Saturday, July 2, 2005

Psychological Science Saturday

Here's something that caught my attention:
Your IQ and extracurricular interests as a teenager may forecast your memory and thinking abilities decades later.

A new study by researchers at the University Memory and Aging Center, affiliated with Case Western Reserve University (Case) and University Hospitals of Cleveland (UHC), found that persons who were more active in high school and who had higher IQ scores, were less likely to have mild memory and thinking problems and dementia as older adults. Their results are published in the July 2005 issue of The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Said Thomas Fritsch, Ph.D., the study's lead author, "We found that, controlling for gender and education level, higher adolescent IQ and greater activity level were each independently associated with a lower risk for dementia and mild cognitive impairments. Conversely, those who were lower on the IQ continuum and who participated in fewer activities in high school had a higher risk of cognitive impairments."

Dementia broadly refers to neurological conditions that cause decline in memory and thinking abilities (cognition) and the ability to perform activities of daily living. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in persons 65 years and older. According to estimates from the Alzheimer's Association, 4.5 million people have Alzheimer's nationally.

"The findings may help scientists in their efforts to understand the earliest roots of dementia," said Fritsch. "The knowledge gained from our research may also be useful to those who are developing models of AD. Such models might provide clues as to when it's best to try intervene with new therapies and treatments for persons with memory problems. The findings may also help those who are seeking ways to prevent the development of memory problems in adulthood."

The Case researchers used historical data from high school records and yearbooks from the mid-1940s to create a picture of the students' abilities and interests as teens. In 2002, interviews with the graduates, now in their 70s, and their family members were conducted to learn about the adult cognitive status of each subject. The research team reported on data collected from nearly 400 graduates.

"We found some very interesting associations between our early-life and late-life measures," said Fritsch. The article was written by Fritsch, an instructor of neurology at the Case School of Medicine and collaborators in the University Memory and Aging Center and at John Carroll University. The research was supported by grants from the NIH-NIA and the American Health Assistance Foundation.

A particular strength of the Case study is the use of objective measures of cognitive ability (IQ) collected in the teen years. Also, no study has yet reported on associations between teen activity levels and dementia risk using objective measures (i.e., extracurricular activity participation).

According to Fritsch, "Our findings confirm that markers for dementia risk can be found early in life. However, while our research implicates a role for IQ and activity level in youth, many other factors, alone or in combination, also influence who will and will not develop dementia. As we know, some very bright and active people develop dementia, while others who are less gifted and who were inactive as teenagers, do not. This indicates that the causes of dementia are complex and are determined by a host of factors."

According to the Case research team, it is premature to make lifestyle recommendations to teenagers based only on a single study. However, Fritsch commented, "It's a safe bet that being intellectually engaged, physically active, and socially connected has many health benefits across the lifespan and is to be recommended."

From Case Western Reserve University Link

Wake up and smell the coffee

Something interesting is always brewing:

Rumor has it that Karl Rove is being explicitly named as the source of the Valerie Plame leak. Someone at DailyKos put up a transcription of this bombshell from the McLaughlin Group.

Jerome a Paris has posted his latest installment of his series, Countdown to 100$ oil.

Susan Hu notes that US soldiers are still missing in Afghanistan, and the Taliban is claiming to have one US soldier in their custody & are promising to provide video footage of his execution. This just plain sucks on so many levels.

Eli of Left I posts an apt meme: The occupation is the problem, not the solution. Indeed. Pass it on. Eli also highlights some Zionist hypocrisy.

Dave Chandler of Earthside thinks that a war against Iran is almost certain. I sure as hell hope not, although with war criminals running amok in DC, I suppose I wouldn't be that surprised.

DSM authenticity confirmed by Tony Blair

Don't let this story go down the memory hole:
SAN STEFFAN / WESTMINSTER DATGANIAD I'R WASG PLAID CYMRU THE PARTY OF WALES PRESS RELEASE Wednesday 29 June 2005 - for immediate release

The Prime Minister has confirmed the authenticity of a Downing Street memo in which Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, tells Mr Blair that the Bush administration was "fixing" the intelligence and facts about Saddam Hussein's regime to back up a decision that had been taken to invade Iraq as early as July 2002.

The Downing Street memo which was leaked to the Sunday Times newspaper in May 2005 has become a critical issue in the US. Senators Kennedy and Kerry have joined the escalating debate by writing to the President asking whether or not the memo was authentic and accurate. Downing Street has previously refused to comment on the memo's authenticity, but challenged for the first time on the floor of the House of Commons the Prime Minister has finally confirmed its authenticity.

Speaking after Prime Minister's Questions, Adam Price MP said:

"The confirmation that the memo is authentic will cause ripples throughout the United States where 122 Members of the US Congress have written to the President asking if Sir Richard Dearlove's statement in the memo, that 'the intelligence and the facts are being fixed around the policy' is correct.

As someone else noted, this isn't the first time Blair has acknowledged the authenticity of the DSM. A fairly convenient summary of the Downing Street Memo (or minutes) can be found via The Wikipedia.

WTI Press Release About Jury Statement

Via Zeynep of Under the Same Sun:
The Jury defined this war as one of the most unjust in history: ‘The Bush and Blair administrations blatantly ignored the massive opposition to the war expressed by millions of people around the world. They embarked upon one of the most unjust, immoral, and cowardly wars in history. The Anglo-American occupation of Iraq of the last 27 months has led to the destruction and devastation of the Iraqi state and society. Law and order have broken down completely, resulting in a pervasive lack of human security; the physical infrastructure is in shambles; the health care delivery system is a mess; the education system has ceased to function; there is massive environmental and ecological devastation; and, the cultural and archeological heritage of the Iraqi people has been desecrated.’

On the basis of the preceding findings and recalling the Charter of the United Nations and other legal documents, the jury has established the following charges against the Governments of the US and the UK:

• Planning, preparing, and waging the supreme crime of a war of aggression in contravention of the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Principles.
• Targeting the civilian population of Iraq and civilian infrastructure
• Using disproportionate force and indiscriminate weapon systems
• Failing to safeguard the lives of civilians during military activities and during the occupation period thereafter
• Using deadly violence against peaceful protestors
• Imposing punishments without charge or trial, including collective punishment
• Subjecting Iraqi soldiers and civilians to torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment
• Re-writing the laws of a country that has been illegally invaded and occupied
• Willfully devastating the environment
• Actively creating conditions under which the status of Iraqi women has seriously been degraded
• Failing to protect humanity’s rich archaeological and cultural heritage in Iraq
• Obstructing the right to information, including the censoring of Iraqi media
• Redefining torture in violation of international law, to allow use of torture and illegal detentions

The Jury also established charges against the Security Council of United Nations for failing to stop war crimes and crimes against humanity among other failures, against the Governments of the Coalition of the Willing for collaborating in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, against the Governments of Other Countries for allowing the use of military bases and air space and providing other logistical support, against Private Corporations for profiting from the war, against the Major Corporate Media for disseminating deliberate falsehoods and failing to report atrocities. Link

As I've mentioned before, what's essentially going on in Iraq amounts to genocide. Genocide may be broadly defined as follows - "Genocide has two phases: destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor. This imposition, in turn, may be made upon the oppressed population which is allowed to remain, or upon the territory alone, after removal of the population and colonization of the area by the oppressor's own nationals" (Raphael Lemkin in his 1944 book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe). Lemkin goes on to say, "Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves [even if all individuals within the dissolved group physically survive]. The objectives of such a plan would be a disintegration of political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. Genocide is directed at the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed at individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group." The term's origin comes from the Greek root genos (meaning "type" - think along the lines of tribe or race) and the Latin word cide (meaning "killing").

