Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category


The mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.

By JC

In remembrance of all that happened 69 years ago… Out of such power, empires are born and pursued. Please give Thomas Merton’s “Original Child Bomb” prose poem a listen and contemplate the fate of thousands of nuclear bombs still pointed at targets around the world.

“Original Child Bomb” is one of a small number of pieces written by Thomas Merton which he described as “anti-poems…” Merton’s anti-poems are characterised by the conscious and ironic use of the debased but now-commonplace language that masks the horror of genocide. 

(Pull quote, poem text and audio from “Dante’s Ghost”)

 

 

Full text of “Original Child Bomb” below the fold.
Continue Reading »

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“Services: Death of Wife/ Qty: 1/ Unit Price $2,500.”
— Iraq Body Count

By JC

23 March 2003:

“Donald Rumsfeld says the American attack on Baghdad is “as targeted an air campaign as has ever existed” but he should not try telling that to five-year-old Doha Suheil. She looked at me yesterday morning, drip feed attached to her nose, a deep frown over her small face as she tried vainly to move the left side of her body. The cruise missile that exploded close to her home in the Radwaniyeh suburb of Baghdad blasted shrapnel into her tiny legs ­ they were bound up with gauze ­ and, far more seriously, into her spine. Now she has lost all movement in her left leg.

Her mother bends over the bed and straightens her right leg which the little girl thrashes around outside the blanket. Somehow, Doha’s mother thinks that if her child’s two legs lie straight beside each other, her daughter will recover from her paralysis. She was the first of 101 patients brought to the Al-Mustansaniya College Hospital after America’s blitz on the city began on Friday night. Seven other members of her family were wounded in the same cruise missile bombardment; the youngest, a one-year-old baby, was being breastfed by her mother at the time.” — From “This is the reality of war. We bomb. They suffer.” 

Who will punish America’s government and military for the taking of civilian lives in Iraq, and the impending slaughter of innocent civilians, women and children in Syria by our weapons of shock and awe mass destruction?

One might think that if our Administration feels morally obligated to punish someone in Syria for the deaths of civilians in Syria (allegedly at the hands of Assad) that we might expect ourselves to observe the same judgment at some point in time (remember the Nuremburg trials?).

The PLOS Medicine journal estimates that 11,516 civilians were killed by American and Coalition forces in the first 5 years of Operation Iraqi Freedom:

In temporal analysis, numbers of civilian deaths from Coalition air attacks, and woman and child deaths from Coalition forces, peaked during the invasion. We applied a Woman and Child “Dirty War Index” (DWI), measuring the proportion of women and children among civilian deaths of known demographic status, to the 22,066 civilian victims identified as men, women, or children to indicate relatively indiscriminate perpetrator effects… Coalition forces had higher Woman and Child DWIs than Anti-Coalition forces, with no evidence of decrease over 2003–2008, for all weapons combined and for small arms gunfire, specifically.

Now is a good time to review the costs to Iraqi civilians — the 10’s of thousands of men, women and children — that we killed in the name of Operation Iraqi Freedom. One just needs to spend some time at IraqBodyCount.org to be reminded that our  attempt at nation building and exporting freedom & democracy — American style — dealt a heavy death toll to innocent civilians and children.

So when our present imperial president says he is going to engage in military action (with the acquiescence of Congress or not) to punish Syria for those 1500 deaths he’s feeling vindictive over, just how much civilian blood on our own hands are we willing to accept? 5? 50? 500? 5,000? 50,000? More? Throw enough hundred dollar bills at affected family members to assuage our guilt, then turn our backs?

Here is just one snippet from Iraq Body Count on how our military handles the cost of punishing and exacting revenge upon a dictator with no WMD’s:

“The Price of Loss: How the West values civilian lives in Iraq.” — by Lily Hamourtziadou, 12 November 2007

The American military has expressed regret “that civilians are hurt or killed while coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism,” after the 11 October killing of 15 women (one pregnant) and children in an air raid near lake Thar Thar. The civilian death toll by US fire was 96 in October, with 23 children among them, while in September US forces and contractors killed 108 Iraqi civilians, including 7 children. In August US troops killed 103 civilians, 16 of them children, and in July they killed 196. In fact, during the last five months US forces in Iraq have killed over 600 Iraqi civilians. Regrettably, as always.

It is the ‘price to pay’, the ‘sacrifice’ that has to be made as we fight terrorism, the ‘cost’ of this war against evil forces. That is what we say to justify these killings. But those of us who speak of this price to be paid, this sacrifice to be made, do not pay this price, do not make this sacrifice. Our own country is not being destroyed, attacked, occupied. Our own children are not being blown up, our civilians are not becoming homeless by the millions. Those who speak of the necessity of this sacrifice, would they be prepared to pay such a price? In their own country? With the blood of their own families? 

How much easier it is to sacrifice others, to let others pay with their lives. The value of those lives is hardly high enough to trouble us. It is nothing our military cannot afford. Here is an example:

“A fisherman was fishing in the Tigris river in the early morning, when a Coalition Forces (CF) helicopter flew over and shone a spotlight on him. The fisherman began to shout in English, ‘Fish! Fish!’ while pointing to his catch. A patrol of Humvees arrived, and as the deceased bent down to turn off the boat’s motor, CF shot and killed him. CF did not secure the boat, which drifted off and was never retrieved.” Compensation for death denied due to combat exemption; compensation for boat granted: $3,500 US.

The US Army paid $7,500 to two children whose mother they killed inside a taxi that ran a checkpoint — both children were also in the taxi, and were shot and injured; they also paid $6,000 for killing a child looking out of the window, while a raid was on-going in the house across the street. They refused, as they do in the majority of cases, to compensate the child whose father they killed as he drove home, but agreed to make a ‘condolence payment’ of $1,500. More recently, the US military is reported to have paid $2,500 to each family of the three men they killed near Abu Lukah, as they guarded their village.

There are more: Continue Reading »

By CFS

This come from an AP story featured in the Missoulian today:

The revelation that intelligence gleaned from the CIA’s so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history.

“We got beat up for it, but those efforts led to this great day,” said Marty Martin, a retired CIA officer who for years led the hunt for bin Laden.

Get the full article here: http://tinyurl.com/4223ltt

So fuck it… Let’s shred the constitution as long as it makes us feel safe and gives us petrol prices below $4 per gallon.

And if these black sites and torture are so successful, why didn’t we capture Osama and send him somewhere to be interigated?

By JC

Chris Hedges weighed in today with some sobering commentary about bin Laden’s death:

“We responded exactly as these terrorist organizations wanted us to respond. They wanted us to speak the language of violence. What were the explosions that hit the World Trade Center, huge explosions and death above a city skyline? It was straight out of Hollywood. When Robert McNamara in 1965 began the massive bombing campaign of North Vietnam, he did it because he said he wanted to “send a message” to the North Vietnamese—a message that left hundreds of thousands of civilians dead.

