“Tortured” veterans to sue Donald Rumsfeld

August 9 2011

Two American men can go ahead with civil lawsuit over allegations they were tortured in Iraq at the hands of US forces.
A lawyer representing Rumsfeld said the appeals court decision was a blow to the US military

Donald Rumsfeld, the former US secretary of defence, must face a lawsuit filed against him by two American men claiming they were wrongfully held and tortured by US forces in Iraq.

The US Court of Appeals in Chicago on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling last year allowing the men, Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel, to pursue claims that Rumsfeld and unnamed others should be found personally liable for their treatment – despite efforts by the former Bush and current Obama administration to get the case dismissed.

The two men worked for a private security company in Iraq in 2006 and said they became concerned the firm was engaging in illegal bribery or other corruption activities. They notified US authorities and began co-operating with them.

Emotional abuse

In early 2006, they were taken into custody by US military forces and eventually taken to Camp Cropper near Baghdad’s airport. Vance and Ertel claimed they were subjected to harsh interrogations and physical and emotional abuse.

Months later they said they were unceremoniously dropped at the airport and never charged with a crime.

They sued, seeking unspecified damages and saying their constitutional rights had been violated and US officials knew they were innocent.

The appeals court ruled that while it may have been unusual for Rumsfeld to be personally responsible for the treatment of detainees, the two men had sufficiently argued that the decisions were made at the highest levels of government.

We agree with the district court that the plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to show that Secretary Rumsfeld personally established the relevant policies that caused the alleged violations of their constitutional rights during detention,” the court ruled in a split decision.

The three-judge panel voted 2-1 to affirm the lower court ruling. Judge Daniel Manion dissented, saying Congress has yet to decide whether courts should have a role in deciding whether such claims against the US military can be pursued.

A lawyer representing Rumsfeld said the appeals court decision was a blow to the US military.

“Having judges second guess the decisions made by the armed forces halfway around the world is no way to wage a war,” attorney David Rivkin said in a statement on Monday.

“It saps the effectiveness of the military, puts American soldiers at risk, and shackles federal officials who have a constitutional duty to protect America.”

A spokesman for the US Justice Department, which has been representing the former defense secretary, had no immediate comment. The Justice Department could appeal to the full appeals court or to the US Supreme Court.

There have been other lawsuits against Rumsfeld and the US government over allegations of abuse and torture overseas, but most involved foreigners, not US citizens, so federal courts have typically dismissed those cases.

A district judge in Washington last week allowed a similar case to proceed involving an American translator who worked in Iraq with the US military and who said he was later detained and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques and abuse.

Source

I hope Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel win their case.

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Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 6:03 am  Comments Off on “Tortured” veterans to sue Donald Rumsfeld  
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Killing Civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq

By Tom Engelhardt

August 05, 2010


Consider the following statement offered by Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a
news conference last week.  He was discussing Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks as well as the person who has taken responsibility for the vast, still ongoing Afghan War document dump at that site. “Mr. Assange,” Mullen commented, “can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.”

Now, if you were the proverbial fair-minded visitor from Mars (who in school civics texts of my childhood always seemed to land on Main Street, U.S.A., to survey the wonders of our American system), you might be a bit taken aback by Mullen’s statement.  After all, one of the revelations in the trove of leaked documents Assange put online had to do with how much blood from innocent Afghan civilians was already on American hands.

The British Guardian was one of three publications given early access to the leaked archive, and it began its main article this way: “A huge cache of secret U.S. military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents. They range from the shootings of individual innocents to the often massive loss of life from air strikes…”  Or as the paper added in a piece headlined “Secret CIA paramilitaries’ role in civilian deaths”: “Behind the military jargon, the war logs are littered with accounts of civilian tragedies. The 144 entries in the logs recording some of these so-called ‘blue on white’ events, cover a wide spectrum of day-by-day assaults on Afghans, with hundreds of casualties.”  Or as it also reported, when exploring documents related to Task Force 373, an “undisclosed ‘black’ unit” of U.S. special operations forces focused on assassinating Taliban and al-Qaeda “senior officials”: “The logs reveal that TF 373 has also killed civilian men, women, and children and even Afghan police officers who have strayed into its path.”

Admittedly, the events recorded in the Wikileaks archive took place between 2004 and the end of 2009, and so don’t cover the last six months of the Obama administration’s across-the-board surge in Afghanistan.  Then again, Admiral Mullen became chairman of the Joint Chiefs in October 2007, and so has been at the helm of the American war machine for more than two of the years in question.

He was, for example, chairman in July 2008, when an American plane or planes took out an Afghan bridal party — 70 to 90 strong and made up mostly of women — on a road near the Pakistani border.  They were “escorting the bride to meet her groom as local tradition dictates.” The bride, whose name we don’t know, died, as did at least 27 other members of the party, including children.  Mullen was similarly chairman in August 2008 when a memorial service for a tribal leader in the village of Azizabad in Afghanistan’s Herat Province was hit by repeated U.S. air strikes that killed at least 90 civilians, including perhaps 15 women and up to 60 children. Among the dead were 76 members of one extended family, headed by Reza Khan, a “wealthy businessman with construction and security contracts with the nearby American base at Shindand airport.”

Mullen was still chairman in April 2009 when members of the family of Awal Khan, an Afghan army artillery commander on duty elsewhere, were killed in a U.S.-led raid in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan.  Among them were his “schoolteacher wife, a 17-year-old daughter named Nadia, a 15-year-old son, Aimal, and his brother, employed by a government department.” Another daughter was wounded and the pregnant wife of Khan’s cousin was shot five times in the abdomen.

Mullen remained chairman when, in November 2009, two relatives of Majidullah Qarar, the spokesman for the Minister of Agriculture, were shot down in cold blood in Ghazni City in a Special Operations night raid; as he was — and here we move beyond the Wikileaks time frame — when, in February 2010, U.S. Special Forces troops in helicopters struck a convoy of mini-buses, killing up to 27 civilians, including women and children; as he also was when, in that same month, in a special operations night raid, two pregnant women and a teenage girl, as well as a police officer and his brother, were shot to death in their home in a village near Gardez, the capital of Paktia province.  After which, the soldiers reportedly dug the bullets out of the bodies, washed the wounds with alcohol, and tried to cover the incident up.  He was no less chairman late last month when residents of a small town in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan claimed that a NATO missile attack had killed 52 civilians, an incident that, like just about every other one mentioned above and so many more, was initially denied by U.S. and NATO spokespeople and is now being “investigated.”

And this represents only a grim, minimalist highlight reel among rafts of such incidents, including enough repeated killings or woundings of innocent civilians at checkpoints that previous Afghan war commander General Stanley McChrystal commented: “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.”  In other words, if your basic Martian visitor were to take the concept of command responsibility at all seriously, he might reasonably weigh actual blood (those hundreds of unreported civilian casualties of the American war the Guardian highlighted, for example) against prospective blood (possible Afghan informers killed by the Taliban via names combed from the Wikileaks documents) and arrive at quite a different conclusion from Chairman Mullen.

In fact, being from another planet, he might even have picked up on something that most Americans would be unlikely to notice — that, with only slight alterations, Mullen’s blistering comment about Assange could be applied remarkably well to Mullen himself. “Chairman Mullen,” that Martian might have responded, “can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he is doing, but the truth is he already has on his hands the blood of some young soldiers and that of many Afghan families.”

Killing Fields, Then and Now

Fortunately, there are remarkably few Martians in America, as was apparent last week when the Wikileaks story broke.  Certainly, they were in scarce supply in the upper reaches of the Pentagon and, it seemed, hardly less scarce in the mainstream media.  If, for instance, you read the version of the Wikileaks story produced — with the same several weeks of special access — by the New York Times, you might have been forgiven for thinking that the Times reporters had accessed a different archive of documents than had the Guardian crew.

While the Guardian led with the central significance of those unreported killings of Afghan civilians, the Times led with reports (mainly via Afghan intelligence) on a Pakistani double-cross of the American war effort — of the ties, that is, between Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, and the Taliban. The paper’s major sidebar piece concerned the experiences and travails of Outpost Keating, an isolated American base in Afghanistan.  To stumble across the issue of civilian deaths at American hands in the Times coverage, you had to make your way off the front page and through two full four-column Wikileaks-themed pages and deep into a third.

With rare exceptions, this was typical of initial American coverage of last week’s document dump.  And if you think about it, it gives a certain grim reportorial reality to the term Americans favor for the deaths of civilians at the hands of our forces: “collateral damage” — that is, damage not central to what’s going down.  The Guardian saw it differently, as undoubtedly do Afghans (and Iraqis) who have experienced collateral damage firsthand.

The Wikileaks leak story, in fact, remained a remarkably bloodless saga in the U.S. until Admiral Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (who has overseen the Afghan War since he was confirmed in his post in December 2006) took control of it and began focusing directly on blood — specifically, the blood on Julian Assange’s hands.  Within a few days, that had become the Wikileaks story, as headlines like CNN’s “Top military official: WikiLeaks founder may have ‘blood’ on his hands” indicated.  On ABC News, for instance, in a typical “bloody hands” piece of reportage, the Secretary of Defense told interviewer Christiane Amanpour that, whatever Assange’s legal culpability might be, when it came to “moral culpability… that’s where I think the verdict is guilty on Wikileaks.”

Moral culpability.  From the Martian point of view, it might have been considered a curious phrase from the lips of the man responsible for the last three and a half years of two deeply destructive wars that have accomplished nothing and have been responsible for killing, wounding, or driving into exile millions of ordinary Iraqis and Afghans. Given the reality of those wars, our increasingly wide-eyed visitor, now undoubtedly camping out on the Washington Mall, might have been struck by the selectivity of our sense of what constitutes blood and what constitutes collateral damage.  After all, one major American magazine did decide to put civilian war damage front and center the very week the Wikileaks archive went up.  With the headline “What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan,” TIME magazine featured a cover image of a young Afghan woman whose nose and ears had reportedly been sliced off by a “local Taliban commander” as a punishment for running away from an abusive home.

Indeed, the Taliban has regularly been responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians, including women and children who, among other things, ride in vehicles over its roadside bombs or suffer the results of suicide bombings aimed at government figures or U.S. and NATO forces.  The Taliban also has its own list of horrors and crimes for which it should be considered morally culpable.  In addition, the Taliban has reportedly threatened to go through the Wikileaks archive, ferret out the names of Afghan informers, and “punish” them, undoubtedly spilling exactly the kind of “blood” Mullen has been talking about.

Our Martian might have noticed as well that the TIME cover wasn’t a singular event in the U.S.  In recent years, Americans have often enough been focused on the killing, wounding, or maiming of innocent civilians and have indeed been quite capable of treating such acts as a central fact of war and policy-making.  Such deaths have, in fact, been seen as crucially important — as long as the civilians weren’t killed by Americans, in which case the incidents were the understandable, if sad, byproduct of other, far more commendable plans and desires.  In this way, in Afghanistan, repeated attacks on wedding parties, funerals, and even a baby-naming ceremony by the U.S. Air Force or special operations night raids have never been a subject of much concern or the material for magazine covers.

On the other hand, the Bush administration (and Americans generally) dealt with the 9/11 deaths of almost 3,000 innocent civilians in New York City as the central and defining event of the twenty-first century.  Each of those deaths was memorialized in the papers.  Relatives of the dead or those who survived were paid huge sums to console them for the tragedy, and a billion-dollar memorial was planned at what quickly became known as Ground Zero.  In repeated rites of mourning nationwide, their deaths were remembered as the central, animating fact of American life.  In addition, of course, the murder of those civilian innocents officially sent the U.S. military plunging into the Global War on Terror, Afghanistan, and then Iraq.

Similarly — though who remembers it now? — one key trump card played against those who opposed the invasion of Iraq was Saddam Hussein’s “killing fields.”  The Iraqi dictator had indeed gassed Kurds and, with the help of military targeting intelligence provided by his American allies, Iranian troops in his war with Iran in the 1980s.  After the first Gulf War, his forces had brutally suppressed a Shiite uprising in the south of Iraq, murdering perhaps tens of thousands of Shiites and, north and south, buried the dead in mass, unmarked graves, some of which were uncovered after the U.S. invasion of 2003.  In addition, Saddam’s torture chambers and prisons had been busy places indeed.

His was a brutal regime; his killing fields were a moral nightmare; and in the period leading up to the war (and after), they were also a central fact of American life.  On the other hand, however many Iraqis died in those killing fields, more would undoubtedly die in the years that followed, thanks to the events loosed by the Bush administration’s invasion.  That dying has yet to end, and seems once again to be on the rise.  Yet those deaths have never been a central fact of American life, nor an acceptable argument for getting out of Iraq, nor an acknowledged responsibility of Washington, nor of Admiral Mullen, Secretary of Defense Gates, or any of their predecessors.  They were just collateral damage.  Some of their survivors got, at best, tiny solatia payments from the U.S. military, and often enough the dead were buried in unmarked graves or no graves at all.

Similarly, in Afghanistan in 2010, much attention and controversy surrounded the decision of our previous war commander, General McChrystal, to issue constraining “rules of engagement” to try to cut down on civilian casualties by U.S. troops.  The American question has been: Was the general “handcuffing” American soldiers by making it ever harder for them to call in air or artillery support when civilians might be in the area?  Was he, that is, just too COIN-ish and too tough on American troops?  On the other hand, little attention in the mainstream was paid to the way McChrystal was ramping up special operations forces targeting Taliban leaders, forces whose night raids were, as the Wikileaks documents showed, repeatedly responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians (and so for the anger of other Afghans).

Collateral Damage in America

Here, then, is a fact that our Martian (but few Americans) might notice: in almost nine years of futile and brutal war in Afghanistan and more than seven years of the same in Iraq, the U.S. has filled metaphorical tower upon tower with the exceedingly unmetaphorical bodies of civilian innocents, via air attacks, checkpoint shootings, night raids, artillery and missile fire, and in some cases, the direct act of murder.  Afghans and Iraqis have died in numbers impossible to count (though some have tried).  Among those deaths was that of a good Samaritan who stopped his minivan on a Baghdad street, in July 2007, to help transport Iraqis wounded by an American Apache helicopter attack to the hospital.  In repayment, he and his two children were gunned down by that same Apache crew.  (The children survived; the event was covered up; typically, no American took responsibility for it; and, despite the fact that two Reuters employees died, the case was not further investigated, and no one was punished or even reprimanded.)

That was one of hundreds, or thousands, of similar events in both wars that Americans have known little or nothing about.  Now, Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old intelligence analyst deployed to eastern Baghdad, who reportedly leaked the video of the event to Wikileaks and may have been involved in leaking those 92,000 documents as well, is preparing to face a court-martial and on a suicide watch, branded a “traitor” by a U.S. senator, his future execution endorsed by the ranking minority member of the House of Representatives’ subcommittee on terrorism, and almost certain to find himself behind bars for years or decades to come.

As for the men who oversaw the endless wars that produced that video (and, without doubt, many similar ones similarly cloaked in the secrecy of “national security”), their fates are no less sure.  When Admiral Mullen relinquishes his post and retires, he will undoubtedly have the choice of lucrative corporate boards to sit on, and, if he cares to, lucrative consulting to do for the Pentagon or eager defense contractors, as well as an impressive pension to take home with him.  Secretary of Defense Gates will undoubtedly leave his post with a wide range of job offers to consider, and if he wishes, he will probably get a million-dollar contract to write his memoirs.  Both will be praised, no matter what happens in or to their wars.  Neither will be considered in any way responsible for those tens of thousands of dead civilians in distant lands.

Moral culpability?  It doesn’t apply.  Not to Americans — not unless they leak military secrets.  None of the men responsible will ever look at their hands and experience an “out, damned spot!” moment.  That’s a guarantee.  However, a young man who, it seems, saw the blood and didn’t want it on his hands, who found himself “actively involved in something that I was completely against,” who had an urge to try to end two terrible wars, hoping his act would cause “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms,” will pay the price for them.  He will be another body not to count in the collateral damage their wars have caused.  He will also be collateral damage to the Afghan antiwar movement that wasn’t.

The men who led us down this path, the presidents who presided over our wars, the military figures and secretaries of defense, the intelligence chiefs and ambassadors who helped make them happen, will have libraries to inaugurate, books to write, awards to accept, speeches to give, honors to receive.  They will be treated with great respect, while Americans — once we have finally left the lands we insistently fought over — will undoubtedly feel little culpability either.  And if blowback comes to the United States, and the first suicide drones arrive, everyone will be deeply puzzled and angered, but one thing is certain, we will not consider any damage done to our society “collateral” damage.

So much blood.  So many hands.  So little culpability.  No remorse.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s (Haymarket Books), has just been published. You can catch him discussing it on a TomCast video by clicking here.  Check out the latest TomCast audio interview in which he discusses the three stages of the developing Wikileaks story by clicking here or, to download it to your iPod, here.

[Note for readers: I would especially like to thank Juan Cole’s Informed Comment blog, Antiwar.com, and Paul Woodward’s the War in Context website for helping keep me up to date on America’s ongoing wars.  I couldn’t do without them.  A bow of appreciation to all three.]  Source

August 5, 2010

Bradley Manning 22 is now in pre-trial confinement in Quantico, VA, facing decades in prison and, if Congressman Mike Rogers has his way, the death penalty. I encourage you to write a letter to this brave young man and CODEPINK will deliver it to him during a rally on Sunday in Quantico, near Washington DC.

To submit a letter to be delivered please email it to CODEPINK!

In the midst of all the grief many families has endured and the sorrow they feel for the Afghans and Iraqis who have died,

I am grateful that someone out there was courageous enough to bring the powerful and dreadful truths about these wars into the light.

Admiral Mullen said that those responsible for the leaks have blood on their hands. But no one could possibly have more blood on their hands than the Bush/Cheney regime and now the Obama administration–the blood of our troops, the tears of their families, the legacy of the innocents killed and maimed in these immoral wars.

With these Wikileaks horrors revealed, it will not be so easy for politicians to convince us that these wars are just, that they are worth bankrupting our nation, or that we can achieve peace by more killing. My hope is that the national discussion that has emerged from the videos and documents will hasten the day when our troops come home. For that, the whistleblowers deserve our deepest thanks.

The real terrorists are the US Government politicians who went to war, sent men and women to murder over a million people.

We must not forget Tony Blair and company also terrorists with blood on their hands as well.

Bradley is not a traitor or the evil demon, he is made out to be. He just wanted if he did in fact turn over the documents, want to let Americans and the world see the truth.

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Published in: on August 6, 2010 at 5:44 am  Comments Off on Killing Civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq  
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Bush shoe thrower Muntadhar al-Zaidi to be freed

August 30 2009

Al-Zaindi Muntadhar al-Zaidi (AFP)

An Iraqi journalist jailed after hurling his shoes at George Bush, the former US president, will be released in September.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi’s sentence was reduced for good behaviour, his lawyer said on Saturday.

Karim al-Shujairi, a defence attorney, said al-Zeidi will now be released on September 14, three months early.

Al-Zaidi was initially sentenced to three years after pleading not guilty to assaulting a foreign leader, then the court reduced it to one year because the journalist had no prior criminal history.

The act of the 30-year-old reporter during Bush’s last visit to Iraq as president turned him into a folk hero across the Arab world amid anger over the 2003 invasion.

The incident, which took place on December 14, embarrassed Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, who was standing next to Bush at the time during a joint news conference.

Neither leader was injured, but Bush was forced to duck for cover as the journalist shouted in Arabic: “This is your farewell kiss, you dog! This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.”

Source

Added September 12 2009

Iraqi shoe thrower Muntadhar al-Zeidi to be released from jail

Published in: on August 31, 2009 at 1:13 am  Comments Off on Bush shoe thrower Muntadhar al-Zaidi to be freed  
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Enough evidence to prosecute Rumsfeld for war crimes/UK ‘must release’ Iraq war files

UN official: Enough evidence to prosecute Rumsfeld for war crimes

David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
January 26, 2009

Monday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak told CNN’s Rick Sanchez that the US has an “obligation” to investigate whether Bush administration officials ordered torture, adding that he believes that there is already enough evidence to prosecute former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

“We have clear evidence,” he said. “In our report that we sent to the United Nations, we made it clear that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld clearly authorized torture methods and he was told at that time by Alberto Mora, the legal council of the Navy, ‘Mr. Secretary, what you are actual ordering here amounts to torture.’ So, there we have the clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing but, nevertheless, he ordered torture.”

