Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Media Asks The Wrong Question... Again

Today over at, Jacob Weisberg has an interesting, yet fatally flawed piece up today that gets everything wrong and reveals the underlying bigotry underlying most Mainstream Media discussions of religion (hint: it'ts not what you think):

Romney's Religion
A Mormon president? No way.
By Jacob Weisberg

Someone who refuses to consider voting for a woman as president is rightly deemed a sexist. Someone who'd never vote for a black person is a racist. But are you a religious bigot if you wouldn't cast a ballot for a believing Mormon? The issue arises with Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's as-yet-undeclared bid for the 2008 Republican nomination.
The piece goes on to tell us the history of famous Mormons in federally elected positions, and to discuss the likelihood of a Mormon ever being elected president, and that's all well, and good, but it's the underlying unasked question I take issue with. See if you can spot what's wrong with THIS paragraph:
But if he gets anywhere in the primaries, Romney's religion will become an issue with moderate and secular voters—and rightly so. Objecting to someone because of his religious beliefs is not the same thing as prejudice based on religious heritage, race, or gender. Not applying a religious test for public office, means that people of all faiths are allowed to run—not that views about God, creation, and the moral order are inadmissible for political debate. In George W. Bush's case, the public paid far too little attention to the role of religion in his thinking. Many voters failed to appreciate that while Bush's religious beliefs may be moderate Methodist ones, he was someone who relied on his faith immoderately, as an alternative to rational understanding of complex issues.
While that's a great dig about Bush's immoderate reliance upon the voices in his head as a replacement for actual advisers, Weisberg not only dances around the real point raised by his article, but by positing the question as he does, he reinforces its implicit prejudice. Here's the REAL question we should be asking ourselves as a nation:

Why can ONLY politicians who profess belief in ancient magikal tales of Gods & Devils be elected president?

Weisberg says that objecting to someone based on his religious beliefs isn't the same thing as a prejudice based on religious heritage, race or gender, then continues:
Nor is it chauvinistic to say that certain religious views should be deal breakers in and of themselves. There are millions of religious Americans who would never vote for an atheist for president, because they believe that faith is necessary to lead the country.
And Zing, Weissberg is done, flowing into whether or not he would vote for a Hassidic Jew:
Others, myself included, would not, under most imaginable circumstances, vote for a fanatic or fundamentalist—a Hassidic Jew who regards Rabbi Menachem Schneerson as the Messiah, a Christian literalist who thinks that the Earth is less than 7,000 years old, or a Scientologist who thinks Earth is haunted by the souls of space aliens sent by the evil lord Xenu. Such views are disqualifying because they're dogmatic, irrational, and absurd. By holding them, someone indicates a basic failure to think for himself or see the world as it is.
So... Atheism which rejects ALL dogmatic, irrational and absurd unprovable religious beliefs in invisible superpowered Gods is equal to Scientology and people who think Satan put dinosaur bones into the Earth to trick us?

Right. WE'RE the ones who are unreasonable. I mean, God forbid anyone elect an atheist!

Weisberg continues:
By the same token, I wouldn't vote for someone who truly believed in the founding whoppers of Mormonism. The LDS church holds that Joseph Smith, directed by the angel Moroni, unearthed a book of golden plates buried in a hillside in Western New York in 1827. The plates were inscribed in "reformed" Egyptian hieroglyphics—a nonexistent version of the ancient language that had yet to be decoded. Smith was able to dictate his "translation" of the Book of Mormon first by looking through diamond-encrusted decoder glasses and then by burying his face in a hat with a brown rock at the bottom of it. He was an obvious con man. Romney has every right to believe in con men, but I want to know if he does, and if so, I don't want him running the country.
Nicely done. You've managed to tie Romney's belief in his hokey fairytales to his ability to govern rationally... except I don't find the idea of magic diamond-encrusted decoder glasses to be any more or less ridiculous than I do the idea that God formed the world in seven days a mere 5000 years ago and populated it with the offspring of Adam and Eve. In other words, the stupid shit that Mitt Romney believes is no more ridiculous than the stupid shit that George W. Bush believes or John Kerry and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama all profess to believe. Oh, but Weisberg is ready for MY sort:
One may object that all religious beliefs are irrational—what's the difference between Smith's "seer stone" and the virgin birth or the parting of the Red Sea? But Mormonism is different because it is based on such a transparent and recent fraud. It's Scientology plus 125 years. Perhaps Christianity and Judaism are merely more venerable and poetic versions of the same. But a few eons makes a big difference. The world's greater religions have had time to splinter, moderate, and turn their myths into metaphor. The Church of Latter-day Saints is expanding rapidly and liberalizing in various ways, but it remains fundamentally an orthodox creed with no visible reform wing.