These groups learned to speak the language we taught them. And our response was to speak in kind. The language of violence, the language of occupation—the occupation of the Middle East, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—has been the best recruiting tool al-Qaida has been handed. If it is correct that Osama bin Laden is dead, then it will spiral upwards with acts of suicidal vengeance. And I expect most probably on American soil. The tragedy of the Middle East is one where we proved incapable of communicating in any other language than the brute and brutal force of empire.

And empire finally, as Thucydides understood, is a disease. As Thucydides wrote, the tyranny that the Athenian empire imposed on others it finally imposed on itself. The disease of empire, according to Thucydides, would finally kill Athenian democracy. And the disease of empire, the disease of nationalism … these of course are mirrored in the anarchic violence of these groups, but one that locks us in a kind of frightening death spiral. So while I certainly fear al-Qaida, I know it’s intentions. I know how it works. I spent months of my life reconstructing every step Mohamed Atta took. While I don’t in any way minimize their danger, I despair. I despair that we as a country, as Nietzsche understood, have become a monster that we are attempting to fight.”

By Duganz

Two videos, two nights, two reasons that Obama had the best weekend ever.

Saturday, he grabs laughs and makes one hell of a reference to The Lion King.

Sunday, well, he cemented his reelection, and made Donald Trump shit himself.

I made some baked potato soup… so, ya know, I did that.

Okay, I’m not exciting. But at least I’m not a Republican tonight. How’s it feel guys?

by JC

Frank Rich cast some light into the dark morass of tea bagging and the GOP today in the New York Times article “The Rage Is Not About Health Care”:

“If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.”

angry bagger

I’ve been wondering all along why the tea baggers would be so dead-set against a health care bill that is basically a bag of republican ideas–including a mandate conceptualized by the Heritage Foundation–working off of the model that republican Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts. A plan that furthers the republican goal of moving public wealth to private corporations. I daresay we’ll be hearing plenty from those trying to upsell this republican plan as progressive legislation the rest of the year. But that will do nothing to assuage the baggers and their GOP and Fox/Rush/Palin chearleaders.

Rich traces the roots of the tea bagger revolt back to Sarah Palin’s introductory speech at the RNC convention. With that speech, it suddenly became fashionable again to whip the right-wing crazies into a frenzy with a bunch of veiled bigotry and disinformation. And one way to curry favor with the new diva was to try and emulate or outdo her.

“Take our country back” has become the rallying cry for the current wave of hysteria and bigotry in this country. The problem is, however, that it was never “their” country in the first place. The country belongs to all, equally. Even those who are legally immigrating here.

If there was anybody who has a legitimate claim on “Take our country back”, though it would be Native Americans. I once listened to Bearhead Swaney out at the National Bison Range, on an anniversary of the Hellgate Treaty tell a nice little “joke”: What did native people call this land before the white man came? “OURS!”

We are witnessing nothing more than the second coming of white man to America.

by jhwygirl

The U.S. has 57,000 troops in Afghanistan, and we’re going to add 30,000 more – many of which will be deployed by Christmas – all for an estimated 100 al Qaeda?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be working on al Qaeda – Lord knows I’ve long made the distinction between the war in Iraq (which I didn’t support) and the war in Afghanistan (which I saw with some purpose) – but they’re down to 100 guys holed up on the border? Considerably neutralized already, lacking buildings or bases?

Obviously, the good news that Americans should feel at least good about in Afghanistan is that the al-Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country. No bases. No buildings to launch attacks on either us or our allies.

Now the problem is, the next step in this is the sanctuaries across the border. But I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling.

That, from Obama’s national security adviser and NATO’s former supreme allied commander in Europe, General James Jones.

A thousand Army Rangers can’t take care of that? Or even 2,000? What about the Marines?

Oh, how government loves the war machine. One big ole’ stimulus package, wrapped up under the guise of patriotism and democracy.

And speaking of democracy – I can’t help but wonder how committed the newly re-elected President Karzai is to democracy. It’s one thing to finish the job, it’s a whole other thing to make pals with someone who doesn’t seem to have a lot of friends – or at least enough to get him elected fair-and-square.

Human rights? Women’s rights? Shouldn’t we expect those things from democracies?

This sure is starting to look like some other country’s war to me. Either that or, like I said, those 100 al Qaeda holed up there in those caves must be some real badasses.

Meh.

by Pete Talbot

Well, she’s at it again — my lamebrain (distant) relative who sends obnoxious, right-wing emails to my poor wife. This was last week’s. Here’s today’s (I apologize for some of the small fonts. This email arrived in a strange format — at least one that I wasn’t able to manipulate. The line above the stamp reads, USPS New 42-Stamp!!! Celebrates Muslim holiday.):

Fw_ NEW STAMP 1

Fw_ NEW STAMP

The final line in the email says, They (MUSLIMS) don’t even believe in Christ, & they’re getting their own Christmas stamp! BUT, don’t dare to dream of posting the ten commandments on federal property! This is truly UNBELIEVABLE !!!

Unbelievable is an understatement. This email comes from a self-proclaimed Christian, too. Guess she missed those teachings of Jesus’ — you know: tolerance, understanding, loving one’s fellow man.

Of course the greatest travesty here is lumping all Muslims into radical extremists and terrorists. This comes from small minds. I was fortunate, back in my film making days, to have traveled to many different countries — some of them Muslim. I met many exceptional people in these Muslim nations who treated me as if I were family (and were way more tolerant than this so-called Christian relative).

The Christian religion doesn’t exactly have an unblemished record. Think the Inquisition, the Crusades, burning “witches” at the stake, and the slaughter of so many “heathens” throughout history.

I’m also pretty sure that President Obama hasn’t “directed the United States Post Office to REMEMBER and HONOR the EID MUSLIM holiday season with a new commemorative 42-cent First Class Holiday Postage Stamp …” although it wouldn’t be that big a deal if he had. I believe he has a few more pressing things on his plate.

I like to think this stuff comes from the lunatic fringe but it’s still scary. I’ll keep posting these emails to offer some insight into the mind of a paranoid, right-wingnut.

Perhaps someday this relative will find a link to these posts of mine and she’ll disown me. I can live with that.

[UPDATE: Here is some background information on the stamp from an older press release from the USPS.  According to the release the stamp in question would be in, at least, its third re-issue (the first being on Sept. 1, 2001, during the George W. Bush administration).  Hat tip to Craig Moore.]

by jhwygirl

Consider this an open thread, too, folks….

One-man show Gary Marbut, self-professed President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association has been a busy busy boy. Earlier this week he was in town to kick off his campaign against the statewide mill levy that supports the university system, and then on Friday he was in the paper endorsing NOT John McCain, but Ron Paul for President of the United States. Paul, on the other hand, wants off of the ballot here in Montana.

Gee…maybe Marbut and I agree on something. I mean, if you absolutely are NOT going to vote for Obama, Ron Paul certain is a better choice….that would be if you don’t want more of the same, John McCain.

