Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rummy Admonishes ~ Knows Whereof He Speaks, But Remains Fundamentally Obtuse

"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld warned yesterday that 'moral and intellectual confusion' over the Iraq war and the broader anti-terrorism effort could sap American willpower and divide the country, and he urged renewed resolve to confront extremists waging' a new type of fascism.'

Has anyone else ever noticed that seriously messed-up & stressed out people tend to try to disown & project their own traits onto others, who they then proceed to try to punish for the perceived wrong? What is up with that, anyway?

"With polls showing that a majority of Americans believe it was a mistake for the United States to invade Iraq and with many Democrats calling for a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops, Rumsfeld called the Iraq war the 'epicenter' of the struggle against terrorism. Last week, Bush said that setting a timetable for a troop withdrawal would embolden the enemy and cause chaos in Iraq and throughout the region. " (Title bar.)

Uh, George, we liberal commie tree-hugging war weenies have no reason to advocate anything that would "embolden the enemy & cause chaos" in Iraq. You, Bush & Cheney are doing an admirable job of that yourselves.

I'm with Ted Kennedy: "The only person confused about how to best protect this country is Don Rumsfeld, which is why he must go."

Gonzales Lectures Incipient States On "Rule Of Law"


Demon Princess is just back from a sojourn in the wilderness where she communed with wild deer, osprey, kingfishers, owls, & eagles (and sighted the common rubber-footed human shopping booby known to prowl the conveniently situated factory outlet mall about 15 miles beyond the wooded paradise from which streetlights, computers & land-line telephones are banned. ) She also indulged in canoeing, bikeriding, & walking quiet forest paths by day & by night, drinking some very excellent margaritas mixed by an expert who grew up in a region where they know how a margarita is supposed to taste & otherwise had a really good time amongst family members she hasn't seen, er, some of whom she hasn't seen, well... ever. In other words, since they were born, from 2 to 34 years ago. With the occasional new husband thrown in for good measure. A very good time was had by all. The Demon clan is a very close one, I believe it goes without saying.

And lo, what should greet her upon her return to civilization & very first foray into the news but this hilarious bit of comedic styling from one of her very favorite Bush Admin funnymen...well, besides King George himself.

'Berto apparently journeyed all the way to Baghdad to deliver a lecture on the importance of observing the "rule of law--hehe" to the land Bush, Cheney & he, by their policies, have rendered completely chaotic, out of control, and oh, by the way, lawless. (But profitable for war profiteers, so who cares, right?)

That background stuff stuff about destitute & desperate Iraqis accidentally blowing up a pipeline they were trying to tap illegally the same day was not entirely without irony, but using taxpayers' money to send Alberto Gonazles to lecture anyone regarding the rule of law, let alone the people of a country where torture was justified by his equally tortured logic defies any logic at all and totally boggles my mind. Definitely the most ironic and funniest stunt of all. (Title bar.)

"U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales spoke to reporters after a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih. Gonzales said the two discussed the use of 'extraordinary measures' to deal with terrorists, criminals and prisoners.

"'It is sometimes a difficult decision to make, as to what is the appropriate line, what is allowed under the law, under the constitution,' Gonzales said. "The path the Iraqi officials will take will be a decision made by the Iraqi government, but we emphasize the importance of the rule of law.' He did not elaborate.

"Gonzales played a key role in drafting detention policies that many critics say led to the torture of suspected terrorists and other detainees. He wrote a 2002 Justice Department memo that narrowed the definition of torture and argued that President Bush could override anti-torture laws in some cases.

"When asked to distinguish between the kinds of torture he authorized and the kinds being carried out in Iraq by militias with ties to governing parties, Gonzales appeared taken aback.

'It is against the law," he said. 'We have a domestic law prohibiting torture. There are international prohibitions against torture. We are a party to the convention against torture. The president has been very, very clear: This government does not engage in torture.'

