New Civilization News: A Mournful Thanksgiving    
 A Mournful Thanksgiving13 comments
picture25 Nov 2007 @ 11:18, by Richard Carlson

Space and Time! now I see it is true, what I guess'd at,
What I guess'd when I loaf'd on the grass,
What I guess'd while I lay alone in my bed,
And again as I walk'd the beach under the paling stars of the morning.

---Walt Whitman

Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul.

---Simone Weil

There is no end to the opening up that is possible for a human being.

---Charlotte Joko Beck

The painting by John Schutler is Home to Thanksgiving, published 1867 by Currier and Ives.

I'm sure Americans gathered around their tables on Thursday, grateful for companionship and family...but uncertain how far the "commonwealth" spreads anymore. What we still can hold in common, even the values, seems up for grabs from all sides. Conservatives talk about compassion, but the world they live in resembles the cave and Hobbesian misery.

At more than a few Thanksgiving dinners, probably the name Scott McClellan was mentioned. He was the cute press link to the Oval Office for 3 years, dancing around questions daily. Much of what he had to do was keep things secret. We're at war and only Commander Decider can know...or the case is in litigation and it wouldn't be proper to comment...or Congress is investigating and we'll see what they find out. On April 21st next year a book by McClellan will be published, entitled WHAT HAPPENED: Inside the Bush White House and What's Wrong with Washington. Probably nobody would have noticed this coming event had not its distinguished publisher, PublicAffairs Books, put an excerpt bombshell on its website:

"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.
"There was one problem. It was not true.
"I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the President himself."
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The item really hit the news the day before Thanksgiving, and so there were whispers and hushed tones midst the dressing and drumsticks Thursday. What will happen? Will anything happen? Why do we feel like conspirators with such talk? Is this East Germany before the Wall came down..or is this the Free World? Why does the war machine roll on, looting the Treasury, robbing us blind? In a column on July 6, 2007, Joe Galloway asked why the Bush administration "looks remarkably more like an organized crime ring than one of the arms of the American government?" It must be fear that silences the nation. Cat's got our tongue.


Galloway published on the McClellan excerpt right away, and I hope you read it. During the Vietnam War, he served three tours in Vietnam for UPI, beginning in early 1965. Decorated for rescuing wounded American soldiers under heavy enemy fire during the battle at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, he was the only civilian awarded the Bronze Star by the U.S. Army during that war. In 2000 he voted for Bush who promised to give a government "whose appointees would be honest, upright, fair and moral." Now he devotes himself to asking What happened?

McClatchy Washington Bureau
Posted on Wed, Nov. 21, 2007
Commentary: Good riddance to them all
Joseph L. Galloway | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: November 21, 2007 06:24:25 PM

There was little for the unindicted co-conspirators of the Bush administration to give thanks for this week as the clock winds down on the 14 months they have left in power.

With former White House press secretary Scott McClellan spilling the beans on who told him to lie to the American people and cover up the White House's responsibility for the criminal act of revealing the identity of a covert CIA officer, it clearly was time for some folks to begin drafting their requests for presidential pardons.

McClellan, in a forthcoming book that will tell some, if not all, reveals that his 2003 statements absolving top White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of any involvement in leaking the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame were untrue — and that the orders to make those statements came from President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, White House chief of staff Andrew Card, Rove and Libby.

McClellan's revelation makes it abundantly clear that a subsequent statement by Bush that White House aides had no involvement in outing Ms. Plame, and that anyone who did would be fired was also, shall we say, inoperative.

It also confirms long-held suspicions that the whole despicable affair — an attempt to punish former Ambassador Joseph Wilson for debunking a bit of the bogus intelligence the administration wheeled out to justify invading Iraq — was orchestrated in the offices of Bush and Cheney, and with their knowledge.

It also might shed new light on why Bush quickly commuted Cheney’s hatchet man Libby's prison sentence after he was convicted on four counts of lying to federal investigators. It simply wouldn’t do to have Libby rolling over on his bosses.

