Friday, May 14, 2004

Rummy Gets Visitors

Antiwar Group Protests Torture in Front of Rumsfeld's House.



Some nifty street theatre going on there.

Time to don the tinfoil hat:

Hillary Clinton Killed Brit Hume's Son, so says former Front Page Magazine editor Richard Poe. Here's the clip from The Hamster.



Hillary's Secret War tells us that Hillary personally led a secret police force from her office in the White House. Tell us about your proof and evidence.



Poe: The operations of Hillary’s secret police have been copiously documented, to the point where the topic can hardly be called controversial any longer.



During the Clinton years, journalists who probed too deeply into Clinton scandals ran terrible risks. Journalists were beaten, wiretapped, framed on criminal charges, fired and blacklisted. They experienced burglaries, IRS audits, smear campaigns and White-House-orchestrated lawsuits.



Some may have paid the ultimate price. In February, 1998, just as the Clinton impeachment was gathering steam, Sandy Hume, the 28-year-old son of Fox News anchorman Brit Hume, suddenly turned up dead of a gunshot to the head. He was covering the U.S. Congress for the magazine The Hill, and was known for his excellent sources among Republican insiders. Sandy Hume supposedly committed suicide, but friends and associates have questioned the official story.



Some of the White House “secret police” were private detectives, such as Terry Lenzner, Jack Palladino and Anthony Pellicano. Others were Clinton loyalists embedded in federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, the CIA, the IRS, the NTSB and so on. Many of these people are still in place, and still doing the Clintons’ dirty work. I call them the Shadow Team.




I knew paranoid schizophrenics who talked like that.

Some CEOs somewhere will really be pleased:

Pricetag for US operations in Iraq to rise steeply: Wolfowitz.



Clips:



The pricetag for US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan next year will greatly exceed the 25 billion dollars requested just last week by the White House, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told lawmakers Thursday.



..."Our higher projected troop levels increase the risk that certain accounts, especially operation maintenance army, could have difficulty cash flowing operations beyond the February-March time frame in 2005.



...He refused however, to be pinned down on just how expensive the operations in Iraq were like to go.




Naturally. Well, if nothing else, some fatcat CEOs will make out like bandits. I'm sure all the coin will ease their burden, right? Those dead and injured and the financial load carried by taxpayers for the near and likely distant future? Forget about it.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

One of the more sensible quotes I've read today

But this isn't a question of scale. It is a question of justice. Torture is still torture even if your torture isn't as bad as the other guy's.




Ian McWhirter of The Herald.

Patriot Act renewal stalled, and the surprise is who's doing the stalling.

Presidential push fails to quell GOP fear of Patriot Act



A clip:



A group of libertarian-minded Republicans in Congress is blocking President Bush’s effort to strengthen domestic counterterrorism laws and reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, which the president has made one of his top domestic priorities this year.



As a result of this opposition, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, was forced last week to cancel panel consideration of legislation that would have given law-enforcement officials more tools to pursue suspected terrorists.




As Chimperor Junior Caligula looks more and more like an albatross around the GOP's neck, I'd expect he'll find that keeping GOP legislators towing the party line will get more difficult: think of trying to herd cats.

Jim Lobe, Bu$hCo, and Groupthink

Leave it to a columnist to succinctly express the concept of groupthink as applied to the White House. In Jim Lobe's column, Chickenhawk Groupthink?, we see some themes I've been sharing with you for the last few months. Some clips:



Students of Groupthink list a number of symptoms of the phenomenon that can lead the group into disaster, among them:



- believing in the group's inherent morality; - sharing stereotypes, particularly of the enemy; - examining few alternative or contingency plans for any action; - being highly selective in gathering information; - avoiding expert opinion; - protecting the group from negative views or information that would contradict their basic assumptions; and - having an illusion of invulnerability.



>From what is now known about planning for Iraq, each of these factors obviously played a role, and they continue to inform U.S. policy not only against perceived enemies, but even against out-groups in the administration or in Congress. And, because the in-group was so small, many of these characteristics were unusually pronounced.



