Saturday, December 24, 2005

Expectations (personal and professional)

Happy holidays. I hope you are enjoying the weekend whether it's a time for celebration or not. Gatherings this time of year can be filled with expectations and frustrations so if you're struggling or worried, do not feel that you are alone or that "It's just you." Rebecca wrote about this last night in her "christmas and no nerves of steel" post. If you think you can relate to that, please check it out. If you don't think it has anything to do with you, please consider reading it because it probably will reflect someone in any gathering. Expectations, both real and imagined, weigh heavy this time of year.

Also check out Mike's Mikey Likes It! because he's writing at the same time. We're in his room and he's on his computer and I'm on my laptop. Which is a good time to say thank you to the McKinnon family for inviting me to spend the holidays with them. (A thank you to Nina, Mike's girlfriend, as well.) I know I noted this at The Third Estate Sunday Review and, I believe, also at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude while I was filling in for Rebecca, but I'm not sure it's up here. So if anyone's wondering why I'm spending Christmas with the McKinnons or spent Thanksgiving with C.I., my parents died while I was a young teenager. My only surviving family is a very wonderful older brother who now lives in Europe. Originally, he would fly in for the holidays but, quite honestly, the two of us together at the holidays can sometimes be depressing. He now makes a point to avoid the holidays. I usually grab Thanksgiving with C.I. who is a friend of many years and I'm welcome (C.I. would say "more than welcome") to grab Christmas as well. However, the guest list at Christmas triples from the list for Thanksgiving and I'll usually either spend Christmas alone, with a date's family or with friends. This year I'm very fortunate to be spending it with friends and I thank the McKinnon's for their hospitality.

Now here are two items from Democracy Now! Friday that you're hopefully already aware of but are worth noting.

Federal Judge Calls Gitmo Detentions "Unlawful" (Democracy Now!)
This news on Guantanamo Bay: the Washington Post is reporting a federal judge has ruled the detention of two ethnic Uighurs at the U.S. prison is "unlawful", but says he does not have the authority to release them. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Robertson said the government has taken too long to release Abu Bakker Qassim and Adel Abdu Hakim -- who have been jailed for four years. The two have been cleared for release, but not returned to China where they would likely face torture or execution.. The two men are among nine detainees that remain at Guantanamo despite having been declared "no longer enemy combatants." In his ruling, Judge Robertson wrote: "The government's use of the Kafka-esque term 'no longer enemy combatants' deliberately begs the question of whether these petitioners ever were enemy combatants."

Justice Dept. Admits Spy Program Does Not Comply With FISA (Democracy Now!):
The disclosure comes as the Justice Department has admitted that the President's eavesdropping program does not comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Along with another wiretapping statute, FISA defines itself as: "the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . may be conducted." The admission came in a letter to Congress Thursday.

Mike's providing commentary on those so be sure to check out his site; I'm just noting them because there's something else I want to focus on.

I'm utilizing two articles for this, an Associated Press article that ran in most papers (including the New York Times) and an article from The Nation. The link I provide to the AP article is care of the Mercury News which does not require registration to be read. With regards to The Nation, you need to be a subscriber to read the article online. I don't subscribe to The Nation. That's not a slap at that magazine. I subscribe to periodicals and journals for my profession. Otherwise, I utilize book stores. (Sadly, a very large chain.) I prefer to purchase magazines. I usually purchase every issue of The Nation (so subscribing would be cheaper) but I enjoy walking up to the sales counter with my purchases as well as having the ability not to purchase an issue of any magazine containing a story or stories that I have no interest in (or may have a strong objection to). One of the things my father was big on was taking us to the bookstore every Saturday. We'd be encouraged to pick out a book or magazine (toys weren't as prevalent at bookstores when I was a child and videos -- videotapes or DVD -- had yet to emerge). From there, we'd go to lunch at my father's favorite deli. (My mother, in case you're wondering, had Saturday afternoon's "off." This was something that began after I was born when my mother, rightly, gave an ultimatum that she couldn't work full time, be the primary person responsible for keeping the house clean and raise two children without any break. For the first seven years of my brother's life she had struggled to be everything to everyone. After I was born, she stayed home three weeks with me before returning to work and quickly realized that attempting to do everything would drive her crazy. Fortunately, my father was smart enough to grasp both that she was serious and that she did, indeed, deserve at least five hours to herself once a week.)

I thought I was just attempting to make sure that no Nation reader took it as an insult that I didn't subsribe (I do read the magazine regularly); however, probably due to the season, I obviously wanted to take a trip down memory lane. Thanks to everyone reading for their indulgence.

