Autumn wallpaper III, Unique Cactus Flower wallpaper

Autumn wallpaper III

Unique Cactus Flower wallpaper

In case anyone missed it, that wild eyed conpsiracy theory the Right cooked up about Republicans that owned Chrysler dealerships being singled out by the Obama administraion was shot down by Nate Silver, News Flash: Car Dealers are Republicans (It’s Called a Control Group, People) and even more basic then Nate’s statistical research is that Chrysler made the decision about what dealerships to close, not the White House or Congress.

There are lots of interesting numbers in this report on defence spending by Frida Berrigan, but this cost-benefit analysis of defence spending and benefits toward job creation were striking, Defense Budget Shell Game

Obama’s first Department of Defense budget requests $534 billion in spending, continuing a decade-long trend of uninterrupted increases.

[  ]…All of these protesting members of Congress cite the jobs supported by weapons programs. But according to the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy Research Institute, an investment of $1 billion in defense creates 8,555 jobs and $564.5 million wages and benefits. That same amount, invested in education, creates 17,687 jobs and $1.3 billion in wages and benefits. A Lockheed Martin machinist can’t become a social studies teacher overnight, but transitioning people from military production to more useful sectors of the economy is not rocket science, and the benefits are lasting.

I’ve been tracking defence spending for longer then I have been writing this blog and the budget increases regardless of which party controls the White House or Congress. If cuts are made in one place – when Dick Cheney was SecDef he cut ten divisions – that money was then spent on other toys. Its a fact of political life that Democrats cannot make cuts the way Cheney did. That Secretary Gates wants to cut as much useless crap as he recently recommended to Congress is as near a miracle as we’re likely to see anytime soon.

Maybe under the radar, Supreme Court overturns rule on right to counsel

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned a landmark 1986 ruling that forbid the police from questioning suspects without their attorney present. The 1986 case, Michigan v Jackson, was overturned on Tuesday in a 5-4 ruling (PDF) in a similar case, Montejo v Louisiana.

[  ]…A group of 19 former judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials, including prominent conservatives like former FBI Director William Sessions and former Bush administration Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, filed an amicus brief (PDF) arguing strongly against overturning Jackson.

So much for the level headed thinking of the male Conservatives that dominant the court. All they have managed to accomplish is give anyone who was convicted based on any information given in one of these police interviews, one more avenue to pursue an appeal. At this point can Democrats start asking why conservatives are so intent on endangering American lives.


Vintage New York Street Skyline wallpaper, Bush Declares Himself a Hero

Vintage New York Street Skyline wallpaper

Interesting personal take on the North Korean missile tests. A Korean Story…

My students tell me not to be scared. They laugh and say these flare-ups happen all the time. They’re used to it. They’ve been dealing with this shit all their lives. Most of them are still pre-occupied with the suicide of the former Korean President over the weekend. So they help calm me down a bit. And then I watch the news and find out we’re at security level 4. Security level 5 only happens after the first bullet is shot. And when I hear news like this, all my carefully collected tranquility and reason flies out the window, once again replaced with sheer panic.

I am nervous. Hell, I’m scared. It doesn’t help when you see a CNN poll with over half of Americans saying we should engage North Korea militarily. It also doesn’t help when supposed friends back in the US are posting their jingoistic wet dreams as status-updates on Facebook, proclaiming from their armchairs that we “should level Korea.” (Notice no distinction made between South and North?) You guys either don’t get it, or just don’t fucking care…

Perspective is not exactly the Right’s virtue. Many of us, especially after the last eight years wonder if they have one, virtue that is. We managed to live through the Cold War with multiple Soviet warheads pointed at us for forty years. China, the Maoist communists boogieman had theirs pointed our way too, they still do. That doesn’t or hasn’t stopped all those with a warped sense of patriotism from shipping American jobs there so that in turn the same armchair warriors can get their cheap sweat shirts and TVs made in China, from their local discount store.

From Edward O. Wilson’s great 1978 book, On Human Nature

The one form of altruism that religions seldom display is tolerance of other religions. Their hostility intensifies when societies clash, because religion is superbly serviceable to the purposes of warfare and economic exploitation. The conqueror’s religion becomes a sword, that of the conquered a shield.

Talk about dire tragedies, apparently Dubya’s leash broke and he’s out making a fool of himself. I thought the deal was he get free socialized health-care, Secret Service protection and a healthy pension in return for not torturing the American public,

Former President George W. Bush on Thursday repeated Dick Cheney’s assertion that the administration’s enhanced interrogation program, which included controversial techniques such as waterboarding, was legal and garnered valuable information that prevented terrorist attacks.

Bush told a southwestern Michigan audience of nearly 2,500 — the largest he has addressed in the United States since leaving the White House in January — that, after the September 11 attacks, “I vowed to take whatever steps that were necessary to protect you.”

Which just happens to coincide with a story they are rerunning from 2008 at Buzzflash, General Accuses WH of War Crimes

The two-star general who led an Army investigation into the horrific detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib has accused the Bush administration of war crimes and is calling for accountability.

