Saturday, August 07, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Still waiting for Bush to give Sergeant Darby a shout-out for (a) acting with "moral clarity" and (b) showing that some, at least, in the Army still have a concept of honor (back).

Hey, and it's been a good day. Any day that starts with a song by MJS, and art by the farmer, is a good day.

Allawi's Gulag; torture goes local 

I wonder how long it will take the cheery courtesans at the Cakewalk News Network (CNN) and MSGOP etc... to fashion the "official script" for this one below. Perhaps as soon as the great Mary K. Letourneau - slash - groping Tigger scare of 2004 passes?

Turning the torture chambers over to the locals: From The Oregonian

Ordered to just walk away | Saturday, August 07, 2004 | MIKE FRANCIS

BAGHDAD - The national guardsman peering through the long-range scope of his rifle was startled by what he saw unfolding in the walled compound below.

From his post several stories above ground level, he watched as men in plainclothes beat blind folded and bound prisoners in the enclosed grounds of the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

He immediately radioed for help. Soon after, a team of Oregon Army National Guard soldiers swept into the yard and found dozens of Iraqi detainees who said they had been beaten, starved and deprived of water for three days.

In a nearby building, the soldiers counted dozens more prisoners and what appeared to be torture devices - metal rods, rubber hoses, electrical wires and bottles of chemicals. Many of the Iraqis, including one identified as a 14-year-old boy, had fresh welts and bruises across their back and legs.

The soldiers disarmed the Iraqi jailers, moved the prisoners into the shade, released their handcuffs and administered first aid. Lt. Col. Daniel Hendrickson of Albany, Ore., the highest ranking American at the scene, radioed for instructions.

But in a move that frustrated and infuriated the guardsmen, Hendrickson's superior officers told him to return the prisoners to their abusers and immediately withdraw. It was June 29 - Iraq's first official day as a sovereign country since the U.S. invasion.

The incident, the first known case of human rights abuses in newly sovereign Iraq, is at the heart of the American dilemma here.


"There was a tightly bound and gagged prisoner crumpled at the feet of these men," Southall said. "There was a recently eaten tray of food and a nice water cooler that was standing upright in good order. This room was heavily air conditioned, which was a stark contrast to the rooms that contained prisoners."

The men in the room said they had not beaten anyone. They asserted, however, "that these prisoners were all dangerous criminals and most were thieves, users of marijuana and other types of bad people," according to Southall's account.

As U.S. soldiers continued to fan out in the building, they found more bound-and-gagged prisoners, and "hoses, broken lamps and chemicals of some variety," which could have been used as torture devices, Southall said.

Hendrickson radioed up the chain of command in the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, relaying what he had seen and asking for instructions. As the soldiers waited, Southall said, the Iraqi policemen began to get "defiant and hostile" toward the Americans.

It wasn't long before the order came: Stand down. Return the prisoners to the Iraqi authorities and leave the detention yard.

Full story, much more, at Oregonian link above.

Off With Their Hands!

Strength is also central to the image of the new Iraqi prime minister, Iyad Allawi, whom Newsweek described as "Iraq's New SOB," and has been lauded as a ruthless strongman in The New York Times and Washington Post. Locally, he's known as "Saddam without the mustache."


Before his June elevation, while chairing of the Interim Governing Council's security committee, Allawi is also alleged to have recruited former torturers to serve in a new secret police apparatus while, of late, he has threatened martial law, shut down sections of the media, suggested the government might delay elections, and moved to bring back the death penalty. Sounds more despotic than strong.

Before the Iraq invasion, we heard that the United States needed to oust a tyrant and establish a democracy. Now the argument is that the unruly country needs a tough guy ready to impose martial law, ban protest, and use secret police to "annihilate" opponents. In other words, a tyrant.

-- Published on Friday, August 6, 2004 by United Press International | Saddam Sans Mustache | by Greg Guma - Via Common Dreams.org

Ah, it's the old Jean Kirkpatrick plan afterall. - re: "Dictators and Double Standards" - or, rather, the new tyrant might be a raving despotic homicidal lunatic, but that's ok as long as he's our raving despotic homicidal lunatic. God bless "moral clarity".


Gaslight watch: World's greatest newspaper (not!) helps Inerrant Boy cover his narrow ass 

After a whole bunch of foofraw about a plot to disrupt the 2004 elections—I mean, more than the ongoing Republican effort to perpetrate fraud like Florida 2000 on a national scale (back) would disrupt the election—buried in the next to the last paragraph of the story we read this:

American officials contacted on Saturday would not confirm that Mr. Khan was a mole or double agent and said that his arrest had led to intelligence gains of enormous value in uncovering the surveillance operation in the United States.
(via the Pulitzer-light, supinely written, flaccidly edited, and sadly irrelevant Times)

Well, no. They wouldn't, would they? Despite reporting from a real newsgathering organization, Reuters (back) that this is exactly what they did.

Will the Times become a serious newsgathering organization in time to save itself?

Fish story 

A touching attempt to rehabilitate Jenna's reputation:

Earlier Saturday, several family members climbed onto the family speed boat for a fishing expedition. One of President Bush's twin daughters reeled in a 38-inch striped bass, the president proudly announced.

"Jenna caught it. Jenna caught the fish!" Bush shouted to journalists from his father's boat. Photographers said the monster was thrown back into the Atlantic.
(via AP)

Um, did anyone see her tatch it? Didn't think so. Such is the fine are of reportage, these days....

Gaslight watch: A terror alert timeline 

Via Peanut, Julius gives us a timeline of the series of extremely non-political terror alerts.

And you know, it's funny how conv-e-e-e-e-nient those alerts are: They seem to come right after the Senate has subpoenaed some Enron records (back, that is, when the Senate was performing its Constitutional role), or when Schroeder wins a German election running against Bush, or the day after a new story breaks about the post-9/11 evacuation of the Saudis and the Bin Laden family.... Or after the Democratic convention....

Now, to be fair to Bush, cause and effect could be really hard to discern here. After all, there's so very many things that Bush would like to distract us from, almost any terror alert, even—mirabile dictu—an honest one, would have the effect of driving news that's bad for Bush off the front pages.

Nevertheless, please refer all questions containing the words "tinfoil hat" to The Department of "No! They would never do that!"

NOTE Philosoraptor amplifies the "cause and effect" issue raised above.

Gaslight watch: Bush blows identity of mole inside AQ. MWs yawn 

Yes, Pakistan managed to "turn" Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan into a double agent inside AQ—a priceless intelligence asset.

Then Bush—so far as I can tell, for no other reason than to send Waura and the Twins to Manhattan for a campaign photo op during the Orange Alert (back)—blew Khan's cover by getting his name into the papers as one of those "other streams" of intelligence we kept hearing about. Here's today's fallout:

The revelation that a mole within al Qaeda was exposed after Washington launched its "orange alert" this month has shocked security experts, who say the outing of the source may have set back the war on terror.

Reuters learned from Pakistani intelligence sources on Friday that computer expert Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, arrested secretly in July, was working under cover to help the authorities track down al Qaeda militants in Britain and the United States when his name appeared in U.S. newspapers.

"After his capture he admitted being an al Qaeda member and agreed to send e-mails to his contacts," a Pakistani intelligence source told Reuters. "He sent encoded e-mails and received encoded replies. He's a great hacker and even the U.S. agents said he was a computer whiz."

Last Sunday, U.S. officials told reporters that someone held secretly by Pakistan was the source of the bulk of the information justifying the alert. The New York Times obtained Khan's name independently, and U.S. officials confirmed it when it appeared in the paper the next morning.

None of those reports mentioned at the time that Khan had been under cover helping the authorities catch al Qaeda suspects, and that his value was destroyed by making his name public.

"The whole thing smacks of either incompetence or worse," said Tim Ripley, a security expert who writes for Jane's Defense publications. "You have to ask: what are they doing compromising a deep mole within al Qaeda, when it's so difficult to get these guys in there in the first place?

"It goes against all the rules of counter-espionage, counter-terrorism, running agents and so forth. It's not exactly cloak and dagger undercover work if it's on the front pages every time there's a development, is it?"

Love that understated, very dry British humor...

"Running agents within a terrorist organization is the Holy Grail of intelligence agencies. And to have it blown is a major setback which negates months and years of work, which may be difficult to recover."

Rolf Tophoven, head of the Institute for Terrorism Research and Security Policy in Essen, Germany, said allowing Khan's name to become public was "very unclever."

"If it is correct, then I would say its another debacle of the American intelligence community. Maybe other serious sources could have been detected or guys could have been captured in the future" if Khan's identity had been protected, he said.
(via Reuters)

Funny, you'd think a humongous blunder like this would be all over the front pages. But n-o-o-o-o-o! I wonder why?

NOTE Juan Cole (via Kos) has more:

Either the motive was political calculation, or it was sheer stupidity. They don't deserve to be in power either way.

