September 30, 2006

GOP CONGRESS TRASHES CONSTITUTION, GIVES DICTATORIAL POWERS TO BUSH
by GLENN GREENWALD

As Law Professors Marty Lederman and Bruce Ackerman each point out, many of the extraordinary powers vested in the President by this bill also apply to U.S. citizens, on U.S. soil. As Ackerman put it: "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." Similarly, Lederman explains: "this [subsection] means that if the Pentagon says you're an unlawful enemy combatant -- using whatever criteria they wish -- then as far as Congress, and U.S. law, is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to 'hostilities' at all." more...

*****NEW ARTICLE*****

Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006)
By Molly Ivins
With a smug stroke of his pen, President Bush is set to wipe out a safeguard against illegal imprisonment that has endured as a cornerstone of legal justice since the Magna Carta.

Oh dear. I‚m sure he didn‚t mean it. In Illinois‚ Sixth Congressional District, long represented by Henry Hyde, Republican candidate Peter Roskam accused his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, of planning to „cut and runš on Iraq.

Duckworth is a former Army major and chopper pilot who lost both legs in Iraq after her helicopter got hit by an RPG. „I just could not believe he would say that to me,š said Duckworth, who walks on artificial legs and uses a cane. Every election cycle produces some wincers, but how do you apologize for that one?

The legislative equivalent of that remark is the detainee bill now being passed by Congress. Beloveds, this is so much worse than even that pathetic deal reached last Thursday between the White House and Republican Sens. John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The White House has since reinserted a number of „technical fixesš that were the point of the putative „compromise.š It leaves the president with the power to decide who is an enemy combatant.

This bill is not a national security issueųthis is about torturing helpless human beings without any proof they are our enemies. Perhaps this could be considered if we knew the administration would use the power with enormous care and thoughtfulness. But of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place. more...

September 29, 2006

Republicans the real cut-and-run cowards
by Bob Geiger
GOP runs from nation's creed when going gets tough

Republicans have become so accustomed to using the phrase "cut and run" that they probably mumble it while sleeping and their childlike leader, George W. Bush, babbled it again yesterday, saying at yet another GOP fundraiser that "the party of FDR and the party of Harry Truman has become the party of cut and run."

That takes a ton of nerve coming from a Chickenhawk like Bush, who used Daddy's connections to avoid Vietnam and then went AWOL from his cushy stateside post. But we've heard that empty phrase from the cretins in the right-wing of the Republican party so many times that it barely even registers any longer.

They like to question the courage and patriotism of Democrats for being unwilling to shed more American blood and waste billions more on a pointless war, that the country was lied into and that's made us far less safe and more despised throughout the world. Aside from the fact that the majority of Americans no longer support the Iraq war -- and, thus, they must all be cut-and-run defeatists as well -- it is the Republicans who have shown themselves to be the lily-livered cowards among us.

Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their whole craven cabal are scared stiff -- and they want us to all be very afraid as well. How frightened are they? They're so afraid that they are willing to go against everything this country stands for, in a blind panic that they think will somehow protect their sorry asses from the big, bad terrorist bullies. more...

September 28, 2006

Media Tall Tales for the Next War
By Norman Solomon

The Sept. 25 edition of Time magazine illustrates how the U.S. news media are gearing up for a military attack on Iran. The headline over the cover-story interview with Iran‚s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is „A Date With a Dangerous Mind.š The big-type subhead calls him „the man whose swagger is stirring fears of war with the U.S.,š and the second paragraph concludes: „Though pictures of the Iranian president often show him flashing a peace sign, his actions could well be leading the world closer to war.š

When the USA‚s biggest newsweekly devotes five pages to scoping out a U.S. air war against Iran, as Time did in the same issue, it‚s yet another sign that the wheels of our nation‚s war-spin machine are turning faster toward yet another unprovoked attack on another country.

