Steve G.

Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Torture by any other name….

In Civil Liberties, Crime, History, Human Rights Abuses, Iraq War, Libertarian, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on May 17, 2009 at 10:14 pm

The April 19th edition of the New York Times Scott Shane summarizes the now infamous 2005 CIA memo on torture. Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed were between the two of them waterboarded 266 times. Am I the only one who’s outraged by this? The same article conceeds:

A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.

So why the need to waterboard him after he confessed in the first 35 seconds? Why should he have been tortured in the first place? For a possible answer, three points:  first, a brief history of this form of torture; second, the effects of  torture on the human body; third, a look at how other countries have used and finally, some thoughts on why this issue doesn’t bother Americans.

Waterboarding has had many names over the many centuries that it has been used. A variation of it was used in the Spanish Inquisition under the name “toca“:

“The toca, also called tortura del agua, consisted of introducing a cloth into the mouth of the victim, and forcing them to ingest water spilled from a jar so that they had the impression of drowning”.William Schweiker claims that the use of water as a form of torture also had profound religious significance to the Inquisitors.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterboarding

The Dutch East India company used a variation of it as well. Pay special attention to the physical affects it had on the victim:

…Agents of the Dutch East India Company used a precursor to waterboarding during the Amboyna massacre, which took place on the island of Amboyna in the Molucca Islands in 1623. At that time, it consisted of wrapping cloth around the victim’s head, after which the torturers “poured the water softly upon his head until the cloth was full, up to the mouth and nostrils, and somewhat higher, so that he could not draw breath but he must suck in all the water”. In one case, the torturer applied water three or four times successively until the victim’s “body was swollen twice or thrice as big as before, his cheeks like great bladders, and his eyes staring and strutting out beyond his forehead”…

This next instance occured in more recent times in 1852 at Sing Sing prison:

…’hydropathic torture.’ The stream of water is about one inch in diameter, and falls from a hight [sic] of seven or eight feet. The head of the patient is retained in its place by means of a board clasping the neck; the effect of which is, that the water, striking upon the board, rebounds into the mouth and nostrils of the victim, almost producing strangulation. Congestion, sometimes of the heart or lungs, sometimes of the brain, not unfrequently [sic] ensues; and death, in due season, has released some sufferers from the further ordeal of the water cure…

And again in WWII by the “Evil Axis Powers”:

…During World War II both Japanese troops, especially the Kempeitai, and the officers of the Gestapo,[66] the German secret police, used waterboarding as a method of torture. During the Japanese occupation of Singapore the Double Tenth Incident occurred. This included waterboarding, by the method of binding or holding down the victim on his back, placing a cloth over his mouth and nose, and pouring water onto the cloth. In this version, interrogation continued during the torture, with the interrogators beating the victim if he did not reply and the victim swallowing water if he opened his mouth to answer or breathe. When the victim could ingest no more water, the interrogators would beat or jump on his distended stomach…

It sounds very barbaric but it’s still something that we “had to do” to get “intelligence” out of “high value detainees”. I will concede that we might not have stomped on the stomach’s of detainees when they could not swallow more water but we have done things just as bad or worse.

…In the memos, released Thursday, the Bush Administration White House Office of Legal Counsel offered its endorsement of CIA torture methods that involved placing an insect in a cramped, confined box with detainees. Jay S. Bybee, then-director of the OLC, wrote that insects could be used to capitalize on detainees’ fears…

…The memo was dated Aug. 1, 2002. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s children were captured and held in Pakistan the following month, according to a report by Human Rights Watch…At a military tribunal in 2007, the father of a Guantanamo detainee alleged that Pakistani guards had confessed that American interrogators used ants to coerce the children of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed into revealing their father’s whereabouts…

http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/04/17/bush-torture-memos-align-with-account-that-911-suspects-children-were-tortured/

A few of the effects of drowning on the the human body:

…A conscious victim will hold his or her breath (see Apnea) and will try to access air, often resulting in panic, including rapid body movement. This uses up more oxygen in the blood stream and reduces the time to unconsciousness. The victim can voluntarily hold his or her breath for some time, but the breathing reflex will increase until the victim will try to breathe, even when submerged.

The breathing reflex in the human body is weakly related to the amount of oxygen in the blood but strongly related to the amount of carbon dioxide. During apnea, the oxygen in the body is used by the cells, and excreted as carbon dioxide. Thus, the level of oxygen in the blood decreases, and the level of carbon dioxide increases. Increasing carbon dioxide levels lead to a stronger and stronger breathing reflex, up to the breath-hold breakpoint, at which the victim can no longer voluntarily hold his or her breath. This typically occurs at an arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide of 55 mm Hg, but may differ significantly from individual to individual and can be increased through training…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drowning

When water enters the lungs

…If water enters the airways of a conscious victim the victim will try to cough up the water or swallow it thus inhaling more water involuntarily. Upon water entering the airways, both conscious and unconscious victims experience laryngospasm, that is the larynx or the vocal cords in the throat constrict and seal the air tube. This prevents water from entering the lungs. Because of this laryngospasm, water enters the stomach in the initial phase of drowning and very little water enters the lungs. Unfortunately, this can interfere with air entering the lungs, too. In most victims, the laryngospasm relaxes some time after unconsciousness and water can enter the lungs causing a “wet drowning”. However, about 10-15% of victims maintain this seal until cardiac arrest, this is called “dry drowning” as no water enters the lungs. In forensic pathology, water in the lungs indicates that the victim was still alive at the point of submersion. Absence of water in the lungs may be either a dry drowning or indicates a death before submersion…

