Saturday, June 19, 2004

Words Matter. Really.  

So Lambert says Google News isn't working, and I hit it just to check, and lo and behold, what do I find but a WaPo item I never noticed all day mentioned on their front webpage.

Apparently a column called "Inside the A Section" by John Harris and Brian Faler, it has a number of insider-type items, headed by this little number:
With voter anxieties about Iraq shadowing this year's campaign, pollster Frank Luntz has some advice for fellow Republicans: Mind your language.

Luntz, according to a strategy paper that fell into the hands of Democrats, says minor changes in language used by politicians can lead to major differences in voter perceptions -- turning a potential liability into an asset.

Among his suggested talking points, in the nine-page section on Iraq and terrorism:

• It's not the war in Iraq -- it's the war on terror. "You will not find any instance in which we suggest that you use the actual word 'preemption' or the phrase 'the War in Iraq' to communicate your policies to the American public. To do so is to undermine your message from the start," it said. "Your efforts are about 'the principles of prevention and protection' in the greater 'War on Terror.' "

• Remember: better there than here. " 'Prevention at home can require aggressive action abroad' is the best way to link a principle the public supports with the policies of the Administration," it said. " 'It is better to fight the War on Terror on the streets of Baghdad than on the streets of New York or Washington.' "

• Don't forget the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. " '9/11 changed everything' is the context by which everything follows. No speech about homeland security or Iraq should begin without a reference to 9/11."

• Don't forget Saddam Hussein. " 'The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein.' Enough said."

• And don't forget the troops. "Nothing matters more than Americans in the line of fire," it said. "Never, ever, EVER give a speech or issue a press release that makes no mention of our troops."

In an e-mailed response, phrasemaker Luntz declined to comment on his paper.
*Snort, snark* Why does that last line fail to provoke astonishment?

Anyway, here's my thought. We here at Corrente are unrelenting in ferreting out truth, justice and restoration of the American Way, activities which by definition require the ouster of Bush. But we are not into nuts-and-bolts politics as such, the sort which is the lifeblood of a place like dKos.

But here's our opportunity to let slip the dogs of democracy. With the above examples from the Dark Side, what can we come up with as Talking Points for the forces of Justice and Light?

I'll throw out the blatantly obvious to get you started: "We support our troops in Iraq so much that we want to give them their dearest wish, transport home by the fastest means possible. We also support our troops fighting the true War on Terror in Afghanistan, who need a lot more help than they're getting from the current administration."

He who controls the discourse wins the argument. The points above show where they KNOW they're weak. If lies repeated often enough start to be believed, just imagine how constant reiterations of TRUTH can really kick ass.

Hit that comment button! Words you might want to think about include "Haliburton," "contractors," "impeachment," "national debt," "my grandchildren," "energy independence," "treason," "Osama bin Forgotten," and "quagmire." I'm sure you'll come up with more.

Goodnight, moon 

Sheesh, seems like both Google and Yahoo are down. Sluggishness of WiFi at my Saturday evening hot spot of choice, or some attack on those two hubs in the scale free network that is the Internet?

UPDATE I forgot to say that there is no truth to the vile rumor that Bush fucks goats. Nor is there any truth to the even more vile rumor that his average time is, oh, seven minutes.

A patriot's prayer 

From Neil Pollack (and be sure to read the whole thing):

"Dear [Higher Power of Choice], give us the will to restore religion in this country, as our Founding Fathers intended, to an abstract guiding principle, not the theologically unsound justification for a twisted foreign policy. Let us fight our enemies with peace and wisdom, not anger and indiscriminate force. Allow our country to serve as a symbol of what's good in humankind, not what's corrupt. Most of all, grant us the strength and wisdom to remove President George W. Bush from office. In your name, we say: Amen."


Slightly edited, as you see.

Unmet Goals, Unkept Promises  

Go read this. Now.

You're still here. Why?

Oh all right, I guess I must explain. The Pulizer Prize committee can just save some time and print up another award now for the Washington Post, this time for Rajiv Chandrasekaran.

He got the CPA people to talk. Had to give them anonymity--although he got Bremer on the record for comments that blew my mind, and I bet he is going to really regret--but this is huge. And it's just the first installment of a three part piece. Which is running the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of the week which, on Friday, will see the opening of "Fahrenheit 9/11."

You're still here. I sigh at your obstinacy. Okay then, here are tidbits:

BAGHDAD -- The American occupation of Iraq is formally ending this month having failed to fulfill many of its goals and stated promises intended to transform the country into a stable democracy, according to a detailed examination drawing upon interviews with senior U.S. and Iraqi officials and internal documents of the occupation authority.
Discussion of the things which are still broken: The army. The police. Reconstruction. The electrical system. Back to you, Rajiv...
In an interview last week, Bremer maintained that "Iraq has been fundamentally changed for the better" by the occupation... Among his biggest accomplishments, he said, were the lowering of Iraq's tax rate, the liberalization of foreign-investment laws and the reduction of import duties.

Bremer acknowledged he was not able to make all the changes to Iraq's political system and economy he had envisioned , including the privatization of state-run industries...

Despite the scale of their plans, and Bremer's conclusion by last July that Iraq would need "several tens of billions of dollars" for reconstruction, CPA specialists had virtually no resources to fund projects on their own to create much-needed local employment in the months after the war. Instead, they relied on two U.S. firms, Halliburton Co. and Bechtel Corp., which were awarded large contracts to patch Iraq's infrastructure.

The CPA also lacked experienced staff. A few development specialists were recruited from the State Department and nongovernmental organizations. But most CPA hiring was done by the White House and Pentagon personnel offices, with posts going to people with connections to the Bush administration or the Republican Party.
Was I kidding? Yes, yes, we have known all these things for months if not longer. But this is the story that brings it all together for the rest of the world, the folks who have been increasingly uneasy but are still clinging to the notion that "the price has been high but we're doing good there, it will be worth it in the end."

Yes it has, no we're not to any measurable degree, and no it won't. Now stop reading my blather and click the link already.

I love it that the neo-cons and their MWs are trying to make "realism" a bad word 

After all, we all could all use a little more fantasy in our lives, right? And Dave "I'm Writing as Bad As I Can" Brooks must certainly lead a dull, drab existence. Get a load of this:

Over the past several months, Kerry and his advisers have signaled that they would like to take American foreign policy in a more "realist [Boo!]" direction.
(via the Pulitzer-light, heavy-moving, flaccidly reported, and sadly declining New York Times)

Nice work, simultaneously seeming to report on what Kerry said and shrouding it in shudder quotes.

You can see why Kerry thinks that's a clever shift...

Nice work here, too: A little work with the shiv—we all know Inerrant Boy isn't "clever," but then "moral clarity," which Kerry so clearly lacks, doesn't require cleverness. OK, now that we've got that...

after the arduous efforts to promote democracy in Iraq.

Welcome to Tomorrowland!

With realism, you avoid humanitarian interventions.

Which the wingers and Brooks were all vehemently opposed to when Clinton intervened to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo (incidentally protecting Muslims, a fact which, for some reason, the Bush administration has never made use of in its wartime propaganda, I suppose because they'd have to mention The Big Dog if they did).

But if we are going to turn realist, let's be clear ...

With a winger, "Let's be clear" == "Bend over, this won't hurt a bit."

...about what that means in practice. It means worrying less about the nature of regimes and dealing with whoever happens to be in power. It means alienating people who dream of living in freedom while we luxuriate in ours. It means doing little to confront crimes against humanity;

Uh, like Clinton's intervention in Kosovo?
realism gives a president a thousand excuses for inaction. It means betraying people like Oswaldo Payá — again and again and again.

(Payá, yawn, is the surrogate for winger Cuban votes in Florida 2004, which is the script Brooks is reading for his handlers today.)

No. That's not what realism means. As many children of six know, there's a difference between what we want to do, and what we can do[1]. Say that we want to bring democracy to Iraq. Can we? What would it take to do so? A realist would have insisted on real, not faith-based evidence, when making the case for war. A realist would have made sure that we had enough troops to hold Iraq, once having taken it, and would have made serious plans for the occupation. A realist would have seen that even an international figleaf is better than going naked. Above all, a realist would have seen that the Iraq adventure was a diversion from the campaign against fundamentalism that is truly in the national interest.

If this be realism, let us make the most of it!

Bush, unlike our child of six, only considered what he wanted to do. He didn't ask himself what we could do. Neither did Brooks, the other service providers in his brothel, the Republican party, and most of the media outside the liberal blogosphere. We not only took the realist perspective immediately, but were proved right to do so by events.

But let's go back to "Burbling" Brooks:

There's a reason Carter, Reagan and George W. Bush all turned, in different ways, against this approach. They understood that democracy advances security, kowtowing to dictators does not.

Oh my Golly. What a farrago. Carter: The Shah of Iran. Reagan: Pinochet. President Bush: Saddam himself. Inerrant Boy: Whichever dictator du jour in the pipeline rich 'stans. They all did it, and they're all going to do it.

Why? Alas, great powers sometimes do what they must—and that sometimes includes supporting dictators, as Reagan's good old Jean Kirkpatrick said. Should we minimize this? Sure. Especially if we want to keep our own democratic institutions strong.

What Bush needs to do, and doesn't, is walk the walk, not just talk the talk. He could start at home, if he wants to walk the walk and support democracy, and put a hold on electronic voting machines until they're auditable. He could walk the walk, and stop his brother from purging Democrats from voter rolls in Florida. But walking the walk is realistic.