Somehow, I have a strong feeling that this isn't the only or the last revelation of wrong-doing and criminality that we're likely to hear before and after Bush and Co. leave office, or that additional presidential acts of clemency will be needed to spare other top administration officials from prison and buy their silence.

What we've witnessed and endured during seven long years of the Bush presidency is the inevitable consequence of bringing vicious and unprincipled but successful political campaigners — attack dogs — into top White House jobs.

The idea that a political campaign should address any and all criticism by going for the throats of those who dare to question it may work on election day but it doesn’t work, or shouldn’t, when the full weight and power of the federal government is put behind it.

We are a better people and this is a better country than that, and this is why, when it's weighed and judged, the Bush presidency will be found to have perverted not only our system but also the very principles on which our nation was founded.
We don’t rush into a war that has cost so many lives and so much national treasure, and has so damaged our standing in the world, based on a tissue of lies. But under the leadership of George W. Bush, that's what we did in Iraq.

We don’t stand idly by, backs turned and eyes closed, while in wartime our friends and political contributors loot the national treasury of billions of taxpayer dollars. But the Bush administration and a Republican-controlled Congress did just that.

We don’t send our soldiers and Marines into combat without enough of everything they need to fight, survive and win. But that's what this administration and its political operatives in charge of the Pentagon did.

We don’t turn the office of the attorney general and key parts of the Justice Department into a branch of a partisan political campaign — gutting offices charged with protecting the civil rights of minorities and directing the prosecution of those of a different political party — but this administration did.

We don’t declare war and then expect that the entire sacrifice will be borne by the half a percent of our population who wear uniforms. We don’t fight a long and costly war by cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans and borrowing trillions of dollars to finance it from foreign competitors such as China. But this administration did.

We don’t prosecute a war to spread democracy by curtailing democracy and suspending the Bill of Rights at home. We cannot promote our principles abroad by denying the same principles — the right to a lawyer, the right to a fair trial, the right to be secure in our homes — to ourselves. But this administration did.

We don’t beat or torture confessions out of prisoners in violation of our laws and the laws of the civilized world. We don’t lock people up and hold them incommunicado for years without charges or trials. But this administration did and does.

We don’t applaud and cheer an administration and a Congress that make the rich vastly richer, the middle class less secure and the poor even poorer. But this administration has done just that, in violation of our principles and the principles of love, peace and charity that are engrained in the Christianity that these rogues and charlatans embrace so publicly but violate every day.

It will be a good day when they are gone, and good riddance to them all.

McClatchy Newspapers 2007
[link]

I mentioned the commonwealth in my musings, and it's not a term we use as much in the States as they do in the country to the North. Of course, the Common was central to every town in New England, and in many places still is an important gathering place for the people. When I travel in Canada, I feel a sense of community there that is more than the neighborhood block party we sometimes celebrate down here. As friendly as we get with neighbors nowdays, we don't forget that the leaves on my lawn drop off the tree that belongs to my neighbor...and so shouldn't he rake them up? Stuff like that. We were more as the Canadians have remained in the 1950s I think. There still was a sense that an uplifting of community, rather than just my private fortunes, will be good for us all.

I thought about this on Thanksgiving, and then again this morning when I read an excerpt from Thom Hartmann's new book Cracking The Code: The Art and Science of Political Persuasion. You probably know about Hartmann, but I was impressed with this description of him at Wikipedia:

