Patriot Act 11 - the sequel: Citizens can stop government power grab
Miami Herald - Warrantless surveillance. Secret arrests. Indefinite detention. Is this totalitarian Cuba? No, it's what the U.S. Justice Department is planning, based on legislation that Justice lawyers have been secretly drafting for months.
Before the department asks Congress for even broader powers, however, it should first demonstrate how well it has used -- and not abused -- the sweeping authority granted it under the post-9/11 Patriot Act.
This is a critical issue, especially now. In times of war, national-security concerns too easily can overwhelm civil protections. True, the government may need new authority to deal with terrorist threats. But Congress and U.S. courts are expected to restrain the executive branch's excesses. Alas, in this crisis, Congress and courts have shown a disturbing proclivity to acquiesce to the Bush administration's demands for sweeping new powers. It's up to Americans, all of us, to stop the power grab.
How much of your individual freedoms and rights are you willing to give up? How much government secrecy is acceptable? Do you trust the government not to abuse its power? Many complaints and court cases already have challenged tactics that the administration says are necessary. But some of the practices may infringe on constitutional protections.
posted by Paul West 5:01 PM
Iraq War Prompts Third Resignation by US Diplomat
(Ms.news, March 28, 2003)
US diplomat Mary Wright, deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, submitted her letter of resignation last week, marking the third time a veteran US Foreign Service official has stepped down in protest of the Bush administration�s policy on Iraq. . . . in a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell�[Wright] wrote, "I believe the Administration�s policies are making the world a more dangerous, not a safer, place. I feel obligated morally and professionally to set out my very deep and firm concerns on these policies and to resign from government service as I cannot defend or implement them." . . . Wright�s departure was preceded by resignations from John Brady Kiesling, political counselor at the US Embassy in Athens, in February and John H. Brown, former cultural attach� at the US Embassy in Moscow, earlier this month. . . . Brown charged, "The president�s disregard for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century."
posted by Lorenzo 9:50 AM
McCarthy's ghost ... democracy is under attack in the U.S.
(Gary Younge, The Guardian, March 27, 2003)
The harassment, arrest, detention and frustration of those who are against the war is becoming routine. Relatives of victims who died on September 11, who are opposed to the war, have been prevented from speaking in schools. Last month Stephen Downs was handcuffed and arrested after refusing to take off a Give Peace a Chance T-shirt in a mall in Albany. . . . As Iraqi civilians and American, British and Iraqi soldiers perish in the Gulf, this war is fast claiming another casualty - democracy in the US. . . . it has a particular resonance here because of the McCarthyite era during the 1950s when those suspected of supporting communism were forced to testify before the Senate to recant their views and divulge names of progressives. . . . While these popular expressions of intolerance appear sporadic, not all are spontaneous. The rally to smash the Dixie Chicks' CDs and much of the impetus for the boycott of their single came from radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications of Texas, which has close ties with Bush. The company's stations also called for the pro-war rallies that have cropped up in the past week. . . Under Big Brother monikers like the Patriot Act and Operation Liberty Shield, the state has stepped up the scope of its surveillance and the wiretapping of American citizens . . . authorities have been demanding records from internet providers and libraries about what books people are taking out and which websites they're looking at. . . . Most vulnerable are those who are most vulnerable anyway - Arab immigrants and non-white Americans. Men from countries regarded as potential sources of terrorism and who do not have a green card, are now required to be registered, fingerprinted and photographed by the immigration service. Many who have committed no crime but simply have their applications for a work permit pending are routinely arrested. . . . The growing surveillance compounded by discrimination adversely affects black Americans too. "It places those of us of colour under increased scrutiny and we get caught up in the web of racial profiling," . . . From the outset Bush has insisted that: "Those who are not for us are against us," and so it follows that anyone opposed to his way of dealing with the terrorist threat becomes the enemy, at home or abroad. Terrorism is the new communism. Even before the first body bags have arrived, the war has already reached the home front.
posted by Lorenzo 12:56 PM
Petition from Veterans Rejected at White House
(Veterans Against The Iraq War, March 26, 2003)
Taking a petition to Washington signed by more than 2,000 veterans opposed to a preemptive war in Iraq is one thing. Getting someone to accept it is much more difficult. . . . �We cannot accept anything,� said a police officer at the White House. �Put it in the mail.� . . . As bombs exploded in Baghdad and battles erupted across Iraq, more than 400 military veterans and family members demonstrated Sunday in the nation�s capital demanding the safe return of our troops. Months of effort to collect signatures on an internet petition and deliver the message to the Bush administration and Congress seemed undone by the abrupt military assault launched just days before.
Gathering on the Ellipse by the south lawn of the White House, the marchers sent a five-person delegation to deliver the Veterans Against Iraq War petition to President Bush. Two Vietnam veterans, a Gulf War vet, and a woman veteran, accompanied by Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, approached the security fence and spoke to a police officer on duty in front of a gate. . . . �We would like to deliver this petition to the president,� Stewart Nusbaumer, a Marine veteran who lost a leg in Vietnam, said, leaning on a cane. The lone officer gently but firmly declined to accept the red folder containing the petition with 49 pages of signatures. . . . �Is there anyone here who can accept it?� a television cameraman interjected. �No, we cannot accept anything,� the officer replied. �If you want to, you can mail it.� . . . Among the forest of signs: �I served in Vietnam, my son served in the Persian Gulf, Bush serves the oil industry.� Another one said: �Our son is a Marine, don�t send him to war for oil.� A third said: �We are patriots, we served, did you?�
posted by Lorenzo 12:27 PM
Seattle, the True Voice of America!