In his 2004 report on Abu Ghraib, then-Major General Anthony Taguba concluded that “numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees.” He called the abuse “systemic and illegal.” And, as Seymour M. Hersh reported in the New Yorker, he was rewarded for his honesty by being forced into retirement.

Now, in a preface to a Physicians for Human Rights report based on medical examinations of former detainees, Taguba adds an epilogue to his own investigation.

The new report, he writes, “tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individual’s lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

“The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full-scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted –both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

“In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. . . .

Bush, the MBA president that run the US economy off a cliff is equally delusional about his super hero powers. Funny, in a nauseating way, Bush failed to mention to the audience that he completely failed to uphold his oath of office.

Antique Western U.S. Map wallpaper, The Right Seems Completely Unaware of the History of the SCOTUS

Antique Western U.S. Map wallpaper

Remember OLC lawyer John Yoo who claimed that Bush’s presidential powers basically made Congress and the Supreme Court irrelevant, now in the professional spin business, warns the US Against “Results-Oriented” Sotomayor . Hey if I need a half-ass legal excuse to torture, beat, rape and other assorted atrocities Yoo is at the top of my call list, just above George Bush, but until my morals are ripped from my cold dead hands Yoo and his ilk will be ignored. Let’s also remember that Newt Gingrich is an historian,

On Wednesday, Gingrich tweeted: “Imagine a judicial nominee said ‘my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman.’ new racism is no better than old racism.”

Moments later, he followed up with the message: “White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.”

Justice Robert Cooper Grier was appointed to the SCOTUS by President James Polk. One can not help but notice from their portraits they are white males. Justice Grier ruled in favor of Dred Scott v. Sandford,

Dred Scott v. Sandford,[1] 60 U.S. (How. 19) 393 (1857), was a decision by the United States Supreme Court that ruled that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants[2]—whether or not they were slaves—were not legal persons and could never be citizens of the United States. It also held that the United States Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories. The Court also ruled that because slaves were not citizens, they could not sue in court. Lastly, the Court ruled that slaves—as chattel or private property—could not be taken away from their owners without due process.

We can’t get in the way back machine and see what the decision would have been had Grier been Black or Latin or a woman, but one its hard to believe a Black justice would have ruled that he could be owned. Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American Supreme Court Justice serving from 1967 to 1991. Would America and so many Americans of any ethnic background have suffered as much racial and gender injustice had the Supreme Court been more diverse between President Polk and 1967. I tend to doubt it. We squandered a hundred years of what could have been a better America because the powers that be thought it best the country be run on a bizarre idea called separate, but equal. If some Newt or Rove wants to write some column defending Dred Scott as a cool calculated piece of legal precision that involved absolutely no sympathies towards predisposed opinions I’d love to read that fairy tale.

Nate Silver takes down a rightie potshot over Sotomayor’s personal financial management, Grandmother of World’s 23rd Best Economist Posthumously Offended by Sonia Sotomayor’s Spending Habits; Will Obama Withdraw Nomination? Its the check their granite counter tops time, once again.

A genuinely interesting post on Sotomayor’s decision on student free speech. Sotomayor’s Student Free Speech Ruling: The Nitty Gritty

The principal learned of Doninger’s blogpost two weeks after it went up, and punished Doninger for posting it by not allowing her to run for Senior Class Secretary. She gave four reasons: Doninger had not followed proper procedures for resolving disagreements with the administration, the post’s language had been “vulgar,” claims in the post had been inaccurate, and the exhortation to other students to “piss her off more” had been inappropriate.

The most troubling part was that Sotomeyer went too far in restricting what a student could say about a school official while not on school grounds or using school facilities. If you’re a teacher, students get to call you names when they get home and log on the net. Students have been bad mouthing teachers since Plato, it comes with the territory. But as that blogger notes the SCOTUS in general has not been exactly pro student free speech regardless of political leanings. Deeply unfortunate, but not a deal breaker for Sotomayer. It will probably even score her some points with moderate conservatives.

ACORN – faster then a speeding bullet, able to sabotage any US election in a single bound ( where were they in 2000 or 2004), OF USEFUL IDIOTS, AND USELESS ONES.

Matthew Vadum of the American Spectator calls me a “useful idiot” for not believing that ACORN caused the mortgage crisis, radicalized the president of the United States, and conspired to steal the election from John McCain and Sarah Palin. These were the “allegations” I was referring to when I wrote this piece last fall, in which I had the gall to speak to both the people filing charges against ACORN and the folks who work inside the organization. As I noted quite clearly at the time, “ACORN is in many ways a troubled organization,” going on to list their various problems–but conservative bloggers like Vadum aren’t content to confine their criticisms to ACORN’s actual issues with taxes, embezzlement, and voter registration fraud. These problems aren’t as sexy or sensational as a secret plot to subvert American democracy. So folks like Vadum simply make things up in order to prove ACORN is part of some vast conspiracy to do evil–Vadum himself previously mused on one occasion whether ACORN should be labeled a “terrorist” organization.

