“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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NPR vs. Fox News For Front Row seat at White House Breifing Room

August 2 update

Sorry to say Fox News has a front row seat.

Fox News moves up to the front row in the White House briefing room

July 31 2010

As early as tomorrow, the White House Correspondents’ Association will decide which news organization will be awarded a recently-vacated front-row center seat in the White House briefing room.

The contenders? National Public Radio, Bloomberg News—and Fox.

Yes, Fox—which we all know is actually a tool in the right-wing propaganda machine, not a legitimate news organization. They simply don’t deserve the best seat in the White House briefing room—a seat held for years by journalist Helen Thomas until she retired recently.

So we’re joining our friends at CREDO Action to petition the Correspondents’ Association to award the seat to a real, public news organization: NPR.

Can you sign the petition today? Tell the Correspondents’ Association to give the best seat in the briefing room to NPR, not Fox.

http://pol.moveon.org/nprvsfox/?id=22189-6729775-O__W5Ox&t=3

The petition says, “Give Helen Thomas’ former briefing room seat to NPR, which has provided public interest coverage for decades—not Fox, which is a right-wing propaganda tool, not a legitimate news organization.”

Then, please forward this email to your friends and post on Facebook and Twitter so we can spread the news faster. Already 200,000 people have signed onto this call through CREDO Action. Help us get up to 300,000 before the meeting on Sunday!

Winning this seat would give Fox legitimacy it simply doesn’t deserve—not after years of race-baiting, smears against progressives and Democrats, and spreading right-wing propaganda 24/7.

So instead we’re calling on the Association to award the seat to one of our nation’s premiere news organizations, which has served the public for years and currently reaches an audience of 27 million.

Will you sign the petition today? Just click here: http://pol.moveon.org/nprvsfox/?id=22189-6729775-O__W5Ox&t=4

Source: Move On .org

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The CIA: Beyond Redemption and Should be Terminated

July 24, 2010

By Sherwood Ross

The Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) has confirmed the worst fears of its creator President Harry Truman that it might degenerate into “an American Gestapo.” It has  been just that for so long it is beyond redemption. It represents 60 years of failure and fascism utterly at odds with the spirit of a democracy and needs to be closed, permanently.

Over the years “the Agency” as it is known, has given U.S. presidents so much wrong information on so many critical issues, broken so many laws, subverted so many elections, overthrown so many governments, funded so many dictators, and killed and tortured so many innocent human beings that the pages of its official history could be written in blood, not ink. People the world over regard it as infamous, and that evaluation, sadly for the reputation of America, is largely accurate.  Besides, since President Obama has half a dozen other major intelligence agencies to rely on for guidance, why does he need the CIA? In one swoop he could lop an estimated 27,000 employees off the Federal payroll, save taxpayers umpteen billions, and wipe the CIA stain from the American flag.

If you think this is a “radical” idea, think again. What is “radical” is to empower a mob of covert operatives to roam the planet, wreaking havoc as they go with not a care for morality or, for that matter, the tenets of mercy implicit in any of the great faiths. The idea of not prosecuting CIA interrogators (i.e., torturers), as President Obama has said, is chilling. These crimes have to be stopped somewhere, sometime, or they will occur again.

“The CIA had run secret interrogation centers before—beginning in 1950, in Germany, Japan, and Panama,” writes New York Times reporter Tim Weiner in his book “Legacy of Ashes, The History of The CIA”(Random House). Weiner has won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the intelligence community. “It had participated in the torture of captured enemy combatants before—beginning in 1967, under the Phoenix program in Vietnam. It had kidnapped suspected terrorists and assassins before…”

In Iran in 1953, for example, a CIA-directed coup restored the Shah (king) to absolute power, initiating what journalist William Blum in “Rogue State” (Common Courage Press) called “a period of 25 years of repression and torture; while the oil industry was restored to foreign ownership, with the US and Britain each getting 40 percent.”  About the same time in Guatemala, Blum adds, a CIA-organized coup “overthrew the democratically-elected and progressive government of Jacobo Arbenz, initiating 40 years of military government death squads, torture, disappearances, mass executions, and unimaginable cruelty, totaling more than 200,000 victims—indisputably one of the most inhuman chapters of the 20th century.” The massive slaughter compares, at least in terms of sheer numbers, with Hitler’s massacre of Romanian and Ukranian Jews during the holocaust. Yet few Americans know of it.

Blum provides yet other examples of CIA criminality. In Indonesia, it attempted in 1957-58 to overthrow neutralist president Sukarno. It plotted Sukarno’s assassination, tried to blackmail him with a phony sex film, and joined forces with dissident military officers to wage a full-scale war against the government, including bombing runs by American pilots, Blum reported This particular attempt, like one in Costa Rica about the same time, failed. So did the CIA attempt in Iraq in 1960 to assassinate President Abdul Kassem. Other ventures proved more “successful”.

In Laos, the CIA was involved in coup attempts in 1958, 1959, and 1960, creating a clandestine army of 30,000 to overthrow the government. In Ecuador, the CIA ousted President Jose Velasco for recognizing the new Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The CIA also arranged the murder of elected Congo Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1961 and installation of Mobutu Seko who ruled “with a level of corruption and cruelty that shocked even his CIA handlers,” Blum recalls.

In Ghana, in 1966, the CIA sponsored a military coup against leader Kwame Nkrumah in 1966; in Chile, it financed the overthrow of elected President Salvador Allende in 1973 and brought to power the murderous regime of General Augusto Pinochet who executed 3,000 political opponents and tortured thousands more.  In Greece in 1967, the CIA helped subvert the elections and backed a military coup that killed 8,000 Greeks in its first month of operation. “Torture, inflicted in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States, became routine,” Blum writes.

In South Africa, the CIA gave the apartheid government information that led to the arrest of African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, who subsequently spent years in prison. In Bolivia, in 1964, the CIA overthrew President Victor Paz; in Australia from 1972-75, the CIA slipped millions of dollars to political opponents of the Labor Party; ditto, Brazil in 1962; in Laos in 1960, the CIA stuffed ballot boxes to help a strongman into power;  in Portugal in the Seventies the candidates it financed triumphed over a pro-labor government; in the Philippines, the CIA backed governments in the 1970-90 period that employed torture and summary execution against its own people; in El Salvador, the CIA in the Nineties backed the wealthy in a civil war in which 75,000 civilians were killed; and the list goes on and on.

Of course, the hatred that the CIA engenders for the American people and American business interests is enormous. Because the Agency operates largely in secret, most Americans are unaware of the crimes it perpetrates in their names. As Chalmers Johnson writes in “Blowback”(Henry Holt), former long-time CIA director Robert Gates, now Obama’s defense secretary, admitted U.S. intelligence services began to aid the mujahideen guerrillas in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet invasion in December, 1979.

As has often been the case, the CIA responded to a criminal order from one of the succession of imperial presidents that have occupied the White House, in this instance one dated July 3, 1979, from President Jimmy Carter. The Agency was ordered to aid the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul—aid that might sucker the Kremlin into invading. “The CIA supported Osama bin Laden, like so many other extreme fundamentalists among the mujahideen in Afghanistan, from at least 1984 on,” Johnson writes, helping bin Laden train many of the 35,000 Arab Afghans.

Thus Carter, like his successors in the George H.W. Bush government — Gates, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, and Colin Powell, “all bear some responsibility for the 1.8 million Afghan casualties, 2.6 million refugees, and 10 million unexploded land mines that followed from their decisions, as well as the ‘collateral damage’ that befell New York City in September 2001 from an organization they helped create during the years of anti-Soviet Afghan resistance,” Johnson added. Worse, the Bush-Cheney regime after 9/11 “set no limits on what the agency could do. It was the foundation for a system of secret prisons where CIA officer and contractors used techniques that included torture,” Weiner has written. By some estimates, the CIA in 2006 held 14,000 souls in 11 secret prisons, a vast crime against humanity.

That the CIA has zero interest in justice and engages in gratuitous cruelty may be seen from the indiscriminate dragnet arrests it has perpetrated: “CIA officers snatched and grabbed more than three thousand people in more than one hundred countries in the year after 9/11,” Weiner writes, adding that only 14 men of all those seized “were high-ranking authority figures within al Qaeda and its affiliates. Along with them, the agency jailed hundreds of nobodies…(who) became ghost prisoners in the war on terror.”

As for providing the White House with accurate intelligence, the record of the CIA has been a fiasco. The Agency was telling President Carter the Shah of Iran was beloved by his people and was firmly entrenched in power in 1979 when any reader of Harper’s magazine, available on newsstands for a buck, could read that his overthrow was imminent—and it was. Over the years, the Agency has been wrong far more often than it has been right.

According to an Associated Press report, when confirmed by the Senate as the new CIA director, Leon Panetta said the Obama administration would not prosecute CIA officers that “participated in harsh interrogations even if they constituted torture as long as they did not go beyond their instructions.” This will allow interrogators to evade prosecution for following the clearly criminal orders they would have been justified to disobey.

“Panetta also said that the Obama administration would continue to transfer foreign detainees to other countries for questioning but only if U.S. officials are confident that the prisoners will not be tortured,” the AP story continued. If past is prologue, how confident can Panetta be the CIA’s fellow goons in Egypt and Morocco will stop torturing prisoners? Why did the CIA kidnap men off the streets of Milan and New York and fly them to those countries in the first place if not for torture? They certainly weren’t treating them to a Mediterranean vacation. By its long and nearly perfect record of reckless disregard for international law, the CIA has deprived itself of the right to exist.

It will be worse than unfortunate if President Obama continues the inhumane (and illegal) CIA renditions that President Bill Clinton began and President Bush vastly expanded. If the White House thinks its operatives can roam the world and arrest and torture any person it chooses without a court order, without due process, and without answering for their crimes, this signifies Americans believe themselves to be a Master Race better than others and above international law. That’s not much different from the philosophy that motivated Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich. It would be the supreme irony if the American electorate that repudiated racism last November has voted into its highest office a constitutional lawyer who reaffirms his predecessor’s illegal views on this activity. Renditions must be stopped. The CIA must be abolished. Source

Drone Pilots Could Be Tried for ‘War Crimes’

The pilots waging America’s undeclared drone war in Pakistan could be liable to criminal prosecution for “war crimes,” a prominent law professor told a Congressional panel Wednesday.

It’s part of an ongoing legal debate about the CIA and U.S. military’s lethal drone operations, which have escalated in recent months…

NATO Smears a Truth-Teller in Afghanistan

When the CIA/US needed money or weapons shipped into a country they enlisted the help of Israel. Israel was the funnel tunnel used by the US.
Israel’s Latin American trail of terror

June 5 2003

By Jeremy Bigwood

“I learned an infinite amount of things in Israel, and to that country I owe part of my essence, my human and military achievements” said Colombian paramilitary leader and indicted drug trafficker Carlos Castao in his ghostwritten autobiography, Mi Confesin. Castao, who leads the Colombian paramilitaries, known by their Spanish acronym AUC, the largest right-wing paramilitary force to ever exist in the western hemisphere reveals that he was trained in the arts of war in Israel as a young man of 18 in the 1980s. He glowingly adds: “I copied the concept of paramilitary forces from the Israelis,” in his chapter-long account of his Israel experiences.

Castao’s right-wing Phalange-like AUC force is now by far the worst human rights violator in all of the Americas, and ties between that organisation and Israel are continually surfacing in the press.

Outside the law

The AUC paramilitaries are a fighting force that originally grew out of killers hired to protect drug-running operations and large landowners. They were organised into a cohesive force by Castao in 1997. It exists outside the law but often coordinates its actions with the Colombian military, in a way similar to the relationship of the Lebanese Phalange to the Israeli army throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

According to a 1989 Colombian Secret Police intelligence report, apart from training Carlos Castao in 1983, Israeli trainers arrived in Colombia in 1987 to train him and other paramilitaries who would later make up the AUC.
Fifty of the paramilitaries’ “best” students were then sent on scholarships to Israel for further training according to a Colombian police intelligence report, and the AUC became the most prominent paramilitary force in the hemisphere, with some 10,000-12,000 men in arms.

The Colombian AUC paramilitaries are always in need of arms, and it should come as no surprise that some of their major suppliers are Israeli. Israeli arms dealers have long had a presence in next-door Panama and especially in Guatemala.
In May of last year, GIRSA, an Israeli company associated with the Israeli Defence Forces and based in Guatemala was able to buy 3000 Kalashnikov assault rifles and 2.5 million rounds of ammunition that were then handed over to AUC paramilitaries in Colombia.

Links with the continent

Israel’s military relations with right-wing groups and regimes spans Latin America from Mexico to the southernmost tip of Chile, starting just a few years after the Israeli state came into existence.
Since then, the list of countries Israel has supplied, trained and advised includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
But it isn’t only the sales of planes, guns and weapons system deals that characterises the Israeli presence in Latin America.
Where Israel has excelled is in advising, training and running intelligence and counter-insurgency operations in the Latin American “dirty war” civil conflicts of Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and now Colombia.

In the case of the Salvadoran conflict – a civil war between the right-wing landowning class supported by a particularly violent military pitted against left-wing popular organisations – the Israelis were present from the beginning. Besides arms sales, they helped train ANSESAL, the secret police who were later to form the framework of the infamous death squads that would kill tens of thousands of mostly civilian activists.

From 1975 to 1979, 83% of El Salvador’s military imports came from Israel, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. By 1981, many of those in the civilian popular political movements who had survived the death squads headed for the hills to become guerrillas.

By 1981 there was an open civil war in El Salvador which took over a decade to resolve through negotiations.
Even though the US was openly backing the Salvadoran Army by 1981, as late as November 1983 it was asking for more Israeli “practical assistance” there, according to a declassified secret document obtained recently by Aljazeera.
Among the assistance asked for were helicopters, trucks, rifles, ammunition, and combat infantry advisors to work at both the “company and battalion level of the Salvadoran Army”.

One notable Salvadoran officer trained by the Israelis was Major Roberto D’Aubuisson, who always held a high opinion of the Israelis. It was Major D’Aubuisson who ordered the assassination of El Salvador’s archbishop amongst thousands of other murders.
Later he would organise the right-wing National Republican Alliance Party (ARENA) and send his son to study abroad in the relative safety of Israel.

Dirty war

Amazingly, while the Israelis were training the El Salvadoran death squads they were also supporting the anti-semitic Argentine military government of the late 1970s and early 1980s – at a time when that government was involved_in another “dirty war” of death squads and disappearances.

In 1978, Nicaragua’s dictator Somoza was making his last stand against a general uprising of the Sandinista-led population who were sick of his family’s dynasty which had ruled and monopolised the county for half a century. The Israelis and the US had been supplying Somoza with weapons for years. But when President Jimmy Carter came into office in 1976 he ordered a cessation of all US military assistance to Nicaragua.

Filling the void, the Israelis immediately increased their weapons supplies to Somoza until he fled the country when the Sandinistas took power.

Israeli operatives then helped train right-wing Nicaraguan Contras in Honduran and Costa Rican camps to fight the Sandinista government, according to Colombian police intelligence reports Aljazeera_has obtained.
At least some of the same Israeli operatives had also previously trained the nucleus of the paramilitary organisations that would become the AUC in Colombia.

But by far the bloodiest case of Israeli involvement in Latin America was its involvement in Guatemala from the 1970s to the 1990s. As in El Salvador, a civil war pitted a populist but, in this case, mainly Indian left against a mainly European oligarchy protected by a brutal Mestizo Army.

As Guatemalan President Carlos Arana said in 1971, “If it is necessary to turn the country into a cemetery in order to pacify it, I will not hesitate to do so.”
Active involvement

The Israelis supplied Guatemala with Galil rifles, and built an ammunition factory for them, as well as supplying armoured personnel carriers and Arava planes. Behind the scenes, they were actively involved in the bloodiest counter-insurgency campaign the hemisphere has known since the European conquest, in which at least 200,000 (mostly Indians) were killed.
Like Israel’s original occupation of Palestine, several entire Guatemalan Indian villages were razed and a million people displaced. “The guerrilla is the fish. The people are the sea. If you cannot catch the fish, you have to drain the sea,” said Guatemalan President Rios Montt in 1982.

Guatemalan army officers credit Israeli support with turning the tide against the uprising, not only in the countryside where Israeli counter-insurgency techniques and assistance set up strategic-hamlet-like “development poles” along the lines of the Israeli kibbutz, but also in the cities where “Israeli communication technicians and instructors” working through then-sophisticated computers were able to locate and then decimate guerrillas and their supporters in Guatemala City in 1981.
From the late 1970s until the 1990s, the US could not overtly support the Guatemalan army because of its horrendous human rights record (although there was some covert support), but many in the US government, especially in the CIA, supported Israel in taking up the slack.

Wrong

But the US grew to regret its actions. On 10 March 1999, US President Bill Clinton issued an apology for US involvement in the war: The “United States… support for military forces or intelligence units which engaged in violent and widespread repression…was wrong.” No similar statement has ever been forthcoming from the Israelis.

At the present time, the only major insurgency war in Latin America is in Colombia, where Israel has an overt involvement.
Besides the dozen or so Kfir IAI C-7 jet fighters they have sold the Colombian government, and the Galil rifles produced in Bogota under licence, most of the Israeli ties to the government’s counter-insurgency war are closely-guarded secrets.
Aljazeera’s attempts to obtain clarification on these and other issues for this story were stonewalled by the Israeli embassy in Washington.

Why does Israel continue to provide arms and expertise to the pariahs of the world? Clearly, part of the reason is the revenues produced by arms sales, and part of it has do with keeping up with trends in counter-insurgent war across the globe.
But another factor is what is demanded of Israel by the world’s only superpower, the US, in partial exchange for the superpower’s continued support for Israeli dominance in the Middle East. Assistance

This relationship can be best illustrated by recently declassified 1983 US government documents obtained by the Washington, DC-based National Security Archives through the Freedom of Information Act.
One such declassified document is a 1983 memo from the notorious Colonel Oliver North of the Reagan Administration’s National Security Council and reads: “As discussed with you yesterday, I asked CIA, Defense, and State to suggest practical assistance which the Israelis might offer in Guatemala and El Salvador.”
Another document, this time a 1983 cable from the US Ambassador in Guatemala to Washington Frederic Chapin shows the money trail.