(Jonathan Raban, The Guardian, March 22, 2003)
US public hardens behind war but radical fringe finds its voice - headline in the Guardian last week. Not true - or at least not true in my corner of the US, where the leafiest and richest suburbs are thickly placarded with "No Iraq War" signs, and where, on weekend protest marches against the Bush White House, prosperous bourgeois families, more usually seen tramping around the downtown art galleries on the first Thursday evening of each month, hugely outnumber the bearded peaceniks of the radical fringe. . . . A few days ago, Speight Jenkins, the general director of the Seattle Opera, said that in the course of a season of heavy fund-raising he hadn't so far encountered one person who was in favour of the war: fringe radicals are not usually people who can fork out seven-figure cheques to keep the Ring cycle going. At the private elementary school attended by my daughter, "No Iraq War" bumper stickers adorn the Range Rovers and Toyota Land Cruisers of the soccer moms . . . Seattle is by no means anti-war in general. It houses the main plant of Boeing, the company that made the city rich in the second world war. It's ringed with large military bases - the naval air base on Whidbey Island, naval bases at Everett and Bremerton, the army base of Fort Lewis and the McChord air-force base near Tacoma - and military spending of one sort and another puts $8bn a year into the Washington state economy. . . . The signs saying "Support Our Troops" and "No Iraq War" are complementary rather than oppositional. It is this war for which Seattle has no stomach. . . . President Bush, who talks of his relationship with Jesus as if they'd been Deke fraternity brothers in college and casts himself as God's personal instrument in the war against Evil . . . To the Seattle ear, George Bush sounds an awful lot like Jimmy Swaggart. . . . If that applies to Bush, it applies even more strongly to the secular absolutists and visionaries by whom he is surrounded - and especially to Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, who pop up everywhere, propounding the case for invasion. . . . In Wolfowitz's version of the domino theory, democracy is a contagion, spreading through the Middle East after the (effortless) conquering of Iraq. Iran ... Syria ... Saudi Arabia ... state after state goes down with democracy, each falling on the next with a gentle click. . . . With the glint of fanatic certitude in his [Wolfowitz's] eye, he was explaining how both the invasion of Iraq and its reconstruction would be comfortably paid for by its own oil supplies. . . . Having just breathlessly stepped off the rollercoaster of the New Economy, Seattle is wary about being taken for another ride aboard the New World Order. The Wolfowitz scheme for the market-democratisation of the Middle East rather closely resembles the kind of untested business plan for which venture capitalists here used to hand over millions of dollars without a second thought . . . Seattle has two daily newspapers. Ownership of the Seattle Times is split between the Knight Ridder publishing empire and a local family, the Blethens. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is owned by the giant Hearst Corporation, which is hardly famous for its liberal bias. . . . Though the P-I generally sits somewhat to the left of the Times, both papers usually endorse a fairly equal number of Republicans and Democrats. Both are now severely critical of the Bush administration, and one has squarely opposed the invasion. . . . So the prospect of America's hitherto untravelled president going abroad, at taxpayers' expense, on an adventure of untold, untellable cost, comes at a singularly bad moment for the individual states - and especially for Washington, whose New Economy tax-base has been steadily shrivelling over the last two years. In basic housekeeping terms, Seattle and the White House are living in different worlds. . . . One measure of the P-I's emerging position on the war is that, since Tuesday, it has started to run Robert Fisk's reports for the Independent. Fisk! His scepticism about US intentions in the Middle East sets him apart from all other British, let alone American, correspondents; it is as if the P-I, after listening to Bush's address to the nation on Monday night, had turned to Jacques Chirac for a more enlightened view of things. . . . From where I live, there appears to be no very significant gulf between American and European opinion: as far as I can fairly judge it, Seattle's position on the invasion of Iraq differs little from that of, say, Bristol or Manchester, or even Hamburg or Lyon, though it is seriously out of sync with that of Washington, DC. Yet Seattle does not believe itself to be on the radical fringe - and I have a hunch that I'd be writing in a very similar vein if I were living in Des Moines, Iowa, or any one of a dozen provincial capitals in the US. . . . Suspicion of the national polls has hardened into outright disbelief. "You can get a poll to say any damn thing you want," . . . There is also much anger at the Democrats for failing to provide any articulate leadership in the war on (not with) Iraq. � But something interesting happened on February 21, when the present crop of presidential hopefuls paraded in front of the Democratic National Committee in what several reporters likened to a beauty pageant. Joe Lieberman made a speech so flat his candidacy may well have died in that moment. Richard Gephardt boasted of making common cause with the Bush administration on Iraq, and was met with cries of "Shame!", but went on to outline his domestic policy and won a series of standing ovations. Then came Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont. . . . "I'm Howard Dean, and I'm here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic party ... What I want to know is why in the world the Democratic party leadership is supporting the president's unilateral attack on Iraq." . . . Dean's opening remarks were enough to leave both Lieberman and Gephardt in the dust. The hall was in an uproar of approval and relief. At last a reasonably qualified and plausible presidential candidate was saying something that rank-and-file Democrats have been waiting to hear for many months. . . . "We are all Americans now," Le Monde's headline on September 13, 2001, has been much quoted as a reminder of how disastrously the Atlantic alliance has broken apart in the course of the last 18 months, and of how wantonly the Bush administration has squandered the world's goodwill toward the US. Yet living here, far from the Beltway, I'm struck by how many Americans have become no less alienated than the great mass of British, French, Belgian, or German voters by the American government's stand on Iraq. � a surprising number of Americans feel they are Europeans now. . . . As cruise missiles and laser-guided bombs dive on Baghdad, public opinion will inevitably harden in favour of the administration, and will further solidify when the first remains of American servicemen are brought back to the US - in body bags, if they've been killed by conventional weapons, in urns if they've fallen to biological ones. Yet there will still fester the sense that this is a grossly unaffordable war, an immoral war fought on a policy wonk's fantastic premise that "democracy" can be imposed by brute force across the Middle East. In six months' time, I doubt that convictions now so widely held in this West Coast city will be seen as the property of a radical fringe. Watch Howard Dean.
posted by Lorenzo 9:39 AM
U.S. Steps Up Secret Surveillance: FBI, Justice Dept. Increase Use of Wiretaps, Records Searches
washingtonpost.com - Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Justice Department and FBI have dramatically increased the use of two little-known powers that allow authorities to tap telephones, seize bank and telephone records and obtain other information in counterterrorism investigations with no immediate court oversight, according to officials and newly disclosed documents.
The FBI, for example, has issued scores of "national security letters" that require businesses to turn over electronic records about finances, telephone calls, e-mail and other personal information, according to officials and documents. The letters, a type of administrative subpoena, may be issued independently by FBI field offices and are not subject to judicial review unless a case comes to court, officials said.
Attorney General John D. Ashcroft has also personally signed more than 170 "emergency foreign intelligence warrants," three times the number authorized in the preceding 23 years, according to recent congressional testimony.
Federal law allows the attorney general to issue unilaterally these classified warrants for wiretaps and physical searches of suspected terrorists and other national security threats under certain circumstances. They can be enforced for 72 hours before they are subject to review and approval by the ultra-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Government officials describe both measures as crucial tools in the war on terrorism that allow authorities to act rapidly in the pursuit of potential threats without the delays that can result from seeking a judge's signature. Authorities also stress that the tactics are perfectly legal.
