Thursday, March 3, 2011

Politics Today And More Reasons For An American Revolution!

Politics Today And More Reasons For An American Revolution!

They Will Execute Bradley Manning Over My Dead Body

Just at the point when the WikiLeaks saga was collapsing into final absurdity — with Julian Assange’s apparent outburst about a Jewish conspiracy, his attempt to trademark his name (to be fair, this is to protect him from false endorsement claims, etc), and the announcement that Steven Spielberg has bought the rights to  The Guardian book and the tell-all by former WikiLeaker Daniel Domscheit-Berg — something comes along to tip it into tragedy again, and that is the charging of US soldier Bradley Manning with 22  additional crimes, including that of aiding the enemy, which attracts the death penalty.

The other charges include wrongfully obtaining classified material, fraud, and illegal transmission of defense information. The capital charge relates specifically to the presence of names of informers in many of the leaked documents, and the argument that such release may have led directly to deaths in Afghanistan.
None of the charges mention WikiLeaks, and WikiLeaks claims that it has no way of knowing who its sources are — or were , when it had the capacity for people to submit material — but it is usually supposed that Manning is the source for the “Afghan” and “Iraq” war logs, and the entire “Cablegate” archive. Manning, a low-level military information operative in Iraq and then back in the US, copied the archives over eight months from the US US SIPRNet network, and passed them on to WikiLeaks — or so he claimed to Adrian Lamo, a well-known hacker, who shopped him to the authorities. Lamo already had criminal convictions on hacking charges, and was terrified of massive retaliation by the authorities.
That retaliation has now fallen on Manning, who has been held virtually incommunicado, save for lawyer contact, for the past 10 months. Despite being innocent until proven guilty, even under military law, his extended remand has been a bloody-minded application of every regulation associated with US “supermax” prisons — he is in permanent solitary confinement (even his one hour/day exercise), under permanent surveillance, must make a verbal response to a query every 10 minutes, and if he attempts to take exercise in his cell — push-ups, for example — he is physically prevented from doing so. Visitors — including former Salon journalist Glenn Greenwald and Congressman Dennis Kucinich — have been prevented from visiting him.

The clear intent of such a process is to break Manning down to a pitiful state of desperation, and persuade him to incriminate Julian Assange as an active conspirator (although even then, it would be difficult to charge a non-US citizen with espionage charges). In his online chats with Lamo, Manning talks of some contact with Assange but it would be up to the prosecution to prove that this was something more than idle chat.
Whether it achieves that or not, it may well overshoot the mark and drive Manning completely and irrevocably insane. Such forms of confinement are unquestionably torture, but they are torture of a very specific kind — a sort of paradoxical torture. If the aim of torture per se is to make the prisoner’s body rebel against their soul — have animal pain and terror fill the consciousness until any principle, belief, or commitment is undermined — then the “supermax” regime is the opposite — it dissolves subjectivity by removing all that is most basically human, from diversion to human connection.
This is the point made most famously by Foucault: that the notion that neat antiseptic prison regimes are more humane than physical punishment is the founding conceit of modernity. In many ways they can be worse. Solitary confinement and the microcontrol of a prisoner’s behaviour are designed as a form of total annihilation, because they exert enormous energies in ensuring that the prisoner goes on existing, while depriving him of anything resembling life. That division of existence from purposeful life is effectively a standardized and routinized way of producing despair.
Not surprisingly, it is a particularly American form of human annihilation. The “supermax” prisons, and such total regimes, are the descendants of the first modern prison schemes, the penitentiaries established by the Quakers in Pennsylvania in the 1830s. Where other prisons housed prisoners collectively in squalor as part of their punishment, the Quakers believed that this merely bred criminality. The object was to make a prisoner repent (as the name suggests) by developing a relationship with God — and the only way to do that was to deprive a prisoner of a relationship with anyone else.
Thus, prisoners in the penitentiary were ideally utterly isolated from anyone else — they even had separate corridors so they couldn’t see each other. Eventually through their screaming isolation they would seek and find God. The gentle and peaceful Quakers thought that this invention was a force for good; many of those who observed it, such as Charles Dickens, thought it was a horrifying nightmare. But someone who never saw a problem with it was Alexis de Tocqueville, whose Democracy in America was based on the trip he took to the US to report on this marvellous new prison system, for the French government.