One may object that all religious beliefs are irrational. Chrisianity and Judaism are better than Scientology or Mormonism because they're more ancient and their baloney has been translated over the years into beautiful religious metaphor Nice wiggle language, but guess what? Those religions, beautifully splintered, moderated and metaphorical though they may be, are just as fucking ridiculous as the Mormon faith. The con men who concocted Judaism and Christianity and Islam were no different than Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard. We just have better record-keeping for the last two centuries than we do for 2000 years ago, that's all.

Belief in supernatural Gods is a salve for the simpleminded. The idea that invisible supermen live in outer space spying our every deed and eavesdropping our every thought in order that they may correctly decide at the end of our life if we get angel wings or burn in a lake of fire is purely stupid. Gods of any kind are a fairy tales invented to keep people in line.

More importantly "God" doesn't work in a globalized world where religious fanatics of all stripes are only a $300 ticket away from smacking a 767 into the side of the World Trade Center. If you believe that God exists and that he chooses sides, then you should convert to Islam right now because God obviously allowed 9/11 to happen because He hates America and loves Osama Bin Laden. See? Shocking to say, and yet, by the logic of belief, it's utterly true. In fact, if you'll remember, several of America's holiest men like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell insinuated that we got hit on 9/11 because God Hates Fags (or whatever kinder words they used at the time).

What's good for the goose is good for the gander: if you're silly enough believe in ANY God, you're not allowed to deny the existence of anyone else's God or to proscribe anyone else's religion, including fundamentalist Islam and fake religions made up by convicts so they can legally smoke dope. Otherwise you're just another "my religion is the only TRUE religion" hypocrite. It's all stupid and just because the magical fairytales of Virgin Birth and burning bushes and plagues of frogs in the Bible are older than the magical fairytales of Joseph Smith's magic sunglasses doesn't make them any more useful or credible in today's world.

Which brings us back to Mitt Romney. No, idiot, you don't get to be President, because as Weisberg correctly points out,
Romney has never publicly indicated any distance from church doctrine. He is an "elder" who performed missionary service in France as a young man and did not protest the church's overt racism and priestly discrimination before it was abolished in 1978.
The Mormon Church is a regressive, conservative, bigoted, power-hungry institution whose followers are cult-like in their exclusion of The Other, up to and including, up until 1978, naming black people as the evil against which mankind must struggle. I'm already saddened that their church has bought itself 2 U.S. Senators. Hell, screw Clearwater, Florida... the Church of Latter Day Saints shows the way forward for Scientology and other modern financially well-endowed "alternative religions." Wyoming only has 500,000 residents... surely Scientology can convince a million of its members to move there and electorally seize control of its governmental institutions? With two Senators in their pocket, Scientology would suddenly be a force to be reckoned with, that's for sure. I'm fascinated mostly by the fact that they seem not to have realized they already have the power to do it.

Weisberg's piece correctly posits that
Various evangelical sects continue to view Mormonism as heretical, non-Christian, or even satanic. But because of their shared faith in social conservatism, evangelical leaders seem open to supporting Romney.
That's true... but Evangelical leaders are ONLY supporting Romney because of their common cause of turning back America's Moral Clock to the 1800's... once the god-fearing dummies who voted for GW twice find out about some of the juicier aspects of the Mormon religion, however, I predict that they'll quickly rush to Sam Brownback's side (and yes, they'll tell themselves, although Brownback's a born-again Evangelical who converted and became a filthy Catholic, at least THAT evil papist-led false church has a few thousand years of history and beautiful religious metaphor behind it).

Don't take MY word for it..., let's allow noted Christian writer Jack T. Chick to show us what's going to happen:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Introducing The "Smoky Bomb"

Peter D. Zimmerman, a nuclear physicist, is a professor of science and security in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. He was chief scientist of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2001 to 2003.

The exotic murder-by-polonium of the former K.G.B. spy Alexander Litvinenko has embroiled Russia, Britain and Germany in a diplomatic scuffle and a hunt for more traces of the lethal substance. But it also throws into question most of the previous analyses of “dirty bombs,” terrorist attacks using radioactive isotopes wrapped in explosives (or using other dispersion techniques) to spread radioactive material in crowded areas.

Essentially all analysts, including myself, played down the possibility of using alpha radiation — fast-moving helium nuclei ejected during the radioactive decay of certain isotopes, such as of polonium 210, the substance that killed Mr. Litvinenko — as a source of dirty bombs. We concentrated instead on isotopes that emit penetrating gamma rays, which are basically super-powered packets of light, hard to shield and effective at a yard or more.

The alpha radiation from polonium can be easily shielded — by a layer of aluminum foil, a sheet or two of paper, or the dead outer layer of skin. And so, the reasoning went, alpha radiation could not hurt you as long as the source stayed outside your body. Exactly. Mr. Litvinenko was apparently killed by polonium that he ate or drank or inhaled. That source was so physically small that it was hard to see, perhaps the size of a couple of grains of salt and weighing just a few millionths of a gram.