At this point in time, I am rather pessimistic about the perpetrators of the Iraq debacle being brought to justice. It's been mentioned before that at most a few bit players may receive some punishment for individual actions, which will give the impression that a) the various crimes against humanity were caused by a handful of "bad apples" and b) that those in power are "doing something" to bring about justice. Of course, both impressions are patently false. Our job is to continue to present those "inconvenient truths" that many do not want to examine but that need to be examined nonetheless.

I remember as a youngster receiving a paperback book that had the contents of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I'm assuming it was something my parents got for me. Whether they realize it or not, that book made a strong impression on me. I probably read through that book enough times that eventually its binding wore out. Okay, so I might have been a somewhat unusual kid, but the main thing is that the ideals behind those documents are ones that I took to heart and continue to take to heart. What we have seen our own government do in Iraq (and elsewhere, including domestically) is the antithesis of those noble ideals. The time has long since come to demand that our republic return to a closer approximation of those basic ideals. As a nation we are rapidly losing our soul. Ask yourself what our kids and grandkids will be thinking of us when they reflect on this dark period in our history.

Friday, July 1, 2005

Some useful news resources

Patriot Daily is "an independent, progressive news clearinghouse which collects breaking news stories from independent media, alternative media, foreign and domestic mainstream media and blogs". Definitely worth repeat visits.

Unpartisan.com which aggregates blog posts and news articles regarding numerous news headlines. Nice in that one can fairly quickly and conveniently get some sense of how the lefties and righties are viewing today's events.

Mathaba.net is yet another news resource that aggregates stories from a number of news media and blogging sources.

Wake up and smell the coffee

The alarm clock is buzzing, and it's time to get that caffeine buzz going so that you can face another day.

Let's start with some factoids:
  • Baghdad produces about 544 million gallons of water per day, nearly 370 million gallons short of its required amount. About 55 percent of the water reportedly is lost through leakage in the pipes.
  • Before the invasion, Baghdad residents had about 20 hours of electricity a day. Today, they get about 10, usually broken into two-hour chunks.
  • Iraq is not able to refine enough oil, so gasoline must be imported.
  • The municipality had requested $1.5 billion for the 2005 fiscal year but only received $85 million.
Link

Not only is Baghdad crumbling, but Baghdad's mayor is threatening to resign.

Susan Hu notes that there is 'Disturbing News From Afghanistan' according to an intelligence expert. The downing of the Chinook copter recently has been made possible by an increasingly sophisticated Taliban whose organization may arguably have better communication with the outside world than the US and apparently is able to figure in advance US actions in Afghanistan. This is the war Bu$hCo forgot, and is a prime example of just how badly this White House has screwed up.

Truthout has a three-fer of articles slamming the empty rhetoric in Bush's speech, as well as the right-wing PR smear campaign against anyone who dares even mildly to question the Bu$hCo war.

Virginia Rodino offers A Strategic Analysis of Unity in the US Anti-War Movement that is worth reading.

Alan Richards, guesting on Informed Comment is very pessimistic about the prospects in Iraq. In two words, "we're fucked."

This July 4th, Send A Message: Torture Is Immoral and Unpatriotic, Shut down Guantánamo


The Center for Constitutional Rights' Guantánamo Action Center is holding a rally in NYC as part of their campaign to end the illegal detention and torture of human beings at Guantánamo Bay's prison camp. In effect, the rallying cry is one I heartily endorse: it's way past time to shut the Gulag down, and to investigate those allegations of abuse that have occurred. Lots of folks are scheduled to appear at the NYC event. If you can't make that, no worries - there are plenty of other actions available, from holding readings of testimonials of detainees, to petitions, and phoning congress critters (that will occur on the 5th of this month). There's something for everyone to do to be involved, regardless of location. Check it out.

If you're a blogger, and would like to sign the blogroll & add your own blurb to spread the word, check out Susan Hu's diary regarding the action and blast her an email.

Quotable

From Larry of the blog Lotus - Surviving a Dark Time:
Okay, can you maybe finally get it through your thick heads, all you "Anybody But Bush" types, all you MoveOn sorts, all you LiberalOasis readers, has it penetrated yet that we are effing on our own!

There are individual Democrats that can be looked to, a greater number we can work with on common goals - but the Democrat Party is not the answer to what ails us and getting them back in control of Congress or the White House will not create a utopia of either peace or justice. (Or have you forgotten Kosovo, the bombings of Sudan and Afghanistan, the half-million dead Iraqi children is "worth it" business, the Defense of Marriage Act, "ending welfare as we know it," the list does continue.)

We - are - on - our - own. And the sooner we start picking our allies based on their ideologies rather than their party affiliation, the better off we'll be.

Footnote: Note well: I have worked and will work with MoveOn. LiberalOasis is on my list of links and I do read it. I do not reject them nor do I reject others with similar concerns and attitudes. But I do reject their conviction that the necessary position for anyone on the left, indeed the only valid position, is to support Democrats. And yes, that is their position.

What brought that on? Simply put, the lame responses by a number of Democrat leaders after the Bu$hCo speech on Tuesday (see Larry's post for examples). Contra Joe Biden (Sen - MBNA), Junior did not improve his credibility; and contra some of the others, it's not simply a matter of putting enough troops in Iraq - whatever the hell "enough" is supposed to mean. There are a fair number of us who were against this war from the beginning, and who aren't buying in to the "you broke it, you bought it" mentality. There are good reasons for that, not the least of which is that Iraqi people are increasingly fed up with being occupied by a foreign power. As far as I'm concerned, the only people who should be volunteering for Iraq duty at their nearest recruiting office are those of enlistment age who wanted this damned war the most: the ones who just can't get enough of Dear Leader. But truth is, they've already voted with their asses remaining firmly in their computer chairs. They can drop all the f-bombs they want, but if they were really gung-ho about the war, they'd have already been the first to enlist.

As far as the Dems, too many of them have sold us out time and time again. Whether it's dismantling facets of the New Deal, turning their backs on labor in order to support neoliberal cheap-labor economic policies, or going along with the latest war of aggression in spite of public protest and good sense. We've seen that genocide has been a bipartisan affair: the current state of affairs in Iraq is truly an outrage, but let us not forget that the genocide against the South Vietnamese occurred under a Democrat's watch as did the continued genocide against the Iraqi civilians via periodic bombing raids and economic policies designed to starve Iraqi civilians under Clinton. That's just some of the background that keeps me much more on the independent tip rather than being a partisan Dem.

