Sunday, February 26, 2006

Saturday, February 25, 2006

US Has Tortured Thousands To Death In Iraq

From the Times of Malta:
The US is "aware" of torture taking place in Iraqi prisons, according to the outgoing Maltese UN human rights chief in Iraq.

"Yes, torture is happening now, mainly in illegal detention places. Such centres are mostly being run by militia that have been absorbed by the police force," says John Pace, who retired last week as human rights chief for the UN assistance mission in Iraq.

In a frank interview with The Times, Dr Pace says photos and forensic records have proved that torture was rife inside detention centres. Though the process of release has been speeded up, there are an estimated 23,000 people in detention, of whom 80 to 90 per cent are innocent.

He says the Baghdad morgue received 1,100 bodies in July alone, about 900 of whom bore evidence of torture or summary execution. That continued throughout the year and last December there were 780 bodies, including 400 having gunshot wounds or wounds as those caused by electric drills. ...

The Memory Hole has graphic pictures of Iraqis being tortured by US troops (recently aired by Australia's public broadcasting station).

Friday, February 24, 2006

$1,600,000,000

That's how many taxpayer dollars the Cheney administration has spent since 2003 on domestic propaganda.

The Department of Defense spent another $1.1 billion on media contracts.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Huffing

Crusader Bunnypants visited the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. He knocked over some samples and then decided to get high.

From the AP:
"You're doing great work here," said Bush, who picked up a bottle of clear-colored ethanol and smelled it.


Later on, after Bush found some ether, he had to take a nap.

Bill O'Reilly Hearts Hitler

November 30, 2005, NBC's Today:
It's a disaster for the world if we don't do well [in Iraq]. These pinheads running around going, "Get out of Iraq now," don't know what they're talking about. These are the same people before Hitler invaded in World War II that were saying, "Ah, he's not such a bad guy." They don't get it.
February 20, 2006, "The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly":
...[H]ere is the essential problem in Iraq. There are so many nuts in the country -- so many crazies -- that we can't control them. And I don't -- we're never gonna be able to control them. So the only solution to this is to hand over everything to the Iraqis as fast as humanly possible. Because we just can't control these crazy people. This is all over the place. And that was the big mistake about America: They didn't -- it was the crazy-people underestimation. We did not know how to deal with them -- still don't. But they're just all over the place.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

School Bus Drivers On Terrorist Watch

From the AP:
The war on terror has a new front line - the school bus line. Financed by the Homeland Security Department, school bus drivers are being trained to watch for potential terrorists, people who may be casing their routes or plotting to blow up their buses.

Designers of the School Bus Watch program want to turn 600,000 bus drivers into an army of observers, like a counterterrorism watch on wheels. Already mindful of motorists with road rage and kids with weapons, bus drivers are now being warned of far more grisly scenarios. ...

The program demands strong oversight, said John Rollins, a former senior Homeland Security intelligence official now with Congressional Research Service. Otherwise, he said, some bus drivers could think of themselves as undercover agents. ...

Animal Farm

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is urging the UN Human Rights Commission to take legal action against the United States -- possibly through the International Court of Justice at The Hague -- if it fails to close Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay.

Sentamu's report states that the US's actions do not "appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations". And who could disagree with him?
The American Government is breaking international law. The main building block of a democratic society is that everyone is equal before the law, innocent until proved otherwise, and has the right to legal representation. If the guilt of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is beyond doubt, why are the Americans afraid to bring them to trial? ...

The US should try all 500 detainees at Guantanamo, who still include eight British residents, or free them without further delay. To hold someone for up to four years without charge clearly indicates a society that is heading towards George Orwell's Animal Farm.
Salon has recently obtained "more than 1,000 photographs, videos and supporting documents" from the Army's investigation into the torture at Abu Ghraib. And the Guardian says the leaked report includes "1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse, 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse, 660 images of adult pornography, 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees, 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts".

A Pentagon spokesman said (predictably) that the release of these pictures and videos "could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world". .. Yeah, it would be alright if it wasn't for those pesky cameras!

Also: "Iraq's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, while condemning the abuse at Abu Ghraib, noted that US soldiers had already been punished for it." ... Unbelievable.

