Dick Cheney is either totally off his rocker, or he’s the biggest liar ever seen. Here’s the most insane contradiction I have ever seen as the AP reports that there’s no credible link between Saddam and Al Qaida in “9/11 Panel Disputes Iraq Link in Attacks”:
Bin Laden made overtures to Saddam for assistance, the commission said, as he did with leaders in Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere in his drive to build an Islamic army.
While Saddam dispatched a senior Iraqi intelligence official to Sudan to meet with bin Laden in 1994, the commission said it had not turned up evidence of a “collaborative relationship.”
Stunning, if you remember that a mere two days ago, Cheney was still citing Saddam’s Al Qaida link as a pretense for invasion. AP reports in “Cheney Claims al-Qaida Linked to Saddam”:
The vice president on Monday offered no details backing up his claim of a link between Saddam and al Qaida.
“He was a patron of terrorism,” Cheney said of Hussein during a speech before The James Madison Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Florida. “He had long established ties with al Qaida.”
Maybe he has super secret information that no one else does. Or maybe he also believes in Santa Clause. Wonkette has the snark on this in “Cheney Insists on Existence of Al-Qaida/Hussein Connection, Santa Claus”:
Asked to defend his claims — which have been largely discredited by policy experts and denounced by members of Congress — Cheney demonstrated the administration’s latest approach to intelligence gathering, putting his fingers in his ears and singing, “La-la-la-la-la! I can’t hear you!”
9/11 Panel Disputes Iraq Link in Attacks [AP]
Cheney Claims al-Qaida Linked to Saddam [AP]
Cheney Insists on Existence of Al-Qaida/Hussein Connection, Santa Claus [Wonkette]
First of all, my apologies for not posting anything yesterday. Here at work, our data center lost power (long story, but over 1000 servers went down when the UPS failover uh… failed) and with it our Internet connection to our satellite office (where I work from) was gone. Obviously I had to attend to work related matters all day, even though it entailed working the phones and giving status updates to customers who were rightly upset. Consider yesterday an anomaly.
On to the interviewers and interviewees part:
I was interviewed last week by Mark Glaser of Online Journalism Review in regard to the Alexandra Polier story. The story is up now at “A Tale of Two Rumors: How Reagan, Kerry News Spread Online” — it’s pretty good.
Out of the blue, Stephen Waddington of Ranier PR sent me an email, saying “I run a tech PR firm in the UK, and have just completed a paper on blogs as a media channel, in which I pick up on some of your original ideas from the article(s) you wrote about how news travels the Internet.” You can read it at “Blogs as a media channel” — definitely interesting.
I got hold of Aaron Russo — the former Libertarian presidential candidate — for a phone interview last night. He had interesting things to say about the media coverage (or lack thereof) of 3rd parties and specifically the Libertarian campaign. I still have a lot of research and interviews to conduct for the article, which is slated to run Monday at WatchBlog as a feature. It will be reproduced here after a couple days.
A Tale of Two Rumors: How Reagan, Kerry News Spread Online [Online Journalism Review]
Blogs as a media channel [Ranier PR]
The story is continuing to unfold about the abuses and torture at Abu Ghraib, but we may have to start using stronger words once the more dire pictures and videos emerge. Christopher Hitchens writes for Slate in “A Moral Chernobyl: Prepare for the worst of Abu Ghraib”:
We may have to start using blunt words like murder and rape to describe what we see. And one linguistic reform is in any case already much overdue. The silly word “abuse” will have to be dropped.
And the jihadists will continue to make big mistakes based on their mad theory. […] But you must not bring in that pig or that electrode. That way lies madness and corruption and the extraction of junk confessions.
Yeah, I also noticed that congressmen like James Inhofe (“I’m outraged more by the outrage”) have been barely peeping over the growing scandal. Who wants to lay down money that this is going to pop by Thursday? Just in time to complete the worst Bush week to date. Things are truly beginning to come to a head, and it’s very likely that the grumblings of impeachment will start growing louder as the whole scandal comes to light.