…The brain cannot survive long without oxygen and the continued lack of oxygen in the blood combined with the cardiac arrest will lead to the deterioration of brain cells causing first brain damage and eventually brain death from which recovery is generally considered impossible. A lack of oxygen or chemical changes in the lungs may cause the heart to stop beating; this cardiac arrest stops the flow of blood and thus stops the transport of oxygen to the brain. Cardiac arrest used to be the traditional point of death but at this point there is still a chance of recovery. The brain will die after approximately six minutes without oxygen but special conditions may prolong this (see ‘cold water drowning’ below). Freshwater contains less salt than blood and will therefore be absorbed into the blood stream by osmosis. In animal experiments this was shown to change the blood chemistry and led to cardiac arrest in 2 to 3 minutes. Sea water is much saltier than blood. Through osmosis water will leave the blood stream and enter the lungs thickening the blood. In animal experiments the thicker blood requires more work from the heart leading to cardiac arrest in 8 to 10 minutes. However, autopsies on human drowning victims show no indications of these effects and there appears to be little difference between drownings in salt water and fresh water. After death, rigor mortis will set in and remains for about two days, depending on many factors including water temperature…

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed experienced this 183 times. You think he felt that we were a proverbial “Shinning City on a Hill”? No, instead a bet he felt like he’d been captured by savages. I’m personally ashamed and appalled that my taxes paid the CIA torture this man.  They used our tax money to kill, torture, and humiliate people who we don’t even know. They coerce the complicity from each one of us living in America and Britain.

Historically speaking, there have been many other people persecuted for war crimes. America has even persecuted other people for waterboarding.

…McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning.” Politifact went on to report, “A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps…

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2007/dec/18/john-mccain/history-supports-mccains-stance-on-waterboarding/

Remember that they killed Saddam’s sons and one of their “justifications” was that they tortured Iraqis. This is ironic because we’re the ones torturing Iraqis now and nobody has been executed for it yet. This page outlines Saddam’s “Crimes Against Humanity”. It’s funny how we use these slogans against everyone except Americans even when our government commits the same crimes. Carl Clauberg experimented on over 300 woman and sterilized many of them. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Doihara Kenji was sentenced to death for his part in the Pearl Harbor incident. There are many other war criminals that can be found here.  Why no American presidents are on this list?

We want to believe that the American government is incapable of torturing people even though it’s exactly what we’re doing. Does the government have that much of a hold on the media?  They play word games  to cloud our view. They say that we’re in a “credit crunch” when we’re in a “recession“.  When they admit to  “recession,” we’re really  in a “depression“. They played the same game in Iraq. According to the news we were dealing with a few “foreign fighters” when it was an “insurgency”.  Called it “insurgency” when it was really a “civil war“.   Now that Baghdad has been separated among sectarian lines we’ve declared victory. Likewise they now call “harsh interrogation” what is “torture”.

I want  to remind people of the horrors of torture. When McCain was caught and tortured then sang like a bird but torture is only successful at getting the captor to say what he thinks the torturer wants him to say. Torture inevitably gives the torturer incorrect intelligence because the tortured just wants the pain to stop. It is also a double-sided sword  because the enemy becomes emboldened by the barbarism of the side that uses this disgraceful tactic. It reminds them of the immoral and merciless nature of their enemy and only makes them fight harder. In the case of religious fanatics they are emboldened even more when they see that their brethren are being tortured by people of a different faith.

So I think we just need to endorse Peace and do away with states who carry out atrocities in the name of all the people that live within its borders.

Peace…

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Antiwar.com in need of donations!

In Libertarian, Media, Politics, War on August 11, 2008 at 9:21 pm

These are hard times, and not only for antiwar activists. The country is falling into a massive recession that threatens daily to turn into something far worse. Charitable contributions are way off, and we’re feeling the pinch.
 
Yet we’re counting on you to come through for us when all else fails, because being right should count for something.
 
We were right about the Iraq war.
 
We were right that there were no “weapons of mass destruction.”
 
We were right that a civil war would result.
 
We were right that Iran’s regional influence would be increased exponentially.
 
But where has being right gotten us?
 
We’re right back where we started, warning of the consequences of yet another war, this time against Iran – and asking our readers to help us survive for the next quarter.
 
We don’t have the big foundations, the limousine liberals, and the George Soroses of this world showering us with money. We depend on the generosity of our readers – yes, you! – to get by.
 
We’ve told the truth, without fear or favor. For over a decade, we’ve served our readers well. But we can’t continue to bring you the unvarnished truth if we don’t make our fundraising goal of $70,000. It’s as simple as that. Please make your tax-deductible contribution today.
 
For more information, please contact Angela Keaton at akeaton@antiwar.com or call donor development at 323-512-7095.

PTSD-ridden Army medic in famous photo dead

In War on July 20, 2008 at 7:56 pm

From Yahoo News:

A photograph taken in the first days of the war had made the medic from New York’s Long Island a symbol of the United States’ good intentions in the Middle East. When he returned home, he was hailed as a hero.

But for most of the past five years, the 31-year-old soldier had writhed in a private hell, shooting at imaginary enemies and dodging nonexistent roadside bombs, sleeping in a closet bunker and trying desperately to huff away the “demons” in his head. When his personal problems became public, efforts were made to help him, but nothing seemed to work.

This broken, frightened man had once been the embodiment of American might and compassion. If the military couldn’t save him, Knapp thought, what hope was there for the thousands suffering in anonymity?

He was standing next to a soldier during a firefight when a boy rode up on a bicycle and stopped beside a weapon lying in the dirt. Under his breath, the soldier beside Dwyer whispered, “Don’t pick it up, kid. Don’t pick it up.”

The boy reached for the weapon and was blasted off his bike.

In late 2004, Dwyer sent e-mails to Zinn, wondering if the photographer had “heard anything else about the kid” from the photo, and claiming he was “doing fine out here in Fort Bliss, Texas.”

