Racist Republicans

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky." - Bill Bennett (From the September 28 broadcast of Salem Radio Network's Bill Bennett's Morning in America)


If you are any type of rational human then you are asking yourself what kind of racist crap is that? This was the response to a question a caller asked on Bill Bennett's radio show. Why is this middle-aged white man any different than any other "good 'ol boy"? He has power.

Bill Bennett is one of the driving forces behind the republican party and a "Distinguished Fellow" at the Heritage Foundation, a republican "think-tank" (if you don't know about the Heritage Foundation then you know nothing of the Republican party). In addition to this, Bennett was Secretary of Education during the Reagan administration and served as Drug Czar. Imagine that. No wonder our education system is years behind other countries. This super-intelligent racist was running the show.

Even more important (as to who William J. Bennett is and why his comments are so important and revealing) is the fact that he has edited or written various George Bush speeches and nearly became the chairman of the Republican National Committee just a few years ago. This is not just another pig-headed racist spewing hate; this is the republican party speaking to us. This man is revered by the party. His views are devoured and turned into actions. In order to understand the republican party you must listen to what the leaders of the group have to say. How many more republicans have to make such outrageous statements revealing their true self before America sees them for the snakes they are?

Abu Ghraib Photos: Round 2

Late last night federal judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled in favor of the ACLU, ordering the government to release 4 videos and 144 pictures of torture committed at Abu Ghraib. The judge gave the Army one month to release the videos and photos to the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act.

In an ironic twist, the government argued against the release of the photos and videos claiming that their release would be in violation of the Geneva Convention. This is an interesting argument considering jailing these people and torturing them is clearly a violation of the Geneva Convention.

I am starting to hear alot of people express displeasure over this ruling, asking: "Why stir things up now?" People have actually used the excuse that releasing this information will put our troops in harms way. To this I say who cares! Bush put them in harm's way by sending them to war, and if they are involved in torture and degradation of humans, then they deserve to be put into harm's way.

This is not about politics; this is about getting to the truth. The earlier photos of Lynndie England pointing at men's genitalia is Dr. Suess type stuff compared to what is in these 144 pictures and 4 videos. Honestly, America, if we are torturing and perpetrating perverse sexual acts onto these people then we deserve what we get. Think about it. These are supposed to be our so-called heroes, torturing men and boys, then taking pictures and videos like it's some kind of sick vacation. Look in the mirror, America. We reap what we sow.

Fight For Women Not With Them

I am posting my latest e-mail from Sen. Joe Biden urging all of us to write our politicians demanding they renew the Violence Against Women Act. IT WILL EXPIRE AT THE END OF THIS WEEK, THAT'S TOMORROW! This is just the e-mail text you let everyone know, please check out Uniteourstates.com or Joe Biden's web page to sign the petition which will be sent to all your local politicians. Please don't hesitate this issue is a no-brainer.

Dear Jason,

Act Now Click here to send a letter to Congress urging them to renew the Violence Against Womean Act.I believe that ending violence against women is truly a shared goal -- one that is held by Democrats and Republicans, one that is upheld by men and women, and one that is desired by both government and by the private sector. I am writing today because the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is set to expire at the end of this week and we need your help to make sure this landmark piece of legislation is renewed. Please help me renew the Violence Against Women Act by contacting your Senator and Representative today. VAWA is the legal backbone of our country's fight to end domestic violence and sexual assault. Since 1994, when I first led the fight to pass this law, it has helped dramatically reduce incidents of violence against women: Domestic violence has dropped by almost 50%. Incidents of rape are down by 60%. The number of women killed by an abusive husband or boyfriend is down by 22%. More than half of all rape victims are stepping forward to report the crime -- a significant increase over the past ten years. Over a million women have found justice in our courtrooms and obtained domestic violence protective orders. The Act also changed the way that the law enforcement community views violence against women. No longer are these crimes considered "domestic matters". Today, they are properly treated as criminal acts and are strongly prosecuted. The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 continues to build on these gains by further improving housing options for battered women; tightening criminal laws; enlisting health care professionals in the process; helping to treat children who are victims of, or witness, abuse; and supporting widespread prevention strategies. The Act has more than 50 Republican and Democratic co-sponsors and has gathered endorsements from a wide-ranging group of supporters, including the American Bar Association, the National Association of Attorneys General, the International Association of Forensic Nurses, the American Medical Association, the National Sheriffs Association, and more than 70 victim services and advocacy organizations. Nevertheless, this law will expire unless there is quick action taken by Congress. Please help me renew the Violence Against Women Act by contacting your Senator and Representative today. We simply cannot afford to let this vital piece of legislation lapse or become buried in partisan bickering. Please act today.

Thank you,

Joe BidenU.S. Senator

Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this. Tell-a-friend!If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for Unite Our States.

This Could Be You

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

He was arrested May 8, 2002 in Chicago and since that time he has been confined to a 5' x 7' windowless constantly-lit cell located in a naval brig in South Carolina. His name is Jose Padilla and regardless of his past crimes or alleged plots he is an American citizen being held without a charge, without access to court or a lawyer and without contact from the outside world.

Earlier this month, on September 9th, a three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Bush administration, confirming the authority to detain Padilla without charges. The case has been appealed and will come before the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in the future. Until then Mr. Padilla sits in his cell unaware of his fate.

Before going forward, it is important to be aware of Title 18, section 4001 (a) of the U.S. Code passed by Congress more than 30 years ago which states: "No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress." This law alone makes the detention of Mr. Padilla illegal but it is not all. The 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Jose Padilla was arrested after his flight from Switzerland to Chicago touched down. Although he had no bomb-making materials with him, he was detained first as a material witness to the 9-11 attacks. A warrant signed by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mukasey from New York authorized the arrest and transfer of Padilla to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. The same judge appointed Donna Newman as Mr. Padilla's lawyer.

