Twenty Examples of the Obama Administration Assault on Domestic Civil Liberties


by Bill Quigley

The Obama administration has affirmed, continued and expanded almost all of the draconian domestic civil liberties intrusions pioneered under the Bush administration.  Here are twenty examples of serious assaults on the domestic rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, the right to privacy, the right to a fair trial, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience that have occurred since the Obama administration has assumed power.  Consider these and then decide if there is any fundamental difference between the Bush presidency and the Obama presidency in the area of domestic civil liberties.

Patriot Act

On May 27, 2011, President Obama, over widespread bipartisan objections, approved a Congressional four year extension of controversial parts of the Patriot Act that were set to expire.  In March of 2010, Obama signed a similar extension of the Patriot Act for one year.  These provisions allow the government, with permission from a special secret court, to seize records without the owner’s knowledge, conduct secret surveillance of suspicious people who have no known ties to terrorist groups and to obtain secret roving wiretaps on people.

Criminalization of Dissent and Militarization of the Police

Anyone who has gone to a peace or justice protest in recent years has seen it – local police have been turned into SWAT teams, and SWAT teams into heavily armored military.  Officer Friendly or even Officer Unfriendly has given way to police uniformed like soldiers with SWAT shields, shin guards, heavy vests, military helmets, visors, and vastly increased firepower.  Protest police sport ninja turtle-like outfits and are accompanied by helicopters, special tanks, and even sound blasting vehicles first used in Iraq.  Wireless fingerprint scanners first used by troops in Iraq are now being utilized by local police departments to check motorists.  Facial recognition software introduced in war zones is now being used in Arizona and other jurisdictions.  Drones just like the ones used in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan are being used along the Mexican and Canadian borders.  These activities continue to expand under the Obama administration.

Wiretaps

Wiretaps for oral, electronic or wire communications, approved by federal and state courts, are at an all-time high.  Wiretaps in year 2010 were up 34% from 2009, according to the Administrative Office of the US Courts.

Criminalization of Speech

Muslims in the US have been targeted by the Obama Department of Justice for inflammatory things they said or published on the internet.  First Amendment protection of freedom of speech, most recently stated in a 1969 Supreme Court decision, Brandenberg v Ohio, says the government cannot punish inflammatory speech, even if it advocates violence unless it is likely to incite or produce such action.  A Pakistani resident legally living in the US was indicted by the DOJ in September 2011 for uploading a video on YouTube.  The DOJ said the video was supportive of terrorists even though nothing on the video called for violence.  In July 2011, the DOJ indicted a former Penn State student for going onto websites and suggesting targets and for providing a link to an explosives course already posted on the internet.

Domestic Government Spying on Muslim Communities

In activities that offend freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and several other laws, the NYPD and the CIA have partnered to conduct intelligence operations against Muslim communities in New York and elsewhere.  The CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans, works with the police on “human mapping”, commonly known as racial and religious profiling to spy on the Muslim community.  Under the Obama administration, the Associated Press reported in August 2011, informants known as “mosque crawlers,” monitor sermons, bookstores and cafes.

Top Secret America

In July 2010, the Washington Post released “Top Secret America,” a series of articles detailing the results of a two year investigation into the rapidly expanding world of homeland security, intelligence and counter-terrorism.   It found 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence at about 10,000 locations across the US.  Every single day, the National Security Agency intercepts and stores more than 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other types of communications. The FBI has a secret database named Guardian that contains reports of suspicious activities filed from federal, state and local law enforcement.  According to the Washington Post, Guardian contained 161,948 files as of December 2009.  From that database there have been 103 full investigations and at least five arrests the FBI reported.  The Obama administration has done nothing to cut back on the secrecy.

Other Domestic Spying

There are at least 72 fusion centers across the US which collect local domestic police information and merge it into multi-jurisdictional intelligence centers, according to a recent report by the ACLU.  These centers share information from federal, state and local law enforcement and some private companies to secretly spy on Americans.  These all continue to grow and flourish under the Obama administration.

