefully wrong, something so far beyond the bounds of humane behaviour that it is the very definition of evil, as is the case with torture, that redemption requires more than simply putting an end to it.
Redemption requires a sincere apology. It requires sincere and meaningful reparations.  And it requires a willingness to take some risks in setting things right.Many of the men tortured by America now hate America.  As America has sown hatred, so it may reap.  Some of them, if let go, may well be dangerous to America.  But America cannot walk down the path of “thought crimes” or “future crime” and say “I have hurt you so badly that you may lash out in vengeance, so I must wrong you further by keeping you imprisoned”.  If, in fair trials, these men are found innocent, or to have already served their time for any crimes, they must be let go.  And if that leads to more evil in the future, let it not be the evil of America failing to live up to its own principles, its own ideals of justice.  Let it not be said that in having done evil to men, America then felt it must continue to do evil.

http://firedoglake.com/2009/01/22/obama-offers-america-a-chance-at-redemption/

2.  “NSA spied on everyone, targeted journalists

Former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice, who helped expose the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping in December 2005, has now come forward with even more startling allegations. Tice told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Wednesday that the programs that spied on Americans were not only much broader than previously acknowledged but specifically targeted journalists.

“The National Security Agency had access to all Americans’ communications — faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications,” Tice claimed. “It didn’t matter whether you were in Kansas, in the middle of the country, and you never made foreign communications at all. They monitored all communications.”

On the NSA’s website, they talk about their “core values” in their mission statement. It goes as follows: “We will protect national security interests by adhering to the highest standards of behavior: Lawfulness, Honesty, Integrity, Fairness, Accountability, Loyalty, Collaboration, Innovation, and Learning”. Yikes. Scratch the first 5 for starters….

How about we add the following for a little reality check: Trashing the Bill of Rights, Deception, Duplicity, Hypocrisy, Unpoliceability, Criminality, Promotion of anti-American ideologies, ….. and how about we add “TERRORIZING those who promote fundamentals of a free society, such as the unfettered dissemination of information by journalists and media people”?

The NSA, as a government agency, is supposed to abide by the US Constitution (rather than hack it apart). Because they enjoy the privilege of little or zero effective oversight, the people at the head of this agency determining policy and methods have to be 100% trustworthy. Obviously, the current batch falls light-years shy of this lofty expectation, succumbing to what Lord Acton (and others) summed up decades ago: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”


Also, by filling their databases with billions of terabytes of useless garbage, clogging up realtime and offline processing, generating millions of man-hours of unnecessary archival tasking, they are severely hampering their own efforts in collecting useful intelligence regarding those rare parties who might be an actual threat to our national security. A little reality check for the NSA, if they are doing their peeping tom act in here: *We the people are not the enemy. We are America*.

Well done, Russell Tice. You are a hero and an American Patriot amongst shills for Orwellianism and fascism. History will remember you kindly.

http://www.911blogger.com/node/19170

3.  “The liberals have, in large part, made a grand bargain with the Obama administration: close Guantanamo, end torture, and we’ll close our eyes to the widening of the Afghan war and the extension of American military assets throughout Central Asia. Of course, there are already a number of American bases in the ‘stans: expect these to be ramped up and multiplied – along with the problems this will cause with the Russians. There’s another villain we can add in the mix – one ready made to appeal to the liberal sensibility, which is, these days, reflexively anti-Russian.

On the other hand, one positive aspect of this disastrous turn of events is that a lot of liberals and Obama supporters are going to start asking questions – and, like Rachel, they aren’t going to get satisfactory answers from the Claire McCaskills of this world.

http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=14117

4.  “Intelligence Nominee Won’t Say if Waterboarding Is Torture

President Barack Obama’s nominee as director of national intelligence declined to say Thursday whether waterboarding is torture, marking a fissure with attorney general nominee Eric Holder, who said that it is.

