I don't know how much I'll have to offer this morning. I'm really tired. I think I'll stay with one topic for the highlights. I actually did something with Trina tonight/last night on this in the discussion group. Trina called C.I. for any advice and the only advice was, if it's new to people they will be lost so go very slowly. C.I. told Trina about speaking to high school students about checks and balances and saying raise a hand when a section came up that wasn't clear. They ended up going over Marbury v. Madison in the end because it worked out so well. C.I. said something like, "So that's the basic set up and takes you up to Marbury v. Madison . . ." The intent was to stop there but that was something someone had seen on the syllabus for their civics class so that was discussed as well. (For what brought this up, a question was asked about how anyone could end the war other than the Bully Boy and C.I. was explaining the Bully Boy was not king and Congress could stop funding the war which led to so many questions that C.I. ended up giving a mini-lesson on checks and balance and the three branches are are co-equal.)
Actually, that should give everyone coming here a refresher on civics which wasn't mine intent but hopefully works out.
"Why Bush Really Came Clean About the CIA's Secret Torture Prisons" (Marjorie Cohn, CounterPunch):
Bush said his administration had "largely completed our questioning of the men" and complained that "the Supreme Court's recent decision has impaired our ability to prosecute terrorists through military commissions and has put in question the future of the CIA program."
He was referring to Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, in which the high court recently held that Bush's military commissions did not comply with the law. Bush sought to try prisoners in commissions they could not attend with evidence they never see, including hearsay and evidence obtained by coercion.
The Court also determined that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies to al Qaeda detainees. That provision of Geneva prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity" and "humiliating and degrading treatment."
Bush called on Congress to define these "vague and undefined" terms in Common Article 3 because "our military and intelligence personnel" involved in capture and interrogation "could now be at risk of prosecution under the War Crimes Act."
Congress enacted the War Crimes Act in 1996. That act defines violations of Geneva's Common Article 3 as war crimes. Those convicted face life imprisonment or even the death penalty if the victim dies.
The President is undoubtedly familiar with the doctrine of command responsibility, where commanders, all the way up the chain of command to the commander in chief, can be held liable for war crimes their inferiors commit if the commander knew or should have known they might be committed and did nothing to stop or prevent them.
War crimes. Right now, Bully Boy's engaged in what Rebecca's dubbed "dirty depends" the September push to try and scare America to vote GOP in November's election. So he 'fesses up and claims it's for the good of the country -- breaking the law is for the good of the country. The danger for him is that people won't be so quick to say, "Love that Bully!" but, instead, will say, "Just a minute . . ." Which is very likely as responses go. His continues to poll poorly. He's never really recovered from the fallout over Hurricane Katrina (nor should he recover from it).
So as he lists his crimes in an attempt to push Congress to act, he risks alienating the public further.
There's another reason to put pressure on Congress right now. If the election goes as many think it may, the GOP will lose at least one house of Congress in the election. If he is going to get coverage for his crimes (illegal spying, torture, secret prisons), he'll need it while his party still controls both houses of Congress.
"What George Bush Didn't Say About Guantanamo" (Larry C. Johnson, Truthout): According to Bush, secret prisons and torture have kept America safe. Not entirely true. While fessing up to the secret prisons, one of the critical things Bush failed to tell the American people was that CIA interrogators learned the hard way that torture was not an effective interrogation method. Books written by Jim Risen and Ron Suskind during the past two years provide compelling accounts that torture against people, particularly Khalid Sheikh Mohamad (KSM), was ineffective. Suskind recounts that KSM, one of the masterminds behind the 9-11 attack, was waterboarded -- a technique designed to make you feel like you are drowning. Interrogators also threatened to rape and murder his family. KSM reportedly replied, "Do what you will, my family will be with God."
Bush also neglected to mention that, despite his previous criticism of the Clinton Administration for not fighting terrorism as a military threat, almost all of the Al Qaeda operatives cited in his speech were captured through intelligence operations. In other words, most of the successes we have achieved as a nation in tracking down and capturing terrorists has been the work of law enforcement and and intelligence officials, not our soldiers.
Another thing not mentioned by Bush in the speech today concerns the CIA officers who first told Washington Post reporter Dana Priest about the secret prisons; they spoke up because they were alarmed by the Administration's violations of the Geneva Accords and its refusal to recognize that torture was counterproductive.
Bush, being Bush, can't help himself and fills his speech with genuine bad guys and hapless souls who had no means or ability to carry out terrorist attacks. Iyman Faris, for example, is once again trottted out as an Al Qaeda terrorist who was going to take down the Brooklyn Bridge. Yet, subsequent investigation demonstrated he was a man of wild dreams with no competence to harm the bridge. He was the type of guy who could be conned into buying it, but he had trouble blowing up balloons.
