Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for June 23rd, 2008

Ancient history

Posted by Charles II on June 23, 2008

As Faulkner said, the past isn’t even past. But is Brendan Nyhan paying attention?

Eric Margolis says Bob Scheer was right:

Afghanistan just signed a major deal to launch a long-planned, 1,680-km pipeline project expected to cost $8 billion. If completed, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline (TAPI) will export gas and later oil from the Caspian basin to Pakistan’s coast where tankers will transport it to the West….

In 1998, the Afghan anti-Communist movement Taliban and a western oil consortium led by the U.S. firm Unocal signed a major pipeline deal. Unocal lavished money and attention on the Taliban, flew a senior delegation to Texas, and hired a minor Afghan official, Hamid Karzai….

Enter Osama bin Laden. He advised the unworldly Taliban leaders to reject the U.S. deal and got them to accept a better offer from an Argentine consortium. Washington was furious and, according to some accounts, threatened the Taliban with war.

In early 2001, six or seven months before 9/11, Washington made the decision to invade Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and install a client regime that would build the energy pipelines. But Washington still kept sending money to the Taliban until four months before 9/11 in an effort to keep it “on side” for possible use in a war against China. (emphasis added)

Scheer took a lot of grief for making this assertion back in 2001, although the NYT was pretty explicit in labeling the payments as a reward/bribe. However, I have seen no independent confirmation. I find it interesting that Margolis, who comes at things from the opposite end of the political spectrum than Scheer, agrees with him on this point.

Especially since we are now seeing the confirmation that the invasion of Iraq was indeed all about the oil.

Posted in Afghanistan, Oil, Osama bin Laden | 6 Comments »

Compare And Contrast

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 23, 2008

Fortune magazine talked with the candidates and their advisors recently in some weird-ass quasi-debate format. Here’s how the two sides handled the very first question they were asked:

What do you see as the gravest long-term threat to the U.S. economy?

Obama: If we don’t get a handle on our energy policy, it is possible that the kinds of trends we’ve seen over the last year will just continue. Demand is clearly outstripping supply. It’s not a problem we can drill our way out of. It can be a drag on our economy for a very long time unless we take steps to innovate and invest in the research and development that’s required to find alternative fuels. I think it’s very important for the federal government to have a role in that process.

McCain: Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we’re in against Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence. Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences. You’ve been a supporter of climate-change legislation that would essentially impose a penalty on the use of fossil fuel.

One person is acknowledging reality, the other is trying to push our fear-buttons because that’s all he’s got.

Posted in 2008, Barack Obama, Iraq war, Oil, parody, Republicans acting badly, WTF? | 7 Comments »

Don’t worry about telecomm immunity. Worry about the rest of the new FISA bill –Balkin&Co.

Posted by Charles II on June 23, 2008

[Update: Via KTLK’s Johnny Wendell, listen to Bob Barr on FISA bill]

Phoenix Woman says, correctly, that African Americans lived with severe abuses of their rights, but adds that they did not talk about fleeing, nor did they give up. She quotes an African American Deoliver mocking those who criticize Obama for his part in the FISA bill:

[W]here were you when we were dying? Where are you when were crying? Who among you challenged COINTELPRO? Who fought J Edgar Hoover? Who among you will go to jail for me? Will die for me, will [you] call out the names of the dead killed by that piece of paper you now brandish like a sword to impale your former Hero?

And yet it’s a false history. African Americans fled in great numbers to the north and even to Europe to escape the abuses. Untold numbers did give up. And there were many whites who not only did challenge the abuses of the Hoover FBI, but went to jail and died for civil rights.

Murdered civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman
(photo: FBI poster of three murdered civil rights workers from Freedom Summer; Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman)

And, of course, the civil rights movement was a primary target of the illegal wiretapping of the Hoover FBI. The point is that the rights of all of us are threatened when the rights of any of us are violated. If mostly-white peace activists lose their right to privacy, then does anyone think that African American rights will not also suffer?

So, what does that have to do with FISA?

Well, according to Jack Balkin and his co-posters, telecomm immunity is the least of what we have to worry about with the FISA bill (I, of course, think we should worry about the immunity provision above all, because unless that is stripped, the abuses cannot even be exposed). The discussion of telecomm immunity is limited to what might occur under “the infamously opaque US v. Klein ‘doctrine’.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in abuse of power, Barack Obama, Constitutional crisis, NSA eavesdropping, rights | 4 Comments »

S**t, f**k, p**s…

Posted by Charles II on June 23, 2008

George Carlin is dead, all too young.

I wonder if you can say the seven words in heaven.

I’m gonna miss him.

Posted in Sad things | 3 Comments »

Honor Among Thieves (Or The Lack Thereof)

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 23, 2008

If the bozos behind Beckett Brown International hadn’t been so ruled by greed that they chose to stiff a key investor to the tune of $700,000, none of this may have ever come to light:

They scavenged through trash and tailed people for hours. They used undercover operatives to infiltrate private meetings. The targets were not agents of foreign powers but advocacy groups that had been critical of corporations.

In the 1990s, a Maryland-based private detective agency composed of former CIA agents and law enforcement officers spied on such activist groups as Greenpeace, the firm’s records show.

The agency, Beckett Brown International, had an operative at meetings of a group in Rockville that accused a nursing home of substandard care. In Louisiana, it kept tabs on environmental activists after a chemical spill. In Washington, it spied on food safety activists who had found taco shells made with genetically modified corn not approved for human consumption.

BBI, which was founded in 1995, disbanded in 2000, and the activists might never have learned they were spied on. But a disgruntled BBI investor began digging through company records two years ago and has been contacting the former targets. He also gave The Washington Post access to the records, which provide an unusually detailed look into the secretive world of corporate spying.


Former BBI investigator Timothy S. Ward, a retired Maryland State Police officer, said BBI did nothing illegal. He declined to comment on methods or specific investigations, citing what he said were confidentiality requirements under Maryland law.

The legality and ethics of such methods as dumpster diving and infiltration are widely debated and vary from state to state. Many private investigators and corporations have abandoned the practices since 2006, when it became known that Hewlett-Packard‘s chairwoman used investigators to spy on board members and reporters.

Experts said corporations are typically insulated from such investigations by confidentiality agreements and multiple layers of subcontractors, making the BBI documents rare for more than the methods they reveal.

“I don’t know of many cases where you get to see the whole chain of people involved,” said Ari Schwartz of the Center for Democracy and Technology, which researches privacy issues.

A handy tip from the article: It pays to recycle – or burn – those documents you’re throwing out that you don’t want to fall into the wrong hands. Use them for kindling on your next camping trip.

Posted in big money, capitalism as cancer, corruption, crimes, WTF? | 2 Comments »

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