Very nice poll numbers for Kerry 

From America blog via Atrios.

The poll is from FUX, so you know it' slanted toward the House of Bush of which they are the organ.

The poll shows two things: (1) Kerry got an 8 to 12% bounce, and (2) he did an effective job introducing himself to the American people during the convention, based on his rise in all the measures versus Bush (including "udnerstanding the average American").

Say, that's not what the MWs were saying in their scripts. Who knew?

Of course, the election is a long way way.... And there's a lot of work to do.

Election fraud 2004: Republicans work to deny urban Democrats their rights 

Hey, who knew the "Help America Vote" act would be just as Orwellian as the "Healthy Forests" initiative? Well, it has been:

[A new election rule, the "provisional ballot"] is intended to prevent one of the major problems experienced in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, when scores of voters, especially minority voters, were turned away at the polls over registration questions that could not be resolved quickly.

Provisional voting, the centerpiece of the Help America Vote Act that Congress passed in 2002, will be put into effect across the nation in the coming presidential election in an effort to ensure that more votes are counted.

But election officials say the experience of hundreds across the country during primary season show how failures in carrying out the measure could end up disenfranchising voters instead.

All but a handful of states have passed legislation creating some form of provisional balloting. Most states adopted the new rules to make a deadline to get federal election money this year.

An examination of those rules, however, shows there is no uniformity in how they are applied. Some states, for example, allow provisional ballots to be counted even if they are filed in the wrong precinct, but at least 16 states, including Illinois, throw them out.

And few states have worked out the details of how to train workers to carry out provisional balloting and other voting changes, setting up the potential for a protracted ballot-by-ballot fight in any election that is close.

In the primary in Chicago, one in 90 ballots was provisionally cast. The majority of the 93 percent that were thrown out were disqualified because of technical errors caused by election workers; these included more than 1,200 ballots filed in the wrong precinct. Some 2,400 were discounted because affidavits were incompletely or incorrectly filled out. Only 416 provisional votes were ultimately counted.

In the primary, provisional ballot problems were more likely to disenfranchise minority voters in Chicago than white voters, exactly the problem in Florida four years ago that provisional voting was intended to address. In wards that are 80 percent or more minority members, the rate of disqualified ballots was double that of wards that are 80 percent white.
(via NY Times)

Well. Boiling it down: The Help America Vote act threw billions of dollars to Republican-donating companies whose electronic voting machines leave no audit trail and whose software is at best, buggy, and at worse enables elections to be stolen. Meanwhile, Democratic voters are no better off than before.

Of course, you can't blame the Republicans. Florida 2000 worked just fine for them. So why shouldn't they seek to replicate that success, nationwide, in 2004? One, two, many Floridas!

Um, can anyone think of a reason why we should regard another Republican administration as legitimate, if the popular vote in election 2004 is as close as election 2000 was?

Bad Political Protest (2) 

I am not at all sure what to make of this story:

(via Raleigh (NC) News-Observer)

DURHAM --Four employees of a ConAgra food plant in Arkansas were fired last month after [an object in the shape of a human foot] was found in a box of frozen chicken at a Lowe's Foods store in Durham.

The family who bought the package of Banquet frozen fried chicken July 12 called police, thinking the object was a human foot. The police sent the item to the state medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill. The conclusion: a chunk of deep-fried dough.

Tania Graves, a ConAgra spokeswoman, said the chicken in the box was prepared and packaged at the company's plant in Batesville, Ark.

Graves said investigations by the company indicated that one of the plant's employees had taken dough normally used to prepare the chicken and created the "foot."

Graves said three people who could have taken action to stop the dough ball from leaving the plant were "held accountable."
Okay, the political content here appears to be zero, although we have not yet heard from the now-unemployed Batesvillians behind the project. If it was a PETA action they would have had a press release out by now.

But the US Army and CACI might want to make notes here about how to handle people who misbehave on boring night-shift jobs.

Bad Political Protest (1) 

You've probably seen this one, it's all over the net. Various media outlets had to do hasty retractions after running the original story as straight news.

Whether the author of this matter had any political agenda or not is unclear (his claim that it was related to a "campaign for city supervisor" seems somewhat improvised), but it's a hell of a lesson, however inadvertently, in the credulity of those willing to believe the worse about "those evildoers" at any opportunity:

(via AP)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A video aired Saturday that purportedly showed an American being decapitated in Iraq was a hoax.

The man shown in the video, reached by The Associated Press in San Francisco, said he videotaped the staged beheading at his friend's house using fake blood.

Benjamin Vanderford, 22, said he began distributing the video on the Internet months ago in hopes of drawing attention to his one-time campaign for city supervisor. When his political aspirations waned, he thought the video would serve as social commentary.

"It was part of a stunt, but no one noticed it up until now," Vanderford said. "I did this for a couple of reasons. One is to attract attention. But two is to just make a statement on these type of videos and how easily they can be faked."

The video was titled "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Slaughters an American." Zarqawi is an al-Qaida linked militant whose group, Tawhid and Jihad, has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks across Iraq.
We here at corrente, who have seen what the farmer can do with innocent magazine covers, road signs, grubs and Karl Rove, are harder to fool.

Bush torture policies: Silence speaks volumes 

Remember how the Republicans and the MWs always genuflect before Inerrant Boy's "moral clarity"?

Well, the Abu Ghraib torture wing offers plenty of examples to exibit this characteristic:

Sgt. Joseph M. Darby, the young Army reservist who has been hailed and condemned for blowing the whistle about detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, testified yesterday that he deliberated for more than a month about whether to go to Army investigators but finally decided it was a "moral call."

Testifying for the first time publicly about the international scandal that his initially anonymous tip touched off, Darby said he was stunned when he discovered the now-notorious photos showing hooded and naked detainees piled in a pyramid and forced to simulate sex acts as grinning U.S. soldiers stood by.

"It violated everything that I personally believed in and everything that I had been taught about the rules of war," Darby, 24, testified by telephone at a pretrial hearing for Pfc. Lynndie R. England, one of seven of Darby's fellow soldiers from the Western Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company who has been charged in the scandal.

He said he copied the photos onto a computer disk, typed an anonymous letter and delivered the package to investigators. Darby said that the only person he talked to about the decision was his roommate and that he never confronted Graner or any of the other soldiers seen in the pictures.

The investigator who received the plain manila envelope testified this week that he soon determined that Darby was the tipster and began a broad investigation that later erupted into the public scandal that damaged the image of the United States and led to the arrests of seven reservists.
(via Baltimore Sun)

So. There's clarity here, right? Torturing people is wrong (the Constitution calls it "cruel and unusual punishment"). Torturing people is against the "rules of war" that the Army teaches.

So Darby made a moral call. He blew the whistle.

What do we hear from the Army about Darby's moral clarity? Silence.

What do we hear from Rummy about Darby's moral clarity? Silence.

What do we hear from Bush about Darby's moral clarity? Silence.

There's really only one conclusion possible: The Administration, from the top down believes that the Abu Ghraib torture was right, and right for America. In fact, they want to more torture. That's why they've given CACI, who was in charge of the civilian interrogators in the Abu Ghraib torture wing, more contracts (thanks, Xan), and that's why they've promoted the extremely clean-nosed General Barbara Fast, who was in charge of the Abu Ghraib torture wing, to the head of training for military intelligence (here).

Oh, and you think that only evil-doers, and evil-doers abroad will be tortured?

Sing-a-long with 'W' 

We'll be turning around that corner when we turn
We'll be turning around that corner when we turn
We'll be turning 'round that bend
No such thing as a dead end
We'll be turning around that corner when we turn

You can trust me and my beady little eyes
You can trust me and my beady little eyes
Vote for me this coming fall
Maybe I won't go AWOL
You can trust me and my beady little eyes

Billionaire's make the greatest party guests
Billionaire's make the greatest party guests
We are all inside the tent
They bought it, you just rent
Billionaire's make the greatest party guests

The corner just got bigger, doncha' know?
The corner just got bigger, doncha' know?
We never make an error
We got never ending terror
The corner just got bigger, doncha' know?

We are heading for the glory of Jesus
We are heading for the glory of Jesus
We all know that we're 'a headin'
To the good Lord's Armageddon
We are heading for the glory of Jesus

We'll be turning around that corner when we turn
We'll be turning around that corner when we turn
We'll be turning 'round that bend
No such thing as a dead end
We'll be turning around that corner when we turn

Lyrics by MJS


Friday, August 06, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

And there's still so much to be outraged about! I like the "three more months" chant. It's got a nice ring to it.

Keep reading The utterly essential Howler. The Goring of Kerry has already begun. Howler details the scripts.

Again, people, we're facing an uphill battle.

I guess I'm going to have to get a Kerry button and start wearing it on the train.

Damn. That means I'll have to shave every day. Clean for John....