Much of Democracy in America was devoted to trying work out what the problems of the new American society might be. He never realized that the answer was the very thing he was sent to study — the penitentiary was the other side of American depthlessness, an indifference to the full humanity of others hidden from oneself by following correct procedure and affirming goodness of heart.

The penitentiary is bad enough when it’s part of a God-centered culture; when part of one — even the US — where God is a shaky notion, then it’s a literal Hell. Its deeply anti-human nature does achieve what the Quakers sought, since many prisoners become believers out of the sheer need for someone to talk to, but it’s a counterfeit conversion, won through psychological warfare.
With 2 million Americans in prison, many of them in semi-penitentiary style incarceration, the prison system mirrors key aspects of American life — in particular the substantial atomization and isolation of everyday life.
It even reflects much of the case at hand. Manning, a gay man, joined the military out of lack of direction, and found himself in a situation where he had to live the shadow-life of “don’t ask, don’t tell”. It was a relationship in Boston that brought him into contact with hackers such as Lamo — and the end of that relationship that plunged him into the loneliness and despair that prompted him to blab to Lamo. Lamo himself writes as a floating child of the aether — an isolated, disconnected depressive and chemically enhanced. There’s no doubting the genuineness of Manning’s outrage at much of the material he saw, but nor is there any doubt that the chaotic and unstable way in which this has all come about is a much a measure of the age, as is the content of the cables themselves. Their lives, and the punitive regimes Manning is under are of a piece with the war he was exposing, where a high-tech obsessed with notions of its own virtue could — as illustrated by the “collateral murder” video — distance itself from any consequences of individual action, any basic shared humanity.
What options there are for Manning now is anyone’s guess, but he’s in a tight corner. The WikiLeaks process has been part of an argument that governments should be more open, that power relations should be reconstructed in a new era. That’s not the same as saying that individual operatives should have the legal right to distribute as they wish. At some point, the prosecution of such an act becomes an act of decorum essential to the state’s existence, and to suggest that a massive classified document leak could be ignored is simply unreal. For Assange and WikiLeaks, a defense is clear and absolute. Manning erred in being human; his only hope may now lie in finding a quality of mercy. Judging by his treatment to date, that is a long way off.

Forget all that talk about civility, bipartisanship and a new tone in politics. The fight over public service unions and collective bargaining that is taking place in Wisconsin has already degenerated into the muck. That’s what happens when a major political fight is taking place. Full Story

Judging from the signs in Madison, more than a few people seem to think Gov. Scott Walker (R) is a dictator.

Democrats Need GOP Voters to Win

Vulnerable Democrats beware: The bipartisan well is about dry. Last cycle, Democrats saw their percentage of the Republican vote drop dramatically, and that could spell trouble for incumbents relying on that vote to survive in 2012. Sen. Ben Nelson is at the top of the list. Full Story

For example:
Sen. Scott Brown (R) presumably won his January 2010 special election in Massachusetts with the help of some Democrats and left-leaning independents. It will be tougher for Brown to capture those voters in a presidential year, when he is up for re-election to a full six-year term. (There were no exit polls in his initial race to determine how steep of a climb he has.)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will announce today the first 15 members of its incumbent retention program for the 2012 cycle, according to a document obtained by Roll Call. Full Story

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will announce today the first 15 members of its incumbent retention program for the 2012 cycle, according to a document obtained by Roll Call.

There are 25 fewer incumbents in the initial DCCC Frontline program than there were two years ago thanks to the 63-seat net gain by Republicans in November. The list is dominated by Democrats who won close elections last fall in what was a historically down year for the party, and the light incumbent load signals the committee will be far more geared toward offense than last cycle.

One notable name on the list is Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in recovery from a gunshot wound suffered in January. The Arizona Democrat, whose district borders Mexico, won with less than 50 percent of the vote in what has proved to be a marginal district.

Others on the list include Reps. Tim Bishop (N.Y.) and Jerry McNerney (Calif.), whose razor-thin 2010 races lasted well past Election Day.

Two Virginia Democrats said Tuesday that they are banking on a Kaine candidacy. Full Story

Possible Scott Brown Challenger Emerges
Democrats are stirring in their quest to unseat Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in 2012. Full Story

Democrats are stirring in their quest to unseat Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in 2012.
Newton Mayor Setti Warren issued a statement this week saying he is actively considering a run.