Thank you as well to C.I. because I didn't pack the issue, the December 26th issue devoted to exploring torture, and the article isn't available to nonsubscribers online. C.I. scanned the article and e-mailed it to me. The link I'll provide for the article does allow you to read the opening.

Starting Thursday, and continuing through today, various papers have run an obit on
Heinrich Gross who passed away December 15th at the age of 90. The name may not be familiar to you. "Heinrich Gross, accused of Nazi experiments" is the headline the AP article ran under in the San Jose Mercury News. In the New York Times, on Thursday, the article ran under the heading "Heinrich Gross, 90, Psychiatrist At Nazi Death Clinic in Austria."

"Heinrich Gross, accused of Nazi experiments: PROMINENT DOCTOR ESCAPED PROSECUTION" (William J. Cole, Associated Press):
Dr. Heinrich Gross, a psychiatrist who worked at a clinic where the Nazis killed and conducted cruel experiments on thousands of children, died Dec. 15, his family announced Thursday. He was 90.
Dr. Gross, who was implicated in nine deaths as part of a Nazi plot to eliminate ``worthless lives,'' had escaped trial in March after a court ruled he suffered from severe dementia. No cause of death was given in a brief statement issued by his family.
Dr. Gross was a leading doctor in Vienna's infamous Am Spiegelgrund clinic. Historians and survivors of the clinic had accused him of killing or taking part in the clinic's experiments on thousands of children deemed by the Nazis to be physically, mentally or otherwise unfit for Adolf Hitler's vision of a perfect world.

The article explains how three times, Gross (I'm refusing to call him "Doctor") was tried but escaped conviction. In the 50s, "the case was thrown out because of a legal technicality." In the eighties, a case was "dismissed because the 30-year statute of limitations on manslaughter had expired." When Gross stood trial in 2000, he escaped conviction because he was found "unfit for trial because of advanced dementia."

Gross is accused (in my opinion, for good reason) of perverting science and his oath to aid the Nazis in torture and killings. This is a perversion of his profession.

He misused science. (Gross maintained his innocence until the end, again, my opinion is he was guilty.) He forsook his oath, he betrayed the principle of first do no harm. He placed a government's interest over the interests of of providing care. He allowed politics to trump medicine.

We can look back in horror (and should) but despite all the "never again"s that greeted the revelations of the crimes committed under the Nazi regimes (torture, genocide, etc.), we shouldn't take comfort in the fact that we all learned something from it.

That's not the case. Were it the case, the revelations in Jane Mayer's "The Experiment" (The New Yorker) wouldn't have been so appalling. I've addressed this topic at The Third Estate Sunday Review and C.I.'s addressed it several times at The Common Ills.

"Jane Mayer's 'The Experiment' (The New Yorker)" (The Common Ills):
I'll try to summarize the article but that's not an easy task. Mayer's taken a trip to Guantanamo Bay. It was an orchestrated trip by the military. At one point, a prisoner starts speaking to her of how he's been treated and her military guide hustles her out of the area quickly and to the charges made by the prisoner offers a "joke" about how the prisoner can speak English pretty well.

Time and again, Mayer's told there's no problem, that it's isolated individuals when there are problems. But via other sources, she's able to make an argument that the incidents are not only not isolated, they're the result of research and planning.
SERE comes into the story. SERE is a military unit that pops up in the aftermath of WWII. It was supposed to gather information that would help American troops to withstand pressure (and torture) if they were captured. SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. Originally created for the Air Force, post Vietnam, it grows to include the Navy and the Army.At Guantamano, there are "bisquits." Bisquits is "military jargon" for Behavioral Science Consultation Teams. These behavioral scientists appear to be utilizing techniques developed to help American troops resist during capture in an inverse manner -- using techniques to break the imprisoned at Guantamano down.
This raises ethical issues (which Mayer deals with, this is a summary of her article). Apparently prisoners medical files (containing information gathered by doctors) are raided to help with brainstorming ideas. Is someone afraid of the dark? Well, let's use that.
While the bisquists (Behavioral Science Consultation Teams) have apparent free access to medical files, that's not the case for everyone. Dr. John S. Edmondson ("a Navy captain who oversees the facility's medical command") claims that, "I believe we've complied with the requests [for medical records] that have reached me." Rob Kirsh ("who represents six Guantanamo detaineeds") has a paper trail that proves otherwise. Even with waivers from his clients, his requests for their medical records has been denied in multiple letters "from the Justice Department." Regarding this denial, Mayer quotes Arthur Caplan ("a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania") who notes, "Prisoners, even terrorists, have the right to their medical records, according to federal laws, common laws, the American Medical Association, and court trials."
With various documents and various sources (including a graduate of SERE who had posted at Juan Cole's Informed Comment) "The Experiment" gathers together the "isolated incidents" and demonstrates a pattern (in my reading of the article).
Techniques and actions used on American soldiers to keep them from "cracking" (my term, not Mayer's) are apparently now being used to "crack" (see previous parenthetical) prisoners.
The SERE program has always been shrouded in the secrecy of national security. Which is not unlike the attempts to find out what the Bully Boy did or did not authorize (or Donald Rumsfeld for that matter).