And Bush could have walked the walk in Iraq. Besides planning the war and the postwar realistically, He could have held early local elections in Iraq. His failure to do so, since elections might not have created a compliant Iraqi government, may yet result in an Iraq run by theocrats. (See the essential Juan Cole here and in the linked original article). Of course, it's hard to claim that any genuine transfer of sovreignty has taken place, which is a prerequisite for democracy, if we won't even hand over Saddam for trial to the supposedly sovreign Iraqis.

A little more posturing from Brooks:
Most of all, they didn't want to conduct a foreign policy that would make them feel ashamed.

After Abu Ghraib, I can't see how Brooks can bring himself to write that sentence. Perhaps he has numbed himself to what he must do for his clients even more than I thought. Too bad. And to think I once thought he was a sane Republican columnist...

Whoever Dave's handler is over at the RNC should get him a new script. He needs one badly.

[1]. If Bush had gone to AA or AlAnon, he would have learned the Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." From this spritual perspective, Inerrant Boy's Iraqi adventure can be viewed as a massive failure of "wisdom to know the difference." A realist would take into account what can, and what cannot, be changed.

Anagram time! 

"Spiritual leader" (back)

Of course, there aren't a whole lot of letters to play with in "spiritual leader", so the results aren't really spectacular (unlike our previous effort (back).

However—coincidence? You be the judge—"liar" and "lie" figure largely in the results. Here are some of my favorites from the server I use:

Rude, ill parasite
Sillier, pure data
Details? Pure liar!
A surreal, idle pit
A sillier ape turd
Repair adult lies

But my favorite is:

Raised up literal

As in "doesn't do nuance"....

As in the delusion that many of Inerrant Boy's followers share that the Bible—I forget which text—is the literal word of God....

As in the opposite of "beat down literal," which, if there is any justice in the world, is what will happen to Him come November...

And of course there may be other naunces and better anagrams that you, readers, can suggest!

UPDATE Looks like "sillier ape turd" is coming up fast on the outside.

Paul Johnson Jr. RIP 

What happened to Mr. Johnson and to his family is surely the true meaning of terrorism. His executioners picked him at random, his presumed extra-legal guilt was contained in the fact of his being an American who was working on the Apache helicopter in Saudia Arabia. These self-made monsters, (whatever the root causes of terrorism, they each made the choice to be one), who claimed the blessing of God even while they appointed themselves the true aribters of life and death, acted, in the end, against the religious entreaties of leaders of their own faith. That they themselves have been executed, which deserves explanation, changes nothing about the deathly horror that surrounds their own actions.

Mr. Johnson's family has shamed these executioners by the profound humanity with which they have received the terrible news of his death and of the existence of a tape purporting to show him being beheaded.

After a day in seclusion, relatives of executed American hostage Paul Johnson Jr. released a statement. The statement was read by an FBI agent speaking on behalf of relatives.

Special Agent Joseph Billy said the family wanted everyone to know that they "understand the Saudi government and the U.S. government did every thing they could to rescue Paul under very difficult circumstances." The statement comes after Saudi officials did not bargain with the militants, who said they would spare Johnson's life in exchange for the release of imprisoned al-Qaida terrorists.

Speaking outside of a home in Galloway Township where the family was staying, Billy also said, "Paul considered Saudi Arabia his home. He loved the people and the country. They also know this act of terrorism was committed by extremists and does not represent the Saudi Arabia that Paul often spoke and wrote about to his family."

Nick Berg's father, Michael, has released a statement on behalf of the Berg family, that similarly refuses the invitation of these terrorists to nullify the essential humanity shared by all humankind everywhere. It's worthy of quoting in its entirety.

"We, the family of Nicholas Berg, extend our sympathies to the families of Paul M. Johnson, Robert Jacobs, Kenneth Scroggs, Bassam Salih Kubba and Kamal al-Jarah. We hope they will find the strength to endure the pain of their losses. We also extend our sympathies to all the families and friends of all the victims of this war, including United States military, other coalition military, contractors, and the 11,000-plus innocent Iraqi victims. We have been silent until now to avoid for the Johnson family any association our son's death may have had."

No doubt the NR Cornerites will be outraged at both families lack of outrage, and in particular, at the Berg family's inclusion of all victims of "this war," which will be decried as the usual exercise in moral equivalency.

Both of these families renew my pride in being an American.

Hollowed Be Thy Name 

So the WashPoodle runs a hagiographic piece of crap miserable excuse for a story today about "Bush's Seven Minutes" reading about the goat to the schoolkids as planes are falling out of the sky in multiple places.

The piece offers up all the standard Rove revisionisms like "Da Preznit did not want to scare the children" by shrieking like Janet Leigh in the shower and stampeding out of the room, as if that was his only alternative. You would think anybody with as much practice in lying as Bush has had could think up a line like "Aw shucks...kids, ya know how you hate it when you're having fun and your mom yells that it's time to come in and do your homework? Well even the president gets yelled at like that sometimes." Exit stage left, pursued by a bear but with a smile and a wave. Instead..
The commission report portrays a discombobulated government that can't even keep track of the hijacked planes.. Everyone's flying blind. The president borrows a cell phone to try to get through to the White House.
Symbolically and substantively, the ship of state was foundering.
But the line that's setting everybody off was this:
But even the harshest critics concede that the nation's spiritual leader rallied in the days thereafter.
Maybe the WaPo writer's children are being held at an Undisclosed Location and he can't be held responsible. But just for the record, down in Comments (via Atrios) is a WAY better description of what some real "spiritual leaders" did that day:
Bush leads our country in the same sense that a hood ornament leads a Buick.
For 9/11, the turn-out here was close to 100%. People you wouldn't think had any community feeling at all offered their services. Bike messengers spontaneously organized themselves into runners between Ground Zero and the hospitals. My super (and I expect, every super in town) head-counted the building and asked me to get on the horn and chase down every tenent who wasn't snug in bed come Tuesday night, then got together with his Ecuadorian londsmen's group to figure out a way to account for every Ecuadorian in town. Dog-owners who use the dog run down the street figured out who among them was missing, walked their dogs and had new homes for them by the next day. I worked the am shift in a hospital kitchen (a lot of workers were stuck in the bouroughs). Little girls across the street sold lemonade for the Red Cross. And that's not counting all the people who practically ran downtown (no cars or subways) to dig it out with their bare hands.

And immediately after that, the whole rest of the country came to help. Then the rest of the planet.

And Bush is taking credit for this? He claims to have led this? He contributed to this in any fucking way? I know the Secret Service gets antsy if anyone says they want to kill the president. But what if you just think he should be slapped?
Molly, NYC |
We know what this is about, of course. While purporting to be about the 9-11 Commission report that shows what a clueless clown Bushco was that day, it does double duty immunizing against Fahrenheit 9/11's opening Friday. I don't think it's going to work, but we can all discuss it next weekend after we've seen the movie.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Bush AQ lies: Condi stands by her husb—"President" 

It's beautiful, isn't it?

In publishing a report that cited no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, the Sept. 11 commission actually meant to say that Iraq had no control over the network, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said on Friday.

As the White House strove to curb potential damage to President Bush's credibility on Iraq, his closest aide on international security denied any inconsistency between the bipartisan panel's findings and Bush's insistence that a Saddam-Qaeda relationship existed.

"What I believe the 9-11 commission was opining on was operational control, an operational relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq which we never alleged," Rice said in an interview with National Public Radio.

"The president simply outlined what we knew about what al Qaeda and Iraq had done together. Operational control to me would mean that he (Saddam) was, perhaps, directing what al Qaeda would do."

Intelligence reports of links between Saddam and the group blamed for the 2001 attacks formed a cornerstone of Bush's rationale for the invasion and occupation of the turbulent Arab country, where 833 U.S. soldiers have died after 14 months of violence.

The chairman and vice chairman of the Sept. 11 commission differed with Rice's characterization of their panel's findings in separate interviews with Reuters.

"We don't think there was any relationship whatsoever having to do with 9/11. Whether al Qaeda and Saddam were cooperating on other things against the United States, we don't know," Commission Chairman Thomas Kean said.
(via Reuters)

Some real serious parsing of words going on here, eh?

Somehow, Condi just can't allow Kean or the Commission to speak for themselves, and has to explain what they "meant." Since Inerrant Boy cannot—being sent of God—err, the Commission therefore cannot have implied that He did. So they could not have meant what they seemed to mean to say. Oh, these people. They just won't lie down. They make my head hurt.

Plame Affair: White House Counsel Albert "Death Penalty Memos" Gonzales questioned 

And no doubt co-operated fully.

The White House's top lawyer was questioned by a federal grand jury Friday in the criminal investigation of who in the Bush administration leaked the name of a covert CIA operative last year.
(via AP)

I blame gay marriage.



An Al Qaeda group said today it killed American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr, posting three photos on the Internet showing his body and severed head.
(via LA Times)

I guess AQ really does want Bush re-elected.

Science for Republicans 

Besides the Dallas location, it's the knuckle-dragging part that tips you off it's a Texas Republican:

[N]o one expected a stocky, knuckle-dragging 340-pound gorilla to leap across a 12-foot-wide moat and a wall that separated him from visitors at the Dallas Zoo.
(via AP)

Gee, I don't know what he could have seen—a "pastor" to suck up to, maybe?

Their Eyes Met And... 

Early on in his administration, Bush met with Premier Putin, eyeball to eyeball, each to take the measure of the other. What Bush saw in Putin's eyes was a fundamentally good heart. That vibrant connection, two good hearts at the helm of vast and powerful countries, survived even Russia's apostasy on Iraq.

The first blush of romance may have warn off, but Putin still sees something kindred in George W.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in comments sure to help President Bush, declared Friday that Russia knew Iraq's Saddam Hussein had planned terror attacks on U.S. soil and had warned Washington.