But Dwyer wasn’t doing fine. Earlier that year, he’d been prescribed antidepressants and referred for counseling by a doctor. Still, his behavior went from merely odd to dangerous.

One day, he swerved to avoid what he thought was a roadside bomb and crashed into a convenience store sign. He began answering his apartment door with a pistol in his hand and would call friends from his car in the middle of the night, babbling and disoriented from sniffing inhalants.

Matina told friends that he was seeing imaginary Iraqis all around him. Despite all this, the Army had not taken his weapons.

In the summer of 2005, he was removed to the barracks for 72 hours after trashing the apartment looking for an enemy infiltrator. He was admitted to Bliss’ William Beaumont Army Medical Center for treatment of his inhalant addiction.

Read the article in its entirety by clicking here.

George Phillies: “Time To End the Wars”

In George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Politics, Presidential Candidates, War on May 15, 2008 at 12:17 pm

George Phillies for President 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Phillies: Time to End the Wars

Worcester, Mass., May 14: “We are at ‘war’ with everything, it seems,” said Libertarian Presidential hopeful George Phillies in a statement earlier today. “We have the War on Iraq. The War on the Constitution. The War on (some, but not other) drugs. The War on Guns. The War on Science. It’s time to end these wars.”

Phillies outlined the cost of all the various “wars” the United States is fighting, pointing out that a baby born today can expect to be responsible for at least $200,000 of government debt. “We must change, or we will go broke,” he emphasized.

He not only spoke about the war on Iraq, which he said should be ended “already,” but about the failures of prohibition and the parallels in the war on drugs. “The War on Drugs leaves two million Americans in prison, and insures that millions of others will forever have felony records for smoking the wrong dried leaf. That’s millions of Americans whose lifetime participation in our thriving economy will be pointlessly hindered. The War on Drugs, and specifically on marijuana, is racist to the core, with selective enforcement and a racial double standard on jail time. The war on drugs means that pot smugglers, like the booze smugglers of the prohibition era, settle marketing disputes with guns. Ending booze prohibition meant no more Saint Valentine’s Day massacres. Ending drug prohibition will end battles that accidentally kill innocent children.”

He went on to discuss the battle over gun control. “The war on guns endangers the lives and safety of millions of Americans. In America, home invasion–breaking into an occupied home to rob and assault the occupants–is very rare. In England, it’s common. That’s because Americans own guns, so home invasion is potentially a suicidal act. That’s why European tyrants try to disarm their subjects; victim disarmament means your secret police can live to enjoy their pensions. Ending efforts to disarm Americans will make America safer and less crime-ridden, while protecting the civil liberties for which George Washington‘s volunteer army gave their lives.

“No real Libertarians disagree,” he added. “Even Senators Obama and McCain voted for the Vitter Amendment banning firearms confiscation.

“Not only is it time to end all these wars,” said Dr. Phillies, “but it’s time to stop thinking in terms of ‘war’ every time we have a problem to solve. Except for Iraq, these are not wars, and we cheapen the sacrifice of those who fight on our behalf in real wars by calling them such. War is a tool of statecraft reserved for the most desperate circumstances, not a word to be lightly applied to every problem.”

61 trillion dollars in spending not covered by taxes. — General Accounting Office Report http://www.gao.gov/htext/d08371cg.html A call for Stewardship (61 trillion dollars over 300 million people is quoted here.)

A sea of lies see http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/Iraq3GuideFind_SummRec.pdf especially pp. 1-4

The Vitter Amendment text and vote http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=2&vote=00202

Racial Disparities Found to Persist as Drug Arrests Rise http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/us/05cnd-disparities.html

What positions does Bob Barr support?

In Congress, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Torture, War on May 14, 2008 at 8:10 pm

In politics, you can tell a lot about a candidate based upon the positions they champion. This is true whether they support the positions directly, or indirectly.

Bob Barr’s PAC raises money under his signature, and he supported a number of Republican Congressmen and Senators during the current election cycle. Supporting the campaign is the same as supporting the positions the Congressman or Senator takes, obviously.

The fact of the matter is that nine of ten Congressman Bob Barr supported oppose leaving Iraq, and support military kangaroo courts. Eight out of ten Congressmen he supported want Uncle Sam in your hospital bed, a’la Ms. Schiavo. Eight of ten Congressman he supported are in support of warrantless wiretaps, and want to ban flag burning. A majority support torture.

Here is a listing of ten Congressmen Barr has supported during the current election cycle, after Barr joined the LP. The numbers beside their names indicate their extremely unlibertarian votes in Congress; specifics are below.

CONGRESSMEN
Gingrey Georgia 1 2 3 4 5 6
Ros-Lehtinen Florida 1 2 3 5 6
Jeff Flake Arizona 1 2 3 4
Robin Hayes North Carolina 2 3 4 5 6
Jeb Hensarling Texas 1 2 3 4 5 6
Jack Kingston Georgia 1 2 3 4 5 6
Pryce for Congress Ohio 1 2 3 5 6
Rehberg for Congress Montana 1 2 3 4 5 6
Walter Jones North Carolina 5 6
Christopher Shays for Congress Connecticut 1 2 3

(1) Vote 836: S 1927: The bill gives U.S. spy agencies expanded power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order. Civil liberties and privacy advocates argue the bill jeopardizes the Fourth Amendment privacy rights and allows for the warrantless monitoring of virtually any form of communication originating in the United States.

(2) 7/12/07 Vote 624: H R 2956: This bill would require the president to begin reducing the number of U.S. troops serving in Iraq 120 days after its enactment and would require most troops to be withdrawn by April 1, 2008.

(3) 9/29/06 Vote 508: S 3930: Military Commissions Act

(4) 12/14/05 Vote 630: H R 2863: Supported a ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees held by U.S. forces

(5) 6/22/05 Vote 296: H J RES 10: This vote approved the proposal of a Constitutional amendment to ban the desecration of the American flag.