The case against Mr. Padilla changed drastically on June 11, 2002 when Judge Mukasey, reportedly acting on a request from Theodore Olsen, solicitor general, vacated Mr. Padilla's warrant and released him to the custody of the Department of Defense. It is at this time that Jose Padilla lost all rights granted to U.S. citizens as he was labeled an "enemy combatant". There is a glaring problem with the designation "enemy combatant". For one, Mr. Padilla was not picked up on a battlefield or in a war zone. Second, there were no weapons or weapon making information in Mr. Padilla's possession.

The case itself has been well traveled throught the court system in the 3 years since Jose Padilla's "arrest". The Cato Institute, the Center for National Security Studies, the Constitution Project, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, People for the American Way, and the Rutherford Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Padilla v. Rumsfeld and the journey began.

The Second District Court of Appeals in New York City ruled in favor of Jose Padilla, declaring his detention to be illegal and unconstitutional. The Bush administration appealed this ruling with the U.S. Supreme Court. The court refused to rule on the case but did declare that the Second District Court had no jurisdiction, ordering the case to be heard by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia (they have jurisdiction over South Carolina).

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia ruled that the lawyers for Jose Padilla had improperly named Donald Rumsfeld as the Respondent, thus bogging the case down in more bureaucracy. The court ruled the warden of the military brig where Padilla is being held should be the Respondent. Donna Newman, his lawyer, argues this judgment claiming: "President Bush, as Commander in Chief, and Secretary of the Defense Rumsfeld ordered and directed Padilla's arrest, the transfer of custody from the Department of Justice to the Department of Defense...and the conditions of his detention..Padilla's absence from this district and his inability to (file a petition for habeas corpus on his own) are due entirely to the actions of Bush and Rumsfeld."

In winning the ruling, the government argued that the New York court lacked the jurisdiction to rule in the case because Mr. Padilla was transferred to South Carolina. Another argument by the government was that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals lacked the jurisdiction to summon the President and his cabinet as respondents. Finally, the government challenged Donna Newman's request of a writ of habeas corpus for Jose Padilla. The government questioned her "next friend" status. The habeas statute requires that a detainee sign the petition, or if he is unable to do so, that someone with "next friend" standing must sign. The whole reasoning for Newman signing the petition is because she was and has been denied access to Mr. Padilla. This is in addition to Padilla himself being denied access to anyone involved in the case or the courts themselves. It has become a rock under which Mr. Padilla cannot free himself. How can he sign a petition when he is allowed no access to lawyers?

The facts are that Mr. Padilla did spend time traveling in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan and he was, at the time, a muslim by the name of Abdullah al-Muhajir. The government claims he made contacts with Al Qaeda, became knowledgeable in bomb making skills and conspired to use a "dirty bomb" to blow up apartment buildings in the U.S.. Despite these claims, the evidence or lack thereof is completely circumstantial, at best, with nothing concrete tying Jose Padilla with Al Qaeda or any knowledge of bomb making.

I was going to include a brief biography of Jose Padilla in this story, but that is not fair. Regardless of his past, regardless of the evidence the government may or may not have, the fact is that Jose Padilla is an American citizen being held illegally without charge and without access to the criminal justice system all Americans are entitled to. If the government has a case, then they should charge and prosecute Mr. Padilla to the fullest extent of the law. Is this what America is all about, holding her citizens incommunicado for indefinite lengths of time?

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands...may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." - James Madison (Federalist #47)

"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution." -Thomas Jefferson, 1789

Quotes

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Here are some quotes I find relavent to the current administration. Take it from these guys, they knew what they were talking about.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power" -Benito Mussolini

"It is humiliating to remain with our hands folded while other write history. it matters little who wins. To make people great it is necessary to send them to battle even if you have to kick them in the pants. That is what I shall do." -Benito Mussolini

"Another weapon I discovered early was the power of the printed word to sway souls to me. The newspaper was soon my gun, my flag - a thing with a soul that could mirror my own." - Benito Mussolini


"The German people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led" - Adolf Hitler

"The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in depths of their hearts more easily decieved than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one." - Adolf Hitler

"All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it." - Adolf Hitler

"Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise." - Adolf Hitler

"A violently active, intrepid, brutal youth - that is what I am after...I will have no intellectual training. Knowledge is ruin for my young men." - Adolf Hitler

Suggestions Please

Monday, September 26, 2005

I have been sitting on some information for almost a year now, not sure how to deliver it or if anyone would be interested. Now, in the wake of the recent hurricanes and the way our government handled these situations, I believe the time is ripe for this information to be illuminated.

The Committee on Government Reform's publishes a "Policy and Supporting Positions", otherwise known as the Plum Book. I have a copy of this publication and I am very interested in sharing the wealth of knowledge it contains.

The subject at hand is the appointment of less than qualified or just plain cronies to positions within the U.S. government. This includes the cabinet and a list of more than 3,000 government positions the President is allowed to fill.

What I am asking for is the best way to deliver this information. Now, after seeing how Mike Brown's appointment related to everyday people, it may be interesting to find out who Bush is appointing to various government agencies and the background of these people. It is definitely too much information to comprise a single post, so maybe someone has some ideas how to best relay this valuable information.

Congested Evacuation: Hurricane Rita

Friday, September 23, 2005

I was reading through some of the stories of people trying to leave Texas before the hurricane hits and it just made me think back to right after Katrina slammed New Orleans. I remember many people some my friends, some news and media saying with almost disregard for human life that the people who died- the ones who stayed behind "should have just left".