Putin said Russian intelligence had been told on several occasions that Saddam's special forces were preparing to attack U.S. targets inside and outside the United States.

"After the events of September 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services several times received information that the official services of the Saddam regime were preparing 'terrorist acts' on the United States and beyond its borders," he told reporters.

Saddam must have been worried that President Bush might not really invade, so it made sense to him to put his fingerprints on a terrorist attack just to make sure.
Oh, and by the way, the Russians were never able to report intelligence about any specific planned attack. The lack of specifics must be why no one in the Bush administration ever mentioned this Russian intelligence. And Bush would probably have considered it pandering to a press determined to do him in to bring it up now that the 9/11 Commission has given a minimalist interpretation of what relationship there might have been between Saddam and Osama. Which is probably why Putin took it upon himself to speak up for a kindred good heart.

The Kremlin leader's comments were certain to bolster Bush, whose campaign for re-election in November is under pressure from the Iraq crisis.

The U.S. leader has been on the defensive at home for insisting -- against the findings of an independent commission -- that Saddam had links with al Qaeda, the militant group behind the 2001 airline attacks in the United States that killed 3,000 people and prompted the U.S. war on terrorism.

Putin's remarks were all the more unusual since Russia had diplomatic relations with Saddam's Iraq and sided with France and Germany in opposing the invasion.

No, he hasn't changed his mind about that opposition; Putin couldn't support the invasion because it hadn't been sufficiently respectful of international law. Perhaps what might seem an almost excessive reverence for the rule of international law is made possible by the absence of any genuine rule of law to revere within Russia. Still, we have Mr. Bush's good word that Mr. Putin has a good heart. Perhaps it's this emphasis on "goodness" that seems to have tipped Mr. Putin toward the Republican party.

It is not the first time that Putin, who has forged a strong personal bond with Bush despite opposing him diplomatically over Iraq, has come to his defense on the issue.

At a summit of G8 world industrialized powers at the U.S. resort of Sea Island last week, where he met Bush separately, Putin stepped into the U.S. campaign by chastising U.S. Democrats for attacking the Republican president on Iraq.

He said they had "no moral right" to do so since it had been the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton that had authorized the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia by U.S. and NATO forces.

Early this morning, I heard a debate of sorts on CNN or MSNBC between Jamie Rubin, and a young woman from the Hoover Institute regarding this question of exactly what were the justifications for the Iraq invasion, and which ones were true. The young woman proferred the most extraordinary version of the human rights raison d'etre for the war; Saddam's link with terrorism was contained in the fact that he was a brutal dictator and commentators have continually overlooked that part of the Bush doctrine which asserts this "root causes" rationale, that from such dictatorships doth arise both terrorism and terrorists.

I have to admit that I missed that myself. Wow, we have our work cut out for us if the answer to the terroristic potential of brutal dictatorships is a policy of prophylactic invasion.

Aware as we all are that irony has been alternately banished and cheapened in the post 9/11 universe, forgive me for pointing out that Putin made his statement regarding the brutal dictatorship of Iraq and its ties to the stateless Al Queda from the capital city of Khazakhstan; you can find how human rights are doing in that ex-Soviet Republic here.

Bush torture policies: Intense pressure at Abu Ghraib from White House 

Go USA Today!

The officer who oversaw interrogations at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad testified that he was under intense ''pressure'' from the White House, Pentagon and CIA last fall to get better information from detainees, pressure that he said included a visit to the prison by an aide to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Army Lt. Col. Steven Jordan, in a sworn statement to Army investigators obtained by USA TODAY, said he was told last September that White House staffers wanted to ''pull the intelligence out'' of the interrogations being conducted at Abu Ghraib. The pressure stemmed from growing concern about the increasingly violent Iraqi insurgency that was claiming American lives daily. It came before and during a string of abuses of Iraqi prisoners in October, November and December of 2003.

While the documents obtained by USA TODAY do not answer questions about how high approval of the abuses went...

That's because The Fog Machine was designed to provide Bush with "plausible deniability" and shield Him from responsibility.

... they show there was intense interest in the Abu Ghraib operations at the highest levels of the Pentagon and the White House staff.

How much the White House knew -- or wanted to know -- about the interrogation techniques being used at Abu Ghraib remains unclear. The documents reveal no explicit approval by Bush administration officials of harsh treatment.

Just like His Dad. "Not in the loop." Ha, right.

UPDATE Digby has a nice post on how the "pressure" from the WhiteWash House led to a numbers game. Heck, you can't manage what you don't measure, and what better metric for a prison than, say, the number of interrogations? Sounds just like the ol' "body count" in Viet Nam, to me. Do we never learn?

Hey, who's in charge here? Looks like Dick "Dick" Cheney 

And why is this day different from all other days? Anyhow:

The aide needed to know: Did Cheney want to give warplanes scrambled over Washington orders to shoot it down?

Cheney did not hesitate. He authorized fighter aircraft "to engage the inbound plane."

Perhaps in his haste to act — President Bush was in Florida at the time — Cheney might have shortcut White House protocol, the report said. The normal chain of command for military "engage" orders goes from the president to the secretary of Defense, and not through the vice president, it said.
(via LA Times)

They've messed up the chain of command again! More Fog Machine! For 9/11, just like Abu Ghraib, nobody can really be sure where the buck stops.

Although Cheney said he conferred with [Bush] before giving the order, the commission staff could not confirm that a phone call took place in that time frame. Several minutes after giving the order, Cheney informed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that he had done so.

I guess this is why Bush and Cheney had to do their Mary-Kate and Ashley act before the 9/11 Commission (as Froomkin speculates).

"So we've got a couple of aircraft up there that have those instructions at the present time?" Rumsfeld asked.

"That is correct," Cheney replied. "And it's my understanding they've already taken a couple of aircraft out." That understanding turned out to be mistaken.

And Cheney's wrong about weapons systems again...

CHENEY TO BUSH: Isn't it bliss, don't you approve?


Turkee in the straw (man) 

Yes, He certainly does know how to make the hard choices:

"I had a choice to make: to trust the judgment of a madman or to defend America. Given that choice, I will defend America every time," Bush said.
(via Newsday)

Sure, but isn't it a little harsh to call Dick "Dick" Cheney a madman?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Hey, my flight's leaving! Gotta go...

Bush torture policies: Afghanistan contractor indicted 

Ashcroft, too. So, show trials for privates and specialists aren't enough—now they're indicting the civilian little guys too—and in Afghanistan, too, not Iraq.

An interrogator working for the Central Intelligence Agency was indicted on Thursday over the death of a detainee at a US camp in Afghanistan, making him the first private contractor to face criminal charges in connection with the prisoner abuse scandals.
(via Financial Times)

And gag me with a spoon on this piece of sanctimoniousness from Ashcroft:
"The American people are familiar by now with the images of prisoner abuse committed in our detention facilities overseas," he said. "Today, a wholly different - and more accurate - picture of our nation emerges. Today we see a nation dedicated to its ideals of freedom, respect for human dignity, to its insistence for justice and the rule of law."

Heh. "Rule of law" from a Republican? That's rich. So they are going to be indicting Rummy for perjury (back when? Oh, wait... It wasn't a blowjob. What could I have been thinking?

Oh, note The Fog Machine here:

It was unclear yesterday whether Mr Passaro was employed by a private company or was working for the CIA under one of the individual contract arrangements the agency has struck with numerous veterans to bolster its forces following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Still the game of concealing those responsible goes on. "Plausible deniability" for Bush.

The Fog Machine Starts to Break Down 

Back here on June 6 Lambert noted this story:
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, issued a classified order last November directing military guards to hide a prisoner, later dubbed "Triple X" by soldiers, from Red Cross inspectors and keep his name off official rosters.

Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba .. blamed the 800th Military Police Brigade, which guarded the prison, for allowing "other government agencies"--a euphemism that includes the CIA--to hide "ghost" detainees at Abu Ghraib. The practice, he wrote, "was deceptive, contrary to Army doctrine, and in violation of international law."
(via US News)
Yesterday the following broke: (via CNN):
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last October ordered the high-value Iraqi prisoner held in secret at the request of CIA Director George Tenet, Pentagon officials disclosed. Some soldiers dubbed the prisoner "Triple X."

Officials say the Pentagon was asked by the CIA to take custody of the prisoner and to hold him incognito because he had been involved in ongoing military operations against the United States and the disclosure of his capture would compromise his intelligence value. The prisoner... remains at the U.S.-run "Camp Cropper" detention facility.

The prisoner was not assigned a number, nor was his presence disclosed to the International Committee of the Red Cross, but officials say his secret status was supposed to be temporary and deny he was a "ghost detainee."

At his press conference today Rumsfeld essentially acknowledged the above. Now let's go to the Wayback Machine all the way to May 7. When Rummy-tum-tum held up his hand before the Senate Armed Services Committee and went under oath and said, first to John McCain:
MCCAIN: ... that's a very simple, straight-forward question. 

RUMSFELD: ...The Geneva Conventions apply to all of the individuals there in one way or another. They apply to the prisoners of war, and they are written out and they're instructed and the people in the Army train them to that and the people in the Central Command have the responsibility of seeing that, in fact, their conduct is consistent with the Geneva Conventions. ...
And then he said, to Joe Lieberman of all people..
LIEBERMAN: Are these detainees, do you assume, members of Al Qaida -- that is, the thousands that have been held in Iraq? Or are they in another status? 

RUMSFELD: Oh no, the president announced from the outset that everyone in Iraq who was a military person and was detained is a prisoner of war, and therefore the Geneva Conventions apply.

Yes the above is heavily edited. Anyone who goes and reads the transcripts and feels it was edited unfairly is asked to note details in Comments.