Meanwhile, the US is building more torture chambers and concentration camps in Cuba.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Cheney Shooting: Lies, Contradictions, And Bullshit

Check out these threads documenting the delays, contradictions, lies and plain ol' bullshit, thanks to many DU posters/researchers. Some of the topics:
Cheney's companion at fault in shooting, White House says

Texas shooting: was Cheney drunk?

This gets better - Cheney doesnt even HAVE the proper hunting license!

Smoking Gun has First Cheney Accident Report

The guy Cheney shot was involved in Funeralgate (gravedumping by Bush pal)

The Reason For the Cheney Coverup: He's Guilty of a FELONY under TX Law!

Cheney Shooting scandal hostess -- over $20 BILLION business w/ Bush admin.

MSNBC scrubs "beer or two" comment from its story...
Also videos threads with footage from Keith Olbermann, Jon Stewart, David Letterman, etc.

Uggabugga has links to more, including:
Cheney was out hunting with his girlfriend-on-the-side. (That's actually pure speculation, but it's a part of the overall story mix.)

Cheney had a liquid lunch, and was blotto that afternoon. (Had "only one beer" mid-day and a cocktail after the shooting).

He was sloppy and shot Whittington at close range.

Cheney was pretty detached afterwards, and instead of being closely focused on the accident, had a leisurely dinner that evening.

Because he was drunk, he hid from deputies that showed up that evening.

Rove was brought in to decide how to do the PR.

That meant putting out a bogus story that Whittington was merely "peppered". ...

Whittington has heart attack. Things get serious.

Cheney finally decides to talk about the incident in the ultra-friendly environment of Fox News with Cheney-supporter Brit Hume.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Monday, February 13, 2006

Gone Shootin'

Jeff at Rigorous Intuition on Dick Cheney's shooting of fellow hunter Harry Whittington.

The comments, which are also good, include these points: there was an odd 18-hour delay in reporting this story -- indeed, some have wondered if the White House planned to report it at all -- and the men were hunting from a car (which is illegal).

Also, how can a man with a shotgun sneak up on the Vice President with the Secret Service around?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

What The Domestic Spying Scandal Means

Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory has written an amazing overview (also here) of how and why the government's spying on American citizens is so dangerous. Here is some of it:
[The Administration's] argument is that they have the right to use all war powers –- of which warrantless eavesdropping is but one of many examples -– against American citizens within the country. And not only do they have the right to use those war powers against us, they have the right to use them even if Congress makes it a crime to do so or the courts rule that doing so is illegal.

Put another way, the Administration has now baldly stated that whatever it is allowed to do against our enemies in a war, it is equally entitled to exercise all of the same powers against American citizens on American soil. ...

The "war powers" which a President can use in war against our enemies are virtually limitless -- they include indefinite detention in prison with no charges or access to lawyers, limitless eavesdropping, interrogation by means up to and perhaps including torture, and even killing. ... Without hyperbole, it is hard to imagine a theory more dangerous or contrary to our nation's principles than a theory that vests the President -- not just Bush but all future Presidents -- limitless authority to use war powers against American citizens within this country.

Critically, these claimed powers are not purely theoretical or, as Gonzales claimed in response to questions from Sen. Feinstein, "hypothetical." Quite the contrary. Not only has the Administration claimed these powers, they have exercised them aggressively -- not just against Al Qaeda, but against American citizens.

In my view, the single most significant and staggering action of the Bush Administration -– and there is an intense competition for that title, with many worthy entries -– is the fact that the Administration already has detained an American citizen on American soil (Jose Padilla), threw him into a military prison indefinitely, refused to charge him with any crime, and refused even to allow him access to a lawyer, and then kept him there for several years. Then, the Administration argued that federal courts are powerless even to review, let alone limit or restrict, the Government's detention of American citizens with no due process.

And to justify this truly authoritarian nightmare -– being detained and locked away with no due process by your own Government -– the Administration relied upon precisely the same theory which Gonzales advocated on Monday to justify the Administration's warrantless eavesdropping on Americans. Like warrantless eavesdropping, indefinite detention is a "war power," and the Administration therefore claims that it has the right even to detain American citizens with no charges, and nothing can limit or stop that power. ...