Would someone crack to stop a woman from being raped? Well, hey, let's try that. That appears to be the motivation and why one prisoner was told if he talked the (fake) rape would stop. There's also the case of a man and a woman having sex in a computer room next to an interrogation room with the door open.
How does that get approved? "Give it up for your country?" I'm not quite sure and I'm trying very hard not to interject my own thoughts here and provide a summary of the article so I'll move on.
There have been people pointing out that the actions were unethical or illegal or immoral (or two or all three). One person who speaks to Mayer, former FBI official who was at Guantanamo, states that he and other FBI agents did not want to participate in these actions:Some of these techniques, I don't want to see, or be part of. I took an oath to the Constitution to uphold the laws against enemies both inside the U.S. and out. The D.O.D. [Department of Defense] guy got really upset. He said he took the oath, too. I told him that we must have different interpretations.
Concerns are raised regarding "force drift." That's when "interrogators encountering resistance begin to lose the ability to restrain themselves." If you'll think of it in terms of parenting, you'll relate that to the "power struggle." There's also a "seductive" component of these techniques, as an attorney for several prisoners -- Marc Falkoff -- notes. Falkoff asserts that "a mass suicide attempt at Guantanamo, in August 2003, in which two dozens or so detainees tried to hang or strangle themselves, was provoked by Koran mistreatment . . ."
That's a SERE technique. Only on American soil, while "testing" American soldiers, they used a Bible. They might tear pages out of it or kick it around or some other method. But it was developed here with the Bible. (Again, I'm holding my tongue and just attempting to summarize.)
The question is posed (and I'd argue throughout the article) by at least one person in the article of what are we becoming? What does it say about us when we "do things that our enemies do, like using torture?"We'll close out this summary by noting that doctors have participated as "bisquits" (though not all "bisquits" are doctors -- some are p.h.d.s) with the comments of Jonathan Moreno (bioethicist):
Guantanamo is going to haunt us for a long time. The Hippocratic oath is the oldest ethical code we have. We might abandon our morality about other professions. But the medical profession is sort of the last gasp. If we give that up, we've given up our core values.

What does it say about us when we accept this behavior? A debate has raged in the medical professions largely behind closed doors. The Nation addresses this debate.

"The Silence of the Doctors" (Jonathan H. Marks, The Nation):
After 9/11 some American healthcare personnel were once again asked to step into the breach and help Army interrogators conduct aggressive interrogations. They have, among others, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller -- former camp commander at Guantanamo Bay -- to thank for this. Miller considered the participation of Behavioral Science Consultation Teams -- known colloquially as "Biscuits" -- to be an "essential" part of the interrogation process. Having introduced the first Biscuit to the Guantanamo facility in late 2002, Miller urged the deployment of a similar team at Abu Ghraib in late 2003. These Biscuits were staffed at various times by psychologists and/or psychiatrists.
[. . .]
One of the functions of Biscuit health professionals is to help interrogators tailor interrogation "stressors" to the personality of each detainee -- particularly "high-value detainees." In one example -- reported by Neil [A.] Lewis in the New York Times -- interrogators were told by a Biscuit that a detainee's medical files recorded his severe phobia of the dark, and the Biscuit suggested ways that fear could be manipulated to make the detainees cooperate.
[. . .]
According to a resolution of the General Assembly adopted without dissent in 1982, it is a "gross contravention of medical ethics" for health professionals to be complicit in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. They are also required not to use their knowledge and skills to assist with an interrogation that may adversely affect a detainee's health and is not in accordance with international law. Medical personnel who helped design and monitor aggressive interrogations like those [. . .] have undoubtedly fallen afoul of this ethical mandate.

Marks notes that the American Psychiatric Association, Physicians for Human Rights, and Physicians for Social Responsibility have spoken out against medical professional participating in programs that aid torture; however, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have struggled (to put it mildly) to find their voice. As C.I. noted (no link because I'm rushing to finish this) at some point, Marks does as well, the American Psychological Association included on its task force to explore this issue "psychologists who work or have worked for the military -- in some cases at SERE schools."

