Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for September 26th, 2007

Pakistan crisis deepens

Posted by Charles II on September 26, 2007

Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times

Al-Qaeda has been in the process of a decisive ideological and strategic debate over the past few years. At times it developed fault lines that brought forward extremists in the organization, whom the Sunni and Shi’ite orthodoxy of the Muslim world calls takfiris. 

This rise of the takfiris within al-Qaeda gave an unprecedented boost to its anti-establishment drive. This concept is based on the philosophies of 13th-century Muslim scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, who threatened to revolt against the Muslim sultan if he did not give up his neutrality toward the invading Tartars and eventually forced him to fight to defend Damascus.  It also draws on General Vo Nguyen Giap’s guerrilla strategy against French and US forces in Vietnam.

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Posted in Pakistan | 5 Comments »

Reckless Sarkozy budget threatens European Union

Posted by Charles II on September 26, 2007

As promised, French President Nicolas Sarkozy knows how to cut taxes but not how to reduce spending. Angelina Chrisafis, The Guardian:

President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday unveiled his first budget, proposing large tax breaks and few spending cuts, days after his prime minister warned that France was bankrupt….

European observers have warned that the eurozone’s second biggest economy is a basket case, with mounting public debt, sluggish growth and the highest public spending in Europe in relation to gross domestic product. Its finances have been worsened by a growing social security deficit as it struggles to pay for its health service and pensions….

Yesterday’s budget was not expected to greatly ease the concerns of France’s EU partners. The government foresees a deficit of €41.7bn (£29.2bn), only a modest improvement on last year’s deficit.

(This corresponds to a deficit of about 4.4% of GDP.)

But not to fear. When a big enough mess has been created, and the country is in recession, they’ll cut social benefits.

Posted in economy, international | 1 Comment »

The PATRIOT Act Is Unconstitutional

Posted by MEC on September 26, 2007

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In a lawsuit brought by attorney Brandon Mayfield, who had been wrongly linked by the FBI to the Madrid train bombings in 2004, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken has ruled that two provisions in the USA-PATRIOT Act violate the Constitution.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended by the Patriot Act, “now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment.”


“For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law — with unparalleled success. A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised,” she wrote.

By asking her to dismiss Mayfield’s lawsuit, the judge said, the U.S. attorney general’s office was “asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so.”

Posted in activist judges, Constitution, dope slaps for Dubya, PATRIOT Act | 3 Comments »

Bush told Aznar a month before Iraq invasion that war was inevitable

Posted by Charles II on September 26, 2007

Via Libbyat Cernig’s Newshoggers and JMM. Ernesto Elkaizer at Spain’s El Pais at last blows the whistle. The transcript goes something like this:

President Bush. We want to obtain a second Security Counsel resolution and we want to do so quickly. We want to announce it on Monday or Tuesday [24/25 Feb, 2003]

President Aznar: Better on Tuesday, after the meeting of the General Affairs Council of the European Union. It’s important to maintain the momentum sought by the resolution of the top of the European Union [in Brussels, Tuesday, 2/17/03]. We would rather wait until Tuesday.

Bush: It could be Tuesday afternoon, keeping in mind the time difference. In any case, next week. We see the resolution edited in a manner that it it not contain obligatory elements, that it doesn’t mention the use of force, and that avers that Saddam Hussein has been incapable offulfilling his obligations. This kind of resolution can be supported by many people. It would be something like the one that was obtained with regard to Kosovo [6/10/1999].

Aznar: Would you present it before the Security Council beforehand and independently or as a parallel declaration?

Condoleezza Rice: There wouldn’t actually be a parallel declaration. We are thinking of a resolution as simple as possible without many details of how it would be carried out, which could serve so that Saddam Hussein would stage it out and consequently not fulfill the provisions. We are talking with Hans Blix [head of the UN inspectors] and others on his team to get ideas on how to introduce the resolution.

Bush: Saddam Hussein won’t change and will continue playing around. It’s the moment to destroy him. Me, for my part, I will upon parting adopt the most subtle rhetoric possible, while meanwhile we obtain approval of the resolution. If someone vetoes it [as permanent members, Russia, China, and France have together with the US and UK the right to a veto in the Security Council], we will go. Saddam Hussein is not disarming. We have to get him right now. We have displayed incredible patience until now. Two weeks remain. In two weeks, we will be ready militarily. I believe we will obtain the second resolution. In the Security Council, we have three Africans [Cameroon, Angola, and Guinea], the Chileans, and the Mexicans. I’ll talk with all of them and Putin, of course. We’ll be in Baghdad by the end of March. There is a 15% chance that at that moment, Saddam Hussein is dead or has departed. But these possibilities only exist if we have previously demonstrated our resolve. The Egyptians are talking with Saddam Hussein. It appears that he has indicated a willingness to exile himself if he is permitted to take 1 billion dollars and all the information he wants regarding weapons of mass destruction. [Moammar El] Khadafy has told Berlusconi that Saddam wants to leave. Mubarak tells us that in these circumstances, there are many opportunities that he may be assassinated.

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Posted in Bush, BushCo malfeasance, Iraq war | 11 Comments »

Baghdad diary

Posted by Charles II on September 26, 2007

Via WaterCarrier4Diogenes at Daily Kos, the blog of   McClatchy Baghdad bureau chief Leila Fadel.

