Saturday, June 09, 2007
Olbermann cheers 'historical restoration' of habeas corpus
The Gaffe is Bush Himself, always has been, always will be
Wave Of Young Suicides Leave Indian Reservations Looking For Answers
US-Run Jail In Southern Iraq Rocked By Rocket Attack
An apparent rocket attack Saturday at a U.S.-run detention facility in southernIraq killed at least six detainees and wounded 50, the military said. No American casualties were reported.
The attack was launched against the internment facility at Camp Bucca, the military said in a brief statement. Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a military spokesman in Baghdad, said the center appeared to have been hit by rockets.
Cindy Sheehan Sells Texas Property To Radio Host
Cindy Sheehan will sell her war protest site near President Bush's ranch to a California radio talk show host, who will preserve it as a peace memorial, her spokeswoman said.
Sheehan, who announced on Memorial Day that she was stepping down as the face of the anti-war movement, will sell the 5-acre site in Crawford for $87,000 to Bree Walker, Sheehan spokeswoman Tiffany Burns said.
British Government's Massive Payments To "Bandar Bush" Prompts Inquiry
The government was last night fighting to contain the fallout over £1bn in payments to a Saudi prince as the attorney general came under renewed pressure to explain how much he knew about the affair.
While in public the government was issuing partial denials about its role in the controversy, in private there were desperate efforts to secure a new BAE £20bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
Dean: Dem In The White House Would End Iraq War
The high hurdles faced by congressional Democrats in their efforts to end the Iraq war make electing a Democratic president in 2008 the best way to finish the conflict, Democratic party chairman Howard Dean said Saturday.
He noted his party has made little progress toward ending the war, the cause, he said, that returned them to power.
Kennedy Made Last Attempts To Save Immigration Bill
The New York Times Carl Hulse, Robert Pear,and Jeff Zeleny June 9, 2007 11:05 AM
It was the moment of truth for legislation that would make the most profound changes in immigration policy in more than 20 years.
Desperate to salvage a measure in which he and others had invested months, Senator Edward M. Kennedy headed to the secluded Capitol suite of Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, to make one last personal plea.
Bono And Geldof: G8 "Creeps" Betrayed Africa
The G8 summit ended yesterday with world leaders pledging to spend £30 billion on fighting Aids, malaria and tuberculosis and stressing their determination to help Africa.
But anti-poverty campaigners denounced this as a "betrayal" and said the headline figure was "misleading".
US Troops Team Up With Their Former Attackers
The worst month of Lt. Col. Dale Kuehl's deployment in western Baghdad was finally drawing to a close. The insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq had unleashed bombings that killed 14 of his soldiers in May, a shocking escalation of violence for a battalion that had lost three soldiers in the previous six months while patrolling the Sunni enclave of Amiriyah. On top of that, the 41-year-old battalion commander was doubled up with a stomach flu when, late on May 29,...
Immigration Failure Starts Bush's Lame Duck Presidency
The breakthrough on the "grand bargain" on immigration a few weeks ago had brought new life to a White House under siege, putting a long-sought goal suddenly within reach. After many grim months, there was almost giddiness at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But that early euphoria only made the grand bargain's grand collapse on Thursday night all the more of a blow, pointing up a stubbornly unshakable dynamic for President Bush in the final 19 months of his term: With low approval...
Friday, June 08, 2007
Human rights groups name 39 CIA "disappeared" detainees
by Jim Lobe
Three human rights groups sued the US government Thursday to force it to disclose what it knows about the fate of more than three dozen detainees in the "global war on terror" who are believed to have been held by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in secret prisons at some point over the past five years and who remain unaccounted for.
The three New York-based groups – Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the International Human Rights Clinic of New York University School of Law – filed their suit under the Freedom of Information Act, alleging that the government is withholding documents that can shed light on what happened to the 39 "disappeared" detainees and where they might be found.