Under the Bush Administration, that is the country we have become. Alberto Gonzales spent 8 hours on national television the other day justifying why we must be a country which lives under a system which operates in that manner. That is a system of government wholly foreign to how Americans understand their nation and how our nation has always functioned. There is no more important priority than making as clear as possible to Americans just how broad and truly radical are the powers claimed by this President.
The question now is how can a majority of Americans get this essential information? The Democrats aren't going to tell them.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Foiled Terror Plot -- Another Bush Lie

On Thursday, the Chimp said that an alleged al-Qaida plot in late 2001 to use shoe bombs to blow open a cockpit door and steer an airplane into Los Angeles' Library Tower was foiled when Asian authorities captured the four men allegedly involved.

And get this -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was never told about the alleged attack or its disruption. "I'm amazed that the president would make this [announcement] on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels. I don't expect a call from the president — but somebody."

Capital Hill Blue quotes a longtime CIA field operative as saying Bush is living in a fantasy world. Several intelligence officials wonder whether the plot "was ever much more than talk."

Keith Olbermann nails it:
My stomach is queasy as I ask this. In the context of this today and what you have seen, are we far enough removed from that component of the novel "1984" - the part where the government turns a kind of terror faucet on and off to scare the public in to acquiescing to whatever wants to do?
The whole thing sounds like bullshit to me. If it's true, why would Bush wait more than four years to crow about it? You'd think they'd be glad to report some actual success for a change. ... And these four guys who were arrested -- why haven't they been charged with anything?

Why should we believe anything Bush says?

Time Magazine: Unapologetic Bush Propagandists

From Media Matters:
Summary: At least three reporters involved in an October 2003 Time magazine article that suggested Karl Rove was no longer under suspicion of outing Valerie Plame, and that contained Scott McClellan's denial that Rove was involved, knew at the time of the article that Rove had, in fact, outed Plame.

On October 13, 2003, Time magazine ran an article that included a quote from White House press secretary Scott McClellan insisting that White House senior adviser Karl Rove had nothing to do with outing undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. As Media Matters for America has previously noted, at least two Time editorial employees involved in the article knew McClellan's denial was false: correspondent Matthew Cooper and Washington bureau chief Michael Duffy. Cooper knew the denial was false because Rove had outed Plame to him. Duffy knew the denial was false because Cooper had sent him an email relating what Rove had told him.

Former Time White House correspondent John Dickerson, in a first-person account of his knowledge of the Plame matter, now acknowledges that he, too, knew that Rove was Cooper's source well before the October 2003 article -- an article on which he, like Cooper, received reporting credit. ...

[I]n July 2003, Time reporters Cooper, Duffy, and Dickerson all knew that Rove had outed Plame. But three months later, all three of them helped produce a Time article (Duffy received a byline; the others were credited with having contributed to the reporting) that falsely suggested that Rove had nothing to do with it.
Dickerson has been trying to defend his deceptions.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Right Out In The Open

Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, has received a contract worth up to $385,000,000 from the Army Corps of Engineers to build "temporary immigration detention centers" in the United States.

According to its press release, KBR is building the centers for the Homeland Security Department to provide
temporary detention and processing capabilities ... in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs.
I don't know what could cause a huge influx of US immigrants; the country certainly is not encouraging anything like that. And, naturally, left unsaid is what these "new programs" might be.

Anyone else remember Rex 84?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Let's Spend Some Time Together

ABC felt obligated to bleep words in two of the three songs the Rolling Stones played yesterday evening at Super Bowl XL.

The deliciate sensibilities of the viewers apparently would have been offended by the word "come" in "Start Me Up" (as in "you make a dead man ..."), although you can hear the ribald, unexpurgated version umpteen times a day by surfing rock radio.

For "Rough Justice", we were denied the last word in the first verse:
One time you were my baby chicken
Now you've grown into a fox
And once upon a time I was your little rooster
Now am I just one of your cocks?
No bleeping sound, just dead air. ... The Stones agreed to the censorship ahead of time.

