Shooting news-again


Two very tragic stories to report about people and handguns and how the two sometimes end up in disastrous situations.  If you’re going to get a handgun or weapon of any kind please know how to carry yourselves with it and remember dont’ ever do what you see people do on television!

The first story is from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where a pharmacist shot a robber as he and his cohort in crime attempted to rob a pharmacy,  chased the robber’s accomplice, returned and shot the prone robber again, five more times, killing him!  It also happened that the robber shot was unarmed, while the armed robber escaped and hadn’t been caught.  The pharmacist claims he was grazed by a bullet fired by the robber, but prosecutors say there was no evidence the robbers fired a weapon; it would be interesting to see if Jerome Ersland, the pharmacist suffered any wounds from the encounter.  Ersland claims he shot the robber to protect himself and several other people who were in the store at the time, but the district attorney asks why did he leave the fallen robber, who had no weapon, on the floor to chase the armed robber outside of the store?  Good question!  In this arm chair quarterback’s opinion, Mr. Ersland would have had a stronger case for not leaving his business and keeping an eye on the victim, yes, even covered him with his weapon, rather than walk past him twice before shooting him again.  I also agree with the DA who said the first shot was on the law as it were, ok for Ersland to fire because he was accosted by armed men, but once the threats were removed, he couldn’t seriously claim he was in fear for his life or for the lives of others in the store.  He should therefore be prosecuted.

The second story however is far more tragic than even the one above. An off duty New York City police officer was shot by a fellow officer as he, the victim, pursued someone who had broken into his car.  Unfortunately, he was running after the perpetrator with his service weapon drawn, and happened to catch the eye of a plain clothes fellow officer who fatally shot him.  In a city like New York, it’s probably not very smart to run around with a handgun in your hand in plain view to everybody, unless you’re wearing a law enforcement uniform so that wasn’t a very smart thing to do.  I don’t particularly like the idea of plain clothes officers confronting people on the street unless they make it very clear to someone that they are law enforcement officers, otherwise any confrontation could end up deadly, as it did in this case. I do believe this was an accident,  despite the racial overtones,  victim was black and the shooter was white, and the sloppy police work of the shooting officer,   that could have probably been avoided if the deceased hadn’t drawn  his firearm and run down the street chasing a petty burglar.  There won’t be a prosecution in this case and an innocent life was lost; my heart goes out to the family.

We were wrong!


Once again we are told our conduct during the war on terror was criminal in nature, and this time it comes from almost the top!  General David Petraeus went on live television, thank God it was live and not something that could be later edited out of an interview, and said the United States of America violated the Geneva Conventions, read that broke the law. Petraeus was appointed by the Bush administration to lead the war effort in Iraq and I think it’s significant he would come out so publicly and disavow the direction his boss took in carrying out the war on terror.  However, most of us knew that  long before Petraeus joined in this fracas, and indeed many have been saying so since the  inception of the war on terror; it  was a diversionary one meant to mask or cover up the real agenda of the people in power during the Bush years.

The whole issue of torture is also an indication of where America is as a Nation.  Sixty years ago, post World War II,  there would be no discussion of whether waterboarding was torture, and what the consequences are for those who participate in such illegal activity, let alone whether such tactics are effective.  Now however, a lot of time and effort has been put into describing this technique as ‘enhanced interrogation’ to make it as benign as possible and allow some a chance to escape from the penalty of law.  I’m glad to see someone on the front line of war and terror, Petraeus,  saying that it is a violation of international law, as opposed to the arm chair quarterbacks and political pundits who seem to make their punditry akin to the life and death of fighting in real wars proclaiming the opposite.

Now comes word that sugar free cookies went further to produce actionable intelligence than waterboarding.

The most successful interrogation of an Al-Qaeda operative by U.S. officials required no sleep deprivation, no slapping or “walling” and no waterboarding. All it took to soften up Abu Jandal, who had been closer to Osama bin Laden than any other terrorist ever captured, was a handful of sugar-free cookies.

Abu Jandal had been in a Yemeni prison for nearly a year when Ali Soufan of the FBI and Robert McFadden of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service arrived to interrogate him in the week after 9/11…..