Mustard Burgers and North Korea, It is All The Same to the Rabid Right

Burgers and bombs

Yes the same guy that brought us the torrid truth behind Spicey Mustardgate and celebrated accordingly across the Rightosphere now tells us we’re doomed because writers like Allison Kilkenny write, Update: John Bolton Still Crazy

Experts on North Korea say Kim Jong-il’s motives center around receiving aid, and fear of the United States, since they bombed his country during the Korean War. B. R. Myers, a researcher of North Korean ideology and propaganda at Dongseo University, recommends America ignore Kim. South Korea’s new president, Lee Myung-bak is badmouthing Kim (and his nuclear program) enough as it is, and everyone in the region is slowly realizing the great leader is gravely fallible. A dictator only has a few options to show he’s still hot shit, and one of those is to blast a missile into the ocean. But it’s not a threat to the United States. It’s actually just pathetic. Call it the official countdown of Kim. He’s also sick, weak, and may have had a stroke.

And yet all of these facts couldn’t soothe the nerves of our mustachioed maverick, John Bolton. Get Ready for Another North Korean Nuke Test he hollers at the top of the page. Bolton recycles the argument that Kim got everything his tiny dictator heart desired by bullying the world into six-party talks, which “gave [him] cover to further advance his nuclear program.” If the US strategy was up to Bolton, he would scream threats at everyone he perceived as being Korean, which is exactly what would make things worse, Myers argues.

Jacobson does not say exactly what Obama is supposed to do. N.Korea continued its nuclear program during the Bush administration’s reign. Dick Cheney and John Bolton both said mean tough things about them, just like Jacobson and his followers are and hard to believe, but the North Koreans simply ignored them. It is the history of N.K. to do perform these provocative shows when they want something – more fuel usually, sometimes more food or medicine. Much of the time it also has to do with ironically, a neoconservative craving to have its ego messaged. So the WP of all places is as right as anyone else guestimate on what the correct reaction should be,   What if Kim Jong Il detonated a nuclear warhead — and failed to gain special U.S. attention?

What Kim Jong Il’s latest provocation should not cause, however, is the response he is seeking: a rush by the Obama administration to lavish attention on his regime and offer it economic and political favors. That approach has already been tried by two U.S. administrations, which handed Pyongyang a string of bribes in exchange for ceasing its provocations, suspending its nuclear activities and entering negotiations. In each case, the North failed to fulfill its commitments and eventually returned to producing weapons and testing missiles.

It’s time, at last, to break this pattern and call Mr. Kim’s bluff. That doesn’t mean threats of U.S military action or a blanket refusal to talk with the regime; those tactics have been tried and have failed as well. Instead, Mr. Obama should simply decline to treat North Korea as a crisis, or even as a matter of urgency. The United States should press for the toughest sanctions it can extract from the Security Council and ratchet up its own measures, including a renewed squeeze on the regime’s access to the international financial system.

Its a big let down for Let’s Just Nuke Everyone Bolton crowd. They could pop a Hungryman dinner into the microwave and watch the mushroom cloud on Fox while Bill O weras a party hat, but fonancial sanctions against N. Korea actully work. No one, including the Chinese who Kim depends on for oil fuel approves of this newest childishness. So he has no one to turn to for support, Pursue Sanctions that Work

Japan too can act decisively. In 2005, Japan cracked down on gambling enterprises controlled by North Koreans that sent remittances back to the North. Last year, Japan loosened these sanctions in the wake of an agreement with the DPRK whereby the North Koreans pledged to investigate abductions of Japanese citizens to North Korea in the 1970s. At least 13 Japanese citizens were abducted. North Koreans control the pachinko gaming centers and it is estimated that this earns the DPRK revenue of approximately $100 million of dollars annually.  It is time for Japan to tighten these economic sanctions again.

North Korea is critically dependent on the outside world for three things: oil, food and essential medicines. Restricting the trade of he latter two would effect the already marginal existence of the beleaguered North Korean people but cutting off North Korea’s fuel supplies has worked in the past. The problem is that North Korea gets most of its fuel from China so for this sanction to work it is up to the Chinese. Still China did stopped oil deliveries once before back in 2003. Deprived of fuel, Pyongyang quickly returned to the negotiating table.

I recommend reading the whole post at MyDD. Kim Jong is ill and this little exercise could have been his last hurray, some symbolic salute to the military to pave the way for his son’s ascendancy to leadership. Either way its serious, but hardly the end of the world. The U.S. has enough land based ICBMs alone to turn N. Korea into a dust bowel in about twenty minutes. Kim knows this. As crazy as he might be, he has never done anything that would invite the total annihilation of his country. Its difficult to tell who’s more insecure, Kim or America’s last remaining neocons. In the next few weeks the neocons will move on to the next great issue of national urgency like Joe Biden ordering a BLT with low fat mayo.

