US Wilderness Detail Map wallpaper

US Wilderness Detail Map wallpaper

Of all outlets the Wall Street Journal seems to confirm the speculation that Cheney’s little CIA project was some kind of “targeted assassinations” project that begin in 2001 aimed at al Qaeda leaders. It never really got off the ground. Reports that new CIA chief Panetta ended it means that all he actually did was kill funding for something that had accomplished nothing in seven years. For the president to order the military to track and kill combatants is legal. The problem is the Iran-Contra aspect; creating an obviously controversial secret program to pursue assassinations and do so through the imagined authority of Mr. 4th Branch, Liz Cheney: Investigating My Dad Would Prove Americans ‘Can’t Trust’ Democrats With National Security

Of course, Cheney is dodging the issue of whether Bush and Cheney fulfilled their obligations under the National Security Act of 1947, which says that congressional intelligence committees must be “kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity.”

Moderate American speak about the rule of law, obligations to inform its elected representatives and the questionable authority of the VP to have his own little secret programs and Republicans pull out their classic deflection responses. The fact is Liz’s poor old dad and that other guy had seven years to get Bin laden and failed because their urge to get their Iraq war on blinded them to more urgent and consequential matters. If Dick felt he needed to break the law and violate the trust of the American people the very least he could have done is accomplish something. Back tracking for a moment, the WSJ article might not have the whole story, New Info Brings More Questions On Secret CIA Program

Perhaps most importantly, a program, launched immediately after September 11 to capture or kill top al Qaeda operatives just doesn’t seem sufficiently radioactive to have provoked the kerfuffle it has. To be sure, Congress outlawed targeted CIA assassinations in the 1970s in response to the excesses of 50s and 60s, and the issue played a key role in the move during the same period to give Congress greater powers to oversee the agency. And if the program allowed CIA to act without the consent or knowledge of liaison services in the countries where the targets were located, that’s obviously a big deal.

Still, the US military has openly been trying to get Osama bin Laden and other top Qaeda leaders “dead or alive” since shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Would CIA involvement in that effort be so explosive that it would not only need to be kept from Congress in the first place, but would also have been shut down by Panetta as soon as he learned about it?

As I said above its not illegal or reason to hide the direction of say Special Forces to hunt down combatants so why would a secret program be required.  al Qaeda is estimated to have cells in 25 or more countries. If the secret program involved spiriting in agents to those countries, sans agreements with their government to start  being judge, jury and assassinating squad – that would be illegal.

E.J. Dionne Jr. on the inevitable though ultimately lame rightwing attacks to be expected against Sotomayer, The Real Court Radicals

If you wonder what judicial activism looks like, consider one of the court’s final moves in its spring term.

The justices had before them a simple case, involving a group called Citizens United, that could have been disposed of on narrow grounds. The organization had asked to be exempt from the restrictions embodied in the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law for a movie critical of Hillary Clinton that it produced during last year’s presidential campaign. Citizens United says it should not have to disclose who paid for the film.

Rather than decide the case before it, the court engaged in a remarkable exercise of judicial overreach. It postponed its decision, called for new briefs and scheduled a hearing this September on the broader question of whether corporations should be allowed to spend money to elect or defeat particular candidates.

What the court was saying was that it wanted to revisit a 19-year-old precedent that barred such corporate interference in the electoral process. That 1990 ruling upheld what has been the law of the land since 1947, when the Taft-Hartley Act banned independent expenditures by both corporations and labor unions.

To get a sense of just how extreme (and, yes, activist) such an approach would be, consider that laws restricting corporate activity in elections go all the way back to the Tillman Act of 1907, which prohibited corporations from giving directly to political campaigns.

It is truly frightening that a conservative Supreme Court is seriously considering overturning a century-old tradition at the very moment the financial crisis has brought home the terrible effects of excessive corporate influence on politics.

In the deregulatory wave of the 1980s and ’90s, Congress was clearly too solicitous to the demands of finance. Why take a step now that would give corporations even more opportunity to buy influence? With the political winds shifting, do conservatives on the court see an opportunity to fight the trends against their side by altering the rules of the electoral game?

Such an “appalling” ruling, Schumer said in an interview, “would have more political significance than any case since Bush v. Gore.” He added: “It would dramatically change America at a time when people are feeling that the special interests have too much influence and the middle class doesn’t have enough. It would exacerbate both of these conditions.”

So when conservatives try to paint Sotomayor as some sort of radical, consider that the real radicals are those who now hold a majority on the Supreme Court. In this battle, it is she, not her critics, who represents moderation and judicial restraint.