At the press conference Rumsfeld--who appears to be ever closer to the brink of nervous breakdown, or possibly just having his head spontaneously explode--was reduced to near babbling as he tried to keep track of which denial went to which atrocity, at which time, in which theater, in keeping with what Constitutional abrogations by which legal staffs at which time were then in force.

My conclusion? Rumsfeld lied. Under oath. To Congress.

UPDATE: Of course after slaving away for hours on this I find the basic concept is now blazingly obvious all over the better part of the blogosphere, as for instance at Atrios. Digby and Billmon have their own takes on it. All are worth reading as others use different quotes and sources to come to the same conclusion. Like the bumper sticker says, Always Question Authority.

Introducing The Ronald Reagan 40 Cent Stamp 

In honor of Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th President of the United States of America. Our national Camp Cock-n-Bull canoe ride instructor, bear in the bunkhouse bellwether, and gaslight mystic, I mean!... well, i don't know what i mean... and friend to lunatics, I mean leaders!, from around the world - or wherever. I've designed a nice postage stamp for the occasion, I mean tribute! Yes, a tribute, a tribute to Ronald "Big Voodoo" Reagan. What a guy.

Backtrack info and inspirational input here

The postage stamp depicts the Ronald Reagan National Monument which sits high atop Mount Reagan in the Carbon Monoxide Tree National Forest where Gipper Creek runs fast and clear from the wellsprings of Amnesia.

Not too far from where the deer and the cantaloupe play. (Really, take my word for it, I've been there.)

With apologies to Big Boys everywhere.


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Love Us Or Else, Damn You! 

See, the Coalition authorities are tired of not only taking flak for Cheney's incessant war whoring via Haliburton/KBR, they're tired of having to clean up after his incompetent mercenaries as in Fallujah. This time, while still keeping it in-house Coalition-"partner" wise, they've got the Real Deal. Rambo on steroids.

(via The Standard(UK)
Jun 16 - The US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has awarded a $293 million security contract to a British company led by a former commando who has been investigated for arms smuggling and has long been in favor of using private mercenaries to intervene in civil wars on behalf of mining, oil and gas interests. The contract is the largest of its type awarded by the CPA’s Program Management Office (PMO), effectively making Aegis Defense Services, a company run by former British commando Tim Spicer, the world’s largest private army.

Aegis will provide armed bodyguards for PMO employees and high-level staff of companies that are running the oil and gas fields, electricity, and water services in Iraq. The "cost-plus" contract also calls on the company to coordinate security operations for the coalition throughout Iraq with thousands of other private contractors.

Spicer has a long history of leading private armies in civil wars, according to CorpWatch. In 1998, a company run by Spicer, was reportedly contracted to sell 30 tons of arms to the forces of the former leader of Sierra Leone, in violation of a UN arms embargo. The year before, Spicer was involved in a civil war in Papua New Guinea during which Sandline was reportedly paid $36 million to battle local citizens who had shut down a profitable copper mine to protest environmental damage it had caused and to assert their case for independence.
That'll teach those damn brown sand rats to love their liberators, all right. Cheerio.

UPDATE--Link to The Standard fixed thanks to alert reader KellyB. The Curse of the Sneaky Line-Break Command strikes again. Don't tell my boss Mr. Cheney what a lousy proofreader/factchecker I am or I'll lose this cushy job.

Stupid Republican Candidates 

Isn't that they way they say it goes, IOKIYAR? Via abcnews wire

John Ramsey greets voters at his campaign office with a handshake, a free hot dog and a book that declares he didn't kill his daughter.

The father of JonBenet Ramsey, the 6-year-old beauty queen strangled in her Boulder, Colo., home, is running for the Michigan House, despite the suspicions that continue to hang over him and wife.

The 60-year-old Republican campaigns as an anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-gay-marriage conservative and a savvy businessman. He founded Access Graphics, a billion-dollar software company later acquired by Lockheed Martin.

"We can't just hold our breath and hope the killer will be found and then go on with our lives," Patsy Ramsey said. "We have to move ahead now. We can't let evil win."

Rich Adams, editor of the Cheboygan Daily Tribune, said that he has received no letters about the JonBenet case, and that most of the reaction has been of the "sick humor variety."
Oh gee, you mean something along the lines of "You think we could get OJ as campaign manager?"

Stupid Republican Pet Tricks 

So I just saw my first "Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry" bumpersticker. First laugh--this was the layout:
Vietnam Veterans Against

John Kerry

Second laugh: how pathetic is an incumbent's campaign when even their bumperstickers are ashamed to mention their guy?

"Bush's Unsupported Assertion" 

Well, I was all set to cite Dan Froomkin's invaluable White House Briefing column (headline of which is reprinted above) to point out that "unsupported assertion" is a delicate, diplomatic way of saying "baldfaced, God-damned, low-down dirty stinking lie", but checked just in time to see that the esteemed Lambert had the first subject covered in this article handled nicely here.

So we will skip the Unsupported Assertion about links between Sadaam and Osama Bin Forgotten and go straight to the OTHER Unsupported Assertion from the Dear Leader yesterday, in the Rose Garden appearance before the press:
"PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm very mindful about saying, you know, oh, vote for me, I'm more religious than my neighbor. And I think it's -- I think it's perfectly -- I think it's important for people of religion to serve. I think it is very important for people who are serving to make sure there is a separation of church and state."
Sounds good, right? And it would be, except that on the very same day Dear Leader said:
Speaking from the White House via satellite to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bush said: "Life is a creation of God, not a commodity to be exploited by man."
Guess he's never heard that fertility clinics charge for their services. Or that the 16-cell embryos he's so anxious to "save" from the fight against Alzheimers, diabetes and other afflictions are routinely flushed down the sink by said clinics.

And while our last Froomquote does not technically fall into the category of "unsupported assertion," it seems relevant on the general subject of character (lack thereof):

Thomas M. DeFrank writes in the New York Daily News: "White House aides [preparing for] President Bush's Normandy visit ordered the Pentagon to erect a $100,000 platform for his entry into a U.S. military cemetery, well-placed sources told the Daily News.

"American taxpayers picked up the six-figure tab for the red carpet, walkway and artificial island hurriedly built over a memorial pool so that Bush...could walk in style to the dais for last week's ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings."
Remember, the Emperator's feet must never touch the common soil.

UPDATE: link to Froomkin fixed. Blogger sometimes sneaks in "br" commands that *I* sure didn't put there....thanks to commenter for tip.

Reagan hagiography: Post Office to issue stamp 

Not so bad, actually. I won't be forced—I hope—to use the Reagan stamp.

A postage stamp honoring Ronald Reagan will be issued nest year, the Postal Service announced Wednesday.
(via AP)

But I wonder what the artwork should be ... Readers?

9/11 Commission: Cheney lying on Saddam/AQ connection 

Who knew?

Bluntly contradicting the Bush administration, the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks reported Wednesday there was "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein had ties with al-Qaida.

The Bush administration has long claimed links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, and cited them as one reason for last year's invasion of Iraq.

On Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney said in a speech that the Iraqi dictator "had long established ties with al-Qaida."

President Bush has said there is no evidence that Saddam was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Fred Fielding, a Republican member of the commission, prodded witnesses on the relationship between al-Qaida and Saddam, noting a 1998 indictment of the terrorist leader that alleged ties.

The Iraq connection long suggested by administration officials gained no currency in the report.

"Bin Laden is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded," the report said. "There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida also occurred" after bin Laden moved his operations to Afghanistan in 1996, "but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship," it said.
(via AP)

Of course, Cheney will never admit he is wrong, so he'll just keep repeating the lie.

Battered Spouse Syndrome 

William Pfaff hits the nail on the head:

All of this is a ghastly scandal, one of the worst in American history. It is evident cause for impeachment of this president, if Congress has the courage to do it, and for prosecution of cabinet figures and certain commanders. However in view of the partisan alignment in Congress, quite possibly nothing will happen before the November election.

What then? It also is quite possible that George W. Bush will be elected to a second term. In that case, the American electorate will have made these practices its own. Now that is something for our children to think about.

(via Eschaton)

About the only thing that's made the last 3 1/2 years bearable has been knowing that, well, we didn't actually elect the incompetent thugs running our country. And indeed, it's been almost pedantically instructive to verify how people willing to seize power illegally will invariably proceed to exercise it in the same abusive manner. So we've been in the fortunate position of getting a free pass to the spectacle of seeing just how precarious democracy is, and how implacable are its enemies.

The real horror show will come this November, if, having lived through everything that's gone before, we turn around and ratify it. There will then be no excuse. There will be no one in the world who will sympathize with us. Our self-abasement will be complete. We will have effectively told our abusers that we won't fight back, that we deserve it. And you can bet on it, they will not miss that message.

The fact that the outcome in November is even in doubt, however--that there is still substantial support for these criminals even after everything we know, that honest journalists like Pfaff are a tiny minority in his profession, that the nominal opposition party has only meekly and intermittently protested this sustained assault--is itself an indictment of our country and its claim to represent the best of Enlightenment ideals. That itself is, or should be, cause for serious national soul-searching. Yet far from leading us in that long-overdue encounter, our institutions have instead (to pick only the most recent example) led us in a weeklong veneration of a Presidency nearly as lawless as this one. This tenacious refusal to confront our situation forthrightly, to tell ourselves hard truths instead of dangerous lullabies, has been an increasingly ominous symptom of what is becoming, in my view, a national pathology. We may already be seeing the consequencesof this neglect.

Changing Administrations this November is only one albeit necessary step to getting well again. If we stop there, we'll only be in remission.