Gaslight watch: Bush, in latest extremely non-political terror alert, blows AQ double agent 

I hate to say "I told you so," but "I told you so." Remember when we wrote about Bush's remarkable willingness (back) to reveal intelligence sources and methods in the latest extremely non-political terror alert? A willingness perhaps less remarkable when we consider the adminstration needed to dampen any Kerry bounce after the Convention.

Anyway, it seems like revealing intelligence sources and methods is exactly what Bush did.

The al-Qaida suspect named by U.S. officials as the source of information that led to this week’s terrorist alerts was working undercover, Pakistani intelligence sources said Friday, putting an end to the sting operation and forcing Pakistan to hide the man in a secret location.

Under pressure to justify the alerts in three Northeastern cities, U.S. officials confirmed a report by The New York Times that the man, Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, was the source of the intelligence that led to the decision.

A Pakistani intelligence source told Reuters on Friday that Khan, who was arrested in Lahore secretly last month, had been actively cooperating with intelligence agents to help catch al-Qaida operatives when his name appeared in U.S. newspapers.

Monday evening, after Khan’s name appeared, Pakistani officials moved him to a secret location.

“If it’s true that the Americans have unintentionally revealed the identity of another nation’s intelligence agent, who appears to be working in the good of all of us, that is not only a fundamental intelligence flaw. It’s also a monumental foreign relations blunder,” security expert Paul Beaver, a former publisher of Jane’s Defense Weekly, told Reuters.
(via MSNBC)

There really seems no limit to the willingness of the administration to use intelligence for political ends; and no limit to the abilities to botch the job. The games of rotisserie WMDs. Outing Valerie Plame.

Now this.

Destroying an operation against Al Qaeda, our mortal enemies, just to send Waura and the Twins to Manhattan for a campaign photo op.... Unbelievable? All too believable.

The bright side? We won't have to hear any more crap from The Worlds' Greatest Newspaper (not!) about that MILF, Frances Frago, Bush's latest anti-terrorism czar. Boy, did she screw the pooch on this one.

Feeling safer?

NOTE 1 OK, I was wrong. They didn't have to torture him. That's because Khan was a double agent! When, oh when, am I going to learn to be cynical enough about these guys.

NOTE 2 Of course, there's probably a tinfoil hat theory that the Pakistanis are playing both ends against the middle in some way, here. Maybe OBL isn't on ice, and the Musharaff is on the line to Bush right now, explaining that if only Khan's name hadn't gotten into the papers, they would have had OBL in time put him on national TV in October...

NOTE 3 Thanks to alert reader Sovreign Eye.

CACI, CalPERS and Sullivan 

Back a couple of decades ago when apartheid was still the Hot New Thing in South Africa, folks started noticing that all the marching and protesting in the world didn't seem to be doing much to bring about change. Sound familiar?

A Rev. Sullivan came up with an idea--cut off their money. Not just trade restrictions, but direct punishment of any company doing business there. They made this work by going around to investors, particularly those handling retirement accounts, and persuading them to not just dump the stock of any company whose efforts enabled the system, but to publicize the fact heavily.

Churchs were among the first to sign on, at least those churches that believe in social justice. Public employee pension programs were a quick second.
(via Yahoo but not a "Yahoo News" story--this is an actual CACI press release):
CACI International Inc (NYSE: CAI - News) reported today that members of the company's management met with representatives of the California State Teachers Retirement Fund (CalSTRS) and the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) in Sacramento to provide information about the company's work in Iraq. Even though CalSTRS and CalPERS hold only about one-half percent of CACI shares, the company met with the funds to respond to questions raised by the funds.

CACI recognizes that consideration of investment potential is always a bona fide subject for shareholder evaluation. CACI welcomed the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with the funds on that and related subjects. CACI believes that it has fully responded to the funds' questions with regard to its operational and fiduciary responsibilities in performing its contract work to support the U.S. military mission in Iraq.

California Treasurer Phil Angelides, however, chose to use this meeting for political grandstanding. By taking the position that CACI should get out of its interrogation line of business or the funds should get out of CACI stock, Mr. Angelides has expressed his willingness to turn his back on solid investments and the companies that support America's military mission and troops deployed in harm's way.

CACI, however, has no intention of abandoning the fine people who serve the country or our customer's vital mission to protect America's future and to project the war against terrorism. CACI regrets that, rather than participating in responsibly evaluating investment potential to California fund participants, Mr. Angelides chose to pursue his own political agenda. With little or no knowledge of the requirements surrounding the interrogation process, Mr. Angelides rejects CACI as an investment opportunity by arbitrarily assigning a disproportionate significance to this one area of intelligence collection and analysis.
Isn't that just awful of Treasurer Angelides? Doesn't he realize that the most important thing in the world is PROFIT, not mere moral agendas? I don't know if he has any political ambitions or not, but I rather hope so as I would love to vote for him, for just about anything. Maybe he can get this CACI flack to run his press office.

Great headlines of our time: "Job Growth Anemic, Markets Stunned" 

Um, I'm not stunned. Are you stunned? Didn't think so. Here are the ugly, ugly numbers:

U.S. employers added just 32,000 workers to payrolls last month, a surprisingly weak number that led Wall Street to fret about second-half economic growth and to expect a slower pace of interest-rate rises.
(via Reuters)

Really? What's surprising about it? Not only does it keep happening, it's the result of Bush policies ("Jobs growth flatlined: A touch of the overseers lash," back) After all, profits are up, so Bush's backers are happy, so why should He give two shits about you?

Expectations on Wall Street had centered on a 228,000-job gain.

Here's to President 15%! (32,000/228,000)

July's overall gain was the smallest since December and well short of the 150,000 or so jobs economists say need to be created each month just to keep pace with an expanding labor force and ensure the unemployment rate doesn't rise.

Turning the corner, alright—turning the corner right down the tubes! (For you, of course. Bush's backers, buddies, and fluffers are doing just fine, thank you very much!)

Anyhow, for those of you without jobs: Think of the contribution you're making to taking that slippery little scut down. Hope is on the way!

Now watch this drive!

CACI: Not Just for Glowsticks Any More! 

Back a couple of days ago it was big news that CACI, one of the two "contractors" providing "information technology" assistance to the Army at such places as Abu Ghraib Prison (and others) in Iraq, was being cut off from all dealings with the US government, severely investigated, doors padlocked, computer and paper records seized and..

...oops. That's what would happen if we lived in a just world. What happened here in Bushco land was that CACI got new contracts. A whole mess 'o contracts in fact:

WaPo 8/1
CACI International Inc. of Arlington won a five-year, $75 million contract from the Naval Sea Systems Command to provide systems integration, software development and business process support for information systems at U.S. Navy shipyards
Hampton Rds. Virginian-Pilot
[Local company] T-Solutions underwent giant changes in order to handle the Navy subcontract that AMSEC LLC, a Virginia Beach maritime supplier, divested in March. CACI International Inc. is the prime contractor.
Those two stories may in fact be about the same contract, with the VP story just a little-local-company-makes-good feature. This next one however is an entirely different kettle of fish--nasty, stinky fish that glows in the moonlight:

Washington Technology
After five years of planning and research, the National Archives and Records Administration today took the next step in dealing with the flood of electronic records agencies produce each day.

Harris of Melbourne, Fla., will receive $10.6 million and Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin will get $9.5 million in the first year for design and prototype development.

Harris’ team includes Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va., CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va., and Information Manufacturing Corp. of Rocket Center, W.Va.

Finally we get to the story that started this whole thing. Turns out it's a bookkeeping adjustment, switching the management of the original evil contract from the Department of the Interior to the Army:

CACI International Inc. was awarded a new contract for its controversial interrogation services in Iraq, the Army said yesterday.

The contract, which was awarded [without competitive bidding BTW--ed.] directly by the Army and is officially called a bridge contract, includes a four-month base period worth $15.3 million and two optional one-month extensions worth up to $3.8 million each.

The Army official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon will issue a request for proposals from contractors seeking to compete for the interrogation work in Iraq sometime in the next few months. The optional extensions to CACI's latest award will be used only if the competition has not been completed by December.

The original contract, awarded by the Interior Department a year ago, was issued under an umbrella contract intended to be used for the purchase of information technology products and services. Last month, Interior Department spokesman Frank Quimby said the agency is going to "get out of the interrogation business."
For some good news to end with, at least somebody else out there besides thee and me is not happy about this nasty mess:

Wired News

CACI has been sued in a Washington, D.C. federal court by civil rights campaigners who accuse the company of conspiring with U.S. officials to torture and abuse prisoners in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

CACI has described the lawsuit as being "malicious and farcical" and has denied the allegations "in their totality."
Oh me oh MY did they deny. However, there's even better news--CALPERS is on the case. It's so good it deserves its own post, especially for CACI's response. A more sancimonious, flag-waving, Sousa-march-almost-playing, tears-to-the-eyes bringing piece of drivel has seldom been seen. Remove small children, the elderly, and those with weak stomachs from the room.