"What we're asking is where are these 39 people now, and what's happened to them since they 'disappeared'?" said Joanne Mariner, Terrorism and Counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch, which, while not a plaintiff in the case, contributed to a report, also released Thursday, that forms the basis of the lawsuit.
"It is already a serious abuse to hold them in secret CIA prisons. Now we fear they may have been transferred to countries where they face further secret detention and abuse," she added.
The 21-page report, to which two other groups – London-based Cageprisoners and Reprieve – also contributed, details the names and other information about 39 people who "disappeared" after their apprehension. Most were detained in Pakistan between 2001 and 2005.
The report, entitled "Off the Record", also records the detention of the wives or young children – in one case, as young as six months old – of several of the detainees. The six groups said it was the most comprehensive listing of detainees who have disappeared that has been compiled since the launch of the war on terror in late 2001.
"The duty of governments to protect people from acts of terrorism is not in question," said Amnesty's senior research director, Claudio Cordone, in London. "But seizing men, women and even children, and placing people in secret locations deprived of the most basic safeguards for any detainees most definitely is. The US administration must end this illegal and morally repugnant practice once and for all." >>>cont
White House's legal team expands
WASHINGTON - The White House has expanded its legal team to handle the fights it is having with the new Democratic Congress...
Now we are in a "GENERATIONAL WAR' did'nt ya know
No Confidence Vote Monday
Speaking of getting busted
FLASHBACK: 2001 on PBS’ Frontline -
London - British Prime Minister Tony Blair Thursday defended his decision to halt a fraud inquiry into a major Saudi Arabian arms deal because it would have led to the 'complete wreckage' of vital British national interests. Blair's comments at a press briefing during the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, followed revelations in the British media Thursday that a Saudi Arabian prince received huge payments from a British arms company in connection with an arms deal worth more than 40 billion pounds (76 billion dollars).
Blair repeated Thursday that, had the fraud investigation continued, Saudi Arabia would possibly have ended all co-operation on intelligence and security matters.
'This investigation, if it had gone ahead, would have involved the most serious allegations and investigations being made of the Saudi royal family,' Blair said in Germany.
At least 14 killed at home of Iraqi police official
Screaming Hilton Ordered Back To Jail
"It's not right!" shouted Hilton, who violated her probation in a reckless driving case. "Mom!" she cried out to her mother.
A judge orders Paris Hilton back to jail, CNN confirms. She was taken from court screaming, The Associated Press reports.
Some democracy, America
MSNBC: Joint Chiefs Chair Peter Pace Replaced
Joint Chiefs Chairman Pace replaced.
MSNBC reports, "Pentagon sources are telling NBC's Jim Miklaszewski that Defense Secretary Gates has replaced Gen. Peter Pace as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with Adm. Mike Mullen. He is currently the Navy's chief naval officer."
GOP Senators Now Say They Want Iraq Troop Reduction
In another sign that congressional Republicans are losing patience with the White House war strategy, two GOP senators Thursday got behind new legislation designed to encourage the Bush administration to reduce U.S. military involvement in Iraq.
Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Gordon Smith of Oregon are cosponsoring a nonbinding resolution by Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) that urges decentralizing the Iraqi government and creating semiautonomous regions for Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Biden has been championing the plan for more...
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Oil strikers surrounded by Iraqi troops, PM issued arrest warrants for the union leaders
On the third day of an oil strike in southern Iraq, the Iraqi military has surrounded oil workers and the prime minister has issued arrest warrants for the union leaders, sparking an outcry from supporters and international unions. "This will not stop us because we are defending people's rights," said Hassan Jumaa Awad, president of IFOU. As of Wednesday morning, when United Press International spoke to Awad via mobile phone in Basra at the site of one of the strikes, no arrests had been made, "but regardless, the arrest warrant is still active." He said the "Iraqi Security Forces," who were present at the strike scenes, told him of the warrants and said they would be making any arrests...
continua / continued
Farmers Take Heat, but Big Agriculture Reaps Farm Bill Benefits
Senator Charges Improper Political Interference in Justice Department
Can you imagine being afraid to leave your home because of the very real threat of attack--whether by bomb or bullet or stone? This is a fear, a threat, Iraqi women have to live with every single day.