“I have been disappointed by many of his votes, which I believe have hurt many cities and towns in Massachusetts, including my own community of Newton,” Warren said. “I’m not yet ready to announce an official decision on entering the race. But in the final analysis, if I believe I can do a better job for Massachusetts, I’ll put my name on the ballot.”

Warren, an Iraq War veteran, is Newton’s first black mayor and a former aide to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass).

Gov. Deval Patrick has repeatedly dropped Warren’s name as a potential candidate, in addition to Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, nonprofit leader Alan Khazei and former lieutenant governor candidate Bob Massie, who has already declared his candidacy. Others to watch include Democratic Reps. Mike Capuano and Stephen Lynch.

Vermont Auditor Tom Salmon is launching an exploratory committee to study a challenge to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Full Story

RNC Criticizes Obama on Unions in Wisconsin TV Ad (VIDEO)    
The RNC goes after the president. Full Story

Patterico's Pontifications » Re Cops, Unions, and Politics
By Jack Dunphy
... I expressed dismay that my labor union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, had encouraged its members to join in pro-labor protests organized by, the SEIU, the Daily Kos, and a host of other far-left organizations. ...
Patterico's Pontifications -

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy] Right Wingnut Cop!

Yesterday in this post our host took notice of my most recent column at Pajamas Media, in which I expressed dismay that my labor union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, had encouraged its members to join in pro-labor protests organized by, the SEIU, the Daily Kos, and a host of other far-left organizations. He wanted to know how police unions flex their political muscles, specifically asking about work stoppages or slowdowns.

I’m working on a follow-up piece for Pajamas Media in which I’ll amplify further, but I should say here that I do not believe police officers should strike under any circumstances. Absent that tactic, police unions are still vested with clout to the extent that their candidate endorsements can sway voters. Here in Los Angeles, for example, there are still some conservative-leaning districts where voters pay attention to endorsements from the Protective League. Crime is still a hot local issue, and the League can buoy some candidates and torpedo others based on a decision to offer an endorsement or to withhold one.

The League also donates money to some candidates, and even conducts independent expenditure campaigns, as they currently are in the race for the seat in the L.A. city council’s 8th District. The incumbent is Bernard Parks, former chief of the LAPD and a longtime nemesis to the League and to most LAPD officers who recall his tenure with the department. The League has endorsed Forescee Hogan-Rowles in the race and is running radio ads touting her candidacy and slamming Parks.

If Parks survives the challenge he’ll be even more obnoxious in his dealings with LAPD than before, if such a thing is possible.

Again, I’ll have more to say on the issue of cops and unions in an upcoming piece for Pajamas Media. Look for it next week.

I had been expecting it, but when it finally came it was far worse than I had feared. I could scarcely believe my eyes.

The message that appeared in my email in-box Thursday evening came from the board of directors of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents rank-and-file LAPD officers, of which I have been a member for many years. It was an email version of the latest post on the LAPPL Blog, and it began thus: “The attack on Wisconsin workers is an attack on union members across the nation.”

A bit hyperbolic, perhaps, but no big surprise so far. The League has for some time been engaged in a preemptive campaign against legislation here in California that is in any way similar to that which has caused the recent furor in Wisconsin. (Such a law is all but unthinkable here in Democrat-controlled California, but one must be vigilant nonetheless.)

But in later paragraphs the directors took their appeal a bit farther. Too far, apparently, for many of their members. “As widely covered by the media in recent weeks,” they wrote, “Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker, is moving to strip the majority of non-safety public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights. The shocking plan has prompted massive protests and a walkout by Democratic lawmakers there, and has led to increasingly large rallies across the nation.”

I must point out there is nothing particularly shocking about what Gov. Walker and the Republican majority in the Wisconsin legislature seek to accomplish, especially given that they campaigned and won election largely on their vow to curb state spending and close a looming deficit. They are merely trying to do as officeholders what they promised to do as candidates (which, on reflection, is shocking enough in itself). And it is troubling that we as police officers were being asked to endorse the lawless actions of the 14 Wisconsin state Senate Democrats who bugged out like a bunch of crooks with the cops at the door rather than allow the democratic process to unfold. Elections have consequences, I suppose, unless you can take it on the lam and prevent them.

The directors went on to express their condemnation for the growing campaign to deny collective bargaining rights to public sector employees, a position which, no doubt to a man, their members surely share. All of this would hardly have been worth comment had they stopped there.