A Moral Chernobyl: Prepare for the worst of Abu Ghraib [Slate]
The Red Cross has passed on some documents to the media that they claim will prove that the physical abuse of detainees in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay was authorized at the top of the Bush administration. The Telegraph has the details in “Interrogation abuses were ‘approved at highest levels'”:
According to lawyers familiar with the Red Cross reports, they will contradict previous testimony by senior Pentagon officials who have claimed that the abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison was an isolated incident.
“There are some extremely damaging documents around, which link senior figures to the abuses,” said Scott Horton, the former chairman of the New York Bar Association, who has been advising Pentagon lawyers unhappy at the administration’s approach. “The biggest bombs in this case have yet to be dropped.”
Well, we now have the 26 former officials coming forward this week to call for Bush’s ousting, and now this memo which some news outlet is going to be running. Is it me or does this seem like a good time to bet on a trifecta?
Angry Finger is also seeing the pattern this is starting to form, and he’s absolutely ecstatic in this piece “Bush Week”
Joe Stump also sees the slew of bad news coming down early this week (though he does post some of last week’s news) in his story “Bad Week For Bush”
Interrogation abuses were ‘approved at highest levels’ [Telegraph] (via BuzzFlash)
26 Former Reagan/Bush Sr. Officials: Bush Must Go [Hammer of Truth]
Bush Week [Angry Finger]
Bad Week For Bush [Joe Stump]
It’s been brought to my attention that during my interview with Bob Kolker, I was apparently made aware that Alexandra Polier was actually writing the article and was involved. I sincerely don’t remember this, but I just want to go ahead and apologize for that. I do remember a woman named Alex calling to fact-check the Friday before the story ran, and I sort of put it together from there. She didn’t tell me her last name and I figured she was the New York Magazine fact-checker. Yeah, I’m pretty stupid, huh? This is what was wrong:
I must say, I was duped: I was interviewed by Bob Kolker, yet she is the one writing the article.
I am also going to post an additional update to the original post so that no one gets the wrong impression. After all, it would be a bad sign if the Hammer of Truth wouldn’t admit when he’s wrong.
I got called to task on this (during another interview, ye gads), and I’m not afraid to say I made an honest mistake (I also apologized for it in that interview). I guess I should lobby to get this stem-cell research looked into, because this Alzheimer’s might just be contagious (or maybe it’s just the Republican plague, who knows?).
Oh, and if anyone hasn’t heard yet, Alexandra Polier never had sex with John Kerry. Can we kill this fucking story already?
Alexandra Polier: “How I Got Smeared” [Hammer of Truth]
An interesting idea from a website called Signal Orange. Their idea is to create a bunch of t-shirts with the names of those killed in Iraq and where they were killed (ie- Cpl Evan Ashcraft can’t vote):
Signal Orange doesn?Ã„Ã´t say that these soldiers or their families condemn or support the war, and it doesn?Ã„Ã´t speak for them. Whether they opposed or supported the war, they were fighting for our right to decide democratically whether a war is just or not. They?Ã„Ã´ve been buried twice–once in the ground, and once in the media. If we can make them visible in the media through Signal Orange, we can demonstrate that they had voices that have been lost.
While their reasoning is commendable, that needs to be on the shirt as well. Because honestly, people are going to give the shirt a glance and find it extremely crass and offensive. I think this is a protest that is better served by a mass demonstration instead of something that is very likely going to cause the wearer to get a beatdown if they run across a couple of Marines.
