In taking the oath to protect and defend Pakistan's Constitution, President Pervez Musharraf blames the recent constitutional crisis on Ifthikar Chaudhry, the deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court.
Carlotta Gall writes in today's The New York Times:
"Mr. Musharraf defended his record in power, saying that he had always intended to lead the country toward democracy and to remove his uniform, but had to act in the interest of Pakistan’s stability.
"He said he had to impose emergency rule on Nov. 3, and delay removing his uniform, because of a clash between state institutions, namely the judiciary and the government, and the growing threat of terrorism.
"He blamed Mr. Chaudhry, the former chief justice, for derailing his planned transition to democracy and suggested it was a conspiracy hatched against him. (Emphases added).
"“I feel this derailment could have led the nation to chaos,” Mr. Musharraf said. He said he had not wanted to impose the emergency rule but in light of a growing threat from terrorism and the clashes between the judiciary and the executive, he had acted in the country’s interests.
"“This was an extraordinary circumstance, ladies and gentlemen, it needed extraordinary measures to control,” he said. “No half-hearted measures could have delivered.”
Musharraf blames the constitutional crisis on the Chief Justice because Chaudhry would not go along with Musharraf's scheme to remain head of the army at the same time Musharraf was running for president.
"Let's kill all the lawyers [and judges]" is the operative phrase when the king cannot get them to rule in his favor. And this is what Musharraf has done. Because the Pakistani Bar would not support his power-grabbing ambitions, he has imprisoned them and had his police attack them. Then he tries in Bush-like fashion to blame them for the destruction of the rule of law.
Friday, November 30, 2007
In taking the oath to protect and defend Pakistan's Constitution, President Pervez Musharraf blames the recent constitutional crisis on Ifthikar Chaudhry, the deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf has agreed to rescind his emergency rule order on December 16th, reports Pamela Constable for The Washington Post today.
"Musharraf stepped down as army chief on Wednesday, meeting a key demand of opposition groups and Western allies. As he was sworn in to a new five-year term on Thursday, he pledged to seek reconciliation with opponents and move the country toward the "complete essence of democracy." But he also lashed out at the West for its "obsession" with a version of democracy and human rights that he said does not fit Pakistani society."
Oh, is it "western obsession" to object to the firing of the Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court when he disagrees with allowing you Musharraf to run for president at the same time as you are head of the army? And I wonder how Pakistani lawyers will understand a "version of democracy" that says there should not be free speech and free association? Or how about the lawyers and judges now in incarceration because they dared to disagree with Musharraf's stunted understanding of "democracy" - how will they understand Musharraf's version of democracy?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Here's another case of NATO (read U.S.) war planes dropping bombs on innocent Afghan civilians. Abdul Waheed Wafa writes in today's The New York Times that 14 Afghan workers were killed on Monday by a NATO air strike.
Waheed Wafa writes:
"The strike occurred late Monday night in the Norgram district of Nuristan when the Afghan workers of Amerifa Road Construction Company were sleeping in tents after a day’s work.
"“Fourteen of our mechanics and laborers were killed as they were asleep in their tents,” said Nurullah Jalali, the executive director of the construction company. “We just collected pieces of flesh from our tired workers and put them in 14 coffins.”
"The governor of Nuristan, Tamim Nuristani, said he could confirm that 13 workers had been “mistakenly” killed when NATO forces bombed the area based on what he said was an intelligence report that insurgents were infiltrating the area.
"“All these victims are civilians, and they were from nearby provinces,” Mr. Nuristani said.
A NATO spokesman said its forces had struck the area in an attack on what it believed were Taliban insurgents but could not confirm that the road workers had been killed."
I have commented many times before on the destruction to innocent life from NATO and U.S. war planes in Afghanistan. When the U.S. drops a bomb, the chances are that there will always be civilian casualties including women and children.
This is sufficient reason to end all air strikes. The airplane should not be used for dropping bombs or inflicting death. The U.S. Air Force and other military services should stop all combat flights over Afghanistan and Iraq. The killing of civilians is a certain result of a U.S. pilot dropping bombs on houses, villages, towns and cities. Because it is a foreseeable effect, the laws of war should be upgraded to ban such flights. No country, including the U.S., should be allowed to intentionally kill civilians even if insurgents or enemy soldiers are present.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
ThinkProgress, one of my favorite liberal news blogs, picks up on an interview of Mitt Romney by Mansoor Ijaz, in which Romney says that based on the number of Muslims in the U.S., he could not foresee adding a Muslim to his cabinet if elected president. The interview is reported on the Christian Science Monitor web site.
"I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.""
Ijaz picks up on Mitt's hypocrisy. Here he turns down Muslims as part of his cabinet because he says they do no represent a sufficient percentage of the population. Yet Mitt as a Mormon is part of a relatively small church in the United States, and based on the number of Mormons, should not be considered for any post in anybody else's cabinet, nor should Mitt be able to be elected president based solely on the number of Mormons to the general American population.
"Romney, whose Mormon faith has become the subject of heated debate in Republican caucuses, wants America to be blind to his religious beliefs and judge him on merit instead. Yet he seems to accept excluding Muslims because of their religion, claiming they're too much of a minority for a post in high-level policymaking. More ironic, that Islamic heritage is what qualifies them to best engage America's Arab and Muslim communities and to help deter Islamist threats."
"Note to Romney: As a Mormon running for President, you’re going to need to come up with a better justification for religious bigotry against Muslims.
"According to the CIA World Factbook (which uses 2002 numbers), Mormons comprise just 2 percent of the U.S. population, while Jews and Muslims comprise 1 percent each. Based on 2001 numbers, there were 2.8 million Mormons and 1.1 million Muslims in the United States. Surveys since that time indicate that the number of Muslims may have eclipsed the number of Mormons living in the U.S."
Monday, November 26, 2007
Now we have the Saudi Foreign Minister in Annapolis for the meeting tomorrow. And still no apology or retraction of the unfair and barbaric sentence imposed upon that 19-year-old Saudi young woman caught in a car with a man not a relative. And this after the 19-year-old was gang-raped and sexually humiliated by seven males. A Saudi court convicted the girl and gave her a punishment of 200 lashes plus time in prison.
To see how the Saudi court treats this victim and makes her into the criminal is unjust. The penalty of 200 lashes is not only medieval and cruel, it is barbaric and backward. It violates the international Declaration of Human Rights and human rights of woman.
Here is a section from Declaration of the Rights of Woman, 1791, written by Olympe de Gouges way back in 1791:
"Man, are you capable of being just? It is a woman who poses the question; you will not deprive her of that right at least. Tell me, what gives you sovereign empire to oppress my sex? Your strength? Your talents? Observe the Creator in his wisdom; survey in all her grandeur that nature with whom you seem to want to be in harmony, and give me, if you dare, an example of this tyrannical empire. Go back to animals, consult the elements, study plants, finally glance at all the modifications of organic matter, and surrender to the evidence when I offer you the means; search, probe, and distinguish, if you can, the sexes in the administration of nature. Everywhere you will find them mingled; everywhere they cooperate in harmonious togetherness in this immortal masterpiece.