As I stated, I'm rushing. (I'm attending mass with the McKinnons shortly.) But to nutshell this, what is going on is unacceptable. The death of Heinrich Gross should be an occasion to review how a climate for perversion of medical ethics can take place and it should make us take a serious look at what road we're currently on when medical professionals are using their skills and knowledge to assist interrogators in devising 'pressure points' (my term) for interrogations. That is a perversion of the profession. If we allow this perversion to continue, we aid in the creation of a climate that allowed Gross and others actions to be seen as worthy to their own government, as useful, as helping.

We have duties and obligations. We take an oath. We betray that, our training and our very reason for existance when we put serving a governmental policy ahead of the aims of our profession.

In closing, I'll recommend that you check out "Kat's Korner: Breaking through the 'conventional truths' with No Secrets" and "Kat's Korner: Blunt's got the goods" which are two musical commentaries Kat has provided and a third one will go up Sunday at The Common Ills so look for that as well.

Happy Holidays and Peace on Earth.

Friday, December 23, 2005

"Peace is the favor you do that you're not required to"

I'm blogging. I'm at Mike's for the holiday weekend. Mike and Nina picked me up at the airport and quickly got me in a better mood. I've had bad flights but this one truly was a nightmare.
That was from the woman on my right who apparently used an entire bottle of perfume before getting on the flight to the man on my left who played the very old, very tired line of "Don't I know you?" and continued to strike out with a plethora of old lines throughout the flight.

There seemed to be some confusion over my repeated statement of "I'm not interested." Apparently that can also be read as, "I'm playing coy. Please continue to annoy me." It got so bad that the flight attendent took pity on me and moved me to another section. (For which I've already written a note of praise to the airline that I'll attempt to mail tomorrow. I would do that at any time but this is an especially hard time for flight attendents and for people in food service so if someone takes the time to go out of their way to assist you, please consider dropping a note of thanks so that they stand a chance of recognition for going above and beyond their job standards. Do it as soon as you can because, if you're like me, you may end up putting it off until "later" and then never getting around to it.)

The McKinnons have a very warm and welcoming home. Let me note again my thanks for their opening up their holiday to include me.

Report: NYPD Planted Undercover Agents At Protests, Rallies, Vigil (Democracy Now!):
The New York Times says it has obtained videotapes that show the New York Police Department conducting surveillance by planting undercover officers at anti-war protests, bike rallies, and even a street vigil for a dead cyclist. The officers held protest signs, held flowers with mourners, rode their bicycles and videotaped the people present.
In one case, the faked arrest of an undercover officer at a demonstration outside the Republican National Convention led to a serious confrontation between riot police and bystanders that led to the arrest of two people. The bystanders had shouted "Let him go!" The Times says the tapes show at least 10 undercover operatives taking part in seven public gatherings since the Republican Convention in August 2004.

I'm noting the above item and only one tonight due to the late hour.

How does that happen? The tone gets set from the top. The Bully Boy created an environment hostile to civil liberties. The public was the enemy. That didn't start with encouraging government agencies to treat information requests in a manner that wouldn't have flown in the Clinton years.

The news is not that shocking in light of the Bully Boy's own attacks on civil liberties and spying which may be the worst thing of all. We may be so used to the outrage that it is now the norm.
This is how torture and all of the other things Bully Boy's inflicted upon the nation in our names harms us as a people. It's obvious how it harms our image in the eyes of the world. It's obvious how it harms our own troops should they be captured in a future war. But what it does to the people in this country is lower all of our standards.

We build up a tolerance for the outrage and after awhile it may take something even more shocking to arouse our sensibilities and sense of outrage. If your next door neighbor moves in and blasts music around the clock so loud that the windows shake, you may be irritated and outraged. But if the music continues to blast at annoying level but not so loud that your windows shake, you may see it as an improvement. We do develop tolerances.

That's why it is very important to speak out when you can. If you don't speak out on this, you may stay silent on the next thing and the thing after. What's done in our name, is done in our name. Bully Boy doesn't represent the nation's feelings or attitudes by acting upon them; however, as a figure head, he can set the tone.

If torture and spying on Americans doesn't rouse you to find your voice, nothing may. The country stands for something and what it stands for today is so far from what we always hope our nation will represent.

Be sure to read C.I.'s "NYT: 'New York Police Covertly Join In at Protest Rallies' aka Jim Dwyer tries to cover what didn't interest the paper in real time" which puts into perspective both the New York Times' previous lack of interest and the fact that Democracy Now! actually covered the events that the Times is only now aware of.