Retired General and Republican Colin Powell has at least some surface charm and intelligence severely lacking on the Right, but make no mistake he is a far right ideologue. That Limbaugh and Cheney see Powell as too moderate is a warning about how rabid Right the Republicans party is. It is also unfortunate that the American public does not see Powell for what he is because it gives a false impression of what should constitute a moderate Republican. IraqTortureGate: Powell Denies Knowing He Used Tortured Evidence for UN Case

The most damning credible allegation to emerge regarding the Bush Administration is arguably that Dick Cheney and other Bush Administration officials ordered the use of torture to produce false evidence of a connection between Iraq and al-Qaida to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff at the State Department under Colin Powell, recently wrote,

as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002 – well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion – its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa’ida.

Wilkerson cited the case of detainee Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, whose tortured testimony was crucial for building the case for war, and was cited in Powell’s speech to the UN.

when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney’s office that their detainee “was compliant” (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP’s office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa’ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, “revealed” such contacts.

About this case, Human Rights Watch has recently written,

Al-Libi was sent by the CIA to Egypt for interrogation in early 2002. A declassified CIA cable later described how al-Libi told the CIA that the Egyptian interrogators had said they wanted information about al-Qaeda’s connections with Iraq, a subject “about which [al-Libi] said he knew nothing and had difficulty even coming up with a story.”

The cable went on to say that al-Libi indicated that his interrogators did not like his responses and then “placed him in a small box” for approximately 17 hours. When he was let out of the box, the cable states that al-Libi was given a last opportunity to “tell the truth.” When al-Libi’s answers did not satisfy the interrogator, al-Libi says he “was knocked over with an arm thrust across his chest and he fell on his back” and was then “punched for 15 minutes.” It was then that al-Libi told his interrogators that Iraq had trained al-Qaeda operatives in chemical and biological weapons, information that was later used in Colin Powell’s speech to the UN Security Council to justify war with Iraq.

A bipartisan report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found that that al-Libi “lied [about the link] to avoid torture.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee knows that al-Libi’s false, tortured testimony was part of Colin Powell’s speech to the UN. Human Rights Watch knows it. Lawrence Wilkerson knows it. And you know it.

But supposedly Colin Powell doesn’t know it. Is this credible?

Arlington Memorial Day wallpaper

Arlington National Cemetary Memorial Day wallpaper

Recently House Minority Leader John Snidely Boehner (R-Ohio) claimed that Speaker Pelosi’s assertion that she was not completely and honestly briefed on Bush and Cheney’s toture regime was less then honest. In his view the CIA was telling the truth and Pelosi was not.

“I think the problem is that the speaker has had way too many stories on this issue,” Boehner said today. “She’s posed more questions than she has provided answers…

“When you look at the number of briefings that the speaker was in, and other Democrat members of the House and Senate, it’s.. pretty clear that they were well aware of what these enhanced interrogation techniques were,” Boehner said. “They were well aware that they had been used. And it seems to me that they want to have it both ways. You can’t have it both ways.”

Its difficult to have an honest honorable debate if one side decides to insist on being dishonest and dishonorable, AP: More errors in CIA briefing list

The CIA chart states that a Senate staffer, Chris Mellon, attended a briefing on July 15, 2004. However, Mellon told The Associated Press that he left the Senate in April 2004 and did not attend the briefing.

On Wednesday, CIA spokesman George Little said the CIA has reviewed its record and agrees that Mellon was erroneously listed as having attended the 2004 briefing. […]

The CIA chart also shows former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss attended a March 8, 2005, briefing as a member of Congress. However, Goss was at that time the director of the CIA. He took that job in November 2004.

“On the March 8, 2005, briefing, we were true to the records,” Little said. “Although Mr. Goss was CIA director at that time, the underlying records list him as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. There’s a record of an earlier briefing that lists Rep. (Pete) Hoekstra as chairman.”

Liz Cheney Reveals That Fear Of Prosecution Motivates Dad’s Media Blitz Defending Torture

Since President Obama released Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel memos detailing the authorization of the Bush administration’s torture program, Vice President Cheney has taken to the public airwaves on numerous occasions, not only attacking Obama’s security policies but vigorously defending what he perceives (wrongly) as the efficacy of torture. “I’m convinced, absolutely convinced, that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of lives,” Cheney said recently on CBS.

One striking hypocrisy in the torture is good and those that authorized are saviors of national security is the Scotter Libby element of their defense. They are afraid that just as Libby would have been sent to the same kind of prison farm that Martha Stewart served time in, it would be too much for Bush, Cheney and the other members of the torture crew to handle. They can torture people, but think it is inhumane to pay the consequences for breaking the law and being responsible for recruiting more terrorists. How Guantanamo became a recruiting ground for militants

A McClatchy investigation found that instead of confining terrorists, Guantanamo often produced more of them by rounding up common criminals, conscripts, low-level foot soldiers and men with no allegiance to radical Islam — thus inspiring a deep hatred of the United States in them — and then housing them in cells next to radical Islamists.