While Abu Jandal was venting his spleen, Soufan noticed that he didn’t touch any of the cookies that had been served with tea: “He was a diabetic and couldn’t eat anything with sugar in it.” At their next meeting, the Americans brought him some sugar-free cookies, a gesture that took the edge off Abu Jandal’s angry demeanor. “We had showed him respect, and we had done this nice thing for him,” Soufan recalls. “So he started talking to us instead of giving us lectures.”It took more questioning, and some interrogators’ sleight of hand, before the Yemeni gave up a wealth of information about al-Qaeda — including the identities of seven of the 9/11 bombers — but the cookies were the turning point. “After that, he could no longer think of us as evil Americans,” Soufan says. “Now he was thinking of us as human beings.”

What does that say about a country far more interested in torture and sadism to get information than cookies and respect?  This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that interrogation methods that stressed identifying with the prisoner, affording him his rights and treating him with respect got more information out of him than banging his head against a wall or waterboarding him.  Post 911 we were an angry country and some people in government took advantage of that rage to settle age old scores of tribes and jealousy which have had a devastating impact on the psyche of the country.  We have worsened this problem by refusing to admit it exists and/or addressing it and the ultimate abuse of the country is to allow the perpetrators of this criminal activity to go free.  Forgetting about the criminality and who did it does not spare the collective from our mental anguish.  American military personnel  felt perfectly justified posing and smiling next to dead bodies, or smearing human feces on people to take their pictures and laugh or as has been more recently asserted, raping and sodomizing women and children all under the guise of authorities of the United States.  We should not give any one that kind of power to abuse what the country has fought for and sustained for so many years until now.  Nothing will do more to drive that point home than for the citizenry to rise up and demand all people who participated in illegal activity in our name be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  I hope you will join me in making that proclamation!

911 truth-It isn’t just for kooks anymore


Hat tip to Niqnaq.

Memory hole material-JOKE!


I’ve already commented before on the scam that was the new New York city terrorist bust of the pothead pseudo Muslims who were going to blow up Jewish synagogues and airplanes a la 911.  The New York Post reveals even more about these guys who were scammed while trying to scam.  The sad part about all this is how the FBI and US law enforcement burned bridges with the Muslim community throughout this once great Republic, either on purpose or by design, and how  this entire episode could have been avoided had they not done that.  It seems the leaders of the Muslim community in the cities and towns where the 4 defendants worshipped (?) told them to avoid the FBI’s informant repeatedly, and had taken steps to literally keep Maqsood, the informant,  out of the lives of their worshippers by banning him from houses of worship but their efforts were not successful.

This group of guys were worse than the Miami 7 who were recently convicted of their plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago.  Two of the four in New York are drug fiends and the third suffers from a bi-polar mental condition. Check out what their own family members and friends say about their tangential at best relationships with Islam and the informant.  It’s really a comedy of errors unparalleled in recent American Islamophobia journalism.

Baynes, 42, dated Cromitie — a career criminal who has been in jail more than 20 times — for six years. She said he converted to Islam during his last prison stint but wasn’t serious.

“James is a wannabe Muslim. He wasn’t real Muslin. He never prayed,” she said.

But during the course of the year, Maqsood kept trying to steer Cromitie down a path to jihad – giving him religious pamphlets, clothing and prayer rugs. In the end, it seemed that cash and gifts worked better.

She said Maqsood promised to get Cromitie jobs and once said he’d give him a black Mercedes Benz. On repeated occasions he gave Cromitie cameras, cash and even drugs.

Maqsood gave him a lot of marijuana,” she said.

Let’s not forget however, the precedent has already been set about drug wheeling and dealing Muslims.  Mohammad Atta was also a coke head who somehow was able to convince people of his sincerity towards Islam enough to identify him as a jihadist, so consuming large quantities of illegal drugs is somehow in the minds of most Americans equivalent to becoming a committed Muslim.  The fact that these guys were all gathered together the day of their planned terrorist plot, smoking weed and playing PlayStation is more a badge honor than an inconsistency when it comes to Muslim terrorists.  With a past President who it is slowly being revealed had the same inclinations before embarking on earth shattering events  is a sad  social commentary on todays America.  In any event, it’s quite funny reading and pathetic at the same time.  An FBI informant promises the disenfranchised the moon; a man they don’t know, have never met before, is able to influence them in a way a member of their own community who would have led them in prayer had they prayed, could not speaks volumes about the intellect of this party of men.  It is a sad commentary on where we are as a nation, and how law enforcement defines its role.