Of course, that's not to say that I won't work to support Dems or their affiliated organizations. Rather, I just refuse to do so as a knee-jerk reflex. I'd actually prefer to keep an eye open for a better deal for those of us with progressive and populist leanings than what has been currently available.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

From the Double Standards Department

Via Uncle Foo:
George W. Bush in 1999 talking about the Kosovo War:

Bush, 4/99 - "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is."

Bush, 6/99 - "I think it's also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn."

George Bush last night talking about the Iraq war:

6/28/05 - "Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake."

The dude oozes hypocrisy.

Impeach?

From what I am reading, it appears that the American public is increasingly open to impeaching Bu$hCo. Mad props to BooMan for the following (in a post Wading Into the Deep End:
According to a poll released by Zogby today, 42% of Americans say they would favor impeachment proceedings if President Bush misled the nation about his reasons for going to war with Iraq.

"The results of this Zogby poll are astonishing and reveal the depth of anger among the American people over President Bush's lies about Iraq, even among 25% of Republicans" said Bob Fertik, president of Democrats.com.

"These results are especially remarkable because few Americans are even aware of the secret Downing Street Memos, which prove that President Bush was determined to invade Iraq long before he consulted Congress or the United Nations in the fall of 2002," Fertik said. "These official minutes of Prime Minister Blair's national security council meeting prove 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy' - that Bush knowingly lied to the world to sell his war plans."

Democrats.com helped create a grassroots coalition at AfterDowningStreet.org to break through the blackout of the "Downing Street Minutes" by the White House, Congress and the American news media. This coalition worked closely with Rep. John Conyers on his June 16 hearings about the memos, which was attended by 35 House Democrats and broadcast by C-Span.

On July 23, grassroots activists around the country will hold events to mark the third anniversary of the Downing Street Minutes. These events will feature veterans of the Iraq War, families of those killed in Iraq, Members of Congress, and experts on the Iraq War. The theme of these events is to "Mourn the Losses, Learn the Truth, and Investigate the Lies."

Following the publication of the Downing Street Minutes in May, Democrats.com also renewed its campaign to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney. This campaign, at ImpeachCentral.com, has collected 20,000 petition signatures so far. Democrats.com members are lobbying Members of Congress to introduce Articles of Impeachment to begin the impeachment process, which requires a majority vote in the House of Representatives before a trial is held in the Senate. Democrats.com hosts the ImpeachBush Meetup, which has 295 chapters and nearly 6,000 members.

Several Democratic Members have said Bush's lies might be impeachable offenses, including Rep. Charlie Rangel. The Democratic Parties of Wisconsin and Nevada have officially called for Bush's impeachment, as well as the Green Party, Veterans for Peace, and numerous Web sites including ImpeachBush.org and Impeach.TV.

Before President Bush spoke to soldiers at Fort Bragg on Tuesday, Democrats.com urged Bush to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq by Thanksgiving, and to resign by New Year's Day to "let a new team put American on a new road to security and peace."

According to Fertik, "President Bush gave a prime-time speech with all the trappings of the Presidency to urge Americans to 'stay the course' in Iraq. Bush's speech fell on deaf ears because the American people know that we are in Iraq only because of the deliberate lies told by the President. The War in Iraq has already cost the lives of 1,744 young Americans and added $200 billion to our national debt, but it has only increased global terrorism and made America less secure. Americans want a change, and if President Bush won't change his policies, then the American people will change their President through impeachment," Fertik said.

Recent polls show Americans have turned against the war in Iraq. A solid majority believes the war was a mistake, and over 60% of Americans believe Bush has no plan for winning - or leaving. The Zogby poll shows Bush's speech actually reduced his dismal approval rating by one more point to 43%. This is the lowest approval rating for a President in his fifth year in the history of polling. At this stage in his Presidency, Bill Clinton's approval ratings were 60%, and they rose to 70% when Republicans tried to impeach him for a personal weakness.

Democrats.com, founded in 2000, is the largest online community of Democratic Party activists with over 300,000 subscribers. Democrats.com recently co-founded AfterDowningStreet.org to end the media blackout of the explosive Downing Street Minutes and to demand a Congressional investigation of grounds for impeachment.

One of the commenters also noted the following from the same poll:
Among those living in the Western states, a 52% majority favors Congress using the impeachment mechanism while just 41% are opposed; in Eastern states, 49% are in favor and 45% opposed. In the South, meanwhile, impeachment is opposed by three-in-five voters (60%) and supported by just one-in-three (34%); in the Central/Great Lakes region, 52% are opposed and 38% in favor.

Impeachment is overwhelmingly rejected in the Red States--just 36% say they agree Congress should use it if the President is found to have lied on Iraq, while 55% reject this view; in the "Blue States" that voted for Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry in 2004, meanwhile, a plurality of 48% favors such proceedings while 45% are opposed.

A large majority of Democrats (59%) say they agree that the President should be impeached if he lied about Iraq, while just three-in-ten (30%) disagree. Among President Bush's fellow Republicans, a full one-in-four (25%) indicate they would favor impeaching the President under these circumstances, while seven-in-ten (70%) do not. Independents are more closely divided, with 43% favoring impeachment and 49% opposed.

Definitely some food for thought given that the DSM still continues to haunt the political landscape and given that Dear Leader laid an egg with that last speech.

Wake up and smell the coffee

The June summer session is nearly over. All that's left is administering and grading final exams, and I'm done (or at least I'm done as soon as I turn in grades to the registrar). So, tonight students get to burn a little midnight oil, and tomorrow I get to do likewise. No worries though. It's a good life, and heck, I can always use another excuse to pour yet another cup o' joe.

Some links to go with the morning coffee:

The USA: World's Biggest Prison - that's right. Our incarceration rate outpaces every other nation on the planet. Seems rather odd that the so-called "land of the free" would imprison so much of its population. This is one issue where I think lefties, liberals, and libertarians can find common ground, as this is a state of affairs that is clearly not acceptable.

Rahul Mahajan weighs in on Doctors and Torture at Guantanamo.

Kos weighs in on the issue of using human subjects to test pesticides in MT-Sen: Conrad Burns pesticide efforts succeed. Seems like a fair number of Republicans have no problem with something that to me should be ethically beyond the pale (with Sen. Burns being the worst of the lot in this case). There is no good reason I can think of for the EPA to be relying on studies in which humans are being exposed involuntarily to toxins, nor is there a good reason to be conducting such research in the first place. For starters there's a matter of informed consent to be considered. It also is bothersome that these studies seem to target low income folks, pregnant women, etc. The spirit of the Tuskeegee Syphilis study appears to live on among the pesticide companies and their congressional cronies.