The Bush con game -- to persuade the American people that we are safer only if Republicans are elected - is wearing thin. Today's speech is remarkable in one regard. Bush at least fessed up that he was witting of the secret prisons. This is good because at least the CIA won't be fingered as the rogue elephant who took it upon itself to torture Muslim prisoners. That was a decsion made at the highest levels by political officials. If Congress decides to take this issue up and put in place a legal procedure for trying and punishing those individuals who are serious about killing Americans, they can help start the process of removing this stain on our national honor.
Which is getting to the point I was stumbling around much faster and more clearly. That's the danger for Bully Boy. America is tired of him and the fear doesn't sell the way it used to. He's been a complete failure in terms of security. Where is the person who sent the anthrax letters immediately after 9-11? That person has not been apprehended. As everyone knows, Osama has not been captured. The Iraq war hasn't made the US soldiers serving there any safer. So what has he done that's produced safety for Americans?
When you keep talking security, you risk Americans remembering how little you've done. The report today comes at a bad time for the Bully Boy, just as he's launched the 'fall roll out' of the GOP commercials.
For that and more read the next highlight and I'm going to sleep as soon as this posts.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, September 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, bits of the long over due US Senate reporton the lies that led to war (they're calling it a look into the intell) are scattered like crumbs, US soldier Mark Wilkerson reflects on how he reached the decision not to take part in the illegal war, US soldier Darrell Anderson is reportedly headed back to the United States after attempts to be granted asylum in Canada, and Australia's Bully Boy says Brendan Nelson is doing a "fantastic job."
In the United States, AP was first out of the gate with: "A senate intelligence committee report says there's no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his al-Qaida associates before the Iraq war." CBS and AP quote US Senator John D. Rockefeller stating of the report: "Ultimately, I think you will find that administration officials made repeated prewar statements that were not supported by underlying intelligence" and that it shows "the administration pursued a deceptive strategy abusing intelligence reporting that the intelligence community had already warned was uncorroborated, unreliable and in some critical circumstances fabricated."
Reuters notes that US Senator Carl Levin has pointed to the Bully Boy's statement on August 21st and attempted (yet again) to make an unfounded link. Levin: "The president's statement, made just two weeks ago, is flat-out false."
Though the press wants to play Levin's statement as an allegation, public record shows Bully Boy stated: "I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi." As Levin pointed out, that "is flat-out false."
The lies that led into illegal war. Yesterday, AP notes, the Senate passed a spending measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with another $63 billion dollars.
As the cost in blood and currency continues to add up, more and more people turn against the illegal war. In the United States, Byron Pitts (CBS) reported on the mood in Jacksonville, North Carolina and spoke with retired Marine Colonel Jim Van Riper who admits to vote for Bully Boy twice but intends to vote Democratic for the first time. Van Riper tells Pitts: "I've turn him [Bully Boy] off. I've tuned him out." The cost in blood? AFP notes the Baghdad morgue body count for August stands at 1,584. It also includes 2666 US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war, 118 British troops (that includes the one who died Thursday) and 115 "other" for a total of 2899.
Of the US fatality count, Emil Guillermo (Asian Week) notes, "Ironically, of the Iraq war deaths, over 2,500 came after" Bully Boy's "declared on May 1, 2003, 'Mission Accomplished'."
CNN reports that, in Baghdad, a roadside bomb left six injured and killed three ("including a mother and child" among the dead) and that a US soldier died "south of Baghdad" from a roadside bomb. Reuters reports a car bomb in Baghdad that killed a police officer "and a bystander". Sami al-Jumaili (Reuters) reports the death of eight in Kerbala from mortars.
CNN reports that three people were shot dead in Baquba and a sunni tribal chief was shot dead in Hawija. Reuters identifies the man as Ibrahim al-Khalaf and notes that an Iraqi soldier was shot dead near Samarra (with two others wounded).
AFP reports six corpses were found in Baghdad ("tortured . . . shot to death"). Reuters reports the corpse of Haider Hamza was discovered "shot dead in front of his house" and that he had been "an interpreter working for Danish troops in Iraq".
AFP reports that Brigadier Muzher Kamel Mohammad ("head of the police force protecting Iraqi courts") was kidnapped in Baghdad. This as Reuters reports the US is clashing with people in Falluja and "U.S. troops used loudspeakers to demand people turn in 'insurgents' or face a 'large military operation'." Falluja. Again. As if November 2004 wasn't destructive enough. Hearts and minds, as Mark Wilkerson has noted, are not being won.