But some civil liberties and privacy advocates say they are troubled by the increasing use of the tactics, primarily because there is little or no oversight by courts or other outside parties. In both cases, the target of the investigation never has to be informed that the government has obtained his personal records or put him under surveillance.
posted by Paul West 7:52 AM
When Democracy Failed: The Warnings of History: Hitler and Bush
(Thom Hartman, CommonDreams, March 16, 2003)
Germany, February 27, 1933...It started when the government, in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis, received reports of an imminent terrorist attack. A foreign ideologue had launched feeble attacks on a few famous buildings . . . When an aide brought him word that the nation's most prestigious building was ablaze, he verified it was the terrorist who had struck and then rushed to the scene and called a press conference. . . . "You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," he proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by national media. "This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is the beginning." He used the occasion - "a sign from God," he called it - to declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their evil deeds in their religion. . . . Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation's now-popular leader had pushed through legislation - in the name of combating terrorism and fighting the philosophy he said spawned it - that suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas corpus. Police could now intercept mail and wiretap phones; suspected terrorists could be imprisoned without specific charges and without access to their lawyers; police could sneak into people's homes without warrants if the cases involved terrorism. . . . Within the first months after that terrorist attack, at the suggestion of a political advisor, he brought a formerly obscure word into common usage. He wanted to stir a "racial pride" among his countrymen, so, instead of referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it as "The Homeland," a phrase publicly promoted in the introduction to a 1934 speech recorded in Leni Riefenstahl's famous propaganda movie "Triumph Of The Will." As hoped, people's hearts swelled with pride, and the beginning of an us-versus-them mentality was sewn. Our land was "the" homeland, citizens thought: all others were simply foreign lands. . . . Playing on this new nationalism, and exploiting a disagreement with the French over his increasing militarism, he argued that any international body that didn't act first and foremost in the best interest of his own nation was neither relevant nor useful. He thus withdrew his country from the League Of Nations . . . His propaganda minister orchestrated a campaign to ensure the people that he was a deeply religious man and that his motivations were rooted in Christianity. He even proclaimed the need for a revival of the Christian faith across his nation, what he called a "New Christianity." Every man in his rapidly growing army wore a belt buckle that declared "Gott Mit Uns" - God Is With Us - and most of them fervently believed it was true. . . . He appointed one of his most trusted associates to be leader of this new agency, the Central Security Office for the homeland, and gave it a role in the government equal to the other major departments. . . . With his number two man - a master at manipulating the media - he began a campaign to convince the people of the nation that a small, limited war was necessary. Another nation was harboring many of the suspicious Middle Eastern people, and even though its connection with the terrorist who had set afire the nation's most important building was tenuous at best, it held resources their nation badly needed if they were to have room to live and maintain their prosperity. . . . It took a few months, and intense international debate and lobbying with European nations, but, after he personally met with the leader of the United Kingdom, finally a deal was struck. After the military action began, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain told the nervous British people that giving in to this leader's new first-strike doctrine would bring "peace for our time." . . . To deal with those who dissented from his policies, at the advice of his politically savvy advisors, he and his handmaidens in the press began a campaign to equate him and his policies with patriotism and the nation itself. National unity was essential, they said, to ensure that the terrorists or their sponsors didn't think they'd succeeded in splitting the nation or weakening its will. In times of war, they said, there could be only "one people, one nation, and one commander-in-chief" ("Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer"), and so his advocates in the media began a nationwide campaign charging that critics of his policies were attacking the nation itself. Those questioning him were labeled "anti-German" or "not good Germans," and it was suggested they were aiding the enemies of the state by failing in the patriotic necessity of supporting the nation's valiant men in uniform. It was one of his most effective ways to stifle dissent and pit wage-earning people (from whom most of the army came) against the "intellectuals and liberals" who were critical of his policies. . . . Hitler was the most beloved and popular leader in the history of his nation. Hailed around the world, he was later Time magazine's "Man Of The Year." . . . Most Americans remember his office for the security of the homeland, known as the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and its SchutzStaffel, simply by its most famous agency's initials: the SS. . . . We also remember that the Germans developed a new form of highly violent warfare they named "lightning war" or blitzkrieg, which, while generating devastating civilian losses, also produced a highly desirable "shock and awe" among the nation's leadership according to the authors of the 1996 book "Shock And Awe" published by the National Defense University Press. . . . Reflecting on that time, The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983) left us this definition of the form of government the German democracy had become through Hitler's close alliance with the largest German corporations and his policy of using war as a tool to keep power: "fas-cism (fbsh'iz'em) n. A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism." . . . Through the 1930s, however, Hitler and Roosevelt chose very different courses to bring their nations back to power and prosperity. . . . Germany's response was to use government to empower corporations and reward the society's richest individuals, privatize much of the commons, stifle dissent, strip people of constitutional rights, and create an illusion of prosperity through continual and ever-expanding war. America passed minimum wage laws to raise the middle class, enforced anti-trust laws to diminish the power of corporations, increased taxes on corporations and the wealthiest individuals, created Social Security, and became the employer of last resort through programs to build national infrastructure, promote the arts, and replant forests. . . . To the extent that our Constitution is still intact, the choice is again ours.
posted by Lorenzo 3:31 PM
Disobey! ... Disobey! ... Disobey! ... Disobey!