As bad as it gets


The Bush administration has done some pretty heinous things, from enslaving an entire nation through a war of aggression, to torturing it’s citizens, so this latest bit of news should come as no surprise.  Indeed, this  news is the very reason why many of us opposed the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, because war by nature grooms such behavior as the story below depicts.  War’s brutality is nothing new to the human experience.  We’ve been doing it ever since we first stepped foot on this earth, so why is it that leaders like Bush and now Obama who’ve never been to war are so quick to send people off to war when our inbred experience as well as what we’ve learned from others who’ve fought it tell us of the consequences upon the fighting men and women.  What makes a leader so callous and indifferent to the suffering his own people will face when they fight the leader’s wars and especially when they come to realize all too quickly that such wars are senseless, without reason, brutal and not in their interests as citizens of the world?!?!  Doing so, therefore makes such leaders damnable to hell for an eternity because of the suffering they inflict not just upon an enemy, but upon their own people.

Rape and sodomy therefore are a part of the Iraqi war.  It was done in our name, in many cases by Americans or witnessed and  allowed to be carried out by Americans and forever leaves an indelible stain upon our Republic which no longer stands ‘under God with liberty and justice for all.’    In order to remove that stain, and to restore our own self- confidence, the most important of all, as well as the confidence of the world community towards us, every American who has engaged in such illegal and immoral behavior must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  We must start from the very top with our President who sent his  own troops in harms way, his vice president who commissioned them to commit illegal acts of torture, the advisors who gave excuses for these war crimes and finally to every soldier who followed their orders.

This is what was done in our name.

Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.

Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President’s decision, adding: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.

“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan.

“The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”

In April, Mr Obama’s administration said the photographs would be released and it would be “pointless to appeal” against a court judgment in favour of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

But after lobbying from senior military figures, Mr Obama changed his mind saying they could put the safety of troops at risk.

Earlier this month, he said: “The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

It was thought the images were similar to those leaked five years ago, which showed naked and bloody prisoners being intimidated by dogs, dragged around on a leash, piled into a human pyramid and hooded and attached to wires.

Mr Obama seemed to reinforce that view by adding: “I want to emphasise that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib.”

The latest photographs relate to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 in Abu Ghraib and six other prisons. Mr Obama said the individuals involved had been “identified, and appropriate actions” taken.

Maj Gen Taguba’s internal inquiry into the abuse at Abu Ghraib, included sworn statements by 13 detainees, which, he said in the report, he found “credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses.”

Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: “I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid’s ***…. and the female soldier was taking pictures.”

The translator was an American Egyptian who is now the subject of a civil court case in the US.

Three detainees, including the alleged victim, refer to the use of a phosphorescent tube in the sexual abuse and another to the use of wire, while the victim also refers to part of a policeman’s “stick” all of which were apparently photographed.

No comment


The two faces of American policy


The more the Obama Administration takes its journey into  American history, the more it should be apparent that the President is a figurehead to corporate interests which have just as big a role in shaping American policy as the office holder.  That was made apparent earlier this week when Microsoft decided to block access of its popular software Messenger to Sudan, Iran, Cuba, Syria and North Korea.  When the news was first announced, everyone asked why these countries and why now?  Of course the logic goes they are state sponsors of terrorism, and it’s true they are recognized as such, but it’s equally true they have been so designated for over a decade and all during that time their citizens were able to use the Microsoft product, so why now?

To this observer the reason is because corporate interests do not want to see a rapprochement between the US and these countries and because Obama started his administration talking that way, this is the business world’s way of nixing any such peace deals.  The president has been cut off at the knees by those interests who would rather see a continuation of hostility between America and these countries and there is no better way to promote that than to deny them a product they had been accustomed too at a time when they are trying to restore normal relations with the corporate headquarters of said business.