Don't Pay the Ransom, Maw, I Escaped! 

Sorry to do a Bush and go all aWol on ya the last couple of days. Weird little storm came through Wednesday night and Thursday morning we had no phone lines working. Apparently a lightning strike hit just right to fry an underground line down the road aways and BellSouth's ever-diligent repair crews....well,anyway, it took awhile to find and fix.

Very weird feeling though having no Internet all day. No news except from TV, can you imagine? I was Telecom Tommy: the deaf, dumb and blind kid, can't do no blog at all.

So our topic will be: have you made any preparations in case a Mysterious Technical Glitch takes down the Internet sometime in late October? Wouldn't even have to be the whole net, just, let's say, a terrible crash at Google that knocked out all the Blogger/Blogspot sites.

(That's Atrios, Digby's Hullabaloo, Orcinus, TBogg, Hoffmania--not to mention corrente--all toast.)

Got any arrangement in mind? Exchanges of private emails, phone numbers? Or do we just flood the sites still up like refugees heading for the Red Cross tents?

One thinks deep thoughts when without a blog fix for nearly two whole days. And not happy ones.

aWol Update; Bernard Weiner speaks with Paul Lukasiak 

Bernard Weiner of Crisis Papers.org asked Paul Lukasiak: [snip] to try to sum up his conclusions in one paragraph, "one that the American citizenry immediately would grasp, and might be useful in considering whether to vote for Mr. Bush in November." [snip]

One paragraph? Four months of research distilled to one paragraph? Here goes...

An examination of U.S. Statutory Law, Department of Defense Regulations, and Air Force policies and procedures from the early seventies proves that the George W. Bush and his spokesmen have consistently misrepresented the nature and extent of his obligations as a member of the United States Armed Forces.

When considered within their proper legal and policy context, the Bush records effective rebut the White House claim that Bush "fulfilled his duty." When considered as a whole, these documents reveal that Bush spent the last two years of his six-year Military Service Obligation in an active effort to avoid fulfilling the obligations and commitments he incurred upon entering the Texas Air National Guard.

They also show that while some Texas officials aided and abetted Bush's efforts (and others apparently acquiesced to what was happening), there is no reason to question the character of Alabama officials, or Air Reserve Forces personnel as a whole. Finally, the only conclusion that can be reached from an examination of Bush's records for the period after he quit the Air National Guard is that the Air Force attempted to take punitive measure against Bush, but that political pressure prevented those measures from being carried out.

Go read the whole post. Really. Scroll down to the post titled MORE REVELATIONS ON AWOL SCANDAL


So, who will be the first mainstream journalist or newspaper/TV network to have the courage to run with Lukasiak's updated findings, and thus put the AWOL Scandal right back into the heart of the presidential campaign? -- Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen." ~ Bernard Weiner, MEDIA TIMIDITY

Good question. My money's on Chad-O-Chad the Weather Lad; that guy from that gad-awful obnoxious CNN Daybreak show. Uh, wait, what are the odds on that again?

Bernard Weiner is also a contributor to American Politics Journal


Thursday, August 05, 2004

Insane Clown Posse Rides Again! 

Shifty "Swift Boat" Footnote:
BOB J PERRY: donor - Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth".
BOB J PERRY: Council for National Policy (CNP) member/principal

Robert J. Perry - CNP Board of Governors 1982, Vice President Executive Committee,1984-85, member 1988; President of Perry-Houston Interests, Inc., a member of the Board of Directors of the Houston, Texas Chamber of Commerce; executive board Boy Scouts of America; former Citizen member, state banking board of Texas; member the Heritage Club. Link

[CNP] Principals:
The 1982-1983 officers of the Council for National Policy (CNP) were: Thomas F. Ellis, pres; Nelson Bunker Hunt, vice pres, Bob J. Perry sec-tres; Rep. Louis (Woody) Jenkins, exec dir; and Dr. Tim LaHaye, immediate past pres. (1) According to Nelson Bunker Hunt in his deposition in the Iran-Contra hearings, the presidency of the CNP rotates. He has been president, Pat Robertson has been president, and the president at the time of the hearings was Richard DeVos. (2) Hunt also noted that right-wing stalwarts Joseph Coors, Paul Weyrich, and Howard Phillips had served on the executive committee. (2)

Additional Council for National Policy (CNP) background info: Link

BOB J PERRY: CNP Fat cat "have more" have no comment.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A wealthy Texan and prolific Republican donor is helping bankroll a television ad assailing Democrat John Kerry's decorated military record in the Vietnam War.

Houston homebuilder Bob J. Perry has donated at least $100,000 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a suburban Washington-based group airing a new ad in which Vietnam veterans who served on swiftboats accuse the Democratic presidential nominee of lying about his war record.

Perry's June donation accounted for most of the $158,750 that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, founded in April, reported raising as of June 30. John Krugh, a spokesman for Perry Homes, declined to comment on Perry's contribution.

"This is a personal action on his part," Krugh said Thursday. "We don't participate in media interviews."

Perry didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Last year, Perry Homes donated $10,000 to the Republican Governors Association. Perry has given at least $260,000 to Republican candidates and party committees on the federal level from the 1999-2000 election cycle to the current cycle, according to donation data compiled by the nonpartisan Political Money Line.

Perry's donations in the 2003-04 cycle include $10,000 to the pro-Republican Club for Growth political group and at least $19,250 to federal candidates and party committees, including $2,000 to Bush's re-election effort.

He is also a major giver in Texas. A 2002 study by the campaign finance watchdog group Texans for Public Justice ranked Perry as the No. 3 donor in the state that election cycle, with at least $1.5 million in contributions to Republican candidates and political action committees in Texas. - See more: Texas homebuilder, GOP donor helps finance anti-Kerry veterans' group | By Sharon Theimer | The Associated Press | 8/5/04 Link

"We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure in this country." ~ Paul Weyrich (CNP founder) - Clarkson/Public Eye link

The CNP bills itself as being the Council on Foreign Policy for the Right. (9) But, its importance does not lie in producing and promoting an ultra-conservative foreign policy agenda, many of its affiliates already do that. It is considered by its members as a network that encompasses the entire spectrum of right-wing politics. (3) It provides a "safe" place for representatives of a wide range of ultra-conservative, anticommunist, pro-military organizations--including the executive branch of the White House--to discuss and promote their programs. (3) - Link

CNP, a Who's Who of the VRWC.


Goodnight, moon 

I hate it that the corporate moloch is taking over my life. Particularly when there is so very much bizarre-ness going down.

Heard on the train this morning:

"Hey, Springsteen's doing a concert for Kerry."

"I thought he was for Bush."

"Nah, he's a pacifist."


People, the road ahead is still very, very steep, and the guy at the top of it that we are trying to get at, well, he's only started to throw the shit down at us that he's planning on....

Extremely non-political 2001 anthrax investigation heats up in 2004 

OK, I'll be nice about it. I mean, I can understand why the anthrax investigation wouldn't be a priority with Bush. After all, on the Hill, it was only Democrats who were put at risk, and in the rest of the country only lesser beings like New Yorkers and other Blue State types died. And workers in that Florida newspaper that probably had a scoop on the Busch twins. All this is expected, and at this point we don't hold it against Him.

What I can't forgive is the shamelessness of it all. The investigation starts in 2001, and in August 2004, with a little more than a month to go before the Republican coronation convention, the investigation heats up? Puh-leeze!

WELLSVILLE, N.Y. Agents investigating the 2001 anthrax attacks searched homes belonging to the founder of an organization that trains medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks.

More than three dozen federal agents searched two homes in the Allegany County village of Wellsville in western New York. Property records list the homes as the past and present addresses of Doctor Kenneth Berry, who founded PRE-EMPT Medical Counter-Terrorism in 1997.

Anthrax-laced envelopes were mailed in the fall of 2001 to news media and government offices. Five people were killed and 17 sickened.

Doctor Berry, in a 1997 U-S-A Today interview, advocated the distribution of anthrax vaccine. (via WSTM, Syracuse)

Interesting what you can find out from public sources, just by reading the newspapers, isn't it?

Please address all correspondence using the phrase "tinfoil hat" to The Department of How Stupid Do They Think We Are?"

"Damn! Where's that horse's head?" says Unka Karl 

Huddles with his gnomes and elves, Unka Karl must be wishing he had a horse's head for every BLS statistician there is... Unless, well, he does. Anyhow, it should be interesting, especially given that the market is tanking because of Bush oil prices, to see the unemployment figures that the BLS is going to release tomorrow:

On Friday, investors will be awaiting the results from the government's July unemployment and payroll report to gauge whether the economy is strong enough to generate substantial numbers of new jobs.
(via the Los AngelesTimes)

And not just investors....

