Saturday, February 14, 2009

“Progressives” Need To Become “Aggressives”! Rise Up; Wake Up American. You Are Going To Have Take Back This Land And Rebuild This Nation And...

“Progressives” Need To Become “Aggressives”! Rise Up; Wake Up American.  You Are Going To Have Take Back This Land And Rebuild This Nation And Being Nice Just Doesn’t Cut It…Get It?



"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then,
to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in
broad daylight!"

- Emile Zola, J'accuse! (1898) –

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude
than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask
not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed
May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget
that ye were our countrymen!”

-Sam Adams-




A Truth Commission to Investigate Bush-Cheney Administration Abuses


I have set up a petition at, and I hope you will sign it to urge Congress to consider establishing a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the Bush-Cheney administration's abuses. We already have over 7,000 signatures, but we need to hit 10,000 signatures -- or more -- by next week, to build momentum behind this idea.

Patrick Leahy

U.S. Senator


Indict Bush

Camus Cafe Political Coffee House: Leahy Opens Petition Drive to ...
By Ed. Dickau 
EdDickau, Thank you for signing my petition at, urging Congress to consider the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate Bush-Cheney Administration abuses. ...
Camus Cafe Political Coffee House -


Lux is clear from the start which side of the battle he’s on. His heroes include Tom Paine, whom he calls “one of the greatest political philosophers of all time,” Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, John L. Lewis, Walter Reuther, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez and Rachel Carson. Movement leaders such as these “have always been ahead of the politicians and have pushed our country to become better,” he maintains. 

On the other side of the battle, Lux lists the considerable failures of conservative administrations over two centuries and then reviews the Bush record—everything from grossly inadequate job creation to the decline in median family income, the high rates of personal bankruptcy and the large numbers of Americans without health insurance. 

From all of this, Lux concludes:

When you look at our country’s economic history…conservative policies have been at the heart of our worst economic times and progressive policies have given us our best economic times. 

(Ed.) The problem at the moment is that those who label themselves as, or profess to be “Progressives” have neither the courage, commitment nor strength of character of those included in the “Lux List”.  They have become Centrist system co-opted kiss ups and pretenders.  We need the real deal…street fighting Liberals who won’t take “NO” for an answer.


MoveOn Disappointingly Toes the Party Line


The supposedly independent group would better serve its members by challenging both parties, rather than simply repeating Democratic talking points.


I received an email from in my inbox today that included this:


President Obama and most of the congressional Democrats spent the last month working hard to craft a plan that would help keep hundreds of thousands of teachers from being laid off, invest in vital green-energy technology, and provide health care for folks who lose their jobs. What did conservative Democrats and Republicans bring to the table? Rehashed Bush policies and tired talking points. The very same things that got us into this mess in the first place. The stimulus will still create millions of jobs, and it's an important first step, but it could have been even stronger.


They're right. It could have been much, much better. The Republicans' hypocritical whining is only half the reason, though. Another reason why the debate over the stimulus centered on the merits of tax cuts, and not on the merits of actual government stimulus, was because left-leaning organizations like refused to participate in the debate, and instead became administration mouthpieces.


Independent political organizations exist to challenge leaders and to serve as a forum to debate policy. had done a great job of that during the election cycle, reminding its members of very liberal issues like the dangers of global warming and the importance of better healthcare. But as soon as Obama won,'s email blasts suddenly consisted entirely of Obama talking points.


I don't know if this is because they're afraid they might lose access to the administration, or if they sincerely believe that Obama's stimulus plan is the best that could be done. Either way, it's disappointing.


If organizations like had joined the stimulus debate from the beginning, they could have pulled the policy debates leftward and made it easier for Obama to pass the kind of stimulus the country really needs. Instead, MoveOn bought into Obama's bipartisan gestures, and as a result the country was fixated by the Republicans' insane call for more tax cuts and less spending.


It's A Disservice To Its Members, And It's A Disservice To The Country.


Failure to Rise | By Paul Krugman


By any normal political standards, this week’s Congressional agreement on an economic stimulus package was a great victory for President Obama. He got more or less what he asked for: almost $800 billion to rescue the economy, with most of the money allocated to spending rather than tax cuts. Break out the Champagne!


Or maybe not. These aren’t normal times, so normal political standards don’t apply: Mr. Obama’s victory feels more than a bit like defeat. The stimulus bill looks helpful but inadequate, especially when combined with a disappointing plan for rescuing the banks. And the politics of the stimulus fight have made nonsense of Mr. Obama’s postpartisan dreams.


Let’s start with the politics.


One might have expected Republicans to act at least slightly chastened in these early days of the Obama administration, given both their drubbing in the last two elections and the economic debacle of the past eight years.


But it’s now clear that the party’s commitment to deep voodoo — enforced, in part, by pressure groups that stand ready to run primary challengers against heretics — is as strong as ever. In both the House and the Senate, the vast majority of Republicans rallied behind the idea that the appropriate response to the abject failure of the Bush administration’s tax cuts is more Bush-style tax cuts.


And the rhetorical response of conservatives to the stimulus plan — which will, it’s worth bearing in mind, cost substantially less than either the Bush administration’s $2 trillion in tax cuts or the $1 trillion and counting spent in Iraq — has bordered on the deranged.


It’s “generational theft,” said Senator John McCain, just a few days after voting for tax cuts that would, over the next decade, have cost about four times as much.


It’s “destroying my daughters’ future. It is like sitting there watching my house ransacked by a gang of thugs,” said Arnold Kling of the Cato Institute.


And the ugliness of the political debate matters because it raises doubts about the Obama administration’s ability to come back for more if, as seems likely, the stimulus bill proves inadequate.