Asked during an interview with Germany’s ZDF television on Jan. 20, Nowak said: “I think the evidence is on the table.”

At issue, however, is whether “American law will recognize these forms of torture.”

A bipartisan Senate report released last month found Rumsfeld and other top administration officials responsible for abuse of Guantanamo detainees in US custody.

It said Rumsfeld authorized harsh interrogation techniques on December 2, 2002 at the Guantanamo prison, although he ruled them out a month later.

The coercive measures were based on a document signed by Bush in February, 2002.

There is a video at the source as well.

Source

UK ‘must release’ Iraq war files

January 28, 2009

The British government has been ordered to release the minutes of crucial ministerial meetings from 2003 at which the United States-led invasion of Iraq was discussed.

The information tribunal, which hears appeals under Britain’s data protection act, backed a decision to disclose minutes of cabinet meetings from March 13 and 17, where ministers held talks about whether the decision to go to war was allowed under international law.

The tribunal said: “We have decided that the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of the formal minutes of two cabinet meetings at which ministers decided to commit forces to military action in Iraq did not… outweigh the public interest in disclosure.

The cabinet office has 28 days to decide whether to appeal against the ruling.

Announcing its decision on Tuesday, the tribunal said: “The decision to commit the nation’s armed forces to the invasion of another country is momentous in its own right, and… its seriousness is increased by the criticisms that have been made  of the general decision-making processes in the cabinet at the time.”

A spokesman for Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, said: “We are considering our response”.

Blair criticised

Tony Blair, prime minister at the time of the invasion, was widely criticised for backing George Bush, the then US president, in invading Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein despite failing to secure a second United Nations resolution on the matter.

Ministerial discussions focused notably on Peter Goldsmith’s, the then attorney general, advice on the legality of war.

Blair’s government strongly resisted demands for the advice of its most senior legal adviser to be made public, until a large section was leaked during the 2005 general election campaign.

Goldsmith then denied ministers pressured him into changing his mind to rule that invading Iraq would be legal in international law even without a second UN security council resolution.

The information tribunal said that “there has… been criticism of the attorney general’s legal advice and of the particular way in which the March 17 opinion was made available to the cabinet only at the last moment and the March 7 opinion was not disclosed to it at all.”

The tribunal ruling backed up an earlier decision by Richard Thomas, the information commissioner.

Thomas said: “I am pleased that the tribunal has upheld my decision that the public interest in disclosing the official cabinet minutes in this particular case outweighs the public interest in withholding the information.

“Disclosing the minutes will allow the public to more fully understand this particular decision.”

Source

Blair and his cohorts  should be tried for war crimes as well.

Others in the Bush Administration as well as Bush, should also be charged with war crimes and crimes against Humanity.

The weapons alone that were used, are one good place to start.

The war was based on fabricated information and lies.

Torture was condoned. Killing over a million people is Genocide.

Also there are the deaths an injuries suffered by the soldiers who were sent to the illegal war.

The list of crimes is quite extensive.

There is also the abuse of power. I would even call it treason.

No one should ever again, be allowed to commit these types of crimes and those who did, certainly should not go free. They are criminals.

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Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 4:02 am  Comments Off on Enough evidence to prosecute Rumsfeld for war crimes/UK ‘must release’ Iraq war files  
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Trial of shoe throwing Iraqi journalist postponed

This undated portrait made available Monday, Dec. 15, 2008 by his family shows Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi. al-Zeidi who threw his shoes at U.S. President Bush.

This undated portrait made available Monday, Dec. 15, 2008 by his family shows Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi. al-Zeidi who threw his shoes at U.S. President Bush.

A shoe is raised during a protest against the Bush's visit in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday. Dec. 15, 2008. (AP / Karim Kadim)

A shoe is raised during a protest against the Bush’s visit in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday. Dec. 15, 2008. (AP / Karim Kadim)

In an image taken from video, a man throws a shoe at U.S. President George W. Bush during a news conference with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008. (APTN)

In an image taken from video, a man throws a shoe at U.S. President George W. Bush during a news conference with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008. (APTN)

Trial of shoe throwing Iraqi journalist postponed
December 30 2008

BAGHDAD
A court Tuesday postponed the trial of a journalist who hurled his shoes at President George W. Bush in anger over the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, an act of protest that made him an international celebrity.

The court’s decision to review the charges against Muntadhar al-Zeidi comes as Iraq prepares after nearly six years to end America’s costly grip over the country and give U.S. troops three years to pack up and leave.

Thursday will also see the official handover of the most potent symbol of U.S. occupation, when Iraq takes formal control of the Green Zone — a heavily fortified enclave surrounded by cement walls that extends over 4 square miles of downtown Baghdad and encompasses the U.S. Embassy and the seat of the Iraqi government.

But in the most telling sign of the changes that are sweeping over Iraq, Tuesday’s second anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s hanging went by almost unnoticed — a near-forgotten footnote in a war that has claimed the lives of more than 4,200 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis.

The anniversary was not even marked in Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit, where the insurgency quickly took hold after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

The trial of al-Zeidi was to begin Wednesday on charges of assaulting a foreign leader, which his defense team said carried a maximum sentence of 15 years. But a spokesman for Iraq’s Higher Judicial Council, Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, told The Associated Press it was postponed pending an appellate court ruling on whether the charges should be reduced to simply insulting Bush.

The Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at Bush during a Dec. 14 joint news conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Thousands demonstrated for al-Zeidi’s release and hailed his gesture.

Two of al-Zeidi’s lawyers said they hoped the reduced charges, which carry a maximum sentence of three years, would allow al-Zeidi to be released on bail. No date was set for the appellate court ruling.

“There is a difference between assault and insult; al-Zeidi wanted to express his objection to the occupation. So the case is within the context of an insult and not an intention to kill,” his lawyer Diaa al-Saadi told the AP.

First lady Laura Bush said Sunday that she thinks people should view the incident as an “assault.”

The case transformed al-Zeidi from a little-known TV journalist into an international celebrity for defying Bush, but it also embarrassed al-Maliki who was standing next to the president when the shoes were thrown.

Last week, al-Maliki sought to undermine the journalist’s popularity by saying he had confessed that the mastermind of the attack was a militant known for slitting his victims’ throats.

Al-Maliki said that in a letter of apology to him, al-Zeidi wrote that a known militant had induced him to throw the shoes. The alleged instigator has never been identified and neither al-Maliki nor any of his officials have provided a further explanation. The letter was not made public.

The journalist’s family denied the claim and alleged that al-Zeidi was tortured into writing the letter.

His act and the ensuing uproar over his custody and alleged abuse in detention come at a time when Iraq is preparing to end the occupation he was protesting. Starting Thursday, the 146,000 U.S. forces in Iraq will be operating under a new security agreement that gives Iraqi authorities a role in approving and overseeing American military operations.

The new pact also requires that U.S. troops withdraw from Baghdad and other cities by the end of June and leave the country entirely by Jan. 1, 2012.

The changes are made more easy by the sharp decline in violence around Iraq. The drop is mostly attributed to an inflow of thousands of U.S. troops into Iraq two years ago, a decision by mostly Sunni tribesmen to switch allegiances away from al Qaeda in Iraq and a campaign to dampen militant Shiite extremists.

Although the years following the invasion were marked by daily acts of violence that killed untold thousands of Iraqis, the U.S. military said recently that attacks have dropped from 180 a day in 2007 to about 10 a day in 2008. They have said the murder rate had declined to below prewar levels, about one per 100,000 people.

Also Tuesday, the U.S. military said control of about 20,000 mostly Sunni volunteers — many of them former insurgents — in four provinces, including the troubled Diyala region where troops continue to fight al Qaeda and other insurgents, would be handed over to the Iraqi government on Thursday.

About 100,000 joined forces with the U.S. two years ago and were perhaps the most significant factor in turning the tide against al Qaeda in Iraq.

The U.S. military managed and paid the volunteers, but began handing over control of the groups to the Iraqi government in October. The Iraqi government has promised to absorb 20 percent of the volunteers into its security forces and pay the rest until it can find them civilian jobs.

The groups have been a key factor in helping reduce violence in the past two years, but the movement has been slower to take hold in Diyala, an ethnically and religiously diverse province where the insurgency remains entrenched despite recent setbacks. There are fears the movement could also turn against the government if they are not satisfied.

“That’s where we have had some tension, more tension than other places, between the Sons of Iraq and U.S. forces,” Gen. Ray Odierno told AP recently. “We’re monitoring and watching very closely.”

Odierno said ultimately the success of the transition will depend on the Iraq government finding “honorable employment” for the Sunni volunteers.

Source

Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered Since The U.S. Invaded Iraq “1,297,997”

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America’s War On Iraq “4,219”

http://icasualties.org/oif/

Shoe Bush? JANUARY 19th

Family says journalist who threw shoes at Bush beaten into apologizing

Shoe-tossing journalist was abused, Iraqi judge says

Protesters shake shoes at US Embassy in London

White House Protesters Throw Shoes at Bush Effigy

Dec 17: Peace Activists Take Shoes to White House in Solidarity with Shoe-Throwing Iraqi Journalist

3 petitions please sign Join the Calls to release Iraqi Journalist Muntadhar Al-Zaydi

Shoe Bush? JANUARY 19th

Why Shoe Bush?

By David Swanson,

Our president stood in a nation he had illegally invaded and occupied, where his actions had caused over 1.2 million deaths, 5 million people forced out of their homes, millions more deprived of electricity or clean water and afraid to walk the streets. He stood smiling in a nation he had transformed into a living hell, a place where everyone had seen loved ones and neighbors killed. And when Muntadar Al-Zeidi threw two shoes at him, our president remarked “I don’t know what his beef is.”

But billions of people around the world believed that the pretended obliviousness of George W. Bush to the pain and suffering he was inflicting had gone on as long as they could stand if not much longer, and Al-Zeidi became a hero overnight. His two shoes punctured the Bush veil of separation, the distance Bush pretends to imagine exists between his decisions and the human limbs scattered in the sand of his colony. And while the U.S. media pretended to wonder whether the water torture was “really” torture, the United States and its puppet government in Iraq inflicted on Al-Zeidi one of the more commonly employed torture techniques of the Bush regime: they beat him and broke his bones.

In an ideal world, it would be enough to present the evidence of crimes for Bush, Cheney, and their criminal subordinates to be prosecuted and convicted. In this world, we’ve presented that evidence for years, and we are still in a climate in which Bush and Cheney blissfully admit their crimes, apparently believing that they render prosecution less likely by declaring their own crimes acceptable. While lies may take hold more easily the bigger they are, big lies also collapse quickly, as when a child points to a naked emperor, or a journalist throws his shoes.

We have a president-elect who can save himself from engaging in criminal wars and occupations, in torture and other war crimes, in warrantless spying and other violations of our Constitution, only by prosecuting the actions of his predecessor. Not to prosecute is itself a crime. If we are going to persuade the president elect, we must first persuade the U.S. media, and the U.S. media is not attracted by facts and information. The U.S. media is attracted by throwing shoes.

Bush’s last act is expected to be the unprecedented pardoning of crimes he authorized. This has never before been done, and to do so is to drop all claim to being a nation of laws. Thanks to the example set by Al-Zeidi, since emulated by people all over the world, we will know exactly how to make our response visible when those pardons come.

Join us at the White House at 11 a.m. on January 19th

Full calendar of events in DC in January

ABOUT THE SHOES FOR BUSH ACTION

On Monday, January 19th on President Bush’s last day in office, people will gather at 11:00am at a site near the White House (TBA) for what will be a cathartic action of hurling shoes at the White House. We will be acting in the spirit of Mutadhar Al-Zaidi, the journalist who threw his shoes at Bush during a press conference on behalf of the widows, orphans and all those killed in Iraq, and in solidarity with the Iraqi people as well as all of those who have suffered under the Bush regime.

To watch Bush leave office and not be held accountable for war crimes and impeachable offenses is like rubbing salt into the wound.

This action may not take away all of the pain suffered during the Bush regime but we will get satisfaction from the statement the act makes. The shoe hurling will be a historic marker. The visual of thousands of people hurling shoes at the White House as Bush leaves office will go around the globe and the people all over the world will let out a collective cheer. Please join us in being part of history!

If you will be in DC for the Inaugural, please bring an extra pair of shoes with you and join us! If possible collect shoes from your friends and meet us at 11:00 at a location to be announced. Please check back on this site.

Organizers are setting up SHOE COLLECTION HUBS and we need your assistance. Please volunteer to have your residence be a place for people to bring their shoes. Then people who are driving to DC can bring the shoes with them.
Please visit our SHOE COLLECTION HUB page on this web site.

OR you may mail your shoes to SHOES FOR BUSH
PO BOX (forthcoming) Kennebunk, ME  04043
There are no bomb sniffing dogs at our post office! Only a very annoyed post master.

We will be transporting your shoes in a U-Haul to DC.

Please consider writing a note to put in your shoes as we will be reading them at the assembly site. Artists—be creative make art with your shoes.

After the action all shoes will be donated to the needy in the Washington DC area.

SHOES FOR BUSH ACTION


Join the Calls to release Iraqi Journalist Muntadhar Al-Zaydi

Senate Report Links Bush to Detainee Homicides; Media Yawns

Cheney admits authorizing detainee’s torture

Why We Must Prosecute Bush And His Administration For War Crimes

Published in: on December 24, 2008 at 7:25 am  Comments Off on Shoe Bush? JANUARY 19th  
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Senate Report Links Bush to Detainee Homicides; Media Yawns

By Glenn Greenwald
December 15, 2008

The bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report issued on Thursday — which documents that “former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials share much of the blame for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba” and “that Rumsfeld’s actions were ‘a direct cause of detainee abuse‘ at Guantanamo and ‘influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques … in Afghanistan and Iraq'” — raises an obvious and glaring question:  how can it possibly be justified that the low-level Army personnel carrying out these policies at Abu Ghraib have been charged, convicted and imprisoned, while the high-level political officials and lawyers who directed and authorized these same policies remain free of any risk of prosecution?   The culpability which the Report assigns for these war crimes is vast in scope and unambiguous:

The executive summary also traces the erosion of detainee treatment standards to a Feb,. 7, 2002, memorandum signed by President George W. Bush stating that the Geneva Convention did not apply to the U.S. war with al Qaeda and that Taliban detainees were not entitled to prisoner of war status or legal protections.

“The president’s order closed off application of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment,” the summary said.

Members of Bush’s Cabinet and other senior officials participated in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed, according to the report.

The policies which the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously concludes were authorized by Bush, Rumsfeld and several other top Bush officials did not merely lead to “abuse” and humiliating treatment, but are directly — and unquestionably — responsible for numerous detainee murders.  Many of those deaths caused by abusive treatment have been formally characterized as “homicides” by autopsies performed in Iraq and Afghanistan (see these chilling compilations of autopsy findings on detainees in U.S. custody, obtained by the ACLU, which reads like a classic and compelling exhibit in a war crimes trial).

While the bulk of the attention over detainee abuse has been directed to Guantanamo, the U.S., to this day, continues to imprison — with no charges — thousands of Iraqi citizens.  In Iraq an Afghanistan, detainee deaths were rampant and, to this day, detainees continue to die under extremely suspicious circumstances.  Just yesterday, there was yet another death of a very young Iraqi detainee whose death was attributed to quite unlikely natural causes.

The U.S. military says a detainee has died of an apparent heart attack while in custody at a U.S. detention facility in Baghdad.

Monday’s statement says the 25-year-old man was pronounced dead by doctors at a combat hospital after losing consciousness at Camp Cropper. . . .

The U.S. military is holding thousands of prisoners at Camp Cropper near the Baghdad airport and Camp Bucca in the southern desert.

For years, it has been common to attribute detainee deaths to “heart attacks” where the evidence makes clear that abusive interrogation techniques and other inhumane treatment — the very policies authorized at the highest levels of the U.S. government — were the actual proximate cause of the deaths.  This deceptive practice was documented in this fact-intensive report — entitled:  “Medical Investigations of Homicides of Prisoners of War in Iraq and Afghanistan” — by Steven H. Miles, Professor of Medicine and Bioethics at the University of Minnesota:

It is probably inevitable that some prisoners who reportedly die of “natural causes” in truth died of homicide. However, the nature of Armed Forces’ medical investigations made this kind of error more likely. The AFME reported homicide as the cause of death in 10 of the 23 death certificates released in May 2004. The death of Mohamed Taiq Zaid was initially attributed to “heat”; it is currently and belatedly being investigated as a possible homicide due to abusive exposure to the hot Iraqi climate and deprivation of water.

Eight prisoners suffered “natural” deaths from heart attacks or atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Threats, beatings, fear, police interrogation, and arrests are known to cause “homicide by heart attack” or life-threatening heart failure. People with preexisting heart disease, dehydration, hyperthermia, or exhaustion are especially susceptible. No forensic investigation of lethal “heart attacks” explores the possibility that these men died of stress-induced heart attacks. There are a number of reports of “heart attack” following harsh procedures in rounding up noncombatants in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A typically sketchy US Army report says, “Detainee Death during weekend combat …. Army led raid this past weekend of a house in Iraq … an Iraqi who was detained and zip-locked (flexi-cuffed with plastic bands tying his wrists together) died while in custody. Preliminary information is that the detainee died from an apparent heart attack.” Sher Mohammad Khan was picked up in Afghanistan in September 2004. Shortly thereafter, his bruised body was given to his family. Military officials told journalists that he had died of a heart attack within hours of being taken into custody. No investigation, autopsy, or death certificate is available.

Or consider this:

Adbul Kareen Abdura Lafta (also known as Abu Malik Kenami) was admitted to Mosul prison on December 5, 2003 and died 4 days later.[20,21] The short, stocky, 44-year-old man weighed 175 pounds. He was never given a medical examination, and there is no medical record. After interrogation, a sandbag was put over his head. When he tried to remove it, guards made him jump up and down for 20 minutes with his wrists tied in front of him and then 20 minutes more with his wrists bound behind his back with a plastic binder. The bound and head-bagged man was put to bed. He was restless and “jibbering in Arabic.” The guards told him to be quiet.

The next morning, he was found dead. The body had “bloodshot” eyes, lacerations on his wrists from the plastic ties, unexplained bruises on his abdomen, and a fresh, bruised laceration on the back of his head. US Army investigators noted that the body did not have defensive bruises on his arms, an odd notation given that a man cannot raise bound arms in defense. No autopsy was performed. The death certificate lists the cause of death as unknown. It seems likely that Mr. Kenami died of positional asphyxia because of how he was restrained, hooded, and positioned. Positional asphyxia looks just like death by a natural heart attack except for those telltale conjunctival hemorrhages in his eyes.

There are countless other episodes like this of human beings in American custody dying because of the mistreatment — authorized by Bush, Rumsfeld and others — to which we subjected them.  These are murders and war crimes in every sense of the word.  That the highest level Bush officials and the President himself are responsible for the policies that spawned these crimes against humanity have been long known to anyone paying minimal attention, but now we have a bipartisan Senate Report — signed by the presidential nominee of Bush’s own political party — that directly assigns culpability for these war crimes to the President and his policies.  It’s nothing less than a formal declaration from the Senate that the President and his top aides are war criminals.
***
This Report was issued on Thursday.  Not a single mention was made of it on any of the Sunday news talk shows, with the sole exception being when John McCain told George Stephanopoulos that it was “not his job” to opine on whether criminal prosecutions were warranted for the Bush officials whose policies led to these crimes.  What really matters, explained McCain, was not that we get caught up in the past, but instead, that we ensure this never happens again — yet, like everyone else who makes this argument, he offered no explanation as to how we could possibly ensure that “it never happens again” if we simultaneously announce that our political leaders will be immunized, not prosecuted, when they commit war crimes.  Doesn’t that mindset, rather obviously, substantially increase the likelihood — if not render inevitable — that such behavior will occur again? Other than that brief exchange, this Senate Report was a non-entity on the Sunday shows.