I ask those people now to read the stories from Texas. People are on the roads bumper to bumper for 10-15 hours and only traveling 5-10 miles. Cars are running out of gas and people are abandoning them on the road. Once again it will be the poor who will feel the brunt of this storm. People are standing in lines to cash checks from banks that are closing shop. Put yourself in their posistion for a second. You have no car or maybe it's broken down, you just recieved your paycheck from work but the banks and check cashing stores are closed and abandoned. How do you "just leave" when you have no transportation and or no money?

This is why we needed to have some sympathy for the people in New Orleans who stayed or could not leave. Things are not always black and white, there is a gray area, it's not as easy as saying "they should have left", maybe they tried and could not.

Home Heating Heartache: Food vs. Heat

Break out the vaseline and bend over, here comes old man winter. Massachusetts lawmakers today announced a new energy package in anticipation of the coming price increases for oil and gas to heat your home.

In the proposal there is a $800 one-time home heating tax deduction for homeowners. Sorry, if you rent an apartment then go broke or freeze! Another issue I have with this proposal is the numbers they quote. According to the Telegram & Gazette article, natural gas users can expect to see an increase in costs from $1000 last year to $1800 this year. The article fails to explain where or how it came up with these numbers which I proclaim to be incorrect. Heating my apartment last year with natural gas cost me over $500 a month. A friend of mine who heats a larger apartment with oil spent well over $500 a month. A homeowner friend of mine who heats his house with propane spends over $800 a month for heat in the winter. So once again I call out the Gazette and their bogus $1000 number, that is unless the number was $1000 a month for heating last year.

This shows how inept the new energy package is. It may be a nice gesture but what good does a $800 tax credit do when you pay more than $800 a month to heat your house for 5-6 months of the year. The proposal does some to help out the poor with energy assistance but again too little too late and the people left "out in the cold" are the middle class workers.

Here is the good news folks: don't worry, I am sure that much like Congress our bosses will be generous enough to give us all here in the Northeast a "cost-of-living" raise. Oh right, Congress gets to vote on their raises themselves, my bad.

Pre-Emptive Nuclear War: More Administration Secrecy

Thursday, September 22, 2005

On Monday of this week the Pentagon removed from it's website a Joint Chiefs Of Staff publication finished on March 15, 2005, entitled: Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations. I have urged people to read this document in the past as it is an invaluable insight into the future of war for America. This document lays out scenarios in which the United States would use nuclear weapons on it's enemies. Clearly the government does not want the people to see how they are trying to resurrect nuclear weaponry. There is no reason ever to use nuclear weapons! Our government lies to the world about trying to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Well, actually Bush and company are not lying. They want all the weapons for themselves so no other country can challenge the mighty America unless they want the Nagasaki/Hiroshima treatment.

Once again I beg you to print this document and read it when you can. Please don't delay. This information will not be available for much longer. How dare we know the truth!

Racism?

Friday, September 16, 2005

I know I am borrowing alot of material today from other places but this next piece is something that I noticed while reading through various news sources, but the people at A Social Life found the perfect example of what I have been SCREAMING about since the hurricane hit. I will let the picture speak for itself. What racism in America, you must be mistaken.


FEMA

In order to understand what went wrong on the Federal level regarding Katrina, you must understand what FEMA is and what they do. Here is a link to the best article I have found yet regarding FEMA past and present. Thanks to the people at slangeditorial.blogspot.com for this information.

Mitt the Halfwit

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Anyone reading this post that does not live in Massachusetts please I beg you: when 2008 rolls around don't vote for Mitt Romney. Take it from someone here in the state that he has abandoned, he is the worse thing to happen to MA. since Mike Dukakis (and that is a strong statement).

Recently Mr. Romney gave a speech to the ultra-conservative "think" tank the Heritage Foundation. Here is what Mitt had to say about Muslims: "I am talking about monitoring people who come here from foreign countries that are terror-sponsored countries -- individuals that may have been taught at places where terrorist training is going on. Tracking students, visitors, and how about people who are in settings, mosques for instance, who may be teaching doctrines of hate and terror. Are we monitoring that? Are we wiretapping? Are we following what is going on? Are we seeing who is coming in?"

Also during this speech, Mitt let us know where his heart is with this line: "A lot of us red-state folks...I'm a red speck in a blue state but I still consider myself red-state folk." That's funny because I consider Mitt more of speck of corn in my shit.

Why I Hate Religion: Pat Robertson

Here is a link to the latest hate speech by Pat Robertson in which he blames hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and the insurgency in Iraq on Ellen Degeneres. This is the guy with millions of followers who wants to assasinate the elected President of Venezula. This is why religion is evil. How could a god condone this type of behavior and hate? Just goes to show how many stupid people there are in the world who will blindly follow anything and hate everything that is not approved by their religion. Way to go Pat, I am sure your god is pleased.

The Latest News From Iraq

Here is the latest e-mail update from our friend Dr. Dahr Jamail about the current occupation of Iraq.