Fresh Garden Tips! ~ USDA Approved 

None of you will remember my earlier 3700 word essay titled "How to remove this muculent nasty from your garden" (see photo at left). That's because once it reached 4000 words I deleted it and checked myself into a exhaustive babble detoxification program in The Cape Breton Islands. The weblog community does not need that kind of wordy windy bullshit battering its sleek sails! This ain't the Atlantic Monthly circa 1915 for Christ's sake.

But, in any case, the essay explained in great detail how to remove the White Rove Grub Worm from infested garden soil or from around the base of your average tree of liberty. Essentially this involved little more than a small garden trowel (which you can purchase from any Saks Fifth Avenue farm equiptment holiday discount catalog), and a pair of old golf shoes. The kind with those little metal grub stompin' punji spikes screwed into the soles. Which you can purchase new or used from leading BDS&M outfitters, suburban yard sale yokels, and/or any number of middle aged Southern Baptist Convention ministers in Texas who own green polyester sports coats and tinted eye-glasses.

And soon, as a future public service of your local weblog community agricultural extension, I will explain in less than 3000 words for all future generations how to remove a dangerous Shrub which threatens to poison your children, strangle Grandma Millie, and destroy the foundation of your home. Good old fashioned common sense home improvement advice if ever there was.

But first you will need to purchase or assemble the following items and tools.

1- A shovel
2- A pick axe
3- A 16 inch chainsaw (sharpened)
4- One machete (sharpened)
5- Six gallons of jellied gasoline
6- One F-16 Bushmaster Viper squadron from Shaw Air Force Base.
7- A decent pair of outdoor work gloves which you can purchase from Barneys of New York for under $1200.

Thats about it. There are a few more details and folksy homegrown tips that may aid the effort but for the most part that's what you'll need. As soon as I get done digging in this years bumper crop of frozen batter-coated french fries I'll be back with more valuable extermination -- I mean landscape and garden maintenance! -- suggestions.

Don't forget to protect your fresh grade A pre-pitted colossal ripe black olive can trees from squawking parasite riddled wild birds and crazy thieving neighbors.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Alert reader Liam Yore writes:

So I read this blog on occasion, not too much, and I don't get the "Goodnight Moon" reference. I have a toddler, so I know the book. I just don't get the relevance to anything.

Well, one night I had to make a final post, and I couldn't think of anything to write, so I wrote that headline. After all, I was saying goodnight, eh? And that night, or maybe the next night, farmer put up a truly loathesome image of Karl Rove as a maggot (here, if you don't mind losing sleep), under the headline "Goodnight, Rove," so I kept writing the headline every night in the hopes that farmer would post some more images like that. Just the straight man feeding the real comedian the line, eh?

And then I got in the habit of trying, every night, to write the last post of my day, on any old thing, under that heading. Like a miniature newspaper column. I have fun writing it, and some readers, at least, seem to enjoy reading it. I like the certainty of it, too; it's a nice ritual to perform. Here, at least, is something stable.

So, there you have it. Relevance is there if you want it.

Because Alzheimers Patients Don't Vote 

(via Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush on Tuesday defended his policy of strictly limiting stem cell research, despite pressure to reconsider after former President Ronald Reagan died of complications from Alzheimer's disease.

Reagan's death on June 5 has galvanized an effort to allow stem cells to be used to seek a cure for Alzheimer's, a brain-wasting illness. His widow, Nancy, has become a powerful spokeswoman for the push to broaden the use of stem cells in medical research.

Bush, speaking to an audience of [hard] core conservative Christian supporters,* underscored his opposition to most embryonic stem cell research.

"Life is a creation of God, not a commodity to be exploited by man," Bush told the Southern Baptist Convention via satellite. The group's convention was held in Indianapolis.

A stem cell line is a reservoir of stem cells derived from a single human embryo.
*The group in question is the annual convention of the Southern Baptists, whose meeting in Indianapolis Bush addressed by video. This is the same group which just pulled out of an international Baptist organization because they were "theologically lax" and "anti-American," and is looking into encouraging all their members to remove their children from public schools in favor of homeschooling or "Christian academies."

C'mon, Nancy, Ron Jr.--your Kerry endorsement NOW would count for a lot more on the heels of the recent Reagasm.

Bush moves to hold Saddam trial closer to the election 

Gotta admire the way the man plays the cards he has...

But I thought that Iraq was now, like, a real country? Sovreign? So why hold up transferring Saddam, anyhow? Well, anyhow, here's the tortured reasoning:

President Bush said on Tuesday he will not hand over former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to the interim Iraqi government until it has secure facilities in place to ensure he does not escape trial.
(via WaPo)

Say, I've got an idea! Put him in Abu Ghraib!

As an intermediate step, officials said the Bush administration was prepared to transfer "legal custody" of Saddam to the new government. But the U.S. military would continue to hold him physically until Washington is satisfied a secure Iraqi-run facility and Iraqi security forces are ready.

Assuming, of course, that the CPA is legal....

The administration would not commit to handing over Saddam and other prisoners by the June 30 transfer of power, as asserted by interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

So that would mean that Iraq isn't sovreign, right?

The White House said a U.N. Security Council resolution passed last week gave U.S. forces the authority to hold prisoners deemed to be security threats after June 30.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said international law allows prisoners of war to be detained "as long as the hostilities continue ... (and) it is quite clear at this point that hostilities continue."

But... But.... Major hostilities are over!

President Bush said the United States would not allow "lax security" to jeopardize plans for Saddam to be tried by a special tribunal -- comments that underscored the administration's lack of confidence in Iraqi security forces.

"He (Saddam) is a killer. He is a thug. He needs to be brought to trial," Bush said in a Rose Garden news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Well, it would be up to the Iraqis, now that they are sovreign, heh, to determine what "needs" to happen, eh?

"We want to make sure that he (Saddam) doesn't come back to power. And so therefore, it's a legitimate question to ask of the interim government: 'How are you going to make sure he stays in jail?' And that's the question I'm asking. And when we get the right answer, which I'm confident we will -- we'll work with them to do so -- then we'll all be satisfied," Bush said.

As Tonto said to the Lone Ranger, "What do you mean "we," white man?

Rehnquist forfeits what little credibility he ever had 

If (heaven forfend) Bush v. Kerry goes to the Supreme Court, Rehnquist needs to recuse himself. Get a load of this, from the judgment in the pledge case:

[REHNQUIST] Although the Court may have succeeded in confining this novel principle almost narrowly enough to be, like the proverbial excursion ticket--good for this day only--our doctrine of prudential standing should be governed by general principles, rather than ad hoc improvisations.
(via the New York Times)

Gee, the only "good for this day only" case that I can remember is Bush v. Gore, where Rehnquist voted for exactly this "novel principle."

Can these clowns really imagine that we don't keep close track?

Greenspan: Once a courtesan, now just a hooker 

And a cheap, low-grade hooker, at that. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan today downplayed inflation concerns just hours after a government report showed consumer prices rose in May at the fastest monthly rate in more than three years.
(via WaPo)

Sillies! Don't you understand that there's a Republican President to elect?

"In the long run, we're all dead." 

But in the short term, there's looting to be done!

In its latest report, in March, the Bush administration said the Social Security trust fund would be exhausted in 2042. By contrast, the Congressional Budget Office said it would not be depleted until 2052.
(via Times)

I think the Republican party is like a shark.

Just as a shark has to keep swimming or else it sinks and drowns, so the Bush administration has to keep offering new ways for its owners to loot the public Treasury, or else it loses their "loyalty." So, after the looting Medicare with that phony prescription plan that nobody's buying, they have to move on to loot Social Security. Or else they'll drown and die.

So, let's protect Social Security and send the Republicans to the bottom.

If you go to war for oil, you've got to deliver on the oil 

In fact, you've got to deliver on the oil whether you go to war for it or not. Which Bush isn't doing.

nsurgents cut nearly all of Iraq's oil exports, with two acts of sabotage shutting the main export gateway and stepping up pressure on Tuesday on Iraq's new government two weeks before a formal end to the U.S. occupation.
(via Reuters)

More proof that we're winning.

Reagan on Bush (Ron Reagan, that is) 

Woe to you, hypocrites, Pharisees!

Mr. [Ron] Reagan was not quite so pointed on Friday night. "Dad was also a deeply, unabashedly religious man," he told mourners gathered at sunset at the Reagan presidential library. "But [President Reagan] never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians - wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage. True, after he was shot and nearly killed early in his presidency he came to believe that God had spared him in order that he might do good. But he accepted that as a responsibility, not a mandate. And there is a profound difference."

The remarks caused jaws to drop in California and Washington.
(via New York Times)

Gosh, which "politician" could he be talking about?

Jaws dropped a lot when Dean was running—because he said the emperor had no clothes. Same thing here, eh?

Eisenhower's Revenge 

It was Dwight Eisenhower who warned us of the danger of the "military-industrial complex" that was sucking the blood of the nation because there was just so much money to be had. Various and sundry efforts to Do Something about this problem have come to naught in the two score and four years since he spoke--but this one could stick.

Best to go read the long version, it's only two pages at NYT Business section (suggestion, could we switch this writer to the political beat?) so I'm cutting all but the good parts.

The Boeing Company is undoubtedly celebrating its victory this week over its archrival, the Lockheed Martin Corporation, snatching a multibillion-dollar contract to build a new generation of submarine-chasing aircraft, a role Lockheed has held for more than 40 years.

But as Boeing savors this bit of good news, a quieter drama is taking place behind closed doors in Washington that could dampen this joy.

Darleen A. Druyun, a former top Air Force official who later joined, and was fired, from Boeing, is meeting with federal prosecutors to tell them all she knows about possible misconduct at the company, the nation's second-largest military contractor behind Lockheed.