Posted in Iraq war | Comments Off on Baghdad diary

Ellsberg: A coup has occurred

Posted by Charles II on September 26, 2007

Daniel Ellsberg is one of the most remarkable Americans, a Marine and Department of Defense official. The following is from a speech at American University, reproduced in abridged form at The Consortium:

I think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which I think will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here that in effect will convert us into what I would call a police state.

If there’s another 9/11 under this regime … it means that they switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth….

And I would say after the Iranian retaliation to an American attack on Iran, you will then see an increased attack on Iran – an escalation – which will be also accompanied by a total suppression of dissent in this country, including detention camps.

It’s a little hard for me to distinguish the two contingencies; they could come together. …

Let me simplify this and not just to be rhetorical: A coup has occurred. I woke up the other day realizing, coming out of sleep, that a coup has occurred. It’s not just a question that a coup lies ahead with the next 9/11. That’s the next coup, that completes the first.

The last five years have seen a steady assault on every fundamental of our Constitution, … what the rest of the world looked at for the last 200 years as a model and experiment to the rest of the world – in checks and balances, limited government, Bill of Rights, individual rights protected from majority infringement by the Congress, an independent judiciary, the possibility of impeachment. …

It is increasingly clear with each new book and each new leak that comes out, that Richard Cheney and his now chief of staff David Addington have had precisely that in mind since at least the early 70s. Not just since 1992, not since 2001, but have believed in Executive government, single-branch government under an Executive president – elected or not – with unrestrained powers. They did not believe in restraint.

Posted in Iran | 2 Comments »

Doing The Right Thing

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 26, 2007

Lookit! Senate Democrats doing the right thing (and forcing Senate Republicans and Bush to go along with it)!

I’ve been pretty angry with the actions of Senate Democrats recently, but I have to give them props when they do do the right thing. In this case, they forced Bush to withdraw his nominee for CIA general counsel, John Rizzo, because of his connections to the CIA’s use of torture enhanced interrogation techniques at secret foreign prisons. Here’s the press release from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence [Ed. note: I’m sorry there’s no link, as I received this in an email. The Committee’s own website doesn’t yet have it up.]:

Washington, D.C. – President Bush today withdrew the nomination of John Rizzo to serve as the General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV and Vice Chairman Christopher S. Bond issued the following statement reacting to the President’s decision.

Chairman Rockefeller stated: “The President and Mr. Rizzo made the correct decision in withdrawing this nomination. The confirmation process highlighted Mr. Rizzo’s 31 years of dedicated service, but it also raised serious questions about whether he was the right person for this job. It was clear that he did not have the support of a majority of the Committee and would not have been confirmed.

The position of CIA General Counsel is extraordinarily important and deals with the most sensitive and often controversial programs in our government. I encourage the President to nominate someone with the necessary legal expertise and sound judgment required for this job as soon as possible.”

Vice Chairman Bond stated: “Mr. Rizzo has a long and distinguished record of government service. There is, however, opposition in the Senate to his nomination, and it seems unlikely that he would have been confirmed. The CIA General Counsel is an important job that needs to be filled as soon as possible and pulling his nomination was probably for the best.”

So what’s the “long and distinguished record” to which Kit Bond refers?

Stuff like this:

CIA General Counsel-Designate John A. Rizzo didn’t just equivocate on whether he agreed with the Office of Legal Counsel’s narrow definition of torture from August 2002. In his confirmation hearing today, Rizzo was all over the map about what the CIA actually did with detainees in its custody.

When Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) asked Rizzo whether he thought in 2002 that the CIA’s interrogation regime was “humane,” Rizzo — who was acting general counsel for much of the time, and took part in deliberations about the legality of that regime — replied that “We believed then, and we believe throughout the process, that the CIA (interrogation) program as it was conceived — that the procedures, and the criteria, when taken in toto, leads to the conclusion, justifies the conclusion, that it was from the outset, and (in its subsequent implementation) was conducted in a humane manner.” Yet the CIA, based in part on legal guidance delivered by the general counsel’s office, authorized its interrogators to force detainees to stand for up to 40 hours; chill their cells to 50 degrees while dousing their naked bodies with cold water; and to simulate drowning them. Whether Rizzo actually believes such practices are humane, he conceded that “there had been some concerns that were expressed” by CIA interrogators who feared prosecution for carrying out the authorized interrogations.

But who was the subject of the “humane” interrogation regime? Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked Rizzo if it was his opinion that the Geneva Convention’s Common Article 3 — which protect combatants from “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment” — applied to the fourteen high-value detainees transfered from CIA custody to Guantanamo Bay last year. Those detainees are the U.S.’s highest-level al-Qaeda captives, and they include 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Rizzo first said that “Common Article 3 were certainly applied to the fourteen” — but then added that it wasn’t until the Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that Common Article 3 applies to al-Qaeda. That ruling was handed down in July 2006. “I can’t tell you, before the Hamdan decision, that those standards were applied to enemy combatants before then,” he said.

Posted in Congress, Democrats, Democrats with spines | Comments Off on Doing The Right Thing

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