Liz Cheney Revives Better Dead Then Red Rhetoric for the 21st Century

Even if we exclude Halliburton, the Cheney’s have made quite a nice living courtesy the American tax payer. Add in some substantial fringe benefits like continued security protection and government subsidized ( socialist?) health-care and what do we get in return; a lack of honesty that would get most six year olds restriction and no ice cream for a week. Then there is there utter lack of humility. Cheney recently left office with one of the lowest public opinion ratings since we started measuring such things. So low that its obvious even most Republicans do not like him. Dick having recently used up a considerable amount of network time and filling the atmosphere with a considerable amount of noxious gas appears to be taking a break, leaving Liz to fill the void. Obama Rewrites the Cold War – The President has a duty to stand up to the lies of our enemies Most of the editorial consists of M’s Cheney waving her arms wildly in the air echoing the unofficial neocon Chicken-Little anthem – we’re all gonna die if we do not do things the neocon way. Considering the ocean of innocent blood that is the neocon legacy – which they blithely dismiss as an introduction to democracy – it seems unlikely that anyone who is not drunk on the kool-aid will pay Liz much mind. Liz finally settles down to something that resembles a point,

Mr. Obama has become fond of saying, as he did in Russia again last week, that American nuclear disarmament will encourage the North Koreans and the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions. Does he really believe that the North Koreans and the Iranians are simply waiting for America to cut funds for missile defense and reduce our strategic nuclear stockpile before they halt their weapons programs?

[   ]….Perhaps Mr. Obama thinks he is making America inoffensive to our enemies. In reality, he is emboldening them and weakening us. America can be disarmed literally — by cutting our weapons systems and our defensive capabilities — as Mr. Obama has agreed to do.

M’s Cheney, surely by accident leaves out what Obama actually said and did, Barack Obama urges Russia not to interfere in neighbouring states

“In 2009, a great power does not show strength by dominating or demonising other countries. The days when empires could treat sovereign states as pieces on a chessboard are over,” he said, speaking to graduates from Moscow’s New Economic School.

[   ]…Crucially, though, Obama indicated that Washington would not tolerate another Russian invasion of Georgia. Russia is winding up full-scale military exercises next to the Georgian border amid ominous predictions that a second conflict in the Caucasus could erupt this summer.

On Monday Obama reaffirmed Georgia’s sovereignty – severely undermined by last year’s war and Moscow’s subsequent unilateral recognition of rebel-held Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. Today Obama defended “state sovereignty”, describing it as “a cornerstone of international order”.

He also said that Georgia and Ukraine had a right to choose their own foreign policy and leaders, and could join Nato if they wanted.

In yet another chapter of imagine if: If Bush had made those statements the Right would have been rushing to their media outposts pounding their chests about the he-man toughness of the guy that thinks with his gut. Obama’s speech was almost out of a chapter of the old Dale Carnegie How to Win Friends and Influence People. Tough talk punctuated with compliments. An arch of diplomatic tact that actually dates back to Franklin and Jefferson. President Obama’s new nuclear arms agreement made rather modest targets in the reductions of nuclear arms and their launchers. In future, as usual, The WSJ would probably publish any over the top doggerel Liz or Dick would like to have published, such is the nature of the librul press. That being the case the least the Cheneys could do is not look foolish and increasingly irreverent and read the WSJ. In a clever piece of concern trolling by Keith B. Payne (a member of the Perry-Schlesinger Commission which studies U.S. nuclear capabilities) in the WSJ wrote,

The Obama administration will undoubtedly come under heavy pressure to move to the low end of the 500-1,100 limit on launchers in order to match Russian reductions. But it need not and should not do so. Based solely on open Russian sources, by 2017-2018 Russia will likely have fewer than half of the approximately 680 operational launchers it has today. With a gross domestic product less than that of California, Russia is confronting the dilemma of how to maintain parity with the U.S. while retiring its many aged strategic forces.

So even a conservative expert, with a predictable agenda, admits that the number of launchers – bombers, subs, etc – the way nukes would be delivered in a nuclear conflict, is an area the U.S. would enjoy a considerable, maybe even two fold tactical advantage in strike capability if for no other reason then Russia’s economy will force them to reduce the numbers of launchers. Nuclear arms reductions is complex. The recent U.S.-Russia talks were only an opening round, Follow on to START

Well, we have a Joint Understanding for the START Follow-on Treaty.

I observe that Reuters, in one of those irritating self indulgent news analysis pieces, frames the question “Spin or Deep Cut?” (The article, by Guy Faulconbridge is actually pretty good; not as bad as the headline would suggest.)

I think this outline is neither spin, nor a deep cut. I view the START Follow-on as an interim agreement to preserve the verification mechanisms in START (which disappear with START in December) for a second agreement that will take two or three years to negotiate. Deep cuts will have to wait for this second agreement, to which the Obama Administration has committed publicly.

The key observation is

The new agreement will enhance the security of both the U.S. and Russia, as well as provide predictability and stability in strategic offensive forces.

Liz Cheney, like Charles Krauthammer and various cons are literally wearing their fifty year old Cold War mentality on their sleeve. Cheney quotes from President Harry Truman’s Cold War strategy,

The White House ought to take a lesson from President Harry Truman. In April, 1950, Truman signed National Security Council report 68 (NSC-68). One of the foundational documents of America’s Cold War strategy, NSC-68 explains the danger of disarming America in the hope of appeasing our enemies. “No people in history,” it reads, “have preserved their freedom who thought that by not being strong enough to protect themselves they might prove inoffensive to their enemies.”

Should someone tell Liz that Democrat Truman’s policies won the Cold War and the Soviet Union no longer exists. Its the 21st century, it is not in America’s interest to revive the use of the Civil War musket, the WW II carbine or the Cold War strategies of days long past. And don’t worry Liz we still have more then enough nukes to live up to that 50s slogan ‘better dead then red”.