Abizaid: Increased Violence After June 30

General Abizaid now says that he expects more violence after the June 30th transition of power to the Iraqi interim government:

“So moving through the election period will be violent and it could very well be more violent than we’re seeing today. So it’s possible that we might need more forces,”

Give me a break, he doesn’t even bother to come up with a reason for the increase of violence, he just says it’s going to happen and we should deploy more troops because of this speculation. Well I hate to be the one to say it, General, but the reason there’s going to be more violence is painfully clear: Iraqis are going to see more troops roaming around after June 30th than before, and the first thing that’s going to cross their minds is that we aren’t being forthright about our intentions to vacate the country anytime soon.

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Smells like a Cover-Up

A Few Quick hits on the unraveling Abu Ghraib situation:

The Denver Post writes Brutal interrogation in Iraq

Internal records obtained by The Post point to wider problems beyond the Abu Ghraib prison and demonstrate that some coercive tactics used at Abu Ghraib have shown up in interrogations elsewhere in the war effort. The documents also show more than twice as many allegations of detainee abuse – 75 – are being investigated by the military than previously known. Twenty-seven of the abuse cases involve deaths; at least eight are believed to be homicides.

And ABC News is adamant when they report ‘Definitely a Cover-Up’

“There’s definitely a cover-up,” the witness, Sgt. Samuel Provance, said. “People are either telling themselves or being told to be quiet.”

You can bet Rumsfeld is sweating profusely with all this attention and investigative journalists flying around the world inspecting military prisons. Smart money is saying Bush will cut his ties from the rogue situation at the Pentagon in order to try and salvage his campaign.

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Abu Ghraib: Pop Torture and iRaq

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!

*Sigh*

The iTorture thing seems to be a theme. It’s certainly close to being a pop-culture icon. The caption: “10,000 Volts volts in your pocket, guilty or innocent.”

Strip, Pix, Burn: iRaq [Gizmodo]


Related:
Abu Ghraib Torture as Pop Art?
iTorture Edition: Tasteless German Editorial Pages

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Wonkette’s Political Sex Story Yumminess: Now with 100% more Capitalism

Wonkette is reporting on the female bureaucrat-cum-B-girl Washingtonienne, who has been fired over keeping a blog of her “activities”. Just when you thought wonton sex went out the door with the Clintons, enter stage right: the new class willing to pay for sex:

Most of my living expenses are thankfully subsidized by a few generous older gentlemen. I’m sure I am not the only one who makes money on the side this way: how can anybody live on $25K/year??

If you investigated every Staff Ass on the Hill, I am sure you would find out some freaky shit. No way can anybody live on such a low salary. I am convinced that the Congressional offices are full of dealers and hos.

Of course! But at least our Washingtonienne was smart enough to charge for her services, or at least get something more than “a good ass-fucking” [ed- that’s a Wonkette term, we condone it though]:

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I just took a long lunch with X and made a quick $400. When I returned to the office, I heard that my boss was asking about my whereabouts. Loser.

posted by The Washingtonienne at 2:10 PM

Well, there’s one definition of “trickle down economics” that I hadn’t thought of.


UPDATE: Swamp City names the Senator–Republican Mike Dewine from Ohio–and says it was Laurel Pressler who “as my source put it, ‘reamed her in front of the whole staff.'” Wonkette is fuming, because someone has lower morals than her (pshaaa!), and also disagrees on Pressler, saying “We heard CoS [Pressler], but now learn that Pressler was in Ohio yesterday.”

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Reuters, NBC Staff Abused by U.S. Troops in Iraq

As if it wasn’t bad enough that MPs and private contractors were violating Geneva Conventions: 3 Iraqis working for Reuters and an Iraqi journalist working for NBC have come forward and detailed their own abuse at Abu Ghraib by U.S. soldiers:

Two of the three Reuters staff said they had been forced to insert a finger into their anus and then lick it, and were forced to put shoes in their mouths, particularly humiliating in Arab culture.

All three said they were forced to make demeaning gestures as soldiers laughed, taunted them and took photographs. They said they did not want to give details publicly earlier because of the degrading nature of the abuse.

The soldiers told them they would be taken to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, deprived them of sleep, placed bags over their heads, kicked and hit them and forced them to remain in stress positions for long periods.

The response from the Pentagon is becoming tragically blase and the denials just reek of a shoddy cover-up:

A summary of the investigation by the 82nd Airborne Division, dated January 28 and provided to Reuters, said “no specific incidents of abuse were found.” It said soldiers responsible for the detainees were interviewed under oath and “none admit or report knowledge of physical abuse or torture.”