Send this man back to law school for an eternity--that should be sufficient punishment. He clearly does not remember that he has gotten it wrong.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Flying While Orange

Mount Rainier, WA, from plane window

Sheesh, wouldncha know it? Of all times to be flying, yours D.P. truly has to do so while a code orange terror alert is in effect.

Somewhat annoying what with all the paranoia about anything liquid: gels, shampoo, lipstick, conditioner, deoderant. A whole lot of stinky passengers if their luggage got lost, since none of these items could be carried on. Fortunately, didn't happen to me.

And by golly, most airports were not that freaked out about the whole "heightened alert" hysteria. Hmm.

Had a wonderful time--clear skies, sunny all the time & warm even after the sun went down. (Novel experience for those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest.) Brilliant clear & close stars in the night sky. Dry heat, beautiful mountains, great music, good company.

As I'm off again tomorrow, will catch up on anything interesting--e.g., the ACLU-NSA case when I get back. Begging your pardon. It's not that matters political aren't still pissing me off; it's that they'll just have to wait for a moment.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Recommended Reading

Advertised as "the only book George Bush has ever read," worth a look. (Title bar.)

Iran Not A Crisis Worth Declaring War Over

Actual billboard message by Velvet Underground

In the drums of fear & exaggeration of threats posed office of Demon Princess Productions, news today from the LA Times that a coalition of people who can reasonably be expected to know whereof they speak are speaking up against another Mid East war debacle in Iran.

"It's not a crisis," Gard said in a telephone interview. "To call the Iranian situation a 'crisis' connotes you have to do something right now, like bomb them."

"WASHINGTON — Seeking to counter the White House's depiction of its Middle East policies as crucial to the prevention of terrorist attacks at home, 21 former generals, diplomats and national security officials will release an open letter tomorrow arguing that the administration's "hard line" has actually undermined U.S. security. The letter comes as President Bush has made a series of appearances and statements, including a visit Tuesday to the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Va., seeking to promote the administration's record on security issues in advance of November's midterm congressional elections.

"The letter comes as President Bush has made a series of appearances and statements, including a visit Tuesday to the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Va., seeking to promote the administration's record on security issues in advance of November's midterm congressional elections.

"The rhetoric has increased since last week's Democratic primary in Connecticut, in which antiwar political newcomer Ned Lamont defeated three-term Sen. Joe Lieberman to become the party's Senate candidate — a victory that senior administration officials are describing as a sign that Democrats are embracing their party's extreme left.

"Retired Army Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard, one of the letter's signers and a former military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara in the 1960s, said the group was particularly concerned about administration policies toward Iran, believing them to be a possible prelude to a military attack on suspected nuclear sites in that country. "

Who, Bush, exaggerate with respect to such a serious, potentially devastating & downright expensive topic as ANOTHER war? Say it ain't so!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Feeling Slimed?

Great little tune to go with the afternoon’s reading:

If you, like D.P., get to feeling tainted somehow by the recent news reports about the GOP's ongoing shenanigans, scandals & manufactured crises, today's reading might cheer you up some: Lieberman’s loss to Lamont in the Connecticut primary is seen by the hopeful as a sea change for the Democratic party (title bar).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Red Alert! Red Alert!

The great news today (title bar) is that a terrorist plot to smuggle homemade bombs on planes bound for the U.S. was thwarted by Scotland Yard. Hooray Scotland Yard!

George raised the "terror alert" level to red for those airports in the U.S. where the targeted flights would have landed. IF they had landed, a gesture reminiscent of closing the barn door after the horses have escaped, but still.

There IS an election about 3 months away, & we've seen the terror alert levels raised just prior to elections before, as the GOP believes it drives voters to their side of the corral. And there's no very great news for them to brag about domestically or abroad otherwise.

Not long afterwards Democrats & Republicans in Washington were heard arguing which party will protect Americans from terrorist threats best.