The radicals were quick to exploit the flaws in the U.S. detention system.

Soldiers, guards or interrogators at the U.S. bases at Bagram or Kandahar in Afghanistan had abused many of the detainees, and they arrived at Guantanamo enraged at America.

Cheney, and the skirts he and other Republicans are hiding behind, claim that while there is no known facts to support the assertion, torture saved “thousands” of lives. How many lives did torture cost American families, and Iraqi families that the Right has said they saved from tyranny, I’m Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.

Baltimore City Skyline wallpaper

Baltimore Skyline wallpaper

Mountainside Tree wallpaper

The Right’s reaction to Cheney’s speech was predictable, the rhetorical version of some ragged half starved animals lapping up some crumbs ladled out and injected to paranoiac sadist addicts who hadn’t had there regular fix of discredit neoconservatism. A political movement that put Iraq ahead of catching Bin Laden and rebuilding the store they vandalized while letting America sink into the worse financial crisis since the Great Depression. Their panic, disarray and ineptitude desperately portrayed by Cheney and rabid righties like Charles Krauthammer and the usual cabal of bunny slipper clad Republican bloggers. Losing and cowardice are the new virtues according to these deadenders. Simply repeating to the point of nauseous echo the same distortions has the magic wand effect, it makes everything lie that Cheney repeats for the umpteeth time, true. One cannot help but be impressed by the Right’s elevation of pure wussiness a la Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner and Sean Hannity and a cornucopia of drooling and unquestioning followers, as the same kind of bravery that epitomized the heroes of WW II, that actually knew something about war, toughness and winning. Cheney’s speech ignored some inconvenient truths

Cheney On Torture: Misinformation And Straw Men
Buchanan, Peters call Cheney speech “candid,” “accurate” despite discredited claims

The Right’s purple proses along the lines of some toothless smiles over Obama adopting, at least in the short term, a naother reason for a class action suit for national whiplash. Rather then express the gratitude that should come from less then a total rejection of every Bush policy( toture being somewhat an exception) the Right is out on the playyard trying to decide whether its hypocrisy or vindication or in the case of the paid pundits, yet more substanceless drivel to justify their over inflated salaries.

Bush in the Torture Loop, Cheney Plays Chicken-Little, The Right in Perpetual Panic

Did White House OK Earliest Detainee Abuse?

It is clear that increasingly abusive interrogation techniques were used on Abu Zubaydah, the first high-value detainee, in the months between his capture and the first Justice Department memo authorizing harsh interrogations. But the legal guidance that authorized those early interrogations remains shrouded in secrecy.

Zubaydah was picked up on March 28, 2002. The Justice Department issued its first memo on torture four months later on Aug. 1.

Two observations. That first memo from the OLC would have been from Jay Bybee. According to the memo released by the CIA, members of Congress were not briefed that EITs were even under consideration until September of 2002 (Note to John Boehner – House Republican Leader – more errors have been found in that memo that mentions Nancy Pelosi – who was ranking minority member of the House Intel Committee in 2002). Harsh interrogation techniques that would be come harsher had begun before the Bybee memo. The memo that supposedly made torture legal. Alberto Gonzales was not the Attorney General in 2002, he was Bush’s personal White House counsel.

The source says nearly every day, Mitchell would sit at his computer and write a top-secret cable to the CIA’s counterterrorism center. Each day, Mitchell would request permission to use enhanced interrogation techniques on Zubaydah. The source says the CIA would then forward the request to the White House, where White House counsel Alberto Gonzales would sign off on the technique. That would provide the administration’s legal blessing for Mitchell to increase the pressure on Zubaydah in the next interrogation.

This puts Bush in the loop before even the bizarre legal rationales started from Yoo, Bradbury and Bybee. Spencer Ackerman notes, James Mitchell Asked, ‘Please Can I Torture Abu Zubaydah?’; Did Alberto Gonzales Say Yes?

Now, note that Gonzales at the time wasn’t the attorney general. He wasn’t the chief legal official for the government. He was the president’s lawyer, powerless to bless the actions of a federal agency like the CIA. (Shapiro quotes a number of ex-officials who establish that point.) A separate CIA-White House channel in the spring of 2002 would, at the least, contextualize the CIA’s efforts at getting the approval of the Justice Department for the harsh interrogation regimen — though it’s unclear what legal butt-covering Gonzales would have been able to provide in the first place. Gonzales didn’t respond to NPR, according to Shapiro.

So what legal arena are the CIA, Bush, Mitchell and Gonzales in at this juncture. What has come to be known as if-the-president-does-it-its-legal. Or better known in the history of Soviet Russia as the Premier has ordered it, make it so. It also appears, according to the new documents obtained by the ACLU that former SERE psychologist and CIA private contractor named James Mitchell and certain elements within the CIA were wanted to torture over the objections of  FBI agent Ali Soufan( who had succeed in obtaining a host of information without torture) and some anti-torture elements within the CIA. The Bush-Cheney-Gonzales cabal guilty of war crimes even with the OLC memos; without them they do not have even that legally thin cover.