“The detainees were purposefully and carefully put under stress, to include sleep deprivation, in order to facilitate interrogation; they were not tortured,” it said. The version received Monday used the phrase “sleep management” instead.

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Get Your War On #35

As always, an awesome cartoon editorial concerning the ongoing “War on Terrorism”. Get Your War On #35:

Keep working your magic, Mr. David Reese, and remember to give me a call next time you’re in Atlanta. Drinks are on me.

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Prequel to the Draft

Just spotted this over at Political AnimalCalling up the Reserves“:

Does anyone doubt that the next logical step to staunch the attrition and lack of enthusiasm from troops is to reinstitute some form of the draft?


UPDATE: The Pentagon is going to try and use the IRS to help track down inactive reservists. A whopping 1/3rd of them have not been even been informing the military of where they live. It will take an ammendment to the tax code–approved by Congress and the President–for the military to begin it’s search.

Related:
Draft? Bush and Kerry Both say Yes
What is worth fighting for?

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Torture Roundup: Rumsfeld knew; Bush Sidestepped Geneva; Libelous Backlash

The Abu Ghraib scandal is growing and growing, my guess is that an independent council (not military or Congressional) will be named to investigate the abuses and torture; Hersh or pfc. Darby (the soldier who came forward to expose the abuse) will likely be named Time Magazine’s 2004 Man Person of the Year.

  • First on the list: Memo to Bush may have led to torture. In the memo, White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales said: “In my judgement this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.”
  • Seymour Hersh’s latest installment in the ongoing series to the New Yorker is the Gray Zone. Choice quote from the article: “‘They said there was an atmosphere of legal ambiguity being created as a result of a policy decision at the highest levels in the Pentagon. The jag officers were being cut out of the policy formulation process.’ They told him that, with the war on terror, a fifty-year history of exemplary application of the Geneva Conventions had come to an end.”
  • The Pentagon tried to downplay the allegations by denying that the abuse was authorized in any way from the military brass. In the CNN article Pentagon denies prison scandal stems from secret program gone awry. To try and bring the point home that they were clueless, the Pentagon ordered that “the U.S. military will not use certain prisoner interrogation procedures in Iraq and Afghanistan, including sleep and sensory deprivation, as a result of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.” Oh wow, if only it was about keeping them up late… way to be on the ball guys.
  • Realizing just how stupid that suggestion was, the Pentagon flipped on the story and decided to attack the messenger; as witness in this CNN article Pentagon: Hersh report ‘journalist malpractice’. “The closest Rumsfeld came to addressing Hersh’s article was when he said the world has ‘watched a free media publish stories of all types — from the accurate to the grossly distorted.'”
  • But both Hersh and his editor stand by his articles, boasting that it will only continue to get larger, with another installment expected next week. It has led the New Yorker to catapult into the national magazine forefront: With a focus on news, New Yorker redefines itself. “Remnick said yesterday: ‘I’m standing by it as firmly as any editor can stand by any story. . . . I have absolute confidence in Sy Hersh and these stories.'”
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Freeway Blogger Strikes Again

The notorious Freeway Blogger has struck again, this time it’s a sign hanging over I-10 in Los Angeles depicting one of the Iraqis photographed at the Abu Ghraib prison:

Related:
Urban Renewal Edition: Rumsfailed

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Fremont Statue Turned Into Political Statement

A group of statues at a popular intersection in Fremont was decorated with black hoods by an anonymous artist. The correlation to the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib is obvious, and some great uh, “reporting”, led to these choice quotes:

“It’s freedom of expression,” said Colin Klein. “It definitely makes me think about it a little bit more, after seeing it like that.”

“I think we — collectively — need to think about it,” said Bunn.

But what kind of reporting would this be if we didn’t have the opposition voicing their opinion:

“Sometimes force is necessary between people,” said veteran John Wolfe. He thinks the focus should be on American prisoners — namely Nick Berg who was beheaded earlier this month.

“I think about Nick Berg. Nobody put a hood over his head,” he said.


Oh come on Mr. Wolfe, won’t you think about the poor Iraqi canines that are being abused?

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MSNBC Poll: 84% Don’t Believe the Pentagon

An interesting poll was attached to the MSNBC article The Roots of Torture:

Looks like people are starting to wise up to the reality that this was a systemic problem brewing out of the Pentagon, and not the contrive story about a few rogue soldiers. The expose isn’t even halfway through and the media is salivating every time the New Yorker prints a new article; who wants to place bets that an independent investigator is summoned to investigate the links between side-stepping Geneva Conventions and prisoner abuse?