It was a decent performance* -- Ronnie Wood's guitar was inaudible at first (they probably wanted to make sure he was playing the correct key!) -- although it didn't take off until the finale, "Satisfaction". Good for short-sleeved Mick showing a bit of flab on his arms (he's 62, for christ sake). Plus, our halftime parents at ABC felt we could handle hearing "tryin' to make some girl".

Keef was Keef and Charlie Watts re-solidified his position as one of the coolest men on the face of the Earth.

*: Hoping for "Sweet Neo-Con" was likely asking for too much.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Female Soldiers Dying Of Dehydration In Iraq; Fear Being Raped by Fellow Soldiers

Naturally, the US government is doing everything it can to cover it up.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, has this report. Here is the beginning of the article, but you should absolutely read the whole thing.
In a startling revelation, the former commander of Abu Ghraib prison testified that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former senior US military commander in Iraq, gave orders to cover up the cause of death for some female American soldiers serving in Iraq.

Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark. ...

Karpinski testified that a surgeon for the coalition's joint task force said in a briefing that "women in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the port-a-lets or the latrines were not drinking liquids after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and in 120 degree heat or warmer, because there was no air-conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep."

"And rather than make everybody aware of that - because that's shocking, and as a leader if that's not shocking to you then you're not much of a leader - what they told the surgeon to do is don't brief those details anymore. And don't say specifically that they're women. You can provide that in a written report but don't brief it in the open anymore."

For example, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, Sanchez's top deputy in Iraq, saw "dehydration" listed as the cause of death on the death certificate of a female master sergeant in September 2003. Under orders from Sanchez, he directed that the cause of death no longer be listed, Karpinski stated. The official explanation for this was to protect the women's privacy rights.

Sanchez's attitude was: "The women asked to be here, so now let them take what comes with the territory," Karpinski quoted him as saying. Karpinski told me that Sanchez, who was her boss, was very sensitive to the political ramifications of everything he did. She thinks it likely that when the information about the cause of these women's deaths was passed to the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld ordered that the details not be released. "That's how Rumsfeld works," she said.

"It was out of control," Karpinski told a group of students at Thomas Jefferson School of Law last October. There was an 800 number women could use to report sexual assaults. But no one had a phone, she added. And no one answered that number, which was based in the United States. Any woman who successfully connected to it would get a recording. Even after more than 83 incidents were reported during a six-month period in Iraq and Kuwait, the 24-hour rape hot line was still answered by a machine that told callers to leave a message. ...
My partner Laura writes:
Of all the hypocrisy and lies perpetrated by the US government, for me the worst, the absolute lowest, is the shameful treatment of the armed forces. Lie to these people, betray their trust, cut off their options so the military is one of the only ways to get an education, use them for propaganda - then spit them out. Cut funding for the ongoing medical treatment they'll need long after their dues have been paid, give their families only partial benefits because they were reservists, deny them even proper protection in combat - it's a long list.
It's hard to treat a human being more like a piece of shit than the US government treats the members of its military (and, sadly, that has been the case since the founding of the republic).

Friday, February 03, 2006

$100,000 A Minute

That is (at a minimum) what the Iraq invasion is costing US taxpayers.

That's $144,000,000 every single day.

(Remember Paul Wolfowitz's infamous comment about Iraq's oil reserves? "We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction.")

Just another lie.

But it's worth it 'cuz some Iraqis (well, the alive ones) got purple ink on their fingers.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Addicted To Oil

From Attytood

Supporting The Troops, Bush-Style

Houston Chronicle, February 2, 2006:
Eager to reduce spending, the Bush administration falsely claimed savings of more than $1.3 billion in the Department of Veterans Affairs to justify cuts to health care services, congressional investigators say.

The report by the Government Accountability Office is the latest to document funding woes at the VA, which currently offers health care to 7 million out of 24 million eligible veterans. It found that the agency used misleading accounting methods and lacked documentation to prove its claimed savings. ...

"It's unconscionable," said Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill., the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, who requested the audit. "Veterans needing health care are being penalized because of an accounting deception promulgated by this administration."
Veterans get fucked over so Cheney/Bush can slip the rich another tax cut. On and on it goes.