"Hartmann is also a vocal critic of the effects of globalization on the U.S. economy, claiming that economic policies enacted since the presidency of Ronald Reagan have led, in large part, to many American industrial enterprises being acquired by multinational firms based in overseas countries, leading in many cases to manufacturing jobs - once considered a major foundation of the U.S. economy - being relocated to countries in Asia and other areas where the costs of labor are lower than in the U.S.; and the concurrent reversal of the United States' traditional role of a leading exporter of finished manufactured goods to that of a primary importer of finished manufactured goods (exemplified by massive trade deficits with countries such as China); Hartmannn argues that this phenomenon is leading to the erosion of the American middle class, whose survival Hartmann deems critical to the survival of American democracy. This argument is expressed in Hartmann's 2006 book, Screwed: The Undeclared War Against The Middle Class and What We Can Do About It. (Also noted: corporate deregulation and the end of enforcement of the Sherman anti-trust act. Consequent media deregulation leading to corporate media shifting the American consensus towards the acceptance of privatization, massive corporate profits -which causes the shrinking of the middle class.)"
[link]

In the excerpt from the new book, he seems to be talking a good deal about the traditions of America and how they are rooted in the notion of what we share in common~~~

Whatever Happened to 'We the People'?
By Thom Hartmann, Berrett-Koehler Publishing
Posted on November 23, 2007

We the people

The traditional American liberal story is the story of We the People.

As Americans, the most important part of our social identity is our role as citizens. To be a citizen means to be part of, and a defender of, the commons of our nation. The water we drink, the air we breathe, the streets we drive on, the schools that we use, the departments that protect us -- these are all the physical commons. And there are also the cultural commons -- the stories we tell ourselves, our histories, our religions, and our notions of ourselves. And there are the commons of our power systems (in the majority of American communities), our health-care system (stolen from us and privatized over the past twenty-five years, our hospitals in particular used to be mostly nonprofit or run by mostly city or county governments), and the electronic commons of our radio and TV spectrum and the Internet.

Most important for citizenship is the commons of government -- the creation and the servant of We the People.

Franklin D. Roosevelt understood this commons. In his "Four Freedoms" speech, he said, "Necessitous men are not free men." Hungry people aren't free people, no matter what you want to call them. Hungry people can't be good citizens: they're too busy taking care of the hungry part of themselves to care about the citizen part.

Republicans don't want to fund FDR's social safety net because they fundamentally do not believe in the concept of We the People collectively protecting all of us in anything other than a military/police way. They don't believe that "the rabble" should run the country. They want big corporations to run the commons of our nation, and they think that the most appropriate role for citizens is that of infantilized consumers -- of both commercial products and commercially produced political packaging.

This is the fundamental debate in our society: Are we a nation of citizens or a nation of consumers? Are we a democracy run by citizens, or are we a corporatocracy that holds consumers locked in dependency by virtue of their consumption?

Consumerism appeals to the greedy and selfish child part of us, the infantilized part that just wants someone else to take care of us. The core message of most commercials is that "you are the most important person in the world." Commercial advertising almost never mentions "we" or "us."

What is at stake today is the very future of our democratic republic. If we accept an identity as fearful, infantilized consumers, we will be acting from our baby part and allowing corporate America and an increasingly authoritarian government to fill the role of a parent part.

The story we are told is that we should surrender all of our power to corporations and just let them govern us because a mystical but all-knowing godlike force called "the free market" will eventually solve all of our problems.

That story fits in very well with the conservatives' other story: that we are children who need to be protected from evil humans; and because corporations are amoral and not human, they are intrinsically and morally superior to evil humans.

To save democracy we must crack that code and bring back the code so well understood by the Founders of this nation: that we're a country of barn-builders, of communities, of intrinsically good people who work together for the common good and the common wealth. We begin this process by speaking to the responsible part of us, the part that enjoys being grown up and socially responsible.

The story we have to tell is the story of citizenship derived from our best and most noble parts. It's the story of We the People.

We talk a lot about the features of citizenship, like the right to vote, but we sometimes forget what the benefits are. The main benefit of citizenship is freedom -- not freedom from external or internal dangers (although that is included in the package, it's only one of the six purposes listed in the Preamble to the Constitution) that conservatives obsess on, but freedom to think as we want, to pray as we want, to say what we want, and to live as we want to fulfill our true potential as humans (the other five things listed in the Preamble).