(John Pilger, ZNet, March 13, 2003)
How have we got to this point, where two western governments take us into an illegal and immoral war against a stricken nation with whom we have no quarrel and who offer us no threat: an act of aggression opposed by almost everybody and whose charade is transparent? . . . How can those claiming to be "liberals" disguise their embarrassment, and shame, while justifying their support for George Bush's proposed launch of 800 missiles in two days as a "liberation"? How can they ignore two United Nations studies which reveal that some 500,000 people will be at risk? Do they not hear their own echo in the words of the American general who said famously of a Vietnamese town he had just levelled: "We had to destroy it in order to save it?" . . . The thought that the State has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. . . . ". . . America is going to become a mega-banana republic where the army will have more and more importance in our lives. And, before it is all over, democracy, noble and delicate as it is, may give way . . . Indeed, democracy is the special condition that we will be called upon to defend in the coming years. That will be enormously difficult because the combination of the corporation, the military and the complete investiture of the flag with mass spectator sports has set up a pre-fascist atmosphere in America already." . . . view the Bush administration through the eyes of Benito Mussolini. Dubbed 'the father of fascism', Mussolini defined the word in a far more pertinent fashion. 'Fascism,' he said, 'should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.' . . . Sharon's view on which country in the region should be next after Iraq. For the expansionists running Israel, the prize is not so much the conquest of Iraq but Iran. A significant proportion of the Israeli air force is already based in Turkey with Iran in its sights, waiting for an American attack. . . . Perle helped to set up another crypto-fascist group, the Project for the New American Century. Other founders include Vice-President Cheney, the defence secretary Rumsfeld and deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz. The institute's "mission report", Rebuilding America's Defences: strategy, forces and resources for a new century, is an unabashed blueprint for world conquest. . . . Written by Wolfowitz, this guide to world domination puts the onus on the Pentagon to establish a "new order" in the Middle East under unchallenged US authority. A "liberated" Iraq, the centrepiece of the new order, will be divided and ruled, probably by three American generals; and after a horrific onslaught, known as Shock and Awe. . . . Vladimir Slipchenko, one of the world's leading military analysts, says the testing of new weapons is a "main purpose" of the attack on Iraq. . . . He says that, apart from new types of cluster bombs and cruise missiles, the Americans will use their untested pulse bomb, known also as a microwave bomb. Each discharges two megawatts of radiation which instantly puts out of action all communications, computers, radios, even hearing aids and heart pacemakers. "Imagine, your heart explodes!" he said. [Comment: This weapon will also eliminate any independent news networks getting their stories out.] . . . There is only one form of opposition now: it is civil disobedience leading to what the police call civil unrest. The latter is feared by undemocratic governments of all stripes. . . . "Policy-makers are debating right now whether or not they have to heed our dissent. Now we must make it clear to them that there will be political and economic consequences if they decide to ignore us."
posted by Lorenzo 10:04 AM
This Is War
PARENTAL WARNING: The above link is to a web site that has extremely graphic images of war.
posted by Lorenzo 8:35 PM
Direct Action to Stop the War
If the War Starts, the Next Business Day We Call for Mass, Nonviolent Direct Action in Downtown San Francisco. No Business as Usual! Meet 7am at Justin Herman Plaza in SF. . . . Emergency mass non-violent direct action protest planned for 7am the morning of the next Business Day after the US strikes. Meet at Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco.
posted by Lorenzo 2:27 PM
'Bush Wins': The Left's Nightmare Scenario
(Mark LeVine, AlterNet, March 13, 2003)
the antiwar movement would be well advised to plan for a third scenario: "Bush Wins." . . . In this third scenario, the war is over quickly with relatively low U.S. casualties, some sort of mechanism for transitional rule is put in place, and President Bush and his policies gain unprecedented power and prestige. . . . the first Gulf War and now Afghanistan have taught us that the propaganda only has to work until the bombing ends, at which point the American public dutifully returns to its regularly scheduled programming until otherwise disturbed. . . . In such a scenario, especially if there is no major upsurge in domestic terrorism, the antiwar movement will find itself publicly discredited and politically marginalized; remember the Y2K dooms-dayers? There is little reason to assume most Americans won't re-focus on "American Idol," "Are You Hot?" and that other March Madness, leaving it to President Bush to figure out how to rule over a 6,000-year-old civilization 8,000 miles away. . . . If the movement doesn't move with full effort to lay the groundwork for a Bush Wins scenario the massive organizing and consciousness raising of the last year could well prove fleeting, forcing the movement to start from scratch in mobilizing public opinion a year or two down the road when the chickens of an over-extended empire come home to roost. . . . At a recent teach-in I asked students at my campus what they would suggest the antiwar movement do in the "Bush Wins" scenario, and received numerous insightful suggestions. While some, such as engaging in a massive education drive coupled with stepped up civil disobedience, are also being planned by the movement at large, perhaps the most important steps were felt to be "changing our image, rhetoric and discourse to adjust to the new political situation," while refocusing on the larger world systems which have produced toxic conflicts such as Iraq, Sudan, Colombia and the Congo. In other words, taking steps toward a more holistic approach to peace and justice. . . . The antiwar movement would do well to heed their advice. Tyranny or empire should not be the only two choices offered Iraqis, or the rest of the world.
posted by Lorenzo 2:13 PM
Quotes from Michael Moore's letter to Little Bush
Dear Governor (sic) Bush:
. . . As Bill Maher said last week, how bad do you have to suck to lose a popularity contest with Saddam Hussein? The whole world is against you, Mr. Bush. Count your fellow Americans among them. . . . The Pope has said this war is wrong, that it is a SIN. The Pope! But even worse, the Dixie Chicks have now come out against you! How bad does it have to get before you realize that you are an army of one on this war? Of course, this is a war you personally won't have to fight. Just like when you went AWOL while the poor were shipped to Vietnam in your place. . . . Finally, we love France. Yes, they have pulled some royal screw-ups. Yes, some of them can be pretty damn annoying. But have you forgotten we wouldn't even have this country known as America if it weren't for the French? That it was their help in the Revolutionary War that won it for us? That it was France who gave us our Statue of Liberty, a Frenchman who built the Chevrolet, and a pair of French brothers who invented the movies? And now they are doing what only a good friend can do -- tell you the truth about yourself, straight, no b.s. Quit pissing on the French and thank them for getting it right for once. You know, you really should have traveled more (like once) before you took over. Your ignorance of the world has not only made you look stupid, it has painted you into a corner you can't get out of.
posted by Lorenzo 2:06 PM
'Nightstalkers' track terror suspects
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI has a fleet of aircraft, some equipped with night surveillance and eavesdropping equipment, flying America's skies to track and collect intelligence from suspected terrorists.
The FBI will not provide exact figures on the planes and helicopters, but more than 80 are in the skies. There are several planes, known as "Nightstalkers," equipped with infrared devices that allow agents to track people and vehicles in the dark.
Other aircraft are outfitted with electronic surveillance equipment so agents can pursue listening devices placed in cars, in buildings and even along streets, or listen to cell phone calls. Still others fly photography missions, although officials would not describe precise capabilities.
