Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Edward R. Olbermann

I'm finally getting around to watching Keith Olbermann's 9/11 address. I'm completely speechless. If you haven't seen it yet, watch it here. And then pass it along

This is as good as it gets, folks. Keith is one of the few people in the "corporate media" that makes me think that things will be ok again.
The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had ’something to do’ with 9/11, is "lying by implication."
The impolite phrase, is "impeachable offense."
Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space… and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.
Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.
Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible — for anything — in his own administration.
[...] in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight.
"The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices - to be found only in the minds of men.
"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own — for the children, and the children yet unborn."
When those who dissent are told time and time again — as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus — that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American…
When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"… look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:
Who has left this hole in the ground?
We have not forgotten, Mr. President.
You have.
May this country forgive you.

{Updated title, 1:28 PM Sept13: duh!!! I can't believe I had Edgar instead of Edward...oy. I need more sleep}

Read on, MacDuff!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

911 Bookends

I was going to call this post "Criminal Negligence Causing Death," but I then I thought: I don't need to be that shrill. I think the evidence should speak for itself. What follows is as complete an itinerary as I could compile for the 43rd President of the United States of America from August 6 till September 10, 2001. Most of these entries were cribbed from the official website:
  • August 6, 2001 [Crawford, TX]: Bush receives (what should have been) a particularly startling Presidential Daily Briefing, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US" (AP photo; yes, that is WH counsel Harriet Miers showing Bush the PDB)
  • August 7, 2001 [Ridgewood Country Club, Waco, TX]: Remarks to the WH press pool
Q Also today, apparently the Iraqis fired upon some allied planes in the no-fly zone and we bombed, apparently, some of the sites there. What do you have on that?
THE PRESIDENT: I've been briefed on it. As you know, our military can make decisions as they see fit to protect our pilots -- unless, of course, it's close to Baghdad, in which case it requires my approval. The missions that took place were fully in accordance with established allied war plans. As I said, Saddam Hussein is a menace, he's still a menace and we need to keep him in check, and will.
Q Are they ratcheting it up, though? We've had a lot of incidents lately.
THE PRESIDENT: No -- are they, the Iraqis? He's been a menace forever, and we will do -- he needs to open his country up for inspection, so we can see whether or not he's developing weapons of mass destruction.
  • August 8, 2001 [Habitat for Humanity Event, Waco, TX]: Lots of talk from the President about loving your neighbour and his proposals for "faith-based initiatives."
  • August 9, 2001 [Crawford, TX]: The President addresses the nation on Stem Cell Research and announces that public funding will not be made available for any new embryonic stem cell lines.
  • August 13, 2001 [Crawford, TX]: "Remarks by the President at Signing of Agriculture Supplemental Bill" Economic assistance to American farmers.
  • August 14, 2001 [Rocky Mountain National Park, CO]: The president addresses a YMCA picnic about the National Parks Service and the Dept. Interior. Again, lots of talk about faith-based initiatives.
  • August 15, 2001 [Albuquerque, NM]: President addresses the Hispanic Chamber of Congress (taxes, NAFTA, education, faith-based initiatives, etc.).
  • August 17, 2001: Bush issues "Executive Order on Export Control Regulations" {Among other things, this E.O. "require[s] individuals to obtain a license to transfer weapons-related products or information to a foreign person" p.11 of this doc}
  • August 21, 2001 [Menomonee Falls, WI]: President addresses a Harley Davidson factory lunch-room in Wisconsin.
  • August 21, 2001 [Kansas City, MS]: President talks about tax cuts at a Target Store snack-bar.
Q Are you going to talk to us -- you going to talk to us tomorrow? Play golf and maybe talk to us?
Q You're going to have the budget review tomorrow. Do you think you might talk to us from the golf course or someplace?
THE PRESIDENT: I won't be playing golf tomorrow. Probably -- I may -- just keep loose this week. I may have a discussion with you on some matters later on this week
Q Military matters, perhaps?
THE PRESIDENT: I ain't telling.
Q Buildings with five sides?
Q No more hints?
THE PRESIDENT: No, the last time we -- I'm trying to get a picnic organized so you all can come out to the ranch. Is this the -- are you the last shift?
  • August 22, 2001: President releases a statement of warm wishes to Jesse Helms. Helms announced his retirement from the senate.
  • August 23, 2001 [Crawford, TX]: President speaks with kids at a local elementary school about education and (get this!):