Abusive FBI Intelligence Operations

The Electronic Frontier Foundation documented thousands of violations of the law by FBI intelligence operations from 2001 to 2008 and estimate that there are over 4000 such violations each year.  President Obama issued an executive order to strengthen the Intelligence Oversight Board, an agency which is supposed to make sure the FBI, the CIA and other spy agencies are following the law.  No other changes have been noticed.

Wikileaks

The publication of US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks and then by main stream news outlets sparked condemnation by the Obama administration officials who said the publication of accurate government documents was nothing less than an attack on the United States.  The Attorney General announced a criminal investigation and promised “this is not saber rattling.” Government officials warned State Department employees not to download the publicly available documents.  A State Department official and Columbia officials warned students that discussing Wikileaks or linking documents to social networking sites could jeopardize their chances of getting a government job, a position that lasted several days until reversed by other Columbia officials.  At the time this was written, the Obama administration continued to try to find ways to prosecute the publishers of Wikileaks.

Censorship of Books by the CIA

In 2011, the CIA demanded extensive cuts from a memoir by former FBI agent Ali H. Soufan, in part because it made the agency look bad.  Soufan’s book detailed the use of torture methods on captured prisoners and mistakes that led to 9-11. Similarly, a 2011 book on interrogation methods by former CIA agent Glenn Carle was subjected to extensive black outs.  The CIA under the Obama administration continues its push for censorship.

Blocking Publication of Photos of U.S. Soldiers Abusing Prisoners

In May 2009, President Obama reversed his position of three weeks earlier and refused to release photos of US soldiers abusing prisoners.  In April 2009, the US Department of Defense told a federal court that it would release the photos.  The photos were part of nearly 200 criminal investigations into abuses by soldiers.

Technological Spying

The Bay Area Transit System, in August 2011, hearing of rumors to protest against fatal shootings by their police, shut down cell service in four stations.  Western companies sell email surveillance software to repressive regimes in China, Libya and Syria to use against protestors and human rights activists.  Surveillance cameras monitor residents in high crime areas, street corners and other governmental buildings.  Police department computers ask for and receive daily lists from utility companies with addresses and names of every home address in their area.  Computers in police cars scan every license plate of every car they drive by.  The Obama administration has made no serious effort to cut back these new technologies of spying on citizens.

Use of “State Secrets” to Shield Government and Others from Review

When the Bush government was caught hiring private planes from a Boeing subsidiary to transport people for torture to other countries, the Bush administration successfully asked the federal trial court to dismiss a case by detainees tortured because having a trial would disclose “state secrets” and threaten national security.  When President Obama was elected, the state secrets defense was reaffirmed in arguments before a federal appeals court.  It continues to be a mainstay of the Obama administration effort to cloak their actions and the actions of the Bush administration in secrecy.

In another case, it became clear in 2005 that the Bush FBI was avoiding the Fourth Amendment requirement to seek judicial warrants to get telephone and internet records by going directly to the phone companies and asking for the records.  The government and the companies, among other methods of surveillance, set up secret rooms where phone and internet traffic could be monitored.  In 2008, the government granted the companies amnesty for violating the privacy rights of their customers.  Customers sued anyway. But the Obama administration successfully argued to the district court, among other defenses, that disclosure would expose state secrets and should be dismissed.  The case is now on appeal.

Material Support

The Obama administration successfully asked the US Supreme Court not to apply the First Amendment and to allow the government to criminalize humanitarian aid and legal activities of people providing advice or support to foreign organizations which are listed on the government list as terrorist organizations.   The material support law can now be read to penalize people who provide humanitarian aid or human rights advocacy. The Obama administration Solicitor General argued to the court “when you help Hezbollah build homes, you are also helping Hezbollah build bombs.”  The Court agreed with the Obama argument that national security trumps free speech in these circumstances.

Chicago Anti-war Grand Jury Investigation

In September 2010, FBI agents raided the homes of seven peace activists in Chicago, Minneapolis and Grand Rapids seizing computers, cell phones, passports, and records.  More than 20 anti-war activists were issued federal grand jury subpoenas and more were questioned across the country.  Some of those targeted were members of local labor unions, others members of organizations like the Arab American Action Network, the Columbia Action Network, the Twin Cities Anti-War Campaign and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.  Many were active internationally and visited resistance groups in Columbia and Palestine.  Subpoenas directed people to bring anything related to trips to Columbia, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Israel or the Middle East.  In 2011, the home of a Los Angeles activist was raided and he was questioned about his connections with the September 2010 activists.  All of these investigations are directed by the Obama administration.