Dirty bombs based on gamma emitters, analysts have learned, can’t kill very many people. Mr. Litvinenko’s death tells us that “smoky bombs” based on alpha emitters very well could.

Polonium 210 is surprisingly common. It is used by industry in devices that eliminate static electricity, in low-powered brushes used to ionize the air next to photographic film so dust can be swept off easily, and in quite large machines placed end-to-end across a web of fabric moving over rollers in a textile mill. It is even used to control dust in clean rooms where computer chips and hard drives are made.

It may be difficult to get people to eat polonium; it isn’t hard to force them to breathe it. The problem for a radiological terrorist is to get his “hot” material inside people’s bodies where it will do the most harm. If the terrorist can solve that problem, then alpha radiation is the most devastating choice he can make. Precisely because alphas emit their nuclei so quickly, they deposit all of their energy in a relatively small number of cells, killing them or causing them to mutate, increasing the long-term risk of cancer.

The terrorist’s solution lies in getting very finely divided polonium into the air where people can breathe it. I see several fairly simple ways to accomplish this: burn the material, blow it up, dissolve it in a lot of water or pulverize it to a size so small that the particles can float in the air and lodge in the lungs.

It would be unwise of me to dwell on the details of just how one goes about getting a hot enough fire or breaking polonium into extremely fine “dust.” In the end, however, the radioactive material will appear like the dust from an explosion, or the smoke from a fire. My point is to demonstrate the urgent need for new thinking in the regulatory arena, not to give away important information.

Air containing such radioactive debris would appear smoky or dusty, and be dangerous to breathe. A few breaths might easily be enough to sicken a victim, and in some cases to kill. A smoky bomb exploded in a packed arena or on a crowded street could kill dozens or hundreds. It would set off a radiological emergency of a kind not seen before in the United States, and the number of people requiring life support or palliative care until death would overwhelm the number of beds now available for treating victims of radiation. First responders dashing unprotected into the cloud from a smoky bomb might be among the worst wounded. Fire and police departments around the country will need alpha radiation detectors, since the counters they carry now cannot see alphas.

Some of the steps involved with making a good smoky bomb from polonium would be dangerous for the terrorists involved, and might cost them their lives. That, unfortunately, no longer seems like a very high barrier.

What can we do to stop them? We must make it far less easy for them to acquiring polonium in deadly amounts. Polonium sources with about 10 percent of a lethal dose are readily available — even in a product sold on Only modest restraints inhibit purchase of significantly larger amounts of polonium: as of next year, anyone purchasing more than 16 curies of polonium 210 — enough to make up 5,000 lethal doses — must register it with a tracking system run by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But this is vastly too high — almost no purchases on that scale are made by any industry.

The commission (and the International Atomic Energy Agency as well) is said to be considering tighter regulations to make a repeat of the Litvinenko affair less probable. There is talk that it might tighten the polonium reporting requirement by a factor of 10, to 1.6 curies. That’s better, but still not strict enough.

The biggest problem is that the regulatory commission’s regulations do not restrict the quantity of polonium used in industry. This may make it quite easy for terrorists to purchase large amounts of one of the earth’s deadliest substances. A near-term goal should to require specific licensing of any person or company seeking to purchase alpha sources stronger than one millicurie, about a third of a lethal dose. A longer-term goal ought to be eliminating nearly all use of polonium in industry through other technologies.

That is a technical challenge and would cost some money, but it would certainly be less expensive than coping with the devastation of a smoky bomb.

Monday, December 18, 2006

One Less Dead Fish In The Bucket

Evan Bayh Drops Out of Presidential Race
Indiana Senator Evan Bayh announced a surprise decision today that he would not to run for president. Bayh began unofficially running the moment that John Kerry lost in 2004, immediately calling Kerry's largest contributors and announcing that he was a moderate Democrat, the only type who could win in 2008. This announcement shows how much established Democrats are being affected by the excitement the surrounding possible presidential candidacy of Illinois Senator Barak Obama. Whether or not Obama can prove to America that he's got the experience to run the world (which is, essentially, the current job description of the President of the United States), remains to be seen.

One thing that doesn't remain to be seen, though, is whether Obama can draw a crowd. He can. Evidently Bayh was scared out of the race by the contrast between Obama's rock-star-like reception last week in New Hampshire (which holds the nation's first presidential primary in January 2008), and the modest turnout of wait for it... DOZENS... for Bayh's own appearance there on the same day. Eeeep.