If Kerry had been President.... 

Naturally, MSGOP buries the money quote from Kerry deep, deep down in a story about the latest transparent, hare-brained scheme Bush is going to use to move money out of your pocket into the pockets of his backers. But here it is:

[KERRY]: "Had I been reading to children and had my top aide whisper in my ear that America is under attack, I would have told those kids very nicely and politely that the president of the United States has something that he needs to attend to," Kerry said
(via MSNBC)

And guess what! Kerry has mastered the subjunctive! And to think we thought that the subjunctive was as dead as the Democrat's will to win. But maybe both have turned out to be alive, eh?

Funny thing the story isn't Kerry taking dead aim at what Bush and the CW consider his strongest point. I wonder why that is?

The Midland Monarchy ~ rollin' in the boodle 

"This is an impressive crowd, the haves and the have mores" - George W. Bush

Leave no Crown Prince behind...

Bush, Family and Top Aides Received $127,600 Gifts Last Year from Saudi Crown Prince - by Shashank Bengali [August 5, 2004 by Knight-Ridder]

WASHINGTON - For President Bush, the first family and Bush's top aides, the most generous foreign leader last year - by far - was Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.

The State Department's annual tally of gifts to administration officials shows that Abdullah gave them $127,600 in jewelry and other presents last year, including a diamond-and-sapphire jewelry set for first lady Laura Bush that was valued at $95,500.

The Saudi royal family's gifts dwarfed those of other world leaders, according to the tally, and easily eclipsed Abdullah's $55,020 in gifts in 2002. Abdullah has been Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler since 1996 after a stroke sidelined King Fahd.


According to the State Department's records, Abdullah also gave the Bush family two sets of diamond and white gold jewelry by the exclusive Italian jeweler Bulgari and an $8,500 mantle clock "elaborately detailed in silver and gold vermeil."


Abdullah's gifts included ornamental daggers with ivory handles, worth $1,500, for Chief of Staff Andrew Card and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice; a miniature silver sword for Secretary of State Colin Powell, worth $1,500; and a small golden statue of a horse for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, worth $700.

The second-largest single gift was for President Bush, from Russian President Vladimir Putin: a book of original watercolor portraits of the 43 U.S. presidents, bound in red velvet studded with precious gems. It was valued at $45,000. - LINK

You've got to have friends........


Patakitawney Fill 

You know how to be sure something is a posed marketing event? It's when George E. Pataki, the Punxsutawney Phil of Republican Party photo-ops, pops up out of whatever burrow hes been snoozing in, blinks into the bright lights and cameras, has his picture snapped with the mayor, announces the opening of a ski lift or golf course, predicts six more weeks of fabulous NY weather and then scurries back into his hidey hole until the next snapshot "news" filler opportunity rolls around. Most recently he popped up long enough to sniff at the wind and share a friendly NY minute with CNN's Judy Woodruff.

On 08.04.2004 G.E. Pataki appeared before the hot CNN lights and reassured all of us that Howard Dean was certainly being "ridiculous" for suggesting that Tom Ridge's recent terror alert threat-o-mercial production might be something of a campaign ploy on behalf of you know who. GE-P also provided this little flippsy-floppsy-like escape from reality scold:
Pataki: And this president understands that you don't just pat yourself on the back and declare a victory. You look to see how you can continue to move forward. And that's what this president is doing.

And then he was off. On to the next ground breaking forecasting event! Obviously Patakitawney was asleep in a clover patch or nibbling an asparagus shoot when the heroic photo-op above was orchestrated. What a woodchuck. Expect 12 more weeks of stupid weather.

And speaking of 'W'oodchucks...

From AP:

Bush Insists His Administration Seeking 'new Ways to Harm Our Country' | The Associated Press | Aug 5, 2004

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

Ah, steady leadership.


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

So Cartier-Bresson died. Strange world, that holds both his photographs and the photographs from Abu Ghraib. Both "for fun," I suppose....

Watch out, Rummy! Xan's gonna be pissed! 

They gave CACI (back) a new contract.

Because they did such a good job at Abu Ghraib, of course.

It's all about accountability, isn't it?

Gaslight watch: It just keeps getting better and better! 

Now the administration has revealed that part of what really convinced them to go Code Orange in the latest extremely non-political terror alert was not the three- and four-year old files and documents themselves, but—wait for it—the fact that the files were written in perfect English:

[T]he separate flow of information that was arriving at the same time via the Central Intelligence Agency from Pakistan ... was based on information culled from seized computer disks that contained detailed case reports of reconnaissance conducted on buildings in Manhattan, Newark and Washington in 2000 and 2001.

In providing new details about those case reports, senior government officials described them for the first time as discrete documents, each at least 20 pages long and devoted to a particular target, and perhaps most intriguingly, they said, written in "perfect English.''
(via the see-no-evil Times)


"Perfect English?" Sounds like one of those panty-waisted extreme librul Democrat traitors to me!

The malAdministration has a really bad history with the written word in intelligence matters, you know? Remember the "crude forgeries" (here) on Iraq uranium? Remember the Brits lifting a report off the Internet and cutting and pasting it into their own report?

Hey, maybe the document was written in "perfect English" because... Um... No! They would never do that!

QTWWA: "Sir, was Mr. Khan tortured to gain his cooperation?" 

Now we discover that the latest extremely non-political terror alert wasn't just based on three- and four-year old documents and computer files, but there were human informants as well:

The computer disks on which the case reports were found were linked to Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, a 25-year-old Pakistani computer engineer who was arrested by Pakistani authorities on July 13, American officials have confirmed.

Mr. Khan has been described as having cooperated with Pakistani and American interrogators, and some American officials said that the information he himself provided, as distinct from the computer records, may also have pointed to the prospect of a current threat of terrorism in New York and Washington.
(via the sadly credulous Times)

So, maybe if we had a free press in this country, someone would ask—based on the administration's existing and well-attested practice of torturing prisoners to gain information—"Sir, was Mr. Khan tortured to gain his cooperation?"

Because if Mr. Kham was tortured, his information was as useless as it seemed to be.

Three Britons freed from Guantanamo Bay claim they suffered systematic brutality and were kept in cages in the sweltering Cuban heat during their detention at the U.S. military base.

In a report released by their lawyers Wednesday, the men say the brutal treatment forced them to make false confessions.

"The idea that these three people were kept in this prison, this gulag and forced to make false confessions is amazing," Michael Ratner, head of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said at a news conference at the group's Manhattan offices.
(via AP)

Um, what's amazing about it?

NOTE Oh, QTWWA: "Questions the Whores Won't Ask."

Seymour Hersh's book comes out September 21 

Sayeth USA Today.

Gee, wonder if some more revelations will come out around that time?

Like something to put an end to the pathetic, deal-making farce that has Englund torturing prisoners "for fun", that is with no involvement going up the chain of command. It's The Fog Machine in action: Rule 4 (back here: "Subordinates are sacrificed to protect superiors." What a world, when a horrific story like this is the cover for actions that are far, far worse.

Wonder if Hersh has the videos of shrieking boys being raped? Actually, that's sensationalism; I'd really prefer if Hersh revealed the back channel that fed the photos and videos from Abu Ghraib to the West Wing; my guess would be one of those ambitious young staffers from the Heritage Foundation, working for the RNC/CPA.

"Reverend" Moon sold the North Koreans submarines?! 

So that they could, say, put some of their nukes on them?

Please tell me I don't live in a world where weird shit like that can happen.

What's Moon trying to do? Bring on the Rapture?

Wal-Mart: Always Low Values 

What the hell are we going to do about Wal-Mart?

Everybody in America whose last name isn't "Walton" knows that this company is, simply, bad for us. Their defense is "We provide jobs" and "we help the tax base." Turns out this may not be the case either....

(via San Francisco Chronicle)
Inadequate wages and benefits force workers at Wal-Mart stores in California to seek $86 million a year in state aid, according to a report released Monday by the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

Moreover, if other retailers cut their wages and benefits to the levels offered by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the cost to California's public-assistance programs would rise by $410 million annually, the study said.

In their report, Berkeley researchers Arindrajit Dube and Ken Jacobs contend that more than other retail workers, Wal-Mart employees rely on a variety of public-aid programs, including food stamps, Medicare and subsidized housing.

"In effect, Wal-Mart is shifting part of its labor costs onto the public," the researchers wrote. Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, maintains that it pays competitive wages and relieves public assistance burdens by giving jobs to many people who otherwise would not be employed.

Dube and Jacobs' study took into account statewide data on wages paid by large retailers, the numbers of workers throughout the retail industry who use state assistance programs and information gleaned from lawsuits about Wal-Mart's pay and benefits.

The report found that Wal-Mart's wages on average were 31% below those of the broader group of large retailers — $9.70 an hour versus $14.01 an hour.