For while Mr. Obama got more or less what he asked for, he almost certainly didn’t ask for enough. We’re probably facing the worst slump since the Great Depression. The Congressional Budget Office, not usually given to hyperbole, predicts that over the next three years there will be a $2.9 trillion gap between what the economy could produce and what it will actually produce. And $800 billion, while it sounds like a lot of money, isn’t nearly enough to bridge that chasm.


Officially, the administration insists that the plan is adequate to the economy’s need. But few economists agree. And it’s widely believed that political considerations led to a plan that was weaker and contains more tax cuts than it should have — that Mr. Obama compromised in advance in the hope of gaining broad bipartisan support. We’ve just seen how well that worked.


Now, the chances that the fiscal stimulus will prove adequate would be higher if it were accompanied by an effective financial rescue, one that would unfreeze the credit markets and get money moving again. But the long-awaited announcement of the Obama administration’s plans on that front, which also came this week, landed with a dull thud.


The plan sketched out by Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, wasn’t bad, exactly. What it was, instead, was vague. It left everyone trying to figure out where the administration was really going. Will those public-private partnerships end up being a covert way to bail out bankers at taxpayers’ expense? Or will the required “stress test” act as a back-door route to temporary bank nationalization (the solution favored by a growing number of economists, myself included)? Nobody knows.


Over all, the effect was to kick the can down the road. And that’s not good enough. So far the Obama administration’s response to the economic crisis is all too reminiscent of Japan in the 1990s: a fiscal expansion large enough to avert the worst, but not enough to kick-start recovery; support for the banking system, but a reluctance to force banks to face up to their losses. It’s early days yet, but we’re falling behind the curve.


And I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach — a feeling that America just isn’t rising to the greatest economic challenge in 70 years. The best may not lack all conviction, but they seem alarmingly willing to settle for half-measures. And the worst are, as ever, full of passionate intensity, oblivious to the grotesque failure of their doctrine in practice.


There’s still time to turn this around. But Mr. Obama has to be stronger looking forward. Otherwise, the verdict on this crisis might be that no, we can’t.


The Washington Monthly
By Steve Benen 
Turn and other groups loose on these hypocrites. The Republicans have created the perpetual campaign. Now the administration needs to keep up the pressure 24-7 or they'll lose control of the message again. ...
Political Animal -


Camus Cafe Political Coffee House: This Country Must Rise Up And ...
By Ed. Dickau 
 Ed. Dickau, Thank you for signing my petition at, urging Congress to consider the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate Bush-Cheney Administration abuses. ...
Camus Cafe Political Coffee House -










Congressman John Conyers has subpoenaed Karl Rove for the third time.  Rove is still trying to claim executive privilege to get out of testifying.  The old Bush regime is in panic mode because Rove knows where all the bodies are buried.


The various proposed investigations of the Bush regime are getting interesting.  Walter Jones, a Republican member of Congress, has signed on to co-sponsor legislation by John Conyers to establish "a national commission on presidential war powers and civil liberties."


Rove may be forced to testify as Obama's lawyers get involved

John Byrne
Published: Saturday February 14, 2009
Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Bush proxies now negotiating with new administration


White House counsel Gregory Craig issued a statement late Friday encouraging former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove to cut a deal with Congress, an indication the new administration has begun to put pressure on President George W. Bush's former chief adviser.

"The president is very sympathetic to those who want to find out what happened," Obama's White House counsel Gregory Craig
said in a statement yesterday to The Washington Post's Carrie Johnson. "But he is also mindful as president of the United States not to do anything that would undermine or weaken the institution of the presidency. So, for that reason, he is urging both sides of this to settle."…


Jolting Congress by Ralph Nader « Dandelion Salad
By dandelionsalad 
John Conyers to move a modest censure resolution of
 Bush and Cheney for their many constitutional and statutory violations were aggressively rejected by their leaders—Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid. ...
Dandelion Salad -


Fighting the Right-Wing-Nuts, One E-mail at a Time: Feb 13, 2009 ...
By Mike31c 
The rule of law, justice, and basic integrity require the indictment for criminal wrongdoing of George W.
Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, and other high officials of the former Bush Administration. ...Fighting the Right-Wing-Nuts,... -  

OpEdNews » Toothless: The Watchdog Press That Became the ...

The Founding Fathers believed the primary function of the news media was to act as a watchdog upon government. They wpuld be sadly disapppinted to learn of the media role during the Bush-CheneyAdmimistration.
OpEdNews - OpEdNews.Com Progressive,... -


Turley: Truth Commission A 'Shameful' Way To Avoid Prosecuting War Crimes


Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) called on Monday for a "truth and reconciliation commission" to investigate Bush administration abuses, describing it as a "middle ground ... to get to the bottom of what happened." However, constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley believes that would be a terrible idea. 

"There's no 
question that torture occurred here," Turley told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. "There's no question that it was a war crime. And so the only reason to have a commission of this kind is to avoid doing what we're obligated to do under a treaty."

"It is 
shameful that we would be calling for this type of commission," Turley continued, calling it "incredible" that Leahy would be proposing an approach most associated with emerging democracies that lack a well-developed legal system. 

obligated to investigate," he insisted. "This whole discussion in front of the whole world is basically saying that we are not going to comply with the promise we made, not to ourselves, but to the world."

Olbermann noted that since the Bush administration itself claims that its actions were somehow above the law, "Does not using a special forum inherently validate the Bush claim that the regular rules did not apply to his presidency?"