(6) 3/21/05 Vote 90: S 686: Gave federal courts jurisdiction in the Terri Schiavo dispute.

Since 2007, Barr’s PAC supported nine U.S. Senators. Every one of the Senators he supported has voted to allow warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of virtually every form of communication in America; and every one of them voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act when it expired. Eight of nine voted for war funding. Seven of nine voted against an antiwar withdrawal motion. Every one of them voted for a Constitutional Amendment to ban flag burning. Six of nine voted to advance a constitutional amendment against gay marriage.

Again, supporting the Senator is showing agreement with the positions the Senator takes. How can Bob Barr claim to be a libertarian, when he supports so many Senators who vote for such incredibly un-libertarian stances?

SENATORS
Saxby Chambliss Georgia 1 2 3 4 5 6
Arlen Specter 1 2 3 4 6
Norm Coleman Minnesota 1 3 4 5 6
Larry Craig Idaho 1 2 3 4 5 6
Lindsey Graham South Carolina 1 2 3 4 5 6
Hagel for Senate 1 2 4 6
Jeff Sessions Alabama 1 2 3 4 5 6
Gordon Smith for US Senate Committee 1 2 4 5 6
Team Sununu New Hampshire 1 2 3 4 6

(1) Vote 309: S 1927: This amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 passed 60-28 on August 3. Civil liberties and privacy advocates argue the bill jeopardizes the Fourth Amendment privacy rights and allows for the warrantless monitoring of virtually any form of communication originating in the United States.

(2) 5/24/07 Vote 181: On the Motion: Fund the war. This $120 billion dollar package was passed in the Senate by an 80-14 vote on May 24.

(3) 3/29/07 Vote 126: H R 1591: This $122 billion war spending bill calls for combat troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq this summer.

(4) 6/27/06 Vote 189: S J RES 12: This vote would have given Senate approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Congress the authority to ban “desecration of the American flag”.

(5) 6/7/06 Vote 163: On the Cloture Motion: A Senate cloture vote on the gay marriage amendment failed, effectively killing the amendment.

(6) 3/2/06 Vote 29: H R 3199: Reauthorized a slightly modified version of the 2001 USA Patriot Act.

With the above in mind it is completely reasonable – based upon Barr’s own record in Congress and his continuing support of Congressmen and Senators who take those positions – to assume Bob Barr would vote in the same manner if he were still in Congress, despite his claim to have converted to libertarianism. After all, he has been supporting people making extremely un-libertarian decisions, even as he sat on the LNC and pondered seeking the LP’s presidential nomination. To believe otherwise would be to close one’s eyes to the painfully obvious truth, which is that we can put a hat on this Republican pig and call him Tillie, but that still won’t make him a Libertarian.

What counts as a legitimate ‘news’ story in the MSM

In Media on May 7, 2008 at 8:50 am

I guess I probably shouldn’t be surprised at the anti-intellectualism, unseriousness, and crassness of the mainstream media. But I really thought this article, highlighted on the front page of CNN.com, took the cake:

Beware of ‘The Tinkler’

I mosey into the ladies’ room, glance at the mirror, remind myself that fluorescent lights make everyone look as if they’re in the final stages of tuberculosis, and head for a stall. And then I see it: The seat, even the floor, is covered in little yellow droplets. The Tinkler strikes again.

Even worse are the Story “highlights”:

  • Women’s bathroom is defiled by The Tinkler
  • Columnist tries to figure out who’s guilty of peeing on seat
  • Decides she is “aggressively mean-spirited, mole-like cavewoman”
  • Writer yearns for modicum of civility, a touch of class, or supply of Lysol

As if this is an actual, legitimate news story! For example, the Story Highlights for a Myanmar cyclone piece were as follows:

  • U.N. has started getting food aid but so far it is only the first step of huge job
  • NEW: Survivor tells how wall of water left bodies in trees, bushes and streams
  • More than 22,000 killed and 41,000 missing, Myanmar radio reports
  • U.S. President Bush says Navy is ready to help if asked

There you go: The state of an individual women’s bathroom and a barely literate “journalist’s” opinion thereof is the given the same treatment as a humanitarian disaster in which more than 22,000 people have died. I should interject here that this wonderful story was brought to us by that benevolent Obama sponsor / former crack smoker, Oprah Winfrey, and her hubristically eponymous magazine.

We have an illegal, unjustified, and undeclared war that’s been raging for longer than WWII, in which innocents are being murdered on a daily basis, hundreds of billions of dollars are being destroyed, and wealth is being redistributed from American taxpayers to military-industrial complex barons, international bankers, and foreign governments — but we give a higher priority to office “tinklers” than any of that. I really do understand why Reverend Jeremiah Wright said “God Damn America!” Has there ever been an Empire quite so decadent?

I tried reading Susan Jacoby’s The Age of American Unreason and found it to be unpalatable liberal-statist garbage. But the general thesis that Americans are dumbed down by the government and its propagandists in the media and public school system (though Jacoby would balk at the latter of these being characterized as such) is right on the money. I find it harder to live among my peers with each day that goes by.

The shamelessness of the neocon business press

In Drug War, Iraq War, Media, Politics, War on May 1, 2008 at 5:25 am

Investor’s Business Daily is a great paper for monitoring the financial markets. It’s also great for monitoring the deranged hysteria of the right-most Fascist fringe of the neoconservative movement.

Wednesday’s editorial page featured an absolutely shameless hit-piece against the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Although I do not agree with Rev. Wright’s racially collectivist views, his foreign-policy outlook seems right on the money, at least from what I’ve read and heard. But IBD characterizes Wright’s politically incorrect truth telling as “lying.” Apparently, anything said against the Regime qualifies as a “lie” — regardless of whether it is factually accurate or not. Ignorance really is strength!