And the much touted non-handover? As Jim Sciutto (ABC) notes: "Watching the headlines in the American media today, you might think the U.S. military handed over military control in Iraq to Iraqis. There was certainly a ceremony yesterday -- a handshake at a military base where Iraqi commanders took control of an Iraqi army division from coailtion commanders -- but the real story is the arithmetic. Yesterday's handover affects the tiny Iraqi navy and air force, with a few hundred folks in each, and a single Iraqi army division, the 8th Army with 5500 to 7000 troops. This means only about five percent the 115,000 regulars in the Iraqi army now take their cues from the Iraqi prime minister. The rest remain firmly under foreign control -- and so do the most dangerous areas of the country, such as Baghdad and the volatile Anbar province in the west. The 8th Army operates in the relatively small -- and relatively quiet -- Diwaniyeh province in southern Iraq."
In peace news, Diana Welch (Austin Chronicle News) reviews the case of war resister Mark Wilkerson noting his disillusionment ("When we went, our general mission was to win the hearts and minds of the people. But when I got there, and I saw the people and how we were treating them, I thought, 'We're doing exactly the opposite'."), his awakening (finding out who was profitting -- "certain individuals were making on this war, how much money the corporations like Halliburton were making"), having his conscientious objector application rejected as he was called up for another tour of duty, and then deciding to check himself out. Alan Gionet (CBS4) reports that Rebecca Barker, Matt Wilkerson's mother, stated, "I think the public is looking at anyone who goes AWOL as cowards and it goes much deeper than that." Welch notes that Wilkerson could face a special court-martial (if found guilty, one year sentence is the maximum) or a general one (which would led to seven years if found guilty). Gionet reports: "Wilkerson is confined to base while his unit faces what could be its third deployment."
Meanwhile, Phinjo Gombu (Toronto Star) reports that war resister Darrell Anderson will be leaving Canada and returning to the US, according to his mother Anita Anderson. This should take place during the last weekend of September and he will be met at the border by peace activists and Vietnam veterans as well as by Jim Fennerty, his attorney. "If he is not arrested immediately, Anderson plans to travel to Fort Knox in Kentucky to turn himself in. It is one of the two army bases where deserters are kept while the army decides whether to court-martial or discharge a soldier."
In Washington, DC Camp Democracy continues through September 21st. It is free and open to the public. Today's events focused on labor issues. Saturday, September 9th, many events will be taking place and among those speaking will be Antonia Juhasz (The BU$H Agenda), Ray McGovern and Bill Moyers. The events will kick off at 9:00 a.m. in preparation of the 9:30 a.m. march around the Capitol Building "To remember the fallen and remind Congress and the public of the human cost of the War on and Occupation of Iraq." Sunday, September 10th will feature Juhasz, Ann Wright, Raed Jarrar and others. A complete schedule can be found here.
And beginning September 21st (International Peace Day), via United for Peace & Justice:
It's time to answer fear with courage, to step out of our personal comfort zones and take bold action to end the Iraq War.Join us in a week of nonviolent action, including civil disobedience, from September 21-28, and in pressuring pro-war politicians all this fall through the Voters for Peace pledge.
In Australia, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson continues to be a subject of discussion over his role as self-designated media spokesperson for the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco. First into the fray was prime minister John Howard who has "full confience" in Brendan Nelson. Of course he also claims to have "full confidence" in Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston whose testimony directly contradicts Nelson. And it's also true that Howard is the Bully Boy down under. So no one really cares what he says as he speaks from both sides of his mouth except possibly for this statement which has strong echoes of "Heck of a job, Brownie" -- from ABC's The World Today, Howard: "Dr Nelson is doing a fantastic job." Fantastic of a job, Brendie!
For those who missed it, yesterday Houston told the hearing that he had repeatedly warned Nelson not to speak to the press because the events of Jake Kovco's death were not clear. Or as WA Business News sums it up: "Defence force chief Angus Houston has directly contradicted the Defence Minister's statement to police about private Jake Kovco's death, saying Brendan Nelson ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the shooting."
Samantha Hawley summarizes (on ABC's PM) thusly: In a witten submission to the Military Board of Inquiry, Dr Nelson says it was Air Chief Marshal Houston who told him that Jake Kovco had been handling his loaded weapon in some way when it discharged. But Angus Houston directly contradicts that claim. In his own submission, the Defence Force Chief indicates he repeatedly urged the minister against speculating about the cause of death, saying it appeared to have been a tragic accident but this would need to be confirmed by the Board of Inquiry."
We turn to this statement from April 27, 2006: "Of course we are, and I'm personally, very angry about it. I'm very disappointed. The inquiry and the investigation will get to the bottom of it. But I just ask Australians, it's very easy to criticise Defence. It's a large organization. It does wonderful things for Australians and for people in times of trouble, but don't just, I just say to Australians, don't just take a free kick here."
A free kick? Hasn't Brendan Nelson earned it? The statement above was when he went to the press to announce that Jake Kovco's coffin had returned home but not his body. It's been one mix up after another. Put yourself in the Kovco family's place, think of all the mix ups/screw ups Nelson's overseen and been responsible for and wonder if Brendan Nelson is the poor-put-upon he'd like to paint himself or someone performing their job very poorly.