"It absolutely does," Turley replied. "There is great love for President Obama, and I have great respect for him, but you cannot say that no one is above the law and block the investigation of the war crimes by your predecessor. It is a position without principle."…


The Dark Side by Jane Mayer | A chronicle of US war crimes | By Shannon Jones 

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals by Jane Mayer, Doubleday 2008, 392 pp.


In The Dark Side, Jane Mayer, a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine, presents a detailed account of the assault on democratic rights and international legal standards pursued by the Bush administration in the name of the war on terror.


Mayer has written a number of articles on the torture practices of the Bush administration. Her colleague at the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh, wrote the first extensive exposé of the US abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.


Mayer notes that under Bush the United States gained the notorious distinction of being the first nation to ever authorize violations of the Geneva Conventions. In a September 2006 press conference, President Bush mocked the language of the Geneva Conventions, asking sarcastically, "What does that mean? ‘Outrages upon human dignity'?"


According to Mayer's account, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and top officials in the CIA and Pentagon were all involved in the authorization of actions that are prosecutable as war crimes under the Geneva Conventions as well as US and international law.


The role of the White House in authorizing war crimes has been officially confirmed. A US Senate report released December 11, 2008 states that top ranking White House officials planned and ordered the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. Those named include Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.


Indeed, in a December 15, 2008 interview Cheney acknowledged authorizing the use of the waterboarding torture, calling it "remarkably successful."

In carrying out gross violations of international law, the White House has faced little or no opposition from the Democratic and Republican leadership in Congress and the so-called liberal media. Despite the exposure of sadistic abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, illegal surveillance of US citizens, torture, forced renditions, secret CIA prisons—all directed at the highest levels of government—not a single high-level official has been prosecuted. Instead, Congress effectively gave its blessing to these crimes with its passage of the Military Commissions Act in 2006.


In The Dark Side, Mayer chooses to highlight the role of several mid- or lower level government officials that opposed all or some of the grossest abuses perpetrated by the Bush administration. Almost invariably, those who questioned administration policies ended up being mercilessly hounded, and either browbeaten into submission or driven from their posts.


One incident in particular illustrates the authoritarian and anti-democratic character of the White House cabal. Mayer relates how Jack Goldsmith, head of the Justice Department's office of legal counsel, and Deputy Attorney General James Comey, both conservative Republicans, had raised reservations about reauthorizing the administration's torture policy following the public release of photos of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in 2004.


Goldsmith decided to resign after a series of meetings in the office of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, during the course of which he was harangued and humiliated. Mayer says the two officials "were so paranoid then about the powerful backlash they had provoked within the administration that they actually thought they might be in physical danger. Goldsmith and Comey, who knew more about the domestic surveillance program than practically anyone else in America, also feared their communications were being monitored" (p. 294).


Legal justifications


Mayer draws attention to the role played by David Addington, Cheney's chief of staff and former legal counsel, who took the lead in concocting pseudo-legal justifications for the assault on US and international law. She writes, "That the Vice President's lawyer, who had no line authority on national security matters, no staff—not even an assistant—and only secondary bureaucratic rank, would end up shaping much of the administration's legal strategy on terrorism was one of the oddities of the nation's plunge into the dark side" (p. 52).


Mayer calls Addington, "Cheney's Cheney." Reviewing the records of Cheney and Addington, she suggests "they had long imagined many aspects of the program they put in place," noting that well before September 11 "the idea of reducing Congress to a cipher was in play. It was Cheney and Addington's political agenda."


Addington effectively controlled the flow of paperwork reaching Bush's desk, Mayer reports. He would "review every proposed executive order before it reached the president for his signature. Frequently he would single-handedly rewrite the entire thing..." (p. 63). This setup essentially gave Cheney the "final word" on national security matters.


Another lawyer who gained extraordinary influence in the White House was John Yoo, an assistant deputy attorney general in the Justice Department's office of Legal Counsel, who drafted the infamous legal opinion, the so-called torture memo. Among other things, Yoo declared that unless a detainee was subject to abuse that led to things "such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions," it was not torture. The document amounted to a rationale for the removal of all legal restraints on presidential and military power.


Mayer writes, "John Yoo and David Addington were running the war on terror almost on their own." These former political unknowns rose to prominence because they most clearly articulated policies favored by decisive sections of the ruling elite. The events of September 11 provided an opportunity to carry out long prepared plans for military intervention to seize strategic areas of the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia. This required the scrapping of domestic and international restraints on the power of the executive branch.


In October 2001, a few weeks after the attack on the World Trade Center, the US launched a war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. On November 6, Cheney issued a memo declaring that the president had the right to set up military commissions to conduct drumhead trials of prisoners captured in the conflict, who were branded "terrorists." This was followed by a speech in which Defense Secretary Rumsfeld declared that "terrorists do not deserve to be treated as prisoners of war." Bush later signed an executive order saying the US would not honor the Geneva Conventions in regard to the treatment of captured Al Qaeda and Taliban.


Stories soon emerged from Afghanistan of the brutal treatment of prisoners held in US custody, who were being housed in unsheltered stockades, exposed to wind and cold. Others were blindfolded, shackled and whisked away to open-air cages at the US base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. As later investigations revealed, the vast majority of those sent to Guantánamo had no relation to the Taliban or Al Qaeda.


Reports trickled out of horrific crimes. The US and its international and Afghan allies massacred thousands of defenseless Taliban prisoners during the course of the war, including the aerial bombardment of the fortress of Qala-i-Janghi near Mazar-i-Sharif.