"Man alone has raised his exceptional circumstances to a principle. Bizarre, blind, bloated with science and degenerated--in a century of enlightenment and wisdom--into the crassest ignorance, he wants to command as a despot a sex which is in full possession of its intellectual faculties; he pretends to enjoy the Revolution and to claim his rights to equality in order to say nothing more about it."
This Declaration was written some 217 years before the Saudi court imposed this unfair sentence on this young woman this year for exercising her basic human rights.
Where is George Bush, great defender of freedom and democracy, in speaking out against this Saudi outrage? And where is Laura Bush, defender of the rights of women throughout the Moslem world? So far, we have heard nothing from either George or Laura. The government of the United States is silent on this most unjust violation of human rights. What hypocrisy!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Saudi officials have defended the decision of a Saudi court to impose 200 lashes on a 19-year-old woman who was gang-raped.
Reports Al Jazeera:
"Saudi Arabia has defended a court decision to sentence a woman who was gang-raped to 200 lashes, saying she was having an extramarital affair in violation of Islamic laws."The woman in the case is married and has confessed to establishing a relationship in violation of [Islamic] sharia law," the Saudi justice ministry said in a statement."
This punishment is barbaric and medieval. The young woman is the victim of a brutal sex crime, and the Saudis sentence her to 200 lashes for being in a car with a male not a relative.
Yet we have heard nothing from Bush or Rice condemning this injustice. And where is the voice of Laura Bush who is supposed to be the defender of women's rights around the world? All we get from Bush & Co. is silence.
We need to hear more protests from the Democratic presidential contenders. Clinton, Obama, Edwards and the rest have already protested this judicial barbarism emanating from the Saudi Kingdom. But they need to redouble their cries of outrage.
If Saudi Arabia allows this sentence or any punishment to be inflicted upon this 19-year-old, the world community should make Saudi Arabia an outcast and pariah.
The BBC reports today on criticism by the Archbishop of Canterbury about hegemonic and destructive U.S. foreign policy.
"Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has launched a stinging attack on US policy, comparing it unfavourably with the British Empire . . . ."
"Dr Williams said the US, as the only "global hegemonic power", was trying to accumulate influence and control, rather than territory. But he said: "That is not working," describing the result as "the worst of all worlds".
"He told the magazine the US had lost the moral high ground since the 11 September attacks and needed to take steps including "generous aid" to "the societies that have been ravaged", a "check on the economic exploitation of defeated territories" and a "demilitarisation" of its presence in them in order to recover.
"The US believed that in Iraq it could then leave others to "put it back together", he said."
The Archbishop expresses what any thinking person sees and knows: the United States establishes military bases in any country that allows it, thinks it can solve all problems through military force, and thinks it itself is the greatest and all-knowing country in the world in spite of evidence to the contrary.
This "American exceptionalism" allows the U.S. and government officials to commit the most outrageous violations of human rights, engage in torture and other crimes against individual rights, bomb countries it deems "enemies," and throughout all, encourage its citizens to think that the U.S. is the sole beacon of democracy and freedom
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Good news from Australia. Voters have defeated John Howard, prime minister for the last 11 years, and so not only has he lost his post as prime minister but even his seat as a member of the Australian parliament.
Howard was always lapping at the side of Bush and Cheney. He committed Australian troops to Iraq and refused to consider pulling them out. He sided with Bush and Cheney in rejecting the Kyoto Treaty. He was a favorite the Bush administration and he supported all the other disastrous Bush/Cheney policies.
Congratulations to the people of Australia for kicking Howard out of office. Another Bush/Cheney ally loses office!
What should a public affairs/"news" program do about reporting on companies that sponsor its telecast? That's the problem facing Washington Week with Gwen Ifill which is underwritten by Boeing Corporation and National Mining Association. If one of Washington Week's panelists wants to report on some misdeeds of Boeing or of the NMA, will Gwen Ifill or her producers at PBS allow it?
Or to say it another way. It is improper for Washington Week to take sponsorship money from companies like Boeing or organizations like NMA because there is an inherent conflict of interest.
Boeing makes weapons of war and is one of the big suppliers to the Defense Department of airplanes and other armaments. It has made millions of dollars from selling these things to the U.S. government in the War in Iraq. I would suspect that Washington Week would be sensitive and reluctant about having one of its guest reporters report on war-profiteering or maybe even on the anti-war movement.
The same goes for the NMA. Where are the stories about the Crandall Canyon Mine disaster in Utah or on other hazards of modern mining in the U.S. and in other parts of the world, such as Ukraine or Mexico, sites of recent coal mining fatal accidents?
Even if Washington Week claims it devotes sufficient air time towards these stories, the doubt will still remain among reasonable viewers that there is a conflict of interest biased against full disclosure and discussion.
Washington Week needs to re-think allowing certain companies and organizations, such as Boeing and the NMA, from sponsoring its telecasts. Otherwise the suspicion and appearance of improper influence will linger on every broadcast.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Juan Cole in his Informed Comment points to a story in Reuters that Iran is seeking permission from Iraq for two or three million Iranian pilgrims to visit the holy Shiite shrines in Iraq. Currently Iraq allows up to 500,000 Iranian pilgrims.
"Iran is pressing Iraq to increase six-fold the number of Shi'ite pilgrims from Iran allowed to visit Iraq's holy sites, a move that could deepen ties between historical foes, the government said on Thursday. . . . "
"There was no immediate indication whether Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-dominated government would accept the proposal. Maliki's government has taken tentative steps in recent years to strengthen its ties with Iran.
"Washington accuses Iran of arming, training and funding Shi'ite militias in Iraq. Tehran denies the charge and blames the violence in Iraq, in which tens of thousands of Iraqis have died, on the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003."
Juan Cole points out that if Iran were truly sending IEDs and EFPs into Iraq, it would fly in the face of the evidence that the U.S. has not caught any of the pilgrims bringing in weapons or explosives. Furthermore, why would Iran want to arm Shiite militias in Iraq with IEDs and/or EFPs when its citizens are seeking to come into Iraq as pilgrims? It would be totally irrational for Iran to do this. In effect, Iran would be making sites in Iraq that much more dangerous and lethal for its own pilgrim citizens.
So far the U.S. government has shown no credible proof that Iran is involved in arming Shiite militias in Iraq, notwithstanding all the wild American charges and bluster. This news on Iranian pilgrims just adds to the belief that the U.S. under Bush and Cheney are reckless in making accusations against Iran, and that they want to bend the intelligence around their desire to start another conflict in the area, this time against Iran.
Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is wrong to seek a change in the Constitution to allow him to be president for life. But he has done a lot of things well, such as provide social security retirement benefits for maids, laborers and the underclasses. Another laudable Chavez project is to seek a prisoner exchange with the FARC, the Colombian insurgency group fighting against the establishment in neighboring Colombia.