“I’m hesitating to set a standard here which will put in jeopardy some of the dedicated intelligence officers who checked to see that what they were doing was legal and then did what they were told to do,” said Dennis C. Blair, nominated for the intelligence post, at his Senate confirmation hearing. He did declare, however, that “there will be no waterboarding on my watch. There will be no torture on my watch.”

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a member of the intelligence panel that held the hearing, said Mr. Blair’s answer was “troubling” in comparison to Mr. Holder’s clear statement last week.


http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB123265536260807233-lMyQjAxMDI5MzIyMjYyNTI1Wj.html

5.  “Leon Panetta, President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the CIA, has been publicly critical of the Bush administration for permitting terrorists to be waterboarded, a simulated drowning tactic. But, as The Washington Times’ Eli Lake reported last week, during Mr. Panetta’s tenure as White House chief of staff in the mid-1990s the Clinton administration accelerated a practice known as “extraordinary renditions” – kidnapping terror suspects and sending them without formal judicial proceedings to third countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia that have far less than a stellar human-rights record.

When Mr. Panetta’s confirmation hearings begin Jan. 27, he should be asked to explain his own involvement in implementing these policies during the Clinton years. There is no way to get around the fact that Clinton administration policies implemented on Mr. Panetta’s watch probably helped facilitate the transfer of terror suspects to the custody of foreign governments with human-rights records far worse than that of the United States.

http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/21/panettas-hypocrisy/

6.  This stinks:

Many Bush Officials Held Over at DHS

Wary of being caught short-handed in case of a domestic crisis, the Obama administration has asked nearly two dozen Bush administration officials in the Department of Homeland Security to stay in their jobs until successors can be named.

The attempt at continuity is unusual in presidential transitions between parties, which typically lead to wholesale purging of politically appointed personnel.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/22/AR2009012203770_pf.html

7.  “Obama did not simply issue a technical piece of guidance, he put forward a theory of combatting terrorism, in which he asserted that upholding the Constitution and the Bill of Rights has to be part of the armory if we are to succeed. We will do it on our terms, he said.

I wrote in late 2005,

‘ Is there even a single one of the guarantees in the Bill of Rights that Bush and his henchmen have not by now abrogated by royal fiat? And why? Because of a single attack by a few hijackers from a small terrorist organization? The thousands lost in the Revolutionary War did not deter the Founding Fathers from enshrining these rights in the Constitution! The fledgling American Republic was far more unstable and facing far more dangers when this document was passed into law than the unchallengeable hyperpower that now bestrides the globe as a behemoth.’

And in late 2003 I had explained the scale of those challenges faced by the early American Republic, which did not deter the founding fathers from framing their bill of rights:

‘ George Washington, who faced proportionally much more devastating attacks and loss of life after 1775 (the population was only 4 million then) never threw in the towel on democracy like that. Let’s think about the statistics. At 280 million, the US population is now 70 times larger than it was during the Revolutionary War. The US lost 4,435 ordinary soldiers in 1775-1783 in the war against King George III, and the number rises to 25,324 if you include Native American scouts, mercenaries, and civilians who took up arms. Proportionally, that would be like losing between 310,450 and 1.7 million US troops in 2001-2009. And it doesn’t count innocent civilians killed in the Revolutionary War. It is highly unlikely that a terrorist WMD attack would inflict as much damage on the contemporary US as the British did in that period, and yet, amazingly enough, Madison, Jefferson, Washington and others were not stampeded by the Redcoats’ attacks into resigning themselves to a military government in 1783.’

Obama is saying much the same thing, that the US has faced down more dire challenges without betraying its values, and there was no reason for Bush to start whittling away at them now.

http://www.juancole.com/

8.  “Obama Appointments: CFR, Bilderberg and Trilateral Commission

George Mitchell
(Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg Group) for the Middle East and Richard Holbrooke (Bilderberg Group, Council on
Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission) for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11968

9.  “Energy War: NATO meddling in Sudan to block China

The US is slowly shifting its military needs towards Africa and Sudan in particular. While the Barack Obama administration will force the UN to declare a no-fly zone over Darfur, the US forces in so called peacekeeping missions will establish their bases in Darfur or Kenya and other surrounding nations in order to keep Sudan under its umbrella.