Demon Princess says if the November elections turn solely on that factor, let's put Scotland Yard in office. After all, the hero's laurels go to them, not anyone here. Maybe they'll bring socialized medicine with them, too. Hail fellow well met!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

As I Was Sayin': Boing, Boing, Boing

Top Military Lawyers Oppose Plans for Special Courts

Demon Princess never minds repeating herself when it comes to Neocon war debacles (proposed kangaroo courts), & she does enjoy watching them trying to justify their arrogantly unilateral war-mongering behavior after the fact.

Makes it all the more special when it's to point out that even military lawyers agree with her *gasp* And affirms that all lawyers have not sold their souls to the GOP. Maybe there's hope for democratic government after all.

The WaPo today (title bar) has further details about yesterday's Congressional review of Bushco's draft legislation & wish list.

"The draft legislation debated yesterday would create military commissions to replace the ones struck down in June by the Supreme Court, which ruled that an earlier plan, imposed by the Defense Department without congressional authorization, was unconstitutional. The new proposal seeks to expand the authority of the courts by including defendants who are not members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban and not directly involved in acts of international terrorism.

"Some independent experts and human rights groups have criticized the plan because defendants would be denied many protections guaranteed by the civilian and traditional military criminal justice systems.

"The proposed legislation has not been formally released because of the administration's inability to persuade the military lawyers to accept it, even after two meetings with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales."

One of the most contentious points seems like a no-brainer to those of us who remain sane, & that would be the admissibility of evidence obtained by means of coercion. 'Berto retreated into that most cowardly of lawyers' tactics by pretending to not comprehend what "coerced" means.

"Gonzales said: 'The concern that I would have about such a prohibition is what does it mean [and] how you defined it. I think if we could all reach agreement about the definition of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, then perhaps I could give you an answer. . . . Depending on your definition of something as degrading, such as insults, I would say that information should still come in.'

"McCain called this 'a radical departure' from past U.S. practice."

Military lawyers pointed out that one of the benefits of heeding the Geneva Conventions (as the Court stated Bushco must do--& still they're trying to dance disingenuously around it) is that the interests of American soldiers in being treated humanely are also at stake. This is international law of war we're talking about fiddling with here. We are not entitled to revise it unilaterally just because we're America and nobody can make us observe it.

Bushco has been coy about presenting publically plans for revamped military tribunals, but as mentioned yesterday, the provisions they've floated so far are ludicrous.

The following especially annoys me, addressing as it does the Bushco formulation of amnesty, essentially, for miltary personnel who were operating under the illegitmate & unconstitutional program unilaterally put in place by the Department of Defense (illegally, as it turns out). That would include, we imagine, military field manuals purposely scrubbed of verbiage even remotely suggesting the Geneva Conventions so recently affirmed by the Supreme Court, the same Geneva Conventions that Dick Cheney had such a huge problem with, as well as allegations of methods of torture being approved & condoned at Gitmo & Abu Grahaib.

"Gonzales also confirmed a report last week in The Washington Post that the administration plans to include language in the legislation designed to protect service personnel and civilians from domestic war-crimes prosecutions for any violations of the international laws of war that are committed under administration policies that have been withdrawn or ruled illegal.

"It seems to us it is appropriate for Congress to consider whether or not to provide additional protections for those who've relied in good faith upon decisions made by their superiors," Gonzales said."

Americans? The world's white knights in shining armor? Say it ain't so! Let's call it the Alfred E. Neuman War College. Graduates' mottoes would be "What, me, a war criminal?"

Maybe I should be thankful 'Berto is not asking for amnesty for military "superiors," only for the rank & file who reasonably believed they were following orders. If that's the case.

News You Can Use If You Use The Net

Follow-up to a previous post regarding Net Neutrality, which is in danger of not passing in Congress. Received today:

It might not be in the news everyday – but the fight to protect freedom on the Internet is far from over. In fact, new battles are brewing right now. Because I know this issue matters to you, I wanted to take a moment and update you on the progress of the anti-net neutrality bill pending in the Senate.