There have been estimates of over 1,500 hostages being held by factions of the FARC throughout Colombia. Some have been held for as long as 10 years. Colombia's government takes the same approach as Bush and Cheney. Try to kill off as many rebels as possible. Shoot them, bomb them, kill them. This approach solves nothing.
Hugo Chavez comes along with a new approach. Sit down with them, talk with them, come to some agreement.
But yesterday, Colombian president AlvaroUribe, a close ally of the United States and Bush/Cheney, fired Chavez just when he was some progress in securing the release the hostages. Uribe claims Chavez broke his promise not to deal with the Colombian military directly in pursuing a settlement with the FARC. Just why this would be a deal breaker remains to be seen. One could speculate that Uribe does not want to see any Chavez-brokered settlement, or that he does not want the Colombian military to make a deal without Uribe's input for fear that he might lose control, or that the Bush/Cheney cabal prevailed upon him to prevent Chavez from claiming a humanitarian victory in freeing the hostages.
Whatever the reason, Uribe has forced Chavez out of the equation. So the hostages and their families are back to the beginning. Who knows, without Chavez, FARC may hold them another 10 years.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I wrote several days ago about the outrageous and cruel punishment imposed by a Saudi Sharia court on a 19-year-old woman who was gang raped after being found in a car with a man not related. The court decided to give her 200 lashes instead of the original sentence of only 90.
I am happy to see Democratic candidates Edwards, Obama and Clinton come out with expressions of dismay and alarm over this Saudi treatment. The sentence is truly barbaric and medieval. Every candidate must condemn it.
But where is Bush? Where is Cheney? Where is Condoleeza Rice? How come we hear no denunciations of this Saudi cruelty from them? How come we hear nothing from Laura Bush who has pretended to be so interested in women's rights? George Bush walks on his ranch holding hands with Saudi King Abdullah but is strangely silent on this case. Our great moral giver of democracy shockingly allows this sentence to be carried out even though the sentence shows the cruelty and backwardness of Saudi society.
Shame on Bush until he stands up for this 19-year-old girl and her basic human rights.
So now Musharraf has the go ahead from his "Supreme Court" to become president even though he was elected during a time that he was also head of the Armed Forces, something that violates the Pakistani Constitution. No matter that he arrested or suspended those Justices who refused to go along with his power-grabbing scheme, or that he had police beat and arrest thousands of lawyers and judges who took to the streets to protest against the acts of a dictator.
If I was a Pakistani lawyer, I would be outraged at Musharraf, and even more incensed about Bush's statement a few days ago that Musharraf is a supporter of democracy and that his actions have "not crossed the line." So Bush believes that dismissing Justices of the Supreme Court who would not vote to allow Musharraf to fashion himself into ruler for life does not cross the line? I thought George Bush was the great white American beacon for all things democratic and free?
Pamela Constable writes in today's The Washington Post that Pakistanis resent Bush's statement of confidence in Musharraf, notwithstanding the decision of Musharraf's new hand-picked Pakistani Supreme Court to clear the way for Musharraf to remain in power.
"Even if the planned elections are flawed, however, they could be sufficient to earn Musharraf a reprieve from mounting international criticism of his rule. Musharraf is a longtime U.S. ally in the war against terrorism, and the Bush administration, while urging him to lift emergency rule, has continued to support him and to suggest it will be satisfied if he fulfills his pledge to step down as army chief and hold elections.
"Earlier this week, President Bush said Musharraf had not yet "crossed the line" and that he believed the Pakistani leader was a believer in democracy and "a man of his word." On Thursday, protesters here carried posters saying, "Where is the line, Mr. Bush?" and showing cartoons of Musharraf and Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq, a former Pakistani dictator, as "Bush's favorite democrats.""
Bush for all his blusterings about democracy shows himself to be a supporter of anti-democratic dictators. By allowing Musharraf to dismiss the Pakistani Justices, substitute his own stooges, and to beat and imprison lawyers, Bush shows his contempt for the rule of law and an independent judiciary.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Bush last night endorsed his pal Musharraf. This is simply outrageous. Musharraf, wanting to remain in power, illegally tosses out the judiciary and the justices on Pakistan's Supreme Court and imprisons protesting lawyers. Talk about the rule of law!
Michael Abramowitz and Robin Wright write in today's The Washington Post:
"President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general "hasn't crossed the line" and "truly is somebody who believes in democracy."
"Bush spoke nearly three weeks after Musharraf declared emergency rule, sacked members of the Supreme Court and began a roundup of journalists, lawyers and human rights activists. Musharraf's government yesterday released about 3,000 political prisoners, although 2,000 remain in custody, according to the Interior Ministry."
Yet Bush, our great American saviour, sticks by his man. What happened to Bush the great bringer of democracy? The Bush who said that freedom (I assume this word means "rule of law") was God's gift to all mankind? Does it not apply to the Pakistani lawyers and judges who were beaten and locked up by Musharraf's goons?
The gospel according to Bush seems to change from minute to minute, depending on who is his "friend" (Musharraf, John Howard of Australia, Aznar of Spain, Merkel of Germany) and who is his enemy (Ahmadinejad of Iran, Kim Jong of North Korea, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and Assad of Syria).
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Graham Bowley of The New York Times reports today that the U.S. military is planning to accuse an AP photographer, winner of a Pulitzer prize in 2005, of assisting insurgents before an Iraqi court.
"The American military is sending an Iraqi photographer for The Associated Press it accuses of aiding the insurgency into Iraq’s criminal justice system, according to American authorities and The A.P. The photographer, Bilal Hussein, was part of an 11-member team that won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography in 2005. He has been detained without charge since April 2006."
Has the U.S. military ever heard of the rule of law? The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution* guarantees the right of an accused to a fair and speedy trial. Some might say that this protection of the U.S. Constitution does not apply to persons, non-citizens, accused in places outside the U.S., such as Iraq. That the Sixth Amendment's protections apply only to Americans. But even if the U.S. Constitution does not apply, doesn't everyone enjoy this right as a "human right," as a matter of fairness under the rule of law? If police or the army arrest someone, shouldn't the person be given a fair and speedy trial in conformity with basic human rights, no matter where he lives and no matter what citizenship he or she holds?
Mr. Hussein has been held without a trial and without a hearing for over 19 months. The handling by the U.S. of his case is a legal disgrace and a violation of basic human rights.
*The Sixth Amendment reads:
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."
George Bush needs to come out and condemn Pervez Musharraf for locking up the lawyers and judges in Pakistan. If Bush is so enamoured with "freedom" and "democracy," how come he remains silent regarding Iftikhar Chaudhry? Chaudhry is or was the Chief Justice of the Pakistani Supreme Court who has been unconstitutionally thrown out of office by that dictator Musharraf because he would not go along with Musharraf's scheme to stay in office. How come Bush remains mute when it comes to all the lawyers and judges now in detention because they oppose Musharraf's attempt to illegally remain in power?