BLOGGERS NOTE: Who else might the FBI put under surveillance?
posted by Paul West 9:30 PM
Pro-War Democrats Kerry, Lieberman, Edwards, and Gephardt Not Welcome
Most California Democrats attending this weekend�s convention seem outraged by what now appears to be an inevitable war and some are venting their frustration at Kerry. As he spoke to the convention Friday night, one heckler repeatedly bellowed, �No war, John, no war!� . . . Tim Steed, 22, chairman of the Orange County Young Democrats shouted at him, �No war!� . . . Steed told MSNBC.com, �It�s disappointing to me that he gave President Bush pre-emptive war power without really having it be an issue. I don�t think Kerry took the time to see what people thought and there is a serious backlash from that.� . . . Steed, who supports Kerry�s rival Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, adds �it would very hard for me� to back any candidate who voted for the use-of-force resolution. Among the Democratic contenders, Kerry, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri all voted for the resolution, while Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Sen. Bob Graham of Florida voted against it. . . . On Saturday, when Edwards told the convention he supported the use of military force if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein, he was drowned out by a chorus of boos and heckling throughout the convention hall. . . . Kerry supporters acknowledge that his vote for the use-of-force resolution is a burden for him since most Democrats are so deeply opposed to a war.
posted by Lorenzo 12:18 PM
Which Corporation Owns Your Vote?
(Thom Hartmann, AlterNet, March 6, 2003)
Jeb Bush stole the vote in Florida in 2000 by kicking thousands of legitimately registered black voters off the voting rolls because they had similar names to Texas felons, a feat well documented by Greg Palast and the mainstream British press. In a brilliant bit of misdirection, Bush portrayed the problem as one of incompetent elderly voters, dumb minority voters, and a problem with "chads" � unreliable voting technology. . . . Bush's answer was to install touch-screen voting machines across Florida in time for the 2002 election. . . . But in the November 2002 election, when some Florida voters pressed the touch-screen "button" for Bush's Democratic opponent, votes were instead recorded for Bush. "Misaligned" touch-screen voting machines were blamed for the computer-driven vote-theft, and when a losing candidate in Palm Beach sued to inspect the software of Florida's computerized voting machines, a local judge denied the petition, citing the privacy rights of the corporation that wrote the programs. . . . Dan Spillane, a former software engineer for a voting machine company that includes a former CIA Director and Dick Cheney's former assistant on its board of directors, has sued his employer for firing him when he pointed out holes in their system that he claims could lead to vote-rigging. . . . The machines generate no paper trail that can be audited, and when voting machine companies have been challenged to produce audits of their vote or to disclose details of their software, they cite the privacy rights that come from corporations being considered "persons" in the United States. . . . But corporations have claimed the First Amendment right of persons to free speech and struck down thousands of state and federal laws against corporations giving money to politicians or influencing elections; they've claimed Fourteenth Amendment rights against discrimination to prevent communities from "discriminating" against huge out-of-town retailers or corporate criminals; and have claimed Fourth Amendment rights of privacy that will prevent voters or public officials from examining the software that runs their computerized voting machines. . . . Now corporations will be telling the citizens of Santa Clara County how they voted. And those same corporations will use the shield of corporate personhood � once valiantly disputed before the Supreme Court by the County's attorney � to withhold from the County's voters the right to "look behind the curtain" at the corporate-owned software and computerized processes that tabulate their vote.
posted by Lorenzo 3:28 PM
Interesting statistic. Shows the real priorities
Out of a budget of $2.243 trillion, Americans only spend $12.5 billion for international humanitarian aid, but are planning to spend about $100 billion or more to wage war in Iraq.
posted by Lorenzo 3:10 PM
Boycott Pro-War Celebrities
The following celebrities share Little Bush's lust for Iraqi blood. Let's show them what we think about their stand by staying away from any films, concerts, or other events they are involved with:
Please send the names of other pro-war celebs to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will post them here.
posted by Lorenzo 1:06 PM
Let Them Hate as Long as They Fear
(Paul Krugman, New York Times, March 7, 2003)
Why does our president condone the swaggering and contemptuous approach to our friends and allies this administration is fostering, including among its most senior officials? Has 'oderint dum metuant' really become our motto?" So reads the resignation letter of John Brady Kiesling, a career diplomat who recently left the Foreign Service in protest against Bush administration policy. . . . "Oderint dum metuant" translates, roughly, as "let them hate as long as they fear." It was a favorite saying of the emperor [Little Boots] Caligula, and may seem over the top as a description of current U.S. policy. But this week's crisis in U.S.-Mexican relations � a crisis that has been almost ignored north of the border � suggests that it is a perfect description of George [Little Bush] Bush's attitude toward the world. . . . Mr. Bush then said that if Mexico or other countries oppose the United States, "there will be a certain sense of discipline." . . . These remarks went virtually unreported by the ever-protective U.S. media, but they created a political firestorm in Mexico. The White House has been frantically backpedaling, claiming that when Mr. Bush talked of "discipline" he wasn't making a threat. But in the context of the rest of the interview, it's clear that he was. . . . Mr. Bush was disingenuous when he described the backlash against the French as "not stirred up by anybody except the people." On the same day that the report of his interview appeared, The Financial Times carried the headline, "Hastert Orchestrates Tirade Against the French." That's Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House of Representatives. In fact, anti-French feeling has been carefully fomented by Republican officials, Rupert Murdoch's media empire and other administration allies. . . . But my most intense reaction to this story isn't anger over the administration's stupidity and irresponsibility, or even dismay over the casual destruction of hard-won friendships. No, when I read an interview in which the U.S. president sounds for all the world like a B-movie villain � "You have relatives in Texas, yes?" � what I feel, above all, is shame.
posted by Lorenzo 12:06 PM
Who is in charge?