Deepak Chopra weighs in on the election and what the McCain/Palin ticket means for America. Some highlights:

–Small town values
— a denial of America’s global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.
–Ignorance of world affairs — a repudiation of the need to repair America’s image abroad.
–Family values — a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be heeded.
–Rigid stands on guns and abortion — a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
–Patriotism — the usual fall back in a failed war.
–‘Reform’ — an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t fit your ideology.

The Clark Fork Journal – that free paper in business lobbies around the area – has some great pieces in its September issue. Here’s just two of their fabulous offerings:
The Original Man: The Life and Work of Architect A.J. Gibson, and Fruits of Labor of Sweet Success, a piece on a Missoula fruit farm and its unlikely crop of blueberries.

Wulfgar! (out of Bozeman) reminds us that candidate for HD-96 Steve Eschenbacher thinks that Missoulians who are supporting Obama are igner’t pups.

Vote Teresa K. Henry for HD-96.

Retired Army Major General Paul D. Eaton, who served in Iraq as the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team (CMATT) commanding general will be in Montana campaigning for Barack Obama. He called for Rumsfield to leave, saying “Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead America’s armed forces.” He has been critical of the Republican-led congress for “refusing to hold the necessary hearings and investigations the Army desperately needed…The result is an Army and Marine Corps on the ropes, acres and acres of broken equipment, and tour lengths of 15 months because we have too few troops for the tasks at hand.” Eaton was an adviser to Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. He will be coming to Helena, Great Falls, Anaconda and Missoula.

I wonder how I can get that invite?

Finally – Here our our allies. Bush’s buddies. A country of war lords and and wealthy landowners. The people who champion brutal, brutal honor killings, protect Osama Bin Laden and threaten reporters. Yep…there’s democracy a-brewin’ in the Middle East.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Here’s the latest from one of our key allies in the, as the Bush Administration now calls it, War on Islamofascism: the Saudi gang-rape victim has been pardoned by King Abdullah. Remember this poor soul? She and an ex-boyfriend were raped by seven men because they were sitting…oh, hell. Who cares why? There’s no reason for this rape that any rational mind can process. Nor can the mind wrap itself around the victim’s punishment for meeting a male other than her husband: 200 lashes (the other rape victim, the guy, got 90 lashes).

Okay, so His Majesty completely understood that her sentence was outrageously unjust, and, to put it plainly, barbaric?

Saudi Justice Minister, Abdullah bin Muhammed, told the newspaper that the pardon did not mean the king doubted the country’s judges, but instead acted in the “interests of the people.”

Oh well.  At least they’re our ally.  That’s all that matters, right? I mean, when our country is fighting a global war for freedom and human rights against those who, in the words of President Bush,

…aggressively fund the spread of radical, intolerant versions of Islam in unstable parts of the world. Under their rule, they have banned books….and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, and to control every aspect of life, and to rule the soul, itself…

it’s important to find allies who don’t do any of that stuff.  Because then using the catchphrase “Islamofascists” to describe our enemies would be meaningless, right?  

by Rebecca Schmitz 

The next time one of your conservative friends wants to debate your stance on “Islamofascism”, the Iraq War or, as our President would pronounce it, the “War on Terra” remind them of what one of our key allies is up to these days:

A court in Saudi Arabia increased the punishment for a gang-rape victim after her lawyer won an appeal of the sentence for the rapists, the lawyer told CNN. The 19-year-old victim was sentenced last year to 90 lashes for meeting with an unrelated male, a former friend from whom she was retrieving photographs…”After a year, the preliminary court changed the punishment and made it two to nine years for the defendants,” al-Lahim said of the new decision handed down Wednesday. “However, we were shocked that they also changed the victim’s sentence to be six months in prison and 200 lashes.”

Really, if we’re going to invade countries without a tie to September 11th, if we’re going to use focus-grouped catchphrases like “Islamofascism”, and if we’re going to pretend to care about the spread of democracy, justice and equality around the globe, perhaps we ought to make friends with the right people.

Oh, silly me, I forgot. It’s not about any of those things. It’s about our energy, stupid.

by Jay Stevens

The Notorious Mark T, as have I, has long been a critic of the corporate-friendly and conservative wing of the Democratic party, which seems to predominate in Washington DC. But our varying approaches to politics manifest itself over any discussion involving Ralph Nader. Mark T thinks there’s little or no substantive difference between the parties; I think the difference that does exist is important and worth fighting for. (Mark T is also frustrated by the two-party system; seeing as we’re stuck with it, I believe we need to exert some force on it to change it, or at least, to make it more representative.)

Mark argues that if Kerry had won in 2004, we’d still be in Iraq. He could be right: Democrats are too often cowed by rightwing hawks into bad foreign policy decisions. Truman watched McArthur cross the 38th parallel in Korea, Kennedy intervened in Vietnam, Johnson escalated, and just about every significant “establishment” Democrat gave Bush the go ahead to invade Iraq. Still it’s easy to imagine Kerry standing up to torture, the politicization of federal agencies – like the Department of Justice – domestic spying, contractors in Iraq, the war profiteering in Iraq by Bush buddies, etc. In short, while our current system would likely have continued unchanged, it’s likely that the mistakes and maliciousness of our federal government would have been reduced, mismanaged money better spent, some lives saved. To me that’s a significant difference.

Of course, sometimes it’s hard to argue with Mark, when sh*t like this happens: Schumer and Feinstein signaling their approval of Bush’s Attorney General nominee, Michael Mukasey, who apparently is willing to go along with the administration’s torture policy.

Nora Ephron:

And then there are the Democrats in the Congress. What a bunch of losers, hiding behind the fact that it takes 60 votes to shut down debate and 67 to override a presidential veto. So what? So pass a law and make Bush veto it. Make him veto something every single day. Drive the guy crazy. What have you got to lose? And meanwhile what have you done? You’ve voted for the surge, you’ve voted to authorize a war against Iran, and you’re about to vote in favor of an attorney general-designate who refuses to call waterboarding torture.

Of course Mark was there to remind us of the Democrats’ failing:

The standard response to this kind of behavior is to accuse Democrats of lacking a spine. In fact, these two senators will face intense criticism for their act. It takes courage to act against your friends, for your enemies. It’s not a matter of having or lacking a spine.

It’s more basic. The Democratic Party is a catch basin for dissent. In 1968 protesters outside the convention hall in Chicago were clubbed by police as liberals inside nominated Hubert Humphrey, Vietnam War supporter. The Democratic Party has an institutional function – it corrals dissent, and then hoses it and then clubs it to death. The party leadership is made up of enablers for Republicans. To support Democrats is to invite indignity on one’s self – we now must crawl back in our holes as Bush wins yet again.

IMHO, I think that’s giving the Democratic leadership too much credit. The acceptance of Mukaskey probably has more to do with Democrats’ nervousness with the polls showing Congress with an even lower approval rating than the President. And with a major election headed our way, Schumer doesn’t want to rock the boat, create any controversy in the one area where Republicans are competitive with Democrats in the voters’ minds: how they deal with terrorism.