Terrance catches Bill O'Reilly lying again.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

College Republicans have this to say to America:

"We actually do shit." Yeah, I'm sure the kid who said that had a somewhat different interpretation than do I. Having said that, it's probably as close to accurate as you're going to find. The typical College Republican truly does shit, squat, nada, zip, zilcho when it comes to actually backing up their words. They and their likeminded peers have "other priorities." You know, things like frat & sorority parties, downloading term papers to turn in under their own names, dropping f-bombs on blogs and message boards. It's hard work, I tell ya! For these kids of privilege, they probably believe their own hype that they are "putting their asses on the line" for Dear Leader. As some bimbo said at the recent College Rethug convention, "We don't have to be there [Iraq] physically to fight it." Besides, as I'm sure one of my commenters would readily admit there just aren't any good goth bars in Iraq, and we all know that trying to pick up goth chicks is far more important for the discerning right-winger than actually picking up a rifle for Uncle Sam in the service of the very war that they so heartily endorse.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Pour yourself a cup o' joe and sit right down. Consider the following caffeine for the mind:

Junior Caligula's speech may have been televised, but I wasn't watching. Heck, we had the tv turned off for most of the day. I did however read the text of the speech, and came to the conclusion that I didn't miss a damned thing. Juan Cole points out some glaring inaccuracies in Bush's speech that's worth checking out. My quick summary of Bush's speech: "same pack of lies, different day."

Grace Reid writing at the fairly new blog European Tribune notes that Bush Was Warned In 2004 Not To "Stay The Course" in Iraq by none other than the Pentagon's Defence Science Board.

Rumors are now floating that Time Magazine may reveal the source of the Plame leak thus sparing Matthew Cooper from possible jail time.

Another bit of news that caught my eye via Susan Hu: US faces prison ship allegations. Apparently the US is now accused of secretly detaining "terrorism suspects" onboard military ships. The self-styled world leader in human rights is in the business of shakedown cruises. I'm sure any day now we'll get some inane comment from Cheney or Rove (or any of a number of Bu$hCo apologists) about how these individuals are being treated better than Carnival Cruise passengers, in much the same way as they were trying to equate the Guantánamo Bay gulag with Club Med.

On a different note: Shaquille O'Neal earns MBA from University of Phoenix. Always good to read that a star on the court is also a star in the classroom.

Quotable

Donald Rumsfeld on government secrecy, 1966:
' A 1966 article in the Chicago Tribune quoted Rumsfeld as saying the following: “The administration should clarify its intent in Viet Nam,’ he said. ‘People lack confidence in the credibility of our government.’ Even our allies are beginning to suspect what we say, he charged. ‘It’s a difficult thing today to be informed about our government even without all the secrecy,’ he said. ‘With the secrecy, it’s impossible. The American people will do what’s right when they have the information they need.” [Chicago Tribune, 4/13/66] '

Via Juan Cole. Emphasis added.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Wake up and smell the coffee

Tribunal on Iraq Findings

See also Zeynep's blog, Under the Same Sun for a series of posts from the Tribunal: Protectors of "the Innocent and of Memory" and Convergence

Dahr Jamail notes the lack of mass media coverage of the WTI in a post titled Censorship, and discusses the Tribunal's findings in Wake up Calls

Speaking of wake up calls, Susan Hu shares a snippet from an Amy Goodman interview that suggests that the US is on the verge of starting a war in Iran, and what the implications of US military intervention are likely to look like.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Why the DSM is important


The graph above tracks allied bombings of Iraqi installations during the period leading up to the Iraq war. The figures have been compiled and many of them cited in the London Sunday Times and The New Statesman, in articles by British reporter Michael Smith. Link

and just the tip o' the iceberg: The unofficial war: U.S., Britain led massive secret bombing campaign before Iraq war was declared:

A U.S. general who commanded the U.S. allied air forces in Iraq has confirmed that the U.S. and Britain conducted a massive secret bombing campaign before the U.S. actually declared war on Iraq.

The quote, passed from RAW STORY to the London Sunday Times last week, raises troubling questions of whether President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair engaged in an illegal war before seeking a UN resolution or congressional approval.

While the Downing Street documents collectively raise disturbing questions about how the Bush administration led the United States into Iraq, including allegations that “intelligence was being fixed,” other questions have emerged about when the US and British led allies actually began the Iraq war.

According to the May 1, 2005 Downing Street Memo, official minutes of a 2002 meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair, members of British intelligence MI-6 and various senior level members of the Bush administration, air strikes had already begun by July 23, 2002.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld “said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.”


The Ides of May-June

Starting in late May to June of 2002 a flurry of activity began both in the United States and in the Middle East. In what appears to be an admission of covert activity, chief allied air force commander Lieutenant-General Michael Moseley divulged in a little-noticed quote in the New York Times that US/British aircraft flew 21,736 sorties between June 2002 and March 2003.

Moseley said that some 600 bombs were dropped before the official start of the war, targeting 391 locations and/or installations.

Moseley explained that the combination of air strikes and covert raids occurred in the southern no-fly zone regions covered by routine patrols.

The targets of these strikes are difficult to pinpoint, but RAW STORY has found a clear divergence between U.S. and Iraqi reports at the time, as well as disagreement over what provoked the strikes.

GlobalSecurity.org, a military defense group, raised concerns about the air strikes when they mushroomed in early 2002, though their worries produced few press reports.

The group saw the strikes as a means by which the U.S. could degrade Iraqi defensive capabilities, and as a precursor to a declared war.

“It was no big secret at the time,” GlobalSecurity.org director John Pike told RAW STORY. “It was apparent to us at the time that they were doing it and why they were doing it, and that was part of the reason why we were convinced that a decision to go to war had already been made, because the war had already started.”

Pike says the allied forces used their position in the ‘No-Fly- Zone’ to engage in pre-emptive action long before war was formally declared.

“They I think had decided to take advantage of Southern Watch and Northern Watch to go ahead and take the air defense system apart and attack any other targets that they felt needed to be preemptively destroyed,” Pike asserted.

“They explicitly altered the rules of engagement,” he added, “because initially the rules of engagement had been that they would shoot back if [someone] shot at them. Then they said that if they were shot at, they would shoot at whatever they wanted to.”

One U.S. Air Force vet told a hearing in Istanbul this weekend, “I saw bombing intensify. All the documents coming out now, the Downing Street memo and others, confirm what I had witnessed in Iraq. The war had already begun while our leaders were telling us that they were going to try all diplomatic options first.”

Iraq complained about the air raids to the UN Secretary-General May 27, 2002. Iraq’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Naji Sabri wrote:

On instructions from my Government, I have the honour to transmit to you herewith a letter dated 27 May 2002 from Mr. Naji Sabri, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq. The Minister calls attention to the ongoing wanton aggression against Iraq by United States and British aircraft in the unlawful no-flight zones and to the fact that in the period from 16 April to 16 May 2002 they carried out 844 armed sorties, 52 of them from Saudi Arabia, 656 from Kuwait and 136 from Turkey, as shown in the statement enclosed with the letter. On 19 April and 1 May 2002, United States and British aircraft bombed civilian and military sites in Ninawa Governorate, killing one citizen and wounding five others and damaging a number of civilian and military installations.

The Minister reaffirms the Government of Iraq’s position that the United States of America and the United Kingdom must bear full international responsibility for these acts of aggression and terrorism, and he further states that Iraq reserves its right, as established by the Charter of the United Nations and international law, to defend itself against this ongoing hostile, terrorist activity. He expresses the hope that you will perform the duties assigned to you under the Charter, that you will urge the governments of the countries in question to halt forthwith their constant aggression against Iraq and that you will call upon the regional parties to desist from providing the necessary facilities.”