From the article:

It’s a lie that the U.S. government pumps drugs into the black community to entice black men into prison. . .

Really? So agents of the U.S. government, i.e. the FBI, don’t sell drugs as part of undercover operations? Is that what IBD is alleging here? With a straight face? Come on! But of course, the federal government’s “pumping” operations go much deeper than that. Even if widely documented accounts of the CIA drug trafficking can be denied, it cannot be disputed that the U.S. government’s unconstitutional prohibition of illicit drugs results in reduced supply, higher prices, greater profits, and stimulated demand.

I guess one could quibble over what the definition of “pumping” is. But can you believe that IBD actually had the audacity to go here?

Wright added another lie — that if we wanted to know if Saddam Hussein was using chemical and biological weapons, all we had to do is check our sales records: “We sold him those biological weapons that he was using against his own people.”

I know plenty of neocons who don’t even deny this fact — even neighborhood fascists who still claim Saddam had WMDs buried in the desert! One has to truly be oblivious to reality to characterize the above as a “lie.”

Now how about this one:

“We have troops all over the world, just like Rome had troops stationed all over the world. That notion of imperialism is not the message of the gospel of the prince of peace, nor of God, who loves the world.”

What is IBD saying when they say the above is a lie?

  • We don’t have troops stationed all over the world?
  • Rome didn’t have troops stationed all over the world?
  • Imperialism is the message of the gospel of the prince of peace and of God?
  • God does not love the world, but in fact hates it?

I know; it’s all of the above.

But if you think it couldn’t get worse, just read how IBD actually portrays U.S. military presence in the Middle East. This is no joke, they really wrote this:

We prefer to think of Marines engaged in Operation Iraqi Freedom and its aftermath not as imperialist murderers but as heroes laying down their lives for their friends. Greater love has no man.

I’m sorry. I should have warned you to have a barf bag at hand before reading the above. I hope you didn’t sully anything precious.

It’s one thing to disagree with the traditional American foreign policy — the non-interventionism of Washington, Jefferson, the Old RIght, and (apparently) Jeremiah Wright. But to label politically inconvenient truths as lies just because they don’t support the neocon agenda is beyond the pale — even for the bloodthirsty chickenhawks at IBD.

It seems as though neoconservatism is legitimately a mental illness (Thomas Szaz be damned). The only question is whether or not these clearly deranged individuals even have any conception of what the truth is anymore. To neocons, the “truth” is merely the opposite of whatever the Goldstein of the day says. We were always at war with Eurasia.

Angry ex-boyfriend, or casualty of war?

In Courts and Justice System, Crime, Law, Military, Obituaries, Personal Responsibility, US Government, War on April 2, 2008 at 2:05 am

Acevedo After returning from his third tour of duty in Iraq in three years, Lance Cpl. Eric Acevedo just wasn’t the same, his relatives said.The previously athletic teen, who had enlisted in the Marines just after graduating from high school a few months after the war began in 2003, suffered from nightmares, fought with his girlfriend and gained weight. The 22-year-old, whose breaks between deployments were less than a year, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, said his father, Andres Acevedo.

Early Saturday morning, 13 months after returning from his last tour, he went to his ex-girlfriend’s townhouse, broke through a ground-floor window and stabbed her repeatedly with a kitchen knife, police said. A blood-covered Acevedo then paced in the parking lot as officers rushed to the tan wood-and-brick townhouse complex and arrested him, neighbors said.

Eric Acevedo, 22, is charged with capital murder, which carries the death penalty, and remained jailed Wednesday on $1 million bond. Acevedo’s court-appointed attorney, Lex Johnston, said he had not spent much time talking to his client.

“I gave him to the government nice and healthy, and the government returned somebody who is capable of doing something like that,” Andres Acevedo told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

______________________

Read the rest of this article here. 

Ed & Elaine Brown supporters on trial

In Courts and Justice System, Crime, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Taxation, US Government on April 1, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Cirino The trial of the Ed and Elaine Brown supporters is being covered by my friend JJ MacNab, who is attending the trial; her daily blogs on the trial can be seen at Bombs, Taxes, and Red Crayons.

For those unfamiliar with the case, on trial are Cirino “Reno” Gonzalez, Daniel Riley, and Jason Gerhard; each of the men potentially faces decades in prison if convicted. The men are accused of providing material support to Ed and Elaine Brown, providing them with, among other things, weapons and explosives. The Browns had been convicted of multiple counts including tax evasion and structuring transactions, and were fugitives when the alleged crimes occurred.

Here’s an excerpt from the latest entry, wherein former co-defendant Robert Wolffe rats them all out pursuant to the terms of his plea agreement:

Witness Robert Wolffe

Bob Wolffe was the fourth defendant in this case. He signed a proffer letter just a few days after the September 12, 2007 indictment and arrest, and signed a plea agreement in January, 2008. Wolffe was wearing an orange prison t-shirt, jacket, and pants, but otherwise looked tidy, composed, and very serious about his situation and testimony.

Wolffe lives in Randolph, VT and first heard of Ed Brown when the Browns were on trial in January 2007 for tax evasion and structuring financial transactions. Over the next eight months, he visited the Brown house roughly 25 to 30 times. He said that he understood that they had been convicted on multiple felony counts and that they were evading arrest.

Wolffe conducted counter-surveillance by following US Marshals when they were following Jim Hobbs (the man who posts comments on this blog), and provided armed security for the Browns by wearing weapons at their home. He also did some target shooting on Ed Brown’s range next to the home. He identified a number of weapons he’d seen others carrying at the home.