Still, that’s a failing. Again, Nora E:

But here’s what they should do instead:
Reject Mukasey.
Make Bush send up another nominee.
Reject that nominee if he won’t take a position on waterboarding.
And just keep on doing it.
Because it’s the right thing to do. Because waterboarding is torture. Because we are torturing people and it has to stop, and it will never stop unless the Democrats make it stop.
And forget about the Justice Department. No one will fix the Justice Department until there’s a new president.

Too often Democrats have compromised on the “right thing.” Compromising basic principles ensures that they’re no longer principles. We’re not asking for much here. Stop torture. Deny Mukaskey his appointment.

Terror attack!

by Jay Stevens

Dig this:

Gee. A terror plot involving Christian radicals. Imagine that. And to think I got jumped yesterday (and today) in email and attempted nasty, unprintable comments for expressing concern as to whether or not the bombs seized in Alabama involved white supremacists, and today we read about a terrorist plot against a woman’s clinic that was supposed to take place on American soil – planned out by ……………… Christian radicals.

You idiots on the wingnut right who only see the media and ‘Islamofacists’ as the “real” enemy ever gonna get a clue? Ever going to get beyond slamming people for rightly worrying that an explosion or a thwarted plot is the work of an Christofascist? Was your first thought today when you heard about this plot was that it was a “Islamic” plot? I wonder which one of the righty ‘nuts declared the news of this thwarted plot as ‘overblown’ first?

Ever since I saw the newstory about the clinic bomb, I’ve been wanting to take a rightie rant about terrorists and do a find-and-replace. I didn’t have to wait long, thanks to the idiots who wanted to shoot up a military base.

Basically I took “Sista Toldja”’s hysteria-laden post about a “Islamic militant terror plot” to attack Fort Dix, and replaced a few key words and links.

Not to downplay the Fort Dix gang…yet, but the administration does have a history of passing off less-than-dangerous and less-than-organized plots as proof of a world-wide organized Islamic terror threat. What’s already known is that the Fort Dix six were not affiliated with any known terrorist group.

Were they dangerous? Of course, just like any other group of alienated twenty-somethings with assault rifles. (See, “Shootings, Virginia Tech,” for more details.)

But what’s not in doubt is that they were nowhere near as well-organized or had as much history of violence as anti-abortion clinic bombers and militia groups, both mentioned in the links above.

My point is that terrorism isn’t inherently Islamic – or even religious — or the purveyance of dark-skinned illegal immigrants. To simplify the problem to a set of preprogrammed ideological values only diminishes the complexity of the problem.

I’m happy the Fort Dix six were caught before they could act – I’m especially happy for the soldiers stationed and training there – but let’s not pretend they’re the vanguard of an “invasion” of Islamic radicals or something, eh? There are plenty of violent loonies right here at home we need to deal with.

by Jay Stevens

Uh oh. Did you see the news from LAX? An Iraqi man set off security alerts and required a bomb squad because he had a magnet stuffed up his *ss.

Now, from what I can tell, this was no bomb:

Al-Maliki told investigators the objects have therapeutic properties, and that he had forgotten to remove them before reaching the security checkpoint. They were described as a magnet wrapped with a piece of gum in a napkin and then coiled with wire; and some kind of round, polished stone.

(I’ll let you all debate how a magnet in your *ss could possibly be “therapeutic,” or how you could possibly forget that it was there.)

What I’m worried about is the TSA’s habit of reacting to bomb scares. First there was the shoe bomber, and now we have to take our shoes off before going through security. Then there was the British terror plot, whereby conspirators planned to mix liquid explosives on a plane – and now we can’t bring liquids through security.

You see where I’m going, don’t you?

If the TSA reacts in typical fashion to the terror-butt-magnet, we can all thank Fadhel Al-Maliki for squeezing whatever little dignity and comfort remained from the airport screening process.

by Jay Stevens 

Some time ago, a report was released by Syracuse University on terror prosecutions by the U.S. government, which found that prosecutions had dropped to pre-9/11 rates. I wrote up a lengthy post analyzing the report, and concluded:

So, after 9/11 there were more prosecutions, but which resulted in a lower percent of convictions. And those convictions were for much less serious crimes. The number of actual violent terrorists caught, prosecuted, and convicted remains the same or near pre-9/11 despite the Bush administration rhetoric and tough-guy methods, which apparently result in more agency referrals.

In other words, all this extra-constitutional bullsh*t is not cutting down on terror, only creating more dubious referrals. It also means that the Iraq War has had no discernable effect on terrorism.

(There are a couple of conclusions you could take away from the report: either terrorism isn’t as big a threat as the rhetoric would have us believe, or our draconian anti-terror methods aren’t effective. Personally, I suspect it’s both.)

If the Syracuse weren’t enough of an indictment against the Bush administration, a recent audit of the US Justice Department reveals that Justice officials are padding their prosecution numbers:

The report, released Tuesday by the Justice Department’s inspector general, concluded that the department in most cases “could not provide support for the numbers reported or could not identify the terrorism link used to classify statistics as terrorism-related.”

All but two of the 26 statistics reviewed from October 2000 through September 2005 were wrong. “…

Part of the problem, according to Fine, was that the Justice Department routinely counted criminal cases as terrorism-related even when prosecutors had found no links to terrorism. Fine also blamed a “decentralized and haphazard” system.

Which means that Syracuse report actually overestimated the effectiveness of the administration’s anti-terror programs!

So, basically the government is reading your email, tapping your phone, looking at your Internet traffic, suspending habeas corpus, kidnapping and torturing, and pursuing a Quixotic Middle East policy – and not catching terrorists.

I think it’s time for an overhaul on how we think and act towards terrorism.

by Jay Stevens 

So Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez was grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee today, in what is obviously — hopefully — a harbinger of things to come.

Crooks & Liars has the video up of Sen. Leahy slamming – and I mean slamming — Gonzalez over the case of Canadian Maher Arar, who, though later found innocent of all charges, was shipped by the CIA to Syria where he was tortured. Leahy:

We knew damn well if he went to Canada he wouldn’t be tortured. He’d be held and he’d be investigated. We also knew damn well if he went to Syria, he’d be tortured. And it’s beneath the dignity of this country, a country that has always been a beacon of human rights, to send somebody to another country to be tortured.

It’s a great quote, and sounds even better coming from a red-faced indignant Senator. Give it a watch and feel the goose bumps when you realize how sincere and right it sounds. Kind of refreshing after watching GOP Senators kow-tow to the administration. Like, say, Orrin Hatch:

Orrin Hatch spent the first two minutes of his time “questioning” Gonzales by lauding Gonzales’ extreme integrity and diligence during this Grave and Epic War on Terrorism that America faces, explaining that everything they’ve done is critical to protecting us and describing the time in which Gonzales is Attorney General as one of the most difficult and important in history — Hatch emphasized that he means not only U.S. history, but in the history of the whole, wide world….