There then came this paragraph:

At noon local time on Saturday, February 26, will hold rallies in front of every statehouse and in every major city to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. Find aRally to Save the American Dream near you by visiting the website and entering your zip code. You can also show your support by sending words of encouragement to Wisconsin’s workers via a special website created by the SEIU.

What? The SEIU? And they were asking cops to march in this parade? Surely this had to be some kind of elaborate Internet hoax.

And it got worse. If you dared to click on the link to find a rally, you learned that in addition and the SEIU, the events were to be sponsored by National People’s Action, theProgressive Change Campaign Committee, USAction, the Daily Kos, Media Matters, and every other leftist fringe cabal this side of the Socialist Workers Party. The post concluded with a stirring exhortation: “Our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin are under attack. They need and deserve our support. The time to pull together is NOW.” They might have gone with something a bit punchier, like “Workers of the world, unite!”

It was no hoax. Would that it had been.

And how the phones must have been ringing in the League offices Thursday evening. The post soon had more than 25 comments (the typical post on the site receives no more than one or two), the overwhelming majority of which expressed opposition to making common cause with organizations most police officers finds repellent. “LAPD officers aligned with” wrote the first to weigh in. “Now I’ve seen everything!” “So now we hook up with the mob?” wrote another. “Are you crazy?”

The objections were heard, and on Friday morning an update was appended to the post. “Maybe we weren’t clear,” it began.  “The issue is not about supporting as an organization, it is about protecting the collective bargaining process and supporting those who are fighting to protect it in Wisconsin . . . .”

But apparently that incremental retreat didn’t calm the voices rising up against the League’s directors, and on Friday afternoon the post was changed yet again, with the update appearing in bold, italicized type right at the top. “Our intention in the blog below,” it read, “was not to ask members or retirees to align themselves with a group or organization whose overall philosophy they disagree with. The paragraph about and SEIU was not intended to be an encouragement to participate; it was meant to provide information on the far-reaching effects of the debate and concerns. However, these groups are at the forefront of the fight to protect collective bargaining, and as a Board, we do support any effort to preserve it so that our legal rights in California are not eroded . . . .”  The post that followed was identical to the original except that the paragraph mentioning the rally and the SEIU website, which clearly was intended to be an “encouragement to participate,” had been removed.

All of which points to the quandary now facing union representatives for police officers across the country. Cops are all but universally conservative, yet in order to be effective their union representatives must maintain cordial relationships with the liberal politicians that dominate municipal governments. But in maintaining those cordial relationships there can be a tendency to adopt the views of those whose favor they seek. Their role as advocates for their members requires them to immerse themselves in politics, which their members find distasteful. But the more deeply immersed in politics they get, the more distance they place between themselves and those they represent.

Without commenting on any particular member of the Protective League’s current board of directors, I can describe a process I’ve observed many times in my career with the LAPD. There are a variety of reasons why a police officer might choose to run for office with the League, but once he wins that office he begins the metamorphosis that changes him from cop to Union Guy. The degree of change varies among individuals, but once in office for some time the League director is almost invariably more recognizable as a Union Guy than as a cop. As proof of this, it’s almost unheard of for a League director to leave office voluntarily and resume duties as a police officer. Rather, like the politicians with whom they mingle, they take advantage of their incumbency and cling to their office with the steadfastness of a pope, using the political connections they’ve made to ease themselves into some comfortable government job once they’ve retired from the police department. As Jesse Jackson has proved with stunning clarity, mouthing support for the Working Man can be a great way to avoid actually being one.

Which helps to explain how we in the LAPD found ourselves being, yes, encouraged to pick up a picket sign and march alongside a bunch of leftist kooks and government bureaucrats to demand our slice of the pie, this under the dubious theory that these leftist kooks and government bureaucrats can in some way be described as our “brothers and sisters.”

They are not our brothers and sisters, they are our competitors for resources to be drawn from a shrinking public fisc. And it is shrinking due in large part to the liberal policies advocated by, the SEIU, and all the other organizations under whose banners we were asked to march on Saturday. I did not march, and I doubt many of my colleagues did, either.