The main objective of the mission in Darfur and the no-fly zone over the region will be to slowly strangulate Sudan’s economy and render it impossible for the Chinese to exploit Sudan’s oil.

The no-fly Zone will be enforced by NATO forces that will be under US command.

On January 14th, the U.S. Air Force has begun airlifting Rwandan peacekeeping equipment and supplies from Kigali to the Darfur Region of Sudan as part of the United Nations-Africa Union peacekeeping mission.

From now on, the US will also count on the AFRICOM or the African Military Command set up at the Pentagon to deliver blows to the nations that are giving leeway to the Chinese and Russian nations. China has a long term deal with Sudan for the exploitation of its oil reserves. The China Oil Corporation was partners with Malaysia’s National oil corporation Petronas in some of the operations over Sudan.

Sudan represents the most viable cheap oil alternative for the Chinese regime while the Russians are now in military partnership – short of an alliance so far – with Tripoli where the Russians will be building an extended and sophisticated Naval base for its warships. Sources indicate that the military agreement between Libya and Russia will eventually lead to an ‘oil’ and ‘gas’ deal between Tripoli and Moscow, a deal that may cause ire of Washington, Italy and the UK.

Strangulating Sudan over Darfur will not be of good news to Libya which is bordering Chad. Chad and Sudan were battling each other until last years peace deal ‘brokered’ by the Senegal during the OIC summit that took place in Dakar in March. The French are to play a major role in the future US blockade of Darfur, which will help strangulate the Sudanese regime and cutoff China’s access to the cheap and easy oil finds (for the Chinese) in Sudan.

The domino effect of this strangulation strategy will lead to Libya being under pressure with a military build up in its backyard and one of its long time adversary Chad ending up being occupied by both French and US/NATO forces. Chad and Libya had a long conflict experience over a stretch of the desert land bordering the two nations. The area is rich in oil and was coveted by the French in the 1980’s and surely the Americans of the Ronald Reagan era.

The heavy NATO presence in Chad will definitely re-ignite the conflict between Chad and Sudan while light armed Somali Islamic fighters may want to hit the NATO on its vulnerable flanks in the vast African desert land in order to disrupt its operations to strangulate Sudan. There is little wonder which states would end up supporting the brave Somali fighters into enlarging the conflict in the region. The aim of such an escalation will be to achieve two goals: An arms race in the region that will allow Libya and Sudan to acquire additional weapons. This will also allow the Islamic Courts and the militias in Somalia to be re-equipped. And to destabilize Kenya and the southern Sudan region further in order to give the NATO a real military headache that will probably force it to miss its target of ‘killing off’ the Sudanese regime.


http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11944

10.  “Obama’s orders leave torture, indefinite detention intact

On Thursday, President Barack Obama issued executive orders mandating the closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp in a year’s time, requiring that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and military personnel follow the Army Field Manual’s prohibitions on torture, and closing secret CIA prisons overseas.

While the media is portraying these orders as a repudiation of the detention and interrogation policies of the Bush administration, they actually change little. They essentially represent a public relations effort to refurbish the image of the United States abroad after years of torture and extralegal detentions and shield high-ranking American officials from potential criminal prosecution.

In cowardly fashion, Obama staged his signing of the orders in a manner aimed at placating the political right and defenders of Guantanamo and torture and underscoring his intention to continue the Bush administration’s “war on terror.” He was flanked by 16 retired generals and admirals who have pushed for the closure of the prison camp in Cuba on the grounds that it impedes the prosecution of the global “war” and reiterated in his own remarks his determination to continue the basic political framework of the Bush administration’s foreign policy.