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** http://dahrjamailiraq.com/ **


September 15, 2005

For the last several days at least 6,000 US soldiers along with approximately 4,000 Iraqi soldiers (Read-members of the Kurdish Peshmerga and Shia Badr Army) were laying siege to the city of Tal-Afar, near Mosul in northern Iraq. It is estimated that 90% of the residents have left their homes because of the violence and destruction of the siege, as well as to avoid home raids and snipers. The Fallujah model is being applied yet again, albeit on a smallerscale. I haven’t received any reports yet of biometrics being used(retina scans, finger printing, bar coding of human beings) like in Fallujah, but there are other striking similarities to the tactics used in November. While the US military claims to have killed roughly 200 “terrorists” in the operation, reports from the ground state that most of the fighters inside the city had long since left to avoid direct confrontation with the overwhelming military force (a basic tenet of guerrilla warfare). Again like Fallujah, most of the families who fled are staying in refugee camps outside the city in tents amidst horrible conditions inthe inferno-like heat of the Iraqi summer. The LA Times reported that Ezzedin Dowla, a Turkmen leader in the area said, “Families are homeless and the government has not provided any shelter, food or drink for them.” Nor has the US military.The targets of this military operation are the Sunni Turkmen who are politically on the side of the Sunni Arabs. Most Sunnis will be voting against the constitution during the coming vote of October, 15th. The Cheney Administration is desperate for something it can spin as “good news” from Iraq; thus, it most certainly behooves them to have the referendum on the constitution to boast about. But in order to do so, the voting ability and power of the Sunni (and Sunni Turkmen) must be severely compromised, as well as punishment meted out for rightfully assuming what will be a Sunni no-vote on the constitution. Both the Cheney Administration and its current puppet-government in Iraq benefit from destroying the voting (and living) ability of the majority of people in the “Sunni triangle,” so we have the operation in Tal-Afar,most likely to be followed by similar operations in Al-Qa’im, Haditha,Samarra, and possibly more.In Tal-Afar, the propaganda spewed by the US military (and Iraqi“government”) was that the operation was to fight terrorists coming into Iraq via Syria. If that were true, why did the US military remove troops from the border with Syria who were supposed to be preventing infiltration by foreign fighters? Instead of guarding the border, as they should, they engaged in the operation against Iraqi Sunni Turkmen. Working in unison, the US military launched the heavy-handed attack with the “authorization” of Prime Minister Ibrahm Jaafari, the leader of the Shia Dawa Party. Jaafari even went so far as to venture to Tal-Afar onTuesday to visit troops and have his photograph taken. “Authorization” was given by the Iraqi government for the attack on Tal-Afar, just as “authorization” was given by then interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi for the November, 2004 massacre in Fallujah. “Authorization,” when the US military would never, ever allow any foreign power jurisdiction over American forces, least of all a puppet government. Correspondents with Azzaman media in Tal-Afar miraculously made it into the city and reported that residents are disputing reports that US and Iraqi soldiers have killed scores of “insurgents.” Like Fallujah, these residents of Tal-Afar are reporting that most of the people killed were civilians who had no place to go so they chose to stay in their homes. People also stayed because they feared persecution at the hands of the Peshmerga and Badr Army.I recently interviewed an Iraqi man from that area at the Peoples’ UN conference in Perugia, Italy. He told me, “Most people in Mosul and Tal-Afar would rather be detained by the Americans now, because they know if Iraqi soldiers or Iraqi police detain them they will be tortured severely, and possibly killed. This gives you an idea of how bad it is with these Iraqi soldiers, even in the shadow of what the Americans ares till doing in Abu Ghraib.” As for “foreign fighters,” one of the Azzaman correspondents quoted aresident of Tal-Afar as saying, “We used to hear (from news reports) of the presence of some Arab (foreign) fighters in the city, but we have seen none of them.” Life in Iraq remains a living hell. Blood flowed in the streets of Khadamiya yesterday as a horrendous car bomb killed 112 people in the predominantly Shia neighborhood. And once again, calls of solidarity were made from the nearby Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya and residents emerged from their homes to help their brothers and sisters across the river, just as they did after the panic and chaos which recently took the lives of nearly 1,000 Shia. The horrendous totals from yesterday were 160 dead, 570 wounded Iraqis as the result of the string of attacks and at least a dozen car bombs. The blowback from the Jafaari “authorized” state-sponsored terrorism inTal-Afar took little time to materialize in the capital city. If Jafaari was more honest with his press appearances, along with his photo-op in Tal-Afar he should have had his photo taken amidst the charred, smoking body parts strewn about the streets of Khadamiya, which was a result (albeit just as horrific) of his Tal-Afar “authorization.” On that note, Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s puppet president, was in a press conference in Washington D.C. with Mr. Bush just hours before the blowback began. Meanwhile, one of my friends in Baghdad writes me, “Dear Dahr, how are you dear pal? I am very sorry for what happened after Hurricane Katrina. It is a real tragedy. I hope none of your friends or family was affected. It is a tragedy which makes one speechless.” This when he goes to work each day hoping to make it home alive to see his wife and newborn daughter. And another of my friends in Baghdad wrote me recently, “I’m so sorry that I didn’t email you the previous days…the situation in Tal-Afar has become so much worse for the people. It is terrible what is going on there and nobody can say anything because as usual the military operation is still going on and they are trying to keep all the media out. They have also started another operation in another area of Al-Anbar province and they will soon start one in Samarra.” My interpreter when I’m in Iraq, Abu Talat, has been willing to take the risk of working with me there. To give you an idea of the lengths he’s willing to go to, he gave me the green light to come to Iraq last November, just before the massacre in Fallujah began. It is safe to say times were quite tense then, with kidnappings and beheadings having long since become the norm. “The Minister of Defense is threatening not only Fallujah but all of the Ramadi Governorate, I can tell you very surely about that,” he wrote in a recent email to me and a colleague who was hoping to enter Iraq to work as a reporter. (Today, US warplanes began dropping bombs inside the city of Ramadi.) “No one can support you working here. We are having a very critical situation. For this reason, I think that coming to Iraq in this critical time is not accepted. I was very, very welcoming to any of your friends, Dahr, but not in this time. Sorry, but for your own safety. Take good care of yourself.” Today at least 30 more Iraqis have died in violence across their occupied country and it will only continue to worsen.