In April 2006, CODEPINK released Iraqi Women Under Siege, a detailed report on the status of Iraqi women. In it, we describe the serious deterioration of women's rights since the U.S. invasion. We explore how the high level of violence in Iraq has constrained women's lives and limited their options, leaving them and their families to grapple with the traumatic impact of war both physically and psychologically.
We also produced a video based on our sponsorship of a tour of Iraqi women to the United States, Women Say NO to War: Iraqi and American Women Speak Out. You can order it here.
Unfortunately, since we produced these materials, the situation of Iraqi women has gotten dramatically worse. A recent Reuters article documents how sectarian violence is forcing Iraqi women from their jobs and into arranged marriages. We receive heartbreaking letters from our friends in Iraq on a regular basis. Here is an excerpt from one we received a week ago:
Our country before the war in 2003 was beautiful, clean, shiny, full of historic monuments and huge universities. The streets were full of people working, visiting friends and families, drinking tea until very late at night.
Our country was full of colors. Today the only colors are red and dark, red by the blood and dark by the smoke of bombs and cars burning.
We are ready to clean our country, we are ready to rebuild our country with our hands, we are ready to forget that our petrol and our history were stolen. All we ask for is security. Is it so much to ask for?
Unfortunately, security is almost impossible to come by for Iraqi women. In the Kurdish north, the part of the country insulated from most of the violence, the situation of women has reached new lows. Du'a Khalil Aswad, a 17 year old from the town of Bashiqa, in Iraqi Kurdistan, was stoned to death on April 7, 2007. She came from a family of Yazidi faith, and was snatched from her home by Yazidi men who had discovered that she was in love with a Muslim Arab man and had visited him. In front of hundreds of people, including local police, they dragged her to the center of town and stoned her to death. Townspeople watched and even filmed this barbaric act. You can see a portion of the tape here (viewer discretion is STRONGLY advised). The killers, obviously well known in the community, are still free.
We have created a petition which demands that the Iraqi Government and Kurdistan Regional Government condemn this brutal act and bring the killers to justice and that they outlaw honor killings, as well as all violence and oppression of women. You can sign it here.
We will deliver this petition to the Iraqi Embassy and Kurdish Representatives in Washington, DC. Together we can raise our voices to help our sisters in Iraq.
For further information about the status of Iraqi women, and to learn how women in Iraq are organizing to fight for their own rights, please visit the website of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq.
With outrage and compassion,Dana, Desiree, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Jodie, Karin, Libby, Medea, Nancy, Patricia, Rae and Samantha
Exclusive: Iraqi Lawmakers Pass Resolution That May Force End to Occupation
The parliament today passed a binding resolution that will guarantee lawmakers an opportunity to block the extension of the U.N. mandate under which coalition troops now remain in Iraq when it comes up for renewal in December. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose cabinet is dominated by Iraqi separatists, may veto the measure.
If You Think Bush Is Evil Now, Wait Until He Nukes Iran
The war in Iraq is lost. This fact is widely recognized by American military officers and has been recently expressed forcefully by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of US forces in Iraq during the first year of the attempted occupation. Winning is no longer an option.
Blackwater USA uses guile and stealth to establish regional operating bases in "Smalltown America"
The JFK Pipeline "Plot": Another "Chilling" Example of Political and Media Hyperbole
The JFK pipeline plot appears to be the work of yet another gang that couldn't jihad straight. And people wonder why the public has become cynical about how the war on terror is being used for political purposes.
Senate Committee Votes To Restore Habeas Corpus
Today the Senate Judiciary Committee passed an important bill to restore habeas corpus, the sacrosanct Constitutional right to challenge government detention in court, by a vote of eleven to eight.