Signal Orange [via Metafilter]
Jeez, here’s one from the you-gotta-be-fucking-kidding-me file: The Pentagon is trying to get a bill passed that would effectively allow them to detain and interrogate people here in America. Forget obvious infringement on the Posse Comitatus Act or the fact that we already have the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and a vast number of 3-letter agencies already policing America, they want the start up the Gestapo right here in America. Newsweek has the full story in “Intelligence: The Pentagon Spying in America?”:
Without any public hearing or debate, NEWSWEEK has learned, Defense officials recently slipped a provision into a bill before Congress that could vastly expand the Pentagon’s ability to gather intelligence inside the United States, including recruiting citizens as informants.
[…]”This… is giving them the authority to spy on Americans,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies
Spying on neighbors, I mean, that shit only happens in countries that hate freedom. Like East Germany, Soviet Russia, China, and North Korea.
And do you really trust these people not to set up an Abu Ghraib in our own backyard and really start interrogating Americans? Hell, you might know a friend of a friend who’s Middle Eastern, you might have terrorist ties.
Intelligence: The Pentagon Spying in America? [Newsweek]
Here’s a weird one. Apparently the TSA is a bit under-worked and needs some excitement. Why not drop some weapons into unsuspecting passenger’s luggage and let the fun begin. NewsMax (whaaa?) has the story in “Feds Putting Weapons in Citizens’ Luggage?”:
“I’ve been to Europe, where they search your bags in front of you, and I have no trouble with that,” Grindle said. “But it makes me nervous having my bags searched without me being present, especially when inspectors are flipping things in my bags that don’t belong to me. What would stop them from putting illegal drugs in my bag?”
The best part is the response to this:
TSA mouthpiece Chris Rhatigan said the reports mystified her. “If I could answer that question, I’d be rich. They could have been honest mistakes. Perhaps the bags somehow popped open during their travels, and someone dropped something inside. I honestly don’t know.”
That’s right folks, your bags now have the mysterious ability to just pop open, which is convenient for someone to plant a weapon in there.
Feds Putting Weapons in Citizens’ Luggage? [NewsMax]
More of these posters. It’s interesting that any pop-culture Iraq reference seems to also include iPod imagery.
Whatever, we totally endorse political graffiti that makes a bold statement about the lack of mp3s in torture rooms.
Los Angeles war posters
This is going to be the bombshell of the week for the Bush administration. A (mostly) non-partisan group of retired and former high-level government officials are going to be issuing a joint statement calling for Bush not to be re-elected in November. The statement will explicitly condemn Bush’s foreign policy. The Los Angeles Times has the scoop in “Retired Officials Say Bush Must Go”:
The document does not explicitly endorse Kerry, according to those familiar with it. But some individual signers plan to back the Democrat, and others acknowledge that by calling for Bush’s removal, the group effectively is urging Americans to elect Kerry.
“The core of the message is that we are so deeply concerned about the current direction of American foreign policy ?Ã„Â¶ that we think it is essential for the future security of the United States that a new foreign policy team come in,” said Oakley.
Much of the debate over the document in the days ahead may pivot on the extent to which it is seen as a partisan document.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see this spun as a partisan issue as a preemptive strike by the Rove team. But considering that only two of the twenty-six have actually endorsed John Kerry (frankly I don’t see how calling Bush’s policies a failure could be partisan), this strategy of attack may end up exploding back on the White House.
Retired Officials Say Bush Must Go [Los Angeles Times]
I ran across what has to be the best reason for following Geneva Conventions. Lately I have been hearing a lot of arguments that counter with “this is war…” or “it’s just an anomaly…” (it’s not) and even “it’s not so bad, they do worse…”. Well those arguments now have a compelling counter-argument and reasoned response. Unlearned Hand examines it fully in “Reciprocal Torture is Not the Problem”:
If an Iraqi militiaman thinks he is going to be mistreated by the coalition, or shipped off without rights to a Caribbean island for indefinite detainment, he is much less likely to surrender. Why not simply fight to the death?
The best historical example is the final assault on Germany. German POWs were treated well by American and British forces, and our forces received relatively good treatment in return. But even more importantly for present purposes, as the German regime began to crumble, Germans were willing to surrender to American and British forces. By the end of the war we had over 400,000 POWs in America (German and Italian), not to mention thousands of prisoners still in Europe.