Ahmadinejad has risen to the top of Washington‚s -- and American media‚s -- enemies list. Within the last 20 years, that list has included Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic, with each subjected to extensive vilification before the Pentagon launched a large-scale military attack.

Whenever the president of the United States decides to initiate or intensify a media blitz against a foreign leader, mainstream U.S. news outlets have dependably stepped up the decibels and hysteria. But the administration can also call off the dogs of war by going silent about the evils of some foreign tyrant.

Take Libya‚s dictator, for instance. For more than a third of a century, Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi has been a despot whose overall record of repression makes Noriega or Milosevic seem relatively tolerant of domestic political foes. But ever since Qaddafi made a deal with the Bush administration in December 2003, the silence out of Washington about Qaddafi‚s evilness has been notable. more...

September 27, 2006

Chavez, the Devil, Chomsky, and Us
by Michael Albert

What can leftists learn from Chavez‚s UN speech and its aftermath? That the U.S. is the world‚s most egregious rogue state. We already knew that and, in fact, so does most everyone else. That Bush and Co. engage in repeated acts of amoral, immoral, and antimoral behavior such as a devil would enact, if there was such a thing as a devil. We already knew that too. That the emperor has no morality, integrity, wisdom, or humanity. We knew that as well.

So is there anything in the episode for us? I think there may be.

I suspect many leftists would have been happier had Chavez torn into Bush and U.S. institutions by offering more evidence while employing a less religious spin. Perhaps Chavez could have called Bush Mr. War, or Mr. Danger as he has in the past, and piled on evidence to show how U.S. policies in the world, and grotesque domestic imbalances as well, obstruct desirable income distribution, democratic decision making, and mutual interpersonal and intercommunity respect. Chavez might have given evidence how U.S. elites and key institutions impede living and loving and even survival, from Latin America to Asia and back. He might have said that George W. Bush, as the current master purveyor of the most recent violations by the U.S., is, in effect, doing the work of a devil – because he is the spawn of a devilish system. And I suspect many leftists would have probably been happier had Chavez added chapter and verse evidence for his assertions, though I suspect time limits precluded that.

But, hey, we can‚t always get exactly what we want. And more, the dramatic „smelling of sulfur formulationš that Chavez used may have been exactly what got the sentiment in any form at all in front of millions of readers and viewers. The pundits wanted to use Chavez‚s words to discredit him – but, in doing so, they put his claim before hundreds of millions of people. Perhaps without the dramatic formulation, we would have heard nearly nothing. more...

September 26, 2006

Newsweek has scrubbed the cover of the United States edition for October 2, 2006. The cover of international editions, aimed at Europe, and other world regions has maintained the original title of the story, "LOSING AFGHANISTAN." The new cover for the United States edition features photographer Annie Leibovitz and is titled "My Life in Pictures."

newsweek cover

Losing Afghanistan: The Rise of Jihadistan    
By Ron Moreau, Sami Yousafzai and Michael Hirsh    

Five years after the Afghan invasion, the Taliban are fighting back hard, carving out a sanctuary where they - and al Qaeda's leaders - can operate freely.

You don't have to drive very far from Kabul these days to find the Taliban. In Ghazni province's Andar district, just over a two-hour trip from the capital on the main southern highway, a thin young man, dressed in brown and wearing a white prayer cap, stands by the roadside waiting for two NEWSWEEK correspondents. It is midday on the central Afghan plains, far from the jihadist-infested mountains to the east and west. Without speaking, the sentinel guides his visitors along a sandy horse trail toward a mud-brick village within sight of the highway. As they get closer a young Taliban fighter carrying a walkie-talkie and an AK-47 rifle pops out from behind a tree. He is manning an improvised explosive device, he explains, in case Afghan or US troops try to enter the village.