Apparently there is going to be dueling speeches on national security between Dick Cheney and President Obama. First Read says that have had some hints at points Cheney will touch on,

Previewing Cheney’s speech: Meanwhile, Politico’s Mike Allen gets a heads-up of what Cheney will say. The gist: “When President Obama makes wise decisions, he deserves our support. And when he mischaracterizes the national security decisions we made in the Bush years, he deserves an answer. The point is not to look backward. But a truthful telling of history is necessary to inform our choices going forward.” Allen also notes that Cheney will defend the effectiveness of Gitmo and enhanced interrogation techniques. Finally, Cheney will “say the American people deserve to see the whole picture as they assess the policies of the past — not just half the story.”

Taking advice from Dick Cheney on national security or any other issue for that matter is like asking a baseball bat welding mugger to beat you again because the first time was so much fun. As FR also points out, Obama’s policies re Gitmo, wiretaps without warrants and some other issues show that he is keeping 90% of Bush’s policies. That’s apparently not enough for the perennially Chicken-Little Righties, if Obama doesn’t revert back to the other ten percent we’re all gonna be butchered in our sleep.Not that it means anything to Dick Cheney and others on the Right who devote  substantial efforts to rewriting history, but more innocent men, women and children died in Bush’s war on terror then were killed by terrorists during the last three presidencies combined.

Dick Cheney the go to guy for solutions

1 in 7 Freed Detainees Rejoins Fight, Report Finds

An unreleased Pentagon report concludes that about one in seven of the 534 prisoners already transferred abroad from the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has returned to terrorism or militant activity, according to administration officials.

The conclusion could strengthen the arguments of critics who have warned against the transfer or release of any more detainees as part of President Obama’s plan to shut down the prison by January.

The Right finds this shocking or they’re feigning shock because that is about all the power they left other then whining and smoking tea at bong parties, or is it throwing bongs at tea smokers. Anyway, Malkin at the suitably named Hot Air sums up the rightie blog creation, Jihadi recidivism: Not just a Bush thang

The Left has long ridiculed national security concerns about jihadi recidivism by former Gitmo detainees on the loose. Before Bush left office, the Pentagon reported that 61 former Gitmo residents had returned to the terror battlefield. “Security experts” scoffed. When I talked about the problem in January, the sneering hate mail poured in.

Now, the New York Times grudgingly discloses the existence of a Pentagon report showing that 1 in 7 jihadi Gitmo detainees has returned to terror. The analysis is reportedly being held back by DoD bureaucrats out of fear that it would undermine The One. As Allahpundit notes, the Times story “bent over backwards to emphasize that the delay’s all DOD’s fault.”

They can all keep playing finger-pointing games in Washington. The bottom line is that jihadi recidivism is real, deadly, and no longer just a Bush thang.

“Thang” is yet another attempt by Malkin to sound hip.

The “sneering hate mail” – from documented Democrats that no doubt forwarded notarized photo copies of their voter registration with each e-mail. Part of the Malkin formula (and Republican blogs in general) is to insert some bit of poor little Conservative victim into most of her posts.

Recidivism? If Malkin had read to the bottom of the article she would have notd that while those released from Gitmo have a recidivism rate of 14%, our home grown murderers, rapists and thieves have a recidivism rate of 68 %. Furthermore, America has terror attacks somewhat frequently by Conservatives like Paul Ross Evans and Eric Rudolph.

hilzoy on the New York City terror plot, We’re Doomed!

This raises the difficult question: what should we do with these would-be terrorists while they await trial? And if they are convicted, what then? I assume that if it’s too dangerous to move people at Guantanamo to the United States, it must be much too dangerous to allow these jihadists to run loose in our prisons. After all, they might provide financing for other jihadists from their supermax cells, or radicalize other prisoners, or use special Terrorist Mind Control Techniques to create a whole army of brainwashed convicts under their complete control.

I’d suggest killing them, cutting them into pieces, and shipping their parts to parts unknown immediately (trials? who can afford trials under these circumstances?), if I weren’t afraid that some hitherto unknown al Qaeda trick might allow their reanimated body parts to slither around in search of one another and, eventually, reconstitute themselves as the Islamofascist Undead.

There are threats in life. Terrorists, whether jihadists or right-wing nuts, but as far as threats go both should be put in perspective. About half a million Americans will die from cancer this year. Around forty thousand people will die in car crashes – want to save some lives, spend a trillion dollars on making cars safer. If 2009 is an average year 20,000 Americans will die from the flu or complications caused by the flu. In one year flu will kill three times more people then died on 9-11. In not one of the examples I’ve cited will panic, paranoia, chest thumping or using the word “thang” be helpful.

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Black and White 35 MPH City wallpaper, Hey Newt Your Pants Are on Fire Again

Black and White City 35MPH wallpaper

Black and White room with fan wallpaper

Thanks to Buzzflash and StumbleUpon for the links and traffic.