Truly the most insightful response to the subject of “why not” that I have seen to date.
Reciprocal Torture is Not the Problem [Unlearned Hand]
From the Washington Post story “Use of Dogs to Scare Prisoners Was Authorized”:
“The military intelligence officer in charge of Abu Ghraib later told investigators that the use of unmuzzled dogs in interrogation sessions was recommended by a two-star general and that it was ‘okay.'”
The three photos below were linked off on the sidebar. Remember, the Washinton Post has said it has nearly 1000 photographs in their possession from Abu Ghraib. Even if only 1/5 are of prisoner abuse, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. And you can bet they aren’t showing the worst of them, yet.
rest of photos after the jump
All I’m gonna say is: HA! G8 protest photos and comments by wangoed.com.
Photos from Savannah [wangoed]
Note: this article contains
dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!
Ah, time for some levity. Everything isn’t Under Control has a bit torrent links to the Daily Show clip on Attorney General John Ashcroft’s refusal to turn over memos to the Senate Judicial Committee.
Senator Joe Biden’s upbraiding of Ashcroft and his reasons on why we signed the Geneva convention is one of the best moments I have ever seen a Senator have.
Daily Show clip: Stewart, Durbin, and Biden tear Ashcroft a new one [Everything isn’t Under Control] (via BoingBoing)
Bad sign of a limited democratic election to come, the C.P.A. decided to bar Al Sadr from joining in the elections as a candidate. Which is really stupid if you think about it, because we had a great opportunity to get his people in line with our goal of democracy, but instead they’re going to be against the elections and trying to kill other candidates. The Guardian has the report in “US bans cleric from Iraq elections”:
Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq, signed an order stating that, with immediate effect, members of illegal militias “will be barred from holding political office for three years after leaving their illegal organisation”.
The ban on the militia members taking part in political life is a gamble, since it carries the risk that it will increase Mr Sadr’s popularity and undermine the new government’s search for democratic credibility in the eyes of the sceptical Iraqi public
What if the French (who had been helping us) had stepped in when we were drafting our Constitution after the American revolution and said that members of the militia — namely one General George Washington — could not hold office. Do you think that would have been greeted with enthusiasm?
US bans cleric from Iraq elections [Guardian]
Damn, how Orwellian is this? The State Dept. puts out a report April 29th to Congress — “Patterns of Global Terrorism” — which paints a rosy picture of the War on Terror. Bush administration officials immediately hail it as objective proof that they are winning the war on terrorism. But then every scholar is studying the report and basically calling it a load of crap, so they have to revise the report. Los Angeles Times has the details in “U.S. Will Revise Data on Terror”:
Several U.S. officials and terrorism experts familiar with that revision effort said the new report will show that the number of significant terrorist incidents increased last year, perhaps to its highest level in 20 years.
“It will change the numbers,” said one State Department official who declined to comment further or be identified by name. “The incidents will go up, but I don’t know by how many.”
So we go from the best case scenario and a major decline which prompts everyone to say we are winning, to a complete reversal and possibly the worst report on annual terrorism in the past 20 years. Give this 3 months and Republican talking-heads be slamming anyone who even mentions the report as “liberal” and “defeatist” when the flip side is that they were gearing up to shove this in everyone’s face as defacto proof that the War on Terror was a success and Bush has done a superb job. And that, folks, is not right.
U.S. Will Revise Data on Terror [Los Angeles Times]
A large number of federal agents in Denver, Colorado raided the home and business of outspoken tax opponent, 2nd Amendment activist and former Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate Rick Stanley. Stanley has pushed the limits of legal boundaries many times — wearing holstered firearms to rallies (wearing firearms is legal, but rallies are expressly prohibited) and challenging the constitutionality of the federal income tax — and this does not mark the first time he has been jailed or charged. But it does set a different precedent, it is the first time that a constitutional activist has been raided by a bevy of agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and may be charged under provisions of the notorious USA PATRIOT Act. Rocky Mountain News has part of the story in “Feds raid home of tax foe”:
Federal officials were tight-lipped about the raid.