Wolffe has been charged with three felony counts in this case, and no counts were dropped as part of his plea agreement. He not only wasn’t promised any leniency by the prosecutors, but he was warned repeatedly that if he lied on the stand, he would be prosecuted for perjury.

Wolffe testified on a number of important issues:

1) He saw Reno and Ed carrying rifles while patrolling the property

2) On another occasion, he saw Ed, Jason, and Danny with rifles again patrolling the property

3) He saw Reno wearing a semi-automatic pistol in a holster and said that Reno told him that he was a security specialist in the military who was there to provide the Browns with security

4) Reno had brought a .50 caliber rifles to the Browns’ home

5) He first met Danny in late April, and Danny was involved in internet dealing with Shaun Kranish of www.makethestand.com

6) He saw Danny and Ed trying to detonate Tannerite using different caliber ammunition and later Ed showed Wolffe the Tannerite baggies in the trees

7) He saw the zip guns in Ed’s garage and Ed and Danny told him about their plan to place blanks in them and set them up as booby traps around the property to act as an early warning system

8 ) Wolffe met Jason in mid-June and said that Jason took care of things around the Brown house

9) Jason had been purchasing weapons for Ed Brown, but the local dealer had decided not to sell him any more

10) Jason told Wolffe that he was joining the military to learn more about military tactics and explosives

11) Wolffe is still a tax denier, but said that Ed and Elaine were convicted felons, so protecting them was a crime

12) Wolffe lied to Keith Champagne in various letters by not telling him about his proffer in September 2007

13) Wolffe was not a Constitution Ranger until the Brown standoff and didn’t know the Browns

14) One of the main reasons Wolffe pled guilty was to protect his wife from weapons charges

15) Wolffe acted as a mail center for various Brown supplies

16) Wolffe provided roughly 6 to 8 pieces of pipe that were later turned into zip guns

17) Wolffe had been in Ed Brown’s bedroom but not his closet (sometimes you have to wonder about the defense attorneys’ questions…)

18) He saw Lauren Canario at the home three or four times, but was unfamiliar with several other names

19) He said that Jim Hobbs lived at the Brown house for several weeks after Reno left

20) Wolffe said that Ed Brown had a “secret hit list” but Wolffe thought that that was between Ed and his God

21) Wolffe said that Ed had asked him to purchase a gun for Elaine, but that he’d refused. “I didn’t want to get involved in the standoff in that way.”

Wolffe didn’t spend that long on the stand but his information was quite forthright and direct. Unlike the other defendants in this case, it would appear that he has a much better grasp of the reality of the situation.

There is much, much more there, so if you are interested in this trial or the subject matter in general, you might want to check out the blog, which is updated daily.

LP Presidential Candidate, Senator Mike Gravel, Interviewed By Newsweek

In Barack Obama, Censorship, Democracy, Democrats, Iraq War, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Media, People in the news, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Republican, US Government, War on April 1, 2008 at 12:11 am

Senator Mike GravelSenator Mike GravelLP Presidential candidates normally don’t get this level of media exposure, ever. Senator Mike Gravel’s switch to the Libertarian Party is causing a great deal of positive mainstream media attention. Below is an excerpt from the Newsweek interview, posted today. I will note that Last Free voice beat Newsweek to the punch, interviewing Senator Gravel within 48 hours of his decision to run as an LP candidate.

After the crowded presidential primary shrunk from eight Democrats and 11 Republicans to only three viable candidates between the two parties, what’s a spurned presidential hopeful to do? Well, if you’re Ron Paul, you ignore John McCain‘s inevitability and keep running anyway. If you’re former U.S. senator Mike Gravel, you switch parties.

Last Monday, the former Democrat swung by the Libertarian Party‘s national headquarters and defected. “We handed him a [membership] card on the spot,” says Shane Cory, the party’s executive director. Two days later, Gravel formally announced he would run to be the Libertarian candidate for president, joining a field of 15 others. Cory wouldn’t comment on Gravel’s chances at the convention, which will take start in Denver on May 22, but he did say that Gravel’s party swap has garnered some much-appreciated exposure for the Libertarians.

Gravel spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Sarah Elkins about the 2008 race and why he’s still running. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: You’ve been a Democrat for your entire political career. Was it a tough decision to switch parties?
Mike Gravel:
It had been eating at me–believe me–ever since I was a senator [he served from 1969 to 1981]. When I was in the Senate, I was a maverick and, at the end of my term, I was not particularly happy with my progress in terms of partisanship with the Democrats and Republicans. So when I left office, I stayed away from partisan politics altogether. But when I decided to get back in the game and to get my message out to the American people about the National Initiative [a political movement that would allow ballot initiatives at the federal level], I had to pick a party that would allow me to get into the debates … But of all the parties I was probably closest to the Libertarians.

It sounds like you’ve been interested in leaving the Democratic Party for some time. Why didn’t you make the move sooner?
It wouldn’t have made any sense for me to enter the race as a Libertarian. [As a Democratic candidate], I got into the debates and got a fair amount of visibility up until General Electric [which owns NBC] along with the Democratic Party leadership, said they would get me out of the debates. And they did. GE said I did not meet their criteria for participating in the debates. I think it’s very interesting that a defense contractor said I had to meet their criteria in order to participate in the MSNBC debates. We’ve really come down in democracy when a defense contractor can decide what the American people hear from a candidate. It was a [Democratic National Committee] sanctioned debate, so we complained to the DNC and found out that Howard Dean had agreed to it and that not a single one of the other Democratic nominees raised a finger in protest, meaning that they were totally tone deaf to the censorship of the military-industrial complex.

So you didn’t consider running as a Libertarian from the get-go?
I would have preferred to run as an independent or Libertarian or Green Party, but I knew that none of those candidates would have gotten any traction. So I used my position as a legitimate Democratic candidate to get my name out there.