He says that at a time when the US did not want to be seen directly assisting Guatemala, “we have reason to believe that our good friends the Israelis are prepared, or already have, offered substantial amounts of military equipment to the GOG (Government of Guatemala) on credit terms up to 20 years…(I pass over the importance of making huge concessionary loans to Israel so that it can make term loans in our own backyard).”

In other words, during civil wars in which the US does not want to be seen getting its hands dirty in Latin America, the superpower loans Israel money at a very good rate, and then Israel uses these funds to do the “dirty work”. In this regard, in Latin America at least, Israel has become the hit-man for the US. Source

Israel Trains Other Undemocratic, Abusive Regimes

For years, Israeli military expertise has been shared with other abusive undemocratic regimes across the globe. In the 1980s, Israeli security forces trained a Honduran military intelligence unit, Battalion 316, that disappeared, tortured and killed Honduran citizens. Israel also trained members of the South African apartheid regime’s Inkatha hit squads that targeted ANC leaders. US aid to Israel, then, has led to the support of regimes that US taxpayers perhaps would not have otherwise aided. Source

lsrael’s ties with South Africa seem to be especially disturbing to many who follow Israel’s international activities. Perhaps it is natural that Israel has been castigated more harshly for its arms sales to South Africa than for its sales to other countries: first, because there has been for a decade an arms embargo against South Africa; and second, because of the unsurpassed criminality of the white regime and the uses to which it puts the Israeli-supplied weapons.

Also

Israel has also been involved with the Mozambican “contras,” the South African-backed MNR (Mozambique National Resistance or “Renamo”), which has brought great economic and social distress to Mozambique. Renamo has a particular reputation for ideological incoherence, being regarded by most other right-wing insurgencies as a gang of cutthroats. For several years there have been stories coming from Southern Africa of captured mercenaries of Renamo who say they were trained in neighboring Malawi-one of the four nations to maintain relations with Israel after the Organization of African Unity (OAU) declared a diplomatic embargo in 1973-by Israelis. And more than one report has told of “substantial Israeli aid” to the MNR, thought to have been funded by the CIA and Saudi Arabia as well as South Africa and former Portuguese nationalists. Source

Israel and El Salvador
Israel and Guatemala
Isreal and Nicaragua and the Contras
Israel and Honduras and Costa Rica

Haiti Government was also toppled by the US

Israel and US were behind the Georgian Attacks on South Ossetia and Abkhazia

CIA Torture Tactics Endorsed in Secret Memos

Repression in the Dominican Republic

Another tactic used by the US

A Detailed Description of Management Strategy Fraud

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A message From “Rachel Corrie’s” Mother

Rachel died 7 years ago today March 16 2003

March 16 2010

From Rachel’s Mother

This month, a civil lawsuit in Israel in the case of our daughter Rachel Corrie will converge with the seven-year anniversary of her killing in Gaza. A human rights observer and activist, Rachel, 23, was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Force (IDF) Caterpillar D9R bulldozer as she tried nonviolently to offer protection for a Palestinian family whose home was threatened with demolition. This lawsuit is one piece of our family’s seven-year effort to pursue accountability for Rachel while, also, challenging the Occupation that claimed her life.

On this day, when Rachel’s presence is powerful for many of us, we’re asking all of our friends to support Rachel’s vision of freedom for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip by participating in what we are calling the International Day of Conscience. Please join her struggle by calling the White House today – this link has all the information you need:

http://tinyurl.com/Corrie4Gaza

Seven years later, Rachel’s memory is still vibrant. I’m writing to you from Israel where we are plaintiffs in a civil case against the state of Israel for its responsibility in her death. In addition to seeking accountability through the Israeli court system, we’re asking all of our friends to support Rachel’s vision of freedom for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip by participating in a national call-in day to the White House.

I hope I can count on you to:

  • Call the White House at 202-456-1111
  • Urge Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell to visit Gaza and demand that the United States break the blockade of Gaza by providing immediate humanitarian aid and building materials.
  • Tell us about your call. Tracking your calls makes a difference.

You can also make the call tomorrow. Please forward this  to help spread the word.

Thank you,
Cindy Corrie

P.S. Click here to view the trial updates page on the Rachel Corrie Foundation website.

A few Documents from above link.

March 15: Eye Witness Testifies: Israeli Military Investigator Tried to Influence My Statement

English (pdf, 166.24 KB)

Eye Witness Testifies: Israeli Military Investigator Tried to Influence My Statement

    Today, March 15 2010, the Haifa District Court saw the third day of testimony in the civil lawsuit filed by Rachel Corrie’s family against the State of Israel for her unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza. Rachel was crushed to death on March 16, 2003 by a Caterpillar D9R bulldozer. She had been nonviolently demonstrating against Palestinian home demolitions with fellow members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct action methods and principles. Today’s only testimony came from British citizen Alice Coy, a nurse, who was an eyewitness to the killing. The state spent most of the day trying to establish that contrary to all eyewitness accounts and human rights reports, the Israeli Military had no intention of demolishing homes in the area on the day Rachel was killed.

Ms. Coy testified that:

  • She first visited Israel in order visit Israeli family members.
  • When the Israeli Military interviewed her on April 1st about Rachel’s killing, the soldier who documented her testimony refused to record her statement that she believed the bulldozers were going to destroy civilian homes.
  • She believed the Israeli Military was planning to demolish homes on the day Rachel was killed because the Israeli Military had been demolishing homes on the Philadelphi Corridor in the days and weeks prior, and because they had already begun to demolish a house earlier that day by damaging its porch.
  • She had spoken with many Palestinian families in the area where Rachel was killed whose homes had been demolished by the Israeli Military.
  • She believed the bulldozer driver who killed Rachel could see her.
  • She described her view of her work with ISM as promoting peace for the whole region.

The home Rachel Corrie was protecting, that of Dr. Samir Nasrallah, was in fact demolished by the Israeli Military later that year.

According to an October, 2004 Human Rights Watch report, Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip, between 2000 and 2004, the Israeli Military demolished over 2,500 Palestinian houses in Gaza, nearly two thirds of which were located in Rafah, resulting in more than 16,000 people – over 10% of Rafah’s population – losing their homes. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, in its 2004 report Through No Fault of their Own, found that contrary to Israel’s claim that prior warning is given before a home is demolished, occupants were given prior notification in a mere 3% of the cases.

The Human Rights’ Watch report further documented that most of the destruction in Rafah occurred along the Israeli-controlled border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt known as the Philadelphi Corridor, the area where Rachel was killed. During regular nighttime raids and with little or no warning, Israeli forces used armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers to raze blocks of homes, incrementally expanding a “buffer zone” that is currently up to three hundred meters wide.The pattern of destruction strongly suggests that Israeli forces demolished homes wholesale, regardless of whether they posed a specific threat, in stark violation of international law.

The trial will resume on Wednesday, March 17, 2010, at 9 a.m. at the district court in Haifa.

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Japan Report: Private Agreements Allowed US to Bring Nukes

Amir, ten years old, abducted by Israeli soldiers from his bed

“This Time We Went Too Far” Truth and Consequences in the Gaza Invasion

E-book on Jewish National Fund’s role in colonization of Palestine

Israel on Trial – The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

Dubai police chief to seek Netanyahu arrest

U.S. military monitors Twitter, YouTube

August 10, 2009

WASHINGTON — As the Pentagon warns of the security risks posed by social networking sites, newly released government documents show the military also uses these Internet tools to monitor and react to coverage of high-profile events.

The U.S. Air Force tracked the instant messaging service Twitter, video carrier YouTube and various blogs to assess the public backlash to the Air Force One flyover of the Statue of Liberty this spring, according to the documents.

While the attempts at damage control failed — “No positive spin is possible,” one PowerPoint chart reads — the episode opens a window into the tactics for operating in a boundless digital news cycle.

This new terrain has slippery slopes for the American military. Facebook, MySpace and other social media sites are popular among service members, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan who want to keep in touch with friends and family. The sites are also valued by military organizations for recruiting or communicating with other federal agencies.

But posting information on them makes it vulnerable to being lost or stolen, according to Pentagon officials. On Thursday hackers shut down Twitter for several hours, while Facebook had intermittent access problems — an indication of the shortcomings of relying on these services.

The Marine Corps’ computer network blocks users from accessing social media sites, which service officials say expose “information to adversaries” and provide “an easy conduit for information leakage.”

That prohibition might extend to other parts of the U.S. military pending a top-level review ordered in late July by Deputy Defence Secretary Bill Lynn. In a memo, Lynn said such sites are important tools but more study is needed to understand their threats and benefits.

Air Force officials are already aware of the potential benefits.

According to the Air Force One documents released through the Freedom of Information Act, a unit called the Combat Information Cell at Tyndall Air Force Base in the U.S. state of Florida monitored the public fallout from the April 27 flight over the Statue of Liberty and offered recommendations for dealing with the fast-breaking story.

The presidential plane took off for New York from Andrews Air Force in the state of Maryland accompanied by two F-16 jet fighters. The purpose of the flight, which wasn’t publicly announced, was to get new photos of the specially modified Boeing 747 with the statue in the background.

The mission became a public relations disaster as panicked New Yorkers, fearing another 9/11-style attack, emptied office buildings. In the aftermath, Louis Caldera, director of the White House military office that authorized the flight, was fired.

The Combat Information Cell’s first assessment of the event said “Web site blog comments ‘furious’ at best.” Local reporting of the flyover was “very critical, highlighting scare factor,” it added.

A Twitter search revealed a rate of one “tweet” per minute about a pair of F-16s chasing a commercial airliner. A tweet is a text message of up to 140 characters delivered to the author’s subscribers, who are known as followers.

Media coverage over the next 24 hours “will focus on local hysteria and lack of public notification,” the cell predicted. “Blogs will continue to be overwhelmingly negative.”

“Damage control requires timely counter-information,” but the opportunity for that had passed, the assessment said. The cell recommended acknowledging the mistake and ensuring it didn’t happen again.

An update on April 28 said the story was still “reverberating, surprisingly resilient.” The tweet rate had grown to three per minute and the words “New York” had been pushed into Twitter’s high-frequency topic category. Videos of the event posted on YouTube had been viewed more than 260,000 times, it said.

1st Air Force spokesman Al Eakle explained that the command had no role in planning or co-ordinating the Air Force One flight. But the units tracked social networks and blog traffic “to obtain what lessons we might learn so as not to repeat them in the future.” The assessments were sent to the command’s leadership so they’d know how the public was reacting, he added.

John Verdi of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington said gray zones can emerge while monitoring social networking sites because participating is based on trust.

“Lots of times individuals upload private or sensitive information that they expect to share with their friends or family and not the whole Internet world,” Verdi said. “It would certainly be a major problem if the government were accessing that information under false pretenses.”

Paul Bove, an Air Force digital media strategist, said service personnel are instructed not to do that. Nor are they to use aliases or represent a position that’s beyond the scope of what they do.

“We always tell people, ‘Stay in your lane and don’t talk about something that you’re not qualified to talk about,”‘ Bove said.

Source

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 12:36 am  Comments Off on U.S. military monitors Twitter, YouTube  
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Jan 19: Throw a shoe, sing for peace: Protesters gather in D.C.

January 19 2009

An anti-Bush protest outside the White House in Washington

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Antiwar, anti-Bush, anti-Obama — advocates of varied causes arrive at the capital to voice opinions, petition and stage political theater.
By Robin Abcarian
Reporting from Washington

Forbes Hill, an animator from Los Angeles, was walking past Dupont Circle on Monday morning looking for an art gallery to visit when he noticed the Raging Grannies — peace activists who set antiwar lyrics to familiar songs — warbling away at a microphone on a makeshift stage.

Then he spied a 25-foot-tall inflatable President Bush figure in a “Mission Accomplished” flight suit. People were chucking shoes at it.
Hill had stumbled across one of the few angry gatherings in a town bathed in good vibes in anticipation of today’s inauguration of Barack Obama. (Well, angry-ish. Everyone who threw shoes smiled and giggled in spite of themselves.)

The shoe hurling, sponsored by several anti-Bush, pro-peace groups, was inspired by Iraqi journalist Muntather Zaidi, who threw his shoes at Bush last month during a Baghdad news conference.

Hill’s sister, Ashley Hill of Durango, Colo., picked up a pair of strappy brown leather sandals from one of the piles of donated shoes strewn around Dupont Circle. Hill pointed his camera phone.

“This is totally cathartic,” Hill said as he snapped a shot of Ashley launching the sandals. “How can you resist?”

The shoes bounced off the midsection of the giant Bush, forcing a local television cameraman to duck as they sailed past his head.

On the stage nearby — behind a neat line of boots, loafers and sneakers — Gael Murphy, co-founder of the antiwar group Code Pink, called Zaidi courageous and thanked “everyone who has stood up and spoken truth to power in their own way.”

“Hold onto your shoes,” Murphy said to the crowd of about 100 protesters. “The struggle is not over.”

Barbara Cummings, a retired government worker from San Diego, solicited signatures for a petition urging Atty. Gen.-designate Eric H. Holder Jr. to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for war crimes. She also sold posters featuring Bush and Cheney’s faces behind bars, with the slogan “I have a dream.”

“Just because we’ve elected a new president doesn’t negate that crimes were committed,” Cummings said. “Obama has said that no one is above the law. Bush and Cheney have admitted proudly they condoned torture. We will never regain our moral standing in the world if we just allow these criminals to say, ‘Bye bye.’ ”

The shoe hurlers planned to march later to the White House, where a few were going to toss their ammunition over the fence.

This year’s protests are expected to be notably mild compared, for example, with 1973’s raucous anti-Vietnam War demonstrations aimed at President Nixon or the angry shouts of “Hail to the thief!” in 2001 after George W. Bush’s disputed victory over Al Gore. A handful of anti-Obama protests — most centered around the abortion issue — were planned for Inauguration Day.

The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said his group would carry anti-abortion banners near the swearing-in. “We want to send a clear signal to President Obama from Day One, from the very moment you are sworn in, the pro-life community will be there.”

Obama, who favors abortion rights, has muted some of the criticism by choosing evangelical Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at today’s ceremony.

Members of the Save Darfur Coalition plan to circulate petitions urging Obama to act on the crisis in war-torn Sudan.

Meanwhile, at the base of the Dupont Circle fountain, the political theater intensified as a gray-haired man in a bright orange prisoner’s jumpsuit prepared to be “waterboarded.” He was thrown to the ground (gently), his face covered by a towel (on top of a clear plastic face mask) and his “torturer” doused his head with a gallon of water.

The “victim,” Steve Lane, a chemist who lives in Bethesda, Md., and writes grants for the National Institutes of Health, looked shaken when it was all over.

“It’s so horrible, this feeling of helplessness,” Lane said. “Even though it’s make-believe, it still panicked me when the water accidentally got in my mouth.”

This was the fifth or sixth time Lane had volunteered for “waterboarding” at an anti-Bush demonstration, he said.

“We were doing a leash thing like they did at Abu Ghraib,” he said, referring to the infamous photographs of Iraqi prisoners being mistreated by American soldiers. “Then this guy I work with on this said, ‘Let’s step it up a notch.’ So that’s what we did.”

Source

Bushes last day in office, several hundred protesters marched from Dupont Circle to Penn Ave. In solidarity with Iraqi shoe thrower Muntada Al-Zaida, protesters then threw shoes over the barricade fences between Penn Ave and the White House.

The_March_Arrives.jpgThe march arrives
Shoe_In_Flight.jpgShoes thrown over barricades

Shoes_Fly_2.jpg

More shoes thrown over White House barricades
After_the_Shoes.jpgArea of impact
Waterboarding.jpgWHY shoes are thrown at Bush! Photos: Indymedia

The event was held to demand that George Bush, Cheney, et all be prosecuted for war crimes-and that Obama deliver on his promises to end the war and shut down Guantanimo Bay.

Few if any shoes cleared the main White House fence(the final fence out of several), but the image of shoes flying towards the White House is long overdue! On the approach march, protesters held shoes aloft, just like in anti-Bush protests in so many other nations.

Several speakers both in Dupont and in front of the White House reminded everyone present that Muntada al-Zaidi has been held in custody and tortured ever since!

Prior to the march, activists demanding the closure of Guantanimo Bay re-enacted a waterboarding session, in the context of security officials trying to unravel a plot against the Inauguration itself!

Source

Anti-war protesters throw shoes at White House

WASHINGTON

Anti-war protesters were throwing shoes outside the gates of the White House on President George W. Bush’s last day in office.

About 500 people marched to the White House and threw about 40 pairs of shoes at the gate while tourists looked on and took photos.

Supporters say they acted in solidarity with Muntadhar Al-Zeidi (MOON’-tuh-dahr ahl-zay-EE’-dee), the Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad in December.

The event was sponsored by several peace groups. Organizer Jamilla El-Shafei of Kennebunk, Maine, says the event allowed protesters to express their anger over Bush. She says he is “leaving with no accountability for eviscerating our Constitution.”

Source

Related Articles

Washington notebook: One final round of shoe-throwing Video
International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration

Obama Has to Hold Bush Accountable for the Laws He Broke

Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered Since The U.S. Invaded Iraq “1,307,319”

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America’s War On Iraq 4,229

The War And Occupation Of Iraq Costs

$588,201,053,050 See the cost in your community

our_president__s_hands_by_m477m1ll3

child-in-iarqA father carrying his Daughter.

This little girl is just one of the million George Bush has been responsible for killing.