Tonight/this morning's peace quote is mine. I am tired so the wording isn't all it should be. But I really did appreciate the flight attendent's help this evening.

"Peace Quote:"
Peace is the favor you do that you're not required to.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"Rise, hope of ages, arise like the sun!"

I've got a light
Though it refuses to burn
I've got a life
It ain't over
It ain't over
I've got a way
It's the only thing that's mine

Rebecca quoted the song above last night. It's from Eurythmics' Ultimate Collection and Kat recommended it to her. I got the CD today and I'm listening to it and another one. The song seemed to have something to say about what's going on right now. You've got so much going on regarding the spying. The Bully Boy's out of control and they offer spin one moment and the next reporters actually refute it. It's how the press is supposed to work. I think Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! are providing the best perspective, no surprise, but it's good to see the mainstream media actually pay a little bit of attention to a story that actually matters.

I mentioned that I'm listening to two CDs tonight. The other one? We all picked our favorite Christmas song at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Mike: "Away In A Manger" by Joan Baez, off her Noel CD. My parents play that CD like crazy. They got it for Christmas two Christmas ago to replace their worn out vinyl version.
Cedric: Aaron Neville's "Bells Of St. Mary." I know it from the radio and have no idea what album it would be on.
Kat: I'll go with Joni Mitchell's "River" which isn't technically a Christmas song but it opens with, "It's coming on Christmas/ They're cutting down trees . . ." It originally appeared on Blue.
Elaine: Stevie Nicks' "Silent Night" off A Very Special Christmas. "Well it was a" and "You know it was a" and other vamps plus Stevie's voice make it my must hear every Christmas.
Rebecca: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" off Barbra Streisand's Christmas Album.
Ty: "Ava Maria" by Diana Ross on A Very Special Season. I love that whole album. The production is really light and there's no attempt to smother her voice. It's a really great CD and one that my family has listened to forever.
Dona: I'll go with a song from Noel as well and imagine that Ava will too. We've become big Joan Baez fans and in our joint CD collection this is the only Christmas album we have. I'll go with "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" because that's always a song I enjoyed singing at Christmas.
Jim: Don't know an album it's on but Marvin Gaye's "I Want To Come Home For Christmas." It's always been a favorite of mine.
Jess: "Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)" by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I've always loved the song. "So this is Christmas and what have you done . . ." I think it asks us to think beyond ourselves. And it's a song worth listening to.
Wally: My mom loves Carly Simon so I'll go with "Twelve Gates To The City" from Christmas Is Almost Here. It's got a really strong beat to it.
Ava: I think I'll go with Carly as well. We've got the soundtrack to This Is My Life and she has a song on that entitled "The Night Before Christmas." I'll also note that although Dona and I were building a joint collection that we intend to split up evenly when we graduate, it's to be split in half. Hint to Jim who's been eyeing some of the CDs.
C.I.: We're talking about what we listen to at Christmas time and, since it's already been noted before by Elaine, Christmas to me is always the Doors. For the last ten years, it would be The Best Of The Doors, double disc. Prior to that it was The Best Of The Doors single disc collection.
Betty: "Silver Bells" by the Supremes off their Merry Christmas CD.
And, yes, we asked our reader's sister for her pick as well.
Cathy: "Adeste fideles" by Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras primarily but any recording will do.

I was familiar with almost all the songs above. You can't decorate the Christmas tree with C.I., for instance, without having the Doors on the background. (That's not a joke. In e-mails and in person, people ask me if that's true? It is true.) All of the songs are good selections that I enjoy except for one that I didn't know. Ty's pick was one he felt really strong about and we were all saying, "You should have talked about that!" Because he mentions the song in the feature but after we were done with it and the editorial, Betty asked him about the song and Ty went into five minutes on it. He really loves that song.

Ty and I may be the ones who say the least in any discussion. We're fine with listening. But I really wish Ty had talked about why he enjoyed "Ava Marie" when we were noting our
reason(s) for the feature. He sold me on the song.

I've been attempting to find it all week. It's an import and not easy to locate (or wasn't for me).
So finally today, I was able to locate it and, since Rebecca had talked about Eurythmics the night before, I grabbed their CD too. I'll probably write about the Diana Ross CD next time. Not the way Kat would. It won't be a review. Kat's the musical genuis. But this really is a wonderful album.

Now let's focus on an important issue in the news. You know which one, the one Rebecca's covering, C.I. is covering, and of course, my blog twin continues to cover it so remember to check out Mike's site (Mikey Likes It!) for his commentary. Don't forget that Wally's covering it to. He was planning on taking a bit of a break this week but this issue is important to him and so he's been weighing in at The Daily Jot when he could have been relaxing and enjoying the holiday time with his family. Let's get to the issue.