In order to go to college or realize your dreams, you have to make right choices in life. As you grow up, you've got to learn to say yes to the good things and no to the bad things, like saying no to drugs. That's going to be important in order to realize your dreams. No to alcohol, excessive alcohol. You've got to learn to make the right choices when you get older.
  • August 25, 2001 [Prarie Chapel Ranch, Crawford, TX]: President gives a tour of his Ranch to a bunch of reporters. Despite the length of the interview and the sheer number of reporters present, nobody discusses anything of import. Loads about trees, armadillos, Bush's dogs, BBQing, running, Bush's inappropriate use of axes & chainsaws, Condi, but still nothing about terrorism. Here's the only indication that Bush has done anything other than play ranch-hand:
Q So how many hours a day are you out here?
THE PRESIDENT: About three. But I've had the full day already. I got up at 5:45 a.m., read all the stuff I needed to read, and then took off at about 7 a.m. with a little run, got back to the house about 7:45 a.m. and we had a CIA briefing for an hour, and a national security briefing. Both of them took an hour. Then we came down here and started working. And this will be it. Probably finish about 12:15 p.m. or so.
Q So you're so in your element here. Are you dreading going back to Washington?
THE PRESIDENT: No. Life is a series of contrasts. And I like it here a lot, I really do. And I am in my element here. We really like it. But I also like -- I wouldn't have run for President if I didn't like the challenge and the give and take and the sense of accomplishment. Plus, we like living in the White House. It's a nice place to live, as they say in Crawford.
Q I know, but I think when people see you out here, who haven't been to the ranch before -- a lot of us haven't -- now we sort of get it.
[...] Q When you have those business meetings, like the Joint Chiefs briefing, do you like to keep it separate from the living quarters on the ranch?
THE PRESIDENT: Actually, you know, what we call the governor's house, the place where you all came out during the -- that's where we went. Condi and Karen Hughes stayed there. And right across the street from that is a -- it's a nice looking government doublewide. (Laughter.) And that's where the mil aide, the nurse, the WHCA head, the doc, they stay.
The CIA briefings, I have on our porch, the end of our porch looking out over the lake. When Tenet came up, that's where we visited, out there.
You know, everybody wants to see the ranch, which I'm proud to show it off. So George Tenet and I -- yesterday, we piled in the new nominees for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Vice Chairman and their wives and went right up the canyon.
  • August 26, 2001 [Williamsport, PA]: Bush speaks at the Little League World Series
  • August 27, 2001: Bush orders federal aid for Ohio (storm and flood victims).
  • August 28, 2001 [San Antonio, TX]: Bush addresses the American Legion. He discussed his "Defense Priorities":
This budget I submitted to Congress makes national defense a priority. I've asked Congress to provide the largest increase in military spending since Ronald Reagan was the President and Commander-in-Chief of the United States. (Applause.) And to meet any dangers, our administration will begin building the military of the future. We must and we will make major investments in research and development. And we are committed to defending America and our allies against ballistic missile attacks, against weapons of mass destruction held by rogue leaders in rogue nations that hate America, hate our values and hate what we stand for.
  • August 31, 2001 [Washington, D.C.]: Launch of WH website at the Eisenhower Executive office Bldg.
  • September 3, 2001 [Detroit, MI]: President discusses the economy (=tax cuts and more "faith-based initiatives") with Teamsters at their BBQ.
  • September 4, 2001 [Washington, D.C.]: President meets with Sen. Majority leader, Trent Lott, about their agenda for the fall of 2001: education, the budget, tax rebate-checks, immigration, etc. Also on Sept. 4, the President releases a statement regarding China and missile defense:
We believe missile defense can contribute to stability in Asia. Moreover, missile defense is an important element of our broader strategy to combat proliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction. The export of Chinese missile technology continues to be a concern (which is why we imposed sanctions on a Chinese company on Saturday) as does the Chinese buildup of short-range ballistic missiles.
  • September 5, 2001 [Washington, D.C]: President Bush meets with Vincente Fox.
  • September 6, 2001 [Toledo, OH]: Bush & Fox conclude their 2-day visit at The University of Toledo.
  • September 7, 2001 [Washington, D.C.]: Pres. Bush makes a speech about the state of the U.S. economy (=taxes, tax cuts, tax "relief" etc, etc)
  • September 10, 2001 [Jacksonville, FL]: Bush visits an elementary school in Jacksonville to discuss his proposals for education reform.
September 11, 2001: "Reading makes a country great!"

Read on, MacDuff!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Coming soon, to another forgotten corner of the world

Secret prisons.

I know we're supposed to believe that Bush and his CIA are shutting them down. That's what they tell us, right?