Instead, TV pundits were consumed with righteous anger over the petty, titillating, sleazy Rod Blagojevich scandal, competing with one another over who could spew the most derision and scorn for this pitiful, lowly, broken individual and his brazen though relatively inconsequential crimes.  Every exciting detail was vouyeristically and meticulously dissected by political pundits — many, if not most, of whom have never bothered to acquaint themselves with any of the basic facts surrounding the monumental Bush lawbreaking and war crimes scandals.  TV “journalists” who have never even heard of the Taguba report — the incredible indictment issued by a former U.S. General, who subsequently observed:  “there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimesThe only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account” — spent the weekend opining on the intricacies of Blogojevich’s hair and terribly upsetting propensity to use curse words.

The auction conducted by Blagojevich was just a slightly more flamboyant, vulgar and reckless expression of how our national political class conducts itself generally (are there really any fundamental differences between Blagojevich’s conduct and Chuck Schumer’s systematic, transparent influence-peddling and vote-selling to Wall Street donors, as documented by this excellent and highly incriminating New York Times piece from Sunday — “A Champion of Wall St. Reaps the Benefits”)?  But Blagojevich is an impotent figure, stripped of all power, a national joke.  And attacking and condemning him is thus cheap and easy.  It threatens nobody in power.  To the contrary, his downfall is deceptively and usefully held up as an extreme aberration — proof that government officials are held accountable when they break the law.

The media fixation on the ultimately irrelevant Blagojevich scandal, juxtaposed with their steadfast ignoring of the Senate report documenting systematic U.S. war crimes, is perfectly reflective of how our political establishment thinks.  Blagojevich’s laughable scheme is transformed into a national fixation and made into the target of collective hate sessions, while the systematic, ongoing sale of the legislative process to corporations and their lobbyists are overlooked as the normal course of business.  Lynndie England is uniformly scorned and imprisoned while George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are headed off to lives of luxury, great wealth, respect, and immunity from the consequences for their far more serious crimes.  And the courageous and principled career Justice Department lawyer who blew the whistle on Bush’s illegal spying programs — Thomas Tamm — continues to have his life destroyed, while the countless high-level government officials, lawyers and judges who also knew about it and did nothing about it are rewarded and honored, and those who committed the actual crimes are protected and immunized.

Just ponder the uproar if, in any other country, the political parties joined together and issued a report documenting that the country’s President and highest aides were directly responsible for war crimes and widespread detainee abuse and death.  Compare the inevitable reaction to such an event if it happened in another country to what happens in the U.S. when such an event occurs — a virtual media blackout, ongoing fixations by political journalists with petty scandals, and an undisturbed consensus that, no matter what else is true, high-level American political figures (as opposed to powerless low-level functionaries) must never be held accountable for their crimes.

UPDATE:  Here — from July of this year — is one of the more remarkable quotes of the Bush era; it’s from Nancy Pelosi, who was explicitly briefed on the CIA’s torture program in 2002:

Q:  You’ve ruled against impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney, and now Kucinich is trying to pass that. Why do you insist on not impeaching these people, so that the world and America can really see the crimes that they’ve committed?

PELOSI: I thought that impeachment would be divisive for the country. . . . If somebody had a crime that the President had committed, that would be a different story.

It’s not like there’s any evidence that Bush committed any crimes or anything, said Pelosi.  From Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side (h/t Hume’s Ghost)

One year of the Afghan prison operation alone cost an estimated 100 million, which Congress hid in a classified annex of the first supplemental Afghan appropriation bill in 2002. Among the services that U.S. taxpayers unwittingly paid for were medieval-like dungeons, including a reviled former brick factory outside of Kabul known as “The Salt Pit.” In 2004, a still-unidentified prisoner froze to death there after a young CIA supervisor ordered guards to strip him naked and chain him overnight to the concrete floor. The CIA has never accounted for the death, nor publicly reprimanded the supervisor. Instead, the Agency reportedly promoted him.

Those Blagojevich tapes sure are disgusting, aren’t they?  Let’s study those some more.

UPDATE II:  Well worth reading on the various implications of the Senate report are Dan Froomkin, Scott Horton, and Andrew Sullivan (scroll down for multiple posts).

Source

Cheney admits authorizing detainee’s torture

Blame Bush policies for detainee abuse: U.S. Senate report

White House reviews final Democrat auto bailout plan

December 8 2008

By Thomas Ferraro and John Crawley

WASHINGTON

The White House and Democrats edged toward agreement on Monday to rescue U.S. automakers by extending emergency loans but their plan leaves key restructuring decisions to the incoming Obama administration.

Three days of talks between congressional Democrats and Bush administration officials neared conclusion with a draft bill, obtained by Reuters, outlining temporary low interest loans, terms for repayment and oversight submitted for final White House review.

The final figure was still being worked out with the plan worth between $14 billion and $17 billion.

The rescue aims to avert the threatened collapse of General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC, saving thousands of factory and millions of related jobs in the U.S. recession.

“This is no blank check or blank hope,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said as he reconvened the chamber to consider a measure later in the week.

“If the companies fail to develop a plan that will lead to long-term competitiveness, profitability, if they fail to stick to that plan, the loan can be recalled,” Reid said.

Rep. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the House Financial Services committee, told CNBC television an agreement would come by day’s end.

Senior Democratic and Republican aides believe the bailout will pass Congress.

Both GM and Chrysler have requested billions by month’s end to boost their dwindling cash reserves. Ford Motor Co is requesting a line of credit that would not be tapped unless its finances deteriorate further than expected in 2009.

Wall Street responded positively with the Dow Jones industrials up more than 295 points partly on auto developments. Ford stock was up 25 percent to $3.39 just before the close, while GM was 20 percent higher to $4.90.

The plan would release loans later this month and establish a board headed, by a “car czar,” to oversee the aid and compliance with terms.

The proposal also sets a March 31 deadline for the companies to submit detailed plans of how they intend to cut costs and further overhaul their businesses to compete with nimble and better capitalized rivals.

The plan initially lacked tough medicine some Republicans had sought, including specific requirements for bondholders and additional cost cuts from the United Auto Workers.

Nevertheless, GM seems headed for a wrenching restructuring that will hit investors, creditors, dealers and workers almost as hard as if the top U.S. automaker had sought bankruptcy.

The UAW union is seeking a stake in GM and a board seat as it offers new concessions. The union also said it will pose another round of buyouts in 2009. Union leadership wants rank-and-file to ratify new contract provisions for GM by the end of March.

On Sunday, the lead senator on bailout legislation, Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, said he thought Chrysler was “basically gone” and recommended it revive merger talks with GM. He also said it was time for GM’s chairman chief executive, Rick Wagoner, to step down.

Many lawmakers questioned Chrysler’s viability as a stand-alone company. But Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli said on Monday in a message to employees, seen by Reuters, that Chrysler’s business plan would allow it to survive as a “stand alone” entity although company officials say alliances are crucial to industry’s future.

GM and Chrysler explored a merger in October before dropping the idea as sales collapsed and GM began to churn through cash faster.

Negotiators responded to lawmaker frustrations with what members have characterized as an entrenched business culture at GM, Ford and Chrysler. Many lawmakers doubt they would be worthy of aid if the country was not in recession. Last week’s startling jump in jobless claims reversed what had been an uncertain bailout effort on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers blame the companies for failing to innovate and leaving industry vulnerable to downturns and failure.

GM unveiled an unusually frank advertisement on Monday acknowledging it had “disappointed” and sometimes even “betrayed” American consumers by letting “our quality fall below industry standards and our designs became lackluster.” (ID:nN08379012)

The grim outlook for automakers spread to Italian carmaker Fiat which said it was too small to survive alone, drawing attention to the prospect of mergers, Sweden reportedly mulled a rescue package for Volvo and Saab.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp will suspend production at its Illinois plant for seven weeks next year in response to sales slump, the company said on Monday.

Daimler AG said its main plant would adopt a shorter work week for three months and Toyota was said to be eyeing spending cuts of up to 40 percent.

The plan also will seek taxpayer protections in the form of preferred shares for the government and a prohibition on shareholder dividends. Neither Ford nor GM pay dividends now.

Interest on loans would be 5 percent for five years and 9 percent after that, the same conditions Democrats proposed in an earlier bailout attempt.

(Additional reporting by Rachelle Younglai, Donna Smith, Richard Cowan and Matt Spetalnick in Washington and Kevin Krolicki, Soyoung Kim and Poornima Gupta in Detroit; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

Source

Published in: on December 8, 2008 at 10:31 pm  Comments Off on White House reviews final Democrat auto bailout plan  
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Starvation slams Haiti: Kids dying after 4 storms ravage crops, livestock

December 7 2008

BY JACQUELINE CHARLES

BAIE D’ORANGE, Haiti

The slow road to death runs high above the scenic coastline, past the crumbled bridges and buried rivers. It traverses a jagged trail passing green slopes and red fertile dirt before arriving here: an isolated mountain village where little Haitian girls dream of eating rice and the doctor is a three-hour walk away.

This is the place where children, suffering from stunted growth, look half their age, where struggling mothers cry that their half-starved babies with the brittle orange hair — evidence of malnutrition — neither crawl nor walk.

“He doesn’t cry, ‘Manman.’ Or ‘Papa,’ ” says Christmene Normilus, holding her malnourished 2-year-old son, Jean-Roselle Tata.

Emergency intervention
In the past month, international aid workers and doctors have airlifted 46 children on the brink of death from this southeastern village and neighboring communities to hospitals in Port-au-Prince, and elsewhere in the south.

The emergency intervention came after it was reported that 26 children from the Baie d’Orange region had died from severe malnutrition in the wake of the four successive storms that devastated Haiti in less than a month this summer.

But long before the deaths and hospitalizations plunged this poverty-stricken nation into the global spotlight amid fears of storm-related famine, the people of this farming community already were battling hunger.

Proud, they reluctantly admit that it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to feed their children, many of whom already suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Their story is repeated throughout the countryside, where a lack of roads, potable water and public-health facilities, as well as deforestation, already had Haiti’s rural poor living in life-threatening misery before the four back-to-back storms washed out more roads, killed livestock and wiped out crops.

“We can’t give our children what they need,” said Jilesca Fulcal, 37, a mother of seven who recently sought medical care for her 2-year-old son, Jean-Samuel Jules. “There is no food. No work for the people. The children can’t live like that. The children are suffering in their mothers’ arms.”

In recent weeks, the United Nations World Food Program has delivered food to the region, taking care to treat the children who are severely malnourished. But with many parts of the hilly hinterland accessible only by foot and horseback, residents say some people still have no access to the food.

Unseen suffering
Unlike Port-au-Prince, where Haiti’s crushing poverty is visible in the crowded slums and on the streets, the misery here is through what visitors don’t see: the eight- to 10-hour walk for water because there are no rivers, able-bodied young men toiling in the fields, the daily struggle to find food — including three hours to walk 12 miles on a rugged road to see the doctor.

“What’s happening in Baie d’Orange is the result of poor political decision-making that has happened over several years,” said Fednel Zidor, the government delegate for the southeast, who has gone on the radio to bring attention to the community’s plight. “No one paid any attention to it.”

Source

A bit of history.

January 7 2005

Photos: © 2005 Haiti Information Project – A UN armored personnel vehicle rolls through Delmas 2 in Bel Air. Five people were killed on January 5 when the UN entered the pro-Lavalas neighborhood under the pretext of cleaning the streets of garbage. Although the UN force took advantage of several photo opportunities to show their public works projects yesterday, their only duty on January 5 was to enter the roiling slum on heavily armed patrols. ©2004 Haiti Information ProjectOn October 28, 2004, the Haitian police entered the slum of Bel Air and shot these four young men execution style. Now that the UN controls Bel Air, members of Aristide’s Lavalas party demanded the UN stop the police and the former military from committing more murders in their communities. Some residents decided to leave Bel Air after the UN assumed control of the streets on January 5, 2005. Although the UN claims responsibility for security, members of Lavalas accuse the multinational force of allowing the Haitian National Police  to execute armed raids in poor neighborhoods where support for ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide remains strong. Despite UN claims of having entered Bel Air with force on January 5th to clear the streets of trash, other than a few carefully planned photo opportunites with the Associated Press, there was little evidence of progress the next day.

A UN armored personnel vehicle rolls through a nearly deserted street in the neighborhood of Bel Air. Residents claim five persons were killed on January 5, 2005 when the UN invaded the slum with hundreds of Brazilian troops under the guise of street cleaning and civic improvement projects

UN occupies Bel Air in Haiti
Port au Prince, Haiti Hundreds of Brazilian soldiers and special units of the Haitian National Police stormed the pro-Aristide neighborhood of Bel Air in the early morning hours of January 5. Residents were surprised and frightened by the armed incursion as gunfire broke out. Witnesses reported that five persons were killed as the operation unfolded.

Bel Air is a slum in the capital of Port au Prince that has served as a launching site for demonstrations demanding the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Aristide was ousted last February 29th amid charges he was kidnapped by U.S. Marines and remains in exile in the Republic of South Africa. The Bel Air slum had been under siege by police since violence erupted last September 30th after police opened fire on unarmed demonstrators.

Following the military operation, UN peacekeepers were seen providing photo opportunities to the press as they fixed a few water pipes and cleared the carcasses of burned out vehicles blocking the road. One resident who refused to give their name fearing reprisals stated, “Do you think we want to live like this? We are more afraid of the police coming in here and killing everyone than we are of the rats and the garbage. Those wrecked cars were our security because it stopped the police from coming in here at night and shooting us. Now that the UN has opened the door for them we don’t know what is going to happen to us. Look what they did in Cite de Dieu yesterday.”

The UN incursion came one day after Haitian police were accused of committing another deadly raid in a neighborhood close to Haiti’s National Theater. In Cite de Dieu the police reportedly killed six people including a 16 year-old girl and later justified the slaughter claiming they were bandits.

An unidentified representative of Aristide’s Lavalas party commented on the situation, “If the UN is really going to provide security to our communities then they must stop the police from murdering our citizens. We all want peace but you cannot blame people for wanting to defend themselves while the UN allows the police to commit murder and fill the jails with political prisoners. They must stop the police and the former military from murdering our citizens.

“Last October 28th the police executed four young men they thought were Lavalas and the UN did nothing to stop them.

“The UN cannot on one-hand say they are bringing security while on the other they claim to be assisting the police as they kill us, beat us and arrest us. It is a contradiction they must resolve or there will never be peace. They must control the police and stop the killing! They must support us in releasing all the political prisoners filling our jails!

“For now, it appears the UN are equally responsible for this partisan campaign to exterminate Lavalas that is clearly meant to silence our opposition to the coup of February 29, 2004.”

Source

San Francisco Bay Area Journalist Kevin Pina Held in Haiti

by Leisa Faulkner
September 12, 2005

Reporter Kevin Pina opened his family home to me last month in Port au Prince, Haiti when violence closed the orphanage where I usually stay to do human rights work. Tonight, Kevin sleeps in a jail cell like those I visited in Cap Haitian just weeks ago. He has become part of the story he risks his life daily to tell.

UN works to squash followers of Aristide in Haiti Port-au-Prince, Haiti Corralling residents and kicking down doors, heavily armed troops of the UN and the Police Nationale de Haiti invaded several neighborhoods of Cite Soleil one day after an alleged attack on the headquarters of the mission of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul. Jan 9

Deaths reported as UN enters Haiti slum Port au Prince, Haiti Sustained and heavy gunfire erupted in the pro-Aristide slum of Cite Soleil at about 3 a.m. this morning and was followed by an incursion into the area by hundreds of Brazilian and Jordanian troops of the United Nations. – Dec 14 2004

Tearing up the Charter: UN’s Erosion Continues in Haiti Flashpoints Radio’s Dennis Bernstein interviews Kevin Pina and Brian Concannon. Oct 18 2004


Council On Hemispheric Affairs

Aiding Oppression in Haiti: Kofi Annan and General Heleno’s Complicity in Latortue’s Jackal Regime Dec 16 2004

Haiti’s Ship Sails on Without a Captain and With a Very Disreputable Crew: Kofi Annan, Roger Noriega, Colin Powell and Lula of Brazil have much to answer for failing to implement the UN’s Stabilization Mission – Dec 9

Brazil’s Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti: Doing God’s or Washington’s Work? -Dec 6

Oh, When All is Looted & Pillaged, Your Hunger Will Remain
February 28 2004
When President Bush took to the airwaves on Wednesday of this week, touting his Haitian counter-exodus measures, my suspicions of a repeat of 1991s coup d’etat were confirmed. The Coast Guard is to establish a wet line-of-defense, protecting the Cuban Shangri-La of Miami from boatloads of greasy, AIDS infected, odiferous Haitians. A carte blanche gifted to the water patrol units, granting cutter vessels total amnesty from any outcry resulting from dubious repatriation practices. The message was clear; this country will not tolerate another influx of non-European immigrants, especially those who defied our French brethren 200 years past.

Canada The Coup Coalition
March 7 2004
It looks like Paul Martin is already putting his mark on foreign affairs, with a shameful pandering to America in this. It was interesting to watch the hesitation in Foreign Affairs as the old hands working to save democracy in Haiti got the rug pulled out from under them by what Jamaica is already calling “new Canadians” – not meant to imply an improved version. I guess the business at any price types in the Liberal party have finally gotten their way.
So Americans, have no fear, or minor annoyance anyway – Canada will once again help hold the bag for you while you fill it with the corpses of anyone who dares to oppose your God given right to tell everyone else in the world how to manage their economy and live their lives.

Operation Enduring Sweatshop Another Bush Brings Hell to Haiti
March 10 2004

This week, the Bush administration added another violent “regime change” notch to its gunbelt, toppling the democratically elected president of Haiti and replacing him with an unelected gang of convicted killers, death squad leaders, militarists, narcoterrorists, CIA operatives, hereditary elitists and corporate predators – a bit like Team Bush itself, in other words.

Hidden from the Headlines
Haiti After the Coup The Final Chapter Has Yet To Be Written

When Hidden from the Headlines was first published in August 2003, we wrote: Since the election of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2000, the United States has moved to sabotage Haiti’s fledgling democracy through an economic aid embargo, massive funding of elite opposition groups, support for paramilitary coup attempts, and a propaganda offensive against the Aristide government. Hidden from the headlines for years, this campaign has now become an open effort to destroy a popularly elected, progressive government.

And I am sure the Sanctions they were under also helped them into extreme poverty as well.

Haitian children died from severe malnutrition

Poverty crushing the People of Haiti /History on Sanctions

Save the Children has served the needs of some of Haiti’s poorest children and families since 1985. Today, through advocacy, by reinforcing government social services and supporting community-based development programs in protection, education, health, food security, livelihoods and humanitarian relief, we are improving the lives of some 425,000 children and adults in urban and rural communities in six provinces and 33 districts. To better serve the great needs of children and best use the vital resources of our donors, Save the Children recently merged programs and activities with other members of the International Save the Children Alliance who also have programs in Haiti.

Challenges for Children

Of all the nations in the Western Hemisphere, none faces greater challenges to improve the lives of its children than Haiti. In addition to its poor development indicators, Haiti is the country most affected by HIV/AIDS outside of sub-Saharan Africa, which aggravates the well-being of children whose health is already compromised by poverty and inadequate access to basic health care.

Improving the health, education and food security of poor children and women.
Improving the health, education and food security of poor children and women.

Numbers at a Glance

  • Average life expectancy in Haiti is 52 years.
  • Under-5 mortality rate is 120 per 1,000 live births.
  • Some 3.8 percent of the population is believed to be HIV positive, among them 17,000 children.
  • Some 500,000 girls and boys are out of school and some 300,000 children live in domestic servitude.