Surveillance Court Judge Resigns in Protest of Bush Spy Program (Democracy Now!):
This news on the Bush administration's domestic espionage program: the Washington Post is reporting a judge has resigned from the country's top spy court in protest of the secret program in which the National Security Agency has eavesdropped on Americans without court-approved warrants. U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, submitted his resignation Monday. The court is regarded as the only authority to authorize wire-taps for domestic espionage.

Why would a judge resign a post? Because the judge is obviously dismayed to learn that FISA's been circumvented by the Bully Boy. Also because some of the warrents FISA did issue may have been issued after Bully Boy learned of things via illegal eavesdropping. For more on this,
see Carol D. Leonnig and Dafna Linzer 's Washington Post article entitled"Spy Court Judge Quits In ProtestJurist Concerned Bush Order Tainted Work of Secret Panel."

Bush in 2004: "Wiretap Requires A Court Order" (Democracy Now!):
President Bush has argued eavesdropping without court-approved warrants is legal under authority granted by Congress shortly after 9/11. But in April of last year President Bush told reporters wire-taps were only conducted with court approval.
President Bush, April 20, 2004: "Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so."
The White House is now claiming Bush was referring only to actions taken under the Patriot Act.

In 2004, he publicly said it required a court order. Of course, while he was saying that, the NSA was already listening in without one. By the way, while we're noting the foolish (Bully Boy is criminally foolish), let's note Fact Check Org which is foolish and useless and could use some fact checking of it's own. Let's note their scolding of the ACLU in September 2004. Predominately the focus was the Patriot Act the ACLU ran. But note this howler of embarrassing proportions in light of the news:

The ad implies the government is "treating us all like suspects," but so far there's no evidence of that.

So quick to carry water for the Bully Boy, so quick to bend over and attack the ad that "They lied" -- uh, yes, Bully Boy said it, but he, uh, thought WMD were found in Iraq, yes, uh Condi did say of Saddam "We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon" but that's not a lie and it's not a lie because we say so.

They are beyond useless. Kerry is wrong because he went by an Oct. 9th Washington Post article in a debate on the night of the 9th. The Washington Post retracted the story days later. So Kerry is wrong. But with Bully Boy they bent over backwards to avoid stating the obvious. Here's an obvious statement, Fact Check Org. needs a fact checker.

Fact Check Org's attitude seems to be "We say Condi didn't lie because (shaped) intelligence backed her up and we ignore that intelligence was shaped and the fact that in real time her comments were disputed." They can't synthesize information and while reports from the BBC or other mainstream foreign media outlets are ignored, they rush to cite The Washington Times as if that's a reputable paper. They bent over backwards in what appears to be an effort to demonstrate that they had no bias. They just look now like they had no brains.

They look foolish now but if they'd paid attention to reports at the time they wouldn't.

Now I'm going to note something Mike's mother had noted at The Common Ills.

"Bush Takes the Crown" (Matthew Rothschild, This Just In, The Progressive):
Add this to the long list of impeachable offenses that George W. Bush has committed, and put it at the top.
The President swears an oath of office that he will uphold the Constitution and faithfully execute the laws of the land.
The law against domestic spying without a warrant he has executed, all right. He shot it in the head.
When The New York Times revealed on December 16 (after sitting on the story for a year and omitting details at the request of Administration officials!) that Bush ordered the National Security Agency to monitor "the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years," I expected Bush to deny it or to say he was going to review the policy.
Instead, he is vehemently defending that policy, citing his authority under the Constitution as commander in chief and Congress's authorization to go after Al Qaeda. He did so in his radio address on Saturday and in his press conference on Monday.
But these were the very same rationales that the Bush Administration put forward last year at the Supreme Court in the case of Yaser Hamdi, one of the U.S. citizens Bush detained without charge or trial.
The Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, did not buy those arguments at all. "A state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens," O'Connor wrote.

It's an article worth noting but I'm also noting it in reply to some questions in e-mails: will I be posting Thursday night? I intend to. I'll be staying with Mike's family for Christmas at the kind invitation of Mike's mother who asked me after Thanksgiving. I always have a standing offer with C.I. but I prefer to grab Thanksgiving because Christmas is more elaborate. You have more house guests and you've got even more cooking to do. (C.I. does that. You're lucky to be able to help peel potatoes. But I always feel guilty when I turn in for the night knowing that C.I.'s up the entire night making sure everything's perfect.) I met Mike's parents when we were all protesting in D.C. back in September. His mother had actually invited me to Thanksgiving then but, unless my brother's in the country, I usually grab that holiday with C.I. But it was a sincere invitation.