The question, ultimately, is whether our nation will continue to stand for the values on which it was founded.

Early American conservatives suggested that democracy was so ultimately weak it couldn't withstand the assault of newspaper editors and citizens who spoke out against it, leading John Adams (our second president and our first conservative president) to pass America's first Military Commissions Act-like laws: the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. President Thomas Jefferson, who beat Adams in the "Revolution of 1800" election, rebuked those who wanted America ruled by an iron-handed presidency that could -- as Adams had -- throw people in jail for "crimes" such as speaking political opinion, and without constitutional due process.

"I know, indeed," Jefferson said in his first inaugural address on March 4, 1801, "that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong; that this government is not strong enough." But, Jefferson said, our nation was "the world's best hope" precisely because we put our trust in We the People.

[link]

Thom Hartmann's website has more excerpts~~~

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13 comments

25 Nov 2007 @ 17:56 by quinty : Will our democracy unravel?

My knowledge of history is shallow and poor, so please correct me when I’m off? (I know Vax, we never had a democracy and there’s nothing to unravel. So I’ll set that aside attempting to go ahead.)

The Founders, as we all know, hoped a variety of different self interest groups would act as watchdogs keeping each other straight. This is called checks and balances. Here my knowledge of the past is poor, but I believe this was a novel and original approach to keeping government honest. Or hoping to keep it honest in spite of human nature, which, at its worst, gives us..... well, gives us George Bush. And Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, John Negroponte, Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Dick Cheney.

But many of the countervailing forces have come apart in recent decades.

The mainstream press, which should go after those in power like a bulldog, has become almost entirely profit driven. Corporate, and merely a shallow form of entertainment.

The Congress is often afraid of its own shadow or entirely beholden to the big money interests. To corporations, once again.

The American people, as a whole, are drugged on an electronic mass media (once again corporate) which often defines our self image as a nation and culture. And many Americans tend to be quite poorly informed. Reading, recent studies show, is way down.

And at the helm of this ship of state is a president who is unparalleled for his weaknesses and failings. And he has openly assaulted our Constitution, openly scorning the law to the point that it is not entirely paranoid to wonder if our democracy/republic is in peril? If this president may actually stage a national emergency and declare martial law, suspending the Constitution?

Will we have more of the same if Hillary is elected? I shudder at the thought of any of the Republicans succeeding Bush. Huckabee is at least (so he appears) a nice guy. But who wants a nice guy when something far larger is needed? Which would be someone with the ability to lead our country (and the world) away from the brink. Someone who can see that we are approaching it and cares, who won’t help shove us off.

I certainly agree with Galloway. The true story about the Bush years hasn’t been written yet. And though there are many fine books out there, dealing with parts of the overall picture, the complete story will be quite a read. It’s odd, too, that they (the White House) believed they could get away with so much without it finally coming out. It’s not as if running one of the biggest scams in the world is like embezzling a few bucks from your local credit union.

Good opinion pieces, Jazzo......  



7 Dec 2007 @ 15:47 by jazzolog : "I Will Never Leave Guantanamo"
As the Supremes continue wondering if they even can make a judgment Constitutionally about our prison camps abroad, a sad piece appeared Monday in the Boston Globe, written by a lawyer trying to defend the inmates~~~

'I will never leave Guantanamo'
By Sabin Willett
December 3, 2007

"WE HAVE important news for you!"

Chained to the floor of a cell in Camp Six, Guantanamo, Joseph said nothing. But he had some news for us, too.

The Court of Appeals had decided what record - what pieces of paper - it would examine when it considered his "Detainee Treatment Act" case. This was big. For months, we urged the Bush administration to release its exculpatory evidence about Joseph. The administration fought back hard. And we'd won - a brilliant victory!

"What do they say - these papers?" Joseph asked.