“A court-ordered search warrant was executed as part of a criminal investigation being conducted by the FBI and the IRS and other members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force,” said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the Colorado U.S. attorney’s office.
He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2002 as a Libertarian candidate.
During the campaign he contended that the incumbent and ultimate victor in that race, Republican Wayne Allard, should be tried for treason – and hanged if convicted – for voting for the federal Patriot Act after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
That statement and some of Stanley’s actions alarmed some Libertarian Party members, and the party censured Stanley.
Ironically, Stanley — a man bent on restoring the Constitution to it’s former prestige — seems to be falling under the same sword that is supposed to be reserved for capturing terrorists who are bent on usurping it.
Feds raid home of tax foe [Rocky Mountain News]
First, this seems like a pretty good analysis, but take it with a grain of salt. Second, either a lot of people are buying into this (it is currently ranked #13 on Blogdex), or a lot of people wouldn’t mind if the CIA had a plan in place to take down the president. But the title may be a misnomer, because it appears that the only coup in the story is the White House imploding over an array of scandals (Abu Ghraib, the Plame Affair, WMDs, Chalabi, the list goes on). However it tries very earnestly to establish a clear picture of a CIA that has been actively thwarting White House misdeeds and is finally tightening the noose on what many would argue is a rogue administration. From the Wilderness has the run-down in “Coup D’etat: The Real Reason Tenet and Pavitt Resigned from the CIA on June 3rd and 4th”:
Both resignations [George Tenet (DCI) and James Pavitt, CIA Deputy Director of Operations (DDO)], perhaps soon to be followed by resignations from Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage, are about the imminent and extremely messy demise of George W. Bush and his Neocon administration in a coup d’etat being executed by the Central Intelligence Agency. The coup, in the planning for at least two years, has apparently become an urgent priority as a number of deepening crises threaten a global meltdown.
Based upon recent developments, it appears that long-standing plans and preparations leading to indictments and impeachment of Bush, Cheney and even some senior cabinet members have been accelerated, possibly with the intent of removing or replacing the entire Bush regime prior to the Republican National Convention this August.
Now, I’m not going to put much into this one since it’s a lot of speculation and relies heavily on unnamed sources, but it does seem to make a certain amount of sense. Consider it a theory, but not an entirely outlandish one.
link diffusion [Blogdex]
Coup D’etat [From the Wilderness]
There are two angles to this case: one is the $100M in identified waste on unused (and often refundable) airline tickets; the other is $8M in fraud between 2001 and 2002, a figure the GAO says “represent[s] only a small portion of the potential fraud”. CNN has the full story in “Report: Pentagon wasted $100M on unused airline tickets”:
The GAO estimated that between 1997 and 2003, the Defense Department bought at least $100 million in tickets that were not used or used only partially by a passenger who did not complete all legs of a flight. The waste went undetected because the department relied on individuals to report the unused tickets. They did not do so.
While one GAO report focused on the unused tickets, the second investigation found potential fraud.
It said the department paid travelers for tickets the department already bought and reimbursed employees for tickets that had not been authorized.
Among the examples of potential fraud:
Within a nine-month period, an employee claimed reimbursement for 13 tickets paid for by the department, contending he did not know he received almost $10,000 more than he paid in travel expenses.
This can only be the tip of the iceberg. With a defense budget at nearly $600B, it’s no suprise that this kind of waste is going on, in fact I assumed it would be reported much higher. Veterans are having their share of the pie cut to the bone, while defense spending hits astronomical heights, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that what doesn’t get funneled out through private contracts is going to be looted by government employees.