But while I refuse to link arms with, I also disagree with conservatives such as Jonah Goldberg (to whom I am indebted for opening the door to me over at National Review Online) who advocate for the elimination of public employee unions. Writing in the Los Angeles Times last Tuesday, Goldberg described private sector unions as having arisen out of the struggle between business owners and the workers from whose sweat they derived their riches and whom they exploited in the pursuit of greater profits. “It’s been said,” wrote Goldberg, “that during World War I, U.S. soldiers had better odds of surviving on the front lines than miners did in West Virginia coal mines.” Public sector workers, he says, have no similar history of oppression by their employers.

Which is true, as far as it goes, but it ignores the adversarial relationship rank-and-file police officers often have with both their own management and the city governments that employ them. True, on a typical work day we’re at little risk of a mine shaft cave-in, but we live with the fairly constant peril of getting the shaft from our bosses. Only the protections we have gained through collective bargaining prevent those bosses from making our working conditions intolerable.

And then there is the more basic, even conservative principle that labor is at bottom a commodity, one that is traded at prices determined by the market. Police officers, firefighters, teachers, and what have you should have the right to choose those who will negotiate a fair price for their labor on their behalf.

But I do share with Goldberg the concern that the relationship between government workers and elected officials has devolved into what amounts to a political perpetual-motion machine: the money goes in here and comes out there, then it turns around and goes in and out again until everyone gets a taste and goes home fat and happy. It’s all hunky-dory until, as is the case now, the money dries up and the Gravy Train reaches the end of the line.

If police officers are to have any credibility in the coming struggle over collective bargaining, it will not come through marching with leftist thugs and other rent-seekers hoping not to be nudged away from their comfortable spot at the public teat. The proposed Wisconsin law wisely exempts police officers and firefighters because most people, in recognizing and honoring the sacrifices they make in their professions, will choose to reward those sacrifices as generously as possible under current economic conditions.

But if we present ourselves as nothing more than another interest group hoping to insulate ourselves from the economic downturn even as those who pay the taxes that support us are doing with less, we will be treated as such – and deserve to be.

“Jack Dunphy” is the pseudonym of an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. The opinions expressed are his own and almost certainly do not reflect those of the LAPD management.

Can John Ashcroft Be Sued for a Citizen's Detention?

There's a guy suing former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Why? The story begins a few years ago.
After September 11, the government shifted toward more aggressive policies in hunting down potential terrorists. One such change was in the use of material witness warrants, which are typically meant to ensure a witness will show up at trial. But in the court of the war on terror, prosecutors begin using them to arrest and further investigate people with suspected terrorist ties. One of those people was Abdullah al-Kidd, an American-born Muslim convert who was detained for 15 days under a material witness warrant, but never made to testify. Al-Kidd said it was all just an excuse to dig up more dirt on him, and now he wants to sue former Attorney General John Ashcroft. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today over whether he can do that.

In 2003, the FBI used a misleading material witness warrant so it could detain Abdullah al-Kidd, who'd been cooperating with them as they investigated his friend, Sami al-Hussayen. Al-Kidd had been awarded a scholarship to study in Saudi Arabia, and was waiting to board a flight when he was arrested, NPR'sNina Totenberg reports. The FBI had told a judge that al-Kidd had a one-way ticket when it was really round trip, that the ticket was first-class when it was coach, that it cost $5,000 when it really cost $1,700. They didn't tell the magistrate that al-Kidd was born in the U.S. ... or that his parents were born in the U.S. ... or that he had been cooperating with the FBI ... or that they'd never told him not to travel.

His arrest was hailed by then-FBI Director Robert Mueller as one of five big counter-terror achievements--right up there with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's arrest--when Mueller testified before Congress. But al-Kidd was never made to testify about al-Hussayen, and al-Hussayen was not convicted of any charges.

The Supreme Court has prevented civil liberties groups from suing Ashcroft before, because such high-ranking officials couldn't be tied closely enough to individual cases. The Obama administration says that allowing officials like Ashcroft to be sued would make it harder for them to do their jobs. But al-Kidd points to statements by Ashcroft and other officials--Mueller for example--that show authorities were using material witness warrants in a rather suspect fashion. As veteran Supreme Court-covering journalistLyle Denniston explains, al-Kidd's lawsuit contends "that, after 9/11, Ashcroft had instituted a policy of using the material witness law as a pretext, to hold people like him when it actually had no evidence that would justify his arrest as a criminal suspect." Al-Kidd says his arrest violated his Fourth Amendment rights "on the theory that a prosecutor is barred from seeking a material witness arrest warrant with the real motive of investigation or detention."