2008 used to be Hilary Clinton's turn. It's been well known for years that she's going to run. She's quietly raised millions of dollars in the last six years and has a huge war-chest because she hasn't faced a serious challenger yet for her Senate seat... but has been able to use that seat to gather cash, prepping for a Presidential run.

She used to have the all-important Black Vote clinched because of Bill Clinton's popularity in the African-American community and because she's spent the last six years courting it directly. She had brought all the African-American minister organizations into her camp. Right there, that's 40% of the Democratic vote. That leaves only the 60% White + Hispanic vote for Hillary's 4 to 5 competitors to squabble over, and she would likely get a LOT of those votes, too. Yes, the 2008 Democratic nominee -USED- to be a lock for Hillary.

Now, however, she may be pushed out. If Barack Obama enters the race, her best-laid mousey plans gang aft aglay. Suddenly the Black Vote is up for grabs and Hillary's strategy of triangulation on the Iraq War begins to drastically hurt her. She's been one of the most vocal supporters of this idiotic war (in preparation for nullifying a "weak on defense" charge in 2008 because of her Democratic-ness and femalen-ess) and that continuing support will hurt her badly if our troops aren't out of Iraq by 2008. The exit polls in this last election showed that the #1 concern on people's minds was this stupid war. If Hillary and the Senate allow Bush to leave our troops in harm's way refereeing Iraq's civil war, that opens the door wide for Obama to become the "I never voted for this war" candidate and push for withdrawal.

The Wild Card in her favor is the dangerous streak of Royalism that's emerged in American culture where we pick a family and anoint them as our elected sovereigns. The Bushes. The Kennedys. People seem to actually like the idea of a family which hands power down from generation to generation. I'm sure that in 20 years we'll see Jeb Bush's stalker-creep son George Prescott Bush running for Florida Senator and winning. Maybe one of Neil's kids. Or Doro Bush's unholy offspring. We loves us a royal family over here. That royalist streak helps Hillary Clinton because her husband is known countrywide in a way that it doesn't help Evan Bayh because his daddy never won. Christ, Paris Hilton has more of a shot than Evan Bayh... everyone's stayed in one of her Grandpa's hotels.

US Special Forces Spy Teams Operating In Europe

US Seeks to Rein in Its Military Spy Teams
By Greg Miller
The Los Angeles Times
Monday 18 December 2006

Washington - U.S. Special Forces teams sent overseas on secret spying missions have clashed with the CIA and carried out operations in countries that are staunch U.S. allies, prompting a push for tighter rules for military units engaged in espionage, according to senior U.S. intelligence and military officials.

The spy missions are part of a highly classified program that officials say has better positioned the United States to track terrorist networks and capture or kill enemy operatives in regions such as the Horn of Africa, where weak governments are unable to respond to emerging threats.

But the initiative has also led to several embarrassing incidents for the United States, including a shootout in Paraguay and the exposure of a sensitive intelligence operation in East Africa, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. To date, the effort has not led to the capture of a significant terrorist suspect.

Some intelligence officials have complained that Special Forces teams have sometimes launched missions without informing the CIA, duplicating or even jeopardizing existing operations. And they questioned deploying military teams in friendly nations - including in Europe - at a time when combat units are in short supply in war zones.
More in link, but how much more do you need to know that our President is a fucking madman who sees enemies every direction he looks, whether they exist or not?

Support Our Fucking Troops!

y'know, I'm getting REALLY tired of being yelled at by Conservatives and Liberals alike that I -must- at all costs, Support Our Troops. This is a mindless slogan designed to Propagandize our citizenry into supporting The Military, supporting the underlying Military-Industrial Complex and supporting societal Militarism.

Guess what? I don't believe that the institution of Militarism as it exists in this country today is worthy of respect OR support. The Pentagon is a giant money-sponge sucking up every available dollar to increase its own growth. Our short-sighted commitment to Military Keynesianism has set America on a path to destruction and I can't celebrate that.

That said, the "troops" or the individual soldiers in uniform who carry out the orders of the Military-Industrial Complex (aka, the cogs in the War Machine) are generally free of blame for this war. I don't blame them for either being born poor and having limited options in life, nor do I dislike those who join the service out of a sense of altruism and wanting to help other people, and I genuinely admire the guts that all of these groups show in the face of hostile forces who want to kill them.

I don't, however, subscribe to the notion that "the military keeps us free" or we only have our freedoms because soldiers are in Iraq defending them for us. Saddam never once threatened our freedom, and America's militaristic response to the 9/11 attacks has harmed our individual liberties far more than Osama Bin Laden ever dreamed of. If and when the orders come down to impose Martial Law, I'm sure that all these troops that I'm supposed to support will willingly shoot me dead in the street after curfew. Post-Katrina New Orleans proved that.