In another letter to the UN, Naji Sabri stated that on May 28, 2002,

“American and British aircraft dropped heat flares on crops of barley in the governorate of Ninawa, burning large areas of these crops: 1,630 dunums in the district of al-Hamdaniya and 400 dunums in the district of Hamam al Alil.

This new incident of burning crops illustrates the inhumanity and the immorality of the policy of these two States towards Iraq, which seeks to inflict maximum damage on the Iraqi people and target its source of domestically produced food after imposing comprehensive sanctions on Iraq. This policy constitutes an act of terrorism and a crime against humanity which the international community must not ignore.

The U.S. account differed. The U.S. European Command issued this statement about an attack the following day:

Iraqi forces threatened Operation Northern Watch (ONW) coalition aircraft today. Iraqi forces fired anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) from a site in the vicinity of Saddam Dam while ONW aircraft conducted routine enforcement of the Northern No-Fly Zone.

Coalition aircraft responded to the Iraqi attack by delivering precision ordnance on elements of the Iraqi integrated air defense system.

Coup De Main?

Michael Smith, the British reporter who broke the Downing Street leaks, revealed in the Daily Telegraph that on June 8, 2002 roughly 100 US/British crafts engaged Iraq's major western air defence installation. Smith adds that although “only 12 aircraft dropped precision-guided bombs on to the H3 airfield, 240 miles west of Baghdad and close to Jordan, many support aircraft took part.”

According to the report, Iraq made 130 attempts to shoot down coalition aircraft in 2002.

The public reasons given for at least some of these air strikes generally involved purported violations of the no-fly zone region in Southern Iraq or the disabling of air defense installations.

But the timing and intensity of the strikes suggest otherwise. As the U.S. quietly moved heavy armor to the region in early 2002, along with supplies of ammunition from Qatar in August of that year, the strikes mushroomed.

The number of days per month that allied planes attacked installations in Iraq leapt from six to nine between July and August of 2002, then skipped to thirteen from December to February of 2003.

Congress had approved the use of force pending the exhaustion of diplomatic options in October 2002, and UN inspectors returned in November, while an aggressive air campaign was in full swing.

When President Bush formally declared war on Iraq in March 2003, allied airstrikes in Iraq actually declined.


That's the raw story and shows how Bu$hCo (and associates) were willingly violating Constitutional and international laws in order to not only get their war, but were i n fact already conducting their war well before it actually "started."

The war without end

Steve Gilliard has a post compiling three NYT articles dealing with various facets of the Iraq War debacle that is well-worth looking at.

Food for thought

From the excellent blog Science and Politics, Bora Zivkovic has some wonderful words in a post titled Never Again!:
There is quite a lot of writing these days about the appropriatness of using Nazi analogies to the Bush administration

[...]

But, the argument most often invoked is that Bush should not be compared to Hitler and Stalin because the latter two killed millions each, while Bush only killed thousands. There are many instances of this, for instance, see Orac in this post: And on the seventh day, the Hitler zombie rested (I hope) and the links within. Or Publius' retraction of the Gitmo-Gulag comparison in this post: LAST THING ON GULAG.

When the wars in the Balkans started in 1991, only Israeli press was on the Serbian side. Why? Because of "Never again!". They have recognized what the Westerners did not - the fascistic nature of Tudjman's new government in Croatia. Tudjman was even so blatant to actually use the flag, coat-of-arms, anthem and currency of the WWII-era Croatian fascist state in his new country. It was just too obvious.

Of course fascism will take different forms in different places and at different times. No state is going to resurrect the swastika today. The signs and emblems fascism do not make. It is the underlying ideology which can be coated in whatever symbols people are already used to - and proud of - including the American flag.

Perhaps due to my growing up in Europe, or being Jewish, or losing 42 family members in the Holocaust (including my maternal grandparents), I may be oversensitized. But, when I first heard GW Bush's campaign speeches in 1999, I got chills down my spine. I was able, due to my upbringing, to recognize something most Americans did not at the time, though many are waking up now. This was the rhetoric, the platform, the ideology, and the campaign strategy deeply soaked in fascistic way of thinking.

Neither Nazism nor Stalinism sprung up suddenly out of nowhere. Both built up gradually, over the years, slowly acclimating the populations to the ever-increasing levels of totalitarianism, and utilizing the fears and emotional insecurity of the few to rein in the many. The mass killings were just the last phase. It is like boiling a frog (or a lobster) alive: put it in cold water and warm up gradually. If you put a frog in hot water it will jump out, but if you warm it up gradually, it will just sit there until it is served well done. Read this book to see how it happened in Germany and you will realize that there is nothing to prevent it from happening in the USA.

If you look at The 14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism you will recognize that all 14 are at some stage of implementation by the current US government. You will also notice that none of the 14 speak to the numbers of victims as "defining". Those are specific outcomes of specific historical examples of fascism.

[...]

However, while quantitatively they did not and probably will not kill as many people, there is not much qualitatively that makes them different from other historical instances of fascism. Look up the 14 characteristics again. Fascism is not about the killing. It is about the state, in bed with the church and the big business, terrorizing its own population (and perhaps some other populations). It is about pitting some groups against others. It is about state control of the media and propaganda. It is about hierarchy in which some (e.g., white rich Protestant straight men, give or take an attribute or two) are more worthy than the others (e.g., Blacks, Jews, women, gays, foreigners, etc). It is about institutionalising core conservative "values" - and yes, Stalin was a conservative, too.

I don't personally know Cheney and Rove (Bush is just a puppet, so he can be disregarded), but everything they have said and done so far suggests that, if they were living in 1930s and they were in position of power, they would have slaughtered millions. Nothing in ther behavior suggests the tiniest modicum of decency. Their psychological profiles of bigoted, femiphobic, white, rich males does not differ at all from the leaders of the Nazi-era Germany or Stalin-era USSR.

And if you have the guts to go over to the comments at The Corner and The Little Green Footballs, it is obvious that this is the kind of people who were the first to put on the brown shirts in the early 1930s. It is the same psychological profile, the same emotional problems, the same ideology, the same rhetoric, the same behavior. Bunches of sissies are finding each other and forming dangerous hate-groups all over the country under the banners of God, SuperMan and Country.

Spend some time digging through the archives of Orcinus for detailed descriptions of activities of such groups and how their activities add up to what Dr.Neiwart calls proto-fascism. Why "proto"? Because we still do not see millions of victims. I don't think we ever will because there is too many of us, educated and informed citizens with online access who are capable of springing into action within minutes or hours. We are not dependent on state-intimidated media for information. There are bloggers everywhere, in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Texas and in Washington DC. One canot hide from us. That is why I do not think there is anything "proto" about it. This is not even a very early stage. It is the fifth year of the steady gradual rise of fascism in the USA.

Thus, whoever advises not to use Hitler/Stalin comparisons is depriving us of a potent tool in the fight against the rise of fascism. Actually, we need to keep invoking the comparison in order to get people to think about it, to look around themselves, to read some history, to see for themselves. They need constant reminders that the water is getting warmer. Bush in no Milosevic - he is much, much worse.