Sudan, in a report released in April, 2009  has been proclaimed by the State Department as taking  significant steps towards better counter terrorism cooperation with America.  The report went on to say

During the past year, the Sudanese government continued to pursue terrorist operations directly involving threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan. Sudanese officials have indicated that they view their continued cooperation with the United States as important and recognize the benefits of U.S. training and information-sharing.

What better way to sabotage such cooperation than to undermine it with a business boycott few would say Sudan deserves.

Obama has made major outreach proposals to Iran, while America’s petulant and strident ally, Israel, has threatened that country at every turn.  Despite the saber rattling, even as recently as this week, Iranian president Ahmedinajad in one of his strongest declarations to date against nuclear weapons said, the prospect of acquiring nuclear weapons ‘is politically retarded’ and not in his nation’s interest.  This coming on the heels of another attempt by Israel to get international pressure to bear on Iran after floating a story that several South American countries are supplying Iran with uranium to make the bomb.  Nevermind that both countries denied the accusation, once made it sticks and is difficult to remove, much like the WMD claim that still resonates with some even today.  This all happens at a time, however, when Israel is coming under increasing pressure from the Clinton led State Department, and by extension the Obama administration, to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, something that has not been a part of American policy as it relates to Israel, before now.

We are all aware how the Obama administration has pledged to allow more open and free travel between America and Cuba, another thaw in an otherwise cold, and hostile relationship.  It is probably accurate to say that Cuban leadership will undergo a drastic change in the next several years, with the Castro brothers getting older by the day, and that change is apparent and tangible.  Yet despite the thaw, a corporate entity inserting itself between two countries, nay, five with a decision that is not only ill-timed but suspect will have a negative impact on the direction a sitting administration is trying to take.

It’s a dangerous yet calculated game Microsoft is playing with this decision because it upsets a delicate balance the official policy arm of America, a politically elected administration, is trying to make.  One could even question whether such a move on the part of Microsoft is even in its best interests; allowing the countries affected to seek IT solutions with Microsoft competitors.  One thing it does show is how interests beyond the government can insert themselves in a way that affect positively or negatively the interests of countries worldwide.

We are committed to censorship and racism


Well at least that’s what we’re saying when we support the current government of Israel whose foreign minister has said he wants to ban Arab Israelis from marking the anniversary of the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Arab Palestinians in 1948.  How does that go over in a country, the US, which allows Jews to mark and commemorate the Holocaust?

A funny from the past


ps2This is the kind of hysteria our country was enveloped by in the days before 911 and the Iraq war. A look back on this mania should reveal that publications that reveled in such tripe would be permanently out of business. Instead they are firmly entrenched in society fulfilling a role whereby they influence public policy based on the type of hyperbole witnessed in the link

Both the U.S. Customs Service and the FBI are investigating the apparent transfer of large numbers of Sony PlayStation 2s to Iraq, according to military intelligence sources.

A secret Defense Intelligence Agency report states that as many as 4,000 of the popular video game units have been purchased in the United States and shipped to Iraq in the last two to three months.

What gives? Does Saddam Hussein have an extraordinarily long Christmas shopping list? And why would U.S. military and intelligence officials be concerned about such a transfer?

Two government agencies are investigating the purchases because the PlayStations can be bundled together into a sort of crude super-computer and used for a variety of military applications, say intelligence sources.

“Most Americans don’t realize that each PlayStation unit contains a CPU — every bit as powerful as the processor found in most desktop and laptop computers,” said one military intelligence officer who declined to be identified. “Beyond that, the graphics capabilities of a PlayStation are staggering — five times more powerful than that of a typical graphics workstation, and roughly 15 times more powerful than the graphics cards found in most PCs.”

A single PlayStation can generate up to 75 million polygons per second. Polygons, as noted in the DIA report, are the basic units used to generate the surface of 3-D models — extremely useful in military design and modeling applications.

“When I first saw this report, I was highly skeptical,” said an intelligence source. “So, I did some checking with computer experts I know within the Department of Defense. From what they tell me, bundling these video game units is very feasible.”