Punishing Whistleblowers

The Obama administration has prosecuted five whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, more than all the other administrations in history put together.  They charged a National Security Agency advisor with ten felonies under the Espionage Act for telling the press that government eavesdroppers were wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on misguided and failed projects.  After their case collapsed, the government, which was chastised by the federal judge as engaging in unconscionable conduct allowed him to plead to a misdemeanor and walk.  The administration has also prosecuted former members of the CIA, the State Department, and the FBI.  They even tried to subpoena a journalist and one of the lawyers for the whistleblowers.

Bradley Manning

Army private Bradley Manning is accused of leaking thousands of government documents to Wikileaks.  These documents expose untold numbers of lies by US government officials, wrongful killings of civilians, policies to ignore torture in Iraq, information about who is held at Guantanamo, cover ups of drone strikes and abuse of children and much more damaging information about US malfeasance.  Though Daniel Ellsberg and other whistleblowers say Bradley is an American hero, the US government has jailed him and is threatening him with charges of espionage which may be punished by the death penalty.  For months Manning was held in solitary confinement and forced by guards to sleep naked.  When asked about how Manning was being held, President Obama personally defended the conditions of his confinement saying he had been assured they were appropriate and meeting our basic standards.

Solitary Confinement

At least 20,000 people are in solitary confinement in US jails and prisons, some estimate several times that many.  Despite the fact that federal, state and local prisons and jails do not report actual numbers, academic research estimates tens of thousands are kept in cells for 23 to 24 hours a day in supermax units and prisons, in lockdown, in security housing units, in “the hole”, and in special management units or administrative segregation.  Human Rights Watch reports that one-third to one-half of the prisoners in solitary are likely mentally ill.  In May 2006, the UN Committee on Torture concluded that the United States should “review the regimen imposed on detainees in supermax prisons, in particular, the practice of prolonged isolation.”  The Obama administration has taken no steps to cut back on the use of solitary confinement in federal, state or local jails and prisons.

Special Administrative Measures

Special Administrative Measures (SAMS) are extra harsh conditions of confinement imposed on prisoners (including pre-trial detainees) by the Attorney General.  The U.S. Bureau of Prisons imposes restrictions such segregation and isolation from all other prisoners, and limitation or denial of contact with the outside world such as: no visitors except attorneys, no contact with news media, no use of phone, no correspondence, no contact with family, no communication with guards, 24 hour video surveillance and monitoring. The DOJ admitted in 2009 that several dozen prisoners, including several pre-trial detainees, mostly Muslims, were kept incommunicado under SAMS.  If anything, the use of SAMS has increased under the Obama administration.

These twenty concrete examples document a sustained assault on domestic civil liberties in the United States under the Obama administration.  Rhetoric aside, how different has Obama been from Bush in this area?

Talking Loud and Saying Nothing!!


Like a dull knife Just ain’t cutting Just talking loud Then saying nothing

You can’t tell me What I’m doing wrong When you keep driving and Singing that same old money song

You can’t tell me Which way to go Cause three times seven And then some more

You can’t tell me, hey You’re like a dull knife Just ain’t cutting You’re just talking loud And saying nothing

This should be the refrain sung by America to the Republicans who insist Obama isn’t doing anything to change the outcome of the war on terror, or whatever other euphemism one wants to use for these wars of military expansion and domination.  Theirs and the Nation’s selective memory should be refreshed with this rather sobering fact from the days, the year 2007,  of the Bush administration!

A new threat assessment from U.S. counterterrorism analysts says that al-Qaeda has used its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border to restore its operating capabilities to a level unseen since the months before Sept. 11, 2001.A counterterrorism official familiar with a five-page summary of the document — titled “al-Qaeda better positioned to strike the West” — called it a stark appraisal. The analysis will be part of a broader meeting at the White House on Thursday about an upcoming National Intelligence Estimate.

………..