The violation of Geneva Conventions rights of prisoners in Afghanistan is illustrated by the case of John Walker Lindh, a US citizen, a survivor of the massacre of Taliban prisoners at Qala-i-Janghi. Mayer describes his ordeal in some detail. The young man, severely wounded, was held naked, blindfolded and bound to his stretcher by duct tape, according to a Navy doctor. He was denied legal counsel and fed a starvation diet. He was left "cold and sleep deprived in a pitched dark shipping container," to make him "talk," according to the same source.


According to documents obtained by Lindh's attorneys, orders for his mistreatment came from Rumsfeld's office via the Pentagon. Mayer cites a memo from Rumsfeld dated January 25, 2002, authored by Addington, which declares, "As you have said the war against terrorism is a new kind of war.... In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning enemy prisoners." The memo called the Geneva Conventions' rules for the treatment of prisoners "quaint."


The scrapping of the Geneva Conventions cleared the way for the White House to adopt a state policy of torture. As Mayer notes, this did not come out of the blue. Since the Clinton years the United States had been sending prisoners to third countries that practiced torture, such as Egypt, in a procedure known as rendering. In the wake of September 11, the US moved toward the adoption of "enhanced" interrogation, a euphemism for torture, as an officially sanctioned practice.


Stark contrast to US precedents


The use of torture violated longstanding US traditions dating back to the Revolutionary War, when General George Washington ordered the humane treatment of British prisoners. This policy stood in stark contrast to the brutal treatment meted out to continental soldiers by the Red Coats, who considered the Americans treasonous "illegal combatants."


America had long been in the forefront of nations demanding an international code of conduct for warfare. Following World War II the United States had pushed for the strengthening of the Geneva Conventions to close loopholes that had been exploited by the Japanese and German governments to justify the abuse of captives. The new rules even stipulated barracks conditions, food rations and the provision of athletic equipment.


Mayer writes, "In addition to the Geneva Conventions, the United States took the lead in drafting and ratifying the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which provided international law's first explicit definition of torture." It bans torture absolutely, stating: "No circumstances whatsoever ... could be "invoked as a justification of torture" (emphasis added). The Convention described torture as inflicting "severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental" (p. 150).


The United States did violate the Geneva rules in practice during the course of its colonial wars. The US carried out terrible atrocities in the Korean and Vietnam wars, crimes for which no high-ranking officials were ever held to account. Still, in its official stance, the US government declared its opposition to abusive treatment of prisoners and its adherence to the Geneva Conventions.


Mayer points out that during the Vietnam War the US military made some effort to distinguish between civilians captured by the military and actual combatants. The military held so-called Article 5 hearings to avoid "mistakenly imprisoning innocent bystanders." Such hearings became binding military law.


However, in Afghanistan Addington proposed scrapping these rules. On January 19, 2002 Rumsfeld rescinded an order by General Tommy Franks, which had set up Article 5 hearings to screen prisoners captured in Afghanistan individually. "The president had determined unilaterally that all prisoners captured in the war on terror were unlawful combatants," writes Mayer.


After September 11 Cheney became fascinated with the "success" of the Phoenix program in Vietnam, Mayer writes. Operation Phoenix had involved the assassination of tens of thousands of suspected National Liberation Front sympathizers. Most of those killed were civilians who had little or no connection to the armed struggle against the US-backed South Vietnamese puppet government.


According to Mayer, high-level White House discussions on the use of torture against detainees took place in April 2002 and there was "no indication that any Bush cabinet members opposed it."


Mayer describes in detail the fate of alleged Al Qaeda logistics chief Abu Zubaydah, who was captured by the CIA in Pakistan in March 2002. He had the distinction of being the first person waterboarded at the directive of the president of the United States.


The interrogation of Zubaydah involved multiple instances of waterboarding, 10 times in a single week, and other forms of severe abuse, including "thrusting his head against a bare concrete wall" and forcing him to lie in a "coffin sized box." Other prisoners were subject to illegal treatment, tantamount to torture, such as sleep deprivation. Some were forced to stay awake for as long as 96 hours.


FBI agents at the scene were shocked by the CIA interrogation of Zubaydah and "wanted CIA head James Mitchell arrested," Mayer reports. After this the CIA barred the FBI from coercive interrogations. The CIA videotaped hundreds of hours of Zubaydah's torture, tapes which the White House later ordered destroyed.


Under pressure from the Bush administration to get "results," the CIA produced glowing reports about the supposedly valuable information it obtained via the torture of Zubaydah, who "confessed" to plots to bomb US banks, shopping malls, even the Brooklyn Bridge. While these alleged terrorist conspiracies had little or no foundation in reality, leaked reports of spectacular "confessions" were useful to the administration, which wanted justifications for its crimes.


Mayer writes that "a closely held investigative report written by the International Committee for the Red Cross for the detaining authority, the CIA, which it shared with the President and the Secretary of State, in 2007 described the treatment that he (Zubaydah) underwent, categorically, as ‘torture' and warned that the abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the US government in jeopardy of being prosecuted, sources familiar with the report said."


Torture practices spread


Mayer reports the torture techniques practiced by the CIA quickly moved to the US-run prison camp at Guantánamo. Prisoners there were subject to hooding, sleep deprivation, temperature extremes and severe forms of psychological abuse. "By the fall of 2002, the US military in Guantánamo was subjecting prisoners to treatment that would have been unimaginable, and prosecutable before September 11" (p. 189).


Mayer notes that one source of ideas for prisoner abuse was the Fox television series "24." The first episodes of the show appeared in November 2001, and there is every indication that its production was intended to manipulate public opinion behind the war crimes being committed by the Bush administration.


However, it was not only the right-wing Murdoch-owned Fox Network that was involved in enabling the government torture program. Mayer alludes to the despicable role of the New York Times, whose editors downplayed or suppressed reports of prisoner abuse.