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State Dept. Press Aide Screws Up Powell Interview

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!T

his is an absolutely must see interview of Powell on Meet the Press with Tim Russert:

EMILY MILLER, STATE DEPARTMENT PRESS AIDE: You’re off.

SECRETARY POWELL: I am not off.

EMILY MILLER, PRESS AIDE: No. They can’t use it, they’re editing it.

SECRETARY POWELL: He’s still asking the questions.

EMILY MILLER, PRESS AIDE: He was not …

SECRETARY POWELL: Tim, I am sorry I lost you.

MR. RUSSERT: I am right here Mr. Secretary. I would hope they would put you back on camera. I don’t know who did that.

EMILY MILLER, PRESS AIDE: He was going to go for another five minutes.

SECRETARY POWELL: We’ve really scre…

MR. RUSSERT: I think that was one of your staff Mr. Secretary. I don’t think that’s appropriate.

SECRETARY POWELL: Emily, get out of the way. Bring the camera back please. (Camera returns to the interview subject) I think we’re back on Tim, go ahead with your last question.

The quasi-excuse was that the interview was going too long, but NBC rebutted the claim:

She said every effort was made to get NBC to finish up, but that other networks had booked satellite time for interviews with Powell.

The executive producer of Meet the Press, Betsy Fischer, said Powell was 45 minutes late for the interview and that “everyone’s satellite schedules already had to be rescheduled” anyway.

Powell scolds aide after interview interrupted [MSNBC]
Colin Powell On Meet The Press [On Lisa Rein’s Radar] [via Boing Boing]


UPDATE: Lisa Rein has put up bittorrent links to all of the video files. Hurrah for the ingenuity of the Internet.

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Abu Ghraib Torture as Pop Art?

I came across this graffiti version of an Abu Ghraib torture photo over at Wooster Collective. Interesting that these symbols of war become images of pop culture so quickly.

Related:
iTorture Edition: Tasteless German Editorial Pages

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Doonesbury Catches Flak over Beheading Comic

“Doonesbury” has a strikingly coincidental strip scheduled to run on May 23rd which depicts a head on a platter. Newspapers, which often print their comics pages anywhere from 10-days to 2-weeks in advance of the rest of the paper, are fuming over the cartoon:

“We’re going to have to publish it because we’ve already printed,” Elizabeth McIntyre, the features editor for The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, told the Washington Post. “If I’d known on Wednesday, I could have done something about it.”

Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau is expected to release a statement–on the 23rd–offering a mea culpa and explaining that the strip was drawn and delivered for syndication before the Nick Berg decapitation video was released.

Among the major papers stuck with the strip: the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.

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Questions Surround Berg Video

It seems the Nick Berg execution video is not as cut and dry as it appears, and many intelligent questions have arisen about just who was in the videos and some discrepancies that were easy to spot. Kuro5hin has the complete analysis in Nick Berg’s Killing: 50 Fishy Circumstances, Contradictory Claims, and Videotape Anomalies (via Boing Boing):

  • 34) “Terrorists” were fat
    Several of the men in the film were fat by Iraqi standards. If they were Feyadeen or Mujahadeen, they probably have been living underground since the first days of the occupation. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been shown on news stories as they have marched and demonstrated. One would be hard pressed to point out a single fat man among these thousands.
  • 35) White hands of “terrorists”
    Some of the “Arab terrorists” have pasty-white hands and (other exposed) skin. One would be hard pressed to find Arab men with pasty-white hands. (See: Nick Berg Conspiracy Theories Abound.)
  • 36) Wrong accent
    Al-Zarqawi is/was Jordinian. Arab linguists have said the man posing as Al-Zarqawi did not speak with a Jordanian dialect. Others have suggested the man reading the written statement may not have been a native speaker of Arabic….
  • 39) Al-Zarqawi’s missing leg
    Al-Zarqawi was missing one leg. Al-Zarqawi allegedly wears a prosthetic device, according to previous CIA reports. (See: IHT Protrait of Al-Zarqawi.) There is no evidence that the killer wore a prosthetic device. Further, Al-Zarqawi had been outfitted with an artificial leg that did not fit or function properly. He was unable to walk or stand normally. No man in the group showed evidence of such infirmity.
  • 40) Missing tattoos?
    Large green tattooed “dots” are known to be on the back of Abu Musab Zarqawi’s left hand. These tattoos cannot be seen in the close up video of the execution, though the back of his hand is fairly visible. (See: IHT Protrait of Al-Zarqawi.)