I don't believe them. I have a dreadful feeling that this secret program is too "precious" for them to abandon outright. Why?

I was already getting angry reading Dana Priest's account of the CIA reaction to Bush's disclosure. I wasn't angry with Priest (she's awesome) but rather the tone of some of the agents' reactions, e.g. "I know it's going to make a lot of people sleep well at night" and then this beaut from James Pavitt (ex-head of CIA's covert-ops):
Finally the burden of this program will not rest only on the shoulders of the CIA [...] This was a tough world and we were asked to do some tough things.
Well, well, then. Nighty night. Glad you can sleep well! Sorry about all of those "tough" things you had to do. Yearghhh!!!

But...reading on...what's this?

But the rules for a new CIA prison system are still unsettled. "Although there is no one in CIA custody today, it's our intent that the CIA detention program continue," said a senior intelligence official. "It's simply been too valuable in the war on terrorism to not allow it to move forward."
[...] Administration officials said yesterday that the need for secret CIA prisons continues, but that they will seek legislation immunizing CIA employees from prosecution for anything they may have been asked to do that might now be considered illegal. At the same time, the administration will ask the intelligence committees to give it guidance to draw up a separate, shorter list of harsh techniques it might still employee under certain circumstances.
The point, said one senior official, "is to make the program more durable" and not "subject to the pendulum swings" of Congress or the president.
There you have it. There's no way they're closing up shop.

And notice the allusion to "immunizing CIA employees from prosecution." In other words: how do you deal with agents--CIA or otherwise--who have already participated in these illegal prisons and interrogations:
CIA director Michael V. Hayden, who favored the administration's stance and pushed for a revision of existing policy, alerted employees about Bush's White House statement moments before it aired. Hayden advised that they watch and assured them he was working to protect the employees who handled terrorists.
Pay close attention in the coming days: WH efforts to grant immunity to agents and themselves will only intensify as their free-ride with a Republican congress ticks away. These guys want to do away with the "outrages on personal dignity" aspect of the 1996 War Crimes Act (reported by the WaPo). And this may be only the beginning of their machinations. E.g. "Bush Aims to Kill War Crimes Act," by Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith (The Nation, Sept 5th):
Bush officials have not acknowledged that one of their real motives for gutting the War Crimes Act is to protect themselves from being prosecuted for their own crimes. But so far they have apparently offered only one other reason for tampering with the law: The existing law, especially the Geneva language prohibiting "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment," is too vague to enforce. (Perhaps the Bush Administration should declare the US Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" as too vague to enforce as well.)
[...] Bush's Republican allies still control both houses of Congress; they are in a position to slip a repeal of the War Crimes Act into any piece of legislation they choose. Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey, senior member of the House Committee for Homeland Security, told The Nation, "The Bush Administration and the GOP leadership in Congress is trying to quietly excuse and even codify cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners in US custody, at secret CIA prisons abroad and even the abhorrent practice of extraordinary rendition [the outsourcing of torture and other cruel treatment to other countries]."
Well, I'm glad that CIA dude can "sleep well" tonight.

Read on, MacDuff!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My lost week

Wow, what a delinquent blogger I've been this week. I've been drowning at work and kind of distracted by my "real" job :) Also, our DSL was down for almost 2 days (the horror!).

Still, I have loads I've been wanting to get off my chest this week, so I promise to post more soon. I've stored a bunch of news items/links on my page...just haven't had a spare moment to write about any of them!

Coming soon:
  • more on the "REAL" women attack on the Status of Women as well as some of my personal comments about the actual status of women in Canada. Thanks to Scott Tribe over at ProgBlogs for getting the ball rolling. There are some good ideas there--please check them out and add your 2 cents.
  • Canadian political-party conventions are creeping up: how will each party's positions solidify (or muddify) on Afghanistan? on Kyoto? on security ("terrah") concerns? Will we get a real voice or more hapless playactors, backbiting & sniping each other to the centre/right?
  • recent updates on GTMO and the secret 'archipelago' of prisons housing ghost-detainees around the world. Harper's Sept 2006 issue has an eye-opening piece that I'd like to discuss ("American Gulags"); it's subscription only but you can catch a quick summary over at Mahablog.
  • DR Congo's recent elections and some disturbing IMF-meddling and Canadian profiteering in that region (hint: copper!)
  • more contracts from Rumsfeld's PR dept: remember the Lincoln Group? The Rendon Group? Willem Marx, an ex-Lincoln Grp. flack, reveals all in his piece "Misinformation Intern: My summer as a military propagandist in Iraq" (Harper's Sept 2006).

Read on, MacDuff!