More writing, photos and commentary at http://dahrjamailiraq.com/

Sneaky Sneaky

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

OpenTheGovernment.org has just released a report on government secrecy. It highlights the current surge in documents the Federal government is labeling as classified, along with other examples of secrecy in our government.

Some interesting numbers were in the report. For instance, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved 1,754 orders in 2004, rejecting none. For all those not up to date, this is the Federal Court that issues physical search and surveillance warrants under the FISA Act of 1978. It is also worth noting that this court has rejected only 4 government requests for surveillance in the history of the court.

During 2004, the government classified documents 15.6 million times. The total amount of taxpayer money spent on classifying this information was an amazing $7.2 billion. Compare that to the $3.3 billion spent in 1997 and the $3.7 billion spent in 1999 to classify documents.

Another very interesting number is how many times President Bush has used the "state secrets" privilege. The overall number itself may not seem like alot but when put into perspective, it is alarming. The President has used the "state secrets" privilege 23 times from 2001 to 2005. The privilege is a result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case United States v. Reynolds from 1953. Since then, the privilege has been used 56 times not including the years 2001-2005. Again, the number may not seem like much but when you think that it is now being used 33 times more than it was during the Cold War when secrets were the fad, it comes into perspective a little.

The Federal Advisory committee Act was established to ensure that information and advice given to the various government committees, boards and task forces was unbiased, objective and open to the public. The report highlighted that of the 7,045 meetings of the Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, and The National Science Foundation, 64% of these meetings were completely closed to the public. Of the other remaining agencies, 396 or 17.7% of the total 2,237 meetings were completely closed to the public. Now that's democracy!

Overall, the report notes that the government has created 81% more secrets than it did prior to the attacks of 9/11. You may stop here and say, "well that's why- right there" However, the 9/11 commission itself recommended reducing unnecessary secrets that can clog up government response time.

How do Americans feel about this surge in secrecy? During 2004 there were 4,080,737 requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act, a 25% increase from the year 2003. Interestingly enough there were only 1,908,083 FOIA requests in the year 1999.

Maybe these are the times we live in. Secret squirrel to woodchuck...the eagle has landed. I do find it hard to believe that we need more secrets now than we did during the Cold War years. What is most disturbing is the way our government makes more and more decisions without us knowing or being allowed to know everyday. Democracy, if that is what we have, needs openness and truth in order for it to work. If not, then it becomes more and more of a totalitarian rule everyday. I guess another way to look at it would be if you were a parent. Would you keep more and more secrets from your child every day they grow or would you try to inform and educate them as best as you could and hope they make the right decision based on the facts?

Policing the Press

Maybe I am a bit morbid or sick even, but I want to see dead bodies from Iraq and Afghanistan. I want to see the dead, sick and dying from New Orleans. Not because I like to see death and destruction, but because these things are happening now and they are real.

Here in America we have freedom of the press. In theory the press is allowed to report on anything and everything without restraint. Why, then, do we not see the death and destruction from the war in Iraq and the dead from hurricane Katrina? It took being challenged in court by CNN for the Bush administration to agree not to prevent the media from covering the effort to recover the dead bodies in New Orleans.

Sfgate.com reported yesterday in an article titled: "As bodies recovered, reporters are told no photos, no stories". The article tells of a member of the Army 82nd Airborne Division who approached a reporter on Kentucky Street and told him: "no photos, no stories." This was after the soldier threatened to take away the reporters press credentials and kick them out of the state if they reported on the body recovery process.

On Monday another soldier from the 82nd Airborne told reporters that the Army's policy is that media must be 300 meters away from the scene of any body recovery effort in New Orleans. Reporters were told that if they took pictures or wrote stories about the recovery effort they would be reported and would face "consequences". This was in the Bywater district of New Orleans.

Who would want to see pictures or read stories like this and why? I am that person. More people should want to see these types of things. How else can we grasp the concept of how vicious war is or how catastrophic this disaster was? In these times of "talking points" and polished up G-rated news reports, I believe it is imperative that we see with our own eyes the things that are happening around us, good or bad.

Never mind the fact that a "free press" is guaranteed in a little thing I like to call the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Limiting what and where the press can report sounds a little like something that would happen in China or Cuba, not here in America.

Truly Shameful

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What is the definition of a leader? If the last 5 years hasn't shown time and time again that George Bush lacks leadership qualities, then Katrina is a punch in the face. Once again during this disaster Bush has proven his lack of respect for the people he serves, Americans.

Cuba has offered to send 1,600 medics, field hospitals and 83 tons of medical supplies to Katrina stricken areas. The offer was made shortly after Katrina hit New Orleans and even now the doctors are on standby awaiting an answer from Bush. What does the administration have to say about this very generous offer from Cuba? State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the team from Cuba would not be needed because there was a "robust response from the American medical community." White House press secretary Scott McClellan said this about the Cuban offer: "When it comes to Cuba, we have one message for Fidel Castro: He needs to offer the people of Cuba their freedom."

Cuba is not the only "non-friendly" country to offer assistance to America in our time of need. Last week, Iran offered to send the United Stated 20 million barrels of crude oil. I don't have to tell you that America needs help in the area of oil; just go to your nearest gas station. State Department executive secretary Harry Thomas Jr. has stated the offer was rejected because it was conditional.