Bush's stress on "freedom" and "democracy" are just cynical phrases devoid of meaning, designed solely to make Bush look like another George Washington for purposes of establishing his "legacy." Nevertheless, Bush remains silent on the outrageous attack on the rule of law in Pakistan. This shows how cynical and hollow Bush truly is.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Jonathan Diehl writes in today's The Washington Post on the excesses of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
"During eight years in office, Chávez has already taken control of Venezuela's courts, congress, television stations and petroleum industry; his congress granted him the right to rule by decree. The constitutional rewrite will allow him to control the central bank and its reserves, override elected local governments with his own appointees, declare an indefinite "state of emergency" in which due process and freedom of information would be suspended, and use the army to maintain domestic political order under the slogan "fatherland, socialism or death!" "
But wait! If we substitute the word "Bush" for "Chavez," the sentence would be more correct. Bush has taken extraordinary emergency powers; he has had the Congress give him war-making ability; he has taken control of the Supreme Court by naming Alito and Roberts, two neo-con favorites of Dick Cheney.
Mr. Diehl, how come you chose to write about Hugo Chavez instead of George Bush? Bush is the bigger threat to democracy.
Bush has siezed extra constitutional powers. He has suspended habeas corpus. Bush has used the word "homeland" to scare Americans. He has incited anti-immigrant campaigns with his Homeland Security Department. Bush has politicized the Justice Department. At least Chavez is engaging in a referendum by the people before he takes full control. And above all, Chavez has not invaded and occupied another country.
Fran Townsend resigns as Bush's Homeland Security Adviser today and presents a hoaky letter of resignation comparing Bush with George Washington. Townsend must be some suck-up because here's is her letter. (Thanks to ThinkProgress.org for pointing this out.)
"In 1937, the playwright Maxwell Anderson wrote of President George Washington: There are some men who lift the age they inhabit, till all men walk on higher ground in their lifetime.
"Mr. President, you are such a man. . . ."
But Steve Clemons in his The Washington Note praises Townsend as level-headed and a counterweight to Cheney.
"Fran Townsend, in my view, actually did a very good job and was one of the more reasoned advisers that Bush kept close to him. In my estimation, she was an important balance to Vice President Cheney's national security advisor John Hannah."
Frankly, I cannot understand Clemon's good feelings towards her. Townsend compares Bush to George Washington and include him among the giants who " . . . lift the age they inhabit, till all men walk on higher ground in their lifetime." About Fran Townsend I have serious reservations and doubts.
Remember Townsend is talking about Bush who:
- refuses to close Guantanamo
- refuses to stop waterboarding or other and worse forms of torture and "harsh interrogation"
- believes in extraordinary rendition (a/k/a kidnapping)
- vetoes the Children's Health Plan
- started the disastrous and foolhardy War in Iraq
- is responsible for the deaths of almost 4,000 U.S. forces
- is responsible for the deaths of over 650,000 Iraqis
- is against habeas corpus for prisoners caught in Iraq or Afghanistan
- believes in the death penalty
- and on and on
And Steve Clemons praises Townsend? Townsend's letter indicates that she thinks Bush is among those giants of men who uplift those with whom they come into contact. Townsend must be as bad as Bush if she really believes her own words. And Clemons must be on some mind-altering drug to praise her.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The Washington Post has an editorial today, entitled, "Don't Let The Surge Fail." You can imagine the message without reading one word. The surge is working. Bush and Petraeus deserve credit. The Democrats in Congress trying to stop the war are irresponsible.
Here's the first paragraph:
"THE EVIDENCE is now overwhelming that the "surge" of U.S. military forces in Iraq this year has been, in purely military terms, a remarkable success. By every metric used to measure the war -- total attacks, U.S. casualties, Iraqi casualties, suicide bombings, roadside bombs -- there has been an enormous improvement since January. U.S. commanders report that al-Qaeda has been cleared from large areas it once controlled and that its remaining forces in Iraq are reeling. Markets in Baghdad are reopening, and the curfew is being eased; the huge refugee flow out of the country has begun to reverse itself. Credit for these achievements belongs in large part to U.S. soldiers in Iraq, who took on a tremendously challenging new counterterrorism strategy and made it work; to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the architect of that strategy; and to President Bush, for making the decision to launch the surge against the advice of most of Congress and the country's foreign policy elite."
These are the same WashPo editorial writers that supported Bush's illegal Iraq invasion and occupation back in 2002 and 2003. Now they think the surge is working and Bush and Petraeus should be credit? It is too ludicrous. Consider the following from Reuters today on violence in Iraq. (Thanks to Juan Cole in his Informed Comment for pointing this out.)
"Following are security developments in Iraq at 1430 GMT on Sunday.* denotes new or updated items.*
BAGHDAD - The Iraqi army killed four gunmen and arrested 63 others during the last 24 hours, in different parts in Iraq, the Defence Ministry said.
MOSUL - A parked car bomb killed three people, including a woman, and wounded 16 others, including four policemen, when it targeted a police patrol in central Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
TIKRIT - A roadside bomb killed an Iraqi army officer and a soldier and wounded another while they were trying to defuse it in central Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
BAGHDAD - Four bodies were found in different districts of Baghdad on Saturday, police said.
MOSUL - Five bodies, including that of a police captain, were found dumped in different areas of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, on Saturday, police said.
BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb wounded two people in Ameen district of southeastern Baghdad, police said.
BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb hit a police commandos patrol near al-Tayaran Square in central Baghdad on Saturday, wounding two policemen, police said.
BAGHDAD - U.S. helicopters killed two men planting a roadside bomb south of Baghdad on Friday, the U.S. military said.
BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb wounded two people in Kesra neighbourhood in northern Baghdad, police said.
RUSTUMIYA - Several rockets or mortar rounds landed in Rustumiya neighbourhood in southeastern Baghdad but caused no casualties, police said."
The Washington Post says the surge is "working." The surge is a "remarkable success." Given the casualties listed in Reuters, the surge seems more of the unworkable same. Iraq is a catastrophe caused by the illegal and unjustified Bush war. Far from being a "remarkable success," it is wasting lives, both American and Iraqi, and needs to be stopped and ended. Congress cannot allow this foolishness to go on.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
My two grandchildren were over for the weekend, so blogging took back seat until late in the day. So here is my post for Saturday.
I wrote yesterday how Bush addressed members of the Federalist Society on Thursday evening. And how they stomped and cheered and hollered for Bush.
We know the members of the Federalist Society are conservative, but didn't they go too far in showing their mean and small souls by giving this war criminal a standing ovation? The worst president in the history of the United States, and members of the Federalist Society cheer him as if he were the holy panacea and solution to the world's problems. The man who won't approve an expansion of the S-CHIP program granting health care to children but who eagerly solicits billions for the bloody and damned war in Iraq? Yet members of the Federalist Society treat him as if he were a mythical hero.