Ashcroft unsuccessfully tried to have the case dismissed on ground that he had legal immunity as attorney general. Then he appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court, which said Ashcroft didn't have absolute immunity or "qualified immunity" to al-Kidd's Fourth Amendment claim. The Justice Department appealed to the Supreme Court. How might the justices decide?

Denniston says that, on the one hand, the Court doesn't like limiting what prosecutors can do. And at least some of the justices have shown they don't want to limit how the government responds to terrorism.
But if the Court looks at the history of the material witness law, and its centuries-long focus on securing testimony and not on allowing detention, it may well be more willing to consider some tightening of the boundaries of that law. The difficulty of doing so in this case, however, is that the appeal is presented solely as a question of immunity — for or against it. Thus, the case is not a straightforward issue of statutory interpretation, but rather an examination of what the Fourth Amendment allows or does not allow in arranging to round up and hold individuals for reasons other than securing their testimony.

The Washington Post's editorial board thinks the Court should rule in Ashcroft's favor, because officials like him can only lose immunity if they violate "clearly established constitutional norms." Back in 2003, "there was no legal precedent on which Mr. Ashcroft could rely" in figuring out whether he could expand the use of a material witness warrant.


·         Considering Ashcroft's Liability, Nina Totenberg, NPR
·         Old Law in New Guises?, Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog
·         How the Court Should Rule, The Washington Post

Right-Wing Activists March Through Jaffa


Border police guard Baruch Marzel, Itamar Ben-Gvir as they take to the streets with Israeli flags in response to Islamic Movement rally.

Sixty right-wing activists marched through a main street in Jaffa on Wednesday morning, in response to a protest by the Islamic Movement.

Activists from the Eretz Yisrael Shelanu NGO marched in the streets of Jaffa at 10 a.m. Wednesday, holding Israeli flags. MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) and activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir participated in the demonstration.

The demonstrators chanted "Jewish Jaffo" and sang a popular song by Eyal Golan: "He who believes is not afraid, we must not lose faith, because we have the king of the world [God], and he will protect us from everyone."

In response to cries at the Islamic Movement's rally that "Jaffa is Palestine," Ben-Gvir told a reporter from Channel 2 that "Jaffa is Israel, Umm el Fahm is Israel."

"Everyone who is a Zionist should come" to the demonstration, Ben-Gvir said. "We are here to represent Zionism. This is what the fathers of Zionism dreamed of."

Speaking into a megaphone, Ben-Ari said that the demonstrators at the Islamic Movement's rally are "Gaddafi collaborators."

The Tel Aviv Police and Border Police formed a human wall to protect the demonstrators, who are allowed only to march in a limited area of Rehov Yefet, one of the city's main roads.
On Sunday, Eretz Yisrael Shelanu petitioned the High Court after Tel Aviv Police refused to explain its refusal to let right-wing activists march in Jaffa. The court accepted the petition, allowing the group to march.

The planned right-wing protest follows one organized by the Islamic Movement in which 1,000 people took to the streets of Jaffa, some carrying Palestinian flags and chanting anti-Israel slogans.

Ron Friedman contributed to this report.

The Koch's Tea Party libertarianism is actually a thin veneer for the company's long-running history of manipulating the market to pad Koch profits. Read More

As the sun peeks over the horizon of the Arab world, dusk is descending on America. Read More : Tom Engelhardt /

Reptilian Rumsfeld's Biggest Media Crime

Does Rumsfeld owe the USA an apology for his  monumentally consequential lie or should he be charged for misinforming Congress, the UN, the US public and our military about falsified WMD confirmations?

In case anyone was wondering why Bush and Cheney only do Fox News interviews, Rumsfeld's book tour proved why. Obviously, there were no signings for protesters to ruin, but a raft of talk show hosts confronted Rumsfeld with direct challenges about pre-war lies and those in his book.

Why Donald Rumsfeld went on shows like the Opie & Anthony Show is beyond me - he was ridiculed live on satellite radio by NY comic Louis C.K. who asked repeatedly if Rumsfeld was an alien lizard that eats Mexican babies. 