Additionally, Sony will make the process even easier with planned upgrades to the system. Beginning early next year, you can purchase a plug-in, 3.5 gig hard drive for the PlayStation, along with interface units that allow integration into the World Wide Web. If the Iraqis have trouble developing military software for the PlayStation computer system, they can probably find needed assistance on the Internet, say U.S. intelligence sources.

What could Iraq do with such a primitive super-computer constructed with Sony PlayStation 2s?

“Applications for this system are potentially frightening,” said an intelligence source. “One expert I spoke with estimated that an integrated bundle of 12-15 PlayStations could provide enough computer power to control an Iraqi unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV — a pilotless aircraft.”

From a historical perspective it should be clear to all such reporting was done with a particular agenda in mind which was the invasion of a defenseless Iraq that had nothing at all to do with 911 nor never an existential threat to any of  its neighbors, yet a thorn in the side to several.  Over the last 10 years we’ve heard of the threat to our Republic of segments of society in our midst who hate us because of our freedoms.  I would like to add to that list a deceitful media.

A Rock and a hard place-the latest FBI Islamofascist scare


There’s really not that much to these “sting operations” anymore.  They are so predictable that even mainstream media is beginning to catch on, while cheering from the sidelines for the success of such dubious methods of law enforcement.  The latest catch of four social misfits tangentially related to Islam if that much is another example.  Spurred on by a fellow coreligionist  who flashed a lot of money and recruited them earnestly, because of a nefarious and compromising past that made it easy for him to be recruited by the FBI, four former convicts, one of them mentally disturbed, and two others heavy drug users, pot and crack, are the latest to constitute a threat of world wide proportions to the United States of America.  It didn’t help that an unscrupulous FBI special agent played a high profile role in the arrest of these men.  Special Agent Robert Fuller was responsible for the secret rendition of Canadian citizen Maher Arar to Syria and his subsequent torture at the hands of Syrians based on false information Fuller got from a wounded and some might say tortured Omar Khadr.  Arar has gone on to sue successfully the Canadian government and is in the process of suing the American government because of Fuller’s role in his torture.

Here’s the deal however.  The pseudo Muslim ringleader who was egging on the four charged defendants was clearly spotted by the members of the different masajid as an agent provocateur but because of their mistrust of the government, a mistrust clearly justified based on what happened to a group of Muslims in California, they were left with a brewing scandal and no one to tell.  The MO of this “informant” and indeed others who infiltrate places where Muslims gather is they appear out of the blue, invite other worshippers to meals, flash money, and  speak of violence and jihad, and offer  substantial amounts of money to others to join their “team.” The inertia or hesitation communities feels is really what the government wants in order to obscure its role in such operations. Government does not want to be pressed by a diligent citizenry to do its job.  Here then is my suggestion for people with an informant in their midst; use the internet.  Plaster the suspect’s picture on the masjid’s web page, blog about him or her, especially if they are advocating violence and contact your local media to inform them you may be a victim of a government sting operation.  Informants do not like to be exposed and if they are steeped in a past full of  illicit behavior with many victims someone will certainly notice them and do the government’s job of getting rid of them.

For the meantime, it’s sad to say the four men in New York most likely will be convicted amidst  a lot of publicity about their case that’ll highlight the potential for terrorism on the home front, but such miscarriages of justice, where people are entrapped by government will be avoided in the future as more and more communities become sophisticated enough to spot the likes of the informant in this case and educate their worshippers of the threat such false messiahs bring to their stability.  `

If you think waterboarding isn’t torture, think again


waterboardingWaterboarding is torture, pure and simple.  Those brave and stupid enough to try it have come away with that conclusion, even the ones who have been waterboys for neocon arguments and excuses, which we have already discounted, which claimed waterboarding helped saved lives and is nothing more than an enhanced interrogation technique.  The latest waterboy who agreed to be waterboarded, one of the faux pas conservative radio talk show hosts, Eric Mancow Muller tried it and didn’t last 6 seconds on the waterboard, embarrassing himself  live during his radio talk show on WLS radio.  There’s video of his experience at the above link as well.  Muller went on to say afterwards

“It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back…It was instantaneous…and I don’t want to say this: absolutely torture.