Worse than who Bush is or the bad things that he has caused is the realization that there are many "smart" people out there who support him no matter what his catastrophic policies or what his disastrous results.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Robert Barnes reports in The Washington Post on Bush's speech last night to the Federalist Society. Writes Barnes:
"With 1,800 members crowding Union Station, the president of the United States on the dais and four Supreme Court justices singing its praises, last night might have marked the time for the Federalist Society to officially surrender its underdog persona.
"Founded in 1982 as a debating organization for conservative law students who said they were frustrated by prevailing liberal orthodoxy, the group celebrated its 25th anniversary with a black-tie dinner and a bracing message from President Bush about the group's twin passions: interpreting the Constitution as the founders wrote it and promoting conservatives to the federal bench. . . ."
"Alito was joined at the dinner by fellow justices Antonin Scalia, who years ago was a faculty adviser to a fledgling campus chapter at the University of Chicago, and Clarence Thomas, who received a rapturous reception from the group earlier in the day when where he sold and spoke about his new book, "My Grandfather's Son." (Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. appeared in a video tribute, and is scheduled to address the organization today.)"
Thursday, November 15, 2007
After a nineteen-year-old young woman was gang-raped and then complained about it to the courts, the judges decided to increase her punishment to 200 lashes and adding a jail sentence, the BBC reports. Guess the country where this occurred.
Bush & Co. love to complain about Iran not granting women full rights and penalizing them for not covering their hair. Iran is a regime ruled by the Shiite ayatollahs. Bush and Cheney would like nothing better than to bomb it.
But Saudi Arabia, predominantly Sunni, is the "friend" of the United States. Witness Bush walking hand-in-hand with the Saudi King at Crawford.
Yet Saudi Arabia is even more backward than Iran when it comes to personal rights, especially those of women.
The whole world needs to rise up and condemn Saudi Arabia for this cruel and unjustified sentence for this young victimized woman. If it carries out this sentence, Saudi Arabia should be viewed as a barbaric pariah and tossed out of the United Nations.
Republicans in Congress like to argue against a time table for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. They say the surge is working and Gen. David Petraeus is a mastermind who needs more time to "finish" the job.
But this argument goes against reality. Juan Cole recites the figures:
"The House of Representatives attempted to put strings on Bush's latest supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan, including a timetable for US military withdrawal. The bill they passed is expected to be defeated in the Senate and would in any case be vetoed by Bush. The Republican representatives are claiming things are just great now in Iraq (nearly 1000 persons a month are still being killed there even by the sketchy official statistics; as late as this September, the number of displaced persons increased by 16%; there is now active fighting on a new front, between Turkey and the Kurds holed up in northern Iraq; security is apparently collapsing in the port city of Basra; and Baghdad has in the past 10 months gone from 65% Shiite to 75% Shiite). Democrats warned against another 10 years of war at the cost of trillions of dollars."
There is no functioning Iraqi government outside the Green Zone. In neighborhoods in and around Baghdad, it is the law of the street and rule by war lords. Anything goes. As Juan Cole points out, there are still over 1,000 people killed per month. Iraqis are still streaming out of their neighborhoods. And Baghdad has witnessed ethnic cleansing on an enormous scale.
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad writes in The Guardian on his personal observations and experiences in one Baghdad neighborhood.
Here is one vignette from this must-read account by Adul-Ahad:
"Ameriya is a closed zone, surrounded by high concrete walls. Only pedestrians are allowed through the two Iraqi army checkpoints out of the suburb. The "knights" are the only authority inside.
"When we arrived at the house where the alleged al-Qaida commander was hiding, Bakr was already in action. He was dragging a plump man into a car, grabbing his neck with one hand and his BKC machine gun with the other.
"The horrified man begged them not to take him. "By Allah, I didn't say Qaida is better than you, you are our brothers, just let me go!" A gunman kicked the man and pushed him into a car.
"The suspect's brother, still in his pyjamas, pleaded, and women in nightgowns stood in the street wailing and begging the gunmen to release him.
"The gunmen pointed their guns at the people and pushed them back. A young fighter carrying an old British sub-machine gun fired a burst into the air."
Read Adul-Ahad's report and then compare it with the Republicans and their vacuous pie-in-the-sky comments on the "surge is working" theme.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Gen. Pervez Musharraf continues to attack Ifthikar Chaudhry, Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court. The BBC reports:
"Military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf will not entertain letting former Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry back into his job.
"On Sunday he lashed out at Mr Chaudhry again, calling him corrupt and a hurdle in the way of the smooth working of the government.
"He told journalists in Islamabad that the entire problem of the judiciary boiled down to one individual, Mr Chaudhry, who he sacked as part of the state of emergency introduced on 3 November. "
Talk about subverting the rule of law! Is there a quicker way than dismissing the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? Musharraf cannot get the Pakistan courts to go along with letting him be at the same time head of the Pakistan Army and also President. So Musharraf, in effect, cuts the head off of Pakistan's judicial system.
All lawyers from around the world, from whatever country, ought to feel revulsion at what Musharraf is doing. And where is Bush and Cheney and Rice? They should be condemning this assault on Pakistan's rule of law.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I cannot see voting for any of the Republican candidates. Consider the three leaders, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain. All three would give us a redux Bush, maybe a little smarter than W but maybe even more extreme.
John McCain seems the least crazy as well as the most likeable. McCain comes off as genuine, what you see is what you get. On the plus side, he is against torture and water-boarding. But his big negative is that he continues to support this unjustified and illegal war in Iraq.
Mitt Romney comes off as duplicitous and willing to say anything to help his chances. Mitt generates an unlimited amount of political cynicism. By saying that he would double the size of Guantanamo, he tries to out-do Bush in his cruelty towards suspects caught in Afghanistan and Iraq. We know that Guantanamo is the black hole where once you end up there, whether guilty or not guilty, you lose all right to appeal. You have no right to a trial, you have no right to a lawyer, you have no right to appeal to a federal court for relief under the Great Writ of habeas corpus. And Mitt would double Guantanamo? Has he no decency?
As to Rudy Giuliani, it is clear he has no decency. Rudy comes right out and endorses waterboarding and says he inflicted "harsh" interrogation methods on mafia suspects when he was federal prosecutor in NYC. Rudy never served in the army, has no combat experience, but endorses torture. Maybe his forebears utilized torture during the years of the Inquisition.
I cannot imagine how Republicans or anyone else could vote for any of the above. Unless this is how a person wanted life and society in today's United States - one where war was always the answer, constitutional rights for prisoners did not exist, and torture was the modus operandi du jour.
As a lawyer I am incensed by the jailing of protesting Pakistani lawyers and judges by Gen. Pervez Musharraf. I read Musharraf's autobiography, In the Line of Fire, and I was impressed by his seeming intelligence and good judgment. What a let down!