Either way, I do, for the most part, support the men and women in uniform. The good ones, anyway. Then, occasionally, I come across an Abu Ghraib/Haditha/Rape-And-Murder-Of-A-14-Year-Old-Iraqi-Girl type story which drives home just how FUCKED it is to blindly support anything, much less "our troops" who are, in the final equation, just people subject to the same pressures and failings that the rest of us are. Here's just one such story about troops whom I have no fucking intention of ever supporting.

FBI: Military Recruiters Ran Cocaine

A Midtown strip mall that should have housed the best of the best served as Corruption Central in Tucson. Two military recruiting stations sit side-by-side there, one run by the Army, the other by the Marines. Between them, a total of seven recruiters were on the take, secretly accepting bribes to transport cocaine, even as most spent their days visiting local high schools. They had help from several more recruiters at an Army National Guard office, where one recruiter was said to be selling cocaine from the trunk of his recruiting vehicle.
The big difference is that when civilians commit crimes, they don't expect blind patriotism to wallpaper over it.

Let's Just Stay In Iraq Forever, Then...

In the NYT's op-ed page, Ben Connable, a major in the Marine Corps who is no stranger to writing for the papers, says any talk of withdrawal from Iraq should take into account how that would affect the people on the ground. U.S. troops have withdrawn from Anbar Province twice, and each time, insurgents were quick to take over and proceeded to kill and torture many of those who were seen as friendly to U.S. interests.

Well, what are we to do, then? Connable (and whoever at the White House agreed to let him write opinion pieces for the Times) doesn't have an answer, but he DOES have a warning:

The confusion caused by withdrawal would be compounded as religious, militia and political loyalties divided inadequately prepared military and police units. Full-scale ethnic killing would become a very real possibility.

For some, the collapse of Iraqi society into Hobbesian mayhem is inevitable no matter how many American troops remain on the ground. A few argue that disintegration of the Iraqi state actually would bring about the national catharsis that seems so elusive today — that absolute civil war would be a greater good.

This cold calculus ignores the very real impact of an American withdrawal on the people we now protect. Any debate that does not consider the bloody reality we would leave in our wake does a disservice to the people of Iraq and the troops who have fought so hard to defend them.
Okay, so I guess you can put me into the "some" and "few" categories: I feel that Hobbesian mayhem is inevitable, a vicious round of ethnic cleansing unstoppable and the division of the country into three hostile territories inescapable and probably for the better.

The good major seems to think our first allegiance, however, is to the "people on the ground" in Iraq and to the "disservice... to the troops who have fought so hard to defend them." Here are my rebuttals to the good major: First, Abu Ghraib, Second, Haditha, Third, 200,000 dead Iraqi Civilians since we invaded and Fourth, "disservice" to the troops? IT'S YOUR FUCKING JOB TO DO WHATEVER YOU'RE ORDERED TO DO. If we order you to defend those Iraqis, you do it. If we order you to pull out, you do it. I'll tell you something that every single Social Worker, Teacher, Ambulance Driver, Cop, Fireman, and Doctor has hammered home to them in their early training on the job: Don't Get Attached. Fuck you and your "disservice" to the troops.

Let me get this straight, Major:
(1) The Bush Administration lied to the American people to falsify a case for war,
(2) The Bush Administration fatally screwed up the post-election planning,
(3) The Bush Administration deliberately ignored the State Department who tried to war everyone that Civil War was sure to follow after Saddam was deposed,
(4) The Bush Administration fucked up every opportunity to fix Iraq and instead concentrated assisting their rich friends in the looting of the $18 Billion "rebuilding" funds,
(5) Now, one invasion and failed rebuilding later, Bush says we can't leave or a civil war will break out?


At this point, its exceptionally clear that Bush could give a rat's ass about the poor people of Iraq... he's reputedly killed between 50,000 and 200,000 of them by this point.

All this talk of staying "until the job is done" is to ignore the fact that the job will NEVER be "done." These people HATE each other. It's just like Yugoslavia... Tito kept that country together with an iron fist and when he died, poof... here comes the ethnic cleansing and wholesale slaughter. The same thing was clearly what was going to happen when Saddam was deposed, those of us on the Commie Traitor Left said so at the time, but stupid-ass Bush didn't even know there were three different kinds of Iraqis until 2 weeks before the invasion began.

The reason the Republicans don't want America out of Iraq now is because they don't want the inevitable civil war & genocide to happen on their watch. Once Bush is out of office, they will blame this entire war on the Democrats, they will blame the failure of Iraq on the Iraqis and they will make a deal with the genocidal Shiite victors for the oil.

It's clear now that this war was always about two things: (1) getting Bush relected as a heroic War President, and (2) The Oil. Nothing else ever mattered to these people, nothing else ever will.