But beyond the yuks, Rumsfeld's image rehab took him to The View where Barbara Walters asked him twice to apologize for the 4,400 deaths in the Iraq War. NBC's Andrea Mitchell accused him of selectively "stovepiping" intel, but he pretended not to know what that meant, and was subsequently caught on tape using the term himself. 

At The Daily Show, Jon Stewart told Rumsfeld his level of arrogance in being wrong made it particularly difficult to swallow the debt and economic losses of this war. The somber moments between the nervous joking were depressing and I saw young viewers wince in learning how many facts Rumsfeld now casually acknowledges after selling us on the opposite.

In his defense, Rumsfeld again leaned heavily on Colin Powell, as if he hadn't just heard Powell call for an investigation last week, with others in the State Department affirming they were set up to take the fall by Cheney, Scooter Libby and the OVP.

Powell's Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson told MSNBC viewers for the first time of a WINPAC faction "deep within the bowels" of the CIA who, according to primary documentation, corroborating witnesses and published accounts, withheld CIA European Division director Tyler Drumheller's admonitions about Curveball being unreliable from Powell and his staff. 

Jon Stewart asked Rumsfeld how he could today just shrug and blame Powell and others in the intelligence community after they doubted Curveball and had insistent warnings ignored in Bush's State of the Union speech. Rumsfeld claimed Congress was also at fault, blaming those held accountable and summarily voted out in 2006, with the unpopular war cited as the primary reason.

Rumsfeld offers today a website with lots of documents that were never shared before the first bomb fell, none of which prove any imminent threat or WMD. There is however, a lot of slippery language, for example Saddam "had the capability" to create chemical weapons. We saw coordinated protests all over the country and the press, our international allies and UN weapons inspectors all doubting the stated reasons for the war. So it was hard to stomach Rumsfeld.

Candy Crowley asked Rumsfeld point blank why the "Curveball is unreliable" part of the intel was snipped off the case for war. Rumsfeld slithered from answering like an old pro saying there were "other" reasons for the war on the US authorization and UN resolutions. Crowley made Rumsfeld acknowledge WMD was the main reason we went to war and was he was "flat wrong", but Rumsfeld said he felt they would find WMD even months after none were discovered -- without explaining why he would believe that. He says today the big mistake was using the threat of WMD to justify the war instead of regime change.

Sadly, the network whitewash of the most damning allegations leaked about Rumsfeld were not even raised, notably Sy Hersh's source who claimed covert "Operation Copper Green" came off the desk of Rumsfeld's Undersecretary Stephen Cambone, greenlighting torture and sexual humiliation by black ops. 

Going back to a widely missed PBS-TV interview with Colonel Wilkerson, we heard how Cheney and the OVP were pressuring CIA agents to redo reports till they justified invasion. Years later, the same principals would crap all over the intelligence community in releasing the  Silbermann-Robb report which surmised lower-level intelligence agencies were somehow to blame for the war. This prompted several to release memoirs showing how they were right from the start but were suppressed in the halls of power and helped by propaganda broadcasts by richly rewarded "friendlies" at Fox News like Sean Hannity.

Piecing together the memoirs from Tyler Drumheller and  August Helland, the head of the German BND, it seems George Tenet and his Deputy John McLoughlin were the firewall for the high-profile members of the White House Iraq Group who "never got the memo" that Curveball was fully unreliable. This today provides the pathetic excuses we see offered by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice, yet none of them are calling for justice like Powell. So far, Bush has never been asked publicly about a a briefing delivered to him in the Oval Office, authored by Drumheller who had undercover asset Naji Sabri witnessing first hand the disarray of Saddam's weapons labs. Some in the  CIA got it right, only to be gagged and discredited.

Remaining ever civil, Jon  Stewart reminded Rumsfeld that he got it wrong, he was accountable and that today "taken as a whole" it sounds like he's saying he wasn't on the proper email list, a simply unacceptable excuse. Rumsfeld cannot apologize or admit an ounce of responsibility - the legal doctrine of "command responsibility" holds a superior responsible for crimes committed by subordinates when they knew or should have known that they were being committed but fails to take reasonable measures to stop them. 

But it is an appearance on the Alan Colmes radio program in which perhaps the most crucial media crime happened, in which Rumsfeld tries to be slick with language in hiding his culpability. Right out of the gate, Colmes asked about the Obama administration refusing to defend Rumsfeld any longer in the torture case of Jose Padilla which seems headed for the Supreme Court. While it appears Obama's support of what was done to Padilla may be waning, taxpayers will still be paying thousands per day for Rumsfeld's private lawyers Lee Casey and David Rivkin (who believes detainees welcome waterboarding because it breaks the "oppressive monotony" of the prison cell).