That should have come as no surprise to him.  Christopher Hitchens, another writer, media star of neocon bent was waterboarded and came to the same conclusion.  Why he had to experience it to be convinced is beyond me, especially after he was obliged to sign a statement BEFORE being waterboarded that read in part

“Water boarding” is a potentially dangerous activity in which the participant can receive serious and permanent (physical, emotional and psychological) injuries and even death, including injuries and death due to the respiratory and neurological systems of the body.

Hitchens was lucky enough to have been forewarned and any senility evident in post waterboard writings is due to his ignoring the above indemnification and most likely not hereditary as I was earlier led to believe. Yet after all that, Hitchens managed to say succinctly, unambiguously that waterboarding is torture.  I have a few more pundits and media personalities I would like to see undergo the waterboard to determine for themselves whether it is torture or not, but in their absence there’s certainly more than enough anecdotal evidence, backed by the rule of law that substantiates the conclusion of the two mentioned in this article.  That said, why isn’t Dick Cheney facing indictment for torture?

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.

Christian Evangelism and Christian-Jewish Zionism have destroyed the Republican Party


That’s not me talking, although I believe it and more.  Not wanting to stop at just the Republican Party, I believe the two forces in the headline above are on their way to wrecking the country, the Republic of America in ways that could be irreparable.  The above forceful statement was made by a former Republican Frank Schaeffer who came to his realization after years of rubbing elbows with Republicans and their colleagues both the famous and the foot soldiers.  Schaeffer echoes themes that are very prominent in the blogsphere about the nature of today’s America and her alliances.  Several quotes of his are right on the money.

Two religions (in the broadest sense of the term) have destroyed the Republican Party: evangelical Christianity and Christian/Jewish Zionism. Evangelical Christianity created the Religious Right which forever linked the Republican Party to the antiabortion, anti-sex education, anti-evolution and anti-gay crusades. And both Christian and Jewish Zionism linked the Republican Party to what became the neoconservative movement with its roots in such publications as Commentary magazine and their shrill Israel-can-do-no-wrong anti-Arab agenda. (I knew the late editor of Commentary Norman Podhoretz quite well, and we met several times to build alliances between evangelicals and the far American Zionist far right. When it came to Arabs, I believe he was a real racist.)

So what did the Republicans become? They are the party of unnecessary wars both actual and cultural and the party of the rich — those who never serve in the military, just put up flags to “support the troops.” The actual war in Iraq was (as everyone knew with a wink and a nod, but few dared say) really about our commitment to Christian and Jewish Zionism as it was “understood” by the born-again fool Bush. The culture war is also an unnecessary and unmitigated war that pitted the “real America” (in other words white mostly uneducated, lower-middle-class evangelical/Catholic working Americans) against everyone else.

The writer’s conclusion is equally insightful.  I wish other writers would write as clearly and explicitly as Schaeffer.  Because they don’t, I conclude with his words.

The choice for America has always been between inclusive pluralism and exclusion. The kind of religion and Evangelical/Zionist/neoconservative cabal used to take over the interests of the Republican Party is just too small for this big diverse, tolerant and open country of ours. So the Republicans have a choice: become an American political party again serving American interests or continue to serve the narrowly defined religious interests of two angry and fearful Jewish/Evangelical minorities who are themselves bastardized offshoots of their Christian and Jewish traditions.

From the ‘he’s an idiot department’


idiotOur parents always told us never speak ill of the dead, but in the case of the guy in this post, I want to wake him up from the dead and slap him silly.  He’s the poster child for stupid behavior.  Why anyone would point a gun to their own head and claim they’re doing that to show people the importance of gun safety is S-T-U-P-I-D.  It’s not enough that firearms owners are given the evil eye by non-owners, and are always threatened or feel threatened with confiscation of their weapons by an over reaching government, but to give opponents of private ownership of weapons the ammunition, pardon the pun, to berate, deride, ridicule, encroach and infringe on that right, is……….well suicide as Mr. Benally found out.  For all the do gooders out there, here’s a tip for you.  Never point a weapon at your head, ever!  And if you’re not smart enough to follow that rule, then don’t do it in front of people and claim to give them a safety demonstration of how to use a firearm!  Jeez.