Habeas corpus was revoked by last year's Military Commissions Act, which has been assailed as unconstitutional and un-American by leaders across the political spectrum. Today's habeas bill was backed by the Judiciary Committee's Democratic Chairman, Patrick Leahy, and its Republican Ranking Member, Arlen Specter. "The drive to restore this fundamental right...
Judge Freezes More Than $400,000 Of Indicted Congressman's Assets
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A federal judge Thursday froze the assets of Rep. William Jefferson (news, bio, voting record), D-La., who was indicted this week on charges of soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.
Among the 16 criminal counts Jefferson is facing is a criminal forfeiture count, and prosecutors have already said they will seek to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars from Jefferson that they believe he obtained illicitly by peddling his influence to help broker business deals in...
Restoring America's Standing in the World and Security Begins with Restoring Constitution, Habeas Corpus
U.S. Embassy builder investigated, Truth or Fiction, You Decide
WASHINGTON, June 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department is investigation allegations a Kuwaiti company deceived and mistreated foreign workers building the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Investigations by the U.S. military and the U.S. State Department inspector general found no evidence that First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting Co. had tricked its employees into working in Iraq or were keeping them there against their will by locking up their passports, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Two Americans who had worked at the site told federal prosecutors that the workers from Pakistan and Africa had been mistreated, sources told the Journal.
First Kuwaiti, which is barred from hiring Iraqi workers on the $592 million project, issued a statement denying the allegations.
"We are not aware of any (Department of Justice) investigation involving First Kuwaiti. The (Department of State) has already fully investigated these ludicrous allegations and has found them to be without merit. First Kuwaiti is proud of its accomplishments and of its efforts to build the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on time, within budget, and in compliance with the law," the company said in a statement to the newspaper.
Pentagon Finds Worker Abuse and Trafficking in Iraq, but Penalizes No One On April 4, 2006, the Pentagon issued a new contracting directive following a secret investigation that officially confirms what many South Asian laborers have been complaining about ever since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Some contractors, many working as subcontractors to Halliburton /KBR in Iraq, were found to be using deceptive, bait-and-switch hiring practices and charging recruiting fees that indebted low-paid migrant workers for many months or even years to their employers. Contractors were also accused of providing substandard, crowded sleeping quarters, serving poor food, and circumventing Iraqi immigration procedures. While the Pentagon declines to specifically name those contractors found to be doing business in this way, it also acknowledged in an April 19 memorandum that it was a widespread practice among contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan to take away workers passports. Holding onto employee passports -- a direct violation of US labor trafficking laws -- helped stop workers from leaving war-torn Iraq or taking better jobs with other contractors. Contractors engaging in the practice, states the memo, must immediately "cease and deist." "All passports will be returned to employees by 1 May 06. This requirement will be flowed down to each of your subcontractors performing work in this theater." The Pentagon has yet to announce of any penalty for those found to be in violation of US labor trafficking laws or contract requirements. LinkHere
Phil Donahue Making Anti-War Feature
Iraqi Labor Leaders in DC Protesting Oil Law, US Troops
WASHINGTON, June 6 (UPI) -- Iraqi labor leaders are in Washington lobbying against Iraq's proposed oil law and for a withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The oil law "is an economic occupation of Iraq," Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein, the president of Iraq's Electric Utility Workers' Union, told supporters -- including presidential contender Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio -- on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
Hussein, the first woman to head a major union in Iraq, and other Iraqi labor leaders kicked-off a visit to 12 cities nationwide, sponsored by U.S. anti-war and labor groups.
Speaking through an interpreter, she said if the Iraqi Parliament agreed to the law as Washington is pressing it to, it "would start a new series of tragedies ... because the law allows more than 70 percent of the profits (to be) under the control" of foreign companies.
"This is a project for the privatization of the Iraqi economy," she said.
Also with her on the visit is Faleh Abood Umara, general secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions.