In many cases the strongest protests against the administration torture policies came from within the ranks of the military. Some were aghast. One military lawyer, Alberto Mora, general counsel of the US Navy, commented, "I wondered if they were even familiar with the Nuremburg trials—or with the laws of war, or with the Geneva Conventions. They cut many of the experts on those areas out" (p. 236).


It is clear that the US policy of torture was carried out with the complicity of top Democratic and Republican congressional leaders. Mayer confirms that Congress had "signed off" on torture, though members later made the lame excuse that the administration had not explained "graphically enough" the details of what it intended to do.


While Mayer's account is detailed and forthright, it is flawed in major respects. The wholesale assault on long established democratic principles is presented as the work of a relatively small group of misguided people who took the "war on terror" too far. The author accepts more or less uncritically the official premise behind the "war on terror." At one point Mayer even praises the Bush administration for its "success" in fighting terrorism.


Despite the far-reaching implications of the details outlined by Mayer, the book reaches the predictably tame conclusion that more public pressure is needed on Congress to stem abuses. It rationalizes the failure of Congress to in any way restrain the Bush administration on fears of appearing "soft on terrorism."


In fact, the assault on democratic rights and the vast expansion of the powers of the presidency and the military has nothing to do with fighting terrorism. Under conditions of growing economic crisis, militarism and massive social inequality, the US ruling class is preparing for repression of opposition, which is sure to escalate both at home and internationally.


The author also recommends:


Senate torture report confirms Bush, top officials guilty of war crimes


Washington Post publishes memo implicating White House in torture of prisoners


A New Movement: Indict Bush Now!
Columbus Free Press - Columbus,OH,USA
Six years ago, Ramsey Clark launched the movement to
 Impeach Bush. You and more than a million other people came forward to demand the impeachment of Bush ...
See all stories on this topic


By PoliShifter 
They want a commitment from him that he will go after 
Bush Cheney and those who served them for war crimes. Obama has left that door open but has also made it clear he wants to be forward looking. A large part of it is also out of Obama’s hands. ... After Nixon was impeached Republicans vowed toimpeach a democratic President. They would have impeached Carter if he won a second term. They had to wait for Bill Clinton to get their chance at revenge. ...
Pissed On Politics -


Obscene Wealth Can Be a Deadly Sin
Disgusted by Wall Street excesses, Americans are beginning to readjust their concept of immorality to elevate greed over other deadly sins, writes Baptist minister Howard Bess. February 14, 2009


The Oligarchy's Bailout Ball
One of the obstacles to straightening out America's financial mess is the resistance among Wall Street oligarchs to any big dent in their extravagant lifestyles, notes Michael Winship. February 14, 2009


Axelrod Strikes Back, Slams Cheney and Rove for Attacks on Obama
By Christy Hardin Smith, Firedoglake
Ohhhh snap! 
Read more »

'Wah!' The Religious Right Want a Name Change
By Mustang Bobby, Shakesville
They're "religious" and they're conservative ... so one could argue that the name is pretty accurate. What's the problem? 
Read more »  (I have few unprintable suggestions…(Ed.)


Home of the Brave: Gitmo Guard Speaks Out

by Ralph Lopez


Former Gitmo guard recalls abuse, climate of fear

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Army Pvt. Brandon Neely was scared when he took Guantanamo's first shackled detainees off a bus. Told to expect vicious terrorists, he grabbed a trembling, elderly detainee and ground his face into the cement — the first of a range of humiliations he says he participated in and witnessed as the prison was opening for business.


Neely has now come forward in this final year of the detention center's existence, saying he wants to publicly air his feelings of guilt and shame about how some soldiers behaved as the military scrambled to handle the first alleged al-Qaida and Taliban members arriving at the isolated U.S. Navy base.


His account, one of the first by a former guard describing abuses at Guantanamo, describes a chaotic time when soldiers lacked clear rules for dealing with detainees who were denied many basic comforts. He says the circumstances changed quickly once monitors from theInternational Committee of the Red Cross arrived.


The military says it has gone to great lengths in the seven years since then to ensure the prisoners' safe treatment. "Our policy is to treat detainees humanely," said Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman.


After the Sept. 11 attacks and the swift U.S. military response in Afghanistan, the Bush administration had little time to prepare for the hundreds of prisoners being swept up on the battlefield. The U.S. Southern Command was given only a few weeks notice before they began arriving at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base inCuba — a locale thought to be beyond the reach of U.S. and Cuban law. The first arrivals were housed in cages that had been used for Haitian migrants almost a decade earlier.


Now President Barack Obama is committed to closing the prison and finding new ways of handling the remaining 245 detainees as well as any future terror suspects. Human rights groups say his pledge to adhere to long established laws and treaties governing prisoner treatment is essential if the United States hopes to prevent abuses in the future.


"If Guantanamo has taught us anything, it's the importance of abiding by the rule of law," said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel for Human Rights Watch.


Or as Neely put it in an interview with The Associated Press this week, "The stuff I did and the stuff I saw was just wrong."


Neely, a burly Texan who served for a year in Iraq after his six months at Guantanamo, received an honorable discharge last year, with the rank of specialist, and now works as a law enforcement officer in the Houston area. He is also president of the local chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War.


An urge to tell his story led him to the University of California at Davis' Guantanamo Testimonials Project, an effort to document accounts of prisoner abuse. It includes public statements from three other former guards, but Neely was the first to grant researchers an interview. He also spoke extensively with the AP.


Testimony from the other guards echoes some of Neely's concerns. One of the other guards, Sean Baker, described in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" how he was beaten and hospitalized by fellow soldiers in a January 2003 training drill in which he wore an orange jumpsuit to play the role of a detainee.