An awkward pause followed. We didn't exactly have them yet. The government had moved for reconsideration, filed affidavits, more briefs. There might be further appeals. It was complicated. The order came down in July, and now it was October. They hadn't produced a page. But it was a great victory!

Joseph listened in silence. During six years of US imprisonment he's heard this sort of thing before. All this talk from American lawyers about American courts - in Camp Six a man can't be sure that American courts exist at all, but if they do, it is certain that nothing ever comes of them but essays. No one alleges that Joseph was ever a terrorist, or a soldier, or a criminal. The military told him in 2002 he was innocent. Again in 2003. Again in 2006. He filed a habeas petition in 2005. He would be gone if the military could find a country to take him.

When Senator Joseph Lieberman and the other guardians of freedom in Congress stripped his habeas rights, he filed a Detainee Treatment Act petition. That was 11 months ago.

For two years and three months he'd been asking the federal judiciary to hear a few simple facts. No judge ever has.

"I also have something important to tell you," Joseph said. "About my wife."

What came next was deeply personal. (It is why I use "Joseph," a pseudonym for this good husband.) A Muslim, he does not like to speak to me of such personal things. But he had no choice. Camp Six is complete isolation. The men call it the dungeon above the ground. He is held alone in a metal cell, denied any contact with companions, books, news, the world - with his wife or child.

North Korea used this isolation technique against our airmen in 1952. We know a good idea when we see it, so the taxpayers paid $30 million to Dick Cheney's former company to duplicate North Korea.

The bunks had to be filled. Joseph got one. And so a message through me was the only way he could do his duty by her.

"I want you to tell her that it is time for her . . .. to move on."

"You mean . . .?"

"Yes. I will never leave Guantanamo."

His affect was flat, his voice soft. He looked up only once, when he said to me, urgently, "She must understand I am not abandoning her. That I love her. But she must move on with her life. She is getting older."

We are all getting older. Guantanamo is now far older than any World-War-II POW camp. Hope fled the sunless gloom of Camp Six long ago.

Joseph slips with the others down isolation's slope. He stands in the twilight. Beyond, the darkness of insanity beckons. He seems ready to surrender to it.

Somewhere in a file drawer in Guantanamo is a copy of the memo that clears Joseph for release. But it was written in 2006, and is as forgotten as he is. So the good husband did the last thing a man in isolation can do. He set his wife free from her husband's prison.

Not to worry, Joseph! Our federal judges are at their posts! They are making important rulings in your case - earnestly debating the important question of which pieces of paper to look at!

Sabin Willett is a partner at Bingham McCutchen, which represents prisoners at the Guantanamo prison.

© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/12/03/i_will_never_leave_guantanamo/

Hopefully to the rescue, Henry Waxman is tinkering around with the new Attorney General to see if he'll get the same song and dance. The Plame Affair is down at the bottom of the whole horrible mess~~~

Waxman Taps Mukasey in CIA Leak Probe
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: December 3, 2007
Filed at 6:49 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A House committee chairman looking into the leak of a CIA operative's identity asked for Attorney General Michael Mukasey's help in getting transcripts of investigators' interviews with President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and five White House aides.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the White House is blocking Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald from providing the transcripts, which are among the material the congressman wants from the criminal investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA identity.

In a letter to Mukasey, Waxman said that during the Clinton administration, Attorney General Janet Reno made an independent judgment and provided FBI interview reports to Capitol Hill, including interview summaries with President Clinton, Vice President Gore and three White House chiefs of staff.

''Unfortunately, the White House has been blocking Mr. Fitzgerald from providing key documents to the committee,'' Waxman stated. ''I hope you will not accede to the White House objections.''

The White House and Fitzgerald's office declined to comment.

The congressman's request comes less than a month after Mukasey, a retired federal judge, was sworn in as the nation's 81st attorney general, replacing Alberto Gonzales, a personal friend of the president who served as White House counsel before taking the top job at the Justice Department.