The notion that the chickenhawks were morally superior, not just to Saddam Hussein or the ''terrorists'' or ''Ba'athist dead-enders'' whom they've been fighting since the war ended, extended even to the ''realists'', who were denounced in internal battles as ''appeasers'' or worse. As Cheney was recently quoted as declaring with regard to State Department proposals to engage North Korea, ''We don't negotiate with evil; we defeat it''.



Middle East experts at the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were likewise scorned and excluded from both planning and the immediate aftermath of the invasion, while the creation in Feith's office of ad hoc intelligence analysis groups that ''stovepiped'' evidence of Iraqi WMD and ties to Al Qaeda was a classic illustration of selective intelligence gathering that would confirm pre-existing stereotypes.



Similarly, the total failure to prepare contingency plans to deal with looting, or even with the emergence of an insurgency against the occupation, displayed a confidence that turned out to be completely unwarranted. Likewise, former Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki's prediction that more than 200,000 troops would be needed to occupy Iraq in order to ensure security had not only to be rejected in order to protect the group from negative views; it had to be publicly ridiculed by Wolfowitz as ''wildly off the mark''.



In his latest expose on the prisoner-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, New Yorker correspondent Seymour Hersh noted that Rumsfeld's penchant for ''secrecy and wishful thinking'' -- characteristics that also apply to Groupthink -- resulted in the Pentagon's failure to do anything about it or about the many other problems they have encountered.



And whenever Powell or Armitage tried to bring to the attention of the highest levels in the administration the growing concern about prisoner abuse, according to a source recently cited in the ''Nelson Report'', an insider Washington newsletter, they were forced to endure from the chickenhawks what an eyewitness source characterised as ''around-the-table, coarse, vulgar, frat-boy bully remarks about what these tough guys would do if THEY ever got their hands on prisoners...''

A quote, a picture, and a link

via Atrios:



Those who were silent about torture in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's time should be modest about cloaking established political agendas in the name of that cause now.








Link.



Food for thought.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Reason to be hopeful

Kos let's us know the down-low on Kerry's polling numbers, and they look good. Junior Caligula is looking more and more vulnerable. I have my reservations about Kerry, but those reservations pale in comparison with Bush's record of shame.



It ain't over til the phat lady sings, but it's looking like a more hopeful and soulful song will be sung.

Monday, May 10, 2004

The latest Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker

Chain of Command



Some clips:



In his devastating report on conditions at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq, Major General Antonio M. Taguba singled out only three military men for praise. One of them, Master-at-Arms William J. Kimbro, a Navy dog handler, should be commended, Taguba wrote, because he “knew his duties and refused to participate in improper interrogations despite significant pressure from the MI”—military intelligence—“personnel at Abu Ghraib.” Elsewhere in the report it became clear what Kimbro would not do: American soldiers, Taguba said, used “military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.”



...One of the new photographs shows a young soldier, wearing a dark jacket over his uniform and smiling into the camera, in the corridor of the jail. In the background are two Army dog handlers, in full camouflage combat gear, restraining two German shepherds. The dogs are barking at a man who is partly obscured from the camera’s view by the smiling soldier. Another image shows that the man, an Iraqi prisoner, is naked. His hands are clasped behind his neck and he is leaning against the door to a cell, contorted with terror, as the dogs bark a few feet away. Other photographs show the dogs straining at their leashes and snarling at the prisoner. In another, taken a few minutes later, the Iraqi is lying on the ground, writhing in pain, with a soldier sitting on top of him, knee pressed to his back. Blood is streaming from the inmate’s leg. Another photograph is a closeup of the naked prisoner, from his waist to his ankles, lying on the floor. On his right thigh is what appears to be a bite or a deep scratch. There is another, larger wound on his left leg, covered in blood.



There is at least one other report of violence involving American soldiers, an Army dog, and Iraqi citizens, but it was not in Abu Ghraib. Cliff Kindy, a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, a church-supported group that has been monitoring the situation in Iraq, told me that last November G.I.s unleashed a military dog on a group of civilians during a sweep in Ramadi, about thirty miles west of Fallujah. At first, Kindy told me, “the soldiers went house to house, and arrested thirty people.” (One of them was Saad al-Khashab, an attorney with the Organization for Human Rights in Iraq, who told Kindy about the incident.) While the thirty detainees were being handcuffed and laid on the ground, a firefight broke out nearby; when it ended, the Iraqis were shoved into a house. Khashab told Kindy that the American soldiers then “turned the dog loose inside the house, and several people were bitten.” (The Defense Department said that it was unable to comment about the incident before The New Yorker went to press.)