AngryFinger.org also points out the infamous plastic chair that Berg sat in is identical to one or two that were photographed at the Abu Ghraib prison:



Take it with a grain of salt: I know that Wal-Mart sells thousands of those cheap plastic chairs, but I doubt that the Sam Walton family is responsible for Nick Berg’s murder. Plastic furniture is probably a very popular fixture in such a poor country.


Related:
Nick Berg Timeline
Nick Berg’s Murderer Given 3 Passes by Bush
Militants Behead in Retaliation for Prisoner Abuse

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More Prisoner Abuse… This Time at Gitmo

Senator Patrick Leahy (D) is demanding an investigation into fresh reports of abuse and/or torture at the Camp Delta prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The allegation was made by The Observer:

Dozens of videotapes of American guards allegedly engaged in brutal attacks on Guantanamo Bay detainees have been stored and catalogued at the camp, an investigation by The Observer has revealed.

The only evidence so far has been from a handful of detainees who have since been released. Tarek Dergoul, the fifth British prisoner freed last March, shared his experience:

“They pepper-sprayed me in the face, and I started vomiting. They pinned me down and attacked me, poking their fingers in my eyes, and forced my head into the toilet pan and flushed.

They tied me up like a beast and then they were kneeling on me, kicking and punching. Finally they dragged me out of the cell in chains, into the rec[reation] yard, and shaved my beard, my hair, my eyebrows.”

It’s no wonder that all of these abuses are taking place in American prisons in foreign countries, since legislators have very little control of foreign policy outside of some military oversight committees. The foremost authority is still military and executive, who only seem to be addressing these problems when photographic ducumentation is made public.

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Poverty’s Palette: Color Photos of the 1930’s and 40’s

The New York Times has a slideshow of color photos taken during the 1930’s and 1940’s–called Poverty’s Palette–that are just awesome. Kodak was holding out on us!

I’m awestruck at how differently things appear when color is added, it’s adds a whole new level of vibrance and reality to these snapshots of daily life.

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A Day Without a Mexican

An interesting movie came out today called “A Day Without a Mexican.”

It looks interesting, from what I in the movie trailer (5MB on a T1 took 20+ minutes). The storyline is simple, all of the Mexicans disappear. Not in the quasi-metaphorical sense that no one can see them, but they literally vanish in thin air. The result is a world where people have to cut their own grass, wash their own dishes, park their own cars and other daily chores that are taken for granted as being done by Mexicans.

From the movie sypopsis page:

As time goes by, the State continues to deteriorate: Garbage has taken over the streets and tears are permanently painted on the faces of most citizens as the 5th largest economy in the world tumbles. The realization that what has disappeared is the very thing that keeps the “California Dream” running — cooks, gardeners, policemen, nannies, doctors, farm and construction workers, entertainers, athletes, as well as the largest growing market of consumers — has turned Latinos and their return into the number one priority in the State.

I wish this were playing in more places than just Southern California and a few venues in Texas. See the theater listing to see if one is near you.

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Kos’s Libertarian Acknowledgement

DailyKos has finally hit on something that I’ve been saying for a while:

“[…] [T]he libertarian contingent on the web is huge. In fact, many of the blogs on the Right are actually more libertarian-leaning than movement conservative.”

That’s just a great line from the article on his response to the NRA’s supposedly wavering support of Bush in the face of the “assault weapon” ban that is set to expire a few months before the November elections:

“If he renews the ban, it won’t endorse Bush, if he doesn’t, then he’s got it. Which is a huge political problem for Bush, as the assault weapons ban is popular amongst the suburban set the Republicans are trying mightily to hold.”

He goes on to talk about one of the possible Libertarian candidates, Aaron Russo. However I am refraining from the primaries debate for the Libertarians seeing how it appears to be a close race between Russo and Gary Nolan, both of whom have been vocal critics of Bush administration policies. The Libertarian Convention is being held next weekend here in Atlanta, I will be covering it as an independent for WatchBlog.

I have been of the opinion that there will definitely be a large groundswell in Libertarian support in the run-up to the election, primarily because conservative voters who are becoming jaded with Bush policies will be unwilling to vote for Kerry because they don’t see him as a viable solution. Bush’s falling poplularity has only strengthened this hypothesis.

Bush’s libertarian challenge [DailyKos]
NRA endorsement of Bush is on hold [TheHill]
Russo for President
Gary Nolan for President
2004 Libertarian Convention

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Beetle Ghraib

This is great, someone edited Beetle Bailey cartoons to create humorous cartoon editorials on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal called Beetle Ghraib:

[via BoingBoing]

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Oil Prices Hit $41-a-barrel… Record High!

