Saturday, February 10, 2007

Dick Cheney, Omnipotent God-King

The Office of the Vice President is refusing to cooperate with a government directory which lists government employees. Federal agencies have to comply by listing staffers in the "Plum Book" directory, but Dick Cheney’s office claimed an exemption for itself, arguing that the “Vice Presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch.”

In other words, employees of the three branches of the federal government have to give staff lists for the Plum Book, but the Office of the Vice President apparently believes it’s not part any of the three branches. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, it’s one of those horrifying arguments that makes me worry about the integrity of our constitutional system.

And now it turns out that Cheney has extended his Crazy-Ass Theory of Vice-Presidential God-King Power:

An important legal ruling is pending over Vice President Cheney’s refusal to disclose statistics on document classification and declassification activity. The Information Security Oversight Office, which is responsible for the policy and oversight of the government’s security classification system, has asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to direct Cheney’s office to disclose these statistics.

Cheney’s office provided the information until 2002 but then stopped doing so, J. William Leonard, the director of ISOO, told U.S. News. At issue is whether the office of the vice president is an executive branch entity when it comes to supporting the activities of the president and the vice president. The reporting requirements for disclosing classification and declassification activity fall under a presidential executive order.

“Basically the definition says that any entity of the executive branch that comes into possession of classified information is covered by the reporting requirements,” says Leonard. “I have my understanding of what the executive order requires, and I’m going to the attorney general to ascertain if my reading of the executive order is correct.”

However, Megan McGinn, Cheney’s deputy press secretary, says the vice president’s office is exempt.

“This matter has been thoroughly reviewed,” McGinn told U.S. News, “and it has been determined that reporting requirements do not apply to the office of the vice president, which has both legislative and executive functions.”
Y'know, back in 2000 Bush ran for President on the theory that it was okay that he was a moron because if elected, he'd surround himself with great people who could do the job.

Now, six long, failed years later, we see that far from surrounding himself with competence, he hired Dick Cheney and a bunch of Dick's pals (like Rumsfeld!). Now we see the results: the Vice-President has set himself apart as some kind of Fourth branch of the American government. It’s legislative, it’s executive, it’s accountable to no one... it’s the Super Branch that over-rides all others.

Dick Cheney is our God-King.

In this particular case, the executive branch is required to disclose statistics on document classification and declassification activity to the Information Security Oversight Office. It’s about accountability and oversight, two words that seem to send shivers down Cheney’s spine. The OVP’s creative constitutional interpretation leads it to a convenient conclusion, keeping secret their efforts to keep things secret. Or, more accurately, how much stuff they keep secret.

I used to think that the idea of Dick Cheney being one pretzel-choking away from having his finger on the nuclear button was scary. What's scarier is that now we desperately NEED a pretzel-choking in order to force Cheney out into the open on his scary extra-legal bullshit. If he was PRESIDENT instead of Secret President, he wouldn't be able to get away with ANY of the bullshit that he's been getting away with (30% job approvals, for example).

God, Please, just ONE pretzel.

American-On-British Accident Video

ITV's report on the "Friendly" Fire incident, including the audiotape of the pilot's conversation. This pilot's neighbor really takes "Support Our Troops" to a whole new level, doesn't he? Small wonder that British support for this stupid war has dwindled to almost 0% with idiots like this popping off on British TV about how we saved England during WWII, how they're no help to us now, and other stupidity.

For the last time, the BRITISH saved Europe during WWII by refusing to give in during the Blitz, standing up while Hitler destroyed his air force smashing it against the RAF's stern defense. The RUSSIANS saved Europe by bleeding, starving and freezing Hitler's ground military to a pale shadow of what it was before the Eastern Front. America helped with all of that, but the idea that somehow "Europe" forever owes America for "saving their ass" in the 1940s massively overstates the case. We stayed out of that war for as long as possible, and when we did finally wade in, it wasn't out of any sense of do-gooderism, it was because the Japanese had attacked us. We entered World War II after the countries of Europe had already been at war for YEARS, and we entered that war for the same reason we've entered any other: to secure natural resources and hegemony for ourselves. That our entry happened to coincide with the needs of the British was a nice benefit, not a primary motivation.

If the roles in this killing were reversed (British troops accidentally shooting down an American plane), this guy and his neighbors would all be howling for blood. When Americans kill British or Canadian troops, though, it's deny, cover-up, and rationalize afterwards. Can warfare ever be made Zero Defect? No, but hiding and covering up for mistakes only makes it impossible for other soldiers to learn from the mistakes of those who screwed up, and compounds a possibly legitimate error with a deliberate scheme to lie. Which is worse, an accident, or lying about an accident after the fact to avoid punishment?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Videotape Emerges of U.S. Pilots Killing British Soldier

We're not sorry!