We all know that Cuba and Iran are not two of America's closest allies, but in a time when Americans are dying in the streets, their assistance is invaluable. Why can't Bush just set aside our differences for a day and welcome the goodwill of others? This may strike to the heart of why Bush is not a true leader. These are the days and times when we should be reaching out to our non-allies to try to bridge the gap that separates us. Why doesn't Bush see the opportunity in these offers to open the lines of communication? I am going out on a limb here, but I would venture to guess that the homeless, dying and sick in New Orleans don't have a beef with Iran or Cuba right now. I bet they would just like to stay alive and appreciate the goodwill of man.

Cleaning Up on Hurricane Katrina

Friday, September 09, 2005

Please America, I beg you to wake up and realize what George Bush and his administration are doing to this country and the people in it. This is not Bush bashing. This is common sense and
compassion for your fellow man and woman.

In what may be the most disgusting display of greed and capitalism ever, a proclamation was made by President Bush yesterday: To Suspend Subchapter IV of Chapter 31 of Title 40, United States Code, Within a Limited Geographic Area in Response to the National Emergency Caused by Hurricane Katrina.

What is this proclamation and what does it mean? President Bush is suspending the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931. Here is the opening text of the Davis-Bacon Act:

"That the advertised specifications for every contract in excess of $2,000, to which the United States or the District of Columbia is a party, for construction, alteration, and/or repair, including painting and decorating, of public buildings or public works of the United States or the District of Columbia within the geographical limits of the States of the Union or the District of Columbia, and which requires or involves the employment of mechanics and/or laborers shall contain a provision stating the minimum wages to be paid various classes of laborers and mechanics which shall be based upon the wages that will be determined by the Secretary of Labor to be prevailing for the corresponding classes of laborers and mechanics employed on projects of a character similar to the contract work in the city, town, village, or other civil subdivision of the State in which the work is to be performed, or in the District of Columbia if the work is to be performed there; and every contract based upon these specifications shall contain a stipulation that the contractor or his subcontractor shall pay all mechanics and laborers employed directly upon the site of the work, unconditionally and not less often than once a week, and without subsequent deduction or rebate on any account, the full amounts accrued at time of payment, computed at wage rates not less than those stated in the advertised specifications, regardless of any contractual relationship which may be alleged to exist between the contractor or subcontractor and such laborers and mechanics, and that the scale of wages to be paid shall be posted by the contractor in a prominent and easily accessible place at the site of the work; and the further stipulation that there may be withheld from the contractor so much of accrued payments as may be considered necessary by the contracting officer to pay to laborers and mechanics employed by the contractor or any subcontractor on the work the difference between the rates of wages required by the contract to be paid laborers and mechanics on the work and the rates of wages received by such laborers and mechanics and not refunded to the contractor, subcontractors, or their agents."

Earlier in the week, the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root (you might recognize them from their top-notch work in Iraq) started work under a $500 million contract with the Navy.

Can you start to see what is happening now? President Bush has suspended the law that requires contractors working under a government issued contract to pay their workers on a weekly basis and to pay them at least minimum wage. Not only is Halliburton going to make money off this disaster, but they are going to make a huge profit on the backs of cheap labor. The work does need to be done and I am not saying that KB&R is not the right company for the job. What I don't understand is -why? Why would Bush suspend a law that protects the American worker from low and or inconsistent pay?

The answer is simple as usual. Bush and company do not care about you or me! Dick Cheney worked for Halliburton and now they make more money than can be imagined. When will America wake up and realize that the Bush administration is selling us off to capitalist corporations?

FEMA and the Katrina Aftermath: It is Bush's Fault!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

To all those who question how people can blame President Bush for the complete failure of FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I point you to the staff of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Not only did President Bush take FEMA, which used to be a cabinet-level agency, and reorganize them under the office of Homeland Security, he also stacked the now defunct agency with his political buddies. New York Daily News ran an article yesterday exposing the many appointments Bush has made to this once respectable agency.

One such appointment is FEMA's deputy director and chief of staff, Patrick Rhode. Mr. Rhode's previous jobs include: working on the Bush-Cheney campaign and work at the Commerce Department and Small Business Administration. His bio on the FEMA website does not list any jobs related to disaster management.

Another example of Bush politics is the Deputy Chief of Staff, Scott Morris. Mr. Morris was a PR man who worked previously for Maverick Media, a Texas company that produced television and radio ads for the Bush-Cheney campaign. In addition, Mr. Morris also worked as the White House liaison for the U.S. Small Business Administration. Again, according to his bio posted on the FEMA website, Mr. Morris has no past experience in disaster management.

This is not a new problem and many blame the former director of FEMA, Joe Allbaugh, for many of the appointments. Mr. Allbaugh was appointed by Bush after he took office in 2000 and Allbaugh left his office in March of 2003. Before his job as director, Mr. Allbaugh worked as chief of staff for Bush when he was governor of Texas and then went on to head the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Once again here are Bush administration politics: you wash my back, I wash yours. These people have no right to work in an agency that deals with disasters. The only qualifications these people have is that they are close to 'ol Georgy. Read between the lines people: this is why the relief efforts have been so uncoordinated. These people don't belong in these jobs. They don't know what they are doing and it is President Bush's fault.

Wake Up Call: Gas Prices and Refineries

The recent spike in gas prices across the nation in the wake of hurricane Katrina has recently been blamed on a shortage of refineries in America. The oil companies have gone so far as to even blame the shortage of refineries on environmental regulations. This may seem like a bit much, but it is as simple as supply and demand. The less oil that is refined into gas the more expensive gas prices are.