The findings suggests that the network that launched the most devastating terror attack on U.S. soil has been able to regroup despite nearly six years of bombings, war and other tactics aimed at dismantling it.

Guess the Republicans haven’t done such a good job after all, huh?  Hat tip to Suzy Q’s excellent blog!

An interesting aside to the talk about torture


Will Griggs who writes excellent pieces on is blog, Pro Libertate addresses frankly what it is people in the military are to do when confronted with commands from superiors that they commit illegal acts. Stopping along the way in his argument to point out that putting our soldiers in harms way is something they must expect when they enlist in the military, Griggs thinks there is no excuse for not releasing the photos.  He writes:

Yes, it’s entirely likely that releasing the photographs of torture and sexual assault — including homosexual rape and, God forgive us, the defilement of children — would lead to dangerous and potentially lethal complications for armed government employees who are killing people and destroying property in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, countries they invaded and continue to occupy by force.

If our rulers were genuinely concerned about danger to “our troops,” they would release the Abu Ghraib documents and bring the troops home. There — problem solved! Instead, they are illegally suppressing the photos and keeping the troops in the field — and now letting it be known that the U.S. military will remain mired in Mesopotamia (which is the more tractable of the two ongoing conflicts) for another decade or longer.

Well stated and let’s not forget several commanders of troops in war theaters have already averred that decisions regarding the “interrogation”, read torture, of detainees have put American personnel in danger with the indigenous societies they occupy, yet we hardly hear any objection to such tactics raised on those grounds.  What the release of those pictures would entail is the inescapable conclusion that US personnel must be prosecuted for war crimes, or at the very least criminal behavior, as it did in the case of several army personnel currently serving time for their part in actions caught on camera.

Griggs takes things a step further than any other writer I have read to date.  He chides and refutes the official reason for not releasing the photos, ‘the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy’ by saying, ‘the foreign policy referred to entails open-ended entanglements in the affairs of nearly every nation on earth, as well as plundering huge sums from taxpayers to sustain a grotesquely huge military establishment and bribe political elites abroad. That foreign policy cultivates misery and harvests war and terrorism.’  Griggs thinks, as do I, that there should be consequences for illegal activity and if releasing the photos causes some to fear those consequences, so be it.

Although I wish harm or death on no human being, it seems to me a good idea to adjust the current set of incentives in such a way that at least some American military personnel, as they deal with another gust of blowback, will have an overdue confrontation with their conscience and decide unilaterally to end their service of the world’s largest criminal enterprise, the government of the United State (spelling intentional).

Am I trying to incite desertion? Reducing the matter to terms simple enough for Sean Hannity to understand them — yes, I am, where desertion is the only way to avoid upholding an immoral, unsustainable policy and serving a depraved Regime. Desertion is a moral imperative when continued service implicates a soldier in crimes against God and mankind.

Perhaps that is one of the consequences the military establishment is trying to avoid, i.e. the moral awakening of its enlisted corps and their refusal to support goals that are anathema to American values. It’s a particularly sticky situation for politicians to espouse American values which include life, and liberty while asking people to risk their lives to curtail those very things either on a foreign and distant soil or on our own here in America. The turmoil caused by an awakening that such requests are inconsistent with all we’ve been taught is probably more traumatic than fighting the war itself. I have often wondered whether this conflict in the soul of the military is the reason for such a high incidence of suicide in the military; if that were the case, desertion would be a far better alternative.  Griggs makes a very powerful and strong case for members of the US military not remain within the military as long as it asks them to commit illegal and morally reprehensible acts against people under its authority. I fully concur.  Well done, Mr. Griggs!

Torture’s benefits don’t exist


I watched an hilarious exchange between former Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura and a Fox TV chat show host who I must admit I was not very impressed with at all.  However they talked about whether waterboarding was torture and necessary for today’s American body politic.  The Fox host repeated several canards that weren’t really addressed by Ventura although he made up for a lack of response with passion and directing the argument in ways he wanted.  I want to briefly address some of the points from a document put together by the folks at Think Progress which I have alluded to in another post.