To get at the psychology underlying what can only be called gross mismanagement of the military, check out this clip:



The Pentagon official told me that many senior generals believe that, along with the civilians in Rumsfeld’s office, General Sanchez and General John Abizaid, who is in charge of the Central Command, in Tampa, Florida, had done their best to keep the issue quiet in the first months of the year. The official chain of command flows from General Sanchez, in Iraq, to Abizaid, and on to Rumsfeld and President Bush. “You’ve got to match action, or nonaction, with interests,” the Pentagon official said. “What is the motive for not being forthcoming? They foresaw major diplomatic problems.”



Secrecy and wishful thinking, the Pentagon official said, are defining characteristics of Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, and shaped its response to the reports from Abu Ghraib. “They always want to delay the release of bad news—in the hope that something good will break,” he said. The habit of procrastination in the face of bad news led to disconnects between Rumsfeld and the Army staff officers who were assigned to planning for troop requirements in Iraq. A year ago, the Pentagon official told me, when it became clear that the Army would have to call up more reserve units to deal with the insurgency, “we had call-up orders that languished for thirty or forty days in the office of the Secretary of Defense.” Rumsfeld’s staff always seemed to be waiting for something to turn up—for the problem to take care of itself, without any additional troops. The official explained, “They were hoping that they wouldn’t have to make a decision.” The delay meant that soldiers in some units about to be deployed had only a few days to prepare wills and deal with other family and financial issues.



The same deliberate indifference to bad news was evident in the past year, the Pentagon official said, when the Army conducted a series of elaborate war games. Planners would present best-case, moderate-case, and worst-case scenarios, in an effort to assess where the Iraq war was headed and to estimate future troop needs. In every case, the number of troops actually required exceeded the worst-case analysis. Nevertheless, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and civilian officials in the Pentagon continued to insist that future planning be based on the most optimistic scenario. “The optimistic estimate was that at this point in time”—mid-2004—“the U.S. Army would need only a handful of combat brigades in Iraq,” the Pentagon official said. “There are nearly twenty now, with the international coalition drying up. They were wildly off the mark.” The official added, “From the beginning, the Army community was saying that the projections and estimates were unrealistic.” Now, he said, “we’re struggling to maintain a hundred and thirty-five thousand troops while allowing soldiers enough time back home.”



In his news conference last Tuesday, Rumsfeld, when asked whether he thought the photographs and stories from Abu Ghraib were a setback for American policy in Iraq, still seemed to be in denial. “Oh, I’m not one for instant history,” he responded. By Friday, however, with some members of Congress and with editorials calling for his resignation, Rumsfeld testified at length before House and Senate committees and apologized for what he said was “fundamentally un-American” wrongdoing at Abu Ghraib. He also warned that more, and even uglier, disclosures were to come. Rumsfeld said that he had not actually looked at any of the Abu Ghraib photographs until some of them appeared in press accounts, and hadn’t reviewed the Army’s copies until the day before. When he did, they were “hard to believe,” he said. “There are other photos that depict . . . acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman.” Later, he said, “It’s going to get still more terrible, I’m afraid.” Rumsfeld added, “I failed to recognize how important it was.”




As I've already mentioned elsewhere, secrecy invites the sorts of violations of fundamental human dignity that we are learning about at Abu Ghraib. There's a lack of accountability.



As far as wishful thinking, we can think of it as a kind of coping strategy used when under stress. Clearly, the miserable failures that have resulted from the much-ballyhooed war against Iraq (which was supposed to neutralize an imminent threat to the US, bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqis, and give us $20 per barrel oil for the foreseeable future) would cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for those responsible for starting the war in the first place.