This is not political news as much as a very bad B-horror movie from the fifties, Newt Gingrich Still Calling for Pelosi’s Head

“Speaker Pelosi has damaged America’s safety. She’s made America less secure by sending a signal to the men and women defending our country that they can’t count on their leaders to defend them. And every day they spend worrying about being politically persecuted is a day we are made more vulnerable to a nuclear attack on one of our cities, a biological attack on one of our subways, or a bomb going off in one of our malls. America is losing ground because of Nancy Pelosi’s contempt for those who defend her.”

If Newt Gingrich’s pants caught on fire every time he lied, committed an act of corruption or adultery he’d be a crispy critter a hundred times over. A pile of talking ashes and the media would still be holding the microphone up to the pile to see what it had to say. Media Matters has a timely post up on Newt’s more recent efforts to get a gold medal in menadcity. Newt, much like Cheney and Limbaugh do a terrific job at recruiting new Democrats so please let’s not be too quick in tightening his leash. Someone in the media might want to ask Newt if his rabid sense of outrage applies equally to Republicans that have called the CIA a rogue organization filled with leftists and to his idol George W. Bush who declared in 2003,

Bush, in honoring U.N. Torture Victims Recognition Day yesterday, said, “The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment.”

If Speaker Pelosi has through some kind of rhetorical magic marginally endangered the U.S., then Bush’s calls for investigation and prosecution of those that toture is even more guilty seeing that he was the decider-in-chief. Crook and Liars has a bit more more, Misogyny rules when Conservatives attack Nancy Pelosi. And related, a post on Cheney’s fforts to marginalize the CIA. Bush/Cheney made a drmatic shift away from CIA to Pentagon based intel because in many cases when it came down to questions about Iraq and terrorism or Iraq and al-Queda, they didn’t get the answers from the CIA they wanted to hear. Some of you might rememberDouglas Feith who served as the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and started a little department at the Pentagon called the Office of Special Plans (that department was later disbanded). From 2003, Julian Borger reports on the shadow rightwing intelligence network set up in Washington to second-guess the CIA and deliver a justification for toppling Saddam Hussein by force. Now its a new game. because of one briefing, which was very short of details to Speaker Pelosi in 2002, Republicans that hated the CIA have decided that the CIA is their best friend. How convient. One of the best things the right-wing noise machine ever did for Democrats was to start this factless war on Speaker Pelosi. Every eurption gives liberals yet another chance to reiterate the facts about Iraq, the CIA, the Office of Special Plans and the fact that Bush and Cheney were resposnible for torture and murder, behavior that got American troops killed. It takes a lot of lies and twisted logic to connect Pelosi’s actions to endangering our troops, with Bush and the neocons its a straught and clear line.

For Republicans The Blame Shifting and Cover-up Continue

Memo to media
One blogger described this report at WaPO as something that reads more like a press release from Snidely Boehner’s office then actual news, Boehner Says Pelosi Should Back Up Her CIA Allegations

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “ought to either present the evidence or apologize'” in the wake of her comments that CIA officials misled her about the use of controversial interrogation techniques on terrorist suspects.

“Lying to the Congress of the United States is a crime,” Boehner said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And if the speaker is accusing the CIA and other intelligence officials of lying or misleading the Congress, then she should come forward with evidence and turn that over to the Justice Department so they can be prosecuted.”

That sounds like a great idea,

Rep. John Boehner: “Either I don’t have confidence in what they told me several months ago or I don’t have confidence in what they’re telling me today.” [CNN, Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, 12/9/2007

That was Snidely speaking of the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate, not a briefing in 2002 to Nancy Pelosi – months after the Bush administration had already ordered detainees to be tortured. And standards that apply to Speaker Pelosi should apply to Boehner as well. Turn over the evidence that he has that proves the CIA’s most important report after what is called the President’s Daily Briefing, was false. One of things that Right objected to in the NIE of 2007 was the CIA referring to the violence there which resembled a civil war.

The Intelligence Community judges that the term “civil war” does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgent attacks on coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence. Nonetheless, the term “civil war” accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements.

At one point Boehner, intellectually and emotionally incapable of handling the truth of the facts on the ground in Iraq – “complex” facts – broke down in tears declaring that we needed to defeat the terrorists in Iraq – the ones that killed 3000 Americans. A clear reference and patently dishonest attempt to once again link 9-11 to Iraq. Boehner, a dishonest propagandist in 2007 and a dishonest propagandist in 2009. For John, honor and integrity are mere words he vaguely remembers from a 4th grade vocabulary test. Media Matters notes in the torture is good propaganda tour no one seems to be asking why Democrats were not briefed on any legal opinions that differed from those put forth by Yoo, Bybee, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, William ‘Jim’ Hayne, John Rizzo, CIA deputy general counsel (2002-2004) and Steven Bradbury, principal deputy assistant attorney general, OLC (2004). Media ignore question of whether Congress was briefed on torture dissent