The British helped as did other countries.

The worst offenders are George W Bush and Company and Tony Blair and Company

This was a war for Oil not to free the people of Iraq.

There were No Weapons of Mass Destruction.

That was all propaganda.

They Both want to control the Middle East.

Promoting Democracy and Freedom was not part of their agenda.

What was done in Iraq was Genocide pure and simple.

Any country involved in the war in Iraq should be hanging their heads in absolute shame.  The masterminds of it should be charged.

They should be imprisoned for their crimes.

Justice must be served.

I was reading this yesterday.


France, UK pushing EU sanctions for Iran

January 19 2009

France and Britain are reportedly making attempts within the European Union to slap new round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

French daily Le Monde reported on Monday that Paris and London have been pressing the EU to expand its embargos in a bid to prevent Iran from obtaining equipment and technology for its oil industry.

“Having failed in their attempt for now due to the lack of a European consensus, French and British officials seem to be focusing on another objective – banning the activities of Iran’s Saderat and Mellat banks from the EU’s territory,” Le Monde said.

The news comes as the United States has earlier imposed its own sanctions on both Saderat and Mellat banks.

Le Monde report added that Britain and France are also working on adding to the list of Iranian organizations targeted by EU sanctions in order to make it harder for Iran to evade international sanctions.

In an attempt to pressure Iran into halting uranium enrichment, the UN Security Council has so far imposed three sets of sanctions on the country.

Washington, Tel Aviv and their European allies claim that Tehran has plans ‘to build a nuclear weapon’ and argue that the use of military force is a legitimate option in retarding Iran’s nuclear progress.

Iran argues that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – to which it is a signatory – gives the country the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, adding that nuclear energy is essential for meeting its growing energy demand.

Source

Seems to me, if they should be Sanctioning anyone it Should Be Israel and the US.

What the US or Israel have said or done is irrelevant as they are both rogue states.

Both have used Nuclear weapons on innocent civilians and if anyone is not to be trusted it would be those two especially. Both have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Britain participated in an illegal war along with the US and France has been in great part responsible for the Demise of Haiti and it’s people over the years.

They might want to take a look in their own back yards and clean up their messes before condemning Iran.

They all have “Nuclear Weapons” and should not posses them any more then anyone else.

They for all intense and purpose they are hypocrites. Practice what you preach or shut the hell up. They should clean the nuclear weapons out of their own closets. We know for a fact they have them. Iran just wants nuclear power plants.

Iran to date has not been a waring state.

The others however would think nothing of dropping a Nuke on Iran and killing again millions of people so they can control yet more of the Middle East.

This is just pathetic. They of all people have committed more crimes and killed more innocent people over the years then one wants to remember but it is true.

Iran has done nothing wrong and do not have Nuclear weapons. The sanctioning is just to starve innocent  people.  Gaza is a good example as was Iraq. Sanctions kill.

Seems the warmongers are at it again. This is the beginning of a war even if you don’t realize it. Like Iraq they sanction them, make them weak and then go in for the kill. Killing over a million people as they did in Iraq however was also pre- meditated they planed it long before the invasion ever occurred.

Many of the wars perpetrated by some countries are pre planned just like Israel pre planned this last rampage in Gaza. They have systematically exterminated a few million Palestinians over the years. This type of behavior in all countries must end. Seems those who are the richest, are the ones who are the greatest Criminals and Thieves.

That is what they are nothing more nothing less.

They want the natural Resources of weaker countries. They have been repeatedly doing it over and over for years.

It all began way back in time. They explore they find they steal , kill, murder, maim and enslave the populations of countries.

They did it to the people in Africa and sold Africans to the US as  slaves.

They conquered and killed the Aboriginals in many countries. Australia, Canada. the US, South America  etc etc.

History must not keep repeating itself.

They have been doing it for years. They stole there land and their lives.

One would think in 2009 the world leaders and people would realize this must stop.

How sad the so called civilized world are really the savages. Not the innocent people they slaughter.

Poverty and death is created and imposed on the less fortunate countries, by the rich and powerful countries.

The rich and powerful countries also do the same thing to their own people. They really should clean up their own back yards.

The Financial Crisis was caused, by those so called Rich and powerful countries as well.

History is a great teacher just a pity they never learn anything from it.

War must never be an option. Of course those who make and sell weapons love war. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Those who invest in these companies love.  $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Those countries who conquer weaker countries love $$$$$$$$$$$

They want the land the resources and will do anything to steal them including war. Including lieing,  including killing innocent people and manufacturing enough lies to hoodwinked, their population into believing it is for a just cause,  which 9 times out of ten it is not. Could be 100% of the time. Their lies and deception must be brought to the fore front.

The planet cannot sustain war. The pollution left behind will kill for years to come. You included. War is killing all of us on the planet.

War is like the plague.  Cancer causing, disease creating,  plague.

The weapons they use cause deformities, in unborn babies.

They cause mental illnesses, mentally challenged,  and the list is extremely extensive.  I would have to write all day to do the list of illnesses caused by weapons of mass destruction.

Radiation alone causes so many long term problems. In any form it is horrific.  When they say your illness is caused because it’s in your Genes well it is. But the cause of the Genes deformation in the first place,  would be radiation. This became all to obvious after the Nuclear bomb testing in the US and other countries. Cancers started to pop up. Babies were born deformed etc etc. The mentally challenged didn’t just magically appear on the planet. The Bomb testing was the actual cause. The wind blows it goes as with most of their weapons. Chemical toxic slop. Agent Orange is till affecting those in Vietnam and the war veterans.

fall-out-in-usRadiation  Fall out in the US.

When I said they would kill their own. They did. They are still doing it. Only now they are killing all of us.

The legacy of them will live on for billions of years. Is this what we want for our future.

War is exterminating everyone on the planet.  Seems the leaders in some countries, just don’t get it. Well before they kill us all they had better get a grip on reality.

War for Peace is, like F$@#$ing to get your Virginity back.

It defeats the purpose when the slop you leave on the planet kills everyone.  You and I included, or our children, or our childrens children.

The “warmongers” are the problem, not the innocent victims they murder.

They create the wave of wars. They create the circumstances. They create the weapons. They make the profits. They enslave the people.

join-vacancies-avaliable

They are killing all of us for power, land, natural resources and money.

They use our sons and daughters , friends and families to fight their filthy wars. Not for Peace,  not to protect us, but for Greed, Power and domination..

They kill millions of innocent people.

They would kill you too.

“War Pollution” is devastating to the planet.

Related Articles

Who profits from WAR?

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Outcry over weapons used in Gaza

Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel: Are the US and Israel Planning a Broader Middle East War?

Gaza (6) A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Published in: on January 20, 2009 at 6:57 pm  Comments Off on Jan 19: Throw a shoe, sing for peace: Protesters gather in D.C.  
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Actions we can take to help Palestinians in Gaza


Israeli jets bombed targets across Gaza for the third consecutive day. Five girls from the same family, including a 14 month-old toddler, were slain overnight when Israeli warplanes pounded a mosque near their home in the northern town of Jabaliya. Three boys were also killed in a separate Israeli strike on the southern city of Rafah. The fatalities took to 27 the number of children killed in the Israeli onslaught, unleashed Saturday. More than 345 people have been killed and 1,650 wounded in the Israeli offensive. (References for text: IslamOnline.net and agencies. Photo: Ashraf Amra/AP) Source

AVAAZ.ORG

GAZA: STOP THE BLOODSHED, TIME FOR PEACE
With already 380 dead and continued shelling of civilians in southern Israel, now is the time to issue a demand to world leaders that the spiralling violence that has characterized the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must come to an end.

Petition to the UN Security Council, the European Union, the Arab League and the USA:
We urge you to act immediately to ensure a comprehensive ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, to protect civilians on all sides, and to address the growing humanitarian crisis. Only through robust international action and oversight can the bloodshed be stopped, the Gaza crossings safely re-opened and real progress made toward a wider peace in 2009.

Sign the petition calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza – and for peace to be achieved between Israel and Palestine in 2009.


From International Action Center

Sign the Appeal to Stop the Attack on Gaza!
Urgent Appeal for Israel to Immediately Cease Its Murderous Bombing, Siege and Threatened Invasion of Palestinian Gaza

Initiated by 2008 U.N. Human Rights Award winner Ramsey Clark

Let President George W. Bush, President-Elect Barack Obama, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State Designate Hillary Clinton, Vice President Richard Cheney, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Congressional leaders, U.N. Secretary General Ban, U.N. General Assembly President d’Escoto-Brockmann, members of the U.N. Security Council, U.N. member states, the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet and Opposition leader of Israel, and Major media representatives know you support this urgent appeal initiated by 2008 U.N. Human Rights Award recipient Ramsey Clark for Israel to Immediately Cease Its Murderous Bombing, Siege and Threatened Invasion of Palestinian Gaza!

To sign this Petition

Take Action to Protest Israeli Attack on Gaza

Mid-morning Saturday, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched a series of deadly air strikes on the occupied Gaza Strip. As we write this, an estimated  380 Palestinians have been killed and 1,650 innocent people have been wounded. According to news reports today, Israel plans to keep these attacks going and has brought scores of tanks to the border with Gaza.

These Israeli attacks come on top of a brutal siege of the Gaza Strip which has been going on for years and has created a humanitarian catastrophe of dire proportions for Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinian residents by restricting the provision of food, fuel, medicine, electricity, and other necessities of life. All of this is happening in the most densely populated and one of the poorest areas of the world.

Israel is carrying out these attacks with F-16 fighter jets and missiles provided by U.S. taxpayers. From 2001-2006, the United States transferred to Israel more than $200 million worth of spare parts to fly its fleet of F-16’s. In July 2008, the United States gave Israel 186 million gallons of JP-8 aviation jet fuel. Last year, the United States signed a $1.3 billion contract with Raytheon to transfer to Israel thousands of TOW, Hellfire, and ‘bunker buster’ missiles.

Israel’s lethal attack on the Gaza Strip could not have happened without the active military and political support of the United States. We need to take action now to protest this attack and demand an immediate cease-fire.
The U.S. Campaign to End the Israel Occupation (a member group pf UFPJ) has issued an action alert with these suggestions — we urge you to take action today!

    Contact the White House to protest the attacks and demand an immediate cease-fire. Call 202-456-1111 or send an email to comments@whitehouse.gov.Contact the State Department at 202-647-6575 or send an email by clicking here.

    Contact your Representative and Senators in Congress at 202-224-3121 or find contact info for your Members of Congress by clicking here.

    Contact your local media by phoning into a talk show or writing a letter to the editor. To find contact info for your local media, click here.

    Organize a local protest or vigil and tell us about it by clicking here.

    Sign our open letter to President-Elect Obama calling for a new U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine and find out other steps you can take to influence the incoming Administration by clicking here.

Contacting Israels Embassies and all Government officials around the world wouldn’t hurt either.

Ontario man’s Gaza trip an extended nightmare, he is trapped in Gaza

Israel ‘rammed’ medical aid boat headed to Gaza

Leaders Lie, Civilians Die, Israelis-Palestinians

US Veto Blocks UN Anti-Israel Resolution

Global protests against Israel

Israel Used Internationally Banned Weaponry in Massive Airstrikes Across Gaza Strip

Iran preps humanitarian aid ship to Gaza Strip

Israel blocks foreign media from Gaza

Protesters shake shoes at US Embassy in London

December 19 2008

Protestors hold shoes up during a demonstration outside the US Embassy in London Friday, Dec. 19, 2008, by Stop the War coalition calling for the guaranteed safety and release of Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who threw his shoes at US President George Bush during a press conference in Baghdad. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

A pile of shoes, seen, dumped in a box outside the US Embassy by demonstrators in London, Friday, Dec. 19, 2008. Stop the War coalition are calling for the guaranteed safety and release of Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who threw his shoes at US President George Bush during a press conference in Baghdad. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

A Protestor holds a shoe up during a demonstration outside the US Embassy in London Friday, Dec. 19, 2008, by Stop the War coalition calling for the guaranteed safety and release of Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who threw his shoes at US President George Bush during a press conference in Baghdad. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON (AP) — Protesters shook their shoes at the U.S. Embassy in London on Friday in a show of support for a jailed Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference in Iraq.

Up to 50 demonstrators, some carrying shoes mounted on sticks, protested the arrest of journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi and called for his release.

“He has stood up against the silence and the lies that we have been forced to take all too often in the British and international media,” said David Crouch, the chairman of Media Workers Against The War, a group representing anti-war journalists.

“Our role is to give a voice to people who don’t have a voice and for that reason al-Zaidi might as well have thrown 27 million shoes at George Bush, because he was speaking for the vast overwhelming majority of the Iraqi population,” Crouch said.

The protest ended when demonstrators dumped their shoes — including high heels, sneakers, and slippers — into a box in front of the U.S. Embassy at London’s Grosvenor Square.

Source

If you are so inclined you could even send Bush a Christmas greeting.

In my wanderings some have suggested either mailing or emailing George Bush shoes.  I would also add a picture  of another sort myself.

President Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

E-mail George Bush at

president@whitehouse.gov

Or there is also this event coming up. Be sure to check it out. All shoes collected will be donated to those in need after the event. You may also want to volunteer. It is a lovely farewell bash, to say goodbye to Bush.

Shoe Bush? JANUARY 19th 2009 at the White House

I  myself am  imagining it:

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
All the creatures are stirring, especially those with a mouse.
The hopes are hung by the children with care,
In hopes that Bush might see his own nightmare.

When out on the White House lawn there arose such a clatter,
Bush would spring from his bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he would fly like a flash,
He would open the shutters and throw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Would give lustre of mid-day to the objects below.
When, before his blind eyes would appear,
But a few  million shoes, and a message so clear.

St Nick would spring to his sleigh, to his team give a whistle,
And away they all fly like the down of a thistle.
Bush would hear him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
” Merry Christmas George. And to you this is farewell and a memorable night.”

The little old driver, so lively and quick,
Bush would know in a moment this is so slick..
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
St Nick whistled, and shouted, and called his reindeer by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

And then, in a twinkling, I smile at the views
The prancing and pawing of each little mews.
As I rest in my bed, I think of  this dream to astound,
A sight so pleasant and love all around.

All I want for Christmas is this “Little Dream”.
To tell George Bush just what we mean.
The Elves are all thinking…..With Love in their hearts.
One last message to George before he departs.

Just being a helpful Elf.

Friday Imam of Tehran proposed to store a shoes thrown to George Bush by the Iraqi journalist in Baghdad museum.

Muntazir al-Zeydi, reporter of al-Bagdadiyya TV channel of Iraq, threw his shoes at the U.S. President George Bush by saying ‘this is farewell, you dog’ during press conference in Baghdad on Dec. 15.

Iran’s Friday Imam described this move by the Iraqi journalist as a sign of resistance during Friday prayers and said Iranian and Iraqi people should launch shoe campaign for his release, Fars news agency reported.

Muntazir al-Zeydi has been arrested by the security forces of Iraq. A suit has been filed against him. Those who attack President of any country are sentenced to 7-15 years in jail in Iraq.

Source

I like that Idea. It does mark a day in history.

I understand all to well why Muntadhar al-Zeidi threw the shoes.

These two sites below show you what the media failed too.

This is the Bush Legacy in Iraq. If I had my way I would force George Bush and his Friends to view every picture.

“Victims of the Anglo-American Aggression”

“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”


Why We Must Prosecute Bush And His Administration For War Crimes

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

White House Protesters Throw Shoes at Bush Effigy


Published in: on December 19, 2008 at 8:13 pm  Comments Off on Protesters shake shoes at US Embassy in London  
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Bush considering ‘orderly’ auto bankruptcy

By Jennifer Loven
December 18 2008

WASHINGTON

The Bush administration is looking at “orderly” bankruptcy as a possible way to deal with the desperately ailing U.S. auto industry, the White House said today as carmakers readied more plant closings and a half million Americans filed new jobless claims.

With General Motors, Chrysler and the rest of Detroit anxiously holding its breath and waiting for a federal rescue, White House press secretary Dana Perino said, “There’s an orderly way to do bankruptcies that provides for more of a soft landing. I think that’s what we would be talking about.”

President George W. Bush, asked about an auto bailout, said he hadn’t decided what he would do but didn’t want to leave a mess for Barack Obama, who takes office a month from Saturday.

Bush, like Perino, spoke of the idea of bankruptcies orchestrated by the federal government as a possible way to go — without committing to it.

“Under normal circumstances, no question bankruptcy court is the best way to work through credit and debt and restructuring,” he said during a speech and question-and-answer session at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. “These aren’t normal circumstances. That’s the problem.”

Perino said the White House was “very close” to a decision — though she wouldn’t give a timetable. She emphasized there were still several possible approaches to assisting the automakers, including short-term loans from the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Wall Street bailout program.

The Big Three automakers said anew that bankruptcy wasn’t the answer, as did an official of the United Auto Workers who called the idea unworkable and even dangerous. GM said a report that it and Chrysler had restarted talks to combine was untrue.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Capitol Hill that grim new unemployment data heightened the urgency for the administration “to prevent the imminent insolvency of the domestic auto industry.”

The California Democrat said Bush has the legal authority to act now, and should attach the accountability standards that were included in a $14 billion House-passed and Bush-supported carmaker bailout that died in the Senate last week. That plan would have given the government, through a Bush-appointed “car czar,” veto power over major business decisions at any auto company that received federal loans.

Pelosi spoke after the government announced that initial claims for unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 554,000 last week.

The comments in Washington came a day after Chrysler announced it was closing all its North American manufacturing plants for at least a month as it, General Motors and Ford Motor await word on government action. General Motors also has been closing plants, and it and Chrysler have said they might not have enough money to pay their bills in a matter of weeks.

Prices of GM and Ford stocks were down sharply today after the remarks out of the White House. Ford, unlike General Motors and Chrysler, is not seeking billions in federal bailout loans, but a collapse of the other two could hurt Ford as well.

