Extremists and Controlling the Historical Record

Russia rewriting Josef Stalin’s legacy Archives on dictator seized from human-rights group Memorial

At first, the purpose behind the midday raid at a human-rights group’s office here was murky. Police, some clad in masks and camouflage, cut the electricity to Memorial’s offices and demanded to know if any drugs or guns were kept on the premises.

Five hours later, after police had opened every computer and walked out with 11 hard drives, the reason for their visit became clear to Memorial Director Irina Flige.

On the hard drives, a trove of scanned images and documents memorialized Josef Stalin’s murderous reign of terror. Diagrams scrawled out by survivors detailed layouts of labor camps. There were photos of Russians executed by Stalin’s secret police, wrenching accounts of survival from gulag inmates and maps showing the locations of mass graves.

“They knew what they were taking,” Flige said. “Today, the state tries to reconstruct history to make it appear like a long chain of victories. And they want these victories to be seen as justifying Stalin’s repressions.”

Stalin, the brutal Soviet dictator responsible for the deaths of millions of his citizens, has been undergoing a makeover of sorts in recent years. Russian authorities have reshaped the Georgia-born dictator’s image into that of a misunderstood, demonized leader who did what he had to do to mold the Soviet Union into the superpower it became.

Bush has made a series of public appearances and a major network interview. For what purpose, to rewrite the history of his administration. Still on the taxpayers dime, he hopes to reshape the impression of being the imperial authoritarian that misled the country into an expensive foreign policy and human rights disaster. Cheney, in a rare appearance, used the occasion to dismiss the fact that as increasing numbers of the American public found that he had lied and withheld important facts about Iraq, strongly disapproved of the administration, simply replied “So?” The Bush term is nearly, but not quite over and they’re molding and rewriting the narrative. Bush claims that al Qaeda choose Iraq as the battle field, to take their last stand – all the while of course as he had let Bin Laden escape at Tora Bora. While it will not stop them from trying Bush apologists are going to have as much of an up hill climb as Stalin’s. We may never see  Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice tried for war crimes, but the documentation of their wrong doing just keeps coming, Report: Gonzales And Rice Appear To Have Lied To Congress About Vetting Bush’s Pre-War Uranium Claims

Privileges of power

“The American Public has a Right to Know That They Do Not Have to Choose Between Torture and Terror”: Six questions for Matthew Alexander, author of How to Break a Terrorist

At 5:15 p.m. on June 7, 2006, two American F-16 fighters dropped 500-pound bombs on a farmhouse about five miles north of the Iraqi town of Baqubah. Within an hour, the death of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian street thug who had risen to become the head of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, was confirmed. This resulted from one of the most important intelligence breakthroughs of the Iraq War. Matthew Alexander is the pseudonym for an American Air Force major who, through a series of skillful interrogations, secured the information that allowed the military to pinpoint al Zarqawi’s whereabouts…

The major’s story may change a few minds, but ultimately the pro-torture crowd – right-wing pundits like Bill O’Reilly, Hannity, Savage, Coulter,etc who have never served, will continue to be apologists for policies that endanger our troops and creates recruits for radicals. They like the idea of torture for the same reasons that some people like horror movies – they just do. The Major can present all the empirical proof he likes, but like so many other issues the rabid Right is immune to rationalism. We can take consolation in knowing that there are genuine heroes like the Major looking out for the best interests of America.

“Former Admiral Dennis Blair has been selected as the new Director of National Intelligence”, Blair is a centrist, and not the ‘center-right” choice described by the aptly named Conservative site Hot Air.

A commander of Pacific Command he’s known for pushing political and diplomatic engagement over military confrontation.

Make no mistake this is not a guy that has ever shied away from using force, but he knows that sometimes force is not always the best answer. As compared to modern Conservatives who think force is the answer to every situation, or threatening force at the slightest provocation, thus making diplomatic progress even more difficult.

Mountain and Winter Snow wallpaper

This just came in as I was finishing. Stalin and his defenders would be proud, Last Secrets of the Bush Administration

Gonzales’s March 2001 memo was the opening salvo in a war over information, one that began in the earliest days of the Bush administration and will continue beyond its end. The stakes, which no one could have predicted when the letter crossed Carlin’s desk, are now self-evidently enormous: when Bush hands over the keys to the White House in January, he will leave behind more unanswered questions of sweeping national importance than any modern president. We still do not know how intelligence operatives, acting in the name of the United States, have interrogated suspected terrorists, and how they are interrogating them now (see sidebar: TORTURE). We do not know how many Americans’ phone calls and e-mails were scanned by the National Security Agency (see sidebar: WIRETAPPING). We do not know—although we can guess—who ordered the firings of the U.S. attorneys who didn’t comply with the Bush administration’s political agenda, and we do not know who may have been wrongly prosecuted by those who did (see sidebar: POLITICIZATION OF JUSTICE). There are large gaps in our understanding of the backstories to everything from pre-war intelligence in Iraq to the censoring of scientific opinion at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior. And those are the things we know we don’t know—there are also what Donald Rumsfeld might call the unknown unknowns.