Meanwhile, estimates have this war costing the taxpayers of America $2 Trillion dollars. That number goes up for every single day we're in Iraq. Bush has racked up an additional $4 Trillion in national debt since he took office. Soon there will be no money left for anything in our budget except for Social Security and paying interest on our debt.

This is the penalty we pay for our current system of Military Keynesyiaism. Until we are willing to stop the war spending, we will increasingly go broke paying for these wars until our foreign debtors (China: $825 Billion in US savings bonds and Japan $850 Billion in US savings bonds) close the books on our country and we find ourselves in the position of a third-world banana republic: broke & with a despotic ruler.

At some point America needs to look deep into its gut and ask itself: do the lives of foreigners (80% of whom want us to leave the country immediately) count more than the entire future of this country? Are the lives of these foreigners who want us gone worth more than our Constitution? More than our own children & grandchildren? More than our jobs and way of life? Because THOSE are the opportunity costs to America if we stay in Iraq and if we continue on our permanent war economy path.

This war is the straw which will break the camel's back: America is already headed towards becoming an impoverished debtor nation with no industry, no economy and a warped authoritarian government. Staying in Iraq means hastening that end.

The good major (and his Republican backers) want to stay in Iraq to protect the Iraqis from one another at the cost of bankrupting our nation. I think we should leave and let them fight it out amongst themselves and attempt to preserve our Republic from the debt and dictatorship which are both accumulating under this war. It's an easy choice for me... but then, my job doesn't require there to be an American Empire.

Colin Powell = Surrendermonkey

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell broke his long-held silence on the issue of Bush's handling of the military when he declared yesterday that the U.S. Army "is about broken" and he doubts an increase in the number of troops in Iraq would help resolve the current situation. Instead, he said the United States should work to transfer security responsibilities to Iraqi forces and American troops should begin withdrawing next year.

One is tempted to call him a coward for advocating a withdrawal from Iraq, but I'd have to say that he's a coward for not having the guts to go directly to the media about the fact that Bush's entire case against Iraq was bullshit from word one. Colin Powell was too cowardly to go behind George Bush's back before the war and now that Bush has fucked it up, I'm supposed to think Powell's some sort of hero for speaking out? F--- that and F--- him for being a coward.

Europeans Helped CIA Kidnap Squad

So much for the "But we had No Idea this was happening to our citizens" defense.

Also, note that these are only the cases which this report could PROVE. There are quite a few more, I would guess, that they know about but can't prove, or sadly, don't even know about.

Once more, WHEN did America become the world's jailer?
Testimony Helps Detail CIA's Post-9/11 Reach
By Craig Whitlock
The Washington Post
Saturday 16 December 2006

Europeans told of plans for abductions.

Milan - A few days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the CIA station chief in Rome paid a visit to the head of Italy's military intelligence agency, Adm. Gianfranco Battelli, to float a proposal: Would the Italian secret services help the CIA kidnap terrorism suspects and fly them out of the country?

The CIA man did not identify which targets he had in mind but was "expressly referring to the possibility of picking up a suspected terrorist in Italy, bringing him to an airport and sending him from there to a foreign country," Battelli, now retired, recalled in a deposition.

This initial secret contact and others that followed, disclosed in newly released documents, show the speed and breadth with which the CIA applied in post-9/11 Europe a tactic it had long reserved for the Third World - "extraordinary rendition," the extrajudicial abduction of Islamic radicals overseas for interrogation in friendly countries.

A year after the first contact, the CIA officer held another meeting with his Italian counterparts, this time sharing a list of more than 10 "dangerous people" the agency was tracking in Italy, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands, according to a deposition from Gen. Gustavo Pignero, another high-ranking Italian military intelligence official. "It was clear that this was an aggressive search project, that their willingness to employ illicit means was clear," Pignero said, adding that the list was later destroyed and he could not recall the names.

U.S. spies drew up suspect lists with the help of European intelligence agencies and chased some of the men around the globe before putting a brake on the operations in early 2004, about a year after the invasion of Iraq, according to documents unearthed in criminal investigations, lawsuits and parliamentary inquiries.

All told, the U.S. agency took part in the seizure of at least 10 European citizens or legal immigrants, some of them from countries not cited in that list of "dangerous people" received by the Italian spies. Four renditions occurred on European soil: in Sweden, Macedonia and Italy. Six operations targeted people who were traveling abroad or who had been captured in Pakistan; European intelligence agencies provided direct assistance to the CIA in at least five of those cases, records show.

Each prisoner was then secretly handed over to intelligence services in the Middle East or Africa with histories of human rights abuses. Some remain imprisoned in those countries; others have been taken to the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. One man was later released after being taken from the Balkans to Afghanistan, the victim of an apparent case of mistaken identity.