And with less earning power, Wal-Mart workers rely more heavily on state resources, Dube and Jacobs found, costing the state $32 million in health-related expenses and $54 million in other assistance.

In Georgia, a state survey of the state's children's health insurance program found that Wal-Mart employees' families disproportionately relied on the program, accounting for more than 10,000 of the 166,000 children enrolled.

In Congress, a report by Democratic staffers on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce looked at employee eligibility for assistance programs and found that a typical 200-employee Wal-Mart store could cost federal taxpayers $420,750 a year, or more than $2,000 per employee.

Wal-Mart has disputed those findings.
So besides making up something like 10 percent of the US trade deficit with China, they're sucking at the government teat to do it. What's the answer? Nationalization, alas, has gone out of fashion. Boycotts are in many cases impractical. Is it just impossible to enforce the concept of "good corporate citizenship" in an age of globalization?

What do we do about Wal-Mart?

Rock Around the Crock 

(via um, I forget...Tennessean maybe?)
In an unprecedented series of concerts in nine swing states, more than 20 musical acts - including Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and the Dixie Chicks - will perform fund-raising concerts one month before the Nov. 2 election in an effort to unseat President Bush.

The shows, which will begin Oct. 1 in Pennsylvania, will take an unusual approach: as many as six concerts on a single day in cities across the states expected to decide the November presidential race. Other stops on the tour are North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin and the key state in 2000, Florida.

The artists of different generations and genres will tour under the name "Vote For Change," with shows Oct. 1-8. But the money generated will go to America Coming Together, which promises on its Web site to "derail the right-wing Republican agenda by defeating George W. Bush."

The anticipated millions of dollars will be spent in the swing states before the presidential election, said ACT president Ellen Malcolm. The shows will be presented by MoveOn Pac, the electoral arm of the liberal interest group MoveOn.org, with an official announcement expected Wednesday.

There was no immediate word on prices for tickets, which were going on sale for all shows Aug. 21. The shows will pair artists, such as Springsteen and REM or the Dixie Chicks and James Taylor. There will be 34 shows in 28 cities.

Other artists participating in the shows include hip-hoppers Jurassic 5, John Mellencamp, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Babyface, Bright Eyes and the Dave Matthews Band.

Springsteen said he didn't fear any backlash over going public with his personal politics.

"It's a pretty clear-cut decision in November," said Springsteen, whose songs have provided a backdrop for some Kerry events. "We're chipping in our two cents. That's all we're trying to do."
Be nice to see some more folks put their names on the line. Be nice to see a PPV deal arranged ASAP too. Of course with my luck the show close enough for me to get to would be rap and country acts, but for Sweet Baby James I'd drive a little farther. Details at actforvictory.org

Cheneyed At The Pump 

Dick Cheney, speaking in Arkansas, tries a new up-is-down theory that it's the DEMOCRAT'S fault us poor peons are getting screwed--er, we mean "cheneyed" of course--at the gas pump. Juan Cole, in his usual elegant and economical way, slices, dices, minces and purees this absurdity. Go read the whole thing for the pure enjoyment of it. A quick summary:
I don't often find Dick Cheney amusing, but I fell off my sofa belly-laughing over this one.

Cheney, being an oil man, knows exactly why petroleum prices are high.

1) The Iraq War and the US mishandling of the aftermath have had a significant upward impact on petroleum prices.

a) The uncertainties of the Iraq situation (and remember that the US is rattling sabres at Iran periodically, too) are adding at least $10 a barrel to the price in speculation and anxiety. If an American is paying $1.85 at the pump, it would be $1.39 without Cheney.

b) The continued sabotage of Iraqi oil pipelines and facilities have most often limited Iraqi exports to a million barrels a day, when before the war Iraq was exporting 2.5 million. The loss of Iraqi production is not a big factor in price (say 2%), but it comes on top of the uncertainty and speculation.

That puts the Cheney Premium on US gasoline prices at 27 percent!

2) The consolidation of the energy market in a few corporate hands has pushed up prices, and threatens to become worse. We already know that Enron, led by Bush's dear friend and patron, Ken Lay, ripped off California consumers deliberately.

3) Instead of taking steps to increase US energy efficiency in the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration has encouraged consumption. High consumption contributes to high prices....

4) There are other causes for the high prices right now, including decisions of the OPEC cartel (Cheney's friends), a strike in Nigeria, and the Russian government's dispute with Yukos Petroleum over $3 billion in unpaid back taxes. These crises are temporary and will pass, and the price will fall again. To my knowledge, the US Democratic Party is not involved in any of these crises.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Any day when Krugman does a shout-out for the blogosphere is a good day:

A message to my fellow journalists: check out media watch sites like campaigndesk.org, mediamatters.org and dailyhowler.com. It's good to see ourselves as others see us. I've been finding The Daily Howler's concept of a media "script," a story line that shapes coverage, often in the teeth of the evidence, particularly helpful in understanding cable news.

But the real power of a script is the way it can retroactively change the story about what happened.

On Thursday night, Mr. Kerry's speech was a palpable hit. A focus group organized by Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, found it impressive and persuasive. Even pro-Bush commentators conceded, at first, that it had gone over well.

But a terrorism alert is already blotting out memories of last week. Although there is now a long history of alerts with remarkably convenient political timing, and Tom Ridge politicized the announcement by using the occasion to praise "the president's leadership in the war against terror," this one may be based on real information. Regardless, it gives the usual suspects a breathing space; once calm returns, don't be surprised if some of those same commentators begin describing the ineffective speech they expected (and hoped) to see, not the one they actually saw.

Luckily, in this age of the Internet it's possible to bypass the filter. At c-span.org,
you can find transcripts and videos of all the speeches. I'd urge
everyone to watch Mr. Kerry and others for yourself, and make your own

(via why-can't-they-do-better New York Times)

Night all.

P.S. Krugman's right. The script notion is essential. This Howler is a must read.

New York TImes readers on the latest extremely non-political terror alert 


To the Editor:

Re "U.S. Warns of High Risk of Qaeda Attack" (front page, Aug. 2):

This latest "code orange" warning of a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda doesn't quite fit into the "safer America" scenario that President Bush keeps boasting about!

One can only speculate as to how much safer we could be if all our military and intelligence efforts had been directed against Al Qaeda.
Doris Fenig
Floral Park, Queens, Aug. 2, 2004

To the Editor:

Re "A Few Larger Questions Beyond the Where and How" (news analysis, Aug. 2):

I believe that the American people would be less likely to believe that the terror alerts are not political if Tom Ridge, the homeland security secretary, had not ended his press conference on Sunday by saying,
"We must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terror."

Mr. Ridge made it political at that moment.

Sharon Howell
Baton Rouge, La., Aug. 2, 2004
To the Editor:

I live in northern New Jersey and work in Midtown Manhattan, near the Citicorp Center. I was listening carefully to Tom Ridge's warning, as the sites he was mentioning for possible attacks basically encompassed all of my daily life. Then he said,
"We must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terror."

I realized that I was listening to a paid political announcement
and turned the radio off. The credibility of the announcement had been reduced to zero.

John Morley
Ridgewood, N.J., Aug. 2, 2004
(via the Letters-and-Krugman-are-the-Only-Reliable-Parts-of-It-Times)

Ol' Tom really screwed the pooch on this one, didn't he? Heh. Of course, his only real qualification for the job was that he made the Republican National Convention to run on time in 2000 when it was in Philly—by illegally arresting demonstrators. Oh, that's his job this year too, isn't it?

What do they want to distract us from with their fake terror alerts? 

Perhaps it's this

or this

or this

or this

or this.

I don't know -- maybe it's all of them.

I guess the scariest part is this: it's working.

Dean speaks the truth again about the latest extremely non-political terror alert 


Dean, as usual, spoke the unsayable truth: "Every time something happens that's not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism." Also as usual, the whore press was all over him like a cheap suit. (See Atrios for a gruesome example of CNN trying to tbe FUX.)

The bright side: It used to take months for the ideas to penetrate that (1) Dean was not only talking sense, but (2) it was safe for others to speak up two. Now the truth cycle is down from months to days:

Rep. William J. Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., also questioned whether the timing of the release was politically motivated, noting that the raised terror alert comes on the heels of last week's Democratic convention.

Pascrell, who serves on the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, said he was angry that he and other New Jersey officials were not initially told that some of the information predated even the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Pascrell, of Paterson, was also angered that the information was not clearly characterized as surveillance data, as it turned out to be, rather than operational plans for an actual attack.

"Why didn't they tell us in the beginning?" Pascrell said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Look at the timing, look at the situation that exists, and you have to wonder."

Specifically, Pascrell questioned whether a Sunday news conference by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge was intended to divert attention from Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, who accepted his party's nomination on Thursday in Boston.

Pascrell said he was among officials who had distanced themselves from a statement on Sunday by former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean that, "every time something happens that's not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism."