Our Response

Protection: In urban areas, including the capital of Port-au-Prince, Save the Children supports welcome centers for street children that provide food and shelter, education and health programs and counseling and play opportunities. Centers offer scholarship assistance so that children can attend school and provide on-site lessons to prepare children for formal schooling. Save the Children also supports children’s rights through direct local interventions and national advocacy. Through a network of children’s clubs, we educate girls and boys on their rights, offers recreational youth activities and endorse positive civic participation.

Education: Save the Children implements a rural education program in over 200 community, government and mission schools. Through it, we reach over 22,000 students in Haiti’s Central Plateau, Southeast and Artibonite regions. We advocate for state recognition and more resources for the country’s growing network of community-run schools. We also pilot school readiness programs for pre-school girls and boys to increase their chances for later educational success.  Primary children benefit from our school health and nutrition activities, receiving de-worming medication, iodine, iron supplementation and hygiene training, all of which help them stay in school. Innovative radio learning programs further extend the reach of our educational initiatives. And, Haiti is also part of Save the Children’s Rewrite the Future campaign to support education in conflict-affected countries.

Community Health: In partnership with the Ministry of Health, Save the Children provides quality primary health care to mothers and young children in the Artibonite and Central provinces. We help prevent and treat malaria, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases. We also train health care workers, invest in health infrastructure and medical equipment and develop community-based health committees to promote local participation and community well-being. In addition, we vaccinate children, provide them with supplemental vitamins and micronutrients, promote the benefits of breastfeeding and address childhood illnesses such as diarrhea. Save the Children projects also increase access to potable drinking water and oral re-hydration therapies. Reproductive health activities promote family planning, pre- and post-natal visits, safe deliveries and sexual education.

HIV/AIDS: Save the Children implements an HIV/AIDS program which has been greatly scaled up over the past year. Its goals are to improve access to prevention services and testing and counseling, mobilize community support for orphans and vulnerably children, improve the management of antiretroviral treatment programs and develop a coordinated system of care in the Artibonite, Central, Western and Nippes provinces. Activities include: mobilizing communities to assist persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS; prevention of mother-to-child transmission; and promotion of safer sexual practices among youth. We help form local support groups and health committees and organize public awareness campaigns such as weekly radio broadcasts. Save the Children also leads a consortium of other organizations which is expanding HIV/AIDS programs into disadvantaged rural areas.

Food Security: Save the Children helps improve the nutritional status of children in eight districts in the Central and Artibonite provinces. We monitor children’s nutrition, provide food to pregnant and lactating women, children under age 2 and malnourished children; improve community health and nutrition practices and promote improved agricultural production and marketing to bolster local economic growth.

Humanitarian Relief: Save the Children provides humanitarian relief and child-centered assistance for children and families affected by natural disasters. Over the past five years, we also have conducted community-based disaster preparedness and mitigation activities.

Sponsorship: In Haiti, Save the Children sponsors are one of our most important resources. Through this support, we improve the lives of thousands of children every year by providing primary education and school health and nutrition programs in the Maïssade district in the Central Plateau. We are currently exploring expansion possibilities to other regions.

Looking Forward for Children

Save the Children continues to integrate its protection, education, primary health care, HIV/AIDS prevention and food security programs, while promoting household economic growth activities in communities. We also plan to broaden our impact through expanded geographic coverage in both urban and rural areas and increase our advocacy work for children’s rights.

More Teachers Help Make a Difference for Mona

Like many children from the community of Maissade, Mona began attending the local public school when she was 6. She is now in 3rd grade, but despite good attendance and health, Mona did not pass the tests that would have promoted her to the next grade. Save the Children learned that the school Mona attended had six classrooms managed by only one director and one teacher.

Save the Children responds to the shortage of teachers in public schools by training and placing new teachers in classrooms. In partnership with a local university and the Ministry of Education, high school graduates receive intensive teacher training followed by an assignment to a classroom that previously had no teacher.

The increased teacher-student ratio has made a difference in the quality of learning for Mona. She passed all of her exams; many girls just like Mona are advancing to the next grades.

Loudouide and Friends: A Chance to Attend School

“Because of Save the Children, all the children in my community can go to school and I am happy about that.”

Loudouide and her family live in a remote part of Maïssade District, an eight-hour drive from the capital of Port-au-Prince. In a country where half a million children do not go to school because their families cannot afford to send them, and only 2 percent finish secondary education, Loudouide and her village friends are benefiting from a golden opportunity – a chance to attend school.

Thanks to our community schools initiative, there has been a 20 percent increase in the number of children attending school in the areas where we work. In a country where nearly one person in every two is illiterate, this presents a life-changing opportunity for children such as Loudouide and her friends, their families and community.

Donate now to support Save the Children’s work in the U.S. and around the world

Large sections of Haiti’s population, particularly in the capital, Port-au- Prince, live in precarious conditions due to poverty, neglect, urban violence and lack of access to basic healthcare. Violence continues, especially in Martissant, where MSF treated over 200 gunshot injuries. An MSF survey between January 2006 to July 2007 showed that nearly one in four deaths in Martissant was related to violence.

Violence and conflict
Since December 2006, MSF has operated an emergency health center in Martissant, a neighborhood characterized by daily violence and a lack of medical facilities. Every day, patients are referred from the emergency health center to the other hospitals where MSF works. MSF established a number of mobile clinics in the heart of the Martissant neighborhoods, with medical teams offering primary healthcare to some 400 patients a day.

At the end of 2007, MSF handed over its project in the slum of Cité Soleil, where the security situation has improved, to the Ministry of Health. The project started in July 2005 to guarantee access to care for victims of the violence. The ongoing presence of MSF teams, even during the most intense fighting, resulted in 72,000 consultations at the primary health center of Chapi and 32,000 at Choscal hospital, where more than 13,000 patients were hospitalized. However, since April the situation has got better, with no patient with a bullet wound seen at the Tuscaloosa hospital and people in the neighborhood no longer living in fear and isolation.

MSF continued to provide medical and surgical care at its Trinite trauma center in Port-au- Prince, admitting more than 14,000 patients compared with 11,000 in 2006. The number of admissions for gunshot wounds fell from 1,300 in 2006 to 500 in 2007, although the number of victims of stab wounds, rape and beatings continued to rise. In total, 2,847 patients were admitted for violence-related trauma.

Throughout the year, MSF medical teams focused on improving quality of care, working to perfect the recently introduced surgical technique of orthopedic internal fixation. A total of 205 patients benefited from this technique, which sharply reduced their length of stay in hospital.

MSF also operates a physical rehabilitation center where patients needing specialized post-operative treatment can receive physiotherapy and psychological care.

In June, MSF increased its capacity to treat victims of sexual violence in the capital, offering comprehensive psychological and medical treatment. The program treated 242 victims between July 2006 and June 2007. Awareness campaigns emphasizing confidentiality and the need to seek treatment within 72 hours resumed in July in the shantytowns and city center.

Maternal health needs
Maternal mortality rates in Haiti are the highest in the western hemisphere (approximately 630 women die for 100,000 births), mainly due to eclampsia. The insecure urban slum environment where many women live limits their access to healthcare as physical and sexual violence, extortion and common crime are serious threats.

In 2006, the emergency maternal Jude Ann hospital was opened in Port-au-Prince, the only hospital in Haiti to offer free emergency obstetric care. By the end of 2007, over 13,000 women had given birth here. MSF also started providing services in fixed clinics in selected slum communities, with ante- and post-natal care and a referral service in the three slums of La Saline, Pelé Simon and Solino. Mental health services will be added in 2008.

MSF has worked in Haiti since 1991.

More Reports or to Donate

No Amnesty for Cheney , Say Torture Opponents


WASHINGTON

November 25 2008

Judging by the rare leaks from President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, investigations and prosecutions of high-level George W. Bush administration officials for torture and war crimes are a distant prospect. But likely or not, that won’t stop pundits from debating the question of whether those officials responsible should be held accountable.

Irrespective of whether Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld or others are dragged before juries, one glaring change seems absolutely certain: Obama stands unequivocally against torture, and the practice is likely to come to an end under his administration.

“Even though I’ve been disappointed in other presidents in the past, I do listen and I do believe Obama when he says we won’t torture. I think that’s crucial,” said Michael Ratner, the president of the Centre for Constitutional Rights.

But foreswearing controversial and harsh interrogation methods may not be enough to permanently reestablish the moral high ground that the Obama administration has promised to bring back to the U.S.’s interactions with the rest of the world.

If Obama doesn’t take on torture that occurred, as opposed to simply discontinuing the practice, the door may be left open for future administrations to resurrect the harshest of interrogation techniques, said Ratner at a recent forum at Georgetown University Law School.

“If Obama really wants to make sure we don’t torture, he has to launch a criminal investigation,” said Ratner, the author of “The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution in Book.”

He said that the targets of such an investigation would be the easily identifiable “key players” and “principals” in the Bush administration who hatched plans to allow and legally justify harsh interrogation methods that critics allege are torture, including the controversial “waterboarding” simulated drowning technique.

Those pursued, said Ratner, would include high-ranking administration officials such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, and former Central Intelligence Agency chief George Tenet, as well as the legal team that drummed up what is now regarded as a sloppy legal justification for torture.

Key Bush administration lawyers involved in providing legal cover to harsh practices, including the roundly criticised “torture memo” from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), include former attorney general and earlier White House counsel Alberto Gonzales; Cheney’s chief of staff and former legal counsel to the vice president’s office David Addington; and the University of California, Berkeley law professor and former OLC lawyer John Yoo.

If the characters behind the questionable techniques are not held accountable for violating U.S. and international laws, said Ratner, presidents after Obama may simply say, “well, in the name of national security I can just redo what Obama just put in place. I can go torture again.”

Ratner also spoke to the concern that, from the view of the rest of the world, “to not do an investigation and prosecution gives the impression of impunity.”

But opposing Ratner on the dais, Stewart Taylor, Jr. argued that an investigation and prosecution were not appropriate.

“The people who are called ‘war criminals by [Ratner] and others do not think they acted with impunity,” said Taylor, a Brookings Institution fellow and frequent contributor to Newsweek and the National Journal.

In the Jul. 21 edition of Newsweek, Taylor called for Bush to preemptively pardon any administration official who could be held to account for torture or war crimes. Taylor’s rationale was that without fear of prosecution, a full and true account of what he called “dark deeds” could never come to light.

Furthermore, at the Georgetown Law event Taylor said investigation and eventual prosecution would “tear the country apart”.

That may be the thinking of Obama, who, in addition to hints he wouldn’t investigate Bush administration malfeasance, declared his intention to govern as a political reconciliation president in his election victory speech.

In Grant Park in Chicago on Nov. 4, Obama rehashed a quote from slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., but instead of rhetorically bending the “arc of history” towards “justice”, as King did, Obama called for it to be bent “toward the hope of a better day.”

But Ratner said that the country was already divided, and that divide is exactly what a future administration could politically exploit to reinstate torture. He said that Obama must close the divide and doing so is not rehashing the past.

“You’re making sure that in the future, we don’t torture again,” Ratner said. “This is not looking backwards.”

Another potential problem with investigation and prosecution, says Taylor, is that the Bush administration officials ostensibly had sought to find out whether the methods they were about to approve were justified, and, indeed, they were told they were in the legal clear.

“There is no evidence that high ranking officials acted with criminal intent,” he said. “They were relying in good faith on the advice of legal counsel.”

Taylor said that since the legal advice originated from the Department of Justice, it would be wrong for the same Justice Department to “turn around” and prosecute people for actions that its previous incarnation had explicitly told were legal.

But Taylor’s point misses two issues: that the crimes were allegedly given a legal green light because of collusion with the White House, and that Ratner proposes to investigate those selfsame Justice officials who were involved in giving approval.

Despite referring to John Yoo as a “gonzo executive imperialist”, Taylor said that “those officials, like them or not, were honourably motivated” because they were “desperately afraid” of another terrorist attack.

Ratner insists that the officials, part of a “group, cabal or conspiracy”, may be culpable because they were “aiders and abetters”.

“[OLC] was not giving independent counsel,” insisted Ratner. “They were shaping memos to fit a policy that had already been determined.”

And while Taylor was quick to point out that many U.S. administrations had been accused of war crimes by various sources, Ratner replied that it was the first time that any administration had actually “assaulted the prohibition on torture”.

That could be one reason why, if the U.S. does not take care of its own house, Bush administration officials will likely be pursued on charges in Europe and elsewhere.

In international courts, said Ratner, those officials will not be able to hide behind the legal shields of internal government memos or executive decrees.

“They have no defence in international law,” he said. “They’re finished.”

Source

Bush trying to Avoid War Crimes Charges

Published in: on November 26, 2008 at 10:04 pm  Comments Off on No Amnesty for Cheney , Say Torture Opponents  
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Billions here, billions there: A look at where it’s going

Billions here, billions there: A look at where it’s going

November 24 2008

Wars. Bailouts. Unemployment aid. Automakers. Washington has opened the tap on big spending and money is gushing down the pipeline.

The national debt now stands at $10.6 trillion, compared with about $5.7 trillion in 2000 before George W. Bush took office. Buckle up, because that figure is going to climb.

Here’s where some of the big bucks are going:

Iraq war Various estimates put the total cost of the military operation since 2003 at about $600 billion.

Bailout — The Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), signed on Oct. 3, provides $700 billion in financial relief. Of that amount, the Treasury Department has committed about $270 billion in cash injections for banks and another $40 billion for the insurer American International Group.

Economic stimulusEarlier this year, Bush signed into law a $168 billion stimulus package that included rebates for households and tax breaks for businesses. President-elect Barack Obama is preparing another stimulus plan, and Democratic lawmakers say they expect the package could total between $500 billion and $700 billion.

Detroit General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and their suppliers have been authorized $25 billion by Congress to retool their assembly lines for making more fuel-efficient cars. Now, the Big Three want an additional $25 billion to ensure they will have the funds to operate through spring. Congress could act on it in December.

Housing In July, Bush signed a housing bill that included $300 billion in new loan authority for the government to guarantee cheaper mortgages for troubled homeowners. In September, the Treasury took over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, pledging up to $200 billion to back their assets.

Jobless aid Congress last week approved an extension of up to three months for expiring unemployment benefits. The cost is nearly $6 billion.

Federal Reserve In the past year the Fed has increased its lending and purchases of debt by $900 billion, to almost $2.2 trillion.

The federal deficitIt’s the difference between what the government received from taxes and other revenue and what it spent. In fiscal 2008, which ended Sept. 30, the budget deficit was $455 billion, quite a difference from 2007’s $161.5 billion. Just one month into fiscal 2009, the budget deficit had already reached $232 billion, including $115 billion going directly on the deficit ledger for bank stock purchases as part of the financial bailout. The deficit for fiscal 2009 could reach $1 trillion.

Source

Millionaires reap farm payments; Nobody checking incomes

Investigators say the problem will get worse

By LARRY MARGASAK
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON — A sports team owner, a financial firm executive and residents of Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia were among 2,702 millionaire recipients of farm payments from 2003 to 2006 — and it’s not even clear they were legitimate farmers, congressional investigators reported Monday.

They probably were ineligible, but the Agriculture Department can’t confirm that, since officials never checked their incomes, the Government Accountability Office said.

The Agriculture Department cried foul: It said the investigators had access to Internal Revenue Service information on individuals that the department is not permitted to see.

John Johnson, deputy administrator in the department’s Farm Service Agency, said officials there are in touch with the IRS to devise a system for including tax information in its sampling program to determine eligibility.

He added that 2,702 recipients cited by the GAO was a small percentage of the 1.8 million recipients of farm payments from 2003 through 2006.

The investigators said the problem will only get worse, because the payments they cited covered only the 2002 farm bill subsidies.

The 2008 farm legislation has provisions that could allow even more people to receive improper payments without effective checks, they said.

There are three main types of payments: direct subsidies based on a farmer’s production history; countercyclical payments that kick in when prices are low and disappear when they recover; and a loan program that allows repayment in money or crops.

The 2002 farm bill required an income test for the first time.

An individual or farm entity was ineligible if average adjusted gross income exceeded $2.5 million over three years — unless 75 percent or more of that income came from farming, ranching and forestry.

According to the report, the 2,702 recipients exceeded the $2.5 million and got less than 75 percent of their income from these activities.

The payments to them totaled more than $49 million.

“USDA has relied principally on individuals’ one-time self-certifications that they do not exceed income eligibility caps, and their commitment that they will notify USDA of any changes that cause them to exceed these caps,” the GAO said.

The report said Agriculture field offices have been able to request that recipients submit tax returns for review.

But the administrator in charge of the payment programs, Teresa Lasseter, told the GAO, “Requiring three years of tax returns initially from over 2 million program participants was not a viable option or cost-effective alternative.”

The GAO said 78 percent of the recipients resided in or near a metropolitan area, while the remaining 22 percent resided in large towns, small towns and rural areas.

Further, the investigators said the Agriculture Department should have known that 87 of the 2,702 recipients were ineligible because it had noted in its own databases that they exceeded the income caps.

The GAO said it was prevented by law from identifying individuals cited in its report, but the investigators offered these examples of likely improper payments:

A founder and former executive of an insurance company received more than $300,000 in farm program payments in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 that should have been subject to the income limits.

An individual with ownership interest in a professional sports franchise received more than $200,000 for those same years that should have been barred by the income limits.

A person residing outside the United States received more than $80,000 for 2003, 2005 and 2006 on the basis of the individual’s ownership interest in two farming entities.

A top executive of a major financial services firm received more than $60,000 in farm program payments in 2003.

A former executive of a technology company received about $20,000 in years 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 that were covered by the income limits.

This individual also received more than $900,000 in farm program payments that were not subject to those limitations.

The investigators also found nine recipients resided outside the United States — in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, for example.

The remainder resided in 49 of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.

Five states — Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois and Texas — accounted for 36 percent of the recipients and 43 percent of the $49.4 million in farm program payments.

Source

We must also remember that $2.3 Trillion they admitted to losing on September 10, the day before 9/11 still hasn’t been found either.

One has to wonder how much money, has been lost in other areas as well?

“Accountability” is not something the Bush Administration took to seriously.

Bush accountability is gone: just a reminder

June 7, 2007

Somebody owes me a Diet Coke.

That’s what was at stake in a wager a gentleman and I made over dinner at a restaurant in Baton Rouge. He had asked if I didn’t agree that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, then, as now, under fire in the scandal over the alleged politically motivated firing of nine U.S. attorneys, would soon be forced to step down. I said no. He said Gonzales would not last six weeks. We made a bet on it.

This was 11 weeks ago. Gonzales, of course, is still in office. In fact, President Bush last month reiterated his support for his embattled friend, who faces a possible Senate no-confidence vote later this month.

I wish I could say that in wagering on Gonzales’ political survival, I relied upon some insider knowledge, some astute reading of the tea leaves based on long years of watching the political scene. Truth is, what I relied on is a belief in the utter shamelessness of George W. Bush’s administration.

No, Team Bush does not own the patent on shamelessness. Some of us thought it bespoke an alarming imperviousness to embarrassment when Bill Clinton, caught lying about being serviced by a young intern in the Oval Office, chose to brazen his way through the resulting furor rather than resign.

But if the Bush people did not invent shamelessness, they have refined it to a level that once seemed impossible. So much so that this shamelessness, this indifference to perception, this abysmal lack of what Thomas Jefferson called “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind” may prove to be the administration’s defining characteristic, its calling card in matters both grand and small. Granted, shamelessness will have to battle hubris and incompetence to earn that distinction, but still …

No administration in living memory has shown Team Bush’s ability to reverse itself so blithely, to deny the obvious so serenely, to ignore precedent, propriety and responsibility with such placid unconcern for consequences or public perception.

Weapons of mass destruction not found where you once guaranteed they would be? Pretend you invaded Iraq for other reasons.

“Stay the course” proving an ever more threadbare strategy? Deny it was ever your strategy at all.

FEMA director presides over a botched disaster relief effort that costs hundreds of American lives? Praise him for doing “a heckuva job.”