In the early stages, the CIA had prepared even more ambitious plans, according to the depositions from the Italian intelligence officials, who testified last summer during a criminal investigation into a CIA- sponsored kidnapping of a radical Islamic cleric in Milan.
more in linked story...

"Worst Of The Worst" Set Free

Majority of Gitmo Detainees Freed in Other Countries
By Andrew O. Selsky
The Associated Press
Friday 15 December 2006

The Pentagon called them "among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth," sweeping them up after Sept. 11 and hauling them in chains to a U.S. military prison in southeastern Cuba.

Since then, hundreds of the men have been transferred from Guantanamo Bay to other countries, many of them for "continued detention."

And then set free.

Decisions by more than a dozen countries in the Middle East, Europe and South Asia to release the former Guantanamo detainees raise questions about whether they were really as dangerous as the United States claimed, or whether some of America's staunchest allies have set terrorists and militants free.

The United States does not systematically track what happens to detainees once they leave Guantanamo, the U.S. State Department says. Defense lawyers and human rights groups say they know of no centralized database, although one group is attempting to compile one.

When the Pentagon announces a detainee has been moved from Guantanamo, it gives his nationality but not his name, making it difficult to track the roughly 360 men released since the detention center opened in January 2002. The Pentagon says detainees have been sent to 26 countries.

But through interviews with justice and police officials, detainees and their families, and using reports from human rights groups and local media, The Associated Press was able to track 245 of those formerly held at Guantanamo. The investigation, which spanned 17 countries, found:

Once the detainees arrived in other countries, 205 of the 245 were either freed without being charged or were cleared of charges related to their detention at Guantanamo. Forty either stand charged with crimes or continue to be detained.

Only a tiny fraction of transferred detainees have been put on trial. The AP identified 14 trials, in which eight men were acquitted and six are awaiting verdicts. Two of the cases involving acquittals - one in Kuwait, one in Spain - initially resulted in convictions that were overturned on appeal.

The Afghan government has freed every one of the more than 83 Afghans sent home. Lawmaker Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, the head of Afghanistan's reconciliation commission, said many were innocent and wound up at Guantanamo because of tribal or personal rivalries.

At least 67 of 70 repatriated Pakistanis are free after spending a year in Adiala Jail. A senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official said investigators determined that most had been "sold" for bounties to U.S. forces by Afghan warlords who invented links between the men and al-Qaida. "We consider them innocent," said the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

All 29 detainees who were repatriated to Britain, Spain, Germany, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Bahrain and the Maldives were freed, some within hours after being sent home for "continued detention."

Some former detainees say they never intended to harm the United States and are bitter.

"I can't wash the three long years of pain, trouble and humiliation from my memory," said Badarzaman Badar, an Afghan who was freed in Pakistan. "It is like a cancer in my mind that makes me disturbed every time I think of those terrible days."

Overall, about 165 Guantanamo detainees have been transferred from Guantanamo for "continued detention," while about 200 were designated for immediate release. Some 420 detainees remain at the U.S. base in Cuba.

Clive Stafford Smith, a British-American attorney representing several detainees, said the AP's findings indicate that innocent men were jailed and that the term "continued detention" is part of "a politically motivated farce."

"The Bush Administration wants to be able to say that these are dangerous terrorists who are going to be confined upon their release ... although there is no evidence against many of them," he said.

When four Britons were sent home from Guantanamo in January 2005, Britain said it would detain and investigate them - then released them after only 18 hours. Five Britons repatriated earlier were also rapidly released with no charges.

Murat Kurnaz, a German-born Turkish citizen, was also quickly freed when he was flown to Germany in August, bound hand and foot, after more than four years at Guantanamo.

U.S. officials maintained he was a member of al-Qaida, based on what they said was secret evidence. But his New Jersey-based lawyer, Baher Azmy, said he was shown the classified evidence and was shocked to find how unpersuasive it was.

"It contains five or six statements exonerating him," Azmy said.

In October German prosecutors said they found no evidence that Kurnaz had links to Islamic radicals in Pakistan or Afghanistan and formally dropped their investigation.

The United States insists that the fact that so many of the former detainees have been freed by other countries doesn't mean they weren't dangerous.

"They were part of Taliban, al-Qaida, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners," said Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman.

But Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, a lawyer representing several detainees, says the fact that hundreds of men have been released into freedom belies their characterization by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as "among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth."

"After all, it would simply be incredible to suggest that the United States has voluntarily released such 'vicious killers' or that such men had been miraculously reformed at Guantanamo," Colangelo-Bryan said.

Mohammed Aman, a 49-year-old Afghan who describes himself as a former low-level member of the Taliban, said he initially wasn't worried when U.S. troops detained him.

"I was relaxed because I was innocent," he said. "I was sure I would be freed. I was always thinking that today or tomorrow I will be free."