Terry C. Holdbrooks Jr. told the Web site in an interview this month that he saw several abuses during his service at Guantanamo in 2003, including detainees subjected to cold temperatures and loud music, and he later converted to Islam.


Neely, 28, describes a litany of cruel treatment by his fellow soldiers, including beatings and humiliations he said were intended only to deliver physical or psychological pain.


A spokeswoman for the detention center, Navy Cmdr. Pauline Storum, said she could not comment on "what one individual may recall" from seven years ago. "Thousands of service members have honorably carried out their duties here in what is an arduous and scrutinized environment," she said.


Neely's account sheds new light on the early days of Guantanamo, where guards were hastily deployed in January 2002 and were soon confronted by men stumbling out of planes, shackled and wearing blackout goggles. They were held in chain-link cages and moved to more permanent structures three months later.


The soldiers, many of them still in their teens, had no detailed standard operating procedures and were taught hardly anything about the Geneva Conventions, which provide guidelines for humane treatment of prisoners of war, Neely said, though some learned about them on their own initiative.


"Most of us who had everyday contact with the detainees were really young," he said in the AP telephone interview.


Army Col. Bill Costello acknowledged that Guantanamo-specific procedures developed over time, but insisted that the guards had strict direction from the start. "This was a professional guard force," said Costello, who served as a Guantanamo spokesman during its first months and now speaks for the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, which oversees the base.


Only months had passed since the Sept. 11 attacks, and Neely said many of the guards wanted revenge. Especially before the first Red Cross visit, he said guards were seizing on any apparent infractions to "get some" by hurting the detainees. The soldiers' behavior seemed justified at the time, he said, because they were told "these are the worst terrorists in the world."


He said one medic punched a handcuffed prisoner in the face for refusing to swallow a liquid nutritional supplement, and another bragged about cruelly stretching a prisoner's torn muscles during what was supposed to be physical therapy treatments.


He said detainees were forced to submit to take showers and defecate into buckets in full view of female soldiers, against Islamic customs. When a detainee yelled an expletive at a female guard, he said a crew of soldiers beat the man up and held him down so that the woman could repeatedly strike him in the face.


Neely says he feels personally ashamed for how he treated that elderly detainee the first day. As he recalls it, the man made a movement to resist on his way to his cage, and he responded by shoving the shackled man headfirst to the ground, bruising and scraping his face. Other soldiers hog-tied him and left him in the sun for hours.


Only later did Neely learn — from another detainee — that the man had jerked away thinking he was about to be executed.


"I just felt horrible," Neely recalled.


Neely grew up in a military family in Huntsville, Texas, and said he initially saw the Army as a career. He says his experiences led him to see the treatment of detainees and the Iraq invasion as "morally wrong." He refused to return to active duty when called up from the Inactive Ready Reserves in 2007 and ignored repeated letters threatening penalties.


Neely acknowledged that by talking about his experiences, he also has broken the nondisclosure pledge he signed before leaving Guantanamo. He also says a lawyer told him the document he signed could not be enforced.


Storum said guards receive "operational security debriefings" on their way out of Guantanamo "so that personnel are mindful of their responsibilities and are made aware of what can be openly discussed in a public forum."

Interviews with former guards are rare. The military allows journalists visiting Guantanamo to interview active-duty guards at the base, but they are hand-picked by the military and speak in the presence of public affairs officers.


Neely said discussing his experience now has helped put it behind him. "Speaking out is a good way to deal with this," he said.


Feinstein comment on U.S. drones likely to embarrass Pakistan

The Predator planes that launch missile strikes against militants are based in Pakistan, the senator says. That suggests a much deeper relationship with the U.S. than Islamabad would like to admit.

By Greg Miller 
February 13, 2009


Reporting from Washington -- A senior U.S. lawmaker said Thursday that unmanned CIA Predator aircraft operating in Pakistan are flown from an air base in that country, a revelation likely to embarrass the Pakistani government and complicate its counter-terrorism collaboration with the United States.

The disclosure by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, marked the first time a U.S. official had publicly commented on where the Predator aircraft patrolling Pakistan take off and land.


At a hearing, Feinstein expressed surprise over Pakistani opposition to the campaign of Predator-launched CIA missile strikes against Islamic extremist targets along Pakistan's northwestern border. 

"As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base," she said.

The basing of the pilotless aircraft in Pakistan suggests a much deeper relationship with the United States on counter-terrorism matters than has been publicly acknowledged. Such an arrangement would be at odds with protests lodged by officials in Islamabad, the capital, and could inflame anti-American sentiment in the country.

The CIA declined to comment, but former U.S. intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, confirmed that Feinstein's account was accurate. 

Philip J. LaVelle, a spokesman for Feinstein, said her comment was based solely on previous news reports that Predators were operated from bases near Islamabad.

"We strongly object to Sen. Feinstein's remarks being characterized as anything other than a reference" to an article that appeared last March in the Washington Post, LaVelle said. Feinstein did not refer to newspaper accounts during the hearing. 

Many counter-terrorism experts have assumed that the aircraft take off from U.S. military installations in Afghanistan and are remotely piloted from locations in the United States. Experts said the disclosure could create political problems for the government in Islamabad, which is considered relatively weak.

The attacks are extremely unpopular in Pakistan, in part because of the high number of civilian casualties inflicted in dozens of strikes.

The use of Predators armed with Hellfire antitank missiles has emerged as perhaps the most important tool of the U.S. in its effort to attack Al Qaeda in its sanctuaries along the Pakistani-Afghan border. A New Year's Day strike killed two senior Al Qaeda operatives who were suspected of involvement in the bombing of Islamabad's Marriott Hotel.