So I'll get there Thursday night and hopefully be able to put something up at some point Thursday night. Mike says we'll both post after each other but I would like to spend some time with Mike's mother who is very cool. So is his father but Mike's mother and I share an interest in the same books and we're looking forward to swapping out some of the ones we kept telling each other, "Well if you liked that, you have to read this book called . . ."

If I'm not able to post Thursday night, this was a pretty long entry for me.

Be sure to check out C.I.'s "Governmental spying/snooping" which talks about what's going on today and what went on under Richard Nixon.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
The dark night is over and dawn has begun. Rise, hope of the ages, arise like the sun! All speech, flow to music; all hearts, beat as one.
John Greenleaf Whittier

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"No one can be at peace unless he [or she] has his freedom"

Do you scream or dig in? That may be the question right now as the revelations about Bully Boy and his administration spying continue to pour out. I think we stand tall and hope you do as well.

I'm focusing on this issue because I think it's important. Rebecca's covering it and C.I. is as well. Of course, my blog twin continues to cover it so remember to check out Mike's site (Mikey Likes It!) for his commentary. Also, please make time for Wally's site, The Daily Jot. He has a nice roundup on the topic of spying on American citizens: "Electronic Peeping Tom Bully Boy."
That's what Bully Boy is, an electronic peeping tom.

FBI Spied on Greenpeace, PETA, Catholic Worker (Democracy Now!):
In Washington, newly released documents show counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been monitoring domestic activist groups including Greenpeace, Catholic Worker, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and PETA, the People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The documents indicate the F.B.I. monitored protests organized by the groups and used confidential informants inside the organizations to gain intelligence. In one case, government records show the FBI launched a terrorism investigation of PETA in Norfolk, Virginia.

As C.I. noted, building on The Third Estate Sunday Review's editorial, "We are all the outlaws in the eyes of the Bully Boy." Who's the "uniter"? Not the Bully Boy who feels you're with him or against him and, if you're against him, it's okay to spy on you.

I was unaware that the presidential election every four years came with a loyalty oath but apparently Bully Boy thinks it does. He's made it a point to govern only for those who voted for him while going out of his way to penalize those who opposed him. Sich the IRS on the NAACP? No problem for the Bully Boy. Eject people from gatherings based upon bumper stickers and t-shirts? No problem for the Bully Boy. The documentation that recently came out is something the ACLU has been seeking for some time. This is just the beginning.

Documents Show FBI Agents Tracked PETA For Years (Democracy Now!):
According to the Washington Post, the documents offer no proof of PETA's involvement in illegal activity. But more than 100 pages of heavily censored FBI files show the agency used secret informants and tracked the group's events for years. The FBI also monitored political activities on college campuses. One FBI file included a contact list for students and peace activists who attended a 2002 conference at Stanford University aimed at ending sanctions then in place in Iraq.

Well maybe that's why the FBI hasn't been able to find Osama bin Laden? They've been too busy trailing and spying on PETA? It's as though Bully Boy's accepted Pat Robertson and Billy Graham's son's "logic" re: 9/11. It's certainly not about terrorism, their actions, unless it's to demonstrate that a homegrown terrorist can occupy the White House for five years now.

Reports Expose Growing Domestic Surveillance (Democracy Now!):
This is the third major recent revelation about domestic spying. Last week NBC News revealed the Pentagon has been monitoring peaceful anti-war protesters and the New York Times exposed how President Bush ordered the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without court-approved warrants. Ann Beeson, of the American Civil Liberties Union said "It's clear that this administration has engaged every possible agency, from the Pentagon to N.S.A. to the F.B.I., to engage in spying on Americans."

Again, this is just a small portion, the documents. There's much more to come.

For the ACLU files on some of the FBI spying click here.

Let's note the following for an important point made.

"NYT: 'F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show'" (The Common Ills):
Lichtblau's article:
F.B.I. officials said Monday that their investigators had no interest in monitoring political or social activities and that any investigations that touched on advocacy groups were driven by evidence of criminal or violent activity at public protests and in other settings.
"Driven by evidence of criminal or violent activity at public protests and in other settings"? Where are the charges for this evidence? Is the Justice Dept. suggesting that they have evidence and aren't prosecuting people?

Good point. Where are the charges, if they have evidence? Or maybe, as with Jose Padilla, they'd prefer to smear for now and admit they have nothing later?