He spent three years at Guantanamo until he was finally put on a plane at the base, blindfolded and with headphones covering his ears. When he made it back to his home in Malaik Khail, Afghanistan, villagers streamed out to greet him, many weeping.

Detainees are held at Guantanamo Bay because a military panel classifies them as an "enemy combatant," which refers not only to armed fighters but to anyone who aids enemy forces. Every year, each gets a hearing to determine whether he remains a security threat to the United States or has intelligence value.

Using those hearings as guidance, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England decides whether to keep the detainee at Guantanamo, release him, or send him to another country for detention.

This year, through Nov. 20, he had ruled on 149 prisoners. He decided that 106 should be held, 43 should be transferred to custody of other countries and none should be released outright.

Azmy, the New Jersey lawyer, said the distinction between release and transfer is largely a fiction because recipient countries are under no obligation to imprison the returnees. The United States doesn't even ask them to.

A senior U.S. State Department official acknowledged that "We do not ask countries to detain them on our behalf, so when a decision is made by a country to move forward with an investigation for prosecution, that is something they have decided to do pursuant to their own domestic law."

Requesting anonymity because she is not authorized to speak on the record, she said about 15 former detainees returned to the battlefield after being freed. The Pentagon was unable to provide details.

"That's the risk that goes along with transferring people out of Guantanamo," she said. "It's not foolproof."

Some former detainees still face the justice systems of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and France.

Six Kuwaitis returned from Guantanamo stood trial on terror-related charges. Five were acquitted, and on Dec. 5 an appeals court overturned the conviction of the sixth, Nasser al-Mutairi.

In France, the trial of six transferred Guantanamo detainees has focused as much on the U.S. prison camp as on their prosecution on charges of "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise."

Prosecutor Sonya Djemni-Wagner has requested light sentences, saying she took into account the defendants' "arbitrary detention ... at a facility outside all legal frameworks."

She is seeking one year in prison plus suspended sentences for five suspects and no sentence for the sixth, all of whom are currently free.

Their time already served behind bars in France should be counted toward their sentences, she said, meaning that even if convicted, none would be locked up.

So... over half of the "worst of the worst" were no so bad that they could be released. Nice! This comes in addition to the news that several dozen of the detainees were under the age of 17 when first captured in 2002, and that many have undergone torture since being imprisoned at Gitmo.

Those of us on the "Commie Traitor Left" said from the beginning that paying cash money for "Al Qaeda" captives would result in nothing more than kidnap for bounty among hostile Afghan tribes. We were jeered at and told that the men in Gitmo had ALL been captured "on the battlefield."

Then we said that using torture as a routine questioning tactic was immoral because several hundred of them HAD to be innocent of all charges. We were sneered at and told that these men were "the worst of the worst" and deserved whatever they got.

Then we said that without trials, these men were being held illegally by a President out of control. We were laughed at and the GOP slammed Bush's "Torture Enabling Act" through a willing Congress.

Now we find out that everything we said was true: torture, underage kids, innocent tribesmen, and much much more. America's reaction? More sneering, jeering & ignoring the fact that their government has set aside all Rule of Law in its pursuit of this Gitmo Gulag.

I'm now of the opinion that the people of the US are a complaisant lot who deserve the Imperium that's coming. One day soon they'll wake up and realize that their country is broke, that their jobs have disappeared, and that they're in a political re-education camp...

and then they'll blame it on the Democrats.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

They Hate Us For Our Freedom


Ahhh, it's been too long since we saw US troops operating out in the open against American workers. The last time I remember is in October 2002 when Bush threatened to turn out troops against America's dockworkers. This time, however, Bush and his big business cronies have a just and glorious war in Iraq to justify their planned destruction of the steelworkers union.

Remember: Support Our Troops! (even if they're shooting at us)

US Army might break Goodyear strike
By Bernard Simon in Toronto
Dec 15, 2006

The US Army is considering measures to force striking workers back to their jobs at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant in Kansas in the face of a looming shortage of tyres for Humvee trucks and other military equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A strike involving 17,000 members of the United Steelworkers union has crippled 16 Goodyear plants in the US and Canada since October 5. The main issues in dispute are the company's plans to close a unionised plant in Texas, and a proposal for workers to shoulder future increases in healthcare costs.

An army spokeswoman said on Friday that "there's not a shortage right now but there possibly will be one in the future".

According to Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House of Representatives armed services committee, the strike has cut output of Humvee tyres by about 35 per cent.

The last six years have been an unending Federal assault on Unions and union organizing, such as Bush's recent raids on illegal aliens to cripple the impending meatworkers organizing efforts among illegal workers. But illegal aliens just aren't enough to sate Bush's lust for Union blood, so now we get the grim spectre of American troops shooting down American workers once more. It's just another side-benefit of Bush's Iraq War!