They were among at least eight senior Al Qaeda figures reportedly killed in Predator strikes over the last seven months as part of a stepped-up missile campaign.

Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University, said Feinstein's comments put Pakistan's government on the spot.

"If accurate, what this says is that Pakistani involvement, or at least acquiescence, has been much more extensive than has previously been known," he said. "It puts the Pakistani government in a far more difficult position [in terms of] its credibility with its own people. Unfortunately it also has the potential to threaten Pakistani-American relations."

As chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Feinstein is privy to classified details of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts. The CIA does not publicly acknowledge a campaign against Pakistan-based extremists using remotely piloted planes, making Feinstein's comment all the more unusual.

Feinstein's disclosure came during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee by U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair on the nation's security threats. Blair did not respond directly to Feinstein's remark, except to say that Pakistan was "sorting out" its cooperation with the United States.

Pakistani officials have long denied that they have even granted the U.S. permission to fly the Predator planes over Pakistani territory, let alone to operate the aircraft from within the country. 

The civilian leadership that took over from an unpopular former general, Pervez Musharraf, last year, has gone to significant lengths to distance itself from the Predator strikes.

The Pakistani government regularly lodges diplomatic protests against the strikes as a violation of its sovereignty, and officials said the subject was raised with Richard C. Holbrooke, a newly appointed U.S. envoy to the region, who completed his first visit to the country Thursday.

But a former CIA official familiar with the Predator operations said Pakistan's government secretly approves of the flights because of the growing militant threat.

Feinstein prefaced her comment about the Predator basing Thursday by noting that Holbrooke "ran into considerable concern about the use of the Predator strikes in the FATA areas," a reference to what Pakistan calls its Federally Administered Tribal Area along the border with Afghanistan. 

Many Pakistanis believe that the civilian leadership, despite public anger, has continued Musharraf's policy of giving the United States tacit permission to carry out the strikes.

The CIA has been working to step up its presence in Pakistan in recent years. It has deployed as many as 200 people to the country, one of its largest overseas operations besides Iraq, current and former agency officials have estimated. That contingent works alongside other U.S. operatives who specialize in electronic communications and spy satellites.

In his prepared testimony Thursday, Blair said that Al Qaeda had "lost significant parts of its command structure since 2008."


Pakistan Acknowledges Mumbai Plot Was Hatched On Its Soil


Pakistan Court Frees Disgraced Nuclear Scientist


From: Ralph Lopez
Jobs for Afghans

Please forward to American Progress Action President Podesta

Dear American Progress Action Afghanistan Policy Staff and President Podesta,

I would like to thank you and American Progress Action for your work in lobbying for the creation of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.  I am the co-founder of Jobs for Afghans, a non-profit advocacy group which seeks to address Afghanistan's 40% unemployment rate, and the temptation for young Afghan men to join the employer of last resort, the Taliban.  We seek to do this by maximizing the creation of jobs for Afghans through changes in USAID's in-country contractor requirements.  

Now that an independent monitoring mechanism has been established in SIGAR, I believe the time is right to advance to the next step in addressing fraud and waste in USAID contracting, which is to insure that taxpayer dollars are spent in a manner which results in greater national security, by defeating the insurgency by economic means  The Obama administration has indicated that it understands this is a necessity.  Without large numbers of jobs requiring unskilled labor, young Afghan men seeking to feed their families will continue to be drawn to the Taliban, which pays the relatively good wage for that country of $8 per day, and the insurgency will grow regardless of what military means are employed against it.  

I would like to propose the creation of a paid position at American Progress Action of "Job Surge Advocacy Coordinator for Afghanistan," for which I would like to become a candidate.    This 6-month to 1-year position would have as a concrete goal the creation of at least one million new jobs involving mostly unskilled labor for $10 per day in Afghanistan.  This would be accomplished by either legislation or executive order written to build into the USAID bidding process a component for the maximization of job-creation and training.  I have included links to existing Jobs for Afghans policy proposals, which could serve as initial draft language for legislators, or be replaced by language resulting from a different strategy which would accomplish the same goal.  The description of Job Surge Coordinator duties would include:

- Working with congressional and administration staffers and officials to draft orders and legislation which accomplishes the initiative's goals

- Working with appropriate Afghan line ministries, foreign and domestic NGOs, and area experts to identify and research opportunities for USAID to issue contracts which bolster job-creation, and maximize use of local businesses

- Booking speaking engagements aimed at generating public support for policies which maximize the employment of Afghans  and the usage of Afghan materials in contracts issued by USAID,

- Write, edit, and fact-check materials for online and print publication which support the goals of the Jobs Surge.

- To obtain a broad cross-section of support for the Jobs Surge among area experts such as members of the Afghanistan Study Group, the NGO community, Afghan officials, military officers, national security experts, and veterans of the Afghan theater, in order to assist in a high-profile lobbying campaign.  High-profile experts such as Samantha Powers would be contacted.

- To design and execute a "Win for America, Win for Afghans" advertising campaign if needed, in order to explain the initiative's approach, and to generate public support.  

- To assist congressional staff in obtaining expert witness testimony for any committee hearings on proposed legislation.

- To perform any other duties as required by American Progress Action as a member of a small team.

Among the references which I can provide which attest to my capacity for a complex project are Charlotte Dennett, former candidate for Attorney General for the State of Vermont (Progressive Party), for whom I was campaign mananger, and Vincent Bugliosi, the famed author and prosecutor, who also worked closely with Dennett's campaign. 