Once one of the toughest negotiators at the Pentagon, with a reputation so fierce she was nicknamed the Dragon Lady, Ms. Druyun had held sway for years over billions of dollars in contracts for fighter jets, cargo planes and other hardware. But after leaving the Air Force in 2002 to work at Boeing, she was found to have illegally negotiated her Boeing job contract while still working at the Pentagon.

Snip. They've got her on the Pentagon end and the Boeing guy who hired her, Michael M. Sears, on the other. Oh, and a Congressional committee is gearing up to look into some matters along this line too. Cases include:

--a $2.5 billion contract to build a new generation of bombs called small diameter bombs, one of the biggest munitions contracts in decades.

--the $1.32 billion contract awarded to Boeing to upgrade 18 NATO early-warning radar planes, which Ms. Druyun worked on a month before leaving the Pentagon.

--the $20 billion aerial refueling tanker contract, has been put on hold by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld until after the election.

--Boeing has already been barred from some $1 billion in rocket launches and other Air Force business after the Air Force discovered that Boeing had stolen over 25,000 proprietary documents belonging to Lockheed, which was bidding against Boeing. Three former Boeing employees have been charged, and others are being investigated by the Pentagon and by the United States attorney in Los Angeles over possible further thefts related to NASA contracts.

The name to watch here is Paul J. McNulty, the United States Attorney who prosecuted Ms. Druyun.

Is this going to bring down the military-industrial complex? Hell no. Only a saner foreign policy, which would require a saner electorate, will eventually do that, or else we'll "spend ourselves into oblivion" as a certain other superpower of late memory did. But it's a start.

First Peek Through the Fog 

Remember Steven Stefanowicz? That caca from CACI, our "civilian contractor" friend at Abu Ghraib? From an unlikely source we now get a peek at his first comments in his own defense.

The short? He didn't do anything excessive, and didn't do anything wrong, and anything wrong would have had to be carried out under military orders, which he didn't get, so he can't be blamed for anything.

The really short? "I know not-TEENG!" And heavens, he never saw anybody taking pictures! Let's just call him Sgt. Schultz from now on, it's a lot easier to spell. Read down to see how the Fog Machine works.

(via Allentown (PA) Morning Call)

In a sworn statement he gave Army investigators in January, a Telford area man accused of allowing Iraqi prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison said he did not order guards to assault detainees and was unaware of photos showing abuse.

Steven Stefanowicz told investigators about one incident of mistreatment and detailed some of the aggressive interrogation tactics he carried out as an employee at the prison in Baghdad.

In his two-page statement, which offers some of the first details of his role as a civilian contractor in Iraq, Stefanowicz says he did not stray from interrogation rules without approval from top U.S. military officials. On one such occasion, he deprived a prisoner of sleep.

The statement was released Monday by attorney Henry Hockeimer of Philadelphia in an effort to portray his client as a whistle-blower.

Stefanowicz, 34,..is named in an Army report as one of the men who might be responsible for prisoner abuse because he allowed or instructed soldiers to aid in interrogations by ''setting conditions.''

''The Taguba Report makes vague statements against Mr. Stefanowicz which are not substantiated or supported in any way. During his time at Abu Ghraib, Mr. Stefanowicz did nothing wrong and, in fact, reported several incidents of wrongdoing to the appropriate channels,'' Hockeimer said in a news release.

Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, who led the initial investigation of prisoner abuse in Iraq, accused Stefanowicz of making a ''false statement to the investigation team regarding the locations of his interrogations, the activities during his interrogations, and his knowledge of abuses,'' and writes ''he clearly knew his instructions equated to physical abuse.''

Taguba recommended Stefanowicz be fired, an ''official reprimand'' be placed in his employment file and his security clearance be revoked.

Hockeimer said his client is still employed by CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va., but is no longer in Iraq. Hockeimer said Stefanowicz is not charged or in custody and is cooperating with ''any military investigation.''

Stefanowicz' Jan. 22 statement was taken after a December incident in which ''unusual sounds'' were heard coming from the prison's ''segregation hole.''

Stefanowicz told investigators he and two members of an interrogation team had returned a detainee to two military officers, who then placed the prisoner back into the segregation hole as part of an ''approved interrogation plan.''

As the team members walked away, they heard the ''detainee falling or possibly being struck …,'' Stefanowicz said in his statement. He said he felt ''very uncomfortable'' with what he heard and confronted the two officers afterward in their office.

Investigators asked Stefanowicz about the protocol an interrogator must follow when approval is needed for an interrogation plan outside the ''approved Interrogation Rules of Engagement.''

The rules were posted at Abu Ghraib and list several harsh techniques that supposedly required the approval of Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez before they could be used. Sanchez is the senior U.S. military official in Iraq.

The list, which was given to the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, includes hooding prisoners to create sensory deprivation for 72 hours, sleep deprivation and using dogs to intimidate prisoners at interrogations, United Press International has reported.

Stefanowicz said an interrogation plan outside the rules of engagement had to be approved by Col. Thomas M. Pappas, who was in charge of military intelligence at the prison, and the Judge Advocate General officer. Sometimes, Sanchez had to give ''direct approval.''

In the release, Hockeimer said Stefanowicz followed approved military methods in his interrogations and ''never strayed from the Interrogation Rules of Engagement unless he received explicit, written approval by Gen. Sanchez.''

Asked to detail special treatment of a detainee, Stefanowicz told investigators about an ongoing interrogation in which he placed a detainee on an ''approved Sleep Meal Management Program.'' He allowed the detainee four hours of sleep over 24 hours.

The program is written out by the interrogator for each day and approved through the chain of command, in this case Pappas, Stefanowicz said.

The plan is carried out by military police, who during the wake period ''are allowed to do what is necessary to keep the detainee awake … as long it adheres to the proper rules of engagement and proper treatment of the detainee,'' Stefanowicz said.

Stefanowicz also told investigators the detainee ''does not like to conform to grooming standards.'' He told MPs to ''give the detainee his special treatment.''

''This is to include showering of the detainee (not excessively) daily if necessary, having the detainee brush his teeth and the maintaining of short hair and no facial hair,'' he said.

''Hence the MPs are not directed when and how this is to be administered, but that it can be used to keep the detainee awake when the detainee is more prone to sleep.''

See, it was Sanchez who had to approve. Or maybe it was Pappas. And civilian interrogators would give orders to military people, except they weren't "orders." The "chain of command" appears to have morphed into the "wet noodle of ass-covering" when over-exposed to the exudations of the Fog Machine.

Monday, June 14, 2004

"Fahrenheit 911" To Get Same Rating as "Passion of the Christ" 

(via Reuters)
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Filmmaker Michael Moore and distributors of his anti-Iraq War documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" are contesting the restrictive rating it received from the Motion Picture Association of America because of its strong language and violence.

The MPAA, which represents major studios and administers its classification system, gave the film an R rating due to "violent and disturbing images and for language," a spokesman for the Washington-based organization said on Monday.
"I think that the R rating is wrong and inappropriate, and we're going to do everything we can do to get it overturned and make it a PG-13 rating so we can bring 'Fahrenheit 9/11' to the widest possible audience," Lions Gate Films Releasing president Tom Ortenberg told Reuters.

"It is sadly very possible that many 15- and 16-year-olds will be asked and recruited to serve in Iraq in the next couple of years," Moore said in a weekend statement. "If they are old enough to be recruited and capable of being in combat and risking their lives, they certainly deserve the right to see what is going on in Iraq."

IFC Entertainment President Jonathan Sehring speculated that the R rating stemmed in part from graphic images of war causalities in the film. But Ortenberg added: "There's nothing in this film that is any more disturbing than what people see on the nightly news."

An appeal review has been set for June 22 in Los Angeles. Ortenberg said Moore alone would to decide whether to edit the film to achieve a PG-13 rating if the appeal fails. Otherwise, the movie will be released with an R rating, he said.

Although documentaries are routinely shown without ratings, and neither Lions Gate nor IFC Films belongs to the MPAA, Ortenberg said "Fahrenheit 9/11" is going through the ratings process because of its wide release.

"We certainly don't want to give theaters any reason not to play this picture," he said, noting that (back) a newly formed organization opposed to the film was lobbying exhibitors to boycott it.

Purely for informational purposes we note how other countries have dealt with another controversial film, Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." Although described by many as "a three-hour snuff film" the movie, originally rated NC-17 (the rating formerly known as "X" which forbids attendance by those under 17 even with a parent) it was later up-rated to R, permitting young people accompanied by an adult.

Via WorldPressNews:

Mexico: The government slapped an adults-only C rating on the film, which restricts anyone under 18 from viewing it.

China: The government has reportedly banned the film due to its spiritual nature. But an avalanche of English-language pirated copies of the film is spreading across China.

Israel: BBC News reported that Israeli distributors turned down the film because of the controversy and concern that they would not recoup their investment.

Italy: With a thumbs-up from a Catholic Church association, the Pope’s endorsement of Jim Caviezel, a G rating, and high demand, the film opened on 650 screens, roughly one-third of Italy’s 2,000. Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica criticized the film for its violence. Parents’ groups were outraged when The Passion received a G rating. The film was rated R in the U.S.

Goodnight, moon 

Poor Inerrant Boy. First Reagan sucks all the oxygen out of His campaign, then His own Father upstages Him by jumping out of an airplane. And to top it all off, He has to make nice to Clinton and that lesbian wife of his. Damn pitiful, if you ask me. Look for something exceptionally vicious in the next few days. And if there are any frogs on the White House grounds, my advice to them would be to hide, or stay very still.

This is what an elected President looks like 

Something to tell the children about, eh?