Alan Reuther, the United Auto Workers’ legislative director, said the union urged the administration during a meeting this week to follow the provisions included in the House-passed auto aid bill.

Congressional aides in both parties who have been closely following the discussions suggested the talk of bankruptcy could be a tactic to extract more hefty concessions from the companies and union in exchange for granting short-term loans from Treasury’s financial industry rescue fund.

Perino said one factor preventing an announcement of action by the administration is that discussions continue with the various sides that would have to sign on to a managed bankruptcy — entities such as labor and equity holders in addition to the companies themselves.

A senior administration official said the talks between Bush officials and the Big Three and their stakeholders amount to information-gathering, not negotiating.

The White House has repeatedly emphasized its opposition to “disorderly bankruptcy” — presumably a Chapter 7 filing that would effectively shut down a company and require liquidation of assets. That has left on the table the possibility of forcing one or more automakers into a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows a firm to keep operating while under a court’s purview.

Harlan Platt, who teaches corporate turnarounds at Northeastern University in Boston, said the government may be waiting for an offer of an ownership stake in the companies, much as it received in return for capital plowed into banks. “You really have to ask the question: If this is good enough for Wall Street, why isn’t it good enough for Detroit?” he said.

Today, spokesmen for Chrysler, GM and Ford generally referred to their previous comments that bankruptcy was not a workable solution. The car companies argue that no one would buy a vehicle from a bankrupt company for fear that the company might not be around to honor warranties.

“We continue to work with the administration to find a solution to this liquidity crisis,” said GM spokesman Tony Cervone.

Chrysler spokeswoman Shawn Morgan noted previous statements against bankruptcy by CEO Robert Nardelli. Financing for even a prepackaged bankruptcy would be difficult to get in the current tight credit market, Chrysler has said.

The National Automobile Dealers Association also spoke out against bankruptcy for car companies “in any way shape or form, orderly or disorderly, prepackaged or unpackaged, managed or unmanaged,” said spokesman Bailey Wood.

Bush said the auto industry is “obviously very fragile” and he is worried about what an out-and-out collapse without Washington involvement “would do to the psychology” of the markets.

“There still is a lot of uncertainty,” he said.

At the same time, the president said anew that he is worried about “putting good money after bad,” meaning taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to prop up companies that can’t survive the long term.

He revealed one other consideration — that Obama will become president in just over a month.

“I thought about what it would be like for me to become president during this period. I believe that good policy is not to dump him a major catastrophe on his first day in office,” Bush said.

———

Writers Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Ken Thomas in Washington and Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this story.

Source

Auto workers rally in Jackson

Canadian Governments willing to help Auto Industry

Auto jobs are also being affected abroad as well.

Workers protest massive wave of job cuts

White House Protesters Throw Shoes at Bush Effigy

White House Protesters Throw Shoes at Bush Effigy
December 17 2008

Anti-war protesters throw shoes at a fellow demonstrator wearing a prison uniform and mask of President George W. Bush outside the White House in Washington, on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008. (AP Photo)

By  Tom Fitzgerald

President Bush may have though he’d see the last of shoes being thrown his way, but the anti-war group Code Pink showed up at the White House Wednesday to stage a protest inspired by the President’s much-discussed shoe ducking incident.

The protesters took turns throwing shoes at a large puppet that was made up to look like President Bush. A shoe memorial was also laid out on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to represent the Iraqi civilians who have been killed during the war.

The group’s founder, Meda Benjamin, says she views the Iraqi reporter who threw his footwear at the president as a role model, saying “We feel that the Iraq reporter is now a hero throughout the world because he has expressed the sentiment of millions of people who are so angry at George Bush’s policies”

Critics of Code Pink say the event was more publicity stunt than constructive discussion of the problems facing a post-Bush administration.

Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, says Code Pink may have to change its style once Barack Obama inherits both the White House and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying “There is a mainstream left which respectfully discusses what’s happened in Iraq and then there is Code Pink – no where near respectful – and their actions are out of the mainstream.”

The U.S. Secret Service stood by during the protests; however there were no conflicts with authorities and no arrests were made.

Source

Berkeley Code Pink activists support Iraq shoe-throwing reporter

December 17 2008

Code Pink members and supporters hold a “Farewell Kiss, Shoe-in” outside the Marine Recuitment…
Anti-war activists from the group Code Pink gathered at a Marine recruiting station in Berkeley this morning to show solidarity with an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush on Sunday.

Members of the group and others marched around the recruiting station holding shoes in the air to show support for Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who hurled two shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad.

In many Arab countries, showing the sole of one’s shoes, much less throwing shoes at another person, is considered extremely disrespectful.

Organizers said their demonstration was to show support for the Iraqi people who have been killed, tortured or maimed and U.S. soldiers who have died since the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.

The Code Pink protest didn’t effect operations at the Shattuck Avenue recruiting station, said Marine Corps spokesman Sgt. Matt DeBoard.

“Code Pink has been protesting at Shattuck Square for almost a year now,” he said. ”They don’t bother us and we don’t bother them.”

He repeated the Marine’s contention that their recruiting and military operations help defend Americans right to freedom of speech. “Our position is that we do what we do so that everyone can express their opinion.”

For more than a year, women from CodePink picketed weekly in front of the U.S. Marine recruiting center at 64 Shattuck Square in downtown Berkeley. They say the Marines are not welcome in liberal, anti-war Berkeley and that the office should shut its doors.

In January, the Berkeley City Council got involved when it officially stated that the Marines were “uninvited and unwelcome intruders” and granted CodePink a permit waiver and a free parking space in front of the Marine center for the weekly protests. The move angered people across the country, who flooded City Hall with about 25,000 letters and e-mails.

Source

Protesters shake shoes at US Embassy in London

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

Please also sign Petitions at below link.

Join the Calls to release Iraqi Journalist Muntadhar Al-Zaydi

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

Peace Activists Take Shoes to White House in Solidarity with Shoe-Throwing Iraqi Journalist
Call for his release and tribute to Iraqis who have suffered under US occupation

WHAT: Peace activists to gather with shoes in solidarity to Iraqi journalist
WHEN: 11 a.m., Weds. Dec. 17
WHERE:  In front of White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

In solidarity with an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush at a Baghdad press conference Sunday, peace activists will gather outside the White House with bags of shoes representing Iraqis and U.S. soldiers who have died since the Bush Administration’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

They aim to show support for Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi, who hurled his shoes at President Bush while he spoke at the conference on his “surprise” visit to discuss the war. Al-Zaidi is currently being held by Iraqi police and questioned on his actions. The peace activists are calling on the Iraqi government to release al-Zaidi without charges and have set up a fund to support him and his family.”

“It’s outrageous that al-Zaidi could get two years in prison for insulting George Bush, when Bush is directly responsible for the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqis and 4,200 U.S. troops, and 5 million displaced Iraqis,” says Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK. “The one who should be in jail is George Bush, and he should be charged with war crimes.”

The gesture of throwing shoes is considered a major insult in Arabic culture.

“Al-Zaidi’s act of civil disobedience expresses the disgust that so many Iraqis and Americans feel towards a man who has caused so much pain and suffering,” says Anas Shallal of Iraqi Voices for Peace. “It is indeed a fitting tribute to the end of the Bush reign of terror.”

U.S. veterans who served in Iraq will also participate in the shoe action at the White House.

“Having one shoe thrown at George Bush pales in comparison to the suffering that veterans and Iraqis go through everyday,” says Geoffrey Milliard of Iraq Veterans Against the War. “Perhaps if Bush can see some more of these shoes before he leaves office, he will feel some of our pain.”

For more information, please call Medea Benjamin at 415-235-6517.

Source

Farewell Kiss: Show Soles of Shoe Solidarity Stand
Wednesday, December 17th 2008 8:00am
Bush Farewell Kiss: Shoes in Solidarity with Iraqi Journalist al Zaidi Wednesday; CodePINK calls for his release and tribute to Iraqis who have severely suffered under US occupation

WHAT: CodePINK anti-war activists and allies to march holding shoes in the air around Marine Recruiting Station in solidarity with Iraqi journalist and all civil disobedience against war and torture
WHEN: 8 a.m., Weds. Dec. 17
WHERE: MRS/Marine Recruiting Station, 64 Shattuck Square, Berkeley

BERKELEY – In solidarity with an Iraqi journalist, Muntader al Zaidi – who hurled his shoes at George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference Sunday – CodePINK activists and allies will gather outside the Marine Recruiting Station (MRS) holding shoes in the air and lining them up around the station Wednesday.

In addition to representing support for al Zaidi’s act of civil disobedience, the shoes will embody the Iraqi people who have been killed, tortured, maimed and U.S. soldiers who’ve died since the Bush Administration’s illegal invasion of Iraq, said CodePINK.

Showing the soul of shoes to someone is a symbol of extreme disrespect in Arab countries; throwing shoes is an even stronger statement. As he hurled his shoes at Bush, al Zaidi shouted “This is your farewell kiss, you dog”. He is currently being held, questioned, and tortured in jail.

Activists are calling on the Iraqi government to release al Zaidi immediately without charges and have set up a fund to support him and his family. They are also demanding Bush intervene for al Zaidi’s immediate release.

“It’s outrageous that al-Zaidi could get two years in prison for insulting George Bush, when Bush is directly responsible for the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqis and 4,200 U.S. troops, and 5 million displaced Iraqis,” said Medea Benjamin of CodePINK. “The one who should be in jail is George Bush, and he should be charged with war crimes.”

“Al-Zaidi’s act of civil disobedience expresses the disgust that so many Iraqis and Americans feel towards a man who has caused so much pain and suffering,” added Anas Shallal of Iraqi Voices for Peace. “It is indeed a fitting tribute to the end of the Bush reign of terror.”

CodePINK activists will bestow the “Farewell Kiss” on Bush, on Recruiting our Youth, and on Invading Afghanistan as well.

Source

What has not been so widely reported are the words Muntadar al-Zaidi, a correspondent for Cairo-based al-Baghdadiya TV, shouted out. As the first shoe was thrown at Bush, he said: “This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog.” And with his second shoe, which the president also dodged,  al-Zaidi said: “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.”


Story and Petitions to sign for his release.

Join the Calls to release Iraqi Journalist Muntadhar Al-Zaydi

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Auto workers rally in Jackson

December 16 2008

JACKSON, MS

The debate over whether the big three automakers should be bailed out by congress was brought to the Mississippi capitol.

United Auto Workers Union members marched through the capitol joined by state lawmakers and supporters. They voiced the opinion that if Wall Street was bailed out why not the automakers. The worry is that if Ford, GM and Chrysler aren’t given money from Washington the companies could go under and take thousands of American families with them.

Robert Schaffer of the MS AFL-CIO says, “It’s getting to the point to where it’s fine for them to make decisions about everybody else’s welfare, but if we were in a situation where they were losing their jobs and they were losing their health care off those fat salaries in Washington DC. They would have a different out look on everything trust me.”

A bill to bailout auto makers passed the house, but failed in the United States senate. President Bush and the white house says they are working on a plan-B that all sides can agree on.

Source

Canadian Governments willing to help Auto Industry

Published in: on December 17, 2008 at 12:17 am  Comments Off on Auto workers rally in Jackson  
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Auto bailout collapses in Senate

By Chris Isidore
December 12, 2008

Deal to move forward on $14 billion stopgap measure falls short, possibly dooming GM and Chrysler to bankruptcy.

NEW YORK
The bailout of the U.S. auto industry was in peril Friday after a compromise plan to provide $14 billion in emergency loans was rejected by the Senate overnight.

The Senate voted 52-35 to bring the measure for a vote — short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation. The failure followed the collapse of negotiations between Senate Democrats and Republicans seeking a compromise that all sides could accept.

The dramatic late-night developments could doom General Motors  to a bankruptcy and closure in the coming weeks, with Chrysler LLC potentially following close behind.

While Ford Motor has more cash on hand to avoid an immediate crisis, its production could be disrupted by problems in the supplier base, as could the production of overseas automakers with U.S. plants such as Toyota Motor  and Honda Motor .

Investors around the world reacted negatively. Stocks in Japan and Hong Kong closed lower and were trading lower in Europe. U.S. stock futures were down sharply. General Motors was trading 34% lower and Ford 11% in premarket trading.

The measure the Senate turned back would have provided $14 billion in federal loans as a stopgap measure until the new Congress and the incoming Obama administration could reach a longer-term solution.

However, the Big Three could still wind up getting government funding. Bush officials warned wavering GOP senators earlier Thursday that if they didn’t support the legislation, the White House will likely be forced to tap funds from the Wall Street bailout to lend them money, two Republican congressional officials told CNN.

The White House has been strongly opposed to using any of the $700 billion in bank bailout funds to help the auto industry, but the Bush administration has also said the Big Three must get some financial assistance soon.

“It’s disappointing that Congress failed to act last night,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto. “We will evaluate our options in light of the breakdown in Congress.”

Hopes for compromise quickly faded

Earlier in the evening, it appeared that the two sides were getting close to an agreement on the bailout. But just after 10 p.m., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced a failure to reach an agreement and that he would call for a procedural vote to test support for the measure.

“We have worked and worked and we can spend all night tonight, tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday, and we’re not going to get to the finish line,” Reid said on the Senate floor before the vote. “That’s just the way it is. There’s too much difference between the two sides.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the sticking point was the United Auto Workers union’s refusal to put employees at U.S. auto manufacturers at “parity pay” with U.S. employees at nonunion plants operated by foreign automakers in the United States.

Negotiations centered around proposals from Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., that would have set dates in 2009 by which the automakers receiving the loans had to reach cost cutting agreements with unions and creditors or be forced into bankruptcy. Corker said the two sides were very close to a deal and stumbled on the deadline for the union to agree to the reduced pay.

“We are about three words away from a deal,” Corker said.

Currently, analysts estimate the union workers at U.S. automakers make about $3 to $4 per hour more than the non-union U.S. employees of foreign automakers like Toyota and Honda, according to the Center for Automotive Research.

The benefit costs are significantly greater for U.S. automakers, though, because they have to pay health care costs for hundreds of thousands of retirees. The union agreed to close much of that gap in the 2007 labor agreements by shifting responsibility for retiree health care to union-controlled trust funds. But those changes won’t take effect until 2010.

The House easily passed the bailout bill Wednesday night but it quickly ran into trouble in the Senate, where Republicans objected to several provisions.

Source


Union balks and $14B auto bailout dies in Senate

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS and KEN THOMAS December 12 2008

WASHINGTON
A $14 billion emergency bailout for U.S. automakers collapsed in the Senate Thursday night after the United Auto Workers refused to accede to Republican demands for swift wage cuts.

The collapse came after bipartisan talks on the auto rescue broke down over GOP demands that the United Auto Workers union agree to steep wage cuts by 2009 to bring their pay into line with Japanese carmakers.

“We were about three words away from a deal,” said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the GOP’s point man in the negotiations, referring to any date in 2009 on which the UAW would accept wage cuts.

Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hoped President George W. Bush would tap the $700 billion Wall Street bailout fund for emergency aid to the automakers. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC have said they could be weeks from collapse. Ford Motor Co. says it does not need federal help now, but its survival is far from certain.

Reid called the bill’s collapse “a loss for the country,” adding: “I dread looking at Wall Street tomorrow. It’s not going to be a pleasant sight.”

GM said in a statement is was “deeply disappointed” that the bipartisan agreement faltered. “We will assess all of our options to continue our restructuring and to obtain the means to weather the current economic crisis,” the company said.

The White House said it was evaluating its options in light of the breakdown.

“It’s disappointing that Congress failed to act tonight,” a White House statement said. “We think the legislation we negotiated provided an opportunity to use funds already appropriated for automakers and presented the best chance to avoid a disorderly bankruptcy while ensuring taxpayer funds only go to firms whose stakeholders were prepared to make difficult decisions to become viable.”

The Senate rejected the bailout 52-35 on a procedural vote — well short of the 60 required — after the talks fell apart.

The implosion followed an unprecedented marathon negotiations at the Capitol among labor, the auto industry and lawmakers who bargained into the night in efforts to salvage the auto bailout at a time of soaring job losses and widespread economic turmoil.

The group came close to agreement, but it stalled over the UAW’s refusal to agree to wage cuts before their current contract expires in 2011. Republicans, in turn, balked at giving the automakers federal aid.

“In the midst of already deep and troubling economic times, we are about to add to that by walking away,” said Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., the Banking Committee chairman who led negotiations on the package.

Alan Reuther, the UAW’s legislative director, declined comment to reporters as he left a meeting room during the negotiations. Messages were left with Reuther and UAW spokesman Roger Kerson.

Aid the automakers gained urgency last week when the government reported the economy had lost more than a half-million jobs in November, the most in any month for more than 30 years.

The stunning disintegration was eerily reminiscent of the defeat of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout in the House, which sent the Dow tumbling and lawmakers back to the drawing board to draft a new agreement to rescue financial institutions and halt a broader economic meltdown. That measure ultimately passed and was signed by Bush.

It wasn’t immediately clear, however, how the auto aid measure might be resurrected in a bailout-fatigued postelection Congress, with Bush’s influence at a low ebb.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Senate Republicans’ refusal to support the White House-negotiated bill irresponsible and also urged the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve to provide short-term relief for the automakers. “That is the only viable option available at this time,” she said.

Congressional Republicans were already in open revolt against Bush over an auto bailout deal the White House negotiated with congressional Democrats, passed by the House passed on Wednesday.

The developments unfolded after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky joined other GOP lawmakers in announcing his opposition to the White House-backed rescue bill passed by the House on Wednesday.

He and other Republicans said wages and benefits for employees of Detroit’s Big Three should be renegotiated to bring them in line with those paid by Japanese carmakers Toyota, Honda and Nissan in the United States.