The $41.22-per-barrel price is at its highest in the 21 years since the New York Mercantile Exchange launched the contract. The last major spike occurred during the Iranian revolution in which the adjusted-for-inflation price was $78-per-barrel. In explaining what has caused the prices to continue to climb, Dennis Kongsiri, vice president at Mitsui & Co Energy Risk Management in Sydney said:

“If you look at the way this market is rallying, it’s been broad-based and gradual, relentlessly going higher supported by a strong products market and solid refining margins,

[…]

As long as the world economy does not go into recession, it could be the case that the days of cheap oil are over,”

Translation:

“Yeah, we could probably hit $78 in another couple of years.”

The OPEC cartel is expected to increase quotas to at least 1.5 million bpd in their June meeting, but that would do little more than justify the overages in exports that are already occurring.

Just drill ANWR already. We’re acting like junkies trying to get our fix of crack from an abusive dealer, not that it helps that quite a few of us are using crack pipes the size of a ditch drainage line.


Also, seen today: A Hummer H2 towing a 100-gallon gas tank, replete with gas nozzle. I wish I’d had my camera.

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Nick Berg Timeline

Jimmie Mac of AngryFinger.org has put together a good timeline on the events leading up to Nick Berg’s death:

  • 3/07/04 FreeRepublic.com released on it’s forum a post called, “HERE IS THE ENEMY — they have posted their names” on that list is Nick Berg’s father and the name of their company Michael S. Berg, Teacher, Prometheus Methods Tower Service, Inc., West Chester, PA. When Nick went back to Iraq in March he traveled with his passport for business purposes under the name “Prometheus Methods Tower Service.”
  • 3/24/04 Nick Berg’s daily communications home stopped on March 24, when he was jailed by Iraqi officials at a checkpoint in Mosul.
  • 3/31/04 FBI agents visited Berg’s parents in West Chester on March 31 and told the family they were trying to confirm their son’s identity.
  • 4/05/04 The Bergs filed suit in federal court in Philadelphia, contending that their son was being held illegally by the U.S. military in Iraq.
  • 4/06/04 The next day, April 6, Nick Berg was released.
  • 5/11/04 Video of Nick Berg’s execution is posted on Muntada al-Ansar website.
  • 5/12/04 Americans deny holding Berg despite claims by family; body returns home
  • 5/13/04 E-Mail From Consul Confirms Berg Was in U.S. Military Hands: “I have confirmed that your son, Nick, is being detained by the U.S. military in Mosul. He is safe. He was picked up approximately one week ago. We will try to obtain additional information regarding his detention and a contact person you can communicate with directly,” the e-mail said.

He thinks there is something shady about the US denying holding Nick Berg in military custody (which does seem incredibly suspect):

Why was the US Military so adamant about denying having Nick Berg in custody? When even the US consulate in Iraq says he was in US Military custody.

He says he’ll keep updating the timeline as new information comes to light.

Nick Berg’s Iraq Timeline [AngryFinger.org]


Related:
Questions Surround Berg Video
Nick Berg’s Murderer Given 3 Passes by Bush
Militants Behead in Retaliation for Prisoner Abuse

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Jayson Blair: “Burning Down my Publishing House”

Jayson Blair, of New York Times’ make-shit-up-and-hope-no-one-will-notice infamy, has officially dropped off the radar screen of the latest trend of cashing in on bad deeds by writing books about it. His book, “Burning Down My Master’s House”, sold a whopping 1,386 copies through March 18th. New Millenium, the publishing house which undersigned Blair’s book, has changed from Chapter-11 bankruptcy to Chapter-7, in which it will have to liquidate it’s holdings in order to pay off debts.

Blair’s book has suffered from denigrating reviews and low sales. Here’s one Amazon.com review of the book:

“Unlike the pieces Jayson Blair ‘reported’ for the New York Times, this laborious account of the aftermath of his infamous crash ‘n’ burn is way too boring to be anything but the real deal. (Okay, he does try to commit suicide in a coffee shop restroom–but, conveniently, he changes his mind and there are no witnesses.)”

You know things are pretty bad you’re trying to slit your wrists with the plastic lid of a latté in a Starbucks. I have to empathize a little, because hey, I’d kill myself too if I had just paid $3 for a shitty latté.

The (Publishing) House That Blair Helped Close [MetaFilter]
Publisher’s story ends: Liquidation for Jayson Blair house New Millennium [New York Daily Post]

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