For the last month, the net neutrality-busting bill has been stalled, in large part because of the huge outpouring of grassroots and netroots support. Senator Bill Frist has suggested that he won't let the issue come up if the Republicans in the anti-net neutrality camp cannot guarantee 60 votes.

So far they haven't been able to get those votes - because of you and others who believe in protecting Internet freedom. Almost 25,000 people have already signed our petition calling on the Senate to defeat any telecommunications bill without adequate provisions protecting net neutrality. United our voices put real pressure on undecided senators, and make it much harder for the Republican leadership to get the votes they need to move the legislation forward without those protections.

But we can't forget that the telecommunications lobby and other special interests in Washington, DC are incredibly strong and highly motivated on this issue. We know they are trying to wheedle and finagle vote commitments before the summer recess starts, hoping that if they make enough deals they will have their 60 votes to overturn net neutrality when we return in September. We've seen this kind of backroom dealing before – notably in the ongoing battle against drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

Big telecommunication companies and the special interests who stand to profit if net neutrality is defeated have poured more than $1 million a week into a media and lobbyist campaign to sway the last few votes they need. And it seems to be paying off: we are hearing that they may be only a few votes away from that critical 60. While it doesn't look like there will be time for a vote before the recess, we can count on them to be hitting this issue hard as soon as the Senate re-convenes.

I know you believe we must protect the free and open Internet we take for granted. But we need all the support we can get. Please forward the petition to everyone you know who reads blogs, participates in online organizing, or simply values the information and conversation only an open Internet can provide.

Ask your friends and family to sign now.

"Dear Friends, I believe that we must preserve a free and open Internet. Please join me in calling on the Senate to protect net neutrality and sign this petition."

Allowing net neutrality to be defeated this week will end a 20 year history of online egalitarianism, and innovation. A two-tiered Internet (which is what the telecommunications companies are after) denies the democratic principle that all information ought to be delivered equally and creates a system where only those who pay a premium will be guaranteed timely delivery of their messages and content.

Ask your friends and family to sign now. Please join me in calling on the Senate to protect net neutrality and sign this petition.

We need to keep up the pressure and make sure the anti-net neutrality forces know we are still vigilant, and we need to be ready to act quickly soon.

Once again, thank you for your help in this fight.


Maria Cantwell

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Captains Kangaroo-Courts-R-Us

Boing, boing, boing.

That's the sound of military "justice" in Bushco’s proposed Brave New World.

Hang on to your hats. Much as Demon Princess gets really tired of bad news with regard to this Administration’s neglect of the rule of law, she can’t in good conscience let this go by unremarked. News today (WaPo, title bar) that the Administration has floated legislation responding to the Hamdan decision, which said that the way Bushco has so far been treating detainees--indefinite detention without trial, among other things--is illegal. The Court sent Bushco back to Congress with instructions to cobble together something that's not. Bushco has masterfully seized the initiative to tell Congress what it should do--we cannot any longer imagine Congress seizing the initiative & telling Bushco how it's going to be, can we?

The result is, as you might have guessed, every bit as ludicrous as the "legislation" Arlen Specter proposed regarding warrantless spying, and so, so secret that the Administration was reluctant to even brief the people who would be passing it in detail regarding its provisions. All this extreme cloak 'n dagger drama is wearing a bit thin, is it not?

Demon Princess, with her usual prescience, predicts that, like Arlen's bill, Bushco's maneuver here is designed to be set up & sold to the stupid American public as a hard-won compromise when it definitely is not. Thus, they've set the game up so as to demand everything they wish the legislation would contain, no matter how beyond the pale it is.

"Under the proposed procedures, defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations, or bar evidence obtained through rough or coercive interrogations. They would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors.

"Detainees would also not be guaranteed the right to be present at their own trials, if their absence is deemed necessary to protect national security or individuals.