The continuation of the ideological pretext for wars of aggression and attacks on democratic rights ensures that the police state infrastructure erected under the Bush administration will remain intact. This is further reinforced by Obama’s assurances that his administration will not investigate or prosecute those officials–including Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales and others—who were responsible for the policies of torture and illegal detention.


The orders signed by Obama do not undo the Bush administration’s attacks on constitutional and international law. They do not challenge the supposed right of the president to unilaterally imprison any individual, without trial and without charges, by declaring him to be an “enemy combatant.” Nor do they end the procedure known as “extraordinary rendition,” by which the United States during the Bush years kidnapped alleged terrorists and shipped them to foreign countries or secret CIA prisons outside the US, where they were subjected to torture.

Two separate measures taken Tuesday and Thursday by Obama point to a further major consideration behind his moves to close Guantanamo and finesse the issue of torture. On Thursday the administration requested a stay in the habeas corpus appeal to the Supreme Court by the only alleged enemy combatant now held on US soil—Ali al-Marri, of Qatar, whom Obama has called “dangerous.” Al-Marri’s lawyers are challenging the right of the president to arrest and jail individuals by declaring them enemy combatants, and it was expected that the Supreme Court’s hearing of the appeal would force Obama to reveal his position on the issue.

This followed Tuesday’s request for a stay from the Federal District Court in Washington in similar appeals that could affect the cases of more than 200 Guantánamo prisoners.

Thus, the immediate effect of the new administration’s moves is to halt civilian trials that could prove immensely damaging to the government by revealing systematic torture of the detainees and could potentially entangle high government officials.

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11971

11.  “That’s just a partial list.  Both pre- and post-9/11, there are numerous other individuals who have been convicted in U.S. civilian courts of various acts relating to terrorism inspired by Islamic radicalism, including many alleged to be high-level Terrorists, who are now serving sentences inside the U.S., in U.S. prisons. Moreover, terrorists accused of being members of Al Qaeda and affiliated groups have been successfully tried in the regular courts of other countries — including Britain and Spain — and currently sit in those countries’ regular prisons, without a whiff of a problem.

If it were really the goal of Terrorists to attack American prisons where their members are incarcerated and if they were actually capable of doing that, they already have a long list of “targets” and have had such a list for two decades.  If U.S. civilian courts were inadequate forums for obtaining convictions of Terrorism suspects, then the above-listed individuals would not be imprisoned — most of them for life — while the Guantanamo military commission system still has nothing to show for it other than a series of humiliating setbacks for the Government.  As is true for virtually every fear-mongering claim made over the last eight years to frighten Americans into believing that they must vest the Government with vast and un-American powers lest they be slaughtered by the Terrorists, none of these claims is remotely rational and all of them are empirically disproven.

The crime for which Omar Abdel Rahman was convicted and for which he’s currently serving a life sentence in Colorado is the February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, of which Rahman was the alleged “mastermind.”  That terrorist attack took place just seven weeks after Bill Clinton was inaugurated, but after that attack — to use the Beltway parlance — Clinton kept us safe, for the rest of his presidency. No more foreign Terrorist attacks on the Homeland.  It wasn’t until Clinton left the Oval Office and George Bush became President were Islamic Terrorists able to strike the Homeland again.

Therefore, using the reasoning of Bush followers everywhere, this means that Clinton’s counter-terrorism policies — i.e.: trying accused Terrorists in civilian courts and incarcerating them in U.S. prisons — have been proven to be extremely effective in keeping us safe (since, as any beginning student of Logic will tell you:  if A precedes B, then it means that A caused B — as in:  A = “waterboarding, torture and GITMO,” and B = “no Terrorist attack on U.S. soil from 2002-2008”).  Using that same “logic”:  A = “trying Terrorists in civilian courts and imprisoning them in the U.S.,” and B = “no foreign Terrorist attacks in the U.S. from February, 1993 through the end of the Clinton presidency.”


http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/

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