CIA director presides over intelligence gathering failures that cost thousands of American lives? Give him a Medal of Freedom.

And so on.

If you’re looking for accountability, you’re looking in the wrong White House. Or as Bush once put it, “We had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 elections.” In other words, if you win the election you can do whatever you want and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

So I am not surprised that, despite growing evidence he allowed the Justice Department to become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, Alberto Gonzales still has a job with the federal government. To be honest, I am more surprised that Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and former FEMA chief Michael Brown do not.

And ain’t that a kick in the head? We have reached a pass where one is almost shocked to see people held to answer for scandal and ineptitude. Where one is taken aback at the notion that failure carries a price. And where tough talk and a “What, me worry?” smugness now routinely pass for iron resolve and moral clarity.

If you had told me in 2001 that this would be the state of things six years later, I’d have laughed in your face.

I’d have lost a lot of Diet Cokes on that.

Source

GAO: Labor Dept. Misled Congress

By Carol D. Leonnig

November 25, 2008

The Labor Department gave Congress inaccurate and unreliable numbers that understated the expense of contracting out its employees’ work to private firms, according to a Government Accountability Office report released yesterday.

The department’s decisions in allowing contractors to compete for bureaucrats’ work — known as “competitive sourcing” — also demoralized workers, according to most of the 60 agency employees interviewed by the GAO.

“DOL’s savings reports are not reliable: a sample of three reports contained inaccuracies, and others used projections when actual numbers were available, which sometimes resulted in overstated savings,” the GAO report said. “Because of these and other weaknesses, DOL is hindered in its ability to determine if services are being provided more efficiently as a result of competitive sourcing.”

Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao began having some agency workers compete for their jobs in 2004, but since then few employees have actually lost their jobs and had their pay cut as a result of the privatizing effort, GAO found. Of the 314 federal workers who had a job change as a result of competitions with private firms, 263, or 84 percent, were either reassigned to positions with the same title and pay or were promoted. Of the 16 workers who were demoted, 14 kept their same professional grade or pay.

Twenty-two employees were demoted or laid off, and all were African American. An additional 29 employees left voluntarily.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), chairmen of their chambers’ appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over the Labor Department, asked for the report and urged Congress not to fund the competition program until the GAO provided the answers. They issued a statement yesterday saying the review documented “the negative impact the Bush Administration’s failed policies have had” on the agency.

“Under the direction of this White House, the Department of Labor has increasingly attempted to move work performed by Federal employees to private contractors” and, in so doing, hurt workers’ morale and “grossly overstated savings,” they wrote. “We look forward to working with the Obama Administration to strengthen the Department of Labor as it undertakes the critical missions of making sure our workplaces are safe; protecting employee pensions, health benefits and rights; and providing workers with the skills they need to compete successfully in the 21st century economy.”

Patrick Pizzella, an assistant secretary who oversees competitive sourcing, told the GAO in a letter last month that the department agrees tracking costs and performance more systematically would give the agency a more accurate picture of the usefulness of competitive sourcing. “As the GAO report indicates, DOL has made progress developing a system to assess the performance of winning service providers in our competitive sourcing program, and DOL’s competitions rarely resulted in lost jobs or salary reductions for DOL employees,” he said yesterday.

Pizzella said the Office of Management and Budget does not require that fuller counting; the GAO urged the OMB to require agencies to do so.
Source

Will the lies ever end?

‘Bush, Cheney guilty of war crimes’

November 11 2008

Dick Cheney (L) and George W. Bush

Dozens of protesters have gathered outside the Department of Justice to urge indictment and trail of the US President and Vice President.

The activists and legal observers participating in the demonstrations wanted to deliver a letter to Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, saying outgoing President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should be taken accountable for treason, murder, bribery and other high crimes.

“This is not about getting them out of office, that’s impeachment. This is about holding them accountable,” said David Swanson, the founder of After Downing Street (ADS).

On the way to the department, the crowd, however, was stopped by a low-level press secretary who pledged he would hand the letter over to the attorney general, Press TV correspondent Jahan Hafez reported.

“We really need to have a medium with him (Michael Mukasey) and we need him to agree to look into the crimes of the Bush administration which are many,” stressed Linda Letendre of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR).

As Justice Department officials passed the protesters, activists read off the names of those lost in the war.

Founder of After Downing Street (ADS) David Swanson

The protesters then lay on the ground to symbolize those who killed in the so-called war on terror.

“If in fact your elected officials are not held the same standard that the regular citizens are, then you don’t have the standard, you don’t have the rule of law,” one of the activists said.

“That’s extremely dangerous for everybody,” she warned.

“We are directly responsible for those and I would call them murders …Then you have another four million Iraqis who have been displaced from their homes and businesses and their children. There is cholera, there is no water, there is no electricity,” another protester lamented, referring to the dire consequences the Iraqi nation has been suffering after the US-led invasion of the country in 2003.

“There is constant fear and it’s hard to sit still, knowing that we have done this and that we are allowing it to continue,” she added.

The anti-war community says that choosing a new commander-in-chief is not enough and it does not justify thousands of people who have died because of the policies of the Bush administration.

They say the real change comes about when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are indicated over war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Source

International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration


Published in: on November 13, 2008 at 5:49 am  Comments Off on ‘Bush, Cheney guilty of war crimes’  
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Should the US Experts be trusted?

November 12 2008

By Jeremy Gaunt and Alex Richardson

LONDON/SINGAPORE

A number of deals designed to cure the global financial crisis were in danger of unravelling on Wednesday, with losses mounting at banks and economies deteriorating.

The International Monetary Fund withheld official backing for a $6 billion (4 billion pounds) bailout plan for Iceland, the Financial Times reported, putting loans to the North Atlantic island nation at threat.

Some of banking giant Barclays’ biggest shareholders have threatened to vote against a planned 7 billion pound capital raising unless it improves the terms of the deal, British newspapers said.

The latter follows a row over the crisis-driven planned purchase of lender HBOS by Lloyds TSB with leading banking figures arguing a more competitive deal should be sought.

Aides to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, meanwhile, were playing down reports of tension with the Bush administration over help for the stricken car industry.

A feud within Japan’s cabinet over whether rich people should get payouts as part of a stimulus package looked set to be put aside after delaying the plan for weeks.

Questions are also beginning to be asked about just how much help governments can give.

“The U.S.’ financial resources are already stretched and a flood of news demands may overwhelm a government already staring down at a record budget deficit next year,” UBS economists said in a note.

Financial markets were rocked again under the combined pressure of a global economic downturn and the worst financial crisis in 80 years.

European shares rose 1.6 percent after losing more than 4 percent on Tuesday, reflecting the sharp volatility currently infecting investors.

There were more corporate profit warnings with General Motors shares falling on Tuesday to levels not seen since World War Two.

“Whether it’s economic indicators or company news, it’s just too awful,” said Takashi Ushio, head of the investment strategy division at Marusan Securities in Tokyo.

DECLINE AND FALL

The financial industry showed more pain with Dutch group ING posting its first-ever quarterly loss as impairments on stocks and bonds, counterparty losses and property writedowns ate into its income.

ING Group NV had projected the loss in October before agreeing to a 10 billion euros (8.2 billion pounds) cash injection by the Dutch government to shore up its core capital.

Its net loss for the third quarter was 478 million euros, after writedowns totalling 1.5 billion euros. ING posted a profit of 2.3 billion euros a year earlier.

Insurer Swiss Life said third-quarter premium volumes fell 11 percent to 3.075 billion Swiss francs (1.7 billion pounds) and warned it would not meet its full-year net profit guidance.

This came against a background of continuing decline in world economies.

China’s retail sales data on Wednesday pointed to slowing consumption and the World Bank said more countries were seeking its help. The head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Angel Gurria, said there was room for further interest rate cuts in the stagnating euro zone.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said global trade may drop next year for the first time in more than a quarter of a century as the worldwide credit crisis cuts into trade financing.

“It is our estimate that trade could actually fall, not grow more slowly or have growth fall, but actually fall next year, for the first time since 1982,” Zoellick said in an interview with Reuters ahead of a meeting of world leaders.

Zoellick said the bank expected its lending to increase to $35 billion this year from $13.5 billion last year, adding that countries such as Mexico, Indonesia and Colombia were tapping its contingency financing fund amid worries about access to credit.

Investors, meanwhile, were looking to a summit of world leaders in Washington on Saturday for solutions.

President-elect Obama, however, is steering clear of the meeting.

“I think he wants to have a free hand after the inauguration,” Dale said. “If he gets too closely associated with the summit, he might find himself associated with views with which he might not necessarily agree,” said Reginald Dale, a scholar at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

(Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

Source


My rant for the day.

For all the Geniuses in the Financial Field, I really have to wonder if they know anything at all. They pretend to be such experts, but it seems they aren’t such geniuses.

This mess was created in the US, so their experts are not so brilliant. That speaks for itself.

Their advice should be scrutinized very carefully.

We should trust them because???????????? ,

Why so they can drag us into yet another one if their capitalistic nightmares.

Their rhetoric and propaganda is nauseating to say the least.

George Bush and all his so called advisors are not to be trusted.

Free Trade, deregulation, pandering to profiteering Corporations, listening to lobby groups and the cost of war have all played a great part to the demise of the US economy.

The so called experts fail to actually see the problem as a whole.

All countries around the world should be taking care of their people.

America is not the most wonderful place in the world.

They do not have the most intelligent people taking care of them.

They do not take care of their people. They just pretend a lot.

Over the years and observing the ups and downs of America and their leaders the two most intelligent people I have noted to date are Ron Paul and Barack Obama.

One of the notes I have taken on both of them is they actually seem to care about the people. When they speak they actually know what they are talking about.

That is special. Considering some of the slop we have had to listen to over the years.

When Bush or Cheney open their mouths, I want to scream at the stupidity of it all.

Hide under my bed in fear of yet another war.

Their wisdom is not wisdom at all it’s just full blown ignorance.

Their fear mongering and rhetoric should have been stopped years ago.

Instead everyone pandered to their garbage.

They turned America into the most hated nation in the world and with good reasons.

They threaten, course and lie. We are trapped on the planet with them until January 2009.

They should be in jail for crimes against humanity yet they are still allowed to run free and attempt to destroy what is left of the world with their so called expert advice.

Spare me the agony.

The Bush Administration has done little or nothing to improve the lives of the American people. They certainly are very adept at destruction not only of their own people but in destroying the rest of the world, whether is be through war of the financial blundering of this administration.

Their advice is not to be trusted. If they are such experts why is their country where it is today?

Their Health Care leaves a lot to be desired. It is horrible, costly and doesn’t serve the people only the profiteering, insurance companies.

Their wars are destroying millions of lives.

Their financial crisis is destroying the world.

Oh yes they are very cleaver indeed.

Their free trade agreements are more like give the profiteering, Corporations cheap, slave labour, massive profits and if they pollute no big deal. They want to take over the naturel resources of each and every country. They want to steal their water and privatize everything they can get their grubby hands on to the demise of the people in said country as well. Live becomes unaffordable for many and poverty rises as does the cost of living.

Privatization is just profiteering at the expense of people. Free Trade agreements drive farmers out of business as it does other homegrown businesses.

The Corporations move in and take over. This practice has to be addressed by all countries. Those who fight back are called evil among other things.

The American media more times then not jump on the propaganda band wagon.

Ensuring the American people never get the truth.

Universal Health Care is apparently a horrible thing in the US. Just ask any one.

Well the American people have been lied to for years over that one.

Michael Moore has tried to tell the Americans things could be different.

He had the guts to go up against the propaganda machine.

When one takes that one Example and really thinks about it that alone says a lot about the lies Americans have been told.

If America cared one iota about their citizens it would have given them Universal Health care years ago. Instead they were spoon fed propaganda and lies. Their media has played in great part a very large role in this and they of all should be telling the American people truth. That is apparently their job. Apparently they are not doing their job very well. .Instead they pander to the insurance companies. They pander to the Government officials who gets loads of money from insurance companies. How very disappointing it all is.

The Bush administration reminds me of a two year old temper tantrum throwing, brat that should be given a good sound spanking and have their privileges taken away.

If my child behaved in such a manner I would ground them for years.

Should they be trusted? They are like and infectious disease.  Spreading their illness world wide. Much like the plague.

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 8:46 pm  Comments Off on Should the US Experts be trusted?  
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Bush baulks at Obama’s plan to protect jobs

November 12 2008

By Leonard Doyle in Washington

An ideological battle has erupted between George Bush and Barack Obama, with the outgoing President baulking at proposals to prop up General Motors, once the world’s largest car maker, which could go bust by Christmas.

Despite the smiles for the cameras at the White House on Monday, a tense stand-off is flaring between the two. It is testing Mr Obama’s assertion that “we only have one president at a time” and his desire to stay out of Mr Bush’s way in the remaining two and a half months of his presidency. With car sales collapsing in a steadily worsening economy, the President-elect wants to avoid the prospect of tens of thousands of Democrat-voting union workers being thrown out of work just as he starts his term of office.

According to one account of their Oval Office discussions, Mr Obama asked Mr Bush to use some of the billions of dollars in the financial bailout package to prop up the car industry. Economists are already warning that if GM goes broke it could bring down the rest of the economy and tip the world into a much-feared depression.

Mr Bush seems determined to play hardball by refusing the car industry access to any of the $700bn (£450bn) financial rescue package agreed by Congress, say sources quoted by The New York Times and Associated Press. Hand-over meetings between incoming and outgoing presidents are traditionally confidential and Mr Bush was reported to be furious over leaks from the Obama camp, perceived as undermining his remaining days in office.

As Mr Bush sees it, he has one last opportunity to secure a legacy as a champion of free trade, and he reportedly tied the Democrat’s request for billions of taxpayer dollars for the failing car industry to a controversial trade deal with Colombia. The White House denied Mr Bush had suggested a “quid pro quo” but confirmed that he had spoken about the “merits of free trade”.

Mr Obama has already voted to block the Colombia deal in the Senate because of widespread human rights abuses against union workers. He seems ready to call Mr Bush’s bluff, calculating that the outgoing President is so unpopular that he will buckle rather than be accused of driving a stake through the heart of an iconic, century-old American company.

GM has watched helplessly as US consumers stop buying gas-guzzling Cadillacs, Hummers and Chevrolet pick-ups in favour of hybrid and other more fuel-efficient vehicles. With no money coming in, the company has burnt through cash reserves so quickly that its share price yesterday fell below $3 for the first time since 1943 and Wall Street analysts have started to predict that shares in the company could actually be worthless.

Last week, Mr Obama called the car sector “the backbone of American manufacturing”. The three big makers, GM, Ford and Chrysler, have operations across America and if they collapse, it would devastate the economy. The estimates are that three million jobs would be lost, counting the car-workers, their suppliers and even the hot-dog sellers outside the factories.

Even Mr Obama’s generosity towards the car companies has its limits. As part of his energy and environmental plans being drafted with the help of Al Gore, he wants to ensure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely in a way that helps reduce dependence on imported oil and fights climate change. He asked Mr Bush to quickly release $25bn which has already been agreed to help companies retool to make more fuel-efficient cars. Mr Gore is advising that “we should help America’s automotive industry to convert quickly to plug-in hybrids that can run off renewable energy that will be available”.

Car companies have lobbied hard to block higher fuel-efficiency standards which average 17 miles per gallon. The big three say they need immediate unrestricted access to cash just to meet their wage and supplier bills. The Michigan-based Centre for Automotive Research has warned that the price of their failure would reach as much as $156bn in lost taxes and extra costs of health care and unemployment assistance.

Another problem Mr Bush and Mr Obama now face is that the bailed-out financial companies have come back for more money. On top of that, the country’s credit-card industry is grinding to a halt. Even American Express has its hand out for taxpayer money. This week, it joined commercial banks and became eligible for rescue funds. The credit-card giant is in danger of collapse because millions of Americans have failed to repay debts run up to fund consumer-driven lifestyles.

The Bush administration has spent all but $60bn of the first half of the bailout funds and only this week had to cough up more money for the insurance giant, AIG.

Source

Well fuel-efficient vehicles are something GM should be making instead of the gas gulers considering the oil and gas situation on the planet.  Maybe bailing them out might be a consideration if they produced more fuel efficient vehicles. There is not much point in GM continuing on the road to bankruptcy, by producing the gas guzzlers however.

Maybe they should start making Chevettes again. Damb good little cars and fuel efficient as well.

Bush had no problem bailing out the banks. So why is he Balking about GM? I guess GM didn’t bribe him with enough money at election time or something.

No problem bailing out AIG twice.  I am so confused.

Nothing like making something people aren’t going to purchase.

As for Columbia well Human Rights should be considered on all levels, Free Trade included.

Most trade agreements do not benefit the people of a country, benefit usually go to the Corporations who want cheap labour and massive profits.

All trade agreements should protect the people of the country. People are more important.

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 9:39 am  Comments Off on Bush baulks at Obama’s plan to protect jobs  
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Candidates turn tail as Bush legacy leaves Republican brand poisonous

George W Bush
George W Bush

November 2 2008

The spotlight in the US is on the presidential campaign, but it is not the only election taking place there on Tuesday.

Senators in 33 states are fighting for their jobs, and some Republican candidates are doing all they can to distance themselves from their own party.

Like rats fleeing a sinking ship, some are turning their tails on the party that got them elected.

It seems George W Bush’s legacy is proving poisonous. Across the country from Norm Coleman in Minnesota to Senator Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina, once secure Republican seats are looking vulnerable.

It has got so bad, some Republican politicians are aligning themselves with the Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

In a video obtained by an American political website, the wife of one Republican congressional candidate tells supporters their campaign has taken a dramatic turn.

With Bush’s approval rating in freefall and Obama’s lead over John McCain hitting double figures, it is not easy being a Republican. Dino Rossi, the candidate for governor of Washington, removed the word ‘Republican’ next to his name and put the less well known initials ‘GOP’ instead.

So if the politicians themselves do not want anything to do with the Republican brand, why should the voters when it is time to choose their president?

video

Source

A short list of  a few things Bush will be remembered for.

Great management of taxpayers money will not be one of them.
Bush’s Legacy Of Squandering Taxpayer Money

IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION

$142 million wasted on reconstruction projects that were either terminated or canceled. [Special Inspector General for Iraq, 7/28/08]

“Significant” amount of U.S. funds for Iraq funneled to Sunni and Shiite militias. [GAO Comptroller, 3/11/08]

$180 million payed to construction company Bechtel for projects it never finished. [Federal audit, 7/25/07]

$5.1 billion in expenses for Iraq reconstruction charged without documentation. [Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction report, 3/19/07]

$10 billion in spending on Iraq reconstruction was wasteful or poorly tracked. [GAO, 2/15/07]

Halliburton overcharged the government $100 million for one day’s work in 2004. [Project on Government Oversight, 10/8/04]

KATRINA

Millions wasted on four no-bid contracts, including paying $20 million for an unusable camp for evacuees. [Homeland Security Department Inspector General, 9/10/08]

$2.4 billion in contracts doled out by FEMA that guaranteed profits for big companies. [Center for Public Integrity investigation, 6/25/07]

-An estimated $2 billion in fraud and waste — nearly 11 percent of the $19 billion spent by FEMA on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as of mid-June. [New York Times tally, 6/27/06]

“Widespread” waste and mismanagement on millions for Katrina recovery, including at least $3 million for 4,000 beds that were never used. [GAO, 3/16/06]

DEFENSE CONTRACTS

A $50 million Air Force contract awarded to a company with close ties to senior Air Force officers, in a process “fraught with improper influence, irregular procedures, glaring conflicts of interest.” [Project on Government Oversight, 4/18/08]

$1.7 billion in excessive fees and waste paid by the Pentagon to the Interior Department to manage federal lands. [Defense Department and Interior Department Inspectors General audit, 12/25/06]

$1 trillion unaccounted for by the Pentagon, including 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units. [GAO, 5/18/03]

Given Bush’s history of gross fiscal mismanagement — including an unprecedented number of no-bid contracts and Bush’s resistance to closing fraud loopholes or increasing oversight of contracts — why should Americans trust another $700 billion to his care? Paul Krugman writes, “Let’s not be railroaded into accepting an enormously expensive plan that doesn’t seem to address the real problem.”