Hourly wages for UAW workers at GM factories are about equal to those paid by Toyota Motor Corp. at its older U.S. factories, according to the companies. GM says the average UAW laborer makes $29.78 per hour, while Toyota says it pays about $30 per hour. But the unionized factories have far higher benefit costs.

GM says its total hourly labor costs are now $69, including wages, pensions and health care for active workers, plus the pension and health care costs of more than 432,000 retirees and spouses. Toyota says its total costs are around $48. The Japanese automaker has far fewer retirees and its pension and health care benefits are not as rich as those paid to UAW workers.

Republicans also bitterly opposed tougher environmental rules carmakers would have to meet as part of the House-passed version of the rescue package and the Senate dropped them from its package.

Some Senate Democrats joined Republicans in turning against the House-passed bill — despite increasingly urgent expressions of support from the White House and President-elect Barack Obama for quick action to spare the economy the added pain of a potential automaker collapse.

The House-passed bill would have created a Bush-appointed overseer to dole out the money. At the same time, carmakers would be compelled to return the aid if the “car czar” decided the carmakers hadn’t done enough to restructure by spring.

McConnell said that measure “isn’t nearly tough enough.”

Supporters had an uphill battle pressing the rescue package on a bailout-fatigued Congress — particularly a measure designed to span the administrations of a lame-duck president and his successor. Before the late-day negotiations, patience had begun wearing thin at the Capitol as lawmakers looked ahead to adjourning for the holidays.

The House approved its plan late Wednesday on a vote of 237-170. Supporters cited dire warnings from GM and Chrysler executives, who have said they could run out of cash within weeks.

A pair of polls released Thursday indicated that the public is dubious about the rescue plan.

Just 39 percent said it would be right to spend billions in loans to keep GM, Ford and Chrysler in business, according to a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. Just 45 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Republicans supported the idea.

In a separate Marist College poll, 48 percent said they oppose federal loans for the struggling automakers while 41 percent approved.

Writers David Espo and Alan Fram in Washington and Kimberly S. Johnson in Detroit contributed to this report.

Source

Lawmakers Seek to Attach a String to Detriot Bailout

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.)

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.)

December 9 2008

By Mike Lillis

As Congress and the White House negotiate the conditions of $15 billion in short-term financing for the automakers, a growing chorus of lawmakers, economists and consumer advocates is calling for specific fuel-efficiency benchmarks to be written into the legislation.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said Tuesday that cash alone won’t be enough to rescue an industry with a long history of fighting such reforms as seat belts, airbags and more fuel-efficient vehicles. Instead, Markey said, any bailout should “require a change of culture … that answers challenges with innovation rather than lobbying and litigation.”

“It must destroy forever the industry’s fear of change,” he said during a hearing on how to mesh the bailout with the nation’s plans for energy independence.

Markey’s comments arrive as Congress and the White House continue to haggle over the details of a plan to provide two of Detroit’s Big Three — General Motors and Chrysler — with $15 billion in emergency loans to tide them over until March. Without the cash infusion, the companies say they would go out of business at the end of this month. Ford has said it has enough cash to survive 2009 without government help, though the company has requested a $9-billion line of credit as an emergency backstop if the recession deepens.

Discontented with the lax regulation of the Wall Street bailout, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have sought more specificity and oversight in the Detroit rescue bill to ensure that the money is spent as Congress intends.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said a vote on the bailout plan could come as soon as Wednesday morning, but the Bush administration has yet to approve the Democrats’ latest proposal.

Harming the bill’s chances of passage, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took to the chamber floor Tuesday to announce his opposition to it. The current plan, he said, “fails to achieve our goal of securing the long-term viability of ailing auto companies.” A Senate filibuster could kill the bailout legislation.

A draft of the bill was unveiled yesterday. Among the sticking points is a provision, opposed by the White House, that would prevent the automakers from suing states that seek to impose emission standards more strict than federal rules. Led by California, more than a dozen states have applied for Environmental Protection Agency waivers to implement the new rules, which would force emission reductions of 30 percent by 2016. The new standards are an indirect way of forcing the automakers to produce higher-mileage cars.

The automakers and their congressional allies have fought vigorously against the waivers, arguing that they would force the car manufacturers to produce two sets of vehicles to cater to two sets of rules.

“Uniformity is the key,” said Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), a staunch defender of the industry.

But others are leaning in another direction entirely. Markey on Tuesday said he’d like to see the bailout legislation go a step further and grant California’s waiver outright.

Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook, in testimony Tuesday before Markey’s committee, said that because the auto industry has historically been reluctant to make voluntary safety and fuel-efficiency reforms, Congress should write the changes it wants into the bailout bill.

“The auto industry has made promises, promises, promises,” said Claybrook, who headed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 1977 to 1981. “Anything that we want these manufacturers to do should be in the law.”

Peter Morici, a University of Maryland economist who’s been critical of Detroit’s automakers, cited another reason to include specific fuel-economy benchmarks in the bailout legislation: The price of gasoline has dropped precipitously in recent months. “If the price of gasoline sinks and stays at a buck and a half a gallon,” Morici said, “then all of a sudden those big pickup trucks start looking good again and [the automakers] can make a lot of money.”

No change has been so resisted by the industry as that of increased fuel-efficiency standards. For decades, the automakers have successfully fought against the efforts of environmentalists and lawmakers (including Markey) to nudge the companies to produce higher-mileage vehicles. Between 1975 and 2007, federal fuel standards didn’t change.

The low fuel-economy rules allowed Detroit to build its business model around production of gas-slurping sports utility vehicles, or SUVs. When the price of a gallon of gas jumped to $4 this summer, consumers stopped buying Detriot’s gas guzzlers, a trend reinforced by the onset of the recession. As a result, the Big Three have been left with dealer lots full of unwanted Hummers and factories that can’t produce anything else. To retool those plants to make smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, Congress passed $25 billion in aid earlier this year. In the meantime, at least two of the companies need another cash infusion just to stay in business.

Last week, Detroit’s Big Three submitted plans to Congress outlining how they would revamp their business models to return to profitability. GM, for example, said it can reach fleet-wide fuel-efficiency levels of 37.3 miles a gallon for cars, and 27.5 mpg for trucks, by 2012.

Ford, meanwhile, claimed it would up its mileage standards 36 percent above 2005 levels by 2015.

Based on those figures, the Natural Resources Defense Council issued a report this week indicating that if those goals were met by 2015, both companies would be in compliance with California’s proposed emission standards. That analysis added fuel to Markey’s push to include the benchmarks in the Detroit bailout.

“If they’re testifying to the fact that they can meet that standard,” Markey said, “and they want money from us … doesn’t it make sense to put their promises, technologically, into the law, as the condition of getting the money?”

Source

All vehicles should be made more fuel efficient. This would also cut down on pollutants put into the air. It can and should be done. If they look through the patent office there are many ideas in which to do this. Of course gas/oil companies buy / patent them so they never get to the market place. There are of course many ideas that have been invented to curb the use of gas/oil.  Apparently there is a carburetor invented by a Canadian that if installed in your car increases fuel efficiency very effectively.

Then there is solar and air cars as well. There are many inventions that can be used. One just has to use them, patented or not the environment needs them.

The Price of a Cash Infusion Would Be Higher-Mileage Cars is a good idea.

It can be done and should have been done years ago.

The technology is out there., All they have to do is use it.

White House reviews final Democrat auto bailout plan

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)

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Iraqi parliament OKs US troops for 3 more years

Sadrist lawmakers chanting and raising placards reading: “No, no to the agreement” react in Iraq’s parliament in Baghdad, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008, as lawmakers vote to approve a security pact with the United States that lets American troops stay in the country for three more years – setting a clear timetable for a U.S. exit for the first time since the 2003 invasion. The vote in favor of the pact was backed by the ruling coalition’s Shiite and Kurdish blocs as well as the largest Sunni Arab bloc, which had demanded concessions for supporting the deal. The Shiite bloc agreed to a Sunni demand that the pact be put to a referendum by July 30, meaning the deal must undergo an additional hurdle next year. Under the agreement, U.S. forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30 and the entire country by Jan. 1, 2012. Iraq will have strict oversight over U.S. forces. (AP Photo/APTN)

BAGHDAD

The long, costly story of American military involvement in Iraq moved closer to an end Thursday when Iraq’s parliament approved a pact that requires all troops to be out in three years, marking the first clear timetable for a U.S. exit since the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

The vote for the security deal followed months of tough talks between U.S. and Iraqi negotiators that at times seemed on the point of collapse, and then days of hardscrabble dealmaking between ethnic and sectarian groups whose centuries-old rifts had hardened during the first four years of the war.

The war has claimed more than 4,200 American lives and killed a far greater, untold number of Iraqis, consumed huge reserves of money and resources and eroded the global stature of the United States, even among its closest allies.

Now an end is in sight, and American troops could leave sooner if President-elect Barack Obama makes good on a plan to pull out combat troops within 16 months of moving into the White House in January.

Some troops are likely to redeploy to face an insurgency that has expanded in Afghanistan even as attacks have diminished in Iraq, where the U.S. believes Iraqi forces are better able to fend for themselves. The terms of the security pact reflect that confidence: U.S. forces will withdraw from Iraqi towns and cities by June 30 and the entire country by Jan. 1, 2012.

“This is a historic day for the great Iraqi people,” Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a 10-minute address on national television. “We have achieved one of its most important achievements in approving the agreement on the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq and restoring the sovereignty it lost two decades ago.”

Al-Maliki was referring to Iraq’s transformation into an international pariah following Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, which led to U.N. sanctions and other penalties.

The security deal must now be ratified by the three-member Presidential Council, which is expected to approve it.

In the dealmaking that preceded the vote, Iraq’s ruling Shiite bloc agreed to a Sunni demand that the pact be put to a referendum by July 30, meaning the deal could be rejected next year if, for example, anti-U.S. anger builds and demands for an immediate withdrawal grow. By that time, however, U.S. troops will likely have left urban areas and will be a less intrusive presence.

Under the pact, Iraq will have strict oversight over the nearly 150,000 American troops now on the ground, representing a step toward full sovereignty for Iraq and a shift from the sense of frustration and humiliation that many Iraqis feel at the presence of American troops on their soil for so many years.

President George W. Bush applauded the approval of the pact, which is divided into two agreements governing security, economics, culture and other areas of cooperation. He said it “affirms the growth” of democracy in Iraq and noted the impact of last year’s “surge,” or U.S. troop buildup.

“Two years ago, this day seemed unlikely,” Bush said in a statement from his mountaintop retreat at Camp David, Md. “But the success of the surge and the courage of the Iraqi people set the conditions for these two agreements to be negotiated and approved by the Iraqi parliament.”

The pact was backed by the ruling coalition’s Shiite and Kurdish blocs and the largest Sunni Arab bloc, which wanted concessions for supporting the deal.

The Sunni bloc received assurances that the government would work to incorporate into the security forces the mostly Sunni fighters who had turned against al-Qaida in Iraq. The government also agreed to stop pursuing fighters with alleged past links to the Sunni-led insurgency.

The Shiite-led government has previously made those assurances, but there were doubts about its commitment. Pledges of fair treatment were approved in a nonbinding vote in parliament on Thursday.

The 275-seat parliament voted on the security pact with a show of hands. There were conflicting figures for the number of deputies who attended the session, but most reports said three-quarters of up to 200 lawmakers in the chamber voted in favor.

The victory appeared to satisfy the guidelines of the country’s most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who had indicated that the deal would be acceptable only if passed by a comfortable majority.

A bloc of 30 lawmakers loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who wants U.S. forces to leave Iraq immediately, chanted protests and hoisted banners that said “No, no to the agreement” during the 25-minute session in parliament.

Al-Sadr’s militiamen have fought American troops in major uprisings over the years, but the cleric largely disbanded his force and does not appear to pose as much of a security threat as in the past. Al-Sadr is currently in Iran.

Still, anti-American sentiment is likely to remain a flashpoint for discontent in Iraq, where many people suspect the United States will stay to preserve interests in the Middle East such as access to oil.

“I reject this agreement because it was signed under the occupation and was the result of external pressure and lowly political sectarian deals at the expense of the Iraqi people,” said Qais Yassin, a Shiite engineer in eastern Baghdad, an al-Sadr stronghold.

Hussein Ali, a Shiite shop owner, said he thought the pact would ultimately have a positive outcome.

“The only thing we want is to live in peace and see the U.S. forces leave Iraq,” he said.

Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.

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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.”

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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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Hillary Clinton will be new Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton's experience and personality are expected to hold her in good stead as Barack Obama's Secretary of State

JOHN RACOUX/AP

Hillary Clinton’s experience and personality are expected to hold her in good stead as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State

By Leonard Doyle

November 22 2008

Hillary Clinton has finally agreed to become President-elect Barack Obama’s Secretary of State and spearhead efforts to restore America’s credibility in the world.

Once confirmed, Mrs Clinton will be the highest-ranking cabinet official in the next administration and she is expected to become a powerful diplomatic force, dealing with some of the international community’s most intractable problems, including terrorism and climate change.

News of her readiness to accept the job came as the Obama transition team said that the new Treasury Secretary will be Timothy Geithner, a decision that sent stocks soaring. He is highly respected and will replace Hank Paulson. This transition is the most sensitive because of the magnitude of the credit crisis, and markets have become increasingly concerned that there is a power vacuum at the heart of economic policy, just when new initiatives are needed to stop the world sliding into a deep recession.

The Dow Jones index jumped 6.5 per cent on the news that Mr Obama was ready to announce his economic team next week. New Mexico’s Governor, Bill Richardson, is to be named Commerce Secretary. Mr Obama passed over Larry Summers, a former Treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, whose subsequent tenure as president of Harvard University ended in controversy over remarks about women’s aptitude for the sciences. However, Mr Summers will be an economic adviser to the White House and was tipped last night as a future chairman of the Federal Reserve, the US central bank.

Expectations are already building that a combination of Mrs Clinton’s experience and the force of her personality could achieve what her husband failed to do and lay the foundations for a Middle East peace settlement. She has shown herself to be extremely hawkish on the subject of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and on the campaign trail for the presidency once threatened the regime with nuclear annihilation.

Aside from that heat-of-the-campaign sabre rattling, Mrs Clinton and the globe-trotting Mr Clinton are hugely admired in the world and a “Clinton dividend” could see some of the sheen being restored to America’s reputation. However, confirmation of Mrs Clinton’s role is not expected until after Thanksgiving, on Thursday.

But yesterday afternoon, after a week of public dithering and agonising, two of her confidants informed The New York Times that she has decided to give up her Senate seat and accept the job offer. She came to her decision after fresh talks with Mr Obama about the role he had in mind for her and plans to reshape US foreign policy. The bittersweet decision means she has effectively forsaken her high-profile career in politics and is ruling out any prospect of anther run for the presidency in four or even eight years.

Mr Obama’s office first disclosed that her appointment was “on track”. This came amid a week-long veritable soap opera conducted on the front pages of tabloids and sober newspapers alike. Finally yesterday the New York Daily News screamed from its front page: “Hill’s the One.” “She’s ready,” whispered one of Mrs Clinton’s confidants to The New York Times political blog, final confirmation that the deal was sealed.

Mrs Clinton’s first meeting in Chicago with Mr Obama last week “was so general” that she was unconvinced, it appears. Their follow-up talk involved the two “just getting comfortable” with the idea of working together rather than any attempt to wrest concessions from Mr Obama. The clout that Mrs Clinton will bring to the thankless job of being America’s top diplomat should be formidable, especially as Mr Obama is expected to move quickly in the early days of his administration to capitalise on his honeymoon period. The President-elect has already sent signals that rather than retrench in the face of a global economic turndown, he wants to take advantage of the period of international turmoil to try and make progress on many fronts.

Hopes for progress in the Middle East also rest on the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Mr Obama’s Chief of Staff. Mrs Clinton’s background as a senator from New York and Mr Emanuel’s ties to the US Israel lobby would provide Mr Obama with a formidable team with which to bring pressure to bear on Israel and the Palestinians to achieve an acceptable settlement, the theory goes. Mr Clinton’s experience in bringing Israelis and Palestinians to the brink of a peace agreement at Camp David in 2000 should also prove invaluable. “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Mr Emanuel told business leaders this week. “Things that we had postponed for too long ? are now immediate and must be dealt with. This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.” Global economic turmoil was foremost on his mind, but the lesson is also true for foreign policy. The fallout from the 1973 Arab-Israeli war gave President Jimmy Carter the opportunity to negotiate the historic Camp David peace accords between Egypt and Israel.

A formal offer of the job to Mrs Clinton depended on an ethics investigation by the Obama team into the former president’s activities. He apparently passed with flying colours, after making some concessions. Mr Clinton promised to come clean about future donors to his charities and to notify the State Department in advance about his foreign speeches. This is to avoid embarrassing the Obama administration with freelance diplomatic initiatives and to prevent future conflicts of interests in his $10m-a-year public speaking career.

Mrs Clinton’s future ties to the Obama administration mean that even if it is an abject failure, she will be in no position to challenge him in four or even eight years’ time. Friends of Mr Clinton whispered that it was a Machiavellian plot to put an end finally to hopes of a Clinton political dynasty. Others pointed to fireworks to come. With some understatement, one foreign policy analyst said the “contrast between Obama and Clinton could lead to some spirited policy debates in the White House”.

Mr Obama wants to emulate Abraham Lincoln by appointing a “team of rivals” to his cabinet. Putting Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton around the same table seems certain to cause fireworks; his decision to throw his lot in with Mr Obama in the primary campaign was viewed as a betrayal by the Clintons, with whom he had been linked for 20 years and served as energy secretary and UN ambassador.