(Edward Said, Media Monitors Network, March 8, 2003)
The Bush administration's relentless unilateral march towards war is profoundly disturbing for many reasons, but so far as American citizens are concerned the whole grotesque show is a tremendous failure in democracy. An immensely wealthy and powerful republic has been hijacked by a small cabal of individuals, all of them unelected and therefore unresponsive to public pressure, and simply turned on its head. It is no exaggeration to say that this war is the most unpopular in modern history. . . . I have been criticised recently for my anti-war position by illiterates who claim that what I say is an implied defence of Saddam Hussein and his appalling regime. . . . In all my encounters and travels I have yet to meet a person who is for the war. Even worse, most Americans now feel that this mobilisation has already gone too far to stop, and that we are on the verge of a disaster for the country. . . . Wherever you look in the Congress there are the tell-tale signs either of the Zionist lobby, the right-wing Christians, or the military-industrial complex, three inordinately influential minority groups who share hostility to the Arab world, unbridled support for extremist Zionism, and an insensate conviction that they are on the side of the angels. . . . The media has simply become a branch of the war effort. What has entirely disappeared from television is anything remotely resembling a consistently dissenting voice. Every major channel now employs retired generals, former CIA agents, terrorism experts and known neoconservatives as "consultants" who speak a revolting jargon designed to sound authoritative but in effect supporting everything done by the US, from the UN to the sands of Arabia. Only one major daily newspaper (in Baltimore) has published anything about US eavesdropping, telephone tapping and message interception of the six small countries that are members of the Security Council and whose votes are undecided. There are no antiwar voices to read or hear in any of the major medias of this country, no Arabs or Muslims (who have been consigned en masse to the ranks of the fanatics and terrorists of this world), no critics of Israel, not on Public Broadcasting, not in The New York Times, the New Yorker, US News and World Report, CNN and the rest. . . . The American people have thus been deliberately lied to, their interests cynically misrepresented and misreported, the real aims and intentions of this private war of Bush the son and his junta concealed with complete arrogance. Never mind that Wolfowitz, Feith, and Perle, all of them unelected officials who work for unelected Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, have for some time openly advocated Israeli annexation of the West Bank and Gaza and the cessation of the Oslo process, have called for war against Iraq (and later Iran), and the building of more illegal Israeli settlements in their capacity (during Netanyahu's successful campaign for prime minister in 1996) as private consultants to him, and that that has become US policy now. . . . Democracy traduced and betrayed, democracy celebrated but in fact humiliated and trampled on by a tiny group of men who have simply taken charge of this republic as if it were nothing more than, what, an Arab country? It is right to ask who is in charge since clearly the people of the United States are not properly represented by the war this administration is about to loose on a world already beleaguered by too much misery and poverty to endure more. And Americans have been badly served by a media controlled essentially by a tiny group of men who edit out anything that might cause the government the slightest concern or worry.
posted by Lorenzo 11:57 AM
Appeals Court Weighs Bush's War Powers
(Michael Powell, Washington Post, March 12, 2003)
A federal appeals court is weighing on a rare and expedited basis a lawsuit challenging the president's right to wage war on Iraq without a formal declaration of war by Congress. . . . Filed by a dozen dovish House Democrats, three anonymous soldiers and 15 parents of soldiers, the lawsuit before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, in Boston, argues that Congress has ducked its responsibilities and delegated its war-making powers to the president. . . . a three-judge appeals court panel has agreed to quickly take and hear the case. Lawyers expect a ruling in the next day or two. . . . John C. Bonifaz, the lawyer bringing the legal challenge, says that Congress cannot simply transfer its war-making powers to the president as a hedge against a future conflict. "If we're going to go to war now, we need a debate," he said. "If it strengthens the president's hand, so be it. At least people can be held accountable." . . . Justice Department lawyers also assert a far more expansive presidential power: If he wants to, they argue, the president can wage war all on his own, without congressional approval. This, even among legal scholars sympathetic to Bush, is a deeply controversial interpretation. . . . The question of the president's war-making powers and the tension with the legislative branch over the issue have confounded politicians and scholars almost from the founding of the Republic. The United States has fought five legally declared wars. . . . By contrast, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gregory Katsas told the appellate panel last week, U.S. forces have fought more than 100 times without a congressional declaration of war. Since World War II, the United States has intervened militarily in Korea, Vietnam, Haiti, Lebanon, Nicaragua and the Persian Gulf region. . . . The plaintiffs in this case argue that the constitutional founders wanted to forestall a monarchical executive who might squander the treasury and thousands of young lives on war. By giving Congress the right to declare war, the plaintiffs argue, the Founding Fathers situated war-making powers in the most representative wing of government.
posted by Lorenzo 10:34 AM
Morons in Congress
(New York Times, March 12, 2003)
With frustration rising in the Capitol over French opposition to President Bush's policy on Iraq, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, the chair of the committee responsible for House security, on Tuesday ordered the word ``French'' stricken from all House menus. The action was unilateral. No vote was required.
[Comment: No wonder the U.S. is falling apart. We are ruled by moronic despots. . . . Viva Le France!!!]
posted by Lorenzo 10:47 AM
Hippie Crap Saves The World / Can better orgasms and upping your personal vibe really thwart BushCo idiocy?
(Mark Morford, SFGate, February 28, 2003)
What makes everyone from harmless GOP dittoheads to ultra-right-wing nutjobs full of rage and hiss and homophobia and blind jingoism roll their eyes and throw up their hands and scamper for their Bibles for reassurance that life is still repressed and we're still going to war and Dubya is still smackin' 'round the envurment along with them wimmin and homosekshuls and furriners? . . . Why, hippie crap, of course. New-age babble about love and peace and godless pagan prayer, organic foods and sustainable trees and chakras, divinity and luscious goddesses and soul paths and upping your personal vibration to counter all the venomous hatred slinging about the culture like some sort of conservative, fearmongering weapon of mass depression. Man, they just hate that. . . . Then there's you ... trying to remain connected to something divine and universal and authentic, all while straining to put this national trend toward violence and warmongering into some sort of acceptable frame. . . . Here is what conservatives hate most: the idea that you really can, and do, make a difference. That you, hopefully working to align yourself with something deeper and more informed and perhaps not exactly Christian, or corporate, not exactly lockstep mainstream flag-waving God-fearing asexual consumer drone, you can affect the world, directly, right now, in ways you might not even realize, in ways that make them tremble and wince, in how much you laugh and love and eat and sleep and screw and breathe and in how deeply you penetrate into the soul's raison d'etre. . . . It comes down to simple physics. Negative begets negative. Positive begets positive. War begets war, peace begets peace . . . ShrubCo blindly steers the nation like a giant careening Hummer toward the history-mauling notion of preemptive violence, of attacking anyone who might somehow threaten the U.S. even before such a threat is tangible. He beats the war drum, staffs his administration with enough hawks to start 1,000 wars, slams the environment, cuts women's rights, etcetera and so on -- this all turns that swirling mass of energy that much more dark, vicious, angry, dumb. . . . You want to really annoy the conservative warmongering powers that be? Work your ass off to pump up the vibration. It's deeply personal. It's hard work. It means re-evaluating what you do and how you do it and how you treat others, the planet, what you buy and what you eat. It means learning. And it also means loving harder, more raw and real, minimal BS, minimal waste, figuring out true messy ugly slippery gorgeous divinity for yourself, on your own terms, and then sharing it with the world. . . . Man, they really hate that.
posted by Lorenzo 1:35 PM
Whistleblower Warns FBI chief on Iraq
[Note: You will remember Colleen Rowley as the Minneapolis FBI agent who 'blew the whistle' on the fact that the FBI had several serious warnings about the 9/11 attacks in hand before that fateful day, and failed to act upon them. Ms. Rowley has once again stepped forward with this letter, written to FBI Director Mueller on February 26, which describes in detail her concerns about domestic safety issues in light of the looming war with Iraq. This letter covers a wide variety of highly important issues, but foremost among them is the dire warning she delivers to her boss: "The bottom line is this: We should be deluding neither ourselves nor the American people that there is any way the FBI, despite the various improvements you are implementing, will be able to stem the flood of terrorism that will likely head our way in the wake of an attack on Iraq."]