In a parched clearing a few hundred yards on, more than 100 Taliban fighters ranging in age from teenagers to a grandfatherly 55-year-old have assembled to meet their provincial commander, Muhammad Sabir. An imposing man with a long, bushy beard, wearing a brown and green turban and a beige shawl over his shoulders, Sabir inspects his troops, all of them armed with AKs and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. He claims to have some 900 fighters, and says the military and psychological tide is turning in their favor. "One year ago we couldn't have had such a meeting at midnight," says Sabir, who is in his mid-40s and looks forward to living out his life as an anti-American jihadist. "Now we gather in broad daylight. The people know we are returning to power."    more...    

September 25, 2006

Child Hunger in a Land of Abundance Makes Us All Poor
by César Chelala  

While it is normal to expect high levels of hunger and poverty in a developing country, it may come as a surprise to observe a similar epidemic in one of the richest countries in the world. The Food Bank for New York City recently reported that nearly 20 percent of children in the city rely on free food to survive. According to statistics from Bread for the World, 13 million children went to bed hungry in the United States in 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

There's a debate about the real extent of U.S. hunger. The direst statistics, like those above, come (it is claimed) from advocacy groups. Others claim that "the poor here aren't really poor." Another claim is that the numbers are inflated or somehow "aren't that big," given the hugeness of the whole country. We are about to crest the 300 million mark in total population, and 13 million doesn't "sound so big" up against that. Divide 13 million by 50 states and you get about 65,000 hungry kids per state. That isn't so much - is it? Still others say that "the numbers are skewed by how bad the big cities are," as if somehow we shouldn't count the situation in, say, New York, when we look at the entire country's children. If you manhandle the numbers, you can make the problem sound smaller.

While I wish to acknowledge the controversy, I'm really not at all persuaded by these cavils. In my travels around the world, I see a lot of poor children. And I would say that, ironically, hungry children in places like the Philippines or India may be less miserable than hungry children in the United States - simply because the horizons of expectation are so much lower for the Filipino or Indian children. If we have even 10 million truly hungry children in the United States, even five million, we have a crisis, and if they are the world's most miserable children - hungry while the computer age whirls about them, denied entry into that age of plenty - we have a treble crisis. more...

September 24, 2006

From the Carpetbagger Report:
'Just a comma'

I'll have the transcript up as soon as CNN posts it, but George W. Bush on "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" this afternoon and made one of those stunning remarks that could ų or rather, should ų become a political problem for the White House.

Blitzer asked the president to respond to the nightmare that Iraq has become, but Bush wouldn't hear of it. He dismissed the ongoing crisis as "just a comma."

Even by Bush's already-low standards, it was a stunning comment. We're talking about a war that has claimed 2,700 American lives and seriously injured 20,000 more. It's a crisis that has, by any reasonable measure, made the threat of terrorism against Americans considerably worse. It's a misadventure that has cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, to fight a war sold under false pretenses, and mismanaged with almost child-like incompetence.

Asked to explain himself and his breathtaking mistakes, the president is unconcerned. Everything we're seeing is "just a comma." I'm sure that will bring comfort to the families of those who have sacrificed so much for Bush's mistakes. more...

*****NEW ARTICLE*****

New Terror That Stalks Iraq's Republic of Fear
by Patrick Cockburn  

The republic of fear is born again. The state of terror now gripping Iraq is as bad as it was under Saddam Hussein. Torture in the country may even be worse than it was during his rule, the United Nation's special investigator on torture said yesterday.

"The situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand," said Manfred Nowak. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it had been in the times of Saddam Hussein."

The report, from an even-handed senior UN official, is in sharp contrast with the hopes of George Bush and Tony Blair, when in 2003 they promised to bring democracy and respect for human rights to the people of Iraq. The brutal tortures committed in the prisons of the regime overthrown in 2003 are being emulated and surpassed in the detention centres of the present US- and British-backed Iraqi government. "Detainees' bodies show signs of beating using electric cables, wounds in different parts of their bodies including in the head and genitals, broken bones of legs and hands, electric and cigarette burns," the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq says in a new report. more...

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