"An early draft of the new measure prepared by civilian political appointees and leaked to the media last week has been modified in response to criticism from uniformed military lawyers. But the provisions allowing a future expansion of the courts to cover new crimes and more prisoners were retained, according to government officials familiar with the deliberations.

"The military lawyers received the draft after the rest of the government had agreed on it. They have argued in recent days for retaining some routine protections for defendants that the political appointees sought to jettison, an administration official said.

"They objected in particular to the provision allowing defendants to be tried in absentia, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to describe the deliberations. Another source in contact with top military lawyers said, 'Their initial impression is that the draft was unacceptable and sloppy.' The source added that 'it did not have enough due-process rights' and could further tarnish America's image.

"The military lawyers nonetheless supported extending the jurisdiction of the commissions to cover those accused of joining or associating with terrorist groups engaged in anti-U.S. hostilities, and of committing or aiding hostile acts by such groups, whether or not they are part of al-Qaeda, two U.S. officials said.

"That language gives the commissions broader reach than anticipated in a November 2001 executive order from President Bush that focused only on members of al-Qaeda, those who commit international terrorist acts and those who harbor such individuals.

"Some independent experts say the new procedures diverge inappropriately from existing criminal procedures and provide no more protections than the ones struck down by the Supreme Court as inadequate. John D. Hutson, the Navy's top uniformed lawyer from 1997 to 2000, said the rules would evidently allow the government to tell a prisoner: 'We know you're guilty. We can't tell you why, but there's a guy, we can't tell you who, who told us something. We can't tell you what, but you're guilty.'

"Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general during the Reagan administration, said after reviewing the leaked draft that 'the theme of the government seems to be 'They are guilty anyway, and therefore due process can be slighted.' " With these procedures, Fein said, 'there is a real danger of getting a wrong verdict' that would let a lower-echelon detainee 'rot for 30 years' at Guantanamo Bay because of evidence contrived by personal enemies.'"

Seeing's that a number of detainees were sold to rival factions & subsequently ended up in Gitmo, & the increasing intensity of the civil war in Iraq (that all the rest of the world seems to realize is well underway despite our denial), the inability of a detainee to confront his accuser & the lax rules regarding hearsay evidence are a guarantee that no real justice will be served, & the United States will end up running gulags indefinitely. Which, BTW, will only radicalize more people in the Middle East against us.

And, in case you're of the opinion that none of this will affect anybody in America unless they have ties to terrorists, think again. This miserably drafted piece of legislation would also allow Bushco to designate Americans as "enemies of the state," as is made clear in this article appearing in Tom Paine Common Sense today.

"Who, precisely, can be considered an 'enemy combatant' and how the designation is made remains ambiguous. 'Enemy combatant' is a phrase unanchored in international law.

"Government lawyers plucked it from the folds of a 1942 Supreme Court case concerning German saboteurs caught in the United States. Neither the Supreme Court, nor subsequent international law, clearly defined the term. And to date, the administration has declined to issue a final and conclusive definition.

"The Bush administration’s adoption of the term has been gradual. In November 2001, President George W. Bush issued a military order in which he stated that anyone who 'is or was a member of the organization known as al-Qaida' or who 'knowingly harbored' an al-Qaida member could be tried in a military commission. By June 2002, the administration took the further step of invoking the term to justify the indefinite detention of a U.S. citizen initially seized on American soil.

"In 2004, then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz issued a definition of 'enemy combatant'—but only for Guantánamo detainees, who are believed to be all non-citizens. Under the Wolfowitz definition, the government has conceded in the course of district court hearings for Guantánamo detainees, 'a person who teaches English to the son of an al-Qaida member' and a 'little old lady in Switzerland who writes checks to what she thinks is a charity that helps orphans in Afghanistan” would both be subject to detention as 'enemy combatants.'
And with carte blanche to define the overly broad term “enemy combatant,” might that designation also include American citizens who dare to disagree with Bushco policy in the Mid East in general, journalists who publish information that Bushco rather be kept secret, and any person or organization that they just don’t like? We're willing to bet that it does.