You still have to win the Libertarian primary in order to run as the party’s candidate.
I am probably the most well known and certainly the most experienced in terms of running for president and as a government official. I have 16 years of experience in elected office and have been a senator, and I have a great deal of foreign-policy experience.

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You can read the very interesting three-page interview excerpt with Newsweek here.

Gravel announces Libertarian presidential run

In Congress, Global Warming, Guantanamo, Health, Iran, Libertarian Party-US, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Science, Taxation, Torture, US Government, Veterans, War on March 26, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Mike Gravel

A Personal Message from Mike

I wanted to update you on my latest plans before news gets out. Today, I am announcing my plan to join the Libertarian Party, because the Democratic Party no longer represents my vision for our great country. I wanted my supporters to get this news first, because you have been the ones who have kept my campaign alive since I first declared my candidacy on April 17, 2006.

The fact is, the Democratic Party today is no longer the party of FDR. It is a party that continues to sustain war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism — all of which I find anathema to my views.

By and large, I have been repeatedly marginalized in both national debates and in media exposure by the Democratic leadership, which works in tandem with the corporate interests that control what we read and hear in the media.

I look forward to advancing my presidential candidacy within the Libertarian Party, which is considerably closer to my values, my foreign policy views and my domestic views.

Please take a moment to make your most generous donation to my presidential campaign today. $10, $20, $50 — whatever you feel you can afford.

I want to thank you all for your continued support.

_______________________________

So, what are Gravel’s views on the issues? Here are some issue statements from his website:

The War in Iraq Senator Gravel’s position on Iraq remains clear and consistent: to commence an immediate and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops that will have them home within 120 days. The sooner U.S. troops are withdrawn, the sooner we can pursue aggressive diplomacy to bring an end to the civil war that currently consumes Iraq. Senator Gravel seeks to work with neighboring countries to lead a collective effort to bring peace to Iraq.

One of the leading opponents of the Vietnam War, Senator Gravel was one of the first current or former elected officials to publicly oppose the planned invasion of Iraq in 2002. He appeared on MSNBC prior to the invasion insisting that intelligence showed that there were indeed no weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq posed no threat to the United States and that invading Iraq was against America’s national interests and would result in a disaster of epic proportions for both the United States and the Iraqi people.

Today, more than four years into the invasion, the death toll of U.S. troops has climbed over 3,300 with over 50,000 more permanently maimed, some having lost limbs, others their sight. Tens of thousands more are afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and urgently need psychological care. The Iraqi civilian death toll nears three-quarters of a million, and still there remains no end in sight to the bloodshed.

As President, Senator Gravel will call for a U.S. corporate withdrawal from Iraq and hand over reconstruction contracts to Iraqi businesses which will empower Iraqi nationals to reconstruct their own country.

The National Initiative for Democracy Mike fully supports the National Initiative for Democracy. The NI4D is a way to bring legislative power back to the people. In many states, citizens can put measures on the ballot and Mike believes as citizens of the United States we should all have that power.

Iran and Syria Senator Gravel opposes a military confrontation with Iran and Syria and advocates a diplomatic solution to the current situation.

Global Warming/Climate Change Senator Gravel believes that global climate change is a matter of national security and survivability of the plant. As President, he will act swiftly to reduce America’s carbon footprint in the world by initiating legislation to tax carbon at the source and cap carbon emissions. he is also committed to leading the fight against global deforestation, which today is second only to the energy sector as a source of greenhouse gases. However, any legislation will have little impact on the global environment if we do not work together with other global polluters. China, India, and under-developed nations all work together fighting climate change can only be effective if it is a collective global effort. As President, Senator Gravel will see that the U.S. launches and leads a massive global scientific effort, integrating the world’s scientific and engineering community, to end energy dependence on oil and integrate the world scientific community in this task.

Progressive Taxes – A fair Tax Senator Gravel’s Progressive Fair Tax proposal calls for eliminating the IRS and the income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax on new products and services. To compensate for the tax on necessities, such as food, lodging, transportation and clothing, there would be a “rebate” to reimburse taxpayers. This would be paid in a monthly check from the government to all citizens. The focus on taxing new goods would also help tackle the global climate change problem.

Healthcare Senator Gravel advocates a universal healthcare system that provides equal medical services to all citizens, paid for by a retail sales tax (a portion of the Progressive Fair tax). Citizens would pay nothing for health benefits.

Reproductive Rights Senator Mike Gravel supports a woman’s right to decide if and when to have children. He also supports a woman’s right to make the difficult decision about abortion without interference by government authorities. Comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education, including accurate information about contraception, can always be provided in order to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions. Parity in health insurance and access to specialized family health care services, including family planning education, would also benefit the health and welfare of infants and children, who need and deserve to be wanted and loved.

Immigration Senator Gravel favors protecting our borders and monitoring the flow of immigrants into our country. He also favors a guest worker program and setting up naturalization procedures that would fairly bring immigrants into legal status. America must address the root cause of illegal immigration. Any discussion of immigration must include NAFTA and the concept of “free trade.” The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a disaster for the working class of both the U.S. and Mexico and a boon to the international corporate interests. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that over 1 million U.S. jobs were lost as a result of NAFTA, a third of them manufacturing jobs. In Mexico, 1.3 million farm workers lost their jobs in the same period. This has led to a wave of immigrants looking for work in the U.S. Reforming unfair trade policies spawned by measures like NAFTA will stimulate job growth on both sides of the border.

LGBT Rights Senator Gravel supports same-sex marriage and opposes the Defense of Marriage Act. He supports expanding hate-crime legislation and opposes laws that allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or one’s gender identity or expression. Senator Gravel strongly opposes the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” legislation on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, as it restricts the rights of gay Americans. He opposes any state or national constitutional amendment that restricts the rights of the gay community.