What is the FBI�s evidence with respect to a connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq? Polls show that Americans are completely confused about who was responsible for the suicidal attacks on 9-11 with many blaming Iraq. And it is clear that this impression has been fostered by many in the Administration. As far as the FBI is concerned, is the evidence of such a link �bulletproof,� as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld claims, or �scant,� as General Brent Scowcroft, Chairman of the President�s Intelligence Advisory Board has said? The answer to this is of key importance in determining whether war against Iraq makes any sense from the FBI�s internal security point of view. . . . If, as you have said, �the prevention of another terrorist attack remains the FBI�s top priority,� why is it that we have not attempted to interview Zacarias Moussaoui, the only suspect in U.S. custody charged with having a direct hand in the horror of 9-11? . . . It is not clear that you have been adequately apprized of the potential damage to our liaison relationships with European intelligence agencies that is likely to flow from the growing tension over Iraq between senior U.S. officials and their counterparts in key West European countries. . . . I realize that decisions to change color codes are made at the most senior level, but perhaps you can caution senior officials about the downside to alarming the public unless there is adequate reason to do so. Increased vigilance must be encouraged when needed, but the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces can easily get bogged down in attempting to pursue all the leads engendered by panicky citizens. This, in turn, draws resources away from more important, well predicated and already established investigations. . . . The vast majority of the one thousand plus persons �detained� in the wake of 9-11 did not turn out to be terrorists. They were mostly illegal aliens. . . . from what I have observed, particular vigilance may be required to head off undue pressure (including subtle encouragement) to detain or �round up� suspects�particularly those of Arabic origin. . . . It should be noted, however, that the Administration�s new policy of �preemptive strikes� abroad is not consistent with the Department of Justice�s (DOJ�s) �deadly force policy� for law enforcement officers. DOJ policy restricts federal agents to using deadly force only when presented with an imminent threat of death or serious injury (essentially in self-defense or defense of an innocent third party). I believe it would be prudent to be on guard against the possibility that the looser �preemptive strike� rationale being applied to situations abroad could migrate back home, fostering a more permissive attitude towards shootings by law enforcement officers in this country. . . . it seems clear to me now that the decision to attack Iraq was taken some time ago and you, even as FBI Director, may be little more than a helpless bystander. . . . Such an attack, though, may have grave consequences for your ability to discharge your responsibility to protect Americans, and it is altogether likely that you will find yourself a helpless bystander to a rash of 9-11s. The bottom line is this: We should be deluding neither ourselves nor the American people that there is any way the FBI, despite the various improvements you are implementing, will be able to stem the flood of terrorism that will likely head our way in the wake of an attack on Iraq. What troubles me most is that I have no assurance that you have made that clear to the president.
posted by Lorenzo 1:03 PM
Homeland Security and the KGB
I recently received the following from a Russian friend:
By the way, KGB is loosely translated into English as OHS - Office of Homeland Security. Is it a simple coincidence, or a strong message?
Even casual observers now agree that Little Bush and his junta have their sights set on creating an American Gulag. I wonder what state will become our version of Siberia?
posted by Lorenzo 12:55 PM
Air Force Reports 54 Rapes, Assault
Associated Press - WASHINGTON - The Air Force has identified 54 cases of rape or sexual assault in its investigation into impropriety at the Air Force Academy and there are likely many more cadets who will not come forward, Air Force Secretary James Roche said Thursday.
"The part that is the saddest thing ... whatever we see, whatever the number is, 25, 50, there are probably a hundred more that we do not see," Roche said during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. It wasn't immediately clear when the assaults occurred.
"We're learning enough to realize that change must occur � change in the climate, change in how we manage" the academy, Roche said.
Roche said cases are being identified that will be the top priority for follow-up by the Defense Department's inspector general, focusing efforts on cases "where the person who placed the accusation felt the system let them down."
Roche also said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper was traveling to the Air Force Academy Thursday to meet with cadets. Jumper planned to remind cadets that they have a duty to report anything they might know about any alleged assaults, he said.
Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., said he believes the situation at the academy is worse than the 1991 Tailhook Scandal � when dozens of women complained they were groped or assaulted by drunken pilots at a Navy booster group's convention � because the system has failed the cadets in this case.
posted by Paul West 7:54 AM
Bin Laden Rumor Hits the E-mail Circuit
When the White House announced that President Bush would hold a news conference on Thursday night to talk about terrorism, it quickly morphed into a rumor that Bush was going to announce that Osama bin Laden had been captured -- ABC News.
posted by Hal Dunn 2:12 PM
Dollars Hits Four Year Low Against Euro
Financial Times - The dollar hit a new four-year low against the euro on Wednesday following remarks by John Snow, Treasury secretary, that cast doubt on his commitment to a strong US currency.
posted by Paul West 8:12 PM
Fourth Amendment Violations
Authorities no longer have to show evidence to a judge that the target of their search is a foreign agent or suspected terrorist. Authorities no longer have to show a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, much less the ''probable cause'' required by the Fourth Amendment. Libraries and bookstores are prohibited from disclosing the searches to anyone, which deprives innocent citizens of the right to challenge illegitimate inquiries.