What we have is what social psychologists would call a classic avoidance-avoidance situation. No matter how the Bushies deal with the bad news, they're going to suffer. Withdraw the troops? Makes the Bushies look like failures. Add more troops? Makes the Bushies appear to be losing their grip on the situation in Iraq. Tell the truth about the apparent widespread human rights abuses at the hands of the US military & mercenaries? The Bushies look like they don't know what they're doing. Sweep the whole problem under the rug and hope it goes away? It might all end up out in the open any way, thus making the Bushies look both incompetent and dishonest. No matter what, the outcomes are unfavorable. The typical strategy for dealing with avoidance-avoidance situations is to delay dealing with the situation for as long as possible or to bail out altogether. Arguably those are not the healthiest of strategies, either for the decision makers personally or for the nation.

Boy, this is sure comforting:

Apartheid-era killers hired by U.S. firm to protect Iraqi oil



No wonder much of the rest of the planet looks at the US as a rogue nation. Look at who our leaders in the political and corporate circles choose to associate with.

We are all wearing the blue dress now

via the Daily Brew



clip:



Whether Republicans like it or not, if George Bush is elected in the fall, the entire world will view the election as American approval of the torture and sexual humiliation of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. It might not be fair, it might not be reasonable, but it is nevertheless reality. Apologies, prosecutions, firings and courts martial will not be enough to expunge the stain this scandal has placed on the honor of the United States. The pictures are simply too graphic. The abuses are simply too horrible. If George Bush is elected President, the entire world will view the election, at a minimum, as tacit approval of these events.



This election will thus no longer merely determine the Presidency. This election is now much larger than the office. The United State’s place in the family of nations is now on the ballot. This election will determine whether the United States will ever again have any standing or moral authority in the rest of the world. The United States cannot simultaneously stand against depraved sexual torture and the wanton abuse of human rights, while electing the commander in chief upon whose watch these events occurred. The seven hundred thousand or so viewers of Fox News may be able to rationalize such cognitive dissonance; the six billion people who make up the remainder of the world will not.

And, again, just to give you some idea of the organizational culture that would invite the use of torture:

The Attitude Comes From the Top







A clip:



The pictures of Lindh appear to be souvenir photographs. One official who has seen the images told CNN on Friday that Special Forces troops are shown "posing" with their prisoner. Another source familiar with the photographs said a profanity is written across Walker Lindh's blindfold. ...naked on a stretcher, blindfolded and handcuffed... bound naked to a stretcher and kept in a shipping container...




This has been going on for quite a while. Isolated incidents my arse.

And speaking of the banality of evil, read this:

Soldiers' warnings ignored



Some clips:



But almost immediately on their arrival in Iraq, say the two members of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, they recognized that what was happening around them was wrong, morally and legally.



They said in interviews Friday and yesterday that the abuses were not caused by a handful of rogue soldiers poorly supervised and lacking morals but resulted from failures that went beyond the low-ranking military police charged with abuse.



The beatings, the two soldiers said, were meted out with the full knowledge of intelligence interrogators, who let military police know which prisoners were cooperating with them and which were not.



"I was told, 'Don't worry about it - they probably deserved it,'" one of the soldiers said in an interview, referring to complaints he made while trying to persuade the Army to investigate. "I was appalled."



..."There was like a big disconnect at every level," said the other. "Guys were given jobs they had never done, contractors [working as interrogators] are in there acting like they're in the movies. The whole operation was like a chicken with its head cut off."



..."Everybody knew what was going on, but when we complained, we were ignored," said one of the soldiers. "We knew some [military police] were getting some blame, but what we were complaining about went way beyond them."




There's more, of course. Try reading the article in light of the previous post on this blog.

Sunday, May 9, 2004

The Apparent Banality of Evil

I thought that given the recent news of the human rights abuses committed against Iraqi POWs by US & UK troops as well as mercenaries (or in right-wing politically correct terminology, "civilian contractors) it would be useful to revisit a post I made a few months ago that details the research by Stanley Milgram (of the Obedience Experiments fame) and Phil Zimbardo (of Stanford Prison Experiment fame), and add some more commentary.