My clumsy prose and emotional rhetoric may not sway you. Instead, take some time and read these posts that argue a similar position with much more eloquence:

Truth and Consequences
Actually, no
Not Quite a Gulag
Durbin
Civic Duty

Wake up and smell the coffee

Monday morning is upon us once more. This is my last week of summer courses, before getting something of a six-week respite. I'll get out of town a couple times - albeit briefly - start preparing syllabi for the upcoming fall, make final textbook selections (actually pretty much am ready to do that), and get the office organized. Somewhere in between those activities we have to finish up one more faculty search, and I have a boatload of reading (some personal pleasure, some as background for my own research interests) and at least a couple writing projects to pursue. So, let's just say I won't exactly be laying off the caffeine. I'll be enjoying some cinnamon rolls with my coffee this morning. Whatever your particular pleasure or poison, here's wishing you a good one!

And now on to some reading along with the morning caffeine to wake you up:

I've been turned on to a blog called The Whisper Campaign. The blog's premise is fairly straightforward - provide links to short articles, opinion pieces, and factoids that can be easily printed out and posted in mass quantities (e.g., on bulletin boards at schools, libraries, truck stops, etc.) and in doing so accelerate the spread of information across the US. Chris Floyd of Empire Burlesque has given this site some well-deserved rave reviews. I have little to add to his commentary beyond, it seems like a damned good idea to me. Their blog is a useful reminder that no matter how much we have travelled into the information age, there is still no substitute for some basic grass-roots activities such as distributing leaflets, flyers, etc. Check out what these cats have to offer. There's some really interesting material just begging to be printed and shared with your peers. And besides, if you stop by a truckstop, there'll likely be some coffee brewing for that much-needed caffeine fix!

A rogue government has plans to produce uranium 238.

Remember Valerie Plame? I haven't forgotten, as her outing is but one of many examples of how far this corrupt White House will go to hurt its perceived enemies. Turns out that The Supremes will be ruling tomorrow regarding whether or not they will hear the appeals of Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper. Their refusal to provide information about the source(s) of the Plame leak has the potential to land them in the pokey. In addition to the rather sticky territory regarding the extent of First Ammendment rights, there is also the potential for a completion of special prosecutor Fitzgerald's investigation by the end of this summer if the Supremes refuse to hear the appeal.

In Italy, Anger at US Tactics Colors Spy Case. Curiouser and curiouser.

Rumsfeld: Iraq Insurgency Could Last Years. So, whatever happened to "Mission Accomplished"? Now Rumsfeld is talking another dozen years? So what's up with the insurgency (a misnomer as this is now a nationalist guerrilla war) being in its last throes? And of course the same White House that would "never negotiate with 'terrorists'" is now trying to negotiate with some of the very same folks whom they have dissed as terrorists in Iraq. Under the circumstances, that's probably a good idea. All the same, it is a bit jarring to read given the stance Bu$hCo has taken up to this point. Does the phrase "flip-flop" ring a bell?

Michael Smith gives us the 411 on his Downing Street Minutes scoop in How the leaked documents questioning war emerged from 'Britain's Deep Throat'. As a commenter noted in one of my previous posts, Rove and the rest of Bu$hCo are desperately looking for distractions from the DSM. Articles like this keep the focus where it squarely belongs - front and center!

Wake up and smell the coffee. Keep your mind energized and remember: knowledge is power!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Stupid Rove Tricks

At this point, the idiotic ramblings of Herr Rove are old news. But one thing that I have definitely noticed is that his missive has stirred up quite a hornet's nest, and not just from the usual suspects. Among others, there are a number of war veterans and current troops who are royally pissed off. To put things in context, here's what Rove said:
"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

[snip]

Mr. Rove also said American armed forces overseas were in more jeopardy as a result of remarks last week by Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who compared American mistreatment of detainees to the acts of "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others."

"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

Pretty nasty stuff. First off, this is a slap in the face to those who reside in the NYC metro area, who were themselves the victims of the 9-11 attacks, as well as a slap in the face to those who reside in Washington DC (as the Pentagon was another attack site). Those two urban areas are arguably quite "blue" (i.e., Democrat, and mainly liberal at that). New Yorker Steve Gilliard had this to say in a post titled Why conservatives are useless:
Well, birdman, the 42nd ID is now in Iraq. A division largely made up of New Yorkers. If you've noticed John Kerry won New York handily. One could extrapolate (big word, I know, but it means conclude from facts) that many of those same Guardsmen were and are Democrats. That they vote for Democrats and that many might well be liberals serving their country. What the gutless turd Rove said is that these people didn't exist and only conservatives wanted to stop Osama.

As a New York, I find this the equvilient of blood libel. (You know, the lie that the Jews used Christian babies blood for matzoh). No one asked what party 343 firemen belonged to when they died, or the 34 policemen. No one asked what party nine members of the 69th Regiment, New York City's own infantry regiment with a lineage going back to WW I, were when they were killed in Iraq, two of whom were immigrants, one a Pakistani muslim. No one asked and no one cared.

To say that New Yorkers, who are 5-1 Democrats, are shirking from the service of their country is an insult to them and their service. No one asked for party enrollment when they took their oath and it is wrong to suggest that it matters now. Many New Yorkers, and Califonians as well, have died in the service of their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But, to you. birdman, I think it makes you feel all big and manly to say that. After all, you're not going to Iraq. You're not burying anyone killed there. So why should care if they're defamed by the President's aide? It doesn't effect anyone you know. right?

Let me explain something birdman: I smelled the dead in my windows for a week after 9/11. While you sat back and worried about some Sikh blowing up your mall, every time I took a breath, burning flesh and paper filled my nose. Every day, for a year, I opened the paper to read about yet another funeral. On nice, sunny days, I get reminded of 9/11.

Then, I get to read about how Congress wants to pull $125m in aid for Ground Zero workers.

So don't fucking lecture me about defending the people who protect my city. You don't drive by the firehouse memorials on every goddamn firehouse in the city. You don't see the stories about fucked up families left behind. You live in a fantasy world where big strong men kill the brown people and make you feel like a man. We know what they did for us far better than you ever will, no matter how much you pretend to understand. You don't. And you never will and you never want to.

But in my real world, I had an appointment in the new Cantor Fitzgerald building this week. Maybe you don't know what that means, but let me explain. The majority of civilians killed on 9/11 worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. Nearly 700 dead. So when you see their logo, it can creep you out. Because there is no way to escape that ghost.

Not that you care. You sit in your home and cheer the confused teenagers in Irqq dying for your ideas and you don't lift a finger to help them. You don't volunteer, do you? Not at the local VA, or military hospital. Nope. You just sit there, a big old coward, cheering on children as they get crippled in the quest to make the Islamic Republic of Iraq. A fight you will not join, either.

But like most conservatives, you expect others to do what you will not.

So does that explain how Rove insulted the military? I hope so.

Mahablog has this to say in a post titled You Weren't There, Karl. I Was.:
I'd like to ask Karl and his puppies to stand anywhere in the vincinity of Ground Zero and repeat Karl's fatuous, lying remarks to a crowd of New Yorkers.

Whole lotta liberals in New York. Whole lotta those liberal New Yorkers lost someone in the towers. Whole lotta liberal New Yorkers who lost someone in the towers might want to break Karl's jaw today. Karl would be well advised to keep his sorry ass out of New York from now on.