The visit, only the second by Iraqi labor leaders since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion, is sponsored by U.S. Labor Against the War, the American Friends Service Committee and United for Peace and Justice.
Shaun Waterman, UPI Homeland and National Security Editor
Family of deceased Iraqi detainee to sue UK defense ministry
[JURIST] The family of Iraqi hotel receptionist Baha Musa [Herald report], who died while in British military custody in 2003, plans to sue the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) [official website], according to a family lawyer Wednesday. Solicitor Martyn Day [firm profile] told Reuters that the move was necessary following the dismissal [JURIST report] earlier this year against the seven soldiers [BBC trial timeline] believed to be responsible for his death. Only one of the seven, Corporal David Payne, was convicted on a charge related to Musa's death after pleading guilty [JURIST report] to a charge of inhumane treatment. Payne was sentenced to one year in jail [JURIST archive] and became the first convicted UK war criminal from the Iraqi conflict. The MOD told Reuters that it had already accepted responsibility for Musa's death and paid an interim compensation payment to Musa's father.
Musa died in 2003 after suffering 93 injuries, including a broken nose and broken ribs, during 36 hours of detention. Because the surviving detainees were hooded, they could not confirm the identities of the soldiers who caused Musa's death. Reuters has more.
Georgie and the Republican Party, The Family Values Party, the party of God and Morals, or the party of Thugs and Decievers. You Decide?
3501 and counting, 23 US deaths first 6 days of June
Another US soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, the military said Thursday, pushing the four-year death toll for American forces there to 3,501, including 23 deaths in the first six days of June.
JUSTICE FOR THE RICH AMERICAN STYLE
The baptism of a president
"How do you pray?" they asked Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards on national TV. "What's the biggest sin you've ever committed?" the interviewer wanted to know. "Do you believe in evolution?" she asked, "And if so are the churches that believe in it wrong?" she prodded. "What got you through marital infidelity?" she went on. "Is this a Christian nation?" she asked while millions of people listened for right answers with bated breath.
So where were the rest of the questions? Like: Do you sleep at night knowing that the longer you do nothing about ending the war in Iraq that more people will die? Or, does it bother your conscience that the more money we spend on war, the more children in this country will go without food or education or medicine? Or, do you ever pray that we'll start spending money on child care so women won't feel a need to have an abortion? Or, do you ever ask God to forgive you for supporting torture in the name of security?
Religion, indeed, has become the flavor of the day. The religion of Democrats, at least, since Republican candidates were woefully missing from moral scrutiny. To be elected president these days, not only must Democratic candidates be able to promise that their religions guide their personal lives but they must be able to prove that they will work hard to see that their religious beliefs determine how they deal with everybody else's religion, as well.
Analyzing the question of faith in the life of presidential candidates after the televised debate, Ralph Reed, past chair of the Christian Coalition, made the point: quoting scripture is not enough. Democrats, he inferred, aren't really sincere about religion. "Liberal Democrats," he insisted, with their commitment to reversing tax cuts, to universal health care and to "cut-and-run policies in Iraq," cannot be accepted in the polling booth by Evangelical voters for whom "action speaks louder than words."
The idea was that moral actions, not spiritual talk, is what really counts.
The question is: What moral actions?
The behaviors that matter, it seems, have more to do with personal positions on personal moral issues -- homosexuality, stem cell research, same-sex marriage and abortion -- than actions having to do with the moral dimensions of the public behavior of the nation.
And Ralph Reed may well be correct. Polls tell us that the more frequently people go to church, the more conservative they are on social issues. For those people, apparently, private morality outweighs the social responsibilities emphasized in scripture and demonstrated by Jesus over and over again.
Republican candidates generally have run on issues of private morality. On the other hand, Democrats have built their platforms more on social issues.
Frequently, therefore, the religious character of Democratic candidates is suspect while the religious character of Republican candidates seems to go without question.