The entire Bush Administration should be in jail


They have become so bad, so obnoxious even Lanny Davis who works for Republicans is now saying Dick Cheney should be indicted for his actions on torture.  To hell with the past is the past, an excuse every criminal who ever lived wishes could be used as a defense, Davis asserts it would not be difficult to bring charges against Cheney.  But why stop at Cheney?  There’s an entire Administration that was equally complicit in using torture, something illegal, to get people to lie, something also illegal, in order to justify invading a defenseless country, something I hope is still illegal and in the process killing thousands of its citizens, also an illegal act.  If we look at the Bush Administration’s eight years, it was ALL illegal.  I am most offended by the use of torture to get people to lie and even more amused by people who minimize torture, especially waterboarding, and talk about the number of pours of water over a victim’s face not constituting torture.  Nevertheless the fact of the matter, as stated by those who were present, is that some victims were waterboarded scores of times in order to get them to admit to a fictitious link, that didn’t offer up any actionable intelligence, in other words no terror plots were disrupted as a result of anything told by these victims, and the hands of a corrupt Administration, until now not taken to task,  from top to bottom are responsible for this action.  Go visit the links established by the folks at Think Progress which debunk all the torture myths put up by those on the right who sought to justify it.

I can think of nothing more heinous than torturing people to get them to confess to a lie.  In other words, people who knew nothing of a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were tortured until they were finally able to figure out what it was their torturers wanted from them and finally gave it to them.  No wonder Khalid Shaikh Muhammad is supposed to have confessed to doing things that didn’t happen or could be easily proven he had no part of; a human will do or say anything to escape pain once he realizes what it is to be done or said.  Of course, by the time such confessions were given the world had already figured out, been told, that such links didn’t exist, as did neither the WMDs we were told were within a hairs breath of being deployed against us, it was all a lie, sorry, let’s just forget the whole thing and opt for …….change and again, the rule of law is cast aside for political expediency.  The guards at Gitmo Bay and Abughraib are not the only ones culpable for this breach of law and our Nation’s confidence.  One of the measures of greatness is how well the law is equally applied to all regardless of status.  We are failing that measure miserably and we have no one to blame but ourselves.  I’m glad Lanny Davis has come around and sees that Cheney should be held accountable; I hope his list of those who need to be brought to justice grows.  If he needs help compiling it, I’ll be glad to hand him mine; it’s eight years long.

Somalia-Somalis trying to stay out of the bullseye


There’s been a lot written about Somalia, Muslims, piracy, and terrorism and most likely most of it like all the rest of the news on those subjects  is hyperbole.  In order to combat even that, however, a group of Somalis in Washington state came out in strong denouncement of piracy and terrorism.

“We, the Somali-Americans in Washington State, are denouncing our youth to participate in any kind of violence here and back home. We see this as an opportunity to clarify our perspective, as a community and United States citizens, and we (are denouncing) the piracy act in Somali shores.”

I applaud their unequivocal stand on the issues at hand which affect their community, even though they like most other Americans are not as informed about them as we should be.  In typical western arrogance we have ascribed bad motives to a group of people who take over ships on the high seas, even though  the idea based on what we know about Somalia is rather preposterous, and we never once considered that perhaps these people are acting in the best interests of their country with noble intentions.  So it is that a reporter raises that possibility by suggesting these “pirates” are themselves trying to stop illegal activity on the part of shippers in Somali waters.  It seems the international community has taken advantage of the absence of a controlling legal authority in Somalia and decided to dump its waste, toxic, nuclear and otherwise  in Somali waters, wrecking havoc on fishing for Somalis and endangering the lives of Somalis.

As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.” Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to”dispose” of cheaply.