1. Information from enhanced techniques is unreliable.

This has been stated by several branches of government from the military to the FBI who have all concluded torture doesn’t yield any actionable intelligence and the opposite of torture, rapport building gives a far higher yield.  It’s not as gory or satisfying to the sadistic nature of today’s neocons but it gets results. In fact, according to some, torture gets in the way of intelligence gathering and has negative effects.

2. The torture of Khalid Shaikh Muhammad and Abu Zubayday produced no valuable intelligence.

CIA and FBI officials have gone on record saying nothing was gained from torturing either of those two individuals and they were both tortured scores of time.

“The proponents of torture say, ‘Look at the body of information that has been obtained by these methods.’ But if K.S.M. and Abu Zubaydah did give up stuff, we would have heard the details,” says Cloonan. “What we got was pabulum.” A former C.I.A. officer adds: “Why can’t they say what the good stuff from Abu Zubaydah or K.S.M. is? It’s not as if this is sensitive material from a secret, vulnerable source. You’re not blowing your source but validating your program. They say they can’t do this, even though five or six years have passed, because it’s a ‘continuing operation.’ But has it really taken so long to check it all out?”

And again, there’s this:

As for K.S.M. himself, who (as Jane Mayer writes) was waterboarded, reportedly hung for hours on end from his wrists, beaten, and subjected to other agonies for weeks, Bush said he provided “many details of other plots to kill innocent Americans.” K.S.M. was certainly knowledgeable. It would be surprising if he gave up nothing of value. But according to a former senior C.I.A. official, who read all the interrogation reports on K.S.M., “90 percent of it was total fucking bullshit.” A former Pentagon analyst adds: “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.”

I strongly urge you to go to the document linked above to read it in its entirety.  It’s very well sourced and proves conclusively that torture was not responsible for any intelligence which prevented further attacks against America, that it was viewed as illegal by many of the people the Bush Administration sought to envelope in the torture fabric and that it is prosecutable should the legal community have the will to press charges against those responsible.  Why that hasn’t happened is something politicians in the next election should have to answer.

Harrowing Accounts of Torture


If you have the time and want to know to what extent the US engaged in torture, please read the article, US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites.  Although lengthy, it’s quite substantive and features accounts of torture I thought were only carried out by the “other” guys of the world not Americans.

Just what is it about Guantanamo Bay?


Remnants of the Bush administration’s fascination with Gitmo Bay keep rearing their ugly heads at Obama’s announcement Gitmo will be closed.  First the argument was there is no place to house those who have yet to be released, or that there are no facilities sufficient to hold them, or that we don’t want them housed in our midst, as if they’ll be our  next door neighbor. This argument, meekly advanced has been rather quickly disarmed and has dropped off the political discussion.

A more sinister argument with accomplices has taken its place, and this is the argument of recidivism, or terrorists released from Guantanamo Bay who have “returned” to terrorism.   The first point to make is if they were indeed terrorist why were they released by our government?  Does this mean the US is  NOT able to determine, even under the most draconian and loosely structure  means, those who are terrorists and who are not? But to underscore this point comes this news.

Two men released from the US “war on terror” prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have appeared in a video posted on a jihadist website, the SITE monitoring service reported.

One of the two former inmates, a Saudi man identified as Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri, or prisoner number 372, has been elevated to the senior ranks of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, a US counter-terrorism official told AFP.

Three other men appear in the video, including Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, identified as an Al-Qaeda field commander. SITE later said he was prisoner No. 333.

A Pentagon spokesman, Commander Jeffrey Gordon, on Saturday declined to confirm the SITE information.

At first glance this seems rather ominous until you discover who the players are and the last sentence in the quote above really gives away what is being said/done with this “news”.   SITE is a group with an agenda, like all the other groups that have sprung up post 911 and that agenda is not even close to US interests.  Rather it appears it’s one based on settling old scores.   A terrorist cottage industry has risen on the US political landscape and it seems to have been given free hand, with the provision or understanding  that the US government won’t always rubber stamp what that industry produces.  This seems to be the meaning of the last sentence, “A Pentagon spokesman, Commander Jeffrey Gordon, on Saturday declined to confirm the SITE information”, because frankly under closer inspection the government has been burned by these self-appointed, government anointed terrorist experts.