As a result, the issue of what constitutes the kind of religious commitment that is equal to the political questions of the time becomes paramount.
If the questions we are asking our presidential candidates are any sign of what we think religion is all about, Jesus would not do well in these elections.
The woman taken in adultery -- the woman about to be stoned for sexual behavior forbidden by the law -- Jesus dismisses with a wave of the hand and an exhortation.
But the cripple -- in a world where sickness is seen as punishment for sin -- Jesus cures. The marginalized woman -- in a world where women were invisible and discrimination was rank -- Jesus raises from the dead. The outcast leper -- in a world that shunned the wounded -- Jesus touches. In a world where Sabbath laws superseded individual discomfort, Jesus feeds the disciples by gleaning on the Sabbath.
"The blind see, the deaf hear, the poor have the Good News preached to them," he gives as a sign of the coming of the Kingdom. In a world where such as these are not only social outcasts but considered morally unclean as well, he takes responsibility for the marginalized of the society. No questions asked; no punishments imposed; no exceptions made.
He does not demean them. He does not deny them entry into the social order. He does not criminalize them. He does not call them sinners.
Which gets us to the irony of it all.
What kind of a society does each of these presently contrary moral definitions produce? Which is really the most religious? Whose religious values should really be in question: those who preach the Gospel of power and wealth for the wealthy and powerful or those who proclaim the rights of the poor, both here and everywhere else, in a society where wealth is worshipped?
We're beginning to see it happen.
An otherwise little touted but surprising bit of information gives us a clue to the answer to that question in contemporary USA.
According to the Global Peace Index released by The Economist magazine May 29, the United State is among the least peaceful nations in the world. (See http://www.visionofhumanity.com/)
Of the 121 nations evaluated, the United States ranks 96th, between Yemen and Iran. Iraq the report ranks as the least peaceful of all, right after Russia, Israel and Sudan.
This new Global Peace Index, rather than simply measuring the presence or absence of war as an index of harmony and public security, is based on 24 indicators designed to explore what its creators call "the texture of peace."
The study's domestic indicators include "the level of violent crime, the level of respect of civil rights, the number of homicides per 100,000 people, the level of its military expenditures, its ease of access to small arms, its relations with neighboring countries and the level of distrust among citizens."
Using grand words to glorify war, making war and personal morality the measure of the moral fiber of a nation while ignoring the domestic climate, the human needs and the civil rights of the nation itself does not a moral nation make.
There is, it seems, a question about the quality of religion in this country on both sides of the divide.
Those who would lead us in the future may rightly be asked whether or not religious principles will guide their public behavior. But those who are leading us now have questions to answer, too -- which, if the quality of life in the United States for all its citizens and the character of our behavior toward the rest of the world is any measure -- certainly equals, if not far transcends, our concentration on private behavior as a determinant of our public morality.
From where I stand, the model of Jesus is a clear one: A religious life is defined by more than personal moral choices. It demands actions designed to make the world better for everyone. Those who claim to be Christian might want to remember that when they start choosing presidents on the basis of their "Christian principles."
Ex-Gonzales no. 2 describes boss's attempted power grab
The former Deputy Attorney General to John Ashcroft and later Alberto Gonzales described an attempt by the current, embattled Attorney General to centralize power within his office as he began his term at the Justice Department.
James Comey, who served as Deputy Attorney General from 2003 through 2005, described Gonzales' plan to reduce the independence of Comey's office when he became the Attorney General at the beginning of President George W. Bush's second term in office. The plan was presented to him by Kyle Sampson, the ex-Chief of Staff to Gonzales.
"Mr. Sampson explained to me a vision for the operation of the Attorney General’s office and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General that would involve operating those respective staffs as essentially one staff," Comey wrote in responses to questions for the record submitted by members of the House Judiciary Committee. The responses were sent to RAW STORY.
Comey went on to explain how Gonzales's plan to merge his office with Comey's would have eliminated a layer of oversight on the Attorney General's decision-making.