I think one of the most important take-home messages from this body of social psychology research is that destructive behavior, such as torture, does not occur in a vacuum. Rather, it occurs in a social context in which the parameters of that social environment invite those abuses to happen. There has to be an established psychological framework accepted by the participants in order for destructive obedience to occur. That framework includes:



1). The culture of the organization. What values does the organization promote? A value system that promotes various forms of racism or ethnocentrism has the potential to increase the likelihood of destructive obedience. The leaders of an organization lead as much by example as anything. Does the organization operate in the open, or do much of the goings on of the organization remain hidden from view. The more hidden the activities, the less accountability of the participants for their actions, and hence a greater likelihood of engaging in destructive behaviors.



2). The legitimacy of the authority figure. Authority figures are extremely dependent upon their subordinates for their legitimacy to rule or give orders. Naturally, the military culture is one in which rank is associated with legitimacy. Orders coming from higher ranks are going to be given greater credence. Certainly there is a coercive element to be considered: failure or refusal to follow a directive from someone of higher rank can get one in deep trouble. But there's also an influential element: we have a tendency to assume that those in charge know what they are doing, hence again setting a psychological framework that encourages obedience.



3). Psychological distance from the victim. Destructive obedience is much more easily carried out if the perpetrator can distance himself or herself from the victim. This can be facilitated by deindividuation (e.g., uniforms, etc., that make one blend in with the group, thus decreasing accountability) and/or dehumanization of the victim (e.g., use of racial epithets, claims that the victims are "savages" or "have no souls" or are "sub-human", thus reducing the perpetrator's ability to empathize with the victim). Disguising victims with hoods or masks can also achieve similar effect.



4). Gradual, repetitive tasks. Destructive obedience does not occur overnight, but rather the perpetrator must be eased into increasingly brutal behaviors over a period of time. Both Milgram and Zimbardo aptly demonstrated this point with their own experimental research, and historically we've seen this point documented time and time again (the atrocities committed by the Germans during the Nazi era come most readily to mind). By gradually escalating the abuses against the victims, those who will perpetrate those abuses don't realize what's going on until they are in too deep. They become increasingly desensitized to the horrors that are going on around them, and that they too may be perpetrating.



5). Diffusion of responsibility. Destructive obedience is most easily facilitated under conditions where the perpetrators can pass the buck to someone else. Perhaps the authorities in charge give their assurances that they, rather than the perpetrators, are in charge and responsible for whatever outcomes occur. Another means of achieving that end is to compartmentalize tasks sufficiently so that one has only a small role in the abuse that is perpetrated. Some individuals in a prison camp may be merely assigned clerical duties, whereas others have some other limited role in the process of torturing or harming their victims. This provides the basis for the so-called "Nuremberg Defense" in which one can claim to be merely following orders, or simply involved in filing paperwork, taking photos, etc.



6). Provide no apparent means for escaping the situation. If the perpetrators feel suffienctly trapped in the situation, authorities are better positioned to order them to continue escalating destructive behaviors against their victims. If the perception is that there is no viable recourse but to continue doling out the abuse, then it's not terribly surprising that the perpetrators will do precisely as they are told.




In other words, horrifying actions can be committed by rather ordinary people if placed in a sufficiently extraordinary set of circumstances. "Nice girls" like Pvt. England can do horrible things. These people are likely not psychopathic monsters, contrary to prevailing opinion. Perhaps that's not the most comforting thought in the world - that any of us could potentially commit acts of evil. However, that realization should force us to take a close look at the circumstances that will most facilitate destructive obedience, and to make whatever adjustments needed to reduce the likelihood of those very behaviors. That likely will require changes in organizational culture, changes in accountability of behavior, changes in the transparency of the organization's activities.



Some food for thought.

Media Revolt Manifesto

Media Revolt: A Manifesto



This cat (David Neiwert) has done some heavy-duty thinking about journalism, its current state of decline, and the steps needed to revive investigative journalism in the public interest. I'm not a journalist, nor do I play one in blogtopia, but I do like Neiwert's manifesto and think his efforts deserve support.