Waxman said his request has taken on new urgency following recently published excerpts from a book being written by Scott McClellan, a former White House press secretary. McClellan wrote that five of the highest-ranking officials in the government were involved in passing along false information to the public that presidential political adviser Karl Rove and Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby were not involved in the Plame leak.

The five, McClellan wrote, included Bush and Cheney. On Monday, McClellan's publisher said the former White House spokesman was not suggesting in the excerpt that the president had lied. Rather, said the publisher, McClellan meant that Bush himself had been misled at that early point in the Plame investigation in 2003, just as McClellan had been misled.

Waxman said Fitzgerald has produced FBI interview summaries from questioning of CIA and State Department officials and others.

Besides transcripts, reports, notes and other documents from interviews with Bush and Cheney, Waxman wants documents from interviews with former White House chief of staff Andrew Card, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, White House senior adviser Dan Bartlett, Rove and McClellan.

Waxman's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is looking into whether the White House took appropriate disciplinary steps after the leak of Plame's CIA identity. In addition, the committee wants to consider what changes in White House procedures are necessary to prevent future breaches.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-CIA-Leak-Probe.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin  



13 Jan 2008 @ 11:50 by jazzolog : Only 373 Days Until Bush Goes Home
I hate to ruin your Sunday with more ghastly news, but then 13 is an unlucky number. Or another way to look at it: here's something to pray about if you're somebody who goes to church on Sunday the 13th.

There's a terrible report in the Sunday New York Times about murders, man-and-womanslaughter and other violent crimes charged against returned Iraq War veterans recently. They're numbering into the hundreds. This is long, so it must be in the magazine...but it starts out~~~

"Late one night in the summer of 2005, Matthew Sepi, a 20-year-old Iraq combat veteran, headed out to a 7-Eleven in the seedy Las Vegas neighborhood where he had settled after leaving the Army.
"This particular 7-Eleven sits in the shadow of the Stratosphere casino-hotel in a section of town called the Naked City. By day, the area, littered with malt liquor cans, looks depressed but not menacing. By night, it becomes, in the words of a local homicide detective, 'like Falluja.'
"Mr. Sepi did not like to venture outside too late. But, plagued by nightmares about an Iraqi civilian killed by his unit, he often needed alcohol to fall asleep. And so it was that night, when, seized by a gut feeling of lurking danger, he slid a trench coat over his slight frame — and tucked an assault rifle inside it."

Also, check out the photos, slide show, charts and other statistics. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/us/13vets.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

McClatchy put this story out on Friday~~~

In voiding suit, appellate court says torture is to be expected
By Greg Gordon | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Friday, January 11, 2008

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court Friday threw out a suit by four British Muslims who allege that they were tortured and subjected to religious abuse in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a ruling that exonerated 11 present and former senior Pentagon officials.

It appeared to be the first time that a federal appellate court has ruled on the legality of the harsh interrogation tactics that U.S. intelligence officers and military personnel have used on suspected terrorists held outside the United States since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The detainees allege that they were held in stress positions, interrogated for sessions lasting 24 hours, intimidated with dogs and isolated in darkness and that their beards were shaved.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the detainees captured in Afghanistan aren't recognized as ``persons'' under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because they were aliens held outside the United States. The Religious Freedom Act prohibits the government from ``substantially burdening a person's religion.''

The court rejected other claims on the grounds that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft had certified that the military officials were acting within the scope of their jobs when they authorized the tactics, and that such tactics were ``foreseeable.''

``It was foreseeable that conduct that would ordinarily be indisputably `seriously criminal' would be implemented by military officials responsible for detaining and interrogating suspected enemy combatants,'' Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson wrote in the court's main opinion.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown dissented with parts of the opinion, saying that ``it leaves us with the unfortunate and quite dubious distinction of being the only court to declare those held at Guantanamo are not `person(s).'

'`This is a most regrettable holding in a case where plaintiffs have alleged high-level U.S. government officials treated them as less than human,'' Brown wrote.