Junior got less than a quarter of the New York City vote last November, as I recall. Yeah, the people most closely affected by 9/11, who are most intimate with it, are less than impressed with Junior and his war on terra. [...]

That karma wheel keeps turnin' children. Take care.

There's a new blog up called Taking the fight to Karl. The blog consists of replies from vets and servicemembers - you know, those men and women who are currently over in Iraq fighting Karl's war. They aren't too happy either. Here's a sampler, first from a post Active Iraq Soldier: Karl, Come over _here_ and say that, Chickehawk...:
I'm writing you from [Location Withheld] Iraq, about 35 miles NW of Baghdad.. And I'm too tired to give Karl the verbal beating he deserves for his insults. I'm too tired because we're jsut a bit shorthanded over here, fighting his war for him. A war taht has made nearly every country in the world fear and distrust America, a war fought for a knowing lie dreamed up by Karl and his buddies, none of whom have ever heard a shot fired in anger, or helped pick up the parts of another human being after an IED blast.

I enlisted after the war beganm and after I'd gotten my degree. I could easily have stayed home and watched the war on TV, and Karl does. I do not support this war in the slightest, but I will not sit at home and lecture others on their insufficient patriotism when the nation is in need. I joined because I believe in giving back some measure of service and devotion to my country.

To hear a man like Karl insinuate that only conservatives are really patriotic is a knife in the back to every man and woman in Iraq who serves here. At least a third of us voted against Bush and pals. The number increases every day that we stay here, forced to make bricks without straw for months on end.

We've been here for 6 months. We're going to be here for at least 6 more. And next week we're moving to a more 'active' sector because the unit there is rotating home and the are is still too hot to entrust to the IA or IP, most of whom are still not fit to guard a traffic light, despite two years of efforts on our part. For some of us, this is our second tour through Iraq. My unit, [Withheld] was the tip of the spear in OIF I. At least half of us are combat veterans of a major battle and liberals. Can any of your gang say that, Karl?

Never insult me and my fellow liberals again, Karl. Watching a fat, hateful thing like you that has never faced any greater danger in your life than a long golf shot denigrate every liberal who has put on a uniform is more demoralizing than ten thousand speeches that uphold America's highest ideals from Sen. Biden or Byrd.

[Name Withheld]

Here's one from a relative, titled Military Aunt: Every Liberal Soldier I Know is Angry:
Every liberal, leftie, Democrat soldier I know is livid at the comments made by chickenhawk, Karl Rove. This site should be sent to every Republican who stood by his treasonous remarks to let them know that they can't win elections without Democrats. No Democrat will support a politician who has not denounced Karl Rove for his hateful and dishonest remarks.

To take a rule from the rightwing playbook, every time someone criticizes their disastrous policies, they invoke 'terrorism' and 'national security'.

So, Karl Rove, you have just told the world that half the population of the US is 'soft on terrorism'. I'm sure terrorists already know that YOU, Mr. Rove and the rest of those Republicans who serve with you, Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz et al, never saw a war they didn't support, but ran as far as they could from the fighting.

What are terrorists to make of this then? Republicans love war, but the rich ones are too scared, like you, to fight in them, and the rest of the country wants to understand them???

You are dangerous to our national security, Karl Rove. You are giving aid and comfort to the enemy and you insult every leftie, liberal, Democrat who ever served this country while you protected your worthless hide. An apology won't do, you need to step down.

I notice the rightwingers are now trying to say he didn't insult Democrats! News flash!! He lied!! That's the point. Liberals and lefties are currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq! Why did Karl Rove never join the military? Why, if Republicans are 'ready for war' is recruitment so low? Where are all those Republicans?

Apologize and quit, that's the best thing he can do now. I wish he could hear what the soldiers I know, including my nephew, have to say about him. But he would never have the nerve to meet those lefties face to face!!

He disgusts me and shames this country.

A Gulf War 1 vet has this to say, They Bash Us at Every Turn:
My Grandfather served in the Philippines during WWII (Army). My father served during Vietnam (Army). I served 7
years (USAF) to include Desert Storm and I have friends and relatives currently serving. I have been to Iraq and I am very proud to have worn the uniform, representing my country.

I resent Karl Rove's recent comments as do I the whole Bush admin. attitude towards our military. They bash us at every turn. They say they support the troops and veterans but they have trashed every veteran who dared run against a republican. Just look what they did to Max Cleland and John Kerry. They say they are helping the vets but are cutting veterans services. They say they support the troops but they tried to cut their hostile fire pay and family separation pay even while they were fighting for this country.

I am sick and tired of the hypocrisy and I am sick and tired of being called anti-American or unpatriotic, simply because I do not support this illegal, pre-emptive war which was based on lies. I would have given my life for this country and I will always support my brothers and sisters in uniform whenever and wherever they are called to serve.

The words may come easy for those who have never served in uniform or fought to defend our freedoms and ideals but their actions speak ever so loudly.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." - President Theodore Roosevelt


"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its STUPIDITY." - Dwight Eisenhower

And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is not very damned many."
[Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, remarks to the Discovery Institute, 8/14/1992]

You get the basic idea. There are a number of very justifiably angry active-duty servicemembers, veterans, and families who have been dissed by chickenhawks like Rove, and Rove's comments are both representative of the current Republican mindset and beyond the pale of what I and most reasonable people would consider responsible political discourse. Thing of it is, by continuing to bait those who serve, by accusing those who don't toe the GOP chickenhawk party line Rove and his comrades play a fool's game. Rove has worn out his welcome in New York. Rove has also worn out his welcome, it appears, among a growing contingent of America's servicemembers and their families. Thing of it is, pissed off vets know how to use firearms, and I somehow doubt that they'd go off willingly or quietly to Gitmo because they don't groove on the Rethug party line. Although I do not advocate violence, I can't help but wonder what the ultimate blowback from his very stupid comments will be. Rove is angering the wrong folks.

More food for thought and action:

Let's Open the Gulag!: A People's Mission to Guantánamo by Mark Chmiel and Andrew Wimmer offers a simple premise - we already know a great deal about the torture that is being carried out in our names. We've seen some of the pictures, have certainly an abundance of information already at our behest from various sources - books, news articles (especially alternative media), blogs, and so forth. From that premise, the authors ask a question, and then set out a plan of attack:
What are we prepared to do?

We must publicly work to delegitimize the activities that are being carried out in our name. We need to ask our fellow citizens, “Is this who we want to be?” and then urge them into the streets.

[...]

We won’t hold our breath waiting for another Congressional or Pentagon committee, but we agree that we face the great task of awakening massive citizen protests around the country. We want to assume a good number of Americans—the overwhelming majority?—could be sympathetic to the struggle to delegitimize the use of torture by the U.S. We talked to quite a few of them during our banner-holding stints on the pedestrian overpass.

We propose a three-fold track in the months ahead to further this delegitimization: Haunting Officials, Initiating Dialogue and Engaging in Direct Action.

Definitely worth reading.