As a long-time peace-and-social-justice activist going all the way back to work opposing Ronald Reagan's support for the Contras in Nicaragua, peace work is in my blood.  I would enjoy throwing myself into this job, which I am already engaged in, on a volunteer and ad hoc basis through the work of Jobs for Afghans.  My hope is to be able to throw myself into the goals I have described around-the-clock for a period of time, which this position and a relocation to Washington DC would allow me to do.  As you know, continual lobbying and meetings with policy-makers and staff is not possible living anywhere else.  I believe my extensive network of contacts would make me effective in this work, which I feel must be attempted whether I am the successful candidate or not.  I would lastly like to add that my salary requirements for this kind of work are very minimal, and are only a means toward the end of being able to do the work full-time.


Ralph Lopez
Cambridge, MA

"Men who have work have no time to make war."
- Unknown

"First of all, if you have a job, you don't have time to fight."
- Najim Dost, Co-Founder, Jobs for Afghans, Afghan citizen and recent graduate of John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, MPPP.


- Letter to Colleagues on Proposed Legislation for Afghanistan

- Draft Letter to Congress and the Administration

- Op-ed: "The War That Should Have Been Over"

Ralph A. Lopez

68 Pearl Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
telephone: 617-412-9438


Look Before You Leap


President Obama has inherited a crisis in Afghanistan. "Large parts of the country, perhaps 70% of Afghan territory, are no-go areas for security forces and government officials. ... Narcotics production has coalesced into enormous tracts of poppy in Taliban-controlled areas, heroin production has spiked, government legitimacy is collapsing, food and water are critically short, the insurgency is spreading and intensifying," observed the blog Small Wars Journal. On Wednesday, suicide bombers and Taliban gunmen struck government buildings at three sites in Kabul, "killing at least 20 people and wounding 57." Security forces remained on high alert Thursday, "not only in preparation for the arrival of the envoy, Richard Holbrooke, President Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also because a Taliban spokesman claimed eight bombers remained at large in the city and were still 'looking for a chance.'" On Feb. 5, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a delay in the expected deployment of 17,000 additional troops "until after the Obama administration concludes its ongoing review of the strategy for Afghanistan." It is imperative that this interim be used to define and focus on America's key interests in the nearly eight-year U.S.-led intervention in that country. 

WHAT IS THE MISSION?: In the years since a U.S.-led NATO force entered in October 2001 in order to disrupt and destroy the Taliban-hosted Al Qaeda terrorist network that had launched attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the Taliban insurgency has slowly but steadily regained steam. Violence is up 543 percentsince 2005, according to counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen. This is in large part the result of the Bush administration's decision to refocus attention and resources away from Afghanistan and toward Iraq in 2003. In testimony on Jan. 27, Gates said, "There is little doubt that our greatest military challenge right now is Afghanistan," but also that the U.S. must set "realistic and limited" expectations there. Several months after the ouster of the Taliban -- and several months after then-Sen. Joseph Biden proposed a plan along the same lines -- President Bush promised a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan. "Half a decade later, that vow remains unmet." While the Bush administration originally trumpeted its goal of a modern Afghan democracy, the current crisis suggests that the more realistic goal is simply one of a functioning state that neither provides a safe haven for terrorists, nor terrorizes its own people. Speaking of the recent attacks in Kabul, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said it "hardens our resolve to get the next steps in Afghanistan right." He added that it was it "imperative that we get the review process done correctly."

 A recent poll showed that "only eighteen percent of Afghans think the U.S. decision to send more troops to the country is a good idea; forty-four percent want fewer troops." Many Afghans believe "that U.S. military action has not and will not improve the security of Afghan civilians. The Taliban remain unpopular -- more unpopular than the United States -- but the gap is closing, and larger numbers of Afghans now see the Taliban as 'more moderate' than in the past." Civilian casualties caused by NATO air strikes, another consequence of the lack of troops on the ground, "were described as unacceptable by almost eighty per cent of those surveyed." Many Afghans also see their own corrupt government as even more predatory than the Taliban. According to Sarah Chayes, a former journalist who for the last seven years has helped run an economic collective in Kandahar, every citizen interaction with the Afghan government "involves some form of shakedown." Official corruption is so bad, Chayes said, that many women in her collective have told her that they would prefer living under the Taliban. Delivering a threat assessment on Feb. 12, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair concurred with this view, stating that corruption in Kabul and throughout the country had bolstered support for the Taliban and warlords.

 It is appropriate that Holbrooke's portfolio includes both Afghanistan and Pakistan, as the situation in the former cannot be understood without regard to the equally serious challenges in the latter. DNI Blair stated in his assessment that "no improvement in Afghanistan is possible without Pakistan taking control of its border areas and improving governance. The lawless zones of instability in Pakistan's tribal belts are used as sanctuaries to undermine stability in Afghanistan. It is also important to recognize that actions in Afghanistan also have an impact on Pakistan, a country with nuclear weapons and a population more than five times greater than Afghanistan. U.S. missile strikes on suspected Al Qaeda hideouts in Pakistan, which often incur civilian casualties, have a highly negative effect on Pakistani public opinion toward their government's cooperation with the U.S. Pakistani officials have told Holbrooke "that the Obama administration should reconsider" these strikes, calling them “counterproductive." Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has said he wants to destabilize the "apostate" Pakistani government. As in Afghanistan, whatever value these missile strikes may have in destroying Al Qaeda's leadership may, in the long run, be outweighed by the rage they incurred against the U.S. and its allies.


Are Obama's Own Generals Plotting to Undermine His Exit Strategy for Iraq?
By Gareth Porter, IPS News
A network of senior military officers appears to be engaged in an effort to mobilize public opinion against Obama's decision to leave Iraq. 
Read more »


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