Once more, our allies in the War on Terror have learned a hard lesson about being in the same war zone as trigger-happy American troops. This incident happened FOUR YEARS AGO, and the US Military has been fighting an investigation that entire time. That's disgusting. Support our troops? Maybe, but it's certainly hard to do so knowing that the Pentagon is covering up blatant fuckups like this... it makes one wonder how much other stuff they're also covering up. What's especially sinister here is that we're ONLY hearing about this incident because the outraged British Military has been fighting the Pentagon to get this evidence for a coroner's inquest. How many hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of times has this happened to Iraqi civilians without us hearing about it? I'm betting a lot.

Video of U.S. 'Friendly Fire' Revealed
Associated Press | February 06, 2007

LONDON - A U.S. pilot was heard saying "we're in jail, dude" in radio traffic during an incident in which friendly fire killed a British soldier in Iraq four years ago, The Sun newspaper reported Tuesday.

The British Broadcasting Corp. also played excerpts which it said were taken from the recording.

The United States has refused to release a video and voice recording to a coroner's inquest into the death Lance Cpl. Matty Hull on March 28, 2003.

Two U.S. A-10 jets allegedly opened fire on his tank, which was part of five-vehicle convoy engaged in combat outside of Basra. Four others were injured, including the convoy's leader, Capt. Alexander MacEwen.

The inquest was adjourned last week to give Britain's Ministry of Defense more time to try to win the disclosure of the U.S. material.

The transcript printed in The Sun records the alleged exchange between the pilots after they realize their mistake:

Pilot 1: "I'm going to be sick."

Pilot 2: "Ah f---."

Pilot 1: "Did you hear?"

Pilot 2: "Yeah, this sucks."

Pilot 1: "We're in jail, dude."
Naaah, you're not going to jail, dude! You're getting a medal and a promotion and a coverup!

This same type of thing happened in Afghanistan back in 2003 when some US Pilots shot up Canadian troops, and one of the reasons was that the Air Force had been keeping their pilots awake for days on end using amphetamines. When is the U.S. Air Force going to realize that popping their pilots full of "Nazi Speed" is NOT a good idea?

We put transportation company employees in jail here in America for giving their truckers amphetamines so they can drive longer... why isn't the Pentagon held to the same principle?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Our Helicopters Are Falling...

On the 4th of February, the Pentagon admitted that they have been lying about the cause of 4 helicopter crashes in Iraq...

US: Four Copter Losses Due to Ground Fire
By Sameer N. Yacoub
The Associated Press
Sunday 04 February 2007

Baghdad, Iraq - The four U.S. helicopters that have crashed in Iraq since Jan. 20 were apparently shot down, the chief American military spokesman said Sunday - the first time the U.S. command has publicly acknowledged that the aircraft were lost to enemy fire.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell told reporters that the investigations into the crashes of three Army and one private helicopters are incomplete but "it does appear they were all the result of some kind of Iraqi ground fire that did bring those helicopters down."

"There's been an ongoing effort since we've been here to target our helicopters," Caldwell said. "Based on what we have seen, we're already making adjustments in our tactics and techniques and procedures as to how we employ our helicopters."
Fantastic, thanks for admitting that you've been lying to the American People and the Press about this. Totally makes us what to trust you when you tell us that it's IRAN who's funding the "insurgents" shooting down our helicopters, doesn't it?

Oh... but WHY would Iran bother? I mean, the insurgency is mostly Sunni Iraqis who are opposed to Iran's influence. Not only that, but Bush has allied the United States with the Shiite Dawa party whose clear intention is to ethnically cleanse Iraq of the Sunni minority, and that's entirely in Iran's self-interest. So why would Iran arm their enemies with sophisticated ground-to-air missiles?

Oh, but it DOES make sense for the Administration to tell us that IRAN is attacking us because they're trying to fake a reason for us to attack Iran, just like they did for attacking Saddam/Iraq.

But, Shhhhh, Don't Ask Questions about who's REALLY funding the insurgency because the answer turns out to be Bandar Bush & his rich Saudi Arabian pals!
Saudis reportedly funding Iraqi Sunni insurgents

CAIRO (AP) — Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash.

Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.

But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents.

Two high-ranking Iraqi officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, told the AP most of the Saudi money comes from private donations, called zaqat, collected for Islamic causes and charities.

In one recent case, an Iraqi official said $25 million in Saudi money went to a top Iraqi Sunni cleric and was used to buy weapons, including Strela, a Russian shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile. The missiles were purchased from someone in Romania, apparently through the black market, he said.

Overall, the Iraqi officials said, money has been pouring into Iraq from oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a Sunni bastion, since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq toppled the Sunni-controlled regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Saudi officials vehemently deny their country is a major source of financial support for the insurgents.
Ahhhh... now we see why Bush hated the Iraq Study Group so very much... they had the nerve to put his buddy Bandar in the mix! Typical of Bush to protect his family's multiple benefactors in the House of Saud above and beyond his loyalty to America, the Military and our ostensible mission in Iraq.