You cannot have a rule of law if you imprison a judge because the decision goes against you. How is Musharraf any better than those parties who lose a case and then threaten the judge or the opposing lawyer? The answer is, there is no difference. Musharraf is as bad as anyone who has ever taken revenge on the court because of an unfavorable decision.
All lawyers should rise up and protest Musharraf's illegal detention of members of the Pakistani legal profession.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Bob Greene writes an op-ed in today's The New York Times on Paul Tibbets who piloted the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima resulting in the fiery deaths of more than 100,000 inhabitants. Tibbets recently passed away.
Greene expresses no revulsion with Tibbetts or his actions. He writes that Harry Truman met with Tibbets at the White House and asked him if he got any criticism for dropping the bomb on innocent civilians. Just tell anybody who objects that I was the one who sent you, Truman reportedly said.
Greene writes Tibbets had peace of mind:
"It was reported that he claimed never to have lost a night’s sleep after the mission, and some saw this as a show of indifference. It was the opposite. He slept well, he told me, because “we stopped the killing.” He was at peace, he said, because “I know how many people got to live full lives because of what we did.”"
Harry Truman should have been tried as a war criminal. He claimed he ordered the bomb dropped in order to shorten the war and save American lives. Nice sentiment, but you are not allowed to kill civilians intentionally, no matter how noble the ends. And Bob Greene needs to get his values in right order. Instead of lionizing the late Paul Tibbets, he should think carefully about the 100,000 Japanese civilians, men, women, children, young, old, who Harry Truman through Paul Tibbets incinerated that terrible morning in August some 63 years ago.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Hooray for Gordon Brown. The British Prime Minister is refusing to toe the Bush/Cheney line that Iran should never be allowed a nuclear weapon. In contrast to those push-overs, Nicolas Sarkozy and German Minister Angela Merkel, Brown is resisting the march of Bush and Cheney towards war with Iran. Thanks to ThinkProgress.com for discovering the story in The Telegram.
Tim Shipman and Philip Sherwell write in the Telegram.co.uk that Bush is becoming impatient with Brown.
"Allies of Condoleeza Rice, the US Secretary of State, have told The Sunday Telegraph that the Prime Minister should emulate France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and warn that Iran may face military action, in order to help avert a new war in the Middle East. . . .
"The concerns reflect growing irritation in Washington, from the White House down, that Mr Brown will not match his more robust private conversations on Iran with hard-hitting public statements that would put pressure on the Teheran regime."
It seems that all Bush, Cheney, Lieberman, Rice and the rest of the neo-cons want is to drum up support for bombing Iran. ThinkProgress.com reports on John Bolton's smear today of Mohamed El Baradei , head of the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations, for saying that Iran does not have an active nuclear weapon program:
"Two weeks ago, Mohamed El Baradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on CNN that an attack on Iran would “lead absolutely to disaster.” He added that there is no evidence of a “concrete, active nuclear weapon program” going on inside Iran.
"Today on CNN’s Late Edition, neconservative warhawk John Bolton responded by smearing ElBaradei as “an apologist for Iran” and said the United States is “paying the price” for not opposing him more vociferously."
By the way, we are hearing too much from John Bolton lately. Bolton is always trying to incite a war someplace in the world. He would like nothing better than to bomb North Korea and Iran at the same time.
Why the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Michael Mukasey as Attorney General by 53 to 40 is still an enigma. Especially the votes of Senators Schumer and Feinstein. I have read their op-eds justifying their votes. They fail to convince, especially when they try to say that Mukasey would be better than some recess appointment or acting AG appointed by Bush without Senate confirmation.
Mukasey is not sure that waterboarding is torture. Nevertheless the Senate confirms him as head law enforcement officer of the United States. It is all too improbable. There must be some other reason why Feinstein and Schumer voted for his confirmation, and unfortunately we are not getting the underlying real reason from the main stream media.
Furthermore, what happened to Sen. Harry Reid? As majority leader, he could have and should have threatened a filibuster. In which case, Mukasey would need 60 votes to have the Senate vote on him. The Republicans do this all the time, witness the vote on S-CHIP in which Democrats obtained a majority but not enough to stop the Republican filibuster. So why did Harry Reid allow the Mukasey confirmation vote to go forward without a veto? Again, this explanation is not something that we are getting from most newspapers and TV.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I thought George W. Bush was the "democracy president." He seemed to have a mission from above to foster democracy throughout the world.
Of course democracy means a rule of law implicit in the power of the people to determine their own government. How come then today Michael Abramowitz reports in The Washington Post that George Bush as well as Condoleeza Rice made it a point to emphasize how much they support Gen. Pervez Musharraf, notwithstanding his suspension of the Pakistani Constitution and notwithstanding his locking up of the justices of the Pakistan Supreme Court as well as innumerable other judges and lawyers?
If Bush wants to support a dictator who is trying to stay in power by force of the Pakistan army, then how can he preach the gospel of democracy from here to the end of his term, in another 14 months?
In articulating his support for Musharraf, Bush did not mention the judges and the lawyers who were beaten and arrested. Before Bush or Rice dare to come out and signal support for the Pakistani dictator, they should first insist that the lawyers be freed.
It is about time that Benazir Bhutto has come out with an appeal to free Pakistani Supreme Court Justice Chaudhry and the other Pakistani judges and lawyers who have been arrested by that dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Bhutto has been back in Pakistan for several weeks, yet only today did I read on the website of the BBC where she calls for the jurists' release. Without the freeing of the judges, Pakistan will exist without the rule of law.
This whole sordid affair shows the shallowness of U.S. foreign policy towards Musharraf and Pakistan. The U.S. policy centers on Musharraf whereas it should center on Pakistan and its people. Instead of arming Musharraf and the Pakistan army, the U.S. should be assisting the hoi polloi, the common peoeple, with roads, schools and hospitals.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Sen. Joe Biden has released his new policy towards Pakistan. What I like about it is that it avoids helping Pakistan militarize, and instead it concentrates on non-military aid to help the people of Pakistan in their everyday needs. It is not a Musharraf policy but a Pakistan policy. It is focused on the people, not merely on its leader.
For purposes of disclosure, I have contributed to Sen. Biden's campaign, as well as to that of Sen. Obama, Dodd and Edwards.
Sen. Biden describes the elements of his plan:
"Here are the four elements of this new strategy.
"First, triple non-security aid, to $1.5 billion annually. For at least a decade. This aid would be unconditioned: it's our pledge to the Pakistani people. Instead of funding military hardware, it would build schools, clinics, and roads.
"Second, condition security aid on performance. We should base our security aid on clear results. We're now spending well over $1 billion annually, and it's not clear we're getting our money's worth. I'd spend more if we get better returns--and less if we don't.
"Third, help Pakistan enjoy a "democracy dividend." The first year of democratic rule should bring an additional $1 billion -- above the $1.5 billion non-security aid baseline. And I would tie future non-security aid -- again, above the guaranteed baseline -- to Pakistan's progress in developing democratic institutions and meeting good-governance norms.