In observance of the UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture


Let's run by a couple cogent pieces by Kurt Nimmo. First, CIA Abducts Muslim, Spends $100,000 in Luxury Hotels:
The Italian dailies Corriere della Sera and Il Giorno are reporting the issuance of arrest warrants for “13 American intelligence operatives, charging that they kidnapped a radical Islamic cleric as he walked to a mosque here two years ago, held him hostage at two U.S. military bases and then covertly flew him to Cairo. He later said he was tortured by Egyptian security police,” according to the Washington Post. “The CIA and the U.S. Embassy in Rome declined to comment Friday,” although Italian court documents indicate Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was indeed abducted.

[...]

The somnolent American taxpayer should be proud, even though the CIA operatives “spent more than $100,000 to stay in luxury hotels in Milan, Florence and Venice before and after Nasr’s disappearance.” Of course, we shouldn’t expect the CIA to stay in the Italian version of the Red Roof Inn. Violating international law (international conventions bar sending prisoners to another nation unless there are strong assurances of humane treatment, according to Nat Hentoff) and sneaking around behind the back of our supposed allies is hard and thankless work and CIA operatives deserve every perk they can get.

[...]

Actually, as Hentoff points out, Nasr is lucky he was not “renditioned” to Uzbekistan, the Bush friendly country where political opponents are boiled to death by Uzbekistan’s security service, the SNB (see US looks away as new ally tortures Islamists, the Guardian, May 26, 2003).

[...]

A review of the names listed in the court documents suggests that most of the people were operating under cover names. Attempts by The Washington Post to locate individuals named in the warrants were unsuccessful. The majority of the people named have no listed residence, workplace, working telephone or corporate history, according to a review of public records.

Moreover, half of the U.S. phone numbers that the operatives listed when checking into Italian hotels had been disconnected when called on Friday. Two numbers were answered by recordings for companies with names that are unregistered. A third number was answered by an answering service for a company described as a foreign trade service. Phone messages left by The Post with all three companies were not returned.

Two of the individuals had listed their addresses as boxes at the same post office in Dunn Loring, Va., that is used by a man who is listed as an officer of Premier Executive Transport Services, a company that owns two planes used by the CIA for renditions. The man’s name also appears to be a cover.


[...]

So it appears Milan prosecutor Manlio Claudio Minale has a robust case against the CIA (additional background info is available from similar cases in Germany and Sweden). However, it remains to be seen if the Italians will successfully prosecute the CIA or their case will fizzle out, as legal maneuvers against the spook agency often do. Even if the Italians fail, however, the details they unearth are more grist for the ongoing case to be made against Bush and his cronies, who believe they are above international law. It will also provide ammo in the struggle against right-wingers who accuse opponents of Bush’s worldwide gulag of inventing tall stories in an effort to undermine the U.S. “war” against terrorism and slander the president.

Next, Torture Gone Wild: the Camp Gitmo Reality Show
Now that the United States has admitted torturing abductees, the right-wingers need to call Dick Durbin and apologize for questioning his patriotism. “Washington has for the first time acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at United States detention centers in Guantanamo Bay, as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq,” reports the Independent on Saturday. “The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted on Friday to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the 10-person panel.” So there you have it. Ever since Durbin made mention of an FBI report citing torture at Camp Gitmo, the wingers have skewered him and called him everything from a traitor to an Osama symp. Point is, I suspect a lot of right-wingers are not appalled by torture. In fact, the wingers seem to believe Gitmo is a resort and Muslims shouldn’t complain. “They’re living in the tropics. They’re well fed. They’ve got everything they could possibility want,” said Dick Cheney. In other words, the abductees, who are mostly “Pakistani and Afghan farmers, shoemakers and taxi drivers who were forced to fight for the Taliban,” according to the Guardian, should quit their bitching and relax, get used to sodomy with chemical lights, and remember they are on holiday in the tropics.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Some Sunday morning commentary to go:

Dr. Robert Zaller writes in Bush administration officials join ranks of tyranny:
It is now more than a year since the revelations of torture and homicide against prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the showpiece of our efforts to "democratize" Iraq, shocked and outraged the world. Torture and suicide at Guantanamo Bay, the concentration camp aptly described by Amnesty International as the gulag of our times, has been on the record for three years. Foreign nationals, recategorized as enemy combatants by basement bureaucrats, have disappeared down these and other black holes around the globe.

They have been denied legal process, access to counsel, and any contact with the outside world. This has no precedent in the law of nations, or in the practice of any but the most repressive dictatorships. Nor have American citizens themselves been spared this treatment. One, Jose Padilla, remains incarcerated without trial in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Another, Yaser Hamdi, was summarily deported to Saudi Arabia. Two others, Kashan and Zain Afzal, were imprisoned without charge for eight months in Pakistan, interrogated by the FBI, and threatened with deportation to Guantanamo.

This is how fascism comes. It comes through creating legal nonpersons of citizens and noncitizens alike. It comes through violating human rights standards, sanitizing torture, and condoning murder.

It comes through whitewash "investigations" of war crimes that leave the real perpetrators untouched, and a Congress resolutely determined to see and hear no evil. It comes through a press cowed by censorship and a judiciary impotent in the face of constitutional invasion.

Once, Thomas Jefferson wrote of Americans as having a decent respect for the opinion of mankind. We know that the war on Iraq is a war of aggression, in contempt of domestic and international law and in the teeth of worldwide opposition. We know that it has proceeded from bloody conquest to brutal repression, and that its makers intend a permanent military occupation. We know that in pursuit of these objectives, we have established a covert torture network around the globe, using both secret CIA facilities and the good offices of tyranny in Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

There are many things we do not yet know, but the real scandal is how much lies in plain sight. Thanks to the work of such journalists as Seymour M. Hersh and Mark Danner, we can see clearly how torture evolved as the deliberate policy of our government, from presidential directives to Justice Department briefs to Pentagon and intelligence agency implementation. We know that such infamous techniques as hooding, waterboarding, electroshock, and the use of attack dogs on naked prisoners were not the sadistic improvisations of a few low-level guards or interrogators, but were devised under top civilian supervision and sanctioned by senior field commanders. We know that at least a hundred prisoners have died in American custody, though we can only guess at the toll in third-country prisons, where flogging, anal rape, fingernail extraction, amputation, submersion in boiling water, and mock execution are standard procedure, often under the eye of American agents.

We know that the United States is in daily, deliberate, and systematic violation of the Geneva Conventions, and of Articles 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to both of which it is a signatory. We know that our officials are also violating the federal War Crimes Act, a 1996 statute that carries the death penalty.

These facts were all before us in November 2004. Germans under the Nazis, Italians under Mussolini, and Russians under Stalin did not have the opportunity to repudiate the actions of their leaders at the polls. We nonetheless hold these people responsible for what they themselves often suffered, and even speak of their collective guilt for the crimes of their rulers.

Our opportunity to vindicate the rule of law was unique. Yet Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay were never mentioned during last year's political campaign. There was no call for a moral, political, or legal reckoning of policies that had dragged our honor in the dirt and made us feared and loathed around the globe. Instead, our unelected President was given a new term of office.

For the first time in history, a democratic electorate had certified a rogue state. Some of us did vote the other way. But this time, the guilt really is collective. Abu Ghraib belongs to all of us.

Today is

The United Nations' Day in Support of Victims of Torture.