Social Security Senator Gravel wants to put real money, rather than borrowed money, in the Social Security Trust Fund. He advocates investing it properly and identifying the interests of individual beneficiaries so they can know what their retirement fund is and leave surplus funds to heirs.

Education Access to public education is a bedrock American value. Why is it then that the United States ranks 49th in literacy and that an estimated 30% of our students don’t graduate from high school? Investing in education provides a pathway to a thriving national economy, to individual and family economic opportunity, and to the reduction of poverty. A successful education system requires the commitment of families, the community, and government. It’s time to re-order our national budget priorities in order to improve the American education system. Parent education and access to preschool programs such as Head Start need to be expanded so that children from low income families are equally ready to benefit from elementary school. Universal pre-kindergarten would also enhance readiness. Encouraging our students to be the best they can be will require flexibility from the federal and state governments, within school systems, and from groups with a stake in educational success. Flexibility may mean extended school days and summer learning opportunities or extended school years. It may mean online and broadcast courses to provide access to highly qualified teachers. It may mean charter schools to address the needs of local communities, smaller classes, enrichment programs for students at risk, and vocational options. One thing we know for sure: No Child Left Behind has left too many children behind. It needs to be reformed and adequately funded. It needs to acknowledge the need for a fuller curriculum that encourages critical thinking-not just math and science test-taking. A high school diploma should be the minimum goal for all students; without it, our children will be condemned to a substandard economic existence.

Veteran’s Affairs As President, Senator Gravel would ensure that veterans receive full funding for their most important needs, including healthcare that is indexed to the increasing cost of care and medicine. He would make sure that all soldiers receive a full medical diagnosis to assess what their individual needs would be. He would also make sure that the VA system is fully financed and has sufficient well-trained personnel to provide the finest care that is available. As the Senator says, “We can do no less and we will do much more.” Mike Gravel is the only military veteran in the democratic race.

The War on Drugs The War on Drugs has been a failure. It is time to end prohibition and start treating addiction as a public health problem. This has ravaged our inner cities, and we are losing an entire generation of men and women to prisons. We must regulate hard drugs for the purpose of treating addicts, which would emphasize rehabilitation and prevention over incarceration. We must decriminalize minor drug offenses and increase the availability and visibility of substance abuse treatment in our communities as well as in jails and prisons. The United States incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other industrialized nation in the world. Some 2.3 million Americans are now behind bars. This tragedy must end.

Net Neutrality Net Neutrality aims to keep the Internet free from large companies, which are trying to limit the number of web sites their customers can view and the speed at which they can view them. Senator Gravel guarantees a free and open Internet with unlimited access to all sites. He will do this by supporting legislation and regulation that keeps you in control of your Internet usage and promotes free speech.

Human Rights Senator Gravel is adamantly opposed to torture, indefinite detention, and the deprivation of lawyers/speedy trials. He opposes the Military Commissions Act, flagrant ignorance of the Geneva convention, and Guantanamo.

Dave Grohl’s “Red, White, and Barbeque” Presidential Campaign

In Activism, Celebrities, Entertainment, George Bush, Humor, Immigration, Music, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Protest, Shine on you crazy diamond, War on March 24, 2008 at 4:58 pm

Dave Grohl on HARP MagazineDave Grohl, formerly of grunge rock groundbreakers Nirvana and founder of the Foo Fighters, has decided we should return to rock’n’roll values in this country, and to that end he has announced he is running as an Independent Presidential Candidate. He recently spoke with HARP Magazine, and here are some excerpts:

On why he’s the right candidate for the job: “There’s this redneck image of America that’s been cultivated over the last eight years by our redneck president. America has blue states, red states and all kinds of divisions, but we need someone to bring them all together—and that person is me. Every night when I’m on tour, I bring my message to thousands and thousands of people. There’s 10 thousand people that woke up this morning and felt like America is the right place to be because at our show last night they were spilling beer all over themselves and tongue kissing for two hours. What other candidate can do that?”

On what’s wrong with America: “To keep cool in the summertime as a kid I turned on the hose and I drank from it. I want America to come back to that place where we’re all drinking from the hose. I think that’s a perfect metaphor for what’s gone wrong in this country. Water is now more expensive than gasoline. How is that possible? It’s because in this country, corporate domination dictates our daily lives.”

On what will bring America together: “I think that what the country needs now is a good, smoky barbecue—family style, at least once a week, winter months included. It’s important that people bring it back to cooking over the fire as a family unit. You know what I do when I sit around a grill with my family? I talk. We talk. It’s something about that hickory smoke that brings my family together—and friends. And that’s where I really get to share and learn with my family and fellow Americans. It’s around that grill. It’s two beers, it’s three beers, it’s four beers, it’s 10 beers. This is what America needs—beer, and barbecue. It’s the red, white and barbecue.”

On George W. Bush’s 8-year reign: “I can’t think of one president that’s been more detrimental to this country than George Bush. He’s not only set us back 50 years, I think he set us back 10,000 years. Morally this country has become prehistoric. I want us to be morally futuristic. I want to be so forward focused that we redefine American morals: family, music, barbecues.”

On the immigration issue: “Let me make a musical analogy: I look at America as if it were Wembley stadium—it’s only so big but you can fit a lot of people in it. As president of the United States of America, I promise to rock the fucking house—and everyone’s invited.”

On the war in Iraq: “I’m going to make war illegal. I’m going to make war against the law. No war. None. Anywhere.”

On “change”: “I want to present a different kind of change. I want to change change. If you continue to change change then it truly becomes change whether it’s technology, society, the economy, or the spreading of democracy. I want to be the president that takes change and changes it over and over again.”

Source: HARP Magazine

Of course, this gives me an excellent excuse to post a Foo Fighters video, so here is “The Pretender”. 😉