Thursday, September 28, 2006

Senate Passes Bush's Torture Enabling Act of 2006

Americans of the future won't remember the Democrats' pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration. They'll only know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation's version of the Alien and Sedition Acts or the interment of Americans of Japanese descent.

House Passes Bush's Torture Enabling Act of 2006

Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists — because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. That’s pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.

It was only after the Supreme Court issued the inevitable ruling striking down Mr. Bush’s shadow penal system that he adopted his tone of urgency. It serves a cynical goal: Republican strategists think they can win this fall, not by passing a good law but by forcing Democrats to vote against a bad one so they could be made to look soft on terrorism.

Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation that gave Mr. Bush most of what he wanted, including a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies. Then Vice President Dick Cheney and his willing lawmakers rewrote the rest of the measure so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Sexual Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

There is not enough time to fix these bills, especially since the few Republicans who call themselves moderates have been whipped into line, and the Democratic leadership in the Senate seems to have misplaced its spine. If there was ever a moment for a filibuster, this was it.

We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

SIlly Islamo-Fascist New York Times... don't you know that we're at WAR?!

President Bravely Slashes NASA Waste

The President has once again shown that he won't allow Big Government growth in frivolous programs which waste tax dollars in return for nothing which will make us safer from Terrorists:

WASHINGTON — A series of steep cuts in aeronautics research at NASA threaten to undermine the nation's aviation industry and delay a new air traffic system needed to prevent gridlock in the skies, according to members of Congress, industry officials and scientific leaders. Groups of lawmakers from both parties, academics and aerospace leaders say the reductions are hampering NASA's ability to develop new aviation technology.

NASA has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in aviation funding over the past decade and is struggling to pay for repairing the space shuttle and for President Bush's plan to send people to the moon and Mars. Next year, the agency faces a proposed 20% cut in aviation research. That means that, after adjusting for inflation, it could lose nearly two-thirds of that research funding since it peaked in 1994 at the equivalent of nearly $2 billion.

The agency is planning to cut $54 million — or 31% — from its effort to study emerging technologies required for a new national air traffic system. NASA is the primary agency researching the Next Generation Air Traffic System, an ambitious program to replace radars with satellite-based technology. Without increased capacity from the new system, airlines can expect increasing flight delays, according to government estimates.

Current NASA funding falls as much as $200 million to $300 million a year short of what is actually needed, according to the Aerospace Industries Association. Retired Air Force major general William Hoover, who co-chaired a government study on aeronautics research needs, told the House subcommittee on space Tuesday that NASA must boost work on the air traffic system now or face problems in the future.
NASA is a Democrat program. We hate Democrat programs. Do the math. If you don't like it, maybe next time YOU should rig the election machines in your favor. But you won't, cuz you don't have the will to power.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bush Slips In Surprise For Senators

The Bush administration, supported by House allies, has slipped a small but important change into last week's "compromise" bill on terror suspects. The earlier bill, worked out in negotiations with restive Senate Republicans, defined enemy combatants as those who have "engaged in hostilities," but the latest draft legislation expands the definition to include those who have "supported hostilities." The new language could boost the administration's contention that it can designate virtually anyone an enemy combatant. The Washington Post notes it "does not rule out the possibility" that the designation could be applied to a U.S. citizen.

Wheeeee! Now the President can kidnap and torture and kill American citizens!

Unfortunately, the Mainstream Corporate News Media seems to have awakened far too late to the most controversial aspect of the bill: If passed, the legislation would strip detainees of the right to challenge their imprisonment in court. The Senate judiciary committee took up the issue today, and among those invited to testify was Thomas Sullivan, a lawyer for several Guantanamo detainees. Describing existing Guantanamo hearings to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a former judge who supports stripping habeas rights, Sullivan channeled Joseph Welch:

There was no lawyer given to the defendants. They didn't speak English, most of them. They were young men who had no training in law. There were no rules of evidence applicable… Now, [do] you call that due process, Your Honor? Do you? … This is a historic moment in our time. To suspend the writ of habeas corpus without hearings, rushing it through just before elections, where people are afraid to vote against this bill because somebody on the other side is going to hold up a TV commercial and criticize them for it, is phony.
What an Islamofascist Traitor this guy is, with his quaint belief in the rule of law and the Constitution and the idea that America might be making some kind of mistake.

Islamofascist Drink-Lovers 1, Homeland Security 0

ARLINGTON, Va. — Passengers will be allowed to carry liquids on airplanes under new security rules prompted by FBI tests that show it's highly unlikely that terrorists could bring down a jet with a bomb made from small amounts of fluids, the nation's airport security chief said Monday.

Travelers may bring liquids and everyday items such as shampoo, toothpaste and makeup through security, provided they're stored in 3-ounce containers that fit in a 1-quart clear bag, Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley said Monday. Passengers also can carry on liquids and gels in any quantity that they buy in airport shops after passing through security, including at duty-free shops. Drinks and other items are screened before being sold in secure airport areas.

Testing by the FBI and at government labs showed that small containers of liquids "don't pose a real threat," Hawley said.

Why... it's almost as if the threat was never real to begin with, and the government was only trying to scare us into voting correctly, this dire threat being announced as it was, the day after Ned Lamont defeated Joe Lieberman. But naaah, the government probably had a good reason to do this in the first place, right?

Jim Kapin, head of health and safety for the American Chemical Society, said small quantities of liquids could not seriously damage an airplane. Even if several terrorists smuggled liquid explosives on board, it is "practically speaking, impossible" to make a bomb on an airplane because of the equipment and expertise required, Kapin said.
Errrr..... uhm, okay, maybe we didn't have a point, but at least things are back to normal now, right?
A.J. Castilla, a screener at Boston's Logan International Airport and spokesman for a screeners union, said the new policy "is more confusing and certainly will add to the lines during the holidays." "We're just adding another level of screening to a screening process that was simple," Castilla said.

