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Friday, June 11, 2004

I think it's definitely time for some comedy relief:

"My running mate is smart, hard-working, and, above all, unsullied by compromise," said the four-term senator from Massachusetts. "The more I learn about this man, the more I admire him."

"To tell you the truth, sometimes I wish I were more like him," Kerry added.


We've been hearing for a while now that the worst is yet to come re the Abu Ghraib photo evidence. Apparently, in a talk at the U of Chicago described on Brad DeLong's blog, Sy Hersh confirms it:

He said that after he broke Abu Ghraib people are coming out of the woodwork to tell him this stuff. He said he had seen all the Abu Ghraib pictures. He said, "You haven't begun to see evil..." then trailed off. He said, "horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run."

He looked frightened.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Good God, again.

"The authorization I issued ... was that anything we did would conform to U.S. law and would conform to international treaty obligations," Bush told reporters at the conclusion of the G-8 Summit in Sea Island, Ga.

Asked whether torture was ever justified, Bush was vague.

"The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you," Bush replied. "We're a nation of law. We adhere to laws. We have laws on the books. You might look at those laws, and that might provide comfort for you."


No, asshat, you might want to look at those laws sometime, since you clearly haven't given a shit about them to date.
From the Daily Kos diaries comes this:

The LA Times reports that one of the authors of the 'enemy conbatants' memos, the crap that started all this 'the president is above the law' nonsense, is Jay Bybee, who now sits on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

I'll let that sink in.

Now, the DoD's former general counsel William Haynes -- the man to whom the first torture memo from January 2002 was addressed, and who presumably approved of it -- is awaiting final Senate approval for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

If there's anybody you'd care to contact about the matter, you can find them here.

I'd like to specifically point out the junior Democrat on the committee -- John Edwards of North Carolina, a man who might be looking for a good fight right now.
Good God.

Mr. Baker, 37, a former member of the 438th Military Police Company, said he played the role of an uncooperative prisoner and was beaten so badly by four American soldiers that he suffered a traumatic brain injury and seizures. He said the soldiers only stopped beating him when they realized he might be American.


Josh Marshall linked to this in the NYT, saying "What can you say about this stuff?"

You can say this: Impeach the man on whose watch these things happened.

Bush doesn't deserve a trouncing in the polls. He deserves to be subjected to the abuses he fostered, in a stinking hole, the way Specialist Sean Baker was abused, the way so many at Abu Ghraib were abused, the way Jose Padilla was abused.

But in lieu of that, I will accept the disgrace of an impeachment, and his place in American history as the one president children should be encouraged to spit upon.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Just curious: is there anybody in this administration who isn't a "strong and capable leader"?

Q Are you saying after all of the intelligence failures of the past year that the President was still satisfied with him [Tenet], and that he didn't want him out?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President made it very clear in his remarks, if you look at what the President said, that the President believed he was a very strong and capable leader. And the President, as I said, has great appreciation for his service. So, yes, I reject that.


...

Q Where does the search stand? Will this go past the election, do you expect?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you heard the President in his remarks. The President said that Deputy Director McLaughlin would serve in an acting capacity once Director Tenet leaves. He is certainly a strong and capable leader, himself, and the President has a lot of confidence in his abilities.


...

Q It's a difficult process. Do you expect it to extend pass the election?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to try to predict the timing on that. But as I said, there is certainly a strong and capable leader in Deputy Director McLaughlin, who will assume the responsibilities of the Director once he leaves on July 11th.


Scottie, you keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means.
The two latest installments in the world's second-funniest web serial after Get Your War On, Scottie Mac Does the Chicken Dance, just went up and hoo boy, are there some howlers.

Check this choice quote, tossed out in the middle of Scottie bobbing and weaving to avoid saying anything at all about Chalabi:

Q How would you describe our relationship with Iran right now?

MR. McCLELLAN: Our relationship with Iran? Well, of course, our focus is on getting Iran to end its nuclear program, and there are steps that we are continuing to -- working with the international community that we are continuing to urge Iran to take to end its nuclear programs. There's no reason they need to have a nuclear program with all their vast oil and gas resources.


So it's the White House's official position that abundant non-renewable energy resources makes the pursuit of renewable resources useless...?

Of course, Scottie then completely undermines his own statement about ten seconds later:

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think your question probably relates to the issue of high gas prices, and what we will continue to do is urge Congress to act to pass a comprehensive national energy strategy, the one that the President outlined more than three years ago, and that will reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy.


So: Iran doesn't need to pursue nuclear energy, even though their current sources (and main export) are finite, and even though the world's largest consumer of that export says they are actively trying to cut their dependence on it.

Translated version: Iran doesn't need to worry about the long term because we'll eventually bomb them back into the Stone Age anyway.