Rumsfeld ducked the question, saying he doesn't worry about court proceedings. Colmes next asked about Iraq pre-war intel and Rumsfeld  offered the same revisions of what happened, citing "hundreds" and "thousands" of sources of information that we never saw, now posted on his website where a wholly different case is made to paint Saddam Hussein as a genocidal dictator instead of an "imminent threat" or al Qaeda collaborator. 

But then, Colmes, also remaining polite to the former Secretary of Defense, asked about a specific TV appearance on the 11th day of the war with George Stephanopoulos in which Rumsfeld said live on TV of alleged WMD: "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

About six months later, he said publicly "I should have said, 'I believe they're in that area", but still did not share why he would "believe" this. Rumsfeld admitted these sites were "suspected" as reported to him but confirmed as he related to us. Therein lies the lie, about halfway through this audio clip you can hear it yourself. Frustrated by the badgering of the skeptical press, he put his word on the line, his credibility, using his position to force the decision on the public, forcing us to trust his ability to analyze the intel. But like Powell, like Bush, like Libby, the lies were based on evidence that was impeached at the time. 

Even Megyn Kelly of Fox News acknowledged how many believe the Bush Iraq team deliberately lied which, if established, constitute domestic or international war crimes. Since 2006, Rumsfeld had been named in torture indictments in German courts but they were quashed by the Bush administration. Since that, legal proceedings for criminal prosecution of Bush war crimes has come from  LondonItaly, and Switzerland with Rumsfeld accused by name in Spain and France

Here in the US, we see a continuing whitewash in media that will not confront or report on members of Bush's cabinet suspected of war crimes, despite testimony given by Army officials like brigadier general Janis Karpinski who claims first hand knowledge that Rumsfeld approved harsh methods involving "dogs, food deprivation and sleep deprivation". Bob Woodward called Rumsfeld's book a "blame everyone else" cop out, but it will probably take years before Rumsfeld admits the truth. Following the tradition of Robert MacNamara who admitted the first shots in the Vietnam War were faked, we might have to wait till Rumsfeld is in his 80s before he confesses he just made up the confirmation of WMD for convenience.

Two of BP's most senior directors have taken bonus payments for their work in the year of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill 03 Mar 2011 Byron Grote, finance director, and Iain Conn, head of downstream, had their £800,000 and £724,000 salaries and benefits topped up with rewards of £380,000 and £310,500 respectively. The bonuses amounted to 30pc of the full potential payout. BP’s annual report also revealed that Tony Hayward, the former chief executive who left the company after the worst of the crisis, will get almost £100,000 a year for his work as a non-executive of BP’s Russian joint venture TNK-BP. He left the board in October with £2m in salary and severance payments, plus a £600,000-a-year pension.

Vast majority of 130,000 unsettled claims do not have adequate documentation, says [9/11 wh*re] Ken Feinberg 01 Mar 2011 Upwards of 100,000 claims arising from the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico may never be paid, the beleaguered administrator of the oil company's compensation fund has acknowledged. A defensive Ken Feinberg, under fire from the Obama administration, Gulf leaders and local business for the slow pace of payouts for losses due to the BP spill, said the vast majority of the 130,000 unsettled claims did not have adequate documentation. "Here is the problem that I continually have to address … roughly 80% of the claims that we now have in the queue lack proof," Feinberg told foreign reporters in Washington. "That is a huge number."

UN war crimes Court to investigate Libya violence
The Hindu
PTI The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is opening a formal investigation into recent crimes against humanity in Libya. “Following a preliminary examination of available information, the Prosecutor has reached ...See all stories on this topic »

War crimes court to investigate violence
Business Day
Chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to name individuals to be targeted in a full-scale probe of possible crimes against humanity committed in Libya. THE HAGUE — The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court will today name ...See all stories on this topic »

Warcrimes court set to probe 10-15 Libyan leaders
MADRID — The International Criminal Court will probe 10-15 Libyan leaders for crimes against humanity over attacks against civilians during the popular uprising, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in an interview published Thursday in El Pais.
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