Hatch then spent the rest of his time (all 6 minutes) demanding that Gonzales and the Justice Department devote much more of its resources and attention — including FBI agents, other law-enforcement resources and a new task force — to enforcing anti-obscenity laws against people in the U.S. who produce pornography, particularly those who sell it over the Internet, and urged that whole new laws be created to criminalize Internet pornography….

Or, to put it another way, the Terrorists pose such a grave danger to our Republic that it is the most threatening and important time Ever, justifying whole new expansions of government power and total government secrecy in order to protect us and to win this War because the Terrorists want to kill us all, and our law enforcement resources should therefore be poured into imprisoning people who make adult films and putting an end to pornography. That’s what Orrin Hatch said today.

Good times…

by Jay Stevens 

Al Qaeda is at it again, this time taking credit for Democratic success during the 2006 midterms. My first reaction was mirth. I mean…how ridiculous can you get? After all, one of the prime reasons Republicans lost this election was because they didn’t go after Osama bin Laden! The claim is, of course, patently ridiculous and should be considered for less time than it took for you to read this paragraph.

That, of course, didn’t stop the usual gang of idiots to claim that this statement once again “proves” that Democrats are the party of the terrorists.

I’ve talked about this before, linking to a post by Steven Taylor that pretty much describes what al Qaeda statements like this are about: propaganda for al Qaeda sympathizers and wonders why anyone would take this stuff seriously:

Of course, part of the answer is grounded in blind partisan loyalty that sees the Republicans as somehow the sole keepers of defense and security and the Democrats as the party of appeasers and cowards. Such a dichotomy is quite incorrect, but it does infuse the thinking of many.The bottom line is that yes, there are policy differences between the two parties, but the choice not between victory and defeat.

It would help our public discourse (as well as the policy making process) if we were all mindful of that fact.

However, we need to get over such thinking if we are going to make real progress in terms of the appropriate response to terrorism.

Indeed. I’d go on, but I’ve pretty much covered it all in the previous post I wrote on this: rightie rhetoric is only dividing and fueling unhinged haters. You can bet pretty much whatever al Qaeda says is bullsh*t: shame on you for believing it, propagating it, and using it to batter your ideological opponents.

by Jay Stevens 

Here we go. The work can begin.

Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd today announced his intention to introduce legislation in the Senate that would amend the “torture bill.” Some planned changes:

Restores Habeas Corpus protections to detaineesNarrows the definition of unlawful enemy combatant to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are not lawful combatants

Bars information gained through coercion from being introduced as evidence in trials

Empowers military judges to exclude hearsay evidence they deem to be unreliable

Authorizes the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review decisions by the Military commissions

Limits the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and makes that authority subject to congressional and judicial oversight

Provides for expedited judicial review of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to determine the constitutionally of its provisions

This is exactly what needs to happen: reinstitute the rule of law over the executive branch, yet still giving federal officials powerful law-enforcement tools to combat terrorism. Let’s face it: the executive needs oversight. Detainees must have their basic rights. This shouldn’t even be up for discussion, let alone already existing legislation voted on by the Senate.

There were 12 Democrats who voted for it and only 1 Republican who voted against it. Let’s hope those numbers change and significantly. The 2006 elections was a clear demonstration that American voters do not like the way the executive branch is handling Iraq and the “war on terror.” We’ll soon see which Senators got that message.

by Jay Stevens 

I’ve already posted this in “Links,” but it’s worth highlighting. Recently a couple on a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles was…well…“snuggling and kissing inappropriately” during their flight:

“Persing was observed nuzzling or kissing Sewell on the neck, and … with his face pressed against Sewell’s vaginal area. During these actions, Sewell was observed smiling,” reads the indictment filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.On a second warning from the flight attendant, Persing snapped back threatening the flight attendant with “serious consequences” if he did not leave them alone.

The couple could face 20 years imprisonment under the Patriot Act.

I seriously doubt that this was what the well-intentioned thought the Patriot Act was supposed to protect us against. Sure, there was a veiled threat made. But do we want flight attendants deciding who’s a terrorist? Especially if you could lose all of your Constitutional rights to trial and representation? Especially if the man in question was sick, not over-sexed?

This stuff matters. Take the administration’s recently unveiled claim that it can hold immigrants indefinitely, if accused of terrorism. And who does the accusing? Who decides? You remember the torture bill: it’s the President. But the problem is, there’s no oversight.

What if an administrator makes a mistake? What if a paranoid flight attendant sees something she really doesn’t? What if a federal agent takes a dislike to someone passing through security?

Supporters of the administration will tell you that the only people affected by these regulations will be evildoers bent on the destruction of the planet. But is that necessarily the case? With rendition, for example, the CIA tends to kidnap and torture those that it has the least amount of evidence against. People: this isn’t a television cop show! There’s a reason we need evidence to convict somebody; that’s because there’s always a possibility that the person is innocent.

So scrapping oversight and checks on executive power is a bad idea, especially if you consider everyday and all-too ordinary government bureaucrats will most often be deciding your fate.

I’m all for giving police officials extra tools to combat terror. But let’s not throw away the foundations of our legal system to do so.

by Jay Stevens 

In the runup to the election, I wrote a post on Gather.com about the divisive rhetoric employed by the GOP – the “Nattering Nabobs of Negativity” – and how it’s permeated the Republican base, and might have been a reason for the stunning results for the Democratic Party last Tuesday.

But in the post, there was also a tacit warning that encouraging simplistic narratives around good and evil in American politics (i.e., dissent is “treason) might translate into action. After all, if you believe opposition to Iraq is betrayal of your country, and betrayal should be met with death, then it follows those that disagree with you should be killed. As proof, I cited John Couglin, who wanted me tortured, and the Ohio retiree who said someone should stick an AK-47 in liberal talk-show host Stephanie Miller’s “glory hole.”

As if to confirm this impression of right rhetoric harming the GOP, some pundits claimed the 2006 election results were a call for civility in politics. After all, moderates and independents swung heavily to the Democrats, and not necessarily for any particular set of issues or plans or agenda espoused by the party leadership. I’m sure many voters were turned off by the GOP’s consistently shrill and negative rhetoric during the election.

Those of us that expected the right to cool their ardor for extremist rhetoric were sorely disappointed. After all, many righties actually thought the election was a mandate for conservatism. So when al Qaeda hailed the results of the 2006 election, you can only guess the reaction from the right. Ultimately I’m with Steven Taylor: al Qaeda probably doesn’t understand American politics and doesn’t really care about the policies as long as George Bush is dealt a blow.

what is the likely goal here? Clearly al Qaeda is looking for any victory it can muster in a war that is as much about propaganda and perception as anything else. And again: their target audience is not us, but rather those sympathetic to al Qaeda’s cause. Of course they want to cast the elections (and Rumself’s resignation) as a victory–it is essentially at no cost to them whatsoever. The CBS story linked above uses the appropriate verb for what al Qaeda is doing: taunting.