Pascrell said that by Tuesday he began thinking, "Maybe [Dean's statement was] not such far-fetched idea."

At a news conference in New York, Ridge defended his office's actions Tuesday, saying it was "essential" to release the information and raise the terror threat level to orange over the weekend, and that the security measures taken by businesses and local, state and federal agencies made it more difficult for terrorists to achieve their goals.

Ridge rejected the notion that the release of the information was politically motivated.

"We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security," Ridge told reporters. "Our job is to identify the threat."
(via Newsday)


Bush sends Waura and The Twins to the site (back, and it's not part of the campaign? Oh, it hurts, it hurts to laugh....

And, oh yeah, there was no "threat." Threat is operationalized, as Pascrell points out. This was just a stale piece of rather dubious intelligence. God knows what the next surprise will be...

Waura (hearts) New York in the latest extremely non-political terror alert 

Well, guess who happened to show up in Manhattan in the latest extremely non-political terror alert! Why Waura and The Twins, of course!

Uptown, at the heavily guarded 59-story Citigroup building on East 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue, New York Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg paid workers a call with three surprise visitors -- first lady Laura Bush and her two daughters.

Asked by a reporter why she had come to the center, [Lady Mac]Bush smiled and replied, "For coffee."


Then She remembers the line:

Seconds later she added, "I want to thank people for coming to work and I'm really glad to be with them today."

Hey, and get this! She actually spontaneously meets with some citizens in a totally unscripted setting, just like aWol does:

Later, Nandika Madgavkar of Short Hills, a Citicorp volunteer program manager who sat with Bush and the others, said workers were surprised by the first lady's visit.

"We didn't know anything about it, so it was an absolute surprise," said Madgavkar, 39. "I'm absolutely delighted that they were here, because a lot of us who work with Citigroup, with these alerts, we are fearful."
(via Star Ledger)

Gag me with a spoon.

Nandika, Nandika, Nandika. Do you really think Bush would send his best campaign surrogates into any real danger?

NOTE See here for the latest on The Twins. "Little Jenna has such a sense of entitlement!"

The intelligence behind the latest extremely non-political terror alert 

Here's some detail on the intelligence behind the latest extremely "non-political" terror alert from Department of Electoral Security Chief Tom Ridge.

The Prudential Building, one of the sites listed by Ridge, is in Newark, NJ. Looking, then, to the Newark Star-Ledger (Advance Publications), here's what we find:

In Newark, home to one of the targets, Prudential Financial, a law enforcement source said intelligence officials believe a single al Qaeda operative probably studied the 24-story office tower before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and after, at least into 2002.

Oh-k-a-a-a-y. That's good enough for me! But wait, there's more!

Analysts in Newark and Washington are studying roughly 60 pages of detailed surveillance information -- including minutiae such as the color of Prudential security force uniforms -- that had been deeply encrypted in a computer seized in Pakistan, the source said.

Oh-k-a-a-a-y! Naturally, the Pakistanis would never (1) game us for purposes of their own, let alone (2) tell Bush what he wants to hear, especially (3) in an election year, when (4) He already gave them a free pass on proliferating their nuclear technology all over the Middle East and to North Korea. Intelligence material from Pakistan's ISI? That's good enough for me! But wait! There's more!

The reconnaissance included a diagram of the Broad Street building, photographs of the structure "from all angles," and schedules of the off-duty police officers who worked there, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said.

Oh-k-a-a-a-y! Of course, we all know that computer files and documents are virtually impossible to fake, even for large and well-funded intelligence agencies! This is one of the best features of digital technology!

Information about the plot, publicly revealed Sunday by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, was derived from three arrested members of al Qaeda, U.S. and Pakistani officials said yesterday.

The sources were a communications expert arrested in mid-July in Pakistan; an operative arrested 10 days later, whose computer contained evidence of the plot; and an operative believed to be in British custody.

Oh-k-a-a-a-y! Gee, though, it seems that the administration is really going out of their way to give the enemy every possible clue to our sources and methods. In this case. When in cases where they don't look so good, they hold onto their sources and methods with a grip of iron. Why would that be, I wonder?

Despite the heightened security, most citizens appeared to be going about their business.
(via the Newark Star Ledger)

Well, what choice did they have? Take the day off in the Bush economy? Head for the bunkers? Man, that gaslight sure is hard on the eyes, though ...

UPDATE And as Xan points out in comments: An AQ operative is lugging a laptop around in mountains and caves of northwest Pakistan's tribal regions? Man, I need to find out who manufactured that guy's batteries....

Old songs here are not forgotten 

Long Ike and Sweet Betsy attended a dance; Ike wore a pair of his Pike County pants; Sweet Betsy was dressed up in ribbons and rings; Says Ike, "You're an angel, but where are your wings?"

Lyrics above from: "Sweet Betsy From Pike" circa 1870.

Over yonder at the Liberal Coalition website Alex of Sooner Thought has posted an excerpt and link to a recent Greg Palast column. A column i'd read myself previously and had considered commenting on but didn't because I was distracted by CNN's sexy new titilating twenty four hour non-stop road to the Republican National Convention - slash - TERROR ALERT! - slash - ELECT BUSH! - slash - campaign news-o-terror-mercial. You've probably already heard of it. So lets move along.

Alex writes:

Greg Palast asks some tough questions about John Kerry. I may not agree with all of what he says, but I respect his right (and courage) to say it. Just a reminder that even our best candidates have (and probably will) let us down. It is our job to hold President Kerry's feet to the fire if he forgets what he promised.

You can also read Palast's entire column over at the Common Dreams dot org if you'd like. You've probably actually read this column before. In one manifestation or another. More than once actually. More like a 1000 times from a thousand different progressive voices. You read it during the 2000 Gore vs. Bush campaign. You read it during the Clinton vs. Dole campaign. And on and on. And I suspect you'll read it a thousand times from here to November. And to be honest, like Alex, I can't really disagree with what Palast has to say on most points. The only problem I have right now is that I'm fucking sick and tired of hearing Greg Palast and his troupe of wandering minstrels singing the same goddamned song over and fucking over again. Clue to Greg - dood - we fucking GET IT! Okie-dokie! Like ya know we can groove on the tunes you're diggin' man. But we're kind of sick and tired of listening to ya play the same fuckin' chords over and over again. Especially since we ain't exactly booked into the Unitarian coffee house tour from now till November 2004.

So anyway, Steve Bates of Yellow Doggerel Democrat enters the LibCoalition/Palast post comment thread with the following insight:

Alex, are you saying you found it difficult to applaud that speech? Put aside the saber-rattling and military posturing; any electable candidate would do the same this year. Are you saying there were no progressive elements of that speech that made your heart glad?

If Kerry is the "slap in the face," then by all means, give me the slap in the face. The "brick to the skull" has already been flung at us; the only question now is whether we duck or take the hit. I am a fan of Greg Palast. He doesn't mince words. Like me, he is a lot more liberal than Sen. Kerry. But it is easy to be snarky from the sidelines. And I believe the "Kerry supports the war" meme is a bad rap: Bush's mess will take more than a month to clean up, as Kerry acknowledges. Kerry promised more than he can accomplish in a term following Bush's. So what else is new? Politicians promise what they want, not what they can do. But do you think we will see more war with Kerry in office than with Bush?

Alex in turn responds:

I am presenting a point of view--that's all. I just don't want President Kerry to forget the reasons we elected him. Don't misunderstand: I am 100% Kerry--but I still think our system is in trouble. Too much money in campaigns, a Democratic Party in Congress that wimped out to the Repubs until Dean set our rhetoric free and made it okay to be Democrats again. Kerry voted for this war. He voted for the Patriot Act. We must make sure his actions as president match his promises as candidate. That said--Vote Kerry!

Obviously neither Steve or Alex are stupid carzy idiots. It's a nuance thing. Which apparently Right wingees can't figger or don't take a hankerin' to or something. But - anyway - this is what bothers me. As a matter of fact it's been driving me especially nuts lately. More so in this year 2004. Because, and mainly because, guys like Palast never give it up even for the benefit of a charity gig. And apparently not even long enough to do themselves any good. Tweedledum and Tweedledee, all Greg Palast's columns are the same - ya see.

Come gather 'round people - Wherever you roam - And admit that the waters - Around you have grown - And accept it that soon - You'll be drenched to the bone. - If your time to you - Is worth savin' - Then you better start swimmin' - Or you'll sink like a stone - For the times they are a-changin'.

Palast will be filing the same exact copy from the wilderness of the second W. Bush term that hes filing now from the last days of the first. The same copy he's been filing for years. What does he care? He'll just move to London when the undertow becomes too ugly?