Source

Well the Bailout went through.  Many countries around the world have been affected by a Bush and company made problem.

He leaves a  Debt of about 11 trillion dollars. My he has done well. Hasn’t he?

That would be the tip of the Bush Legacy Iceburg.

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 6:05 am  Comments Off on Candidates turn tail as Bush legacy leaves Republican brand poisonous  
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Iraq condemns US raid on Syrian village

Amateur video footage of the US raid shows a man standing over a covered body in Sukkariyeh, Syria. The raid was carried out by the CIA

The raid was carried out by the CIA

October 29 2008

By Patrick Cockburn

The Iraqi government has unexpectedly denounced a CIA raid on a compound in a Syrian border village that killed an al-Qa’ida commander who dispatched fighters into Iraq.

“The Iraqi government rejects US aircraft bombarding posts inside Syria,” said an Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, in a surprise rebuke to Washington. “The constitution does not allow Iraq to be used as a staging ground to attack neighbouring countries.”

The raid, the first on Syrian territory by the US since the invasion of Iraq five years ago, highlights the way the US carries out military operations without consulting the Iraqi government. This is humiliating for the Iraqi government and reinforces Iraqi doubts about signing a security pact with the US by the end of the year. The operation on Sunday, in which US helicopters landed 24 special forces troops in Sukkariyeh, five miles inside Syria near the border town of Abu Kamal, was carried out by the CIA according to US officials in Washington. The US soldiers reportedly killed Abu Ghadiyah, the nom de guerre of Badran Turki Hishan al-Mazidih, who had been denounced by the US for facilitating the “flow of terrorists, weapons and money from Syria to al-Qa’ida in Iraq”. His body was flown back to Iraq, officials said.

Syria denied the presence of al-Qa’ida in Sukkariyeh and claimed the dead were local farmers. The Syrian government yesterday ordered the closure of an American school and a US cultural centre in Damascus in retaliation.

Abu Ghadiyah, aided by close family members, had his assets frozen by the US Treasury in February in a directive claiming he was the head of logistics in Syria for al-Qa’ida. The most surprising aspect of the US attack was its timing. Syria has been a conduit for anti-US insurgents since the Sunni Arab uprising against the US occupation started after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

But the Sunni rebellion has largely subsided since 2007 and Syria has become more co-operative in stopping the movement of fighters across the border. The US and Iraqi governments also claim to have succeeded in largely eliminating al-Qa’ida in Iraq in Anbar province, which has a long common border with Syria. Abu Ghadiyah’s smuggling activities would have been less significant than in the past. The CIA-led raid into Syrian territory will deepen suspicions in Syria and Jordan that, so long as the US has a military presence in Iraq, it will be used as a launching pad for operations against them. Iran has already made clear that it is against the Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa), negotiated by Iraq and the US over the past eight months. The decision on signing the agreement has divided the Iraqi government, and the cabinet is looking for amendments. In theory Sofa would increase Iraqi control but its critics claim it would formalise the occupation.

US officials are trying to get the pact signed before the UN mandate for the US occupation runs out at the end of the year. The decision on whether or not to sign Sofa has split the Iraqi politicians. The ministers of defence, interior, foreign affairs and finance are in favour; so too are the Kurdish parties. But the Shia religious parties are dubious or against it. The US raid into Syria is likely only to increase those doubts.

Source

US shows it is ready to take the war across boundaries

October 27 2008

The US commando attack inside Syrian territory appears to amplify an emerging message to countries giving safe passage to terrorists: Take action, or America will.

A Washington military official said special forces conducted the raid in Syria to target the network of al Qaida-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria to help fight in the war in Iraq.

Syria said troops in four helicopters attacked a building and killed eight people, including four children.

“We are taking matters into our own hands,” the official said.

Although the flow of foreign fighters from Syria to Iraq has been declining, Americans have been unable to shut down the network in the area struck because Syria was out of the military’s reach.

The move appears to echo one taken recently in America’s other current war. President Bush in July secretly approved military raids inside anti-terror ally Pakistan, which has been unwilling or unable to stem the flow of militants hiding in Pakistan and waging cross-border raids into Afghanistan.

Helicopter-borne US special forces conducted a raid in September inside Pakistan – the only one known so far following Mr Bush’s order. Islamabad has complained bitterly about the move, which it says killed two dozen people, including civilians.

The US has become frustrated with the use of Pakistan’s north-western tribal areas as a haven for militants nearly seven years since the Taliban was rousted from Afghanistan for harbouring Osama bin Laden.

The weekend’s raid came just days after the commander of US forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an “uncontrolled” gateway for fighters entering Iraq.

Syria called the raid a “serious aggression,” and its foreign ministry summoned the charges d’affaires of the United States and Iraq in protest.

Government newspapers also published scathing criticisms of the raid today. Tishrin splashed its front pages with a headline denouncing it as a “US war crime,” while Al-Baath newspaper described the attack in an editorial as a “stunning, shocking and unprecedented adventure.”

Source

Syrian minister warns US after raid
October 27 2008

A US military raid inside Syria was an act of “criminal and terrorist aggression”, Syria’s foreign minister said today

Speaking at a news conference in London, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem warned of retaliation if Syria’s borders were violated again.

He said Syria “would defend our territories” if there were a repeat of the weekend raid.

The US military said it was targeting the network of al-Qaida-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria to help fight in Iraq. Syria said troops in four helicopters attacked a building and killed eight people, including four children.

“They know full well that we stand against al-Qa’ida,” Mr al-Moallem said. “They know full well we are trying to tighten our border with Iraq.”

He was in London today for talks with the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. The two were supposed to hold a joint press conference but this was cancelled at the last minute.

The Foreign Office said that it had been agreed with the Syrians that it would “not be appropriate” to hold a formal press conference following their talks in London. A spokeswoman said the press conference had been abandoned because both sides had been concerned that it would be dominated by questions about the US raid.

The Foreign Office confirmed that the meeting between Mr Miliband and Walid al-Muallem, the Syrian foreign minister, was still going ahead as planned.

Mr al-Moallem called for a new US administration to “learn from the mistakes of this administration.”

“I hope the American people would elect a president who can bring a good reputation in the world, not like this reputation we are witnessing in this administration,” he said.

Source

Seems George Bush thinks he can do anything he wants to anyone he wants.

This will also backfire on the US as did the attacks on Pakistan. The US does not have the legal right to attack anyone they please. This is yet another illegal act of aggression ,  of the US Government.

Bush is in fact causing more war. He is also Trying to get him and his cohorts immunity from crimes against humanity and those under the Geneva Convention.

Bush Trying to Avoid War Crimes Charges

Violations under the Geneva Convention are a Felony.  So they want to pass a bit of legislation so they can’t be prosecuted. So in essence Bush thinks he can murder, maim, torture, commit acts of Genocide and get away with it.  I firmly believe Bush and those responsible should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and they should not be given any immunity for his crimes. Why should they be above the law when the rest of the people around the world are not?

Bush secret order to send special forces into Pakistan

Pakistani tribal chiefs threaten to join Taliban


Published in: on November 1, 2008 at 5:15 pm  Comments Off on Iraq condemns US raid on Syrian village  
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Senator John McCain’s Record on Troop and Veterans’ Issues


In recent presidential debates, Senator John McCain has said things like, “I know the veterans.  I know them well.  And, I know that they know that I’ll take care of them.”  It was stunning, because nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s something that our friend Charlie Fink even made an issue of in his new video at Lunatics and Liars.

A lot of you have asked VoteVets.org to explain why Senator McCain gets consistently low ratings from veterans groups.   Below is a full list of votes, statements, and positions of Senator McCain’s, which shows that Senator McCain has consistently bailed on troops and veterans.

It’s a very long, but comprehensive list.  I encourage you to take a look and pass it around.  An even more robust list, complete with video, can be found at VetVoice.com, as well.

Sincerely,

Brandon Friedman
Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran
Vice Chairman, VoteVets.org

Senator John McCain’s Record on Troop and Veterans’ Issues

· Veterans Groups Give McCain Failing Grades. In its most recent legislative ratings, the non-partisan Disabled American Veterans gave Sen. McCain a 20 percent rating for his voting record on veterans’ issues.  Similarly, the non-partisan Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a “D” grade for his poor voting record on veterans’ issues, including McCain’s votes against additional body armor for troops in combat and additional funding for PTSD and TBI screening and treatment.

· McCain Voted Against Increased Funding for Veterans’ Health Care. Although McCain told voters at a campaign rally that improving veterans’ health care was his top domestic priority, he voted against increasing funding for veterans’ health care in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. (Greenville News, 12/12/2007; S.Amdt. 2745 to S.C.R. 95, Vote 40, 3/10/04; Senate S.C.R. 18, Vote 55, 3/16/05; S.Amdt. 3007 to S.C.R. 83, Vote 41, 3/14/06; H.R. 1591, Vote 126, 3/29/07)

· McCain Voted At Least 28 Times Against Veterans’ Benefits, Including Healthcare. Since arriving in the U.S. Senate in 1987, McCain has voted at least 28 times against ensuring important benefits for America’s veterans, including providing adequate healthcare. (2006 Senate Vote #7, 41, 63, 67, 98, 222; 2005 Senate Votes #55, 89, 90, 251, 343; 2004 Senate Votes #40, 48, 145; 2003 Senate Votes #74, 81, 83; 1999 Senate Vote #328; 1998 Senate Vote #175; 1997 Senate Vote #168; 1996 Senate Votes #115, 275; 1995 Senate Votes #76, 226, 466; 1994 Senate Vote #306; 1992 Senate Vote #194; 1991 Senate Vote #259)

· McCain Voted Against Providing Automatic Cost-of-Living Adjustments to Veterans. McCain voted against providing automatic annual cost-of-living adjustments for certain veterans’ benefits. (S. 869, Vote 259, 11/20/91)

· McCain Voted to Underfund Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain voted for an appropriations bill that underfunded the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development by $8.9 billion. (H.R. 2099, Vote 470, 9/27/95)

· McCain Voted Against a $13 Billion Increase in Funding for Veterans Programs. McCain voted against an amendment to increase spending on veterans programs by $13 billion. (S.C.R. 57, Vote 115, 5/16/96)

· McCain Voted Against $44.3 Billion for Veterans Programs. McCain was one of five senators to vote against a bill providing $44.3 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, plus funding for other federal agencies. (H.R. 2684, Vote 328, 10/15/99)

· McCain Voted Against $47 Billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain was one of eight senators to vote against a bill that provided $47 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. (H.R. 4635, Vote 272, 10/12/00)

· McCain Voted Against $51 Billion in Veterans Funding. McCain was one of five senators to vote against the bill and seven to vote against the conference report that provided $51.1 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as funding for the federal housing, environmental and emergency management agencies and NASA. (H.R. 2620, Vote 334, 11/8/01; Vote 269, 8/2/01)

· McCain Voted Against $122.7 Billion for Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain voted against an appropriations bill that included $122.7 billion in fiscal 2004 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and other related agencies. (H.R. 2861, Vote 449, 11/12/03)

· McCain Opposed $500 Million for Counseling Services for Veterans with Mental Disorders. McCain voted against an amendment to appropriate $500 million annually from 2006-2010 for counseling, mental health and rehabilitation services for veterans diagnosed with mental illness, posttraumatic stress disorder or substance abuse. (S. 2020, S.Amdt. 2634, Vote 343, 11/17/05)

· McCain opposed an Assured Funding Stream for Veterans’ Health Care. McCain opposed providing an assured funding stream for veterans’ health care, taking into account annual changes in veterans’ population and inflation. (S.Amdt. 3141 to S.C.R. 83, Vote 63, 3/16/06)

· McCain Voted Against Adding More Than $400 Million for Veterans’ Care. McCain was one of 13 Republicans to vote against providing an additional $430 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs for outpatient care and treatment for veterans. (S.Amdt. 3642 to H.R. 4939, Vote 98, 4/26/06)

· McCain Supported Outsourcing VA Jobs. McCain opposed an amendment that would have prevented the Department of Veterans Affairs from outsourcing jobs, many held by blue-collar veterans, without first giving the workers a chance to compete. (S.Amdt. 2673 to H.R. 2642, Vote 315, 9/6/07)

· McCain Opposed the 21st Century GI Bill Because It Was Too Generous. McCain did not vote on the GI Bill that will provide better educational opportunities to veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, paying full tuition at in-state schools and living expenses for those who have served at least three years since the 9/11 attacks. McCain said he opposes the bill because he thinks the generous benefits would “encourage more people to leave the military.” (S.Amdt. 4803 to H.R. 2642, Vote 137, 5/22/08; Chattanooga Times Free Press, 6/2/08; Boston Globe, 5/23/08; ABCNews.com, 5/26/08)

· Disabled American Veterans Legislative Director Said That McCain’s Proposal Would Increase Costs For Veterans Because His Plan Relies On Private Hospitals Which Are More Expensive and Which Could Also Lead To Further Rationing Of Care. “To help veterans who live far from VA hospitals or need specialized care the VA can’t provide, McCain proposed giving low-income veterans and those who incurred injury during their service a card they could use at private hospitals. The proposal is not an attempt to privatize the VA, as critics have alleged, but rather, an effort to improve care and access to it, he said. Joe Violanti, legislative director of the Disabled American Veterans, a nonpartisan organization, said the proposal would increase costs because private hospitals are more expensive. The increased cost could lead to further rationing of care, he said.” (Las Vegas Sun, 8/10/08)

Lack of Support for the Troops

· McCain co-sponsored the Use of Force Authorization. McCain supported the bill that gave President George W. Bush the green light–and a blank check–for going to war with Iraq. (SJ Res 46, 10/3/02)

· McCain Opposed Increasing Spending on TRICARE and Giving Greater Access to National Guard and Reservists. Although his campaign website devotes a large section to veterans issues, including expanding benefits for reservists and members of the National Guard, McCain voted against increasing spending on the TRICARE program by $20.3 billion over 10 years to give members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families greater access to the health care program. The increase would be offset by a reduction in tax cuts for the wealthy. (S.Amdt. 324 to S.C.R. 23, Vote 81, 3/25/03)

· McCain voted against holding Bush accountable for his actions in the war. McCain opposed the creation of an independent commission to investigate the development and use of intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq. (S.Amdt. 1275 to H.R. 2658, Vote 284, 7/16/03)

· McCain voted Against Establishing a $1 Billion Trust Fund for Military Health Facilities. McCain voted against establishing a $1 billion trust fund to improve military health facilities by refusing to repeal tax cuts for those making more than $1 million a year. (S.Amdt. 2735 to S.Amdt. 2707 to H.R. 4297, Vote 7, 2/2/06)

· Senator McCain opposed efforts to end the overextension of the military–a policy that is having a devastating impact on our troops. McCain voted against requiring mandatory minimum downtime between tours of duty for troops serving in Iraq. (S.Amdt.. 2909 to S.Amdt. 2011 to HR 1585, Vote 341, 9/19/07; S.Amdt. 2012 to S.Amdt. 2011 to HR 1585, Vote 241, 7/11/07)

· McCain announced his willingness to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for decades–a statement sure to inflame Iraqis and endanger American troops. McCain: “Make it a hundred” years in Iraq and “that would be fine with me.” (Derry, New Hampshire Town Hall meeting, 1/3/08)

· McCain voted against a ban on waterboarding–a form of torture–in a move that could eventually endanger American troops. According to ThinkProgress, “the Senate brought the Intelligence Authorization Bill to the floor, which contained a provision from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) establishing one interrogation standard across the government. The bill requires the intelligence community to abide by the same standards as articulated in the Army Field Manual and bans waterboarding.”  McCain voted against the bill.  (H.R. 2082, Vote 22, 2/13/08)

· McCain Also Supported Outsourcing at Walter Reed. McCain opposed an amendment to prevent the outsourcing of 350 federal employee jobs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center–outsourcing that contributed to the scandalous treatment of veterans at Walter Reed that McCain called a “disgrace.” (S.Amdt. 4895 to H.R. 5631, Vote 234, 9/6/06; Speech to VFW in Kansas City, Mo., 4/4/08)

· Senator McCain has consistently opposed any plan to withdraw troops from Iraq–a policy that has directly weakened American efforts in Afghanistan. Senator McCain repeatedly voted against a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. (S.Amdt. 3876 to S.Amdt. 3874 to H.R. 2764, Vote #438, 12/18/07; S.Amdt. 3875 to S.Amdt. 3874 to H.R. 2764, Vote #437, 12/18/07; S.Amdt.3164 to H.R. 3222, Vote #362, 10/3/07; S.Amdt. 2898 to S. Amdt. 2011 to H.R. 1585, Vote #346, 9/21/07; S. Amdt. 2924 to S.Amdt. 2011 to H.R.1585, Vote #345, 9/21/07; S.Amdt.2 087 to S.Amdt. 2011 to H.R. 1585, Vote #252, 7/18/07; S.Amdt. 643 to H.R. 1591, Vote #116, 3/27/07; S.Amdt. 4320 to S. 2766, Vote #182, 6/22/06; S.Amdt. 4442 to S. 2766, Vote #181, 6/22/06; S.Amdt. 2519 to S.1042, Vote #322, 11/15/05)

· McCain said it’s “not too important” when U.S. troops leave Iraq. This exchange occurred on NBC’s Today Show with Matt Lauer:

LAUER: If it’s working, senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?
McCAIN: No, but that’s not too important.

(NBC, Today Show, 6/11/08)

Cheerleading for War with Iraq–While Afghanistan was Unfinished

· McCain suggested that the war in Iraq could be won with a “smaller” force. “But the fact is I think we could go in with much smaller numbers than we had to do in the past. But I don’t believe it’s going to be nearly the size and scope that it was in 1991.” (CBS News, Face the Nation, 9/15/02)

· McCain said winning the war would be “easy.” “I know that as successful as I believe we will be, and I believe that the success will be fairly easy, we will still lose some American young men or women.” (CNN, 9/24/02)

· McCain also said the actual fighting in Iraq would be easy. “We’re not going to get into house-to-house fighting in Baghdad.  We may have to take out buildings, but we’re not going to have a bloodletting of trading American bodies for Iraqi bodies.” (CNN, 9/29/02)

· Continuing his pattern, McCain also said on MSNBC that we would win the war in Iraq “easily.” “But the point is that, one, we will win this conflict. We will win it easily.” (MSNBC, 1/22/03)

· McCain argued Saddam was “a threat of the first order.” Senator McCain said that a policy of containing Iraq to blunt its weapons of mass destruction program is “unsustainable, ineffective, unworkable and dangerous.” McCain: “I believe Iraq is a threat of the first order, and only a change of regime will make Iraq a state that does not threaten us and others, and where liberated people assume the rights and responsibilities of freedom.” (Speech to the Center for Strategic & International Studies, 2/13/03)

· McCain echoed Bush and Cheney’s rationale for going to war. McCain: “We’re going to win this victory. Tragically, we will lose American lives. But it will be brief.  We’re going to find massive evidence of weapons of mass destruction . . . It’s going to send the message throughout the Middle East that democracy can take hold in the Middle East.” (Fox News, Hannity & Colmes, 2/21/03)

· “But I believe, Katie, that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.” (NBC, 3/20/03)

· March 2003: “I believe that this conflict is still going to be relatively short.” (NBC, Meet the Press, 3/30/03)

· McCain echoed Bush and Cheney’s talking points that the U.S. would only be in Iraq for a short time. McCain: “It’s clear that the end is very much in sight . . . It won’t be long . . . it’ll be a fairly short period of time.” (ABC, 4/9/03)

Staunch Defense of the Iraq Invasion

· McCain maintained that the war was a good idea and that George W. Bush deserved “admiration.” At the 2004 Republican National Convention, McCain, focusing on the war in Iraq, said that while weapons of mass destruction were not found, Saddam once had them and “he would have acquired them again.” McCain said the mission in Iraq “gave hope to people long oppressed” and it was “necessary, achievable and noble.” McCain: “For his determination to undertake it, and for his unflagging resolve to see it through to a just end, President Bush deserves not only our support, but our admiration.” (Speech, Republican National Convention, 8/31/04)

· Senator McCain: “The war, the invasion was not a mistake. (Meet the Press, 1/6/08)

· McCain said the war in Iraq was “worth” it. Asked if the war was a good idea worth the price in blood and treasure, McCain: “It was worth getting rid of Saddam Hussein. He had used weapons of mass destruction, and it’s clear that he was hell-bent on acquiring them.” (Republican Debate, 1/24/08)

Dangerous Lack of Foreign Policy Knowledge

· When questioned about Osama bin Laden after the 1998 U.S. missile strikes in Afghanistan, McCain surmised that the terrorist leader wasn’t as “bad” as “depicted.” “You could say, Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that’s depicted?  Most of us have never heard of him before.” (Interview with Mother Jones magazine, 11/1998)

· McCain was unaware of previous Sunni-Shia violence before the Iraq War. “There’s not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shias. So I think they can probably get along.” (MSNBC, Hardball, 4/23/03)

· McCain said our military could just “muddle through” in Afghanistan. While giving a speech, McCain was asked about Afghanistan and replied, “I am concerned about it, but I’m not as concerned as I am about Iraq today, obviously, or I’d be talking about Afghanistan.  But I believe that if Karzai can make the progress that he is making, that in the long term, we may muddle through in Afghanistan.” (Speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, 11/5/03)

· McCain stated that Sunni al Qaeda was “supported” by the Shia Iranians. (2/2008)

· McCain again confused Sunni Muslim al Qaeda operatives with Shi’a Muslim insurgents. The Washington Post reported of McCain: “He said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq.

“Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives ‘taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.’

“Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was ‘common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.’” (Press conference, Amman, Jordan, 3/18/2008)

· Yet again, McCain demonstrated that he didn’t know whether al Qaeda was a Sunni or Shiite organization. While questioning General David Petraeus during a Senate hearing, the following exchange occurred:

MCCAIN: Do you still view al Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?
PETRAEUS: It is still a major threat, though it is certainly not as major a threat as it was say 15 months ago.
MCCAIN: Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shi’ites overall?
PETREAUS: No.
MCCAIN: Or Sunnis or anybody else.

(Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 4/8/08)

· McCain incorrectly thought General David Petraeus was in charge of Afghanistan. The Army Times reported: “Speaking Monday at the annual meeting of the Associated Press, McCain was asked whether he, if elected, would shift combat troops from Iraq to Afghanistan to intensify the search for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

‘I would not do that unless Gen. (David) Petraeus said that he felt that the situation called for that,’ McCain said, referring to the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

“Petraeus, however, made clear last week that he has nothing to do with the decision. Testifying last week before four congressional committees, including the Senate Armed Services Committee on which McCain is the ranking Republican, Petraeus said the decision about whether troops could be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan was not his responsibility because his portfolio is limited to the multi-national force in Iraq.” (Annual meeting of the Associated Press, 4/14/08)

· McCain credited the “surge” for the “Anbar Awakening”–even though the Anbar Awakening preceded the surge by nearly a year. (7/22/08)

· John McCain has also recently demonstrated either serious knowledge gaps in terms of foreign policy, or mounting confusion, when discussing an array of other countries:

Spain: McCain refused to commit to meeting with the president of Spain, a NATO ally, after becoming confused about America’s relationship with Spain, its leader, and, possibly, exactly where Spain is located. (9/17/08)


Czech Republic and Slovakia: McCain referred to the two countries using the name “Czechoslovakia” several times–despite the fact that Czechoslakia split apart and hasn’t existed since 1993. (
7/15/08; (7/14/08))


Venezuela: McCain said that Venezuela was a Middle Eastern country. (
9/30/08)

This man it seems would not protect our men and women who risk their lives every day.

Know who your voting for.  I would never vote for this man. I love my troops too much to leave them in his hands. The majority of the money in 612 billion budget for defense goes to contractors etc. The majority goes to the profiteers of war and there are many.

Not for the troops or the veterans. Very little actually is used to take care of them.

One can decide what they will but, always consider the running record of any candidate.

McCain’s record in this area is rather bleak. One would think of all the people, he would understand, the needs of these ones the most. But he doesn’t.

If he can’t fathom the needs of troops and veterans, I am afraid he would never be able to lead the American people into a new and brighter future. But that’s just my opinion.

Would you want the lives of you children, brothers, sisters, uncle, aunts, families or friends left in his hands?

That is the ultimate question we all have to ask ourselves.

Anyone who has had an adversarial relationship with John McCain will tell you that there are few with less self-control than the senator from Arizona. Many have questioned his ability to maintain a clear head in a time of crisis. For those of us who have seen these sparks of insanity from McCain, we know all too well that what lies beneath is something dark, ominous and certainly not presidential. John McCain makes reference to his service to our great nation by almost daily reminding us of his five and a half year captivity in the Hanoi Hilton. Yet few have been able to look beyond McCain, the POW, to examine his political record, as if it were taboo somehow to be critical of a former prisoner of war. But what about this former prisoner of war and his criticism of the very same people who fought to bring him home from the dark dank cell he likes to remind us about so much? – The POW/MIA Families of those less fortunate than McCain, those who still have yet to be returned to the soil they gave their lives for.

Since his return from Hanoi, McCain has …

~Ignored pleas of POW/MIA Family Members for his political influence in the overall POW/MIA Issue as well as with their individual cases

~Verbally abused POW/MIA Family Members in public and private

~Attempted to negatively influence those who testified before the 1992 Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs

~Diminished legislation that gave oversight and protection to the families

~Dismantled protection to any future servicemen that go missing.

Source

Published in: on October 17, 2008 at 12:46 pm  Comments Off on Senator John McCain’s Record on Troop and Veterans’ Issues  
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Who Cares about Omar Khadr ?


By Debbie Menon

October 16, 2008

Omar Khadr is probably the greatest shame on Canada, because two governments, the Liberals under Paul Martin and the Conservatives under Harper have both made the overt decision to leave him in prison. The case against him is insane.

He was a child, aged 15. He was in Afghanistan because his parents took him there. His father and mother are militant Muslims. He was in a building that US commandos suddenly attacked. When people in the building shot back, they bombed the building and blew it to bits. Then they approached the building, and a US soldier got killed by a hand grenade thrown from the ruins of the building. When they entered the ruins Omar was still alive, but, others were too. In a revised report, they made him the only one left alive. He has been charged with murder. He was shot at close range by bullets (plural).

The case is insane for several reasons:

1) He is a child soldier, which means he is a victim of war not a war criminal.

2) Evidence was changed to make him the only person by inference who might have thrown a hand grenade.There is no witness that he did.

3) Soldiers killed while attacking a house in a foreign country cannot be victims of murder. They are casualties of war.

4) People in a house being attacked by foreigners are engaged in self-defense.

The US has made a category that a person is not a soldier and is not a civilian: unlawful enemy combatant. So laws of war and POW treatment do not apply and criminal laws also do not apply.

He has been tortured in Afghanistan and in Guantanamo.

There is not much evidence against him and there is lack of jurisdiction in US Law related to “child soldiers”. The only reason he is still in Guantanamo Bay is because the government is afraid they have turned him into a radical. He is young and can be rehabilitated. Everyone, even the Canadian officials who came to console him, have done nothing and he continues to be persecuted.

I received a plea from a woman Zainab Ali asking: “Who cares for this boy?”

http://cageprisoners.com/articles.php?id=25526

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQHFFbD_-Pg

http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/khadr/omar-khadr.html

http://www.thestar.com/News/World/article/346020

http://www.thestar.com/article/512286

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/11128331/follow_omar_khadr_from_an_al_qaeda_childhood_to_a_gitmo_cell

It is not that no one cares…Zainab cares… I care… Moazzem Begg cares… there are probably others, even his captors, who may care.

The problem is, none of us who care are in any position or hold any power to do anything for him. We are not even voters in America and do not even have the stilled voice of constituency, or a representative to write to, which would be futile anyway.

The editors we know are not going to be interested because this is not the kind of news which sells time and space in their media.

And, no one else is paid to care!

To even publish this kind of stuff more than once will get an editor the name of a “bleeding heart sympathizer with terrorists” and risk loss of readership, which his corporate bosses who need the sales numbers in order to sell space and time would not appreciate!

Yes, if they released him they would either have a new and dedicated enemy warrior on their hands, or a “Poster Boy” to inspire and recruit many more.
It is more than likely that they simply consider that they have a problem, and the longer they have kept him the more difficult it has become to release him. Think of the “Missing in Action POWs” whom John McCain and his Government left behind in Vietnam. The longer they denied their existence, the harder it became to bring them back in from the cold and, eventually, they had to write them off because it would have been too embarrassing to save them. This is what is happening in Gitmo.

The kid has no chance. Unless some Colonel, General, or someone with sufficient authority, if even for a moment, should step in, risk his neck, and sign a paper which gets the boy free long enough for him to make it back home to cover. This is extremely unlikely!

There must be some reason why this lad did not die from his wounds. A shotgun blast to the back with sufficient force to exit the chest is a pretty fatal event. Perhaps the Power which kept him alive this long will reveal

His purpose in time. Yeah, I know that is even more rhetorical crap, but then, that is my stock in trade!

Wars produce even worse things and casualties. He is one of them.

The  current dead, maimed, and homeless count this morning, in Iraq

Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered Since The U.S. Invaded Iraq “1,273,378”
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq/iraqdeaths.html

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America’s War On Iraq 4,185
http://icasualties.org/oif/

The War And Occupation Of Iraq Costs
$563,004,340,867

See the cost in your community
http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182

1,273,378 Who cares about them? How many American youths have they sent to be killed? 4,180 Who cares about them? It has been 7 years and counting.

Do not expect the Americans to care. Very little, I can assure you!

Prayer may help…I’m not sure.

Source

This young man should be removed from US custody immediately. This should have never happened to him or any other child for that matter.

I am also thinking of the million plus people who are now dead because of the Bush Administration lies and propaganda. I am also thinking of the soldiers who also died because of Bush and his lies.

So why is Bush and his cronies, who manufactured the lies and deceit not being punished for murder, genocide, war crimes, fraud, etc etc etc?  I have to ask?

Harper hasn’t done enough to have this young man removed from US custody.

Canadians have been trying to get his attention. He isn’t listening however. Many have been trying from day one. What Bush Administration is doing to this young man, is illegal.

CIA Torture Tactics Endorsed in Secret Memos


Waterboarding got nod from White House

By Joby Warrick

The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency’s use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects — documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public.

The classified memos, which have not been previously disclosed, were requested by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet more than a year after the start of the secret interrogations, according to four administration and intelligence officials familiar with the documents. Although Justice Department lawyers, beginning in 2002, had signed off on the agency’s interrogation methods, senior CIA officials were troubled that White House policymakers had never endorsed the program in writing.

The memos were the first — and, for years, the only — tangible expressions of the administration’s consent for the CIA’s use of harsh measures to extract information from captured al-Qaeda leaders, the sources said. As early as the spring of 2002, several White House officials, including then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney, were given individual briefings by Tenet and his deputies, the officials said. Rice, in a statement to congressional investigators last month, confirmed the briefings and acknowledged that the CIA director had pressed the White House for “policy approval.”

Worried about lack of paper trail
The repeated requests for a paper trail reflected growing worries within the CIA that the administration might later distance itself from key decisions about the handling of captured al-Qaeda leaders, former intelligence officials said. The concerns grew more pronounced after the revelations of mistreatment of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and further still as tensions grew between the administration and its intelligence advisers over the conduct of the Iraq war.

“It came up in the daily meetings. We heard it from our field officers,” said a former senior intelligence official familiar with the events. “We were already worried that we” were going to be blamed.

A. John Radsan, a lawyer in the CIA general counsel’s office until 2004, remembered the discussions but did not personally view the memos the agency received in response to its concerns. “The question was whether we had enough ‘top cover,’ ” Radsan said.

Tenet first pressed the White House for written approval in June 2003, during a meeting with members of the National Security Council, including Rice, the officials said. Days later, he got what he wanted: a brief memo conveying the administration’s approval for the CIA’s interrogation methods, the officials said.

Administration officials confirmed the existence of the memos, but neither they nor former intelligence officers would describe their contents in detail because they remain classified. The sources all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to discuss the events.

The second request from Tenet, in June 2004, reflected growing worries among agency officials who had just witnessed the public outcry over the Abu Ghraib scandal. Officials who held senior posts at the time also spoke of deteriorating relations between the CIA and the White House over the war in Iraq — a rift that prompted some to believe that the agency needed even more explicit proof of the administration’s support.

“The CIA by this time is using the word ‘insurgency’ to describe the Iraq conflict, so the White House is viewing the agency with suspicion,” said a second former senior intelligence official.

As recently as last month, the administration had never publicly acknowledged that its policymakers knew about the specific techniques, such as waterboarding, that the agency used against high-ranking terrorism suspects. In her unprecedented account to lawmakers last month, Rice, now secretary of state, portrayed the White House as initially uneasy about a controversial CIA plan for interrogating top al-Qaeda suspects.

After learning about waterboarding and similar tactics in early 2002, several White House officials questioned whether such harsh measures were “effective and necessary . . . and lawful,” Rice said. Her concerns led to an investigation by the Justice Department’s criminal division into whether the techniques were legal.

Misgivings apparently overcome
But whatever misgivings existed that spring were apparently overcome. Former and current CIA officials say no such reservations were voiced in their presence.

In interviews, the officials recounted a series of private briefings about the program with members of the administration’s security team, including Rice and Cheney, followed by more formal meetings before a larger group including then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. None of the officials recalled President Bush being present at any of the discussions.

Several of the key meetings have been previously described in news articles and books, but Rice last month became the first Cabinet-level official to publicly confirm the White House’s awareness of the program in its earliest phases. In written responses to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee, Rice said Tenet’s description of the agency’s interrogation methods prompted her to investigate further to see whether the program violated U.S. laws or international treaties, according to her written responses, dated Sept. 12 and released late last month.

“I asked that . . . Ashcroft personally advise the NSC principles whether the program was lawful,” Rice wrote.

‘CIA had the White House boxed in’
Current and former intelligence officials familiar with the briefings described Tenet as supportive of enhanced interrogation techniques, which the officials said were developed by CIA officers after the agency’s first high-level captive, al-Qaeda operative Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, better known as Abu Zubaida, refused to cooperate with interrogators.

“The CIA believed then, and now, that the program was useful and helped save lives,” said a former senior intelligence official knowledgeable about the events. “But in the agency’s view, it was like this: ‘We don’t want to continue unless you tell us in writing that it’s not only legal but is the policy of the administration.’ “

One administration official familiar with the meetings said the CIA made such a convincing case that no one questioned whether the methods were necessary to prevent further terrorist attacks.

“The CIA had the White House boxed in,” said the official. “They were saying, ‘It’s the only way to get the information we needed, and — by the way — we think there’s another attack coming up.’ It left the principals in an extremely difficult position and put the decision-making on a very fast track.”

But others who were present said Tenet seemed more interested in protecting his subordinates than in selling the administration on a policy that administration lawyers had already authorized.

“The suggestion that someone from CIA came in and browbeat everybody is ridiculous,” said one former agency official familiar with the meeting. “The CIA understood that it was controversial and would be widely criticized if it became public,” the official said of the interrogation program. “But given the tenor of the times and the belief that more attacks were coming, they felt they had to do what they could to stop the attack.”

Anxiety
The CIA’s anxiety was partly fueled by the lack of explicit presidential authorization for the interrogation program. A secret White House “memorandum of notification” signed by Bush on Sept. 15, 2001, gave the agency broad authority to wage war against al-Qaeda, including killing and capturing its members. But it did not spell out how captives should be handled during interrogation.

But by the time the CIA requested written approval of its policy, in June 2003, the population of its secret prisons had grown from one to nine, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged principal architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Three of the detainees had been subjected to waterboarding, which involves strapping a prisoner to a board, covering his face and pouring water over his nose and mouth to simulate drowning.

By the spring of 2004, the concerns among agency officials had multiplied, in part because of shifting views among administration lawyers about what acts might constitute torture, leading Tenet to ask a second time for written confirmation from the White House. This time the reaction was far more reserved, recalled two former intelligence officials.

“The Justice Department in particular was resistant,” said one former intelligence official who participated in the discussions. “They said it doesn’t need to be in writing.”

Tenet and his deputies made their case in yet another briefing before the White House national security team in June 2004. It was to be one of the last such meetings for Tenet, who had already announced plans to step down as CIA director. Author Jane Mayer, who described the briefing in her recent book, “The Dark Side,” said the graphic accounts of interrogation appeared to make some participants uncomfortable. “History will not judge us kindly,” Mayer quoted Ashcroft as saying.

Participants in the meeting did not recall whether a vote was taken. Several weeks passed, and Tenet left the agency without receiving a formal response.

Finally, in mid-July, a memo was forwarded to the CIA reaffirming the administration’s backing for the interrogation program. Tenet had acquired the statement of support he sought.

Source

This was also Done.

Maher Arar is a 34-year-old wireless technology consultant. He was born in Syria and came to Canada with his family at the age of 17. He became a Canadian citizen in 1991. On Sept. 26, 2002, while in transit in New York’s JFK airport when returning home from a vacation, Arar was detained by US officials and interrogated about alleged links to al-Qaeda. Twelve days later, he was chained, shackled and flown to Syria, where he was held in a tiny “grave-like” cell for ten months and ten days before he was moved to a better cell in a different prison. In Syria, he was beaten, tortured and forced to make a false confession.

During his imprisonment, Arar’s wife, Monia Mazigh, campaigned relentlessly on his behalf until he was returned to Canada in October 2003. On Jan. 28, 2004, under pressure from Canadian human rights organizations and a growing number of citizens, the Government of Canada announced a Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar.

On September 18, 2006, the Commissioner of the Inquiry, Justice Dennis O’Connor, cleared Arar of all terrorism allegations, stating he was “able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada.” To read the Commissioner’s report, including his findings on the actions of Canadian officials, please visit the Arar Commission’s website or click here.

You can read the chronolgy of events that led to Maher’s arrest, deportation and return in pdf format here.
You can read Maher’s statement during the press conference held on November 4, 2003 in pdf format here.
You can watch a short video about what happened to Maher here.

What happened to Maher Arar was horrifying.

Bush said repeatedly they didn’t torture people.  They also new where to send someone to, to get the torturing done for them as well.  Of course we now, know the Bush administration did torture people.

Bush lied. If he lied about that. One has to wonder what else he lied about?

There is a bit of a list at the bottom.


Steering Committee To Seek Prosecution of Bush For War Crimes

October 14 2008

Massachusetts law school Dean Lawrence Velvel will chair a Steering Committee to pursue the prosecution for war crimes of President Bush and culpable high-ranking aides after they leave office Jan. 20th.

The Steering Committee was organized following a conference of leading legal authorities and scholars from the U.S. and abroad convened by Velvel on Sept. 13-14 in Andover, Mass., titled “The Justice Robert Jackson Conference On Planning For The Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals.”

“If Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and others are not prosecuted,” Velvel said, “the future could be threatened by additional examples of Executive lawlessness by leaders who need fear no personal consequences for their actions, including more illegal wars such as Iraq.”

Besides Velvel, members of the Steering Committee include:

Ben Davis, a law Professor at the University of Toledo College of Law, where he teaches Public International Law and International Business Transactions. He is the author of numerous articles on international and related domestic law.

Marjorie Cohn, a law Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Calif., and President of the National Lawyers Guild.

Chris Pyle, a Professor at Mount Holyoke College, where he teaches Constitutional law, Civil Liberties, Rights of Privacy, American Politics and American Political Thought, and is the author of many books and articles.

Elaine Scarry, the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University, and winner of the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism.