In the post, Taylor wonders why anyone would take an al Qaeda spokesperson seriously:

Of course, part of the answer is grounded in blind partisan loyalty that sees the Republicans as somehow the sole keepers of defense and security and the Democrats as the party of appeasers and cowards. Such a dichotomy is quite incorrect, but it does infuse the thinking of many.

The bottom line is that yes, there are policy differences between the two parties, but the choice not between victory and defeat.

It would help our public discourse (as well as the policy making process) if we were all mindful of that fact.

The result of this discourse is seen in the actions of California conservative, Chad Conrad Castagana, who sent white powder and death threats in envelopes to prominent public figures who openly disagreed with the President’s war policies. Castagana was a self-identified “conservative Republican,” fan of Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and Michele Malkin, paleo-conservative on immigration, who frequently commented on right-wing blogs.

As Evan Derkacz rightfully notes, Castagana is a disturbed individual acting alone, not to be confused with the majority of conservatives who post online, or even who subscribe to the meme that Democratic victories equal terrorist victories, who are quite normal, not prone to random death threats or potential for violence. That is, there’s no organized conspiracy to intimidate those that would dissent against the government.

But I do completely agree with Dave Neiwert:

Haters like the people Castagana claims as his heroes — Coulter, Malkin, Ingraham, just for starters — are constantly engaging in the worst kind of directed primarily at liberals. It is simply an inevitability that, when this kind of hate is broadcast to millions of people daily, some of them are eventually going to start acting it out in fashions precisely like this. And worse.

For way too long we’ve heard the idea that liberal bloggers and commentators are the extremists, but our “crime” is the desire to create a strong opposition political block to the President and the Republican Party. Our “crime” is to get involved in the political system and work for change.

And for way too long, we’ve seen right-wing provocateurs like Michele Malkin, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh escape any semblance of criticism in traditional media venues. Coulter and Malkin often appear on mainstream news programs and national politicians – like the Vice-President – regularly give interviews to Limbaugh. It’s time these people were marginalized by viewers and the news organizations that abet them. They are hate mongers; their vitriol falls on ears all to eager to act out the fantasies fed to them.

Love the (unintentional?) comedy found in Ron Crocker’s recent letter to the Billings Gazette supporting Conrad Burns: “Burns is a true patriot, great defender of the U.S.” Check it out:

To quote Clarence Darrow, “True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”

That’s Sen. Conrad Burns! He is a patriot, a Marine Corps veteran and defender of our nation! He supports our president, and the Patriot Act. He wants to rid us of those who ploy terrorism as a means to destroy the United States and its way of life.

I believe Jon Tester is a patriot in his own way, but a true patriot will do everything they can to defend and protect their country. What does Tester want to do? He wants to repeal the Patriot Act!

The Patriot Act has proven successful and has aided in preventing any repeat of 9/11. Why Tester and so many liberals want the Patriot Act repealed literally worries me. Tester says, “The Patriot Act will take away our freedoms.” The only people who have cause to worry about their loss of freedoms are those who deserve to have their freedoms lost. The Patriot Act is aimed at individuals who have caused the United States great concern, not the everyday citizens of our great nation!

I served 36 years in the service of the United States Navy, doing my part to support and defend the people of the United States and in keeping our borders free from enemy attack. And I pray there will be no more 9/11s. That’s why I support and urge you to support Burns for U.S. Senate. He is a patriot!

Hilarious. I don’t know if Crocker just Googled quotes to use to defend Burns’ position, or he’s fully aware of who Clarence Darrow is, but using Darrow’s quote to defend the Patriot Act is like, well, using a John Brown quote to defend slavery…or a MLK quote to defend segregation…or…well you get the idea.

Clarence Darrow was an activist and progressive lawyer and prominent member of the early 20th-centure ACLU, a staunch defender of labor unions, and most famous for defending the teaching of evolution in the “Scopes Monkey Trial.” (Basically everything that is an anathema to Conrad Burns.) Darrow’s idea of “injustice” is exactly the kind that the Patriot perpetuates, not shadowy and nonexistent domestic terror cells. That’s why Darrow’s organization, the ACLU (along with the NRA) is one of the most outspoken opponents of the Patriot Act.

That Crocker can claim “The only people who have cause to worry about their loss of freedoms are those who deserve to have their freedoms lost,” is the height of folly. Just ask the railroaded suspects in the Lodi case, or the Canadian man kidnapped by the CIA and sent to Syria to be tortured – and who happened to be innocent. The disturbing element of these two cases is that federal agents appear to have been politically motivated and resorted to extreme measures because they didn’t have enough evidence for a solid case.

That is, the more shaky the suspicion against you, the more severe the police tactics are that will be used against you. Or, the less likely you are a terrorist, the more likely you’ll be tortured.

Let’s hope Crocker doesn’t go buying a disposable cell phone anytime soon.

Finally, the “United States and its way of life” is inherently tied to the rule of law, our basic liberties, and the Constitution of the United States. Amending, curtailing, or simply eliminating any or all of these rights does not aid in preserving our country – it will destroy it.

Honestly, I’d oppose the Patriot Act and the torture bill and like-minded policies from the Bush administration even if they were effective. But they’re not.

Had enough?

McSolutions

Guest Post by Widowmaker. 

Part 3 of 3

This might seem like watching  “Momento”, I do urge you to read the parts in order starting with 1 of 3…I probably should have posted them like that!

Islamic terrorists are dying for their cause, their cause of dying for Muhammad.   Fighting Islamic Fascism is not fighting Communism.  There is no fear of losing; losing is NOT dying in battle.  Being a martyr is the ultimate goal, the ultimate goal is to die in this war.  An enemy that wants to die compared to an enemy that feared dying.  The battlefield must be different; America must be prepared for a new enemy, a new type of war.  A war that is not always gracious, always honorable, and always easy to watch.  At the beginning of the Civil War, women and children gathered on blankets near battlefields to watch a glorious battle.  They soon realized that it was not as pretty, glorious, and as respectable as they previous thought.

Iraq is the excuse du jour for jihadists. But the important factor is that these are young men looking for an excuse. If you live your life calculating that it’s a mistake to do anything that might prompt murderers and savages to act like murderers and savages, you’ve basically decided to live under their thumb and surrender your civilization in the process.

Right now, our current method of the fighting our enemy is too weak, too pathetic and too wrong.  We have taken our Fast Food Nation and applied it to terrorism.  A McSolution just will not work!

We were told “Buy a car or the terrorist will win”.  This was and still is part of the problem.  “Go about our every day lives”.  No!  Once almost 300 million Americans woke up and realized that people were out to kill us.  That these people hoped to kill innocent people in the hope of convincing America of their strength, their goal, and whatever else.  That was the problem…people went out their everyday lives!  Look around, we did nothing, citizens of the United States, to make us safer.  Half of America wanted to bomb, the other half wanted to bury their heads in the sand.