After being held for more than two years, the four men were repatriated to Britain in 2004, where they were freed within 24 hours without facing criminal charges, said Washington lawyer Eric Lewis, who represented them along with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights.

Three of the men — Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed — say they traveled to Afghanistan from Pakistan in October 2001 to provide humanitarian relief but were seized by an Uzbek warlord in northern Afghanistan the next month and sold to U.S. troops for bounty money. The three said they were unarmed and never engaged in combat against the United States.

The fourth, Jamal al Harith, said he'd planned to attend a religious retreat in Pakistan in October 2001 but was ordered to leave the country because of animosity toward Britons. When he tried to drive a truck home via Iran and Turkey, he says, his truck was hijacked at gunpoint and he was handed over to the Taliban, who jailed him and accused him of being a spy. When the Taliban fell after the U.S.-led invasion, he was detained and transported to Guantanamo.

The detainees filed suit in October 2004 against former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, former Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, who was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, and nine other senior military officers. They allege that the Pentagon officials violated the Alien Tort Statute, the Geneva Conventions, the religious freedom law and the Constitution with their harsh treatment.

In upholding a lower court's rejection of all the claims but those under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the circuit court said that the interrogation tactics, which Rumsfeld first authorized in 2002, were ``incidental'' to the duties of those who'd been sued.

``It is an awful day for the rule of law and common decency,'' said Lewis, the detainees' attorney, ``when a court finds that torture is all in a day's work for the secretary of defense and senior generals. . . . I think the executive is trying to create a black hole so there is no accountability for torture and religious abuse.''

Lewis said his clients intended to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling.

McClatchy Newspapers 2008
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/24654.html

On Thursday The Wall Street Journal published a commentary by a person who calls himself Karl Rove. Remember him? Supposedly "retired" to be with his loving family (though I never believed that for a minute) he has stirred to respond to Hillary's victory in New Hampshire---and to do a little slamdunk on Obama. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119992615845679531.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries

Fortunately the blogs went after him at once, the best being one called Cerebral Itch Scratch Pad, which I immediately bookmarked and will be checking often. I urge you to get to know this author, who writes brilliantly. http://cerebralitch.blogspot.com/2008/01/former-deputy-chief-of-staff-to.html  



13 Jan 2008 @ 14:21 by mortimer : Non-confidence
Ohm… declare ‘’nonconfidence’’ while still can because soon might be illegal to say that.. Or.. Is it already?

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

If me understands this correctly, the. Citizens of the United States can petition ‘’nonconfidence’’ against any opposition in the hope of defeating or embarrassing any government.

i found this - http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/democracy-for-the-usa.html , i dont agree with all the typing but,perhaps, a better petition  



14 Jan 2008 @ 10:56 by jazzolog : Interesting Idea
I've often thought I'd like to live in a country where a vote of No Confidence forces an election immediately. I'd like to see what it's like. Can you tell us at least where you live, Mortimer?

Yanks are confident. We're a confident people...to the point of egomania---and perhaps beyond. I think we might have a clash of semantics if we tried to dump this administration 372 days before he heads out to clear more brush in his desert.  



22 Nov 2008 @ 11:41 by jazzolog : Bush's Amazing Nose
The normally staunch and staid London Economist published this week a farewell to the President of the United States. The article's author is Ann Wroe, identified as the obituary writer for the magazine~~~

http://www.economist.com/theworldin/displayStory.cfm?story_id=12494723
End of an aura
Nov 19th 2008
The Bush administration will come to an end on January 21st

With Jimmy Carter it was the teeth, big, straight and white as a set of country palings. With Richard Nixon it was the eyebrows, surely brooding on Hell. Abe Lincoln had the ears (and the beard, and the stove-pipe hat); Bill Clinton had a nose that glowed red, almost to luminousness, as his allergies assailed him. But George Bush’s most extraordinary feature was his nostrils, and they will be missed.