However, what’s even sadder and more dastardly is the lies, damned lies and statistics game being played by the US when it comes to Gitmo Bay and who was once housed there.

The Seton Hall Center for Policy and Research has issued a report which rebuts and debunks the most recent claim by the Department of Defense (DOD) that “61, in all, former Guantánamo detainees are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight.”

Professor Denbeaux of the Center for Policy & Research has said that the Center has determined that “DOD has issued ‘recidivism’ numbers 43 times, and each time they have been wrong—this last time the most egregiously so.”

Denbeaux stated: “Once again, they’ve failed to identify names, numbers, dates, times, places, or acts upon which their report relies. Every time they have been required to identify the parties, the DOD has been forced to retract their false IDs and their numbers. They have included people who have never even set foot in Guantánamo—much less were they released from there. They have counted people as ‘returning to the fight’ for their having written an Op-ed piece in the New York Times and for their having appeared in a documentary exhibited at the Cannes Film Festival. The DOD has revised and retracted their internally conflicting definitions, criteria, and their numbers so often that they have ceased to have any meaning—except as an effort to sway public opinion by painting a false portrait of the supposed dangers of these men.

“Forty-three times they have given numbers—which conflict with each other—all of which are seriously undercut by the DOD statement that ‘they do not track’ former detainees. Rather than making up numbers “willy-nilly” about post release conduct, America might be better served if our government actually kept track of them.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

The bestiality of the Israeli government


MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSpalevictimTit for tat?  (On the left an Israeli building hit by Palestinians “rockets”; on the right a Palestinian building hit by Israeli fire.)  The Israeli government launched an attack during the Christmas season which was designed to insure there would be no peace on earth, or goodwill towards Palestinians.  Using the false pretense that the Palestinian firing of rockets was unprovoked and therefore an Israeli response was necessary, the bombardment of the Gaza strip is no less than genocide against a defenseless civilian population.

What else can  you expect from a government whose leaders had publicly made such statements as Gazans should not be allowed to “live normal lives (Ehud Olmert) or that  punishment should be inflicted “irrespective of the cost to the Palestinians” (Avi Dichter) or that Israel should “decide on a neighborhood in Gaza and level it” (Meir Sheetrit) the intent of this latest act of murder is to inflict the maximum amount of casualties possible.  Some bloggers have even gone on to suggest that the lifting of the embargo by the Israelis was designed to offer them a window to kill the most number of civilians gathered to collect foodstuffs denied them by the Israelis for so long, but whatever the motive, the means were the use of the best military weaponry the state of Israel can finagle from America in their extermination of Palestinians.

Israel decided on a collective punishment policy after the Hamas electoral victory in ’07, and part of that punishment was in the form of the blockade which denied the Gaza Strip even the barest of essentials, electricity and food.  They did so while thumbing their noses at an international community which sought to chronicle Israel’s abuses.  The flagrant and exaggerated expulsion of Richard Falk, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories is just one example among many where the Israelis have ignored the “rule of law” and internationally recognized conventions while continuing to oppress the Palestinian civilian population.

As always, the Israelis blame their victim for Israeli transgressions, saying that recent rocket attacks at the end of the ceasefire are responsible for this latest Israeli slaughter.  And while large numbers of rocket attacks are thrown at the public in order to justify Israeli aggression, lost in the argument is that these Palestinian “rockets” are ineffective, inaccurate (only one Israeli casualty  since Palestinians started firing the rockets after the ceasefire) and essentially home-made munitions. What the Israelis have done however to get around the disproportionate nature of their aggression is to return to collectivism of the Palestinian population, equating all within the borders of Gaza as terrorist and therefore subject to elimination, no questions asked.

This latest Israeli atrocity occurs in plain sight before the world stage and yet Hamas and by extension the Palestinians are responsible.  In the light of such global response the likelihood Israel will stop such unparalleled genocide is nil.  Countless deaths will be exacted before the Israelis stop this latest slaughter and resume their obfuscation of Palestinian statehood and peace in the Middle East.  By accepting their line of reasoning, the US is also a willing and active participant in this bloodshed.  One can now see the reason behind the Bush Administration’s abandonment of international law in its treatment of people captured during the phony WOT; accepting the link between themselves and their ally Israel means the only way to escape international illegality is to propose it doesn’t accept the terms of what’s legal and illegal.  Therefore it’s necessary to call such actions as the Israeli attack on Gaza bestial, inhumane, psychopathic, sociopathic, murderous, because in a nation where laws are no longer adhered to, legal and illegal have no meaning.  That seems to be acceptable to the Israeli government and the rest of the world.