What happens if a car bomb, anthrax, bio attack, dirty bomb, etc actually goes off?  Take big chains.  Some of the biggest actually, Wal-Mart and McDonalds.  No legislation was ever passed to give them tax breaks, incentives, anything to make their stores safer.  No legislation was required that they do this.  Nothing!  If you own a coffee shop, there is no incentive to install special glass that slows oxygen to a bomb.  No legislation for cut offs in vent systems to stop the spread of a bio attack.  People had revenge in their eyes.  The leadership was and is focused on prevention.  But nobody has asked, what if those efforts fail?  Terrorist Response teams have not been created.  Comparable to the Special Forces of the military.  People that are trained in dealing with a terror attack .

The first part of fighting terror is prevention, but the second part is what to do after the attack.  America, as a whole, has grossly been negligent on this.

I do think we should fight Al-Qaeda head on, in their backyards.  Wherever they reside, we should hunt them down.  It will be vicious.  Have you ever cornered an animal?  They became un-predictable and twice as dangerous as before.  Everything should be done swiftly, efficiently, and without them in a corner.  Al-Qaeda is much like a school yard bully.   Have you ever stood up to a bully?  I did, and got punched, kicked.  I came home more bloodied than the day before.  But you know what, I kept standing up to him.  The first day, the second day, even the third was horribly painful.  However, he eventually got tired of me actually getting a hit in.  Eventually, I did succeed in fending him off, and rarely got picked on by him again.  It was not a glorious seen.  I had to get knocked down to get back up.  We must realize that their will be sacrifice and pain to win this war.  We want life to be exactly the same as this war wages, it almost is, and it shouldn’t be.  I’m not talking loss of liberty, I am talking massive drives to improve our way of life so everybody can survive another attack.  I am talking people should be signing up in droves for the police forces, and military to defend ourselves.  People did after 9/11, wheres the rush now?

Unfortunately parties have taken a hardliner stance.  Democrats: police action, Republicans: Military.  It should be a little of both.  Dry out the swamps of dictators that support terrorism, and swat the mosquitoes in countries that help us.

We are not the enemy

Guest Post by Widowmaker. 

Part 2 of 3

The first major problem with fighting a terrorist…who the heck is defined as a terrorist!? Nobody has given us a clear definition on what a terrorist is. What is the definition of Terrorist? Sounds simple enough, but this is one thing that Webster can not tell you. The Patriot Act has a definition, but its days our numbered. All the government will tell me: “The calculated use of violence or threat of violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological. Someone who does this is a terrorist.”

This is what leaves Americans confused, they hear “Fighting Terrorists” and don’t know what it means. “In Iraq we are fighting terrorist”…really, then when is it a war with a country, and a war against terror? Because there are state sponsored terrorists, such as those from Libya. Would invading Libya be “the war on terror”. Mmm, who knows! What about the black panthers, the kkk, bombing mass populations by a government, school shootings, etc. Who is it, where do we apply terror laws, and how do we even defend ourselves against such measures?

So, the problem: We tend to use the term terrorist too narrowly. By not clearly identifying who a terrorist is, it makes it difficult to combat. Because right now the lines between terrorist and criminal are blurred. Current system: if you kill for money, criminal. If you kill for an idea, terrorists. Much like hate crime laws.

The other major problem, people like George Soros tell the world that terrorism does not exist. It has been made into a political mess that both sides of the spectrum use too much. Click here to see the attacks against America. We had terror attacks with Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and now Bush. Terrorists do not care who is in office, so the GOP, the Democrats, the whatever party needs to stop saying that they do. Also, I believe people are confused who the enemy is. The enemy is not Uncle Sam, the enemy is the people that cuts heads of on TV, flies planes into buildings, gases innocent people, sends anthrax in the mail, etc. Do not forget who the enemy is. If we forget this, the CIA might as well come home.

And finally Iraq. Everyone has seen report by the National Intelligence Estimate (sorry no link). Nobody in their right mind needs to read that report to know that Iraq is breeding terrorists. Which makes Iraq, now, a terrorist threat. Don’t come screaming when I say its part of the war on terror, it wasn’t. But now, with all of these new anti-American terrorists being bred, we must solve Iraq before the new terrorists come to us. Which is where, Senator Joseph Biden comes to play. Right now, Iraq and Afghanistan will help define how the Arab world views America. And solving Iraq correctly might mean fewer enemies. Terrorists , jiahdistst, and others see Iraq as a rallying call against America. An Alamo you might say. Senator Biden recognizes solving Iraq, will solve so much more. He argues that the current government of national unity isn’t succeeding in holding Iraq together and that America should instead embrace a policy of “federalism plus” that will devolve power to the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions. Iraqis are already voting for sectarian solutions, Biden argues, and America won’t stabilize Iraq unless it aligns its policy with this reality. He’s asking the right question: How do we fix Iraq? There are many problems, but this is what I thought were the most important. Now, what can we do?

The Problem

Guest Post by Widowmaker.  

Part 1 of 3

My debut begins! The subject of fighting terrorism is exhausted, but I hope my experience and knowledge can shed some light on how I believe terrorism should be fought. As a guest columnist on a liberal blog, one could easily assume I’m a liberal. Not to discredit what this piece is about, but to describe a little bit about me, I believe in trickle-down, I have a poster of Ronald Reagan in my bedroom, and Jimmy Carter leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I say this in hopes of allowing readers to know what I am. That being said; I do not think the right is right on the war on terror and Iraq. I don’t believe the left does either. I do believe one Senator, Democrat Joseph Biden, is the closest thing we have. For ease of reading, I will break this piece into three pieces: a quick history, problems with the current system, and what I think can help solve it. Also, my main focus is Islamic Fascists terrorists. Which, I believe, is our gravest threat.

So it begins;

May 8th, 1945 marked V-E day. The close of the worst struggle that modern day civilization had ever seen. The following days began a new war, a new struggle, a new fear. The tanks of Germany no longer moved; the wheels of Communism rolled in. For 40 years Communism was the world’s gravest threat. Sparking “hot zones” of the Cold War killing nearly 100K US troops in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and across the globe. The United States, the other Super Power next to Communist Russia, did the only thing necessary to save man kind. They prepared for war. For 40 years US troops trained in battle conditions that mimicked a Soviet battle field. All of America was prepared for a day that we all saw ultimately inevitable. It did not come.

The Soviet Union was so focused on “preservation” of power, they feared each other. Atheism was the official religion of the country. All Christians, Muslims, and Jews were jailed, tortured, and most were horrifically murdered. The Soviets had a saying “We are all made of the same matter; we all turn back to sand.” During the internal struggle of the Soviet Union, the country ran into difficulty of men willing to die for the cause. Why die for Communism if the result is merely dust in the wind? This is what the United States Government, and the United States population prepared to fight. We were ready to fight a people that had a fear of dying.