So Bush wants the Pope to intervene in the election. What's the big deal? 

Since He is the chosen of God to be Our Leader, what could be more natural, or more appropriate, than enlisting the Vicar of Christ in an election campaign?

Confronted with facts, League of Women Voters changes policy on electornic voting machines 

How liberal!

The League of Women Voters rescinded its support of paperless voting machines on Monday after hundreds of angry members voiced concern that paper ballots were the only way to safeguard elections from fraud, hackers or computer malfunctions.

About 800 delegates who attended the nonpartisan league's biennial convention in Washington voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution that supports "voting systems and procedures that are secure, accurate, recountable and accessible."

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., who introduced legislation last year that would require a paper trail for all types of voting systems, praised the league's change of heart.

"There's a grassroots groundswell across the country to make sure our elections are auditable this November," Holt said in an e-mail. "The decision by the League of Women Voters is just another sign of its growing strength."
(via AP)

Now if only we could clean up Florida, and prevent thousands of likely Democratic voters from being disenfranchised there....

"Local fascism" 

The ever essential Orcinus has the details. It seems that the owners of movie theatres willing to show Fahrenheit 911 are receiving death threats. How very Weimar. And the The Mighty Atrios has more. You can call the people funding this noxious effort and share your views.

Halliburton: Living off the fat of the land in Iraq 

Who knew? Thanks heavens Cheney isn't associated with this in any way! I'm sure he would be the first to condemn this sort of behavior!

Those former employees contend that the politically connected firm:

-Lodged 100 workers at a five-star hotel in Kuwait for a total of $10,000 a day while the Pentagon wanted them to stay in tents, like soldiers, at $139 a night.

-Abandoned $85,000 trucks because of flat tires and minor problems.

-Paid $100 to have a 15-pound bag of laundry cleaned as part of a million-dollar laundry contract in peaceful Kuwait. The price for cleaning the same amount of laundry in war-torn Iraq was $28.

-Spent $1.50 a can to buy 37,200 cans of soda in Kuwait, about 24 times higher than the contract price.

-Knowingly paid subcontractors twice for the same bill.

Halliburton is already under fire for allegations of overcharging the Pentagon for fuel and soldiers' meals. The latest accusations center on whether Halliburton properly keeps track of its bills from smaller subcontractors, Pentagon auditors said in a month-old report released Monday by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.

The 36-page report by the Defense Contract Audit Agency said that Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root had a billing system that was "inadequate," had numerous deficiencies and billing misstatements and that KBR didn't follow laws and regulations relating to spending and recordkeeping. Its contracting practices are so bad, the auditors said, that KBR shouldn't be allowed to bill the Pentagon directly without the government poring over every detail in advance.

Statements by the whistleblowers - five of whom were identified - and the government's audit report "portray a company and a contracting environment that has run amok," Waxman wrote in a letter to Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., on Monday.
(via the San JoseMercury News)

What's interesting here is that the whistleblowers take their courage in both hands and allow themselves to be named—unlike the Beltway-types the media whores service. The whistleblowers are willing to be named here, just as they were in the Abu Ghraib stories. They are heroes!

There's funny funny, and then there's funny not funny 

Froomkin quotes what he calls a "lame joke" from Inerrant Boy:

"You're probably wondering how I got to be the family spokesman. (Laughter.)

"Well, we polled the family. And rumor has it, somewhere in our large family, the tiebreaking vote for tonight's speaker was cast by a fourth cousin by the name of Chad. (Laughter and applause.)

"While holding his son above the crib, Chad's father reports that the lad burped, and it sounded like, "George W." (Laughter.)

"Once again, my life was affected by a dangling chad. (Laughter and applause.)"
(via WaPo)

Ha ha.

Just as only Bush would joke about (back) missing WMDs—a lie that sent hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis to their deaths—so too does Bush joke about the theft of American democracy.

And the audience lauggs and applauds.

What sick puppies.

Tom "Frenchy" DéLay charged with ethics violations 

What took so long?

A Democratic congressman plans to file a wide-ranging ethics complaint today against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), shattering the remnants of a seven-year-old, unwritten ethics truce between the two parties and possibly nudging the House back toward a brand of political warfare that helped topple two speakers.
(via WaPo)

As if there weren't any political warfare going on now.

Westar: Officers of Kansas-based Westar Energy wrote memos in 2002 citing their belief that $56,500 in campaign contributions to political committees associated with DeLay and other Republicans would get them "a seat at the table" where key legislation was being drafted. Bell's complaint says DeLay "illegally solicited and accepted political contributions in return for official action," but DeLay has said he did no such thing.

TRMPAC: [back] Bell repeats earlier claims that the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, created by DeLay, laundered $190,000 in corporate donations through the Republican National Committee, which sent $190,000 to Texas GOP candidates. State law bars such candidates from using corporate donations. DeLay and other Republicans deny the charges.

Federal Aviation Administration: Bell's complaint says DeLay "improperly used his office" when it asked the FAA to help locate a private plane last year. The plane was thought to be carrying Texas Democratic legislators who were preventing a quorum that Republicans needed in Austin to pass their contentious redistricting plan. DeLay has denied any wrongdoing.

Ah, memories. I thought it was the DHS, not the FAA, but what do I know?

Dignity Returns to the White House 

"You know, most the people I've known in this business, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, were good people, honest people, and they did what they thought was right. And I hope that I'll live long enough to see American politics return to vigorous debates where we argue who's right and wrong, not who's good and bad."

My experience is, most the people I've known in this work are good people who love their country desperately.And I am profoundly grateful that for a brief period I had a chance to be one of them.

Thank you very much.

President William Jefferson Clinton, two-term, popularly elected Democrat

(via The Washington Post, which gets the dignity of their full and proper name in honor of some damn fine reporting lately.) (And as long as you're there you really oughta read Froomkin too.)

Bush torture policies: The memo 

WaPo here (and thanks to WaPo for some actual reportage. Too bad the Pulitzer-light, flaccidly written, and sadly irrelevant New York Times is falling way, way behind WaPo on this story.)

And whose desk did the memo end up on? Why, none other than that of Alberto Gonzeles, the author of the infamous (back) Texas death penalty memos! The scum also rises...

UPDATE Alert reader Ken Ashford points out the Gonzales didn't write the memo, it just ended up on his desk. The scum rises anyhow.

Open thread 

Ultra-light blogging from me today—deliverables.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Is Bush giving new meaning to the old phrase "tortured reasoning"?


Be My Secret Friend 

This mysterious solicitation, discovered in Robert Novak's email inbox, was forwarded to me here at the Corrente News Network (CNN) via a reliable undisclosed source who lives above a rototiller repair shop in Georgetown. I have removed the original date of the correspondence and other header information for national security purposes. Mind you, it's probably nothing at all, ok! Nothing at all! You probably got one just like it yourself! Just so much unsolicited SPAM chatter. And we all know how annoying that can be.



I am K ROV SOTUA from island nation of IVORY TOWER COAST and I am the personal driver to an important leader of my country till now when SPIES come striking and make recent situation uncomfortable.

On earlier date, I informed my leader of the need for less discomforting influences in certain sensitive ongoing supranational policy matters. Needs which might allow me to open a window where some unwelcome tension might be allowed to escape and send a particular message to others that discomfort is not welcome within my office and will not be tolerated when it makes tension for the designed purposes of my peoples and office.

Upon opening this window even slightly I might help particular significant insights to find a way to escape and visit themself upon those who bring tension to my family and organization. These particulars then being allowed to flow freely where they might and therefore deliver a valuable corrective educational lesson to those in need of such correction.

To my utmost amazement I suddenly find that I am in possesion of such valuable secret corrective educational particulars and insights! Which, should they be delivered effectively, provide exciting future career enhancing $opportunities$ to anyone willing to help me distribute such valuable secret knowledge through established high profile channels. Whats more I will speak to you on how you share with me in all advantages in future personal member enhancement remedies and provide taxing weight loss solutions.

That given. I would like to manage to find my way to a desirable future confidence location and share this valuable secret information in secure company with a coded professional consignment. Hopefuller therefore to target my valuable message to New York or London or especially select home address locations in Virginia USA. I need to distribute with you this important relevant confidence information so that it may impress itself upon any discomforting extraneous influences as soon as possible. Hence I am soliciting for your assistance. I trust you understand my offer.

Your compensation for further assistance will be lucrative, while the whole sum will be mapped out in future good-will installments which will continue well beyond November 2004.

Furthermore, you must keep this secret to the end and assure me of loyal representation on your part. I really require an ideologically sound partner who must be a GOD FEARING person and reliable. Again, I don't know much about your current personal needs, so I seek YOUR assistance.

I beg for the few following favours:

(1) Accept to be my secret partner.
(2) Advice me on the best way you feel this valuable knowlege can be conveniently invested for maximum impact and profitable return.
(3) Assist me to secure an anonymous persona and a safe network of communication.
(4) I request that you take a two days working visit to contact me for further clarifications and faster safer transactions.
(5) Assist me to make contact for us to disseminate this valuable secret knowlege and information I will give to you.

I stop here for now, Hope to hear from you soon by phone or return e-mail or disposable runaway teenage prostitute.

your frend KARLA SOTUA
You may reach me on: K_rov_1600@subrosa.gov

Still, it's weird ain't it? I don't know what it means. I guess I should probably just delete it. Afterall, I work for CNN, I really don't have time to listen to this kind of stupid shit.


Sunday, June 13, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Yawn. Gnarf. Snaffle.

And now for something completely different... 

I am no good at posting images. Elementary level html is one thing, and even junior-high level I can usually manage, and links to pages I do often enough to have learned (most of the time, unless something goes wrong.