It is not just that they were large, and lent his face a certain simian charm. They were also uncontrollable. When the rest of the presidential body was encased in a sober suit, and the rest of the presidential face had assumed an expression appropriate to taking the oath of office, or rescuing banks, or declaring to terrorists that they could run but they couldn’t hide, the nostrils would suddenly flare and smirk, as if Mr Bush was about to burst out with something outrageous or obscene, or flash a high-five, or hail his deputy chief of staff as “Turd blossom”.

Occasionally, a real gaffe was about to emerge. Watched closely, the nostrils no doubt gave advance warning of the moment when, addressing the Pentagon’s top brass, Mr Bush said: “Our enemies...never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” More often, nothing exceptional was on the way to being said. But the nostrils ran ahead, twitching like a bull in a rodeo or a frisking wild horse, hinting at danger to come.

When he was debating with Al Gore in 2000, Mr Bush’s language was polite and the policy statements well coined, but the nostrils declared they couldn’t take the whole thing seriously. With hindsight, when the 2000 election became the closest ever, the Florida shenanigans seemed prefigured in that sniggering expression, which less became the 43rd president than Alfred E. Neuman of MAD magazine.

Being bigger and better than most people’s, the presidential nostrils were also more acute. They could sniff out WMD in Iraq as snappily as hot dogs at a football game, though it took the UN many years to come up with nothing. Yellow-cake uranium could be nosed as far away as Niger, and Saddam Hussein’s connections to al-Qaeda were as odorous as a Texas feedlot. The nostrils could smell victory, too, especially on that morning in May 2003 when, standing on an aircraft-carrier with “Mission Accomplished” fluttering on a banner behind him, Mr Bush breathed in the tang of the ocean and of power.

Much else alerted those nostrils when others were indifferent. Oil, for example, even when buried under hundreds of feet of environmentally protected Arctic tundra. Cheese, as eaten by the feckless French and other effete gastronomes of old Europe. Red meat, when demanded by the right-wing base which so often found this president disappointing, in the form of tax cuts and suspended regulations. And danger, as personified by suspicious individuals from faraway countries, whose proper place was to be in orange pyjamas at
Guantánamo Bay, well out of reach of a lawyer.

An aroma of pork

Disloyalty, or the whiff of it, set off a particular quivering. When Paul O’Neill, Mr Bush’s ex-treasury secretary, revealed that Saddam had been targeted from day one of Mr Bush’s first term, and when Scott McClellan, his former press secretary, wrote that the Bush White House lacked both candour and competence, the nostrils assumed an air of outraged innocence: the same look, in fact, they had assumed on the worst day of Mr Bush’s presidency, when an aide leaned down to tell him of the attack on the twin towers and the president, busy reading “The Pet Goat” to a class of Florida children, could not for a moment engage either his brain or his mouth to take the news.

All the stranger, therefore, that the noble orifices had their shortcomings. They could not smell the putrid mud that covered the ninth ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina passed, or the stink of subprime mortgages leaching their poison into the financial system. They found nothing especially noisome about the presence of Dick Cheney and his oilman cronies in charge of the national energy task-force. Sensitive as they were, they were unimpressed by levels of arsenic in drinking water or particulates in the air. And though Mr Bush had sold himself as a lean-spending, small-government man, they could not resist the aroma of a trillion-dollar budget stuffed with choicest pork.

Most curiously, they failed to detect the poisonous atmosphere that swirled around him abroad. Granted, the most revolting protesters were kept away. But even so the nostrils, proudly set even when the eyes blinked and the mouth pursed and wavered, maintained an extraordinary belief in the wisdom of the president and the rightness of his cause. One day the rest of the world would wake up and be grateful. One day the Bush administration would come up smelling like a rose.

Copyright © 2008 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group

http://pearlyabraham.tripod.com/bill/bush-nostrils.jpg  



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