The PLO launched the modern day war from Islamic Fascists in 1970. They realized that even though they had inferior fire power, fewer men, and lack of support, the US media would broadcast all over the world their atrocities. This began a series of attacks against the United States and her allies. As long as an attack occurred against the United States, or a US interest, the media would put focus on the event. This began the pull, push, focus on the United States and modern day terrorism. Then, in the 1990’s, Al Qaeda unearthed and shot down the famous Black Hawk helicopter in Somalia. America was pre-occupied, and confused by this new, relentless enemy. There were 700 American deaths, and 1600 Americans wounded between 1970 and 2000. Our enemy changed. America…did not. September 11th 2001 marked a significant increase in the willingness, dedication, and education of terrorists. There were now 4000 dead Americans by these Islamic Fascists in 31 years. The next question brings, what now?

Bruce Ackerman has a fantastic summary of some of the disturbing components to the torture legislation the spineless GOP Senators – including Conrad Burns – will soon pass:

The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.

This dangerous compromise not only authorizes the president to seize and hold terrorists who have fought against our troops “during an armed conflict,” it also allows him to seize anybody who has “purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.” This grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison.

Like the language in the Patriot Act, the language in this bill is disturbingly vague. What does “hostilities against the United States” mean? Could a US citizen be labeled an “enemy combatant” for, say, clashing with police during a protest against federal policy? For simply being arrested at a protest? And could anyone who donates money to organizations that actively and openly protest federal policy be “material” supporters of said “enemy combatants”?

As Dave Neiwert noted, the decision on how this law will be used comes down to one man: George W Bush. Ackerman:

But the bill also reinforces the presidential claims, made in the Padilla case, that the commander in chief has the right to designate a U.S. citizen on American soil as an enemy combatant and subject him to military justice. Congress is poised to authorized this presidential overreaching. Under existing constitutional doctrine, this show of explicit congressional support would be a key factor that the Supreme Court would consider in assessing the limits of presidential authority.

Got that? If Congress rubberstamps Bush’s authority over all U.S. citizens, then the Supreme Court will likely go along, assuming that the will of the electorate is being aptly represented by its representatives.

Ackerman concludes:

This is no time to play politics with our fundamental freedoms. Even without this massive congressional expansion of the class of enemy combatants, it is by no means clear that the present Supreme Court will protect the Bill of Rights. The Korematsu case — upholding the military detention of tens of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II — has never been explicitly overruled. It will be tough for the high court to condemn this notorious decision, especially if passions are inflamed by another terrorist incident. But congressional support of presidential power will make it much easier to extend the Korematsu decision to future mass seizures.

Though it may not feel that way, we are living at a moment of relative calm. It would be tragic if the Republican leadership rammed through an election-year measure that would haunt all of us on the morning after the next terrorist attack.

Few, if any, would argue that the Bush administration is currently using its wide scope of power to crack down on domestic dissent. But that’s not the problem. This Congress is about to hand the U.S. presidency the tools for establishing a dictatorship.

Am I saying Bush will start a dictatorship the day after this bill passes? Unlikely. Am I saying Bush wants to establish a dictatorship? Or does the President really believe this legislation will be an effective tool against terrorism, period? It’s impossible to say. What isn’t debatable is that our nation was founded on the principle that our leaders aren’t to be trusted. That’s why our constitutional architects built into our government a system of checks and balances, so that even in time of crisis, our democracy would remain intact.

It would be shameful to dishonor the men who fell in war to protect the liberties and freedoms that will be threatened by this piece of legislation the Republican-controlled Senate is prepared to pass.

Again, this is fine time to quote Lincoln, who seemed to understand better than any current member of government what is at stake this week:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Don’t let party loyalty triumph. Do the right thing.

Here it is, all you need to know about the Bush administration, the Iraq War, terrorism, and extra-Constitutional activities:

The Iraq War worsens the threat of terrorism.

Bush’s extra-legal activities do not result in increased arrests or convictions.

Torture is immoral.

Any questions?

On 9/11

I’ve been thinking about how I feel about 9/11 all day, in part because I feel an unspoken expectation from my readers to say something about it. I may be wrong. I wanted to ignore it all day, and appreciated the bloggers that went on as if nothing were happening. You may, too. Of course ignoring 9/11 is like ignoring Christmas. Turn on the television, there it is, from ABC’s docu-drama to the “heartwarming” stories on the major news networks. Crack open a newspaper, and it’s “where were you on 9/11” stories, stories about sons who lost fathers, fathers sons, wives husbands, and husbands wives. Many of you probably stumbled on a political rally or two cloaked as a memorial – here in Missoula, the College Republicans rallied and promoted their agenda on the Oval in the name of 9/11.

I could write about the solidarity we all felt immediately after. I could write about my neighborhood cafe with a television mounted on the counter and all of us sitting next to complete strangers, avoiding eye contact, but sharing newspapers, rumors, earnest talk. I could talk about how that’s been squandered. I could tell you where I was when I heard (in bed: a friend called from NYC telling me she was all right. I thought it was a joke until I turned on the set.). I could swing political and decry the Bush administration for exploiting 9/11 and exacerbating the problem. (I’ll do that later.)

Instead, I’ll try something that you may find novel, especially after reading all the stories and followng all the links and seeing all the conservatives cheer their President and wave my flag over their war. I don’t know if anybody else has already covered this angle: I’m going to be honest.

I’m through with 9/11.

You got that? It’s behind me now. It was a terrible thing, and I almost joined the National Guard. (Praise be I didn’t! It’s hard to be a daddy stationed in Iraq.) But it’s over. I don’t want to dwell on it anymore. I don’t want to see the pictures of burning towers on your political website or at your booth at the fair, got that?

Life goes on.

Apologies to survivors who still mourn. Apologies to fathers who want to start world wars to avenge their sons. I didn’t lose my son. I don’t know what it feels like. But life goes on. We wake up in the morning and put on our pants and we eat breakfast and we go to work. We love, we laugh, we cry, we see dumb movies for the special effects.

Don’t try to scare me anymore. I’m scared enough already. I’m scared of balls rolling into the street or tipped tricycles or of leukemia or MS, skull fractures, pedophiliacs, and mountain lions. I don’t need your picture of burning towers. I’m scared. But I’m strong. I understand the threat and desperately want my government to actually do something about it. Don’t worry about me. Keep your own house in order.

I’ve been reading up on funeral rites. And you know something? There’s always a ritual. A celebration of the journey from life to death. And someday they’ll be singing for me, and for you. And we’ve played and replayed 9/11 for five years now. We’ve fought over the narrative. What does it mean? we argued. I’ll tell you what it means. It means people die. You can’t get away from it, you can’t run from it. There’s no pill for death, there’s no defibribulator, no cast, no procedure. So let’s just admit 9/11 was terrible, many people died, and we have a security problem, and let’s let the dead rest.

Let’s rest.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work. Let’s put aside your pet plans and fix the problem. I’m game. Are you? Are you courageous? Are you ready?

Let it go.

Let it go.




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