A blast from the recent past:

MY HELL IN CAMP X-RAY



From March of this year. The handwriting regarding human rights violations in US prison camps was already on the wall. Some clips:



Jamal al-Harith, 37, who arrived home three days ago after two years of confinement, is the first detainee to lift the lid on the US regime in Cuba's Camp X-Ray and Camp Delta.



The father-of-three, from Manchester, told how he was assaulted with fists, feet and batons after refusing a mystery injection.



He said detainees were shackled for up to 15 hours at a time in hand and leg cuffs with metal links which cut into the skin.



Their "cells" were wire cages with concrete floors and open to the elements - giving no privacy or protection from the rats, snakes and scorpions loose around the American base.



He claims punishment beatings were handed out by guards known as the Extreme Reaction Force. They waded into inmates in full riot-gear, raining blows on them.



Prisoners faced psychological torture and mind-games in attempts to make them confess to acts they had never committed. Even petty breaches of rules brought severe punishment.



Medical treatment was sparse and brutal and amputations of limbs were more drastic than required, claimed Jamal.



A diet of foul water and food up to 10 years out-of-date left inmates malnourished.



But Jamal's most shocking disclosure centred on the use of vice girls to torment the most religiously devout detainees.



Prisoners who had never seen an "unveiled" woman before would be forced to watch as the hookers touched their own naked bodies.



The men would return distraught. One said an American girl had smeared menstrual blood across his face in an act of humiliation.




There's more. The torture we're hearing and reading about in Abu Ghraib did not occur in a vacuum. It occurred in a context that invited such destructive obedience to authority.

From The Independent:

Image by image, confession by confession, the horror emerges



Some clips that caught my eye:



The obscene antics of Private Lynndie England and her boyfriend (by whom she is now pregnant), Specialist Charles Graner, who appear most often in the photographs, have crystallised half-suppressed doubts in the US about what is going on in Iraq. After a slow start, the unfolding tale of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners has swept everything else off the radar screen in Washington. Gradually the full appalling implications are being grasped by an administration that hitherto has never been concerned for anyone's opinion other than its own. A president already facing a tough re-election fight this autumn now realises he has a potentially career-ending disaster on his hands.



...How has it reached this point? The answer is that the trail to Abu Ghraib runs through the detention camps of Bagram in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to the attacks of 11 September 2001. As the former head of the CIA's counter-terrorism centre, Cofer Black, told a congressional committee a year afterwards, "This is a highly classified area, but I have to say that all you need to know: there was a before 9/11, and there was an after 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves came off."



The message, as Mr Black went on to explain, is that there were "no limits" in an "aggressive, relentless, worldwide pursuit of any terrorist who threatens us". The notion that those whom America deems its enemies have no rights has been endlessly reinforced, not least in words by Mr Rumsfeld, and in deed.



Hundreds of "enemy combatants" have been held in a legal vacuum at Guantanamo Bay and at Bagram in Afghanistan, among facilities that are known, for more than two years. Other suspects have been "rendered" to less fastidious jurisdictions such as Egypt and Morocco, where they can be tortured by the local security services. America has refused to submit to any international legal scrutiny or allow its nationals to be tried by the International Criminal Court.



One fact elicited by Friday's congressional hearings was that of 25 deaths in US military custody, two - one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan - have been ruled "criminal homicide". A soldier was dishonourably discharged in the Iraq case, but no further actions was taken, while the civilian interrogator held responsible in Afghanistan remains at his post, contributing to an atmosphere of impunity.



And when the new chief of prisons in Iraq is Major General Geoffrey Miller, a former Guantanamo Bay commander who has ruled that techniques such as sleep deprivation and "stress positions" may be used to extract information, it is hardly surprising that military intelligence officers, CIA agents and civilian contract interrogators felt they had official approval for "softening up" methods. Nor that their attitude spread to the military police who were supposed to keep prisoners from harm.



...The harsh light now being shone into the dark corners of the "war on terrorism" has caught the White House in its beam, but Mr Rumsfeld is robustly refusing to resign. This being an election year, he may yet get away with it, by shunting the matter off into in-house investigations and an independent commission. For Mr Bush to sack the prime architect of the disastrous occupation of Iraq would be acknowledgement that the abuse was not an isolated aberration, but evidence of a systemic failure, calling into question the very wisdom of the invasion of Iraq.