The money man: Timothy Geithner

For all the freshness of face that the 47-year-old brings to the US Treasury, it was the continuity that Geithner represents that cheered markets yesterday. A workaholic known as a behind-the-scenes conciliator, he has been part of the informal crisis management team dealing – often imperfectly – with the credit crunch. As president of the New York branch of the Federal Reserve, he is one of Wall Street’s chief regulators, involved in bailing out Bear Stearns, and the more important decision not to bail out Lehman. His warnings on derivatives markets went unheeded, but have earned him a name as a heavyweight thinker. He also brings an international perspective as he grew up in part in Asia and studied international economics.

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Published in: on November 22, 2008 at 8:46 am  Comments Off on Hillary Clinton will be new Secretary of State  
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Moscow aims to restore trust with the U.S.

November 16 2008

Dmitry Medvedev has said the election of Barack Obama provides an opportunity for a renewal of trust between Moscow and Washington. Relations between the two sides have soured since the U.S. announced plans to build an anti-missile defence shield in Europe.

Speaking in the U.S. capital, the Russian President said “we have great hope and aspirations for the new administration.”

Medvedev has been doing the diplomatic rounds in the past week, from the EU summit in Nice to the G20 in Washington. A top issue for discussion has been the proposed U.S. anti-missile defence shield in Europe.

Speaking at Saturday’s G20 summit in Washington, The Russian president explained that Russia will place short-range missiles in its westernmost Kaliningrad region only if the planned U.S. bases are built in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Relations between the two sides were on the agenda before the Russian president managed to take off from Moscow.

The day after the U.S. election Medvedev gave a speech to the parliament’s upper chamber, announcing a plan to counter the US missile defence system in Europe with Iskander missiles deployed in Kaliningrad.

The address caused much alarm and criticism in the West, and ahead of the EU meeting Medvedev had to explain once again what he meant.

“I would not in any way link my speech on November 5 to any other political events, apart from my address to the Russian Federal Assembly. In other words, it is not in any way linked to the U.S. presidential election, or any other political events,” Medvedev told the French newspaper Le Figaro.

“I think it’s an absolutely adequate response. We did not start this. It is only a response to the unilateral move to deploy the US radars and missiles”.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who heads the EU at the moment, did not want to be held up by U.S-Russia sticking points. Sarkozy and preferred to focus on progress as well – like the EU’s work as a peace broker following last summer’s crisis in the Caucasus.

The U.S. couldn’t be avoided altogether. Russian and French leaders and the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso were expected for dinner at the White House shortly after the Russia-EU summit wrapped up with plans for future security meetings.

The G20 meant all eyes were on the economy. They couldn’t help but wander in the direction of the man who will inherit an enormous task in January, even though he was far from Washington this weekend. Moscow anticipates that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama might better understand Russia’s concern about NATO expansion and missile defence in Europe.

“I hope we’ll be able to build normal partnership relations with the new administration and find solutions to some difficult issues which we could not find with the current administration,”
Medvedev said.

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Obama to tape weekly address for Web

President-elect will also do a weekly address for radio listeners, too
November 14 2008

By Ann Sanner

CHICAGO – This isn’t your grandfather’s fireside chat.

President-elect Barack Obama plans to tape a weekly address not just for radio listeners, as presidents have for years, but for YouTube Internet viewers, too.

Well, what else would you expect from the first post-baby boom president?

Connecting the White House hearth to the American home, Franklin Roosevelt talked to the people through the radio, with crackling broadcasts delivered near a crackling fire. John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan mastered television. For Obama, who built a big part of his campaign on the Internet, it’s Google Inc.-owned YouTube.

About 75 years after Roosevelt used a new medium to reach out during troubled times, the president-elect is doing the same with Web videos.

Obama was recording a four-minute address Friday at his transition office in Chicago. It will be posted Saturday through a YouTube link on his transition Web site, http://www.change.gov. And he will continue to do the videos when he takes office on Jan. 20.

And he won’t be the only one in his administration taking a starring role online.

Transition leaders and policy advisers will also appear in videos on a regular basis, Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Other officials, such as Cabinet members, could also take part.

President George W. Bush hasn’t videotaped his radio addresses for online viewing as Obama plans to do, the White House said. YouTube wasn’t around when Bush came into office, though podcasts of his addresses are available on iTunes, and the audio is posted on http://www.whitehouse.gov.

The Saturday radio addresses were initiated by Reagan and have evolved into a weekly fixture of the presidency, accompanied by a response from the party out of power.

Still, relatively few people actually hear them on the radio, and Obama is hoping to reach many more with what his transition team calls a “multimedia opportunity.”

The videos are part of the team’s effort to build on a campaign model that helped Obama reach millions of voters online during the presidential race. It’s a potentially powerful electronic tool in new digital outreach effort aimed at supporters and others interested in being connected to the activities of the Obama White House. The Web site and videos allow him to bypass the traditional media and reinforce his message online.

On the campaign trail, Obama promised to use the Internet to make his administration more open and interactive, offering a detailed look at what’s going on in the White House on a given day or asking people to post comments on his legislative proposals.

The transition team plans to use videos to keep people posted on developments as Obama prepares to take the oath of office, Psaki said.

A two-minute video of Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett is already on the web page .

In it, Jarrett discusses recent staff decisions and the ethics policy in place for the transition.

“We’ll be back frequently to give you updates,” she tells watchers.

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Published in: on November 15, 2008 at 8:36 am  Comments Off on Obama to tape weekly address for Web  
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George W. Bush Wants to Change up to 90 Regulations

The Midnight De-Regulation Express
In His Last Days in Power, George W. Bush Wants to Change Some Rules
By Matthew Blake

President George W. Bush (WDCpix)

President George W. Bush (WDCpix)

It’s something of a tradition– administrations using their final weeks in power to ram through a slew of federal regulations. With the election grabbing the headlines, outgoing federal bureaucrats quietly propose and finalize rules that can affect the health and safety of millions.

The Bush administration has followed this tradition and expanded it. Up to 90 proposed regulations could be finalized before President George W. Bush leaves office Jan. 20. If adopted, these rules could weaken workplace safety protections, allow local police to spy in the “war on terror” and make it easier for federal agencies to ignore the Endangered Species Act.

Matt Mahurin

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

What’s more, the administration has accelerated the rule-making process to ensure that the changes it wants will be finalized by Nov. 22.

That’s a key date, Nov. 22. It is 60 days before the next administration takes control — and most federal rules go into effect 60 days after they have been finalized. It would be a major bureaucratic undertaking for the Obama administration to reverse federal rules already in effect.

“The Bush administration has thought through last-minute regulations much more than past administrations,” said Rick Melberth, director of OMB Watch, a nonprofit group that tracks federal regulations. “They’ve said, ‘Let’s not only get them finalized; let’s get them in effect.’”

So what are the new rules?

The Washington Independent has highlighted five regulations notable for their potential effect and the way they slipped through the regulatory process. Four could to be finalized by Nov. 22. One was already — on Election Day.

1) The Dept. of Labor proposed a regulation Aug. 30 that changes how workplace safety standards are met. Labor experts contend that the administration, which previously issued only one new workplace safety standard and that under court order, is trying to make it a bureaucratic nightmare for future administrations to make workplace safety rules.

Here’s what it would do:

Currently, if the Occupational Safety and Health Admin. or the Mine Health and Safety Admin. want to introduce a new safety standard on, say, the level of exposure to toxic chemicals, it issues what is called a notice of proposed rule-making. This notice is published in the Federal Register and then debated by labor, business and relevant federal agencies.

The new regulation would add an “advanced notice of proposed rule-making,” meaning OSHA and MSHA would have prove that, say, the said chemical was seriously harming workers.

This would open the door for industry to challenge the validity of the risk assessment and then, if necessary, the actual safety standard that may come from that risk assessment.

“The purpose of this sort of rule is to require agencies to spend more time on a regulation which gives them less of a chance to actually regulate,” said David Michaels, a professor of workplace safety at George Washington University, “You’re adding at least a year, maybe two years, to the process.”

The regulation has not been finalized.

2) The administration proposed a rule that changes the employer-employee relationship laid out in the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.

Here’s what it would do:

The Family and Medical Leave Act says that employers must give their workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they are sick or need to take care of a family member or newborn. The employer’s health-care staff can check the legitimacy of the family or medical leave claim with the employee’s doctor or health-care provider.

The proposed regulation would allow the employer to directly speak with the employee’s doctor or health-care provider. The employer could also ask employees to provide more medical documentation of their conditions.

Why such a rule — which may threaten an employee’s privacy– is needed is unclear. The only study the Labor Dept. has done on the act was in 2000. The department collected comments from employers before issuing the proposed regulation, but a report analyzing the comments was never issued.

The regulation also would gives employees the right to waive their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act, making it the first national labor law to be optional. A worker, for instance, cannot waive his right to earn a minimum wage or get paid more for overtime.

The regulation was finalized on Election Day.

3) The Dept. of Health and Human Services proposed a rule Sept. 26 that would expand the reasons that physicians or health care entities could decline to provide any procedure to include moral and religious grounds. The language of the regulation says the department hopes to correct “an attitude toward the health-care profession that health-care professionals and institutions should be required to provide or assist in the provision of medicine or procedures to which they object, or else risk being subjected to discrimination.”

Here’s what it would do:

The rule change seems to apply to abortion. But they are already several rules that say physicians or health-care entities can deny an abortion request. Some women’s health advocates contend that the proposed regulation’s broad language is meant to increase the number of physicians who not only don’t provide abortions but don’t provide contraception.

“Contraception is certainly the target of this rule,” contends Marylin Keefe, director for Reproductive Health at the National Partnership for Women and Families. “The moral and religious objections of health-care workers are now starting to take precedence over patients.”

The regulation is notable for another reason. A rule involving an employee’s religious rights must be referred to the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission, yet the commission was never told of this proposed regulation.

A bureaucratic battled erupted when EEOC’s legal counsel, Reed Russell, wrote a regulation comment (pdf) blasting both the substance of the proposed rule and its disregard for the rule-making process.

The regulation has not been finalized.

4) On July 31, the Justice Dept. proposed a regulation that would allow state and local law enforcement agencies to collect “intelligence” information on individuals and organizations even if the information is unrelated to a criminal matter.

“This is a continuum that started back on 9/11 to reform law enforcement and the intelligence community to focus on the terrorism threat,” said Bush homeland security adviser Kenneth L. Wainstein in a statement.

Critics say it could infringe on civil liberties.

Here’s what it would do:

“It expands local law enforcement’s ability to investigate criminal activity that it deems suspicious,” said Melberth of OMB Watch. “But what’s suspicious to you may not be suspicious to me. They could be investigating community organizations they think are two or three steps away from a terrorist group.”

The regulation has not been finalized.

5) Before a federal agency approves any construction project– anything from building a dam to a post office — government officials must consult the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. These two agencies enforce the Endangered Species Act, and they can veto any project that adversely affects an animal on the endangered species list.

Here’s what it would do:

A regulation proposed by the Interior Dept. Aug. 12 would end this approval process. “It destroys a system of checks and balances that have been in place for two decades,” claimed Bob Davison, senior scientist at Defenders of the Wildlife. “[A federal agency] wants to go forward with a project that [it wants] to do. So you need an independent agency to look at the decision.”

Davison is not the only conservation advocate up in arms. The Interior Dept. has received 200,000 public comments, which may affect the final rule.

Or not — the department shortened the comment period from 60 to 30 days in its effort to get the regulation finalized.

In May, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten vowed that the administration would propose no regulations after June 1. He and White House spokesman Tony Fratto have repeatedly stated their contempt for what they call “midnight regulations.”

Yet with the exception of the Family and Medical Leave changes, each of these regulations were proposed after June 1. And if finalized, they will effect worker’s safety, women’s health-care choices, local police powers and endangered species.

“It was a pretty resounding election,” said Keefe of the National Partnership for Women and Families. “But this administration acts like it still has a mandate.”

Source

Hasn’t he driven the country into enough, devastation. Absolutely not.

He wants to do even more harm before he leaves. Total escalation of devastation is what he wants.

Could it be time to bring out a straight jacket for the man.

Guantanamo Bay: Obama’s options

November 12 2008

Guantanamo Bay has been widely condemned by international rights groups [GALLO/GETTY]

Barack Obama, the US president-elect, has said repeatedly that he will shut down the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and is now faced with decisions about how to proceed.

Rights groups have urged Obama to move swiftly once he begins his White House term in January.

The detention and treatment of prisoners held at the US facility has been widely condemned by international rights groups and the UN and EU.

It has held more than 750 captives from around the world since opening in 2002, including many who were captured during the US “war on terror” that followed the attacks on the US of September 11, 2001.

Around 250 prisoners remain in the camp – most held without charge or trial – including 50 or so that have been cleared for release but cannot be returned to their home countries, the US government says, for fear of torture and persecution.Two, including Osama bin Laden’s former driver, have already faced full military tribunals, set up by the Bush administration to try the detainees, but widely condemned as unfair by rights groups.

Aides to Obama say he remains committed to closing Guantanamo and trying the remaining detainees.

“President-Elect Obama said throughout his campaign that the legal framework at Guantanamo has failed to successfully and swiftly prosecute terrorists, and he shares the broad bipartisan belief that Guantanamo should be closed,” Denis McDonough, an advisor to Obama on foreign policy, said in a statement on Monday.

There are several options now on the table for the new administration.

1. Trying detainees using a new US legal system

Obama has considered proposing a new court system to try the Guantanamo detainees and has appointed a committee to decide how such a court would operate, recent media reports have said.

The US has faced widespread criticism over
its treatement of detainees [GALLO/GETTY]

How specifically that system would operate remains unclear.”There is no process in place to make that decision until his [Obama’s] national security and legal teams are assembled,” McDonough said.

But the idea of setting up a separate legal system for the detainees has already drawn some criticism, and invited comparisons to the military tribunals set up by the Bush administration.

“There would be concern about establishing a completely new system,” Adam Schiff, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and former federal prosecutor, said.

“And in the sense that establishing a regimen of detention that includes American citizens and foreign nationals that takes place on US soil and departs from the criminal justice system – trying to establish that would be very difficult.”

2. Criminal trials in the US

Obama aides have also said Guantanamo’s remaining detainees could be prosecuted in federal criminal courts.

Doing so in the US would grant the detainees legal rights equivalent to those of citizens, thus creating a host of problems for prosecutors.

More than 750 prisoners have been held at the detention centre since 2002 [GALLO/GETTY]

Evidence gathered through military interrogation or from intelligence sources could be thrown out.Defendents would also have the right to confront witnesses, which means undercover CIA officers or informants might have to take the stand, jeopardising their identities and revealing classified intelligence tactics.

The idea of bringing alleged terrorists onto US soil has also proved controversial.

Last year, the US senate overwhelmingly passed a non-binding bill opposing bringing detainees to the United States.

John Cornyn, a Republican senate judiciary committee member, says it would be a “colossal mistake to treat terrorism as a mere crime”.

“It would be a stunning disappointment if one of the new administration’s first priorities is to give foreign terror suspects captured on the battlefield the same legal rights and protections as American citizens accused of crimes,” he said.

3. Trials in the US military court-martial system

Use of the US military’s court-martial system is another possible option to try Guantanamo detainees.

Could the US use its own military justice system
to try detainees? [GALLO/GETTY]

“The court martial system could be adapted very easily by congress – I think that’s by far the better option,” Scott Silliman, a law professor at Duke University and director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, told Al Jazeera.A US federal trial, like the case brought against Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted of conspiring to kill US citizens in the September 11 attacks, could be drawn out over several years.

However, courts-martial, which unlike federal trials can take place outside the US, but maintain a higher standard of evidence than that of the current military tribunals used by the Bush administration.

But critics have also said that the higher standard of evidence could create problems for the prosecuting teams similar to that in criminal trials.

Silliman, however, says the US has much to gain from the system, in terms of credibility, for holding detainees to the same standards as its own military forces.

4. Repatriation

For the detainees which the government maintains no evidence of criminality, Obama advisers told the Associated Press news agency on Monday that they would probably be returned to the countries where they were captured for continued detention or rehabilitation.

The outgoing administration contends this is easier said than done.

“We’ve tried very hard to explain to people how complicated it is,” Dana Perino, a spokeswoman for the White House, says. “When you pick up people off the battlefield that have a terrorist background, it’s not just so easy to let them go.”

Some governments have denied that the Guantanamo prisoners are in fact their citizens, while others have been reluctant to agree to US requests to imprison or monitor former Guantanamo detainees.

The Bush administration says talks with Yemen for the release of around 90 Yemeni detainees into a rehabilitation programme have so far been fruitless.

5. Resettlement in other countries

At least 50 of Guantanamo’s inmates have already been cleared for release but the US government says they cannot be returned to their home countries for fear of torture and persecution.

Human Rights groups have called for a swift closure of Guantanamo Bay [AFP]

The US state department and international human rights groups have urged third-party countries to accept these Guantanamo prisoners.In Berlin on Monday, five rights groups issued a joint call to European governments to grant humanitarian resettlement and protection to detainees from China, Libya, Russia, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan, among others.

“This would have a double effect: helping to end the ordeal of an individual unlawfully held in violation of his human rights, and helping end the international human rights scandal that is Guantanamo,” Daniel Gorevan, who manages Amnesty International’s “Counter Terror with Justice” campaign, said.

Analysts have said international governments might be more willing to negotiate on this issue with an Obama administration because the president-elect has spoken out against unilateral US action, and is less likely to have as strict requirements.

6. Keeping Guantanamo open

The likelihood of keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open is an apparently a slim one in part, because of the negative publicity the Obama administration would receive.

The facility has been condemned by the UN, the EU, and numerous human rights groups, and many in the US argue that the camp is also a liability.

Even George Bush acknowledged in 2006 he would “like to close” it.

“Guantanamo Bay, for most people is a lightning rod for everything that’s wrong with the United States,” Silliman says. “I’m not sure Obama would be able to back away from his campaign pledge.”