"Fourth, engage the Pakistani people, not just their rulers. This will involve everything from improved public diplomacy and educational exchanges to high impact projects that actually change people's lives."
What I like is the emphasis on schools, clinics and roads. Also educational exchanges and high impact projects that change people's lives.
Instead of more Bush/Cheney militarism and threats of bombs and missiles, Biden has come up with an alternative using friendship and diplomacy.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I would like to point my readers to The Nation magazine for the current issue (November 19, 2007) devoted to American foreign policy, especially to the article by Anatol Lieven, "Relearning the Art of Diplomacy."
Lieven looks at American "diplomacy" and finds it sophomoric and narcissistic. As if diplomacy meant just dictating your ideas to the other side, and they better accept it or else! Lieven quotes John Edwards in his essay in the September/October Foreign Affairs.
"We must reengage with our history of courage, liberty and generosity. We must reengage with our tradition of moral leadership on issues ranging from the killings in Darfur to global poverty and climate change. We must reengage with our allies on critical security issues, including terrorism, the Middle East, and nuclear proliferation. With confidence and resolve, we must reengage with those who pose a security threat to us, from Iran to North Korea. And our government must reengage with the American people to restore our nation's reputation as a moral beacon to the world, tapping into our fundamental hope and optimism and calling on our citizens' commitment and courage to make this possible. We must lead the world by demonstrating the power of our ideals, not by stoking fear about those who do not share them."
The Lieven gives his stinging observation:
"It is only at a second reading--by someone outside the mainstream US discourse--that the intense narcissism of Edwards' intellectual approach becomes apparent. The talk is all of re-engaging with our history, our hope and optimism and our courage. Once the United States has done so, it is taken for granted that first US allies, and then the rest of the world, will once again admire America as a "moral beacon" and accept America's leadership of the world."
For purposes of full disclosure, I have contributed to the John Edwards campaign, as well as to that of Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Barack Obama.
But I must agree with Anatol Lieven that the comments of Edwards are juvenile and egocentric, concerned with only our side. Like some eight year old arguing about which baseball team is better. Has America ever considered that there are other countries in the world who have aspirations and goals that may not coincide exactly with its own? Our diplomacy illustrates Americans' narrow-mindedness and lack of tolerance for the other. This is perfectly illustrated by George Bush who constantly is preaching to other countries on what they should or should not do. The sad conclusion is that the Democratic candidates are hardly any better when it comes to putting away American exceptionalism and engaging in true and open debate even with those countries or entities that publicly criticize the U.S., for example, Iran or even Hamas.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
This whole Musharraf affair aims squarely at overturning the judiciary and negating the lawyers of Pakistan. Musharraf claims he had to declare martial law and suspend the Pakistan Constitution because of the threat of terrorism. That's transparently false. He has just wanted to avoid an adverse decision of the Pakistan Supreme Court barring him from holding the presidency at the same time as he is the head of the Army. Musharraf fears the judiciary and lawyers of Pakistan.
However, to hear George Bush dictate to another country what it must and must not do is sickening. Bush tells Musharraf to restore constitutional rights, yet Bush himself has violated the U.S. Constitution continuously during his presidency. (Thanks to Think Progress. org for initially pointing out the hypocrisies.) Consider the Bush violations of: the Fourth Amendment by stealing telephone records and by eavesdropping without a valid warrant issued by an independent judge or magistrate; the Eighth Amendment by inflicting torture and other cruel punishments on prisoners suspected of being terrorists; the Fifth Amendment by denying due process to the prisoners at Guantanamo and others. Bush loves to dictate to others but as for himself he should be brought up on criminal charges for the constitutional violations he has committed.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
In today's The Washington Post, Robin Wright reports that the U.S. will free nine Iranians captured in Iraq and accused of fomenting trouble on what seems trumped-up charges.
"The status of the captured Iranians is so sensitive -- both diplomatically and militarily -- that their status has been reviewed all the way up to the White House. The decision to release nine Iranians reflects a shift in position. Last month, Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the top commander of day-to-day operations in Iraq, said he would recommend that the five Iranians captured in Irbil not be released.
"Militarily, we should hold on to them," he told reporters and editors at The Washington Post on Oct. 5. But last week, Odierno said there had been a sharp decline in one type of the roadside bombs, the so-called explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs. The heavy metal projectile that makes up the penetrator strikes with speed and power to shatter through the steel of armored Humvees."
We all know that the detention of the Iranians is just political shenanigans originating from the Bush/Cheney antipathy towards Iran. There has been no proof that these Iranian captives did anything wrong in Iraq. Most of them are diplomats invited into Iraq by Iraqi Premier Al-Maliki. Yet the United States went out of its way to grab them in January and hold them for more than nine months.
Writes Robin Wright:
"But the announcement also came as officials announced that five U.S. troops were killed by roadside bombs believed to have originated in Iran (emphasis added), which raised the U.S. combat death toll this year to 851 2 -- making it the deadliest year yet for the U.S. military, according to the Web site icasualties.org, which tracks military casualties. In 2004, 849 U.S. troops were killed."
I object to Robin Wright's unfounded assertions in her report that it is commonly believed that Iran is supplying IEDs and EFPs. Robin Wright is too ready to put credence in unsubstantiated claims of Bush/Cheney and the U.S. generals that Iran is supplying roadside bombs. She writes in today's story.
I ask on what basis the generals believe the bombs originated in Iran and were provided by Iran? Where is the evidence for the world to see? So far there has been no believable evidence. This campaign is just trying to lay blame on Iran for screw-ups of Bush in his unjustified war against Iraq. Anyone can fashion these explosive devices. All that is needed is some modern tool and die. There are probably thousands of workshops in Baghdad that can fashion them and supply them to insurgents.
Bush is trying to salvage his tattered reputation by blaming outsiders for the mess he has made.
I object to Robin Wright mouthing and repeating the talking points that Iran is to blame.
Monday, November 5, 2007
I received this e-mail today from a friend on the Mukasey affaire. The author has given me permission to share it with my blog readers:
"Bush's nominee for Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, has refused to say whether waterboarding is torture. This guy was a federal judge (a life time appointment) and he says he doesn't know what waterboarding is and therefore he can't say whether it's torture or not. If we assume that he is being honest, i.e., he doesn't know what waterboarding, that leaves a lot to be desired in a "jurist." Even a high school student, without the benefit of knowledge of history, who has watched TV or read any newspapers over the past few years, is very likely to know what waterboarding is. And if Mukasey doesn't know that, then should we have an Attorney General who is that ignorant of the current issues.
"Of course, it's hard for me to believe that Mukasey doesn't know, it is more likely that he is covering for the Bush team who is perhaps afraid that this legal minutiae could at a later date save them from criminal prosecutions. Whatever his motives, it doesn't bode well for our society when have a nominee for Attorney General who doesn't know anything to replace an Attorney General who just couldn't remember anything.