Report: Pentagon wasted $100M on unused airline tickets [CNN]
The Defense Budget Is Bigger Than You Think [The Independent Institute]
Funny comic that was forwarded by Juicy Moot:
Editorial Cartoons by Kirk Anderson [BuzzFlash]
Paul Krugman has a great editorial on how the media and spin-doctors are puffing up Ronald Reagan’s legacy into something it wasn’t. He dispels a multitude of inaccuracies in his New York Times op-ed “The Great Taxer”:
The first Reagan tax increase came in 1982. By then it was clear that the budget projections used to justify the 1981 tax cut were wildly optimistic. In response, Mr. Reagan agreed to a sharp rollback of corporate tax cuts, and a smaller rollback of individual income tax cuts. Over all, the 1982 tax increase undid about a third of the 1981 cut; as a share of G.D.P., the increase was substantially larger than Mr. Clinton’s 1993 tax increase.
The contrast with President Bush is obvious. President Reagan, confronted with evidence that his tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, changed course. President Bush, confronted with similar evidence, has pushed for even more tax cuts.
If the Bush Administration was planning on riding the Gipper’s death back into the White House, they would be better off fueling the conspiracy that Bush Sr. has a hand in this presidency (which I doubt). That would at least offer a modicum of a link between Reagan’s and Bush’s policies. Instead, the current Reagan love-fest only illustrates just how inept Bush is in comparison to Reagan, who was at least willing to admit mistakes and work to fix them. What we have now is a no apologies president and the great miscommunicator.
From the George W. Bush re-election website
The Great Taxer [New York Times]
In a fervid exchange between Attorney General John Ashcroft and members of the Senate Judicial Committee, Ashcroft came close to claiming the 5th over memos that were requested from the Justice Department. PBS’s Online Newshour has the transcript in “Torture Argument”:
SEN. LEAHY: Has or has not been any order directed from the president with respect to interrogation of detainees, prisoners or combatants, yes or no?
ATTN. GEN. ASHCROFT: I’m not in a position to answer that question.
SEN. LEAHY: Does that mean because you don’t know, or you don’t want to answer? I don’t understand?
ATTN. GEN. ASHCROFT: The answer to that question is yes.
ATTN. GEN. ASHCROFT: I have not invoked anything. I have just explained to you why I am not turning over the documents.
SEN. JOE BIDEN, D-Del.: Thank you very much. Well, General, that means you may be in contempt of Congress then. You got to have a reason not to answer our questions, as you know from you sitting up here. There may be a rationale for executive privilege that misses the point, but — but, you know, you have to have a reason. You are not allowed, under our Constitution, not to answer our questions. And that ain’t — that ain’t constitutional.
Ashcroft refused to turn over memos, yet did not invoke executive privilege, instead opting to bluff his way through with the excuse that “to provide this kind of information would impair the ability of advice-giving in the Executive Branch to be candid, forthright, thorough, and accurate”. It’s ass-covering at the highest level, and Ashcroft is well aware that if he had wrongly invoked executive privilege (and been found out later), he could be in more trouble than simply bluffing his way through it. I’m surprised none of the Senators had the wherewithall to simply call him in contempt, since his answer is in itself a rebuke of an open government.
Torture Argument [PBS’s Online Newshour]
This seems like a really good documentary to see and I am looking forward to hearing more about it’s release. It’s called Gunner Palace and is shot from the ranks of the 2/3 Field Artillery aka the “Gunner” Battalion. Here’s a couple of clips that are on the site, one is of a soldier freestyle rapping and the other films a young soldier play the Star Spangled Banner on an electric guitar in a surreal homage to Jimi Hendrix.
“For y’all this is just a show, but we live in this movie”
Gunner Palace [via This Modern World]
Baghdad Freestyle, 7 MB Solo Feat. (quicktime) [Gunner Palace]
Star Spangled Banner Baghdad Style, 11 MB SPC Stuart Wilf (quicktime) [Gunner Palace]