Peter Weiss, vice president of the Center For Constitutional Rights, of New York City, which was recently involved with war crimes complaints filed in Germany and Japan against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others.

David Swanson, author, activist and founder of AfterDowningStreet.org/CensureBush.org coalition, of Charlottesville, Va.

Kristina Borjesson, an award-winning print and broadcast journalist for more than twenty years and editor of two recent books on the media.

Colleen Costello, Staff Attorney of Human Rights, USA, of Washington, D.C., and coordinator of its efforts involving torture by the American government.

Valeria Gheorghiu, attorney for Workers’ Rights Law Center.

Andy Worthington of Redress, a British historian and journalist and author of books dealing with human rights violations.

Initial actions considered by the Steering Committee, Velvel said, are as follows:

# Seeking prosecutions of high level officials, including George Bush, for the crimes they committed.

# Seeking disbarment of lawyers who were complicitous in facilitating torture.

# Seeking termination from faculty positions of high officials who were complicitous in torture.

# Issuing a recent statement saying any attempt by Bush to pardon himself and aides for war crimes prior to leaving office will result in efforts to obtain impeachment even after they leave office.

# Convening a major conference on the state secret and executive privilege doctrines, which have been pushed to record levels during the Bush administration.

# Designation of an Information Repository Coordinator to gather in one place all available information involving the Bush Administration’s war crimes.

# Possible impeachment of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee for co-authoring the infamous “torture memo.”

Source

List of a few Lies:

1. Bush: “We went into Russia, we said, ‘Here’s some IMF money,’ and it ended up in Viktor Chernomyrdin’s pocket and others.”

Fact: “Bush appears to have tangled up whispers about possible wrongdoing by Chernomyrdin — who co-chaired a commission with Gore on U.S.-Russian relations — with other unrelated allegations concerning the diversion of International Monetary Fund money. While there has been speculation that Chernomyrdin profited from his relationship with Gazprom, a big Russian energy concern, there have been no allegations that he stole IMF money.” Washingon Post, 10/12/00

2. Bush: “We got one [a hate crime law] in Texas, and guess what? The three men who murdered James Byrd, guess what’s going to happen to them? They’re going to be put to death … It’s going to be hard to punish them any worse after they get put to death….We’re happy with our laws on our books.”

Fact: “The three were convicted under Texas’ capital murder statute…The state has a hate crime statute, but it is vague.” LA Times, 10/12/00.
“The original Texas hate-crimes bill, signed into law by Democrat Ann Richards, boosted penalties for crimes motivated by bigotry. As Gore correctly noted, Bush maneuvered to make sure a new hate-crimes law related to the Byrd killing did not make it to his desk. The new bill would have included homosexuals among the groups covered, which would have been anathema to social conservatives in the state.” Washington Post, 10/12/00

3. Bush: bragged that in Texas he was signing up children for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as “fast as any other state.”

Fact: “As governor he fought to unsuccessfully to limit access to the program. He would have limited its coverage to children with family incomes up to 150 percent of the poverty level, though federal law permitted up to 200 percent. The practical effect of Bush’s efforts would have been to exclude 200,000 of the 500,000 possible enrollees.” Washington Post, 10/12/00

4. Bush: “He [Gore] is for registration of guns.”

Fact: “Gore actually favors licensing for new handgun purchasers but nothing as vast as registering all guns.” Salon, 10/12/00

5. Bush: Said he found Gore’s tendency to exaggerate “an issue in trying to defend my tax relief package. There was some exaggeration about the numbers” in the first debate.

Fact: “No, there wasn’t, and Bush himself acknowledged that the next day on ABC’s Good Morning America when Charlie Gibson pinned him on it.” Salon, 10/12/00

6. Bush: “I felt during his debate with Senator [Bill] Bradley saying he [Gore] authored the EITC [earned-income tax credit] when it didn’t happen.”

Fact: “Actually, Gore had claimed to have authored an ‘expansion of the earned-income tax credit,’ which he did in 1991.” Salon, 10/12/00

7. Fact: Gore noted that Texas “ranks 49th out of the 50 states in healthcare in children with healthcare, 49th for women with healthcare and 50th for families with healthcare”

Bush: “You can quote all the numbers you want but I’m telling you we care about our people in Texas. We spent a lot of money to make sure people get healthcare in the state of Texas.”

8. Fact: Gore said, “I’m no expert on the Texas procedures, but what my friends there tell me is that the governor opposed a measure put forward by Democrats in the Legislature to expand the number of children that would be covered … And instead [he] directed the money toward a tax cut, a significant part of which went to wealthy interests.”

Bush: “If he’s trying to allege I’m a hardhearted person and don’t care about children, he’s absolutely wrong.”

9. Bush: “The three men who murdered James Byrd, guess what’s going to happen to them? They’ll be put to death. A jury found them guilty.”

Fact: Two of the three are being put to death. The other was given life. Bush Watch, 10/12/00

10. Bush: said he favored “equal” rights for gays and lesbians, but not “special” rights.

Fact: “Bush has supported a Texas law that allows the state to take adopted children from gay and lesbian couples to place the kids with straight couples.” Salon, 10/12/00.
“Bush supports hate crime protections for other minorities! So Bush doesn’t believe that gays should have the same ‘special’ rights in this regard as blacks, Jews, Wiccans and others. Employment discrimination? Again, Bush supports those rights for other Americans, but not gays. Military service? Bush again supports the right to military service for all qualified people–as long as they don’t tell anyone they’re gay. Marriage? How on earth is that a special right when every heterosexual in America already has it? But again, Bush thinks it should be out-of-bounds for gays. What else is there? The right to privacy? Nuh-huh. Bush supports a gays-only sodomy law in his own state that criminalizes consensual sex in private between two homosexuals.” New Republic, 10/13/00

11. Bush. “We ought to do everything we can to end racial profiling.”

Fact: The Texas Department of Public Safety has just this year begun keeping detailed information about the race and sex of all people stopped by its troopers, the sixth year Bush has been in office. Salon, 10/12/00

12. Bush got caught not giving the full story on Texas air pollution laws. He was correct in saying the 1999 utility deregulation bill he signed into law had mandatory emissions standards.

Fact: “What was missing, as Gore’s campaign pointed out, was that many more non-utility industrial plants are not mandated to reduce air quality. The issue is an important one because Texas ranks near the bottom in air-quality standards. Bush instead approved a voluntary program allowing grandfathered oil, coal, and other industrial plants to cut down on pollution.” Boston Globe, 10/12/00

13. Bush: About the Balkans, “I think it ought to be one of our priorities to work with our European friends to convince them to put troops on the ground.”

Fact: “European forces already make up a large majority of the peacekeeping forces in Bosnia and Kosovo.” Washington Post, 10/12/00

14. Bush: “One of the problems we have in the military is we’re in a lot of places around the world” and cited Haiti as an example.

Fact: “Though approximately 20,000 U.S. troops went to Haiti in 1994, as of late August this year, there were only 109 U.S. troops in Haiti and most were rotating through as part of an exercise.” Washington Post, 10/12/00

15. Bush: “I don’t think we ought to be selling guns to people who shouldn’t have them. That’s why I support instant background checks at gun shows. One of the reasons we have an instant background check is so that we instantly know whether or not someone should have a gun or not.”

Fact: “Bush overstates the effectiveness of instant background checks for people trying to buy guns … The Los Angeles Times reported on Oct. 3 that during Bush’s term as governor, Texas granted licenses for carrying concealed guns to hundreds of people with criminal records and histories of drug problems, violence or psychological disorders.” Washington Post, 10/12/00
“He didn’t mention that Texas failed to perform full background checks on 407 people who had prior criminal convictions but were granted concealed handgun licenses under a law he signed in 1995. Of those, 71 had convictions that should have excluded them from having a concealed gun permit, the Texas Department of Public Safety acknowledged.” AP, 10/12/00

16. Bush:”Said the number of Texans without health insurance had declined while the number in the United States had risen.”

Fact: ” A new Census Bureau report says the number of uninsured Americans declined last year for the first time since statistics were kept in 1987. About 42.5 million people, or 15.5 percent of the population, lacked insurance in 1999, compared with 44.2 million, or 16.3 percent, in 1998, the agency reported. Texas ranked next-to-last in the nation last year with 23.3 percent of its residents uninsured. But that was an improvement from 1998, when it ranked 50th at 24.5 percent.” AP, 10/12/00

17. Bush: “Some of the scientists, I believe, Mr. Vice President, haven’t they been changing their opinion a little bit on global warming?”

Fact: “Bush’s dismissive comments about global warming could bolster the charge that he and fellow oilman Dick Cheney are in the pocket of the oil industry, which likewise pooh-poohs the issue. [While] there is no consensus about the impact of global warming, … most scientists agree that humans are contributing to the rising global temperature. ‘Most climate experts are certain that global warming is real and that it threatens ecology and human prosperity, and a growing number say it is well under way,’ wrote New York Times science writer Andrew Revkin.” Salon, 10/13/00

18. Bush: When Jim Lehrer asked Bush if he approved of the U.S. intervention in Lebanon during the Reagan years, Bush answered a quick “yes” and moved on.

Fact: “Lebanon was a disaster in the history of American foreign affairs. Next to Iran-Contra, it was the Reagan administration’s greatest overseas fiasco. Quoting from the Encyclopedia of the American Presidency: ‘[In 1983] Reagan stumbled into a disastrous intervention in the Middle East when he sent U.S. Marines into Lebanon on an ill-defined mission as part of an international peacekeeping force.’ In December, according to Reagan biographer Edmund Morris, ‘two days before Christmas, a Pentagon commission of inquiry into the Beirut barracks bombing humiliated [Secretary of State] Shultz [who had backed the intervention], and embarrassed Reagan, by concluding that the dead Marines had been victims of a myopic Middle Eastern policy.'” tompaine.com, 10/11/00

19. Bush: “I thought the president made the right decision in joining NATO and bombing Serbia. I supported him when they did so.”

Fact: The bombing of Serbia began on March 24, 1999, and Bush did not express even measured support until April 8, 1999 — nearly two weeks later. Prior to April 8, 1999, every comment by Bush about the bombing was non-committal. Finally, he offered a measured endorsement: “It’s important for the United States to be slow to engage the military, but once the military is engaged, it must be engaged with one thing in mind, and that is victory,” he said after being pressed by reporters. A Houston Chronicle story documented the Governor’s statements on the crisis and reported that “Bush has been widely criticized for being slow to adopt a position on Kosovo and then for making vague statements on the subject.” Houston Chronicle, 4/9/99

20. Bush: Discussing International Loans: “And there’s some pretty egregious examples recently, one being Russia where we had IMF loans that ended up in the pockets of a lot of powerful people and didn’t help the nation.”

Fact: Bush’s own vice presidential candidate, Dick Cheney, lobbied for U.S.-backed loan to Russia that helped his own company. “Halliburton Co. lobbied for and received $ 292 million in loan guarantees to develop one of the world’s largest oil fields in Russia. Cheney said: ‘This is exactly the type of project we should be encouraging if Russia is to succeed in reforming its economy … We at Halliburton appreciate the support of the Export-Import Bank and look forward to beginning work on this important project..” PR Newswire 4/6/2000.
The State Department, armed with a CIA report detailing corruption by Halliburton’s Russian partner, invoked a seldom-used prerogative and ordered suspension of the loan. The loan guarantee “ran counter to America’s ‘national interest,” the State Department ruled. New Republic, 8/7/00

21. Bush “There’s a lot of talk about trigger locks being on guns sold in the future. I support that.”

Fact: When asked in 1999, if he was in support of mandatory safety locks, Bush said, ” No, I’m not, I’m for voluntary safety locks on guns.” In March of 2000, Bush said he would not push for trigger lock legislation, but would sign it if it passed [Washington Post, 3/3/00;ABC, Good Morning America, 5/10/99]. When Bush was asked, “when two bills were introduced in the Texas legislature to require the sale of child safety locks with newly purchased handguns, and you never addressed the issue with the legislature, and both bills died. If you support it, why did that happen?” Bush said, “Because those bills had no votes in committee.” When asked again if he supported the bills, Bush said, “I wasn’t even aware of those bills because they never even got out of committee.” NBC, Today Show, 5/12/00

22. Bush: “Africa is important and we’ve got to do a lot of work in Africa to promote democracy and trade.” Fact “While Africa may be important, it doesn’t fit into the national strategic interests, as far as I can see them,” Bush said earlier. When he was asked for his vision of the U.S. national interests, he named every continent except Africa. According to Time magazine, “[Bush] focused exclusively on big ticket issues … Huge chunks of the globe — Africa and Latin America, for example — were not addressed at all.” Time, 12/6/99; PBS News Hour, 2/16/00; Toronto Star, 2/16/00

23. Bush: “There’s only been one governor ever elected to back-to-back four year terms and that was me.”

Fact: The governors who served two consecutive four-year terms (meeting Bush’s statement criteria are): Coke R. Stevenson (2 consecutive 4-year terms) August 4, 1941-January 21, 1947. Allan Shivers (2 consecutive four-year terms) July 11, 1949-January 15, 1957. Price Daniel (2 consecutive four-year terms) January 15, 1957-January 15, 1963. John Connally (2 consecutive four-year terms) January 15, 1963-January 21, 1969. Dolph Briscoe (2 consecutive four-year terms) January 16, 1973-January 16, 1979. George W. Bush (2 consecutive four-year terms) January 17, 1995 to present. Source: Texas State Libraries and Archives Commission.

24. Bush: “We spend $4.7 billion a year on the uninsured in the state of Texas.”

Fact: The state of Texas came up with less than $1B for this purpose. $3.5 came from local governments, private providers, and charities, $198M from the federal government, and just less than $1B from Texas state agencies. Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Source

Bush-Cheney Administration Lies About Iraq

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.”

– Dick Cheney, August 26 2002

“Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.”

– George W. Bush, September 12 2002

“If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world.”

– Ari Fleischer, December 2 2002

“We know for a fact that there are weapons there.”

– Ari Fleischer, January 9 2003

“Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.”

– George W. Bush, State of the Union address, January 28 2003

“We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.”

– Colin Powell, February 5 2003

“We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons.”

– George Bush, February 8 2003

“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”

– George Bush, March 17 2003

“Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly . . . all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes.”

– Ari Fleischer, March 21 2003

“There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. As this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them.”

– Gen. Tommy Franks, March 22 2003

“We know where they are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad.”

– Donald Rumsfeld, March 30 2003.

“Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.”

– Bush in October 2002.

“Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda.”

– Bush in January 2003 State of the Union address.

“Iraq has also provided Al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training.”

– Bush in February 2003.

“sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.”

Powell in his U.N. speech prior to the Iraq War.

“We have removed an ally of Al Qaeda.”

Bush in May 2003.

Stated that the Iraqis were “providing bomb-making expertise and advice to the Al Qaeda organization.”

– Cheney in September 2003.

“Saddam had an established relationship with Al Qaeda, providing training to Al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons, gases, making conventional weapons.”

– Cheney in October 2003.

…….

Cheney said Saddam “had long established ties with Al Qaeda.”

– June 14, 2004.

Bush said, “The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and Al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.”

– June 17, 2004.

Source

Prime Minister Harper officially endorses North American Union!

YOU WANT HARPER IN A MAJORITY GOVERNMENT?? CANADA WILL BE LOST, PLEASE VOTE SMART.

Mr. Harper’s speech at the CFR on 25 September 2007 affirms Mr. Harper’s Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPPNA) commitment to hand over Canada to full control by no later than 2010, to a political fraternity which is associated with the current U.S. Bush administration. Mr. Harper’s government apparently reports to the CFR.

In effect, the Government of Canada appears to be governed not from a sovereign Parliament in Ottawa, but run through a New York City-based political fraternity, which seeks to replace a democratic form of government, with the rule of society by a “Council of Wise Men”.

The architects of such a fascistic government look upon their vision of society, to be much more “efficient” in dealing with the need to vanquish enemies, i.e. “terrorists”.

Be sure to check out the sight for the rest of the information.

Source information and Video Presenting Stphen Harper

He wants to sell out the country

The Three Amigos are still at it.

Published in: on October 14, 2008 at 3:18 am  Comments Off on Prime Minister Harper officially endorses North American Union!  
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A Crisis Made in the Oval Office

This is the first time in the history of the United States that the president has sought to provoke a financial panic to get legislation passed through Congress. While this has proven to be a successful political strategy – after the House of Representatives finally passed the bank bail-out plan today – it marks yet another low point in American politics.

It was incredibly irresponsible for George Bush to tell the American people on national television that the country could be facing another Great Depression. By contrast, when we actually were in the Great Depression, President Roosevelt said: “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

It was even more irresponsible for President Bush to seize on the decline in the stock market five days later as evidence that his bailout was needed for the economy. President Bush must surely understand, as all economists know, that the daily swings in the stock market are driven by mass psychology and have almost nothing to do with the underlying strength in the economy.

The scare tactics of President Bush, Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, and Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, created sufficient panic, so that by the time of the first vote on the emergency package in Congress, much of the public believed that the defeat of the bail-out may actually have had serious consequences for the economy. Millions of people have changed their behaviour because of this fear, with many pulling money out of bank and money market accounts, and adjusting their financial plans in other ways.

This effort to promote panic is especially striking since the country’s dire economic situation is almost entirely the result of the Bush administration’s policy failures. First and foremost, the decision of Paulson and Bernanke (and previously Alan Greenspan) to ignore the housing bubble, allowed for the growth of an $8tn bubble, which is now collapsing.

It is the collapse of this bubble – which has already destroyed more than $4tn in housing wealth, and is likely to destroy another $4tn over the next year – that is at the root of the economy’s problems. While competent economists were warning of the bubble and the dire consequences of its collapse, the top officials in the Bush administration were celebrating the rise in homeownership rates.

The Bush administration made the crisis even worse by deregulating Wall Street. This led to the huge over-leveraging of financial institutions, which has vastly complicated the country’s economic policies. It is especially disturbing that Secretary Paulson personally profited from these policies, earning millions of dollars in compensation from Goldman Sachs during his years there as its chief executive.

The collapse of the housing bubble, while falling short of the magnitude of the Great Depression, is likely to lead to the worst recession since the second world war. Repairing the damage caused by this bubble will be a long and difficult process. Cleaning up the damage to the political system from President Bush’s unprecedented fear campaign may prove to be even more difficult.

Source

Published in: on October 8, 2008 at 8:55 am  Comments Off on A Crisis Made in the Oval Office  
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Brown backs Bush over rescue plan

Gordon Brown has vowed Britain will stand alongside the US during the current period of financial turmoil.

The Prime Minister, who flew into Washington from New York to meet with US President George Bush, expressed support for the proposed $700 billion financial rescue package.

Speaking last night after 90 minutes of talks in the White House, the Prime Minister said: “America and Britain have always stood together as one in times of difficulty and challenging times, and I have told President Bush that facing global turbulence Britain supports the US plan.

“Whatever the details of it, it is the right thing to do.”

Mr Brown, sitting alongside President Bush in the Oval Office, also called on other world leaders to back the proposed bail-out for ailing banks.

He said: “America deserves the support of the rest of the world in securing stability in the markets.”

Mr Brown said they also talked about the “pathway forward” and his proposals for reform of the world financial markets.

Mr Bush said the Prime Minister, who flies back to the UK today, had asked him whether the plan would be “enough” and whether it would get through in the teeth of congressional opposition.

The President added: “I told him the plan is enough to make a difference and it is going to be passed.”

They also discussed the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Georgia as well as the Doha round of world trade talks.

Mr Bush said he “appreciated” Mr Brown travelling to the White House, following his visit to the United Nations in New York.

Mr Brown said on the economy: “Stability is the first duty of government and we are determined that our continued cooperation will enhance the stability of our economies.”

Following the meeting, which lasted more than twice the expected 40 minutes, Mr Brown said that the President was “confident” he would get a deal with Congress.

Capital 95

Published in: on September 28, 2008 at 2:16 am  Comments Off on Brown backs Bush over rescue plan  
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