According to a May 2008 report from the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general, following a meeting with FBI counterterrorism assistant director Pasquale D’Amuro “in approximately August 2002,” FBI Director Robert Mueller determined “that the FBI would not participate in joint interrogations of detainees with other agencies in which harsh or extreme techniques not allowed by the FBI would be employed.” D’Amuro recommended that the FBI not participate in part because “the use of the aggressive techniques failed to take into account an ‘end game.’ ” D’Amuro added, “[E]ven a military tribunal would require some standard for admissibility of evidence. Obtaining information by way of ‘aggressive’ techniques would not only jeopardize the government’s ability to use the information against the detainees, but also might have a negative impact on the agents’ ability to testify in future proceedings.” Additionally, in a November 27, 2002, legal analysis, FBI deputy director Marion Bowman wrote that several of the enhanced techniques — including “[u]se of wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of drowning” — “are not permitted by the US Constitution” and may violate the federal torture statute.

Remember in 2002 Congresswoman Pelosi was the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee. In that capacity, perhaps the rightwing echo chamber could explain exactly what her protest options were. Having been told in a secret briefing that some EITs might be used. Clearly those CIA staffers that did brief her committed a lie of ommission. So the Right can make all the inane wisecracks they like about Pelosi’s assertion that she was “misled” over CIA interogation tactics, but the truth is that she was. The only reason that Pelosi has become the Right’s target is to distract attention from the more important underlying issues of what the administration did, the flimsy legal reasoning they used to justify torture and illegal renditions to countries that would do the torturing for them and as blackmail to prevent Congress from holding a full scale investigation – Republicans, the party of the shameless, admit as much

Pelosi has been among the most vocal critics of the Bush administration’s counter-terrorism measures. On Thursday, she reiterated her call for the creation of a “truth commission” to investigate Bush-era practices.

Republicans have opposed that idea and warned that any such undertaking also would bring scrutiny to Democratic lawmakers. They have focused in particular on Pelosi, accusing her of hypocrisy for failing to attempt to stop the interrogation practices until well after she had learned about them in detail.

If Boehner is sincere one sure way to embarrass Pelosi is to have her testify under oath, but that would mean that at least 13 other people – all Republicans would have to answer questions about the substance of the issue rather then this freak show via  Boehner and the far Right. The Bush administration’s Torture 13. They authorized it, they decided how to implement it, and they crafted the legal fig leaf to justify it.

The Torture 13 also abused the legal review process in the Department of Justice in order to provide permission for torture. The DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) played a crucial role. OLC provides interpretations on how laws apply to the executive branch. On issues where the law is unclear, like national security, OLC opinions can set the boundary for “legal” activity for executive branch employees. As Jack Goldsmith, OLC head from 2003 to 2004, explains it, “One consequence of [OLC’s] power to interpret the law is the power to bestow on government officials what is effectively an advance pardon for actions taken at the edges of vague criminal statutes.” OLC has the power, Goldsmith continues, to dispense “get-out-of-jail-free cards.” The Torture 13 exploited this power by collaborating on a series of OLC opinions that repeatedly gave U.S. officials such a “get-out-of-jail-free card” for torturing.

Boehner is not just trying to cover up the illegal abusive regime used by the administration. As immoral and illegal as torture, murder and illegal renditions are, they were used as tools to inflate the Bushies case for invading Iraq by way of tortured false confessions, Right-Wing Distractions

Torture was also used to fit the administration’s political objectives. In April 2003, “very senior” Bush administration officials suggested that an Iraqi prisoner be waterboarded to see if he would “provide information of a relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime,” former Iraqi Survey Group chief Charles Duelfer said yesterday. Two senior U.S. intelligence officials said that the suggestion came from the office of Vice President Cheney. Finding this “smoking gun” linking Iraq and al Qaeda was the primary purpose of the interrogation program authorized in 2002, said former Colin Powell chief of staff Larry Wilkerson. Whitehouse responded, saying, “I have heard that to be true,” adding that the accusations bolster the case for criminal prosecutions.

No ticking TV scenario bombs, just tell us what we want to hear torture,

Regardless, the debate over whether Congress was an “accomplice to torture” ignores the fact that an August 2002 DOJ memo flatly stated that “Congress may no more regulate the President’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield.” In other words, the same conservatives railing that Pelosi should have loudly objected to the program also defended the president’s absolute right to order abusive interrogations, with or without congressional approval.

Today’s post is one of multiples on the same subject, but if we are all going to be treated to the same perverse logic, the Republican propaganda everyday, then it requires those talking points be addressed. The very same Republicans pols, the same right-wing cheerleaders who claimed for most of Bush’s presidency that he was in effect our emperor-in-chief, that the legislative branch and certainly the minority party were irrelevant, are now claiming that the minority members of Congress are just as guilty as they are, so back off the investigations. For eight years the big bad gov’ment was infoulable and to rise the slighest objection to Bush and Republican authority was treason.

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