Travelers must remove the bags that hold liquids from their carry-ons so they can go through X-ray machines separately and be inspected by screeners. Each traveler may carry only one bag, which can hold several 3-ounce containers.
Okay, so I guess we're NOT back to where we were. Instead, we have to put all our liquids in a tiny bag, zip open our MAIN bag, get out the tiny bag, put that through the screener, zip open our computer laptop bags, put the laptops through, take off our shoes, put our shoes through, take any metal out of our pockets, put that through... and then rush back to the counter and buy a new ticket because we've all missed our fucking flights BECAUSE OF ALL THIS STUPID TERROR-MONGERING BULLSHIT.

I'M FUCKING SICK OF IT ALL. I'm now willing to sacrifice ONE PLANE PER YEAR so we can go back to pre-9/11 security. The airlines pay for the screeners, I go through a metal detector, put my bag through an x-ray machine and BLAM. Done. Guess what? Those screening measures would have stopped the 9/11 terrorists if only some twat in Washington hadn't decided that no one could kill anyone with a 3-inch knife or a boxcutter or a Leatherman tool.

What should have happened on 9/12 was those things and anything shaped like a nail file over 3" long should have become illegal, all luggage should have been mandatorily x-rayed, and that's it. Read that again: ALL FUCKING LUGGAGE SHOULD HAVE BEEN X-RAYED. It's not. Yup, 5 years after 9/11, not all bags are x-rayed. Wait, it gets even stupider: if I don't get on with my bags, then my bags are quite sensibly removed the aircraft, right? I mean, I could be a terrorist. Oh, but if I go to the airport 15 minutes before a flight, I can put an Air Cargo box onto the plane for $50 and I don't have to get on board with my box, nor does my fucking box get X-Rayed.

Yes, for $50 each, Al Qaeda could put bombs on every outgoing flight in America. Figure, they get 100 guys to do this all over the nation on the same day... ohmigod, for $5,000, Al Qaeda just blew all of Bush's expensive BULLSHIT SECURITY right out of the water. Billions on making American Citizens' lives harder, all ruined by $5000 and 100 Al Qaeda guys.

It's almost as if the Government's ENTIRE "airline security" measures are designed solely to make you FEEL like they're doing something when they're really not. Oh, and to make you constantly afraid and filled with the dread of ever-present Terrorism.

Instead of spending billions of dollars on machines that don't work and fucking up air travel for millions of voters, if we wanted to go overboard on security, then we could have set up a system of screeners like El Al airlines has where agents trained in micro-expression reading to roam among the passengers asking them questions and gauging their reactions. That's what the Israelis do. You know, the people who haven't had a single airline hijacking or terrorism incident in over 30 years?

But no, that's not what Bush-era security is all about. Our security is all about transferring taxpayer dollars to large corporations in return for political donations.

Monday, September 25, 2006

For Bush, War Anguish Expressed Privately

For Bush, War Anguish Expressed Privately
By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 25, 2006;

FALMOUTH, Maine -- They sat on two frayed chairs in a teacher's lounge, the president and the widow, just the two of them so close that their knees were almost touching. She was talking about her husband, the soldier who died in a far-off war zone. Tears rolled down her face as she mentioned two children left fatherless. His eyes welled up, too. He hugged her, held her face, kissed her cheek. "I am so sorry for your loss," he kept repeating. She told him she considers him responsible for her husband's death and begged him to bring home the troops. "It's time to put our pride behind us and stop the bleeding, for all of us," she recalled saying. The president demurred, unwilling to debate a mourning woman. "We see things differently," he said.

The two sides of Bush as commander in chief can be hard to reconcile. His public persona gives little sense that he dwells on the costs of war. He does not seem to agonize as Johnson did, or even as his father, George H.W. Bush, did before the Persian Gulf War. While he pays tribute to those who have fallen, the president strives to show resolve and avoid displays that might be seen as weak or doubting. His refusal to attend military funerals, while taking long Texas vacations and extended bicycle rides, strikes some critics as callous indifference.

Yet the private Bush comes across differently in the accounts of aides, friends, relatives and military family members who have met with him. The first question Bush usually asks national security briefers in the Oval Office each morning is about overnight casualties, aides say, and those who show up for the next round of meetings often find him still stewing about bad news from Iraq.

If he does not show that publicly, it's in keeping with a White House practice of not drawing attention to the mounting costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have killed more than 3,000 U.S. troops and tens of thousands of civilians. Advisers worry that sending the wrong signal would further sap public will and embolden the enemy and Bush's critics. Aides say that Bush does not attend military funerals because the presidential entourage would disrupt solemn events and that, out of respect, the media have been banned from photographing coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base. But they also know it would focus a spotlight on the price of the president's policies.
Oh, if it weren't for those meddlesome advisers and aides! Their constant meddling means the President can never break down and cry in public about the deaths he's caused! And Bush's daily question about how Iraq is going doesn't indicate a man concerned that his party is going to get its ass kicked in November, but the deep musings of a

President Bush hugs Anita Kukkola after presenting her son, Pfc. Jason Kukkola of Fountain Hills, Ariz., with a Purple Heart at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In both the preceeding story and in this photo, all Real Americans will note exactly how privately the President is expressing his war anguish. No one was present except the soldier, his mother, the President and the photographer and the press corps and maybe a few major campaign contributors and possibly a couple of energy corporation CEOs eager for face time with The Decider.