Hurricane Katrina did in fact slow the refining process due to the fact that there were offshore refineries in the Gulf of Mexico; this much is true. What has been brought to light recently, however, is why there are so few refineries in the United States in the first place. Contrary to what the oil companies are telling us, it is not environmental regulations that limit the amount of refineries. It is the oil companies themselves who have closed down and limited the amount of refineries in the United States. Why would they do that, you ask? The answer is as simple as supply and demand: less refineries means less gas. Less gas means higher prices. Higher prices means more money for the oil companies.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights yesterday exposed inter-office memos from the big three American oil companies Mobil, Chevron and Texaco in their press release: "Internal Memos Show Oil Companies Intentionally Limited Refining Capacity To Drive Up Gasoline Prices". These memos demonstrate how the oil companies closed down refining capacity, and opposed the opening of more oil refineries in the U.S.. All this in an effort to make more money at the expense of the American people.

Wake up America! Capitalism does not care about you or me, just the bottom line. We are seeing this now in the wake of hurricane Katrina. We are all expendable. The only thing that matters is the almighty dollar. It's time we stand up to the oil companies. We do have the power because they need our money.

Katrina: The Facts

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Although the hurricane could not have been avoided, the disaster that has materialized could have been avoided. The blood is on the hands of the government at many levels. Here are some articles in the lead-up to Katrina. This did not have to happen and the writing was on the wall.


Dear Colleague: I thought you and your readers might find useful this short collection of historical articles detailing the impact of the Iraq war on hurricane preparedness in the United States: "Background articles on Iraq & New Orleans: A perfectly avoidable catastrophe"
http://rempost.blogspot.com/2005/09/background-articles-on-iraq-war-new.html

Sincerely,
Carl Conetta
Project on Defense Alternatives

The "Iraq" Constitution

Here is another e-mail regarding the drafting of the Iraqi constitution. Is this the freedom we were supposed to give them. It is another classic example of our beautiful "democracy" at work.


U.S. Influence 'Too Much'
Inter Press Service Dahr Jamail

*London, Sep 5 (IPS) -* U.S. influence in the process of drafting a constitution for Iraq is excessive and "highly inappropriate", a United Nations official says."It is a matter of public record that in the final weeks of the process the newly arrived U.S. ambassador (Zalmay Khalizad) took an extremely hands-on role," Justin Alexander, legal affairs officer for the office of constitutional support with the United Nations Assistance Mission toIraq (UNAMI) told IPS. "Even going so far as to circulate at least one U.S draft."Alexander, who oversaw the recent proceedings in Baghdad added: "This involvement was highly inappropriate for a country with 140,000 soldiers in country."Zaid al-Ali, a legal expert who also oversaw the drafting process inBaghdad, made a similar case at a meeting at the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies in London."There are three ways in which the occupation intervened in the context of Iraq's constitution-writing process," he said. "Firstly, the occupation authorities selected and affected the makeup of the commission that was charged with drafting Iraq's transitional law, andits permanent constitution. Second, the occupation determined the limitsand parameters within which the constitution was to be drafted. Third, the occupation authorities intervened directly in order to safeguard itsinterests in the context of the constitutional negotiations."Al-Ali said it was significant that one article in the draft constitution on foreign military bases was dropped from the finalversion. "One article contained in a previous draft provided that setting up foreign military bases in Iraq was to be forbidden, and that the only way in which this could be deviated from would have been by a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament."Al-Ali said "this article was dropped from the final draft of the constitution."An alliance including the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars and the large movement of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said it rejected the draftand a "political process which had been led by occupiers and theircollaborators." The group said in a media statement: "We consider this draft as a next step of this process which does not represent the peoples' will." The alliance also expressed "major suspicions about the honesty of the next referendum, which will take place under occupation and with neither international nor Arabic and Islamic supervision."Dr. Marinos Diamantides, senior lecturer in law at the University of London, said the entire drafting process could be illegal under international law."One could argue the entire process is against the law," Diamantides told IPS. "According to the 1907 Convention (the convention for thepacific settlement of disputes), the occupying power has a duty tomaintain the legal system of the country it occupies. This is the first time ever that an occupying power has dismantled the internal law system of the country it occupies." He also pointed out that ironically the Sunnis now have power to derail the upcoming referendum vote by a two-thirds vote in three provinces. That power was originally intended to give Kurds power to veto the constitution.When Iraq's Kurdish and Shia dominated parliament recently approved the draft, Sunnis immediately began campaigning for a 'no' vote in the upcoming October referendum. If the draft were to pass the referendum, it would be followed two months later by election for a government. At least four provinces are predominantly Sunni, and Sunni clerics have urged their followers to reject the draft if it does not meet Sunni demands. Adding further complexity to the already muddled situation, former UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq during the sanctions Denis Halliday believes that even the United Nations has no place in occupied Iraq." The UN doesn't have a position in Iraq today," Halliday told IPS. "Oncethe invasion took place, the UN became collaborators with the enemy (the United States)." Halliday, who had resigned from his UN post in protest against "genocidal sanctions" added: "This lesson should have been learned in August, 2003 when our office in Baghdad was blown up, as we werecollaborators. The UN has simply become a tool of the U.S., and Iraqiscan no longer distinguish between the U.S. and the UN." Justin Alexander said Iraq might need a new constitution. "If Iraq creates a progressive and effective constitution and laws to implement the constitution, then this could benefit Iraqis. But in the absence of mutual reconciliation and an end to the occupation this is all futile."

More writing, photos and commentary at http://dahrjamailiraq.com/

If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the DahrJamailIraq.comwebsite. Any other use of images and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

Katrina Aftermath

Here if some information about what is happening in New Orleans, and a look into the future of how things will be conducted here in America.


Dear Colleague: For your readers, these background articles on the New Orleans crisis have been permanently reposted at the URLs below.