Were it to remain open, the US congress would be likely to have to pass a new law to keep the detainees there, and push through humanitarian and legal changes.

Another alternative is for the US to work with other countries to create jointly-operated detention facilities.

Whatever the plan the new administration pursues, Silliman says Obama isn’t likely to push through changes on January 21 – his first day in office.

“We should not expect it to take place in the first couple of weeks of his administration, or even in the first couple months,” he says.

“All of this is going to take time.”

Source

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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Police probe Election Night threat to Obama


November 5 2008

While most of Chicago was celebrating Tuesday night, police and Secret Service agents believe one man may have been plotting to harm the man who would become president elect.

“Police and the Secret Service are investigating whether a man arrested this afternoon in Rosemont with an assault rifle intended to harm Barack Obama, several sources have told the Chicago Sun-Times,” the paper reported.

The man was arrested during a routine traffic stop, according to the paper. Police found a laptop computer opened to a page warning of possible riots if Obama won. The man also had a stun gun, ammunition and hand guns, along with the assault rifle, sources told the paper.

“There’s an individual who we have in custody at this time. There’s no charges as of yet,” a police spokesman told the Sun Times. “As part of the investigation, we’ve gotten the assistance of other law enforcement agencies.”

Obama, who Tuesday night became the first African American elected president, has been targeted in a handful of possible assassination plots, including during the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer.

On Wednesday, Newsweek also reported that Obama’s Secret Service detail became aware of an increase in reports earlier this fall.

“The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied,” the magazine reports in a special post-election edition. “Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. ‘Why would they try to make people hate us?’ Michelle asked a top campaign aide.”

Source

Hackers and Spending Sprees

Newsweek Exclusive

November 5, 2008

The computer systems of both the Obama and McCain campaigns were victims of a sophisticated cyberattack by an unknown “foreign entity,” prompting a federal investigation, NEWSWEEK reports today.

At the Obama headquarters in midsummer, technology experts detected what they initially thought was a computer virus—a case of “phishing,” a form of hacking often employed to steal passwords or credit-card numbers. But by the next day, both the FBI and the Secret Service came to the campaign with an ominous warning: “You have a problem way bigger than what you understand,” an agent told Obama’s team. “You have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system.” The following day, Obama campaign chief David Plouffe heard from White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, to the same effect: “You have a real problem … and you have to deal with it.” The Feds told Obama’s aides in late August that the McCain campaign’s computer system had been similarly compromised. A top McCain official confirmed to NEWSWEEK that the campaign’s computer system had been hacked and that the FBI had become involved.

Officials at the FBI and the White House told the Obama campaign that they believed a foreign entity or organization sought to gather information on the evolution of both camps’ policy positions—information that might be useful in negotiations with a future administration. The Feds assured the Obama team that it had not been hacked by its political opponents. (Obama technical experts later speculated that the hackers were Russian or Chinese.) A security firm retained by the Obama campaign took steps to secure its computer system and end the intrusion. White House and FBI officials had no comment earlier this week.

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin’s shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain’s top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent “tens of thousands” more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

A Palin aide said: “Governor Palin was not directing staffers to put anything on their personal credit cards, and anything that staffers put on their credit cards has been reimbursed, like an expense. Nasty and false accusations following a defeat say more about the person who made them than they do about Governor Palin.”

McCain himself rarely spoke to Palin during the campaign, and aides kept him in the dark about the details of her spending on clothes because they were sure he would be offended. Palin asked to speak along with McCain at his Arizona concession speech Tuesday night, but campaign strategist Steve Schmidt vetoed the request.

The disclosures are among many revealed in “How He Did It, 2008,” the latest installment in NEWSWEEK’s Special Election Project, which was first published in 1984. As in the previous editions, “How He Did It, 2008” is an inside, behind-the-scenes account of the presidential election produced by a special team of reporters working for more than a year on an embargoed basis and detached from the weekly magazine and Newsweek.com. Everything the project team learns is kept confidential until the day after the polls close.

Among the other revelations from the special project:

  • The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied. Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. “Why would they try to make people hate us?” Michelle asked a top campaign aide.
  • On the Sunday night before the last debate, McCain’s core group of advisers—Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, adman Fred Davis, strategist Greg Strimple, pollster Bill McInturff and strategy director Sarah Simmons—met to decide whether to tell McCain that the race was effectively over, that he no longer had a chance to win. The consensus in the room was no, not yet, not while he still had “a pulse.”
  • The Obama campaign’s New Media experts created a computer program that would allow a “flusher”—the term for a volunteer who rounds up nonvoters on Election Day—to know exactly who had, and had not, voted in real time. They dubbed it Project Houdini, because of the way names disappear off the list instantly once people are identified as they wait in line at their local polling station.
  • Palin launched her attack on Obama’s association with William Ayers, the former Weather Underground bomber, before the campaign had finalized a plan to raise the issue. McCain’s advisers were working on a strategy that they hoped to unveil the following week, but McCain had not signed off on it, and top adviser Mark Salter was resisting.
  • McCain also was reluctant to use Obama’s incendiary pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as a campaign issue. The Republican had set firm boundaries: no Jeremiah Wright; no attacking Michelle Obama; no attacking Obama for not serving in the military. McCain balked at an ad using images of children that suggested that Obama might not protect them from terrorism. Schmidt vetoed ads suggesting that Obama was soft on crime (no Willie Hortons). And before word even got to McCain, Schmidt and Salter scuttled a “celebrity” ad of Obama dancing with talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres (the sight of a black man dancing with a lesbian was deemed too provocative).
  • Obama was never inclined to choose Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate, not so much because she had been his sometime bitter rival on the campaign trail, but because of her husband. Still, as Hillary’s name came up in veep discussions, and Obama’s advisers gave all the reasons why she should be kept off the ticket, Obama would stop and ask, “Are we sure?” He needed to be convinced one more time that the Clintons would do more harm than good. McCain, on the other hand, was relieved to face Sen. Joe Biden as the veep choice, and not Hillary Clinton, whom the McCain camp had truly feared.
  • McCain was dumbfounded when Congressman John Lewis, a civil-rights hero, issued a press release comparing the GOP nominee with former Alabama governor George Wallace, a segregationist infamous for stirring racial fears. McCain had devoted a chapter to Lewis in one of his books, “Why Courage Matters,” and had so admired Lewis that he had once taken his children to meet him.
  • On the night she officially lost the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton enjoyed a long and friendly phone conversation with McCain. Clinton was actually on better terms with McCain than she was with Obama. Clinton and McCain had downed shots together on Senate junkets; they regarded each other as grizzled veterans of the political wars and shared a certain disdain for Obama as flashy and callow.
  • At the GOP convention in St. Paul, Palin was completely unfazed by the boys’ club fraternity she had just joined. One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd. “I’ll be just a minute,” she said.
  • The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that’s green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”

Source

Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 7:26 am  Comments Off on Police probe Election Night threat to Obama  
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Scandal of six held in Guantanamo even after Bush plot claim is dropped

No evidence that men living in Bosnia plotted attack on Sarajevo embassy

By Robert Fisk

October 31 2008

In the dying days of the Bush administration, yet another presidential claim in the “war on terror” has been proved false by the withdrawal of the main charge against six Algerians held without trial for nearly seven years at Guantanamo prison camp.

George Bush’s assertion in his 2002 State of the Union address – the same speech in which he wrongly claimed that Saddam Hussein had tried to import aluminium tubes from Niger – was that “our soldiers, working with the Bosnian government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy [in Sarajevo].” Not only has the US government withdrawn that charge against the six Algerians, all of whom had taken citizenship or residence in Bosnia, but lawyers defending the Arabs – who had already been acquitted of such a plot in a Sarajevo court – have found that the US threatened to pull its troops out of the Nato peacekeeping force in Bosnia if the men were not handed over. According to testimony presented by the Bosnian Prime Minister, Alija Behman, the deputy US ambassador to Bosnia in 2001, Christopher Hoh, told him that if he did not hand the men to the Americans, “then let God protect Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

That such a threat should be made – and the international High Representative to Bosnia at the time, Wolfgang Petritsch, has also told lawyers it was – shows for the first time just how ruthless and unprincipled US foreign policy had become in Mr Bush’s “war on terror”. By withdrawing their military and diplomatic support for the Bosnian peace process, the Americans would have backed out of the Dayton accord which they themselves had negotiated. Then the Bosnian government would have lost its legitimacy and the country might have collapsed back into a civil war which claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians and involved mass rape as well as massacre. The people of Bosnia might then have endured “terror” on a scale far greater than the attacks of al-Qa’ida against the United States.

When the Bosnian court was preparing to release their six prisoners, Prime Minister Behman was informed that Mr Bush, Vice-President Richard Cheney and the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had been personally briefed and the White House had decided that, if they were freed, US troops in the Nato Stabilisation Force in Bosnia would seize them, using “whatever force is necessary”. So, despite a three-month investigation by the Bosnian police, their clearance and a specific demand by the Dayton-established Bosnian Human Rights Chamber that they should not be forced to leave Bosnia, US forces seized all six, shackled and blindfolded them and put them on a plane to Guantanamo.

Mustafa Idir, Mohamed Nechla, Hadj Boudella, Lakhdar Boumedienne, Belkacem Bensayah and Saber Lahmar have remained there since, the only European citizens still in Guanatanamo. Five of their wives are still waiting for them in Bosnia along with 20 of their children, two of whom their fathers have never seen. Their case will be put to a habeas corpus district court hearing in Washington next week – the six will appear in a live transmission from Guantanamo – where their lawyers will point out that another critical charge has also been withdrawn by the US government.

The administration has withdrawn evidence given by a federal prisoner, Enaam Arnaout, against Boudella – that he trained at an al-Qa’ida camp in Afghanistan – when lawyers were about to discover that the US Justice Department had said five years earlier that an FBI interview with the man was “not reliable”.

Even stranger is that the six prisoners are claimed by the US to be “enemy combatants” when – with the dropping of the embassy bomb-plot charge – there is no evidence they have ever fought US troops or planned to attack US interests anywhere in the world. Part of the case against Bensayah involved the alleged discovery of a piece of paper at his home, bearing a telephone number for an al-Qa’ida operative, Abu Zubayder. “The Bosnian police couldn’t get this number to work in Afghanistan or Pakistan,” one of the prisoners’ lawyers, Stephen Oleskey, says. “Now we believe an announcement that the paper had been discovered was made before it was ‘found’.”

Mr Oleskey says Clint Williamson, the US war crimes ambassador, met Bosnia’s Prime Minister, Nicola Spiric, this week. “There’s only one reason he makes these visits,” he said. “To negotiate the return of people in Guantanamo.” The White House may intend to save itself further embarrassment by ending the torment of six more apparently innocent young men.

Source

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

Calling and Eight Year Old Child a Terroist is just too much To Swallow


Oct 12 2008

SCRANTON, Pa. — Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden on Sunday accused the McCain campaign of trying to distract Americans from their economic woes by launching “unbecoming personal attacks” at Barack Obama.

Appearing at a boisterous rally near his childhood home, Biden said John McCain’s campaign is desperate to change the subject from the financial crisis that has wiped out many Americans’ college and retirement savings. He said McCain has resorted to making “ugly inferences” about Obama in the waning days of the campaign.

“Every single false charge, every single baseless accusation is a simple attempt to get you to focus on something other than what’s affecting your family and your country,” said Biden, who was cheered by some 6,000 people packed into a sports arena in the blue-collar city where he lived until he was 10.

“It’s good to be home!” said the Delaware senator, who was joined on stage by former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton — the former Democratic presidential candidate who has her own roots in Scranton, where her father grew up and is buried.

The battered economy may be helping Obama in Pennsylvania, where he has surged ahead in polls over the past few weeks. A daily tracking poll conducted by Muhlenberg College has shown Obama with a double-digit lead over McCain since Oct. 3.

If Obama and Biden win Pennsylvania, Sen. Clinton predicted Sunday, “there’s no way they can lose the White House.”

Clinton beat Obama in the Pennsylvania primary by 10 percentage points, in part by appealing to the socially conservative, blue-collar voters in Scranton and many other parts of the state. Biden’s counterpart, Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is scheduled to campaign in the city on Tuesday.

Biden on Sunday cast McCain as out of touch with the concerns of everyday Americans who are worried about their jobs and the declining values of their homes. He said McCain doesn’t know how to get the nation’s economy back on track and would simply continue the policies of President Bush.

“Nothing less than our prosperity and our security is on the ballot,” he said.

At an Obama rally in Roanoke, Va., later Sunday, Bill Clinton said Bush’s response to the financial crisis is helping Obama’s campaign.

“The administration keeps plowing an Uzi’s worth of bullets into the McCain-Palin ticket every time they have something else go wrong,” Clinton told an evening rally of several hundred people gathered at Roanoke’s downtown Market Square. “It’s good politics for us.”

Clinton praised the Democratic candidate’s plan for financial recovery and his proposals for health care reform, an issue that he said nobody has taken on “since Hillary and I got our brains beat out trying to fix.”

Later, before a crowd of more than 4,000 at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Clinton said: “In six of the last eight years we have seen what happens if (Republicans) do everything they want to do. This is not about good people and bad people, this is about good ideas and bad ones.”

In Pennsylvania, Biden defended a comment he made in an ABC interview last month in which he said the wealthiest Americans should show their patriotism by paying more in taxes. The Obama campaign has said it plans to hike taxes on people earning more than $250,000, but would cut taxes for those making less. Republicans have criticized Biden over the remark.

Accusing businesses and wealthy individuals of using “offshore tax loopholes” to hide $100 billion a year in income, Biden told the crowd Sunday, “It is unpatriotic when you earn your money in the United States of America and you hide it offshore to avoid taxes, making sure YOU have to make up the difference.”

His voice rising, the Delaware senator shouted: “It is unpatriotic to take $100 billion offshore and not pay your taxes! That is unpatriotic! So I don’t need a lecture on patriotism! I’ve had it to here!”

The McCain campaign pointed out that Biden and both Clinton had raised questions about Obama during the Democratic primaries.

“As voters in northeast Pennsylvania continue to raise serious questions about Barack Obama’s judgment and character, it is befitting that they will now hear from the three leading voices who sounded the alarm on the risk of an Obama presidency,” said McCain spokesman Paul Lindsay.

Source

Is there a “Dirty Tricks” Campaign to Discourage Black Voting in November?

Has a nationwide campaign been launched to reduce minority, especially African American, voter turnout for the presidential election in November?

First there were the mysterious flyers circulated in predominantly Black neighborhoods in Philadelphia. They falsely warned potential African American voters that undercover agents would be stationed at polling stations on Election Day and they would arrest anyone with pending criminal charges or even unpaid parking tickets who tried to vote.

Then there was Thursday’s New York Times investigative report which found that “Tens of thousands of eligible voters had been removed from rolls or blocked from registering” in at least six states by an exclusion method which “appears to violate federal law.” The Times report found no evidence those election officials were intentionally trying to reduce minority voter turnout. The states involved were Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina.

However, officials were reportedly trying to enforce the so-called “Help America Vote Act of 2002.” This was a law pushed by Republicans which many Democrats charged was an attempt to allege voter fraud in a manner which would discourage minorities from voting.

Finally, there is the current legal campaign against ACORN. In the past few months, the activist group has registered a record 1.3 million people to vote – mostly in low income Black and Hispanic communities. But last week, 11 state investigations were announced against ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform) alleging that some of its activities amounted to voter fraud.

The White “Fear Factor” and Concern for Barack Obama’s Safety

By Robert N. Taylor

“The Black man has tears and the white man has fears” was once a widely accepted description of racial history in America. The adage was especially descriptive of a lot of white behavior because it appears that some group or class of white men was forever developing an irrational, unjustified fear of something and then attacking, invading, bombing or attempting to kill it.

There is no better example of this than the irrational, illegal and immoral U.S. invasion of Iraq which was driven by a self-generated fear of non-existent weapons of mass destruction by George Bush and the cabal of neo-conservatives which currently run this country.

How does all of this relate to Senator Barack Obama? It is the fear factor. Last week the campaign for president took an ugly new turn. The FOX Cable News Channel with its false claim of being a fair journalistic organization, white talk radio with its wild rantings and the John McCain campaign itself with Sarah Palin as the attack dog are trying to convince as many white Americans as possible to fear Barack Obama.

The Republican campaign has now gotten so desperate as to suggest that Obama is a terrorist sympathizer because he once sat on the board of a charity foundation with 1960s radical William Ayers. Its makes no difference that Ayers’ alleged “terrorist” activities took place when Obama was just eight years old and that the charity board on which the two sat was actually sponsored by a Republican.

This is all dangerous because attacking Obama, not on the issues, but as a person who needs to be feared feeds into an ugly and horrendous aspect of white American history – the irrational fear of the Black man leading to acts of violence against him. It began after the Civil War when Southern whites expected former slaves to launch a campaign of revenge and continues down to the present day.

The impact of these recent efforts was seen clearly during a rally McCain and Palin held in Lacrosse, Wisconsin last week. There you had whites expressing heartfelt fear that Obama might indeed be elected president. They were using words like “frustrated,” “outraged,” and “mad as hell” that Obama was not only leading McCain in the polls but appeared to be pulling away. Things got so ugly that by the end of the week McCain was forced to step forward and try to damper down the rhetoric. But Palin continued with her speeches and the Republican campaign committee continued with its ads.

To watch and listen to these people, you could feel their fear of and anger at Obama. There were other Republican rallies at which people were actually shouting “kill him” in reference to Obama. The shout may have actually been a call for McCain to defeat Obama but the choice of words was chilling. In another instance, a crowd took out its anger out on a Black cameraman for a major television network by hurling insults at him.

McCain with his latest television ads and Palin with her shrill speeches are actually laying the verbal and hysterical foundation for physical attacks on Obama by any unstable right-wing nut who decides to attend an Obama campaign rally. Regardless of your political leanings McCain and Palin must be denounced for their latest tactics because I believe they know exactly what they are doing.