Furthermore. I'm sick and tired of wandering around in the misty woods in the middle of night dressed like an indian making hooty-owl sounds and giving secret handshakes to fellow progressives like Palast while Chief Nader and his merry band of like minded teepee shaman smoke peace pipe with buffalo runners and caravans of loopy pilgrims on their way to the holyland. WELL FUCK THAT STONEY BALONEY PONY SHIT! I'm sick of sleeping on my horse, eating dead dogs, and camping out in the rain.

I'm sick of it. I want to attack the fort. I want to take Fort W and scatter to the four winds the vile Tory bastards within. If that means riding through those gates in war paint behind John Kerry and John Edwards I'm ready to go. I don't care if John Kerry happens to be a snooty New England scrimshaw dealer and I don't give a flyin' leaping screw if John Edwards continues to flail around thumbs up while grinning like some corn-ball loon who's been gobbling handfulls of psilocybin. Fuck it. Who cares. Kick out the jams motherfuckers! Lets rock and roll. I'll deal with the particulars of the hangover once I've settled me down in a nice bunk with clean sheets and found me a pretty girl to walk me to the grand opening of the progressive dancin' saloon.

I want a place in the fort. Greg. Once inside I'll set me up a desk built of sticks and stones and political party bones and do my trade as I see fit. If Greg Palast wants to sew little bells to his coat and hop up and down like a wood elf while strumming his old banjo inside and/or outside of that fort that will be just fine with me. I think that would be a nice time. I'm all for it. But if Greg Palast and his medicine man jug band don't wish to join those of us willing to sacrifice something of ourselves to storm the ramparts, at this desolate crossroads, for tangible strategic purposes, and would prefer to remain in the forest conjuring mystical cures and dancing naked about the spirit fires, well, so be it as well. But remember, in these times especially, if you chose to remain chanting in the wilderness, and your songs are not heard in the hall of dances for generations to come, you may find you have no one to blame but yourself. Old songs are nice. I love old songs. I remember old songs. But if they are never heard they die a slow agonizing death. And if you are not willing to change your tune long enough to do what it takes to build a new stage from which those songs can be played and sung and listened to, well, you need to listen to more of this old song:

Your old road is Rapidly agin'. Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand. For the times they are a-changin'.

Which, speaking of old songs, brings me back round to Sweet Betsy from Pike and her partner Ike. Long Ike and Betsy set off on a complicated journey. They didn't always see eye to eye for much of the going and they sure had their ups and downs - god knows - but, nevertheless, they stuck it out together. And they made it. They even managed to dis old Brigham Young and leave the old pervert standing in his own dust fondling his own horny nuts. Betsy and Ike may have ultimately parted ways but they got where they set out to git and they attended many dances in many forts and married each other and had quite at time of it. And it was quite an adventure to tell.

It would be a real shame if that old song were forgotten.


Monday, August 02, 2004

Out, Damned Fog 

Some mornings, when the temperature just matches the dew point, the dawn starts to break and the world looks like the inside of a pearl as fog covers the land. The higher the sun gets the more the mist breaks up into patches.

A couple of patches are still clinging to the darker spots of woodlands. One of the darkest, guarded by large and ugly trees, has been the story of the atrocities committed in our names in the foul prisons of Iraq. Two stories, one old and one new, suggest that even those trees can't for very much longer hold back the rays of sunlight from breaking through.

Lambert suggests that this item noted earlier by esteemed reader Shystee (via the forthcoming issue of Newsweek) implies that the next investigative commission into interrogator abuses will be just a same-old, same-old coverup. I don't read it that way:
In mid-August, the commission that Schlesinger chairs—handpicked by Rumsfeld from members of his own Defense Policy Board—is expected to issue its final report on abuses by U.S. interrogators stemming from the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal. NEWSWEEK has learned the Schlesinger panel is leaning toward the view that failures of command and control at the Pentagon helped create the climate in which the abuses occurred.
One reason I think this is more hopeful than it looks is this next item. Note the date: this was run last Thursday when everybody was looking at the shiny confetti at the convention.

This is from the WaPo's superb Ellen McCarthy. When it's time to hand out all the Pulitzers next year I am personally campaigning on her behalf--she's been the pitbull on this issue whose stuff I merely steal:
Thursday, July 29, 2004; Page E05 <--(not that they meant to bury it or anything):

Contracts released by the Defense Department raise new questions about whether civilian employees of CACI International Inc. supervised the interrogation of some prison detainees in Iraq.

The Pentagon provided copies of the Arlington company's government contracts to the Center for Public Integrity, which sought them under the Freedom of Information Act. The center, based in the District, made the documents public yesterday.

The $19.9 million contract for CACI to provide interrogators, awarded last August, calls for the civilian workers to "provide oversight and other directed intelligence support to [military] screening and interrogation operations, with special emphasis on High-Value detainees."

But the contract for interrogation services also says that CACI employees are to be "directed by military authority" and that "the contractor is responsible for providing supervision of all contractor personnel."

Controversy also arose over the government's use of a contract intended to provide information technology services to hire the civilian interrogators.

Using an umbrella contract managed by the Interior Department, the government awarded CACI 11 task orders for duties in Iraq including inventory management and intelligence analysis.

Critics said the newly released CACI contracts add to questions about the government's use of private contractors to carry out sensitive wartime operations.

"This once again just shows how far we've pushed it," said Peter W. Singer, a fellow with the Brookings Institution. "When you see contracts written this way, they are ignoring a fundamental fact. . . . You are hiring someone to do a military job even through they are not in the military."

Some contracting experts said such language creates confusion about how civilian contractors interact with enlisted soldiers and officers.

"This is telling us that the buck stops at the contractors. . . . There may be a chain of command, but the people who are the experts, who know the rules, are outside the government," said Daniel J. Guttman, a fellow at the Center for Study of the American Government at Johns Hopkins University.
This is the essence, the filthy heart of the beast we've been calling the Fog Machine. Confuse the lines of command. Make sure that nobody, either at the time or later when the investigators come calling, knows what's going on or who's in control or who can or even should be held personally responsible.

An earlier day called it "plausible deniability." Now we prefer to let the big shots off with tsk-tsks of "systemic dysfunction" or some similar bullshit. This has only one goal: to pretend that these deeds were not done, these abuses not committed, these laws not broken by individual men and women who need to be held personally responsible. Every damned one of them, from a few bad apples to the top of the chain of command.

Goodnight, moon 

Apparently the Schlesinger Commission is going to slap Rummy three times with a wet noodle over Abu Ghraib.

Wonder if there'll be any mention of the video with shrieking boys being raped?

Election Fraud 2004: Republicans work to deny Spanish-speakers the vote 

Xan posted (back here) the cookbook for vote fraud. Not that the Republicans need it, but it's handy for us to know what they're up to, and what we're up against. See if you can guess which technique the Republicans are using to deny Spanish speakers their voting rights:

Federal promises to make registering to vote easier for Spanish-speaking voters by posting the required forms on the Internet have been lost in translation.

Seven months after the government hired a company to translate the material, and nearly a year after the English version was made available, nothing appeared online.

Federal promises to make registering to vote easier for Spanish-speaking voters by posting the required forms on the Internet have been lost in translation.

Seven months after the government hired a company to translate the material, and nearly a year after the English version was made available, nothing appeared online.

On Friday evening...

Heh. A 5 o'clock horror!

... [t]he U.S. Election Assistance Commission, after questions from The Washington Post, rushed a translated version still under review onto its Web site. But as of yesterday afternoon, the Federal Election Commission did not offer the Spanish version on its site. At issue has been the 33-page National Mail Voter Registration form that allows people to register from anywhere in the country.

In January, two months after the English version appeared on the Internet, the FEC hired California-based Transcend, a company experienced in translating government documents, to translate the form. But after Transcend completed its work in April and handed the translation to the newly formed U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the project stalled.

Commission Chairman DeForest Soaries, said the Spanish voter registration form had become a casualty of limited resources and a sprawling priority list.

He said federal law does not require the commission to provide voter registration forms in languages other than English. Even so, he acknowledged the value of the effort to voters. Latinos made up 5 percent of the overall electorate in the last election.

"It's obviously necessary because of the size of Hispanic community," he said. "And from the information we received, we get more requests for Spanish than other languages."

The commission was mandated by the Helping America Vote Act of 2002, a law intended to remove obstacles to the election process. It has four commissioners, appointed by [Bush]...

Why on earth did the Beltway Dems stand for that one?

.... with recommendations from both parties. Among its responsibilities, the commission is charged with creating a nationally uniform electoral process and administering federal aid to help states upgrade voting booths and train poll workers.

Rodolfo de la Garza, a Columbia University political science professor and expert on Latino political behavior, said the delay amounted to voter disenfranchisement.

"This is the area that we have moved into in voting rights, these kinds of passive obstacles," he said. "That is very different from stealing votes, it just makes it harder for them to vote. . It's patently false that this so complicated they can't get it done in nine months."
(via WaPo)

Time's up! Bing bing bing bing bing!

Why, it's technique #1! "Inconvenience to register"!

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