Troops begin combat operations in New Orleans (Army Times, 2 Sept 2005) http://rempost.blogspot.com/2005/09/troops-begin-combat-operations-in-new.html


Fearing riots, Guard rejects food airdrops; Officials exploring other options for delivering supplies (Stars and Stripes, 3 Sept 2005) http://rempost.blogspot.com/2005/09/fearing-riots-guard-rejects-food.html


Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3 Sept 2005) http://rempost.blogspot.com/2005/09/homeland-security-wont-let-red-cross.html


Sincerely, Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives

The Bush Administration's Love of Human Life: Land Mines

Thursday, September 01, 2005

How do you feel about land mines? An example of how the world views land mines might be the fact that 145 total countries (including every member of NATO) are party to the Mine Ban Treaty (otherwise known as the Ottawa Convention). This treaty prohibits the use, production, trade or stockpiling of antipersonnel mines. Antipersonnel self-destructing mines (mines that blow up after a set period of time) as well as persistent mines (mines that do not self-destruct) are prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty.

It appears that the Bush administration is ready to resume production of antipersonnel mines, something the United States has not produced since 1997. Recently the Pentagon requested $1.3 billion for development and production of a new antipersonnel mine system named Intelligent Munitions System (IMS) which has sparked concern from Human Rights Watch.

In addition to the Pentagon's budget request, the Bush administration announced a new landmine policy on February 27, 2004 that slipped under the radar. The U.S. Department of State laid out the administrations new agenda in it's bullet form fact sheet titled: "New United States Policy on Lanmines-Reducing Humanitarian Risk and Saving Lives of United States Soldiers." To quote the administration: "The United States will not join the Ottawa Convention because its terms would have required us to give up a needed military capability. However, this new policy dramatically reduces the danger posed to civilians from unexploded landmines--both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle--left behind after military conflicts."

This claim is false. A study published by the International Committee of the Red Cross in conjunction with a group of over 30 retired officers from various countries had this to say about "smart" mines: "Because of the vast numbers [of mines] involved, and the complete absence of any [mine] marking, it is likely that the number of civilian casualties resulting from a large-scale strike with remotely delivered mines will greatly exceed the casualty rates seen with conventional minefields.... Even the doubtful benefit of self-destruction and self-deactivation at a later date will not prevent widespread casualties in the initial days after the strike. There is little doubt that the development of remotely delivered mines has increased the probability of a major rise in post-conflict mine casualties."


The Mine Ban Treaty prohibited the use, production, trade or stockpiling of antipersonnel mines. As of November 2004, the United States had stockpiled 10.4 million antipersonnel mines, only China and Russia have larger stockpiles. Add to this the 7.5 million antivehicle mines the U.S. also has in stockpile. In addition to the stockpiling of mines, the U.S. continues to produce and export antivehicle mines, 124,000 sold to South Korea alone in 2004.


Budget documents released in February show the Pentagon has requested $688 million for research and $1.08 billion between fiscal years 2006 through 2011 for production of new landmine systems. These new mines will be triggered by command detonation or "man-in-the-loop" and also through victim-activation.

One of these new programs is the Spider system of land mines. It is a control unit capable of monitoring eighty-four hand placed unattended munitions that deploy a web of tripwires across an area. This style of mine is controlled by a man-in-the-loop type system which allows for activation by either the victim or a soldier. A decision to produce the Spider is set to be made in December of 2005, but to date the U.S. has already spent $135 million on development and another $11 million for research. According to the report by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics: "U.S. Department of Defense Removal and Destruction of Persistent Landmines and Development of Landmine Alternatives", a total of $390 million has been budgeted to produce 1,620 Spider systems and 186,300 munitions.


In addition to this, the administration will be further developing what they call Intelligent Munitions Sytems (IMS) or "smart" landmines otherwise known as self-destructing mines. These mines either self-destruct within a certain period of time, or have a battery that dies after time rendering the mine non-active. One problem with these types of mines is that the Landmine Protocol of CCW, which the U.S. and China belong to, allows for a 10% failure rate. On top of this the Landmine Protocol allows for 120 days before self-destruction must occur. This is not the only problem with so-called "smart" mines. These types of mines are usually delivered by aircraft or artillery at the rate of thousands per minute. The results of this type of delivery system are scattered areas of landmines hard to map or fence off unlike a traditional field of hand-laid "dumb" mines. The U.S. last used these mines (Gator Mines) in the Gulf War, scattering 117,634 landmines across Kuwait and Iraq.

Just in case you are keeping a running total on just how much the U.S. government spends on landmines, here are some more numbers to crunch. Between the fiscal years 1999 to 2004 the Pentagon spent over $319 million on alternatives for antipersonnel mines. One such program named the Remote Area Denial Artillery Munition (RADAM) was cancelled in 2002 after costs reached $12.1 million. The RADAM program produced zero munitions. A total of $172 million was spent on research and development of IMS systems between the fiscal years of 1999 to 2004. Currently $1.3 billion has been requested for IMS development and production between the fiscal years of 2005 to 2011. In February of 2004, the Pentagon requested $20.2 million to produce 40,000 M18A1E1 Clymore mines ($16 million in supplemental funding provided from the Emergancy Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2003).

Maybe this is just me, but wouldn't the best way to reduce the humanitarian risk of landmines just be as easy as not producing or using them. Clearly the Bush administration has made it's stance clear on this issue, if it helps the U.S. military kill people, then it's ok for us to use, produce and export. This seems like a lot of time money and energy spent on what I would classify as a weapon of mass destruction. Wouldn't you? All the numbers can be fact checked, in August Human Rights Watch report: "Back in Business? U.S. Landmine Production and Exports." Footnotes to the various reports, fact sheets and policies can be found in the Human Rights Watch briefing paper.

 
 
 
 
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