C.I. mentioned an article to me on the phone today.

"Nothing New About NSA Spying on Americans" (Earl Ofari Hutchinson, CounterPunch):
The September 11 terror attacks, and the heat Bush administration took for its towering intelligence lapses, gave Bush the excuse to plunge even deeper into domestic spying. But Bush also recognized that if word got out about NSA domestic spying, it would ignite a firestorm of protest. Fortunately it did. Despite Bush's weak, and self-serving national security excuse that it thwarted potential terrorist attacks, none of which is verifiable, the Supreme Court, the NSA's own mandate, and past executive orders explicitly bar domestic spying without court authorization. The exception is if there is a grave and imminent terror threat. That's the shaky legal dodge that Bush used to justify domestic spying.
Bush, and his defenders, discount the monumental threat and damage that spying on Americans poses to civil liberties. But it can't and shouldn't be shrugged off. During the debate over the creation of a domestic spy agency in 2002, even proponents recognized the potential threat of such an agency to civil liberties. As a safeguard they recommended that the agency not have expanded wiretap and surveillance powers or law enforcement authority, and that the Senate and House intelligence committees have strict oversight over its activities.
These supposed fail-safe measures were hardly ironclad safeguards against abuses, but they understood that domestic spying is a civil liberties nightmare minefield that has blown up and wreaked havoc on American's lives in the past. The FBI is the prime example. During the 1950s and 1960s, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover kicked FBI domestic spying into high gear. FBI agents compiled secret dossiers, illegally wiretapped, used undercover plants, and agent provocateurs, sent poison pen letters, and staged black bag jobs against black activists and anti-war groups.
Bush's claim that domestic spying poses no risk to civil liberties is laughable. Congress should demand that Bush and the NSA come clean on domestic spying, and then promptly end it.

How's this playing out in your area? My hope would be that people are already talking about it but, if not, I hope you're bringing it up.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.
Malcolm X

Monday, December 19, 2005

It lives inside us

It's cold and getting colder. I hope everyone found a moment of peace this weekend (hard as that can be these days). Remember to check out Mike's site (Mikey Likes It!) for his commentary.

Bush Okd Secret Wiretapping of Americans Without Warrants (Democracy Now!):
President Bush has admitted that he secretly ordered the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without ever seeking constitutionally required court approved warrants. The president initially refused to answer any questions about the secret program but on Saturday he spoke openly about it and defended the practice
President Bush: "I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations."
The admission came just days after NBC News reported the Pentagon has vastly expanded its domestic surveillance operations including the monitoring of peaceful anti-war protesters.

He has betrayed the nation. Someone can try to pretty it up all they want but that is what he did. Let's move to the second one.

Sen. Leahy: No More Secret Orders, Secret Courts, Secret Torture (Democracy Now!):
Many legal experts have accused the President of breaking the law by ordering the wiretappings without a court warrant as required under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT): "This warrant-less eavesdropping program is not authorized by the patriot act, it's not authorized by any act of congress, and it's not overseen by any court. And according to reports it has been conducted under a secret presidential order, based on secret legal opinions by the same justice department, lawyers who argued secretly, that the president could order the use of torture. Mr. President, it is time to have some checks and balances in this country, we are a democracy. We are a democracy. Let's have checks and balances, not secret orders and secret courts and secret torture, and on and on."

King Bully Boy and his court of fools. They aren't working for America. They're working for King Bully Boy. They're loyalties aren't with the public, aren't with the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or any belief, written or not, that speaks to the higher nature of what our nation is supposed to aspire to.

They are working for a crook. Outing CIA agents, lying and scare mongering a nation into war, spying on citizens, refusing citizens access to public events . . . It's a long, long list. Mike told me about our online latter day Dylan (C.I.'s term) and how he embarrassed himself today. He used to stand tall but now he rushes to hold hands with someone he's inferred is the enemy. That's truly sad. It's also truly sad that he (and his hand holding mate) think they can hand down rules on how people must converse. A bit of the Bully Boy seems to be seeping in. That's all I'll say on it because C.I.'s biting the tongue re: latter day Dylan and, if I write more on this, I won't be able to.

The affront isn't from people who speak in their own voices, it's from those who remain silent.

What's going on in the oval office needs to be called out by people in their own voices, in their own way of speaking. Not to call it out is far more dangerous and destructive than to use what someone feels are the "wrong words." We need to be discussing this, all of us, because if we don't, if we stay silent, we're saying it's okay and we're turning our backs on what we are supposed to believe in.

When you do that, you destroy your own character as well as the nation's character.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives, that it is inside ourselves.
Albert Camus