But I spent a fair amount of time between thunderstorms this afternoon making up an image to go with a big story later, so before posting that I wanted to do another one for practice just to see if I got the hang of it. You can use this for your moviegoing excursions. Provided it works of course. My apologies to whoever made it, I think it was a Tshirt site, but I forgot to grab the source. My bad.

UPDATE: Esteemed Reader Kyle L tracks down the source: a webcomics/Tshirt/blog site called Goats.com. Click over and take a look, they have this image in shirt form posed upon a model who has, ahem, the assets to show it to its best advantage. Enjoy their latest offering "Jesus Loves Dick" too.

Republican Party shows belated survival instinct 

This is good—but I don't want a better Republican, I want a Democrat. So here's hoping fratricidal strife leaves Bush damaged, but still at the top of the greasy pole.

A group of 26 former senior diplomats and military officials, several appointed to key positions by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, plans to issue a joint statement this week arguing that President George W. Bush has damaged America's national security and should be defeated in November.
(via LA Times)

Pass the popcorn!


We all know the theory of how vaccine works, right? You give a little tiny bit of the real disease, or else a watered-down version of it, and all yer little immune system cells whomp it up good. Then when you get exposed to a full dose of the real disease in all its awfulness, it doesn't bother you a bit. You're immune.

My guess is that the videos Sy Hersh talked about, the photos of Abu Graihb guards "having sex" with Iraqi women prisoners, should be coming out in the next few days. Here's the vaccine you're being given ahead of time. It's a two-stage dose:

(1) It's no big deal, the women were whores. Can't rape a whore, right?

(2) It's even less of a big deal because the guys were drunk. We've all done stupid things when we're drunk, right? Peered at the person next to us in the harsh early morning light and gnawed off our arms to escape? Wink wink, nudge nudge, know what I mean? Awful things happen in wartime. Boys will be boys. Frathouse pranks.

That's not what I was thinking when I first saw this story from the LATimes). I'm sure Greg Miller had no idea he was being set up to provide cover for worse things to come.
Greg Miller, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Weeks before U.S. military investigators began uncovering evidence of mistreatment of detainees, commanders at the Abu Ghraib prison launched a crackdown on alcohol abuse and told intelligence troops that guards were suspected of soliciting sex from Iraqi prostitutes, according to soldiers and officers who worked at the compound...

Five military intelligence soldiers who worked at the prison said they learned of the crackdown during an impromptu meeting with an irate Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, one of the senior officers at the prison and the leader of the interrogation operation. In telephone and e-mail interviews, the soldiers said that Jordan told them he had recently learned of an outbreak of alcohol abuse and that members of MP units on base had been seeking sex with Iraqi prostitutes. The soldiers said Jordan warned that he intended to put a stop to the illegal behavior.

Several members of military police units assigned to Abu Ghraib disputed the prostitution claims, saying they saw no evidence of such behavior during their time there. They acknowledged that alcohol use was a recurring problem.

Despite the denials, there are indications that prostitution may have been an issue at the prison. Among them is a cryptic note taken by a military investigator during an interview with an MP at Abu Ghraib, Cpl. Matthew Bolinger. A copy of the note was obtained by The Times.

In the note, the investigator wrote that Bolinger said he had seen computer images of one of the MPs having sex with an unidentified woman. The MP is identified as Cpl. Charles A. Graner Jr., a guard who has been portrayed as a ringleader of the abuses and now faces a court-martial.

According to the note, Bolinger "observed Garner [sic] having sex with female in video." The next two lines read, "possible in cell" and "possible prostitute."

Other soldiers familiar with the photos have said that they include images of Graner having sex with Pfc. Lynndie England, another MP who has been charged in the abuse case. England is now pregnant with Graner's child, and is at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina.

Weeks later, when officers at the site were confronted with pictures showing abuse of prisoners, some wondered whether alcohol had played a part. A military intelligence lieutenant colonel from a National Guard unit who worked at the prison and asked not to be identified said that the MPs appeared to be drunk and that the atmosphere on the cellblock was "like a fraternity party."

Gee, wonder where he got THAT particular line? Armed Forces Radio perhaps?

Our second story suggests a possible reason why this stuff may be coming out right now. Via the Pittsburg Post-Gazette
By Cindi Lash and Michael A. Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Defense attorneys preparing for Pfc. Lynndie England's upcoming hearing on charges she abused detainees at Abu Ghraib prison have compiled a list of 100 potential witnesses stretching from the halls of power in Washington, D.C., to the sand-swept vistas of Iraq.

The wished-for witness list, obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, includes, in addition to Cheney, other high-ranking officials such as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Defense Undersecretary for Intelligence Stephen Cambone; Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and other high-ranking Army officers; White House General Counsel Alberto Gonzales; and Justice Department officials.

Among the group are Spc. Joseph M. Darby, the Somerset County native who turned in the others and is not facing charges, and Spc. Jeremy Sivits of Hyndman, Bedford County, who pleaded guilty May 19 at a special court-martial in a plea bargain with prosecutors in which he promised to testify against England and the six other MPs charged thus far.

The five other charged MPs -- Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick II, Sgt. Javal S. Davis, Spc. Charles Graner Jr., Spc. Sabrina Harman and Spc. Megan Ambuhl -- remain in Iraq where they are performing tasks other than jail guard duty. They are not expected to be ordered to testify because they almost certainly would invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if ordered to do so.

Unlike the other charged MPs, England was transferred to the United States because she is pregnant. She told investigators that Graner is the father.

Also on the witness list are 12 Abu Ghraib detainees, although what assistance they could provide in England's defense is unclear, other than if they would say she wasn't involved in any incidents involving them.

One of them, Abdou Hussain Saad Faleh, is identified in CID documents obtained by the Post-Gazette as the inmate in the iconic photo of the abuse scandal -- hooded, standing on a box and with wires attached to his fingers, toes and penis -- after MPs told him he would be electrocuted if he stepped off.

The witness list also includes:

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, Maj Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, Maj. Gen. George Fay, Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski,Col. Thomas M. Pappas..and Other soldiers who were witnesses to abuse, according to CID documents obtained by the Post-Gazette.

We conclude this episode of As the Stomach Turns, brought to you by Fog Machine Media, with a rerun. A blast from the past. Because one of the essential components of fog generation is TIME. A story that was horrifying two weeks ago is old news now. A story from a month ago? Gee, we say, I remember hearing something about that, but what were the details again?

The ticking of the time bomb started here, in this item from the indispensible Guardian:

The scandal at Abu Ghraib prison was first exposed not by a digital photograph but by a letter. In December 2003, a woman prisoner inside the jail west of Baghdad managed to smuggle out a note. Its contents were so shocking that, at first, Amal Kadham Swadi and the other Iraqi women lawyers who had been trying to gain access to the US jail found them hard to believe.
The note claimed that US guards had been raping women detainees, who were, and are, in a small minority at Abu Ghraib. Several of the women were now pregnant, it added. The women had been forced to strip naked in front of men, it said. The note urged the Iraqi resistance to bomb the jail to spare the women further shame.

Late last year, Swadi, one of seven female lawyers now representing women detainees in Abu Ghraib, began to piece together a picture of systemic abuse and torture perpetrated by US guards against Iraqi women held in detention without charge. This was not only true of Abu Ghraib, she discovered, but was, as she put it, "happening all across Iraq".

In November last year, Swadi visited a woman detainee at a US military base at al-Kharkh, a former police compound in Baghdad. "She was the only woman who would talk about her case. She was crying. She told us she had been raped," Swadi says. "Several American soldiers had raped her. She had tried to fight them off and they had hurt her arm. She showed us the stitches. She told us, 'We have daughters and husbands. For God's sake don't tell anyone about this.'"

Astonishingly, the secret inquiry launched by the US military in January, headed by Major General Antonio Taguba, has confirmed that the letter smuggled out of Abu Ghraib by a woman known only as "Noor" was entirely and devastatingly accurate. While most of the focus since the scandal broke three weeks ago has been on the abuse of men, and on their sexual humilation in front of US women soldiers, there is now incontrovertible proof that women detainees - who form a small but unknown proportion of the 40,000 people in US custody since last year's invasion - have also been abused. Nobody appears to know how many. But among the 1,800 digital photographs taken by US guards inside Abu Ghraib there are, according to Taguba's report, images of a US military policeman "having sex" with an Iraqi woman.

In Iraq, the existence of photographs of women detainees being abused has provoked revulsion and outrage, but little surprise. Some of the women involved may since have disappeared, according to human rights activists. Professor Huda Shaker al-Nuaimi, a political scientist at Baghdad University who is researching the subject for Amnesty International, says she thinks "Noor" is now dead. "We believe she was raped and that she was pregnant by a US guard. After her release from Abu Ghraib, I went to her house. The neighbours said her family had moved away. I believe she has been killed."

UPDATE Children, too. From notes from a Hersh talk posted at Brad DeLong:

[Hersh] talked about how hard it is to get the truth out in Republican Washington: "If you agree with the neocons you're a genius. If you disagree you're a traitor." Bush, he said, was closing ranks, purging anyone who wasn't 100% with him. Said Tenet has a child in bad health, has heart problems, and seemed to find him generally a decent guy under unimaginable pressure, and that people told him that Tenet feared a heart attack if he had to take one more grilling from Cheney. "When these guys memoirs come out, it will shock all of us."...

He said that after he broke Abu Ghraib people are coming out of the woodwork to tell him this stuff. [Hersh] said he had seen all the Abu Ghraib pictures. He said, "You haven't begun to see evil..." then trailed off. He said, "horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run."

Eesh. The good guys aren't supposed to act this way. —Lambert

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