Even when mistakes do not matter, this President does not admit to them. To concede that the Iraq war was wrong, after the fiascos of the missing WMD and Saddam Hussein's non-existent ties with al-Qa'ida, would be to tear away the very reason of his presidency.

About another George from another time:

But oh, so similar to our very own. A clip from The Declaration of Independence (via brahn at Daily Kos):



He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.



He has combined with others to subject us to...pretended Legislation:



For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury.



For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences.



He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.




Sound familiar? What would Thomas Jefferson have to say about our very own "King George"?

From the "America's Funniest Home Videos and Pix" Department:

Bush administration fears more photos will surface



The text:



WASHINGTON -- In one photo, an American soldier leans down to a dead Iraqi prisoner and turns to the camera with "a 'Hi Mom' type of look," said one person who has seen the picture.



Others are of an "extremely pornographic" nature -- not of abuse, but still damning because they show American soldiers in Iraq having sex with each other, people familiar with the images said. Still others show even more graphic scenes of violence and cruelty than already known to the world, reportedly including rape and brutal beatings. There also is video.



And then there are the photos the Pentagon never has seen, images believed still in the possession of American soldiers and that investigators are seeking.



As Bush administration officials struggle to contain the damage, they realize that any of these potentially thousands of images could be the next to surface publicly and become the latest outrage in the Iraqi prison abuse scandal.



"It is a time bomb," said one worried defense official.



About the only thing Pentagon officials do know is that they expect it to get worse, with the inevitable release of more heinous images, pictures that have not yet lost their power to shock.




Even after a week of seeing the images of naked Iraqi men piled atop one another, a new image Thursday -- of Pfc. Lynndie England holding a leash around the neck of an Iraqi man -- added a troubling new dimension to the abuse.



It is the potential for this slow drip of images that worries some in the Pentagon, because it suggests that the scandal could drag on for weeks or months. "The worst case is that somebody publishes one or two or three images every couple of days," said a second defense official. "You had that same visceral reaction to that one [the leash photo] that you had to the first one."



Some defense officials also have wondered whether it would be possible to release some images officially as a way to expose the full breadth and nature of the abuse, but one official noted the constraints against release, because the photos are evidence in a criminal investigation. Seven soldiers, including England, face criminal charges.



The White House kept up its damage control efforts yesterday, with President George W. Bush using his weekly radio address to blame the abuses on the "wrongdoing of a few." In the Democratic response, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a former presidential contender, said "America must change course" in Iraq and make substantive amends for the scandal, such as dismantling Abu Ghraib prison where the abuses occurred.



The U.S. military, however, will continue to operate Abu Ghraib despite calls from some lawmakers to shutter it, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq said yesterday. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller also has said the United States plans to cut the population at Abu Ghraib from 3,800 to 2,000.



In his dramatic testimony Friday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sought to brace the public for a new wave of disturbing images in coming days, revealing for the first time the existence of video pictures and even more "sadistic" photos than those already published.



Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) took up his theme, telling reporters "we're talking about rape and murder here. We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience."



A Senate source later said that the video does not show rapes or murders, an account corroborated by a senior Army official -- who said he believes the video segments are similar to the type of files that can be e-mailed or viewed on the Internet. But neither source said exactly what is on the video.



NBC News has reported that additional photos showed U.S. soldiers treating dead bodies inappropriately, beating prisoners nearly to death, and the apparent rape of a female Iraqi prisoner, as well as the rape of young Iraqi boys by Iraqi prison guards. Defense officials couldn't confirm that account.



During his testimony, Rumsfeld made clear his exasperation with dealing with a "radioactive" scandal, when images shot by a digital camera can be beamed around the world almost instantaneously by e-mail or stored by the hundreds on a CD.



"We're functioning ... in the Information Age, where people are running around with digital cameras and taking these unbelievable photographs and then passing them off, against the law, to the media, to our surprise, when they had not even arrived in the Pentagon," Rumsfeld said.




Or to put it more succinctly: Bu$hCo is sorry all right - sorry they got caught.