UPDATE: Yes, I understand that Iran's nuclear program is not about developing an alternate energy source for the country. But that's the pretext Scottie chose to run with, as opposed to simply saying "We don't trust 'em with nukes", so I'm stuck with it.
I often think the universe takes a special interest in making me the butt of its practical jokes. Then I realize no, it does it to everyone -- I'm just one of the few who notice:

The recall referendum against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will be held on Aug. 15, an elections official announced Tuesday, and votes will be tallied using the controversial, untried electronic voting machines supplied by the SBC consortium, in which the government has a financial stake.

...

One of the two, Ezequiel Zamora, described as "extremely grave" the council's 3-2 decision not to carry out any parallel count of the voting slips produced by the touch-screen machines. The lack of such a procedure, Zamora said, would cast "serious doubt" on the results, and he called on the three pro-government members of the board to reconsider their decision.

Congressman Nelson Rampersad, speaking on behalf of the opposition Democratic Coordinator alliance, pointed out that, "Smartmatic itself says the process is auditable... What are they trying to hide?" he asked, referring to the three board members who voted for the resolution. Smartmatic is the Florida-based company supplying the Italian-made electronic voting machines.


Just so we're on the same page here: the Venezuelan opposition to Chavez is bitching because the touch-screen voting machines, supplied by a Florida company, produce an auditable paper trail which will not be automatically counted.

Touch-screen machines with an auditable paper trail. What a novel concept. Too bad we can't get something like that here...
Wow, that was fast. It's been, what, two days?, and already the Iraqi interim government is coming apart at the seams:

Kurdish members of Iraq's government could resign from their posts in response to the failure of the new UN resolution to recognise Kurdish autonomy, a senior Kurdish minister warned today.

...

Today, the public works minister Nasreen Berwari, one of the Kurdish officials appointed to the new government, said democracy had been "usurped".

"If the [Kurdish political] leadership calls on us to withdraw from the government, then we will do so. All the struggles we made last year have been lost," she added. Ms Berwari said she fully supported the position of Mr Talabani and Mr Barzani, adding that the lack of endorsement for the interim constitution was a rejection of all minority rights.


Actually, I think I prefer the translation on the Turks.us site:

All struggles which we carried out last year, went down the drain. We saw how democracy was mugged!


Bush/Cheney -- Mugging democracy since 2000!

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Drum sums up the, to date, four government memos detailing the Bush administration's position on torture that have come to light, the circumstances in which it would be kosher, and how to avoid any messy legal entanglements that might follow in the wake of its use.

Just one question, really. If it wasn't government policy to use torture as an intelligence-gathering tool -- if what happened at Abu Ghraib was truly an isolated frat-boy-prank-level incident -- then why all the government chatter about it, dating back to just four months after 9/11?
Meanwhile, back in the fascist alternate reality America of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, police are conducting random searches of private property:

Boston's transit police will randomly search subway and commuter train riders' bags and packages, making it the first American city to do so after March's deadly bombings in Spain, officials said on Tuesday.

"This is a proactive policy designed to deter and prevent a terrorist attack," Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police Chief Joseph Carter said.

The random searches will begin in July, before July 4 Independence Day celebrations and ahead of the Democratic National Convention at the end of July.


Following up on JMM's post yesterday about the power of the president in a constitutional republic:

Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, told Ashcroft that "you are wise" not to offer an opinion "on the absolute, ultimate power of a president of the United States to protect the people of this country."


Much as I'd like to think the rest of Sen. Sessions' thought was, "...because your boss doesn't actually have absolute, ultimate power, and the whole house of cards might collapse if people figured that out", I rather suspect it wasn't.

These people don't want a president, they want a Sun King.

Just in case anyone's unsure about how toothless the upcoming UN security council resolution is about US forces in Iraq...

Last week the United States and Britain agreed that the Iraqi interim government had the right to order U.S. troops to leave Iraq and made clear the mandate of the multinational force would expire in January 2006, when a permanent Iraqi government is expected to take office.

France, backed by Germany, Algeria and others, then proposed the resolution spell out that the new Iraqi leaders could exercise a virtual veto over U.S.-led "sensitive offensive operations."

The United States rejected this but agreed late on Monday to write a paragraph on security coordination and "partnership," the same relationship between Iraq and the U.S. command contained in letters between Iraq and the United States. The letters are part of the resolution's annex but France, Germany, Algeria and others wanted a summary in the main text.

The letters from Secretary of State Powell and Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi pledged that the American commander and Iraqi leaders would consult and coordinate "fundamental security and policy issues including policy on sensitive offensive operations" through a new security committee.

But the letters do not spell out what happens in case of a disagreement, prompting France to advocate that Iraq had the right to block a major U.S. campaign.


In other words: Iraq can tell the US to leave... but there's nothing stopping the US from saying no.

But why would they? We're liberators, and the Iraqis still have all those vast stockpiles of rose petals to use up.

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