It a tactic known as “divert attention from the real issues by generating fear of the Black man.”

The tactic has deep and ugly historical roots but it is time that it is socially and politically banned because it places Barack Obama in physical danger.

Source

Are the American people foolish enough to swallow the eight year old terrorist accusation?

If they do,  they certainly have been brain washed for sure.

What absolute nonsense.

I use to think Palin  was a pain in the neck but my opinion of her has moved down.

Obama is a well spoken, well educated man and should be treated with the same respect, the  way anyone of us would expect to treated.

Promoting bigotry on any level, should be unacceptable to all Americans.

Stating an eight year old child is a terrorist however is just pathetic.

Rates right up there with Children being gassed because someone sent out DVDs in Newspapers.

On Friday, September 26, the end of a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West — the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail — were distributed by mail in Ohio, a “chemical irritant” was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers. This, apparently, is what the scare tactic political campaigning of John McCain’s supporters has led to — Americans perpetrating a terrorist attack against innocent children on American soil.

Source

Who are the real terrorists?  Certainly not children.

Published in: on October 13, 2008 at 8:03 am  Comments (5)  
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Who profits from WAR?

Who profited from the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Not only do Contractors profit of course but, someone else profits quit splendidly form their contracts.

A little History lesson just in case anyone has forgotten.

When you got to Vote make sure the one you are voting for isn’t like Dick Cheney.

Ask questions, Demand answers. There are already to many profiteers in the White House.


Halliburton Makes a Killing on Iraq War

Cheney’s Former Company Profits from Supporting Troops
by Pratap Chatterjee,
March 20th, 2003

As the first bombs rain down on Baghdad, CorpWatch has learned that thousands of employees of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former

company, are working alongside US troops in Kuwait and Turkey under a package deal worth close to a billion dollars. According to US Army sources, they are building tent cities and providing logistical support for the war in Iraq in addition to other hot spots in the “war on terrorism.”

While recent news coverage has speculated on the post-war reconstruction gravy train that corporations like Halliburton stand to gain from, this latest information indicates that Halliburton is already profiting from war time contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Cheney served as chief executive of Halliburton until he stepped down to become George W. Bush’s running mate in the 2000 presidential race. Today he still draws compensation of up to a million dollars a year from the company, although his spokesperson denies that the White House helped the company win the contract.

In December 2001, Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, secured a 10-year deal known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), from the Pentagon. The contract is a “cost-plus-award-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity service” which basically means that the federal government has an open-ended mandate and budget to send Brown and Root anywhere in the world to run military operations for a profit.

Linda Theis, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Field Support Command in Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, confirmed for Corpwatch that Brown and Root is also supporting operations in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Georgia, Jordan and Uzbekistan.

“Specific locations along with military units, number of personnel assigned, and dates of duration are considered classified,” she said. “The overall anticipated cost of task orders awarded since contract award in December 2001 is approximately $830 million.”

Kuwait

The current contract in Kuwait began in September 2002 when Joyce Taylor of the U.S. Army Materiel Command’s Program Management Office, arrived to supervise approximately 1,800 Brown and Root employees to set up tent cities that would provide accommodation for tens of thousands of soldiers and officials.

Army officials working with Brown and Root says the collaboration is helping cut costs by hiring local labor at a fraction of regular Army salaries. “We can quickly purchase building materials and hire third-country nationals to perform the work. This means a small number of combat-service-support soldiers are needed to support this logistic aspect of building up an area,” says Lt. Col. Rod Cutright, the senior LOGCAP planner for all of Southwest Asia.

During the past few weeks, these Brown and Root employees have helped transform Kuwait into an armed camp, to support some 80,000 foreign troops, roughly the equivalent of 10% of Kuwait’s native born population.

Most of these troops are now living in the tent cities in the rugged desert north of Kuwait City, poised to invade Iraq. Some of the encampments are named after the states associated with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — Camp New York, Camp Virginia and Camp Pennsylvania.

The headquarters for this effort is Camp Arifjan, where civilian and military employees have built a gravel terrace with plastic picnic tables and chairs, surrounded by a gymnasium in a tent, a PX and newly arrived fast food outlets such as Burger King, Subway and Baskin-Robbins, set up in trailers or shipping containers. Basketball hoops and volleyball nets are set up outside the mess hall.

Turkey

North of Iraq approximately 1,500 civilians are working for Brown and Root and the United States military near the city of Adana, about an hour’s drive inland from the Mediterranean coast of central Turkey, where they support approximately 1,400 US soldiers staffing Operation Northern Watch’s Air Force F-15 Strike Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons monitoring the no-fly zone above the 36th parallel in Iraq.

The jet pilots are catered and housed at the Incirlik military base seven miles outside the city by a company named Vinnell, Brown and Root (VBR), a joint venture between Brown and Root and Vinnell corporation of Fairfax, Virginia, under a contract that was signed on October 1, 1988, which also includes two more minor military sites in Turkey: Ankara and Izmir.

The joint venture’s latest contract, which started July 1, 1999 and will expire in September 2003, was initially valued at $118 million. US Army officials confirm that Brown and Root has been awarded new and additional contracts in Turkey in the last year to support the “war on terrorism” although they refused to give any details.

“We provide support services for the United States Air Force in areas of civil engineering, motor vehicles transportation, in the services arena here – that includes food service operations, lodging, and maintenance of a golf course. We also do US customs inspection,” explained VBR site manager Alex Daniels, who has worked at Incirlik for almost 15 years.

Cheap labor is also the primary reason for outsourcing services, says Major Toni Kemper, head of public affairs at the base. “The reason that the military goes to contracting is largely because it’s more cost effective in certain areas. I mean there was a lot of studies years ago as to what services can be provided via contractor versus military personnel. Because when we go contract, we don’t have to pay health care and all the another things for the employees, that’s up to the employer.”

Soon after the contract was signed Incirlik provided a major staging post for thousands of sorties flown against Iraq and occupied Kuwait during the Gulf war in January 1991 dropping over 3,000 tons of bombs on military and civilian targets.

Central Asian Contracts

Still ongoing is the first LOGCAP contract in the “war on terrorism” which began in June 2002, when Brown and Root was awarded a $22 million deal to run support services at Camp Stronghold Freedom, located at the Khanabad air base in central Uzbekistan. Khanabade is one of the main US bases in the Afghanistan war that houses some 1,000 US soldiers from the Green Berets and the 10th Mountain Division.

In November 2002 Brown and Root began a one-year contract, estimated at $42.5 million, to cover services for troops at bases in both Bagram and Khandahar. Brown and Root employees were first set to work running laundry services, showers, mess halls and installing heaters in soldiers’ tents.

Future Contracts in Iraq

Halliburton is also one of five large US corporations invited to bid for contracts in what may turn out to be the biggest reconstruction project since the Second World War. The others are the Bechtel Group, Fluor Corp, Parsons Corp, and the Louis Berger Group.

The Iraq reconstruction plan will require contractors to fulfill various tasks, including reopening at least half of the “economically important roads and bridges” — about 1,500 miles of roadway within 18 months, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The contractors will also be asked to repair 15% of high-voltage electricity grid, renovate several thousand schools and deliver 550 emergency generators within two months. The contract is estimated to be worth up to $900 million for the preliminary work alone.

The Pentagon has also awarded a contract to Brown and Root to control oil fires if Saddam Hussein sets the well heads ablaze. Iraq has oil reserves second only to those of Saudi Arabia. This makes Brown and Root a leading candidate to win the role of top contractor in any petroleum field rehabilitation effort in Iraq that industry analysts say could be as much as $1.5 billion in contracts to jump start Iraq’s petroleum sector following a war.

Wartime Profiteering

Meanwhile Dick Cheney’s 2001 financial disclosure statement, states that the Halliburton is paying him a “deferred compensation” of up to $1million a year following his resignation as chief executive in 2000. At the time Cheney opted not to receive his severance package in a lump sum, but instead to have it paid to him over five years, possibly for tax reasons.

The company would not say how much the payments are. The obligatory disclosure statement filled by all top government officials says only that they are in the range of $100,000 and $1million. Nor is it clear how they are calculated.

Critics say that the apparent conflict of interest is deplorable. “The Bush-Cheney team have turned the United States into a family business,” says Harvey Wasserman, author of The Last Energy War (Seven Stories Press, 2000). “That’s why we haven’t seen Cheney – he’s cutting deals with his old buddies who gave him a multimillion-dollar golden handshake. Have they no grace, no shame, no common sense? Why don’t they just have Enron run America? Or have Zapata Petroleum (George W. Bush’s failed oil-exploration venture) build a pipeline across Afghanistan?”

Army officials disagree. Major Bill Bigelow, public relations officer for the US Army in Western Europe, says: “If you’re going to ask a specific question – like, do you think it’s right that contractors profit in wartime – I would think that they might be better [asked] at a higher level, to people who set the policy. We don’t set the policy, we work within the framework that’s been established.”

“Those questions have been asked forever, because they go back to World War Two when Chrysler and Ford and Chevy stopped making cars and started making guns and tanks. Obviously it’s a question that’s been around for quite some time. But it’s true that nowadays there are very few defense contractors, but go back sixty years to the World War Two era almost everybody was manufacturing something that either directly or indirectly had something to do with defense,” he added.

Sasha Lilley and Aaron Glantz helped conduct interviews for this article.

For further reading on Brown and Root’s military contracts, see The War on Terrorism’s Gravy Train by Pratap Chatterjee.

Pratap Chatterjee is an investigative journalist based in Berkeley, California. He traveled to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan in January 2002 and to Incirlik, Turkey, in January 2003 to research this article.

Halliburton given $30m to expand Guantanamo Bay London Independent | June 18 2005 A subsidiary of Halliburton, the oil services group once led by the US Vice-President, Dick Cheney, has won a $30m (£16m) contract to help build a new permanent prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Dick Cheney of course makes money to this Day From Haliburton.

Talk about a conflict of interest

Cheney served as chief executive of Halliburton until he stepped down to become George W. Bush’s running mate in the 2000 presidential race. Today he still draws compensation of up to a million dollars or more a year from the company, although his spokesperson denies that the White House helped the company win the contracts .

He isn’t alone however

151 Congressmen Profit From War

More than a quarter of senators and congressmen have invested at least $196 million or more of their own money in companies doing business with the Department of Defense (DOD) that profit from the death and destruction in Iraq.

Now maybe it’s just me but is that not a bit of conflict of interest?

Why would they ever vote to stop a war? No profit in that is there?

Even Bushes Father, apparently has invested a great deal in companies that work for the DOD.

The practice of investing in such things should be forbidden.

Let me tell you they didn’t get themselves elected to serve the people. They are self serving, money hungry, power seeking, well you get the idea.

Haliburton also wasted a lot of money. Your Tax dollars were hard at work.

Whistleblowers Describe Halliburton’s “Free Fraud Zone”

June 27, 2005

Halliburton Iraq

“I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career.”

— Bunnatine Greenhouse, top Army Corps of Engineers contract oversight official, turned whistleblower

Today’s Democratic Policy Committee Hearing was another jawdropper.

The witnesses included:

1) Greenhouse — the highest ranking civilian at the Army Corps of Engineers whose job it is to ensure openness and honesty in contracting. Greenhouse said that “essentially every aspect of the RIO contract remained under the control of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.” In other words, Rumsfeld should be held responsible for giving his old pal Dick Cheney’s firm Halliburton the no-bid contract before the war, under its global logistics contract, a violation of competitive contracting requirements (as Greenhouse testified and 60 Minutes reported, other contractors were itching to bid on the work but were never given a chance).

2) Rory Mayberry, a former manager of Halliburton’s mess halls in Iraq, who testified that KBR fed U.S. troops expired food on a daily basis, and fed Turkish and Filipino workers “leftover food in boxes and garbage bags after the troops ate,” while using beef, chicken, salads and sodas intended for the troops to cater parties and barbeques for KBR management and employees. He also said he was informed that “if we talked, we would be rotated out to other camps that were under fire.”

3) Alan Waller and Gary Butters — two top executives from Lloyd-Owen International, a transportation contractor who testified that one of their convoys was ambushed 2 kilometers from a U.S. base while bringing materials under a Halliburton contract. Not only were they not told by KBR that other contractors had been hit recently in the same area (they lost 3 individuals in the ambush), but upon arriving at the base were denied help by KBR (later learning from emails they obtained that KBR management had instructed its on site staff to offer no assistance).

Could this have anything to do with the fact that the company has a fuel supply contract with the Iraqi government that KBR would have had, if it hadn’t been caught defrauding U.S. taxpayers for fuel shipments?

KBR still controls the military checkpoint along the Kuwait/Iraq border, where Lloyd-Owen has to bring over 100 fuel tankers across on a daily basis. They testified that KBR has hampered the company’s ability to cross the border, using the fact that Lloyd-Owen does not have a U.S. Military contract as a technicality.

Meanwhile, they testified that Halliburton’s incompetence in restoring fuel pumping and refinery equipment has also slowed fuel deliveries down, leading to the kind of festering resentments that are certain to fuel the resistance.

A joint report was also released at the hearing by Senator Dorgan and Rep. Henry Waxman, which estimates that Halliburton’s questioned and unsupported costs in Iraq now exceed $1.4 billion, more than three times the previous estimate.

The 10 Most Brazen War Profiteers 2006
Inside the world of war profiteers From prostitutes to Super bowl tickets, a federal probe reveals how contractors in Iraq cheated the U.S.

Banking on Bloodshed: UK high street banks’ complicity in the arms trade
This of course is a microscopic tid bit of what really happens.

Published in: on October 12, 2008 at 6:27 am  Comments Off on Who profits from WAR?  
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17 Chinese Released from Guantánamo Bay


The Inconvenient Existence of Abdel al Ghizzawi

On Tuesday U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ordered the release of 17 Chinese Uighur Muslims from Guantánamo Bay and most likely caused a near-riot in the White House. His order highlights the increasingly muddled nature of the facility’s existence and, if carried out, holds the potential for an avalanche of bad publicity at a very bad time for the President.

First and most importantly, consider the people behind the paper. The Uighurs and one Abdel al Ghizzawi were all found not to be enemy combatants at the same time by tribunals formed under the Military Commissions Act (MCA). The political repercussions must have been obvious because new, more compliant tribunals subsequently ruled that the very same evidence actually made them enemy combatants. The Uighurs were treated as a single group because, um, they are Uighurs (a completely irrelevant similarity under the circumstances) and al Ghizzawi was split off. The Uighurs ended up before Urbina and ordered released. Al Ghizzawi ended up before John Bates and was told he did not even merit medical attention.

In other words, undesirable findings can be reversed by simply convening a more friendly panel (the MCA was presumably written by avid golfers), and the foregone conclusions dressed up as rulings get wildly different treatment in the justice system. Judges have no case law or precedent to guide them, no philosophy to draw on or judicial framework for interpretation. They go by nothing more than their own sense of what seems right, and preside over courts that exist in a jurisprudential vacuum. Lawyers who attempt to work in this system are almost completely blind to what might be effective, and their understandable frustration is hard to miss.

For instance, al Ghizzawi is represented by H. Candace Gorman, who clarified several points for me via email while I was writing this post. She also has shown astonishing persistence in her pro bono efforts to obtain some semblance of justice. However, a quick look at her ongoing chronicle shows just how much she has had to make her approach up as she goes along. I suspect “improvised” ranks just above “incompetent” in the Adjectives You Don’t Want Characterizing Your Defense category, but in this case what other choice is there?

Al Ghizzawi and others languish in Guantánamo because of politics. Election day is less than a month away and there are barely over a hundred days left in the President’s term. Released detainees could create a political disaster on the former and a legal one after the latter. Think about what happens on November 4th if the Uighurs are released in the next week or two. They will be on American soil and probably giving interviews – imagine the news value of a group from the fabled, mythical Gitmo showing up at the end of election season. I suspect there would be tremendous curiosity over what they had to say about their time in U.S. custody. A rigged system declared them noncombatants, so the story of their incarceration without a shred of evidence would look very bad. Maybe not for the immediate aftermath of the capture, but as years dragged on it would be clear they were kept not because of risks to national security but because of their direct experience of administration policy. Based on the limited information we have I imagine we would hear about extended periods of isolation, sleeplessness, sensory deprivation, extremes of cold and heat, stress positions and other abuses. Done individually or at moderate levels they might not seem so bad, but strung together in succession, done with the intent of finding the fabled 79.9 degrees and related on TV by the actual victim it would generally be seen as torture. The result: widespread revulsion at the Republicans’ preferred approach to detainees.

Also, the President clearly must hear the clock ticking. Once he hands over the keys to his successor he will no longer be able to have the Justice Department file emergency appeals, have the Vice President breathe down someone’s neck or make life for a reluctant bureaucrat sufficiently unpleasant as to make a career change look like a good idea. Considering his historic unpopularity he probably should not expect to have any surrogates going to the wall for him either. He will, for all intents and purposes, go into exile. If he cannot shut down or compromise avenues of prosecution right now he will have to rely on the good will of the citizenry and the forbearance of the next players in Washington to keep him from answering for his actions. Both are possible, perhaps likely, but how reassuring is that? Better to crush it now. Expect fireworks.

Pruning Shears

Enemy Combatant is just an invention of the Bush administration. There in actuality, is no such thing. It is not the view of the rest of the world. It is merely a bogus invention to remove the rights of prisoners held there.
If anything they are Prisoners of War that should be protected by the Geneva Convention.
Guantanamo Bay is one of the worst Human Rights Violations conjured up by the Bush administration.

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

Adopted on 12 August 1949 by the Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of
International Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War, held in Geneva
from 21 April to 12 August, 1949
Published in: on October 10, 2008 at 1:39 am  Comments Off on 17 Chinese Released from Guantánamo Bay  
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