UPDATE I

Not even Israelis seem to take the firing of rockets by Palestinians seriously. Take the tone of this article (Latest Gaza Rockets Injure More Arab Children than Jews) which appears in an Israeli newspaper.  It refers to the rockets used by the Palestinians as ‘locally produced rockets’, meaning internal, meaning made in Gaza, meaning at the very most, crude, (We’ve spoken of the ineffective nature of such munitions.)  yet in the Israeli scheme of looking at things they justify the killing of scores of people; a culture of death brought to us by the party of death.

UPDATE II

Not that there’s anything new about this, but assertions by the Israelis that their attack was in response to alleged ceasefire breakdowns, or violations on the part of Hamas to the expired ceasefire are not true, according to this piece from Haaretz.

Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public – all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces “Cast Lead” operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which began Saturday morning.

Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas…..

The expression in the above link to “misleading of the public” is ironic and a common feature of the Israeli government.



The Bush legacy: A failed economy


bushiv1Having built his Administration on lies beginning with 911 and the sordid attempt to justify the invasion of Iraq because of what happened in NYC, it’s completely characteristic of Bush to obfuscate and deny the inevitable: The U.S. economy has been in a recession since December 2007

By one benchmark, a recession occurs whenever the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, declines for two consecutive quarters. The GDP turned negative in the July-September quarter of this year, and many economists believe it is falling in the current quarter at an even sharper rate.

*snip*

The White House commented on the news that a second downturn has officially begun on President George W. Bush’s watch without ever actually using the word “recession,” a term the president and his aides have repeatedly avoided….

*snip*

Many economists believe the current downturn will be the most severe since the 1981-82 recession. The country is being battered by the most severe financial crisis since the 1930s as banks struggle to deal with billions of dollars in loan losses.

Loss revenue and jobs are the mark of this recession.

In a worrisome sign of further weakening in the U.S. labor market, November saw the highest number of layoffs in the private sector in more than 32 years.

*snip*

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, as recently announced by the National Bureau of Economic Research (see “Congratulations, It’s A Recession”), the number of unemployed persons increased by 2.7 million, and the unemployment rate rose by 1.7 percentage points with two-thirds of these losses sustained in the last 3 months.

What started out as a $700 billion bailout has now ballooned into over $8.5 trillion dollars of US taxpayer money which can be given away in any way the chairman of the Federal Reserve sees fit, with or without the consent of ANYONE, including Congress.

“Most of the money, about $5.5 trillion, comes from the Federal Reserve, which as an independent entity does not need congressional approval to lend money to banks or, in “unusual and exigent circumstances,” to other financial institutions.

Now Bush is even faced with rebellion within his own party as the bailout for the automobile industry he was in favor of has been defeated in the Senate with the help of members of the Republican party.

The morning after


George Washigton’s blog has a very good synopsis of what it is Obama’s administration should do.  I like his ‘to-do’ list.  My three favorites are:

They have no excuse to delay war crimes charges against Bush, Cheney and company for Iraq.

They have no excuse to delay war crimes charges for torture.

They have no excuse to delay criminal charges for spying on Americans.

I would like to add to the list my favorite wish, close down Gitmo Bay and allow everyone there habeus corpus.  The Democratic Party has been far too timid in asserting itself in the interests of the American people.  I never really understood their reasons for that attitude, but now that they are in full control of the legislative branch of government they really have no excuse for not being aggressive.  A great crime has been committed against the people of the US by the Bush Administration.  As Bush was so often quoted saying, ‘the evil-doers must be brought to justice’ and it is up to the Democrats who have the power to do so.  Moreover they can certainly say that Tuesday’s election results and Obama’s wide margin of victory over McCain give them the mandate to do just that.   Let’s see if they are up to it.

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