Posted by: quiscus | January 6, 2010

January 6, 2010

1.  “US Court: War Powers Trump Rights of Noncitizen Detainees

Bush Appointees Argue President Has Even More Power than Government Claimed

In a ruling that is widely expected to set up a new battle in the Supreme Court, a federal appeals court ruled today that the president has virtually unlimited power to detain noncitizen suspects, power even beyond what the government argued it possessed in the case.”

2.  “Trade Wars and U.S. Foreign Policy

For those who think that the U.S. Empire is good, holy, sacrosanct, and above reproach when dealing with foreigners, here is a little bit of reality for you.

Who started this trade war?

Well, any ordinary person would say that the U.S. government started it with President Obama’s apparent payoff to U.S. labor unions in the form of steep import duties on Chinese tires.

But there’s an obvious problem with that conclusion, at least from the standpoint of U.S. officials: it involves blaming the U.S. government for doing something bad to foreigners. And that’s a super no-no in the eyes of officials of the U.S. Empire.

The trade dispute with China is also the way the Empire works in other areas of foreign policy, including its assassinations, coups, sanctions, embargoes, orders, edicts, invasions, occupations, torture, and so forth. When the Empire does these types of things to foreigners, they are expected to meekly accept what has been done to them and move on. They are not expected to retaliate and if they do retaliate, they are hit with severe and overwhelming retaliation at the hands of U.S. officials. And as the retaliations increase on both sides, Empire officials exhort the American citizenry to support their government in its efforts to extinguish the “bad guys,” i.e., those who had the temerity to object to the bad things the Empire did to them in the first place.

3.  “Since 9/11, We’ve Embraced Our Inner Coward

Fear everywhere! National Guardskids, all of 20 years old and decked out in their best Kevlar, brandishing automatic weapons taller than they are at women and children as they came out of commuter rail stations. Annoying, sure–but what if…what if…what if something happened? We heard that the government was listening to our phone calls and reading our email but instead of summoning up outrage at this brazen and illegal violation of privacy we took cold comfort in that hoary chestnut: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”

But he was afraid too. More than that, he wanted us to keep being scared–of the same exact stuff Bush had had us so frightened of! Lions and tigers and Muslims, oh my! The Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, even though the Pentagon said there were fewer than 100 Al Qaeda guys in the whole country! Iraq, still, although he couldn’t quite explain why, and the bad guys who didn’t do anything wrong at Guantánamo, just in case.

Now it’s all fear, all the time. Fear of diseases (H1N1). Fear of evil banks (feed them or they’ll go away, which would somehow be worse). We were arrogant once, loud and silly and funny and crazy as hell, and we were Americans.

Now we’re timid and pissy and pissed off, and I don’t recognize, much less like, what we’ve become.”

4.  “Obama to fix Security Flaws; but Could he Please Fix Stupid Racial Profiling?

The only good thing about this asinine new Obama administration order that persons from or traveling through 14 countries would be subject to extra pat-downs and inspections of carry-on luggage is that in all likelihood it mostly will not be implemented. The list includes: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Yemen.

The principle of putting out such a list is stupid enough. Doesn’t it signal to al-Qaeda that the next bomber should be from Chad or Bangladesh? But it isn’t even a good list. One justification for it according to the TSA is that these countries are state sponsors of terrorism or have an active al-Qaeda movement. But there have been no plots against US airliners by Syrian Baathists (secular Arab nationalists, the ruling party), nor will there be. States don’t commit that kind of terror, since it can be traced back to them– it has a ‘return address’. Mostly this is just a list of countries that won’t toe the US line on Middle East policy. But then a US ally like Saudi Arabi is added in, along with Lebanon, which has a Christian president and waged a concerted campaign against a small ‘al-Qaeda’ cell at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian camp (probably not actually related to Usamah Bin Laden), and wiped it out. And Nigeria? It wouldn’t have been on the list a month ago. Few countries of northwest Africa don’t have some Muslims, if that is the point of the list, and all communities have some hotheads.

The new administration list is arbitrary. It is racist, since it ignores countries with anti-US terrorist groups that are European or European-heritage. We had racist immigration laws from 1924 to 1965, when Martin Luther King’s movement shamed us into abolishing them. Obama of all people should not be moving back in that direction.”

5.  “The backfiring of the Surveillance State

As numerous experts (such as Rep. Rush Holt) have attempted, with futility, to explain, expanding the scope of raw intelligence data collected by our national security agencies invariably impedes rather than bolsters efforts to detect terrorist plots.  This is true for two reasons:  (1) eliminating strict content limits on what can be surveilled (along with enforcement safeguards, such as judicial warrants) means that government agents spend substantial time scrutinizing and sorting through communications and other information that have nothing to do with terrorism; and (2) increasing the quantity of what is collected makes it more difficult to find information relevant to actual terrorism plots.

Despite that, we have an insatiable appetite — especially when we’re frightened anew — to vest more and more unrestricted spying and other powers in our Government, which — like all governments — is more than happy to accept it.”

6.  “CIA Reportedly Ordered Blackwater To Murder 9/11 Suspect

In 2004, the CIA sent a team from the private security firm Blackwater, now Xe, to Hamburg to kill an alleged al Qaeda financier who was investigated for years by German authorities on suspicion of links to al Qaeda, according to a little-highlighted element in a Vanity Fair article to be published this month.”


  1. His FIRST appointment cast this die……

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