"However, what is even more alarming than Bush nominating Mukasey is that democratic Senators Schumer and Feinstein have thrown their weight behind his confirmation. Senator Schumer said, "the best we can hope for is someone who will rebuild the Justice Department and remain independent, even when pressured by this Administration." Rebuild the Justice Department to do what?—Condone waterboarding, so we can now tell the world that our highest law enforcement official doesn't think waterboarding is torture and thus sending a signal to the torturers that it is not illegal, at least, not under his leadership at the Justice Department.
"Senator Schumer has put his own ego (he had suggested Mukasey to Bush) and in a face saving exercise condoned waterboarding. So much for checks from democrats on Executive power, and so much for standing up for what is right.
"Let's all tell Senators Schumer and Feinstein that waterboarding is torture, and torture is not an American or human value. Phone numbers for the Senators are: Feinstein: (202) 224-3841 and Schumer (202) 224-8542."
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Gen. Pervaez Musharraf finally beat the Pakistani Supreme Court. Dismissing Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, the Chief Justice, before the court could rule that Musharraf could not be both president and head of the army under the Pakistani Constitution, Musharraf declared martial rule and appointed his own people to be justices on the Supreme Court.
The BBC reports:
" . . . [R]esentment is brewing among the judges of the higher judiciary. More than 60 judges, out of a total of 97, have declined to take oath under the new Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).
"Their homes have been placed under strict security, presumably to prevent them from going to the courts on Monday, as some of them plan to do.
"In a hurriedly-called sitting on Saturday evening, seven Supreme Court judges issued an order barring the government from proclaiming emergency rule, and advising the state functionaries not to carry out emergency orders, if issued."
No wonder lawyers have taken to the street to resist Musharraf's destruction of the rule of law in Pakistan. Because Musharraf did not like the decision that he feared from the Supreme Court, he simply dismissed the justices and appointed those he knows would rule in his favor.
Writes the BBC:
"This order is likely to be used by the leaders of the lawyers' movement to mobilise agitation against the government. An act of defiance by the judges could further exacerbate the situation.
"The lawyers' movement emerged in March when Gen Musharraf tried to remove the country's Chief Justice, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, from his post."
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Evan Wallach writes in today's The Washington Post on waterboarding. This is a must read article. Wallach is a judge on the U.S. Court of International Trade and a former JAG in the Nevada National Guard.
Wallach writes on the history of waterboarding as practiced on and by U.S. troops and the judgment of U.S. courts on those who practiced it. Writes Wallach:
"Here's the testimony of two Americans imprisoned by the Japanese:
""They would lash me to a stretcher then prop me up against a table with my head down. They would then pour about two gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness.
"And from the second prisoner:
""They laid me out on a stretcher and strapped me on. The stretcher was then stood on end with my head almost touching the floor and my feet in the air. . . . They then began pouring water over my face and at times it was almost impossible for me to breathe without sucking in water.
"As a result of such accounts, a number of Japanese prison-camp officers and guards were convicted of torture that clearly violated the laws of war. They were not the only defendants convicted in such cases. As far back as the U.S. occupation of the Philippines after the 1898 Spanish-American War, U.S. soldiers were court-martialed for using the "water cure" to question Filipino guerrillas."
"We know that U.S. military tribunals and U.S. judges have examined certain types of water-based interrogation and found that they constituted torture. That's a lesson worth learning. The study of law is, after all, largely the study of history. The law of war is no different. This history should be of value to those who seek to understand what the law is -- as well as what it ought to be."
It's hard to know where to begin on the sordid Mukasey/Schumer/Feinstein affaire. Mukasey refuses to say whether he believes waterboarding is torture. Yet Feinstein and Schumer announce their support for him as AG.
We might as well support the medieval church inquisitors and all the other torturers throughout the ages. I had thought that the French Enlightenment once and for all established the intellectual condemnation and prohibition of torture in all its cruel manifestations. I guess I was wrong.
And these torturers are not merely limited to George Bush, Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld. Read the statements of some of the Republican candidates, such as Giuliani, Romney and Thompson, supporting these methods of "interrogation" and in Romney's case, Guantanamo. We can gauge how medieval and thwarted their Republican attitude towards life and "democracy" really is.
Surely the Mukasey affaire is not one of America's finest hours.
Friday, November 2, 2007
The State Department professionals who object being assigned to the embassy in Baghdad are putting the lie to the Bush/Petraeus spin that things are going swimmingly in Iraq. As one employee said, assignment to Iraq is like a death sentence.
Ambassador Ryan Crocker says it is the duty of State Department foreign service employees to put the nation's interest over their own personal safety. This sounds nice to say, but let's not forget, Ryan Crocker, qua ambassador, is accompanied wherever he goes by those Blackwater thugs. And he probably sleeps in a triply fortified bedroom in the embassy. Whereas the ordinary foreign service chump is subject to mortars and suicide bombers at every turn.
If the State Department insists on forcing unwilling employees to Iraq, then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice should also do a turn of duty there. No trips alllowed back to the U.S. or to destinations outside Iraq for at least the first six months.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Today's The New York Times has a story by Scott Shane and David Stout on the reluctance of Judge Michael Mukasey to admit what everyone else in the whole world already knows - that waterboarding is nothing else than torture and always has been since it was dreamt up to get information from captured enemy soldiers, spies, heretics et al.
Write Shane and Stout:
"Jack L. Goldsmith, who served in the Justice Department in 2003 and 2004, wrote in his recent memoir, “The Terror Presidency,” that the possibility of future prosecution for aggressive actions against terrorism was a constant worry inside the Bush administration.
"“I witnessed top officials and bureaucrats in the White House and throughout the administration openly worrying that investigators, acting with the benefit of hindsight in a different political environment, would impose criminal penalties on heat-of-battle judgment calls,” Mr. Goldsmith wrote."
So top officials and White House bureaucrats are worried that they may be subject to criminal prosecution for ordering waterboarding because it is clearly a form of torture? If they were so worried about future charges brought against them, they must have realized before they ordered agents to use waterboarding that it was illegal as well as reprehensible and immoral.
Shane and Stout write:
"Scott L. Silliman, an expert on national security law at Duke University School of Law, said any statement by Mr. Mukasey that waterboarding was illegal torture “would open up Pandora’s box,” even in the United States. Such a statement from an attorney general would override existing Justice Department legal opinions and create intense pressure from human rights groups to open a criminal investigation of interrogation practices, Mr. Silliman said.
"“You would ask not just who carried it out, but who specifically approved it,” said Mr. Silliman, director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke. “Theoretically, it could go all the way up to the president of the United States; that’s why he’ll never say it’s torture,” Mr. Silliman said of Mr. Mukasey."
We have a possibility here that even Mr. George Bush as well as Mr. Dick Cheney could be very well brought up on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is why they are so afraid of the new AG nominee saying what everyone else knows, that waterboarding is a form of torture. They live in fear that successive administrations and foreign countries will arrest them and make them face charges on their un-American actions.