It’s really the typical imperial trick of using or abusing the natural resources of a hapless nation state and then waging war on that country when it decides to mount even a minimal protest  at being raped and plundered.  Which is why we see this sudden interest in east Africa and the presence of a couple dozen Taliban/al-Qaida types infiltrating the area and causing widespread panic and concern in the halls of this once great republic, America; justification for intervention when all that is needed is adherence to the rule of law. Then there’s this:

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: “If nothing is done, there soon won’t be much fish left in our coastal waters.”

In the past, American heroes would wax poetic about the importance of liberty and how insignificant death is in comparison, but such sentiments are not allowed for an agrarian society whose only importance, it seems, to imperial designs is as either an international garbage dump or a source for fish. Instead of taking advantage of a lawless vacuum, western powers should start negotiating with the government, any government is better than no government, to define territorial integrity and fishing/dumping rights off the Somali coast.  We know however why they don’t do that; caught up in the grips of Islamophobia and unable to seat a government to their liking, western powers are pillaging the coast of Somali for every industrial advantage available to them and labelling any resistance to this policy piracy.  Change anyone?

Another in your face moment, brought to you by the Likudiniks


The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin  Netanyahu visited the US this week amid all sorts of speculation surrounding the US/Israeli “special relationship”.  One thing is certain, despite all the talk of “change” coming to Washington, Israel still runs the show when it comes to US foreign policy, and especially policy regarding the Middle East.  Casting all doubts whether the current Israeli government is for a two state solution, which Obama has said he favors, Netanyahu’s visit came on the eve of the announcement Israel was going to expand settlements in the West Bank which goes to show you a US president can say whatever he wants but it has no basis in reality as far as Israel is concerned.  Take that, Obama!!

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.

No doubt about it! The Fix is in!!!


LiebermanWe are constantly reminded of Pope Benedict’s nefarious past with the Nazis and how that impacts life today as he visits the Middle East.  Why don’t we read in the western press about the past connections of Avigdor Lieberman with Kach, a terrorist organization on the US’ terrorist watch list and the attendant public outrage as he travels the world?  Lieberman isn’t the first Israeli politician cleaned and spruced up after an ugly and bloodthirsty past for public consumption and if you can’t remember who else in recent Israeli history shares such a distinction it is an indication of the power of the Lobby to remove their logs,  murderous politicians,  from  the eyes of the public while magnifying the specks in the public eye of others who oppose them.

Interesting insight into the Israeli national mentality


No matter what they say about nuclear weapons possessed by Iran or hostile Arab neighbors who want to drive the Jews into the sea, it’s the least of Israeli worries, just as  Saddam Hussein’s WMDs were no threat to Israel or anyone else for that matter, because they simply didn’t exist. What is interesting is reading what Israel thinks are their problems and why and the list is far more revealing than any I’ve seen to date.  Here they are in the order mentioned in this article Seven Existential Threats.

1.The Loss of Jerusalem; partly due to the absence of Zionists living in the city.

2.The Arab Demographic Threat; Israel must be 70% Zionist in order to be legitimate and Arabs are having too many children

3. Delegitimization; Israel’s sins are receiving world wide attention which is bad for it’s reputation.

4.Terrorism; we’ve heard it all before.

5. A Nuclear-Armed Iran; we’ve heard this all before too.

6.The Hemorrhaging of Sovereignty; Israel doesn’t exert its control over people under its authority.

7.Corruption;The breakdown of public morality especially among it’s leaders.

The blog, War In Context,  does a decent job dismantling some of the above notions but looking at Oren’s list, the originator of the 7 deadly threats to Israel, it appears his biggest complaint and remedy for it is the absence of Zionism and the need for more Zionism.  Not much mention of Judaism as a religion, but rather Zionism as a political movement.  One other line in his piece that brought about a chuckle was this assertion:

Israel, the Jewish State, is predicated on a decisive and stable Jewish majority of at least 70 percent. Any lower than that and Israel will have to decide between being a Jewish state and a democratic state. If it chooses democracy, then Israel as a Jewish state will cease to exist. If it remains officially Jewish, then the state will face an unprecedented level of international isolation, including sanctions, that might prove fatal.

Is he saying democracy is a threat to and not consistent with Israeli interests?  Ohh, America, are you listening?