Spying on readers: FBI agents currently are going into libraries and bookstores to demand records of materials that individuals borrowed or bought. The source of their new authority is the USA Patriot Act, which Congress rushed through in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. In an effort to ease the tracking of potential terrorists, it also lifts valuable restraints that had protected law-abiding citizens from government snooping. The U.S. government claims the right to impose electronic censorship on libraries and secretly seize library and bookstore records of what citizens read. The actions also are defended on legal grounds: shielding children from pornography on the Internet and protecting the public from terrorists.
posted by Hal Dunn 5:46 PM
Judge to Hear Airline ID Challenge
John Gilmore, the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has sued United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Attorney General John Ashcroft, alleging that the airline ID requirement stems from a "secret law" that violates his right to anonymous travel within the United States. Despite a motion to dismiss it, a U.S. District Court judge has agreed to hear a challenge to the airline requirement that forces passengers to show identification before boarding a plane.
United States courts have recognized for more than a century that honest citizens have the right to travel throughout America without government restrictions. Some people say that everything changed on 9/11, but patriots have stood by our Constitution through centuries of conflict and uncertainty. Any government that tracks its citizens� movements and associations, or restricts their travel using secret decrees, is violating that Constitution. It is a Constitutional right to refuse to identify ourselves to government agents unless there is probable cause to suspect us of a crime.
"If there's a law that requires the public to show an ID, we ought to know about it," he said after the hearing. He maintains that the mere demand for an ID is an unreasonable requirement that violates the Fourth Amendment. His attorney, William Simpich, argued before Judge Susan Illston that the requirement that Americans show their ID for domestic travel was the equivalent of creating an internal passport that allows authorities to monitor people's movements and activities in the United States. Additionally, he argued that United Airlines' requirement that Gilmore either show his ID or be frisked violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.
posted by Hal Dunn 9:14 PM
Transportation Security Administration proposes database to track all airline passengers
Flight information from all airline passengers, including financial data, can be collected and analyzed under a little-seen regulation proposed by the Transportation Security Administration to track potential terrorists.
posted by Hal Dunn 8:59 PM
NetPatriot: A Resource Site for Privacy Issues and Libertarian Ideas
Includes news and editorial topics such as:
- TSA proposes database to track all airline passengers By Audrey Hudson
- You Are a Suspect By William Safire (excellent article on Poindexter's TIA)
- Privacy Groups Turn Screws on DOJ By Ryan Singel
- U.S. crime-fighters seize Web sites By Declan McCullagh
- The Echelonization of America: NSA to spy domestically?
- Defense Dept expert calls for banning info on tricking polygraphs
- U.S. Proposes Visitor Tracking Rules By CURT ANDERSON
- Beware the Global Net Police By AP
- Cities Say No to Federal Snooping By Julia Scheeres
- Security act to pervade daily lives By Gail Russell Chaddock
- New powers to government officials to declare national health emergencies, including quarantines and forced vaccination.
- RFID tags: The new way to track everyday objects
- U.S. watch list has 'taken on life of its own, FBI says By Kelli Arena
- Big Brother Goes to Washington By Arlene Getz
- Court Approves More Snooping By Associated Press
- The brutish British By Theodore Dalrymple
- Liberties tested after Sept. 11
posted by Hal Dunn 7:38 PM
RFID tags: The new way to track everyday objects
The low-cost RFID tag business is an up and coming technology. The Holy Grail of this business is to produce an ID tag that costs only 5 cents to manufacture and therefore can be embedded in almost any consumer product. RFID tags are kind of like Web browser cookies for everyday objects. They allow individual products to be tracked during their entire life time from their birth at a factory all the way to their death at the local landfill. RFID readers work up to a distance of 5 feet and don't require any special efforts for tags to be read.
posted by Hal Dunn 7:31 PM
Total Information Awareness: Public Hearings Now!
Total Information Awareness (TIA) is a real threat to your civil liberties. TIA is a Defense Department project that is creating a range of technologies for a surveillance society. If TIA continues, the government will effectively have wiretaps, dossiers, and tracking devices for every American citizen. Urge Senator Orrin Hatch (likely to be the next Chair of the Judiciary Committee), to hold public hearings!
posted by Hal Dunn 7:25 PM
Ashcroft Out of Control
(Nat Hentoff, Village Voice, 28 February 2003)
Many of the new security measures proposed by our government in the name of fighting the "war on terror" are not temporary. They are permanent changes to our laws. Even the measures that, on the surface, appear to have been adopted only as long as the war on terror lasts, could be with us indefinitely. Because, as Homeland Security director Tom Ridge himself has warned, terrorism is a "permanent condition to which America must . . . adjust." - American Civil Liberties Union, January 29 . . . This sequel to the USA Patriot Act states that "the government need not disclose information about individuals detained in investigations of terrorism until . . . the initiation of criminal charges." . . . Many of the prisoners caught in the Justice Department's initial dragnet were held for months without charges or contact with their families, who didn't know where they were. And these prisoners were often abused and out of reach of their lawyers . . . Under Section 302 of John Ashcroft's design for our future during the indefinite war on terrorism, there is another change in our legal system. Under current law, the FBI can collect DNA identification records of persons convicted of various crimes. But under the USA Patriot Act II, the "Attorney General or Secretary of Defense" will be able to "collect, analyze, and maintain DNA samples" of "suspected terrorists." And as Georgetown law professor David Cole notes - "mere association" will be enough to involve you with suspected terrorist groups. What does "association" mean? For one thing, "material support," under which you could lose your citizenship. . . . "The contents of this proposal should be carefully reviewed, and the public must be allowed to freely engage in any debate about the merits of any new government powers the administration may seek." . . . But where is the debate in Congress or in the media? After a few initial press stories about the USA Patriot Act II, there has been little follow-up.
posted by Lorenzo 12:20 PM
The Secret's Out: the US is Weak
(Michael Neumann, Counterpunch, February 28, 2003)
9-11 didn't just challenge America's hegemony; it challenged its sovereignty. Sovereignty is what defines a state, and political philosophers generally agree that it involves at least one hard-nosed requirement: a monopoly on the use of force in a geographic area. . . . Naturally the monopoly is never complete . . . The attempts to portray 9-11 as a crime which the US has inflated into a geopolitical excuse are misguided. No crime of the sort judicial systems address has ever had such stature. A few more such attacks, and you would no longer have a sovereign state. Yet thousands of intelligence chiefs and rebel leaders all over the world must have said: "Hell, I could get twenty guys together with box cutters... ." And by now, they must be pretty damn sure they could get away with it, too. 9-11 raised a faint but distinct possibility that the US might, with bad enough luck, collapse, in years rather than decades. . . . But the US can muscle its way into any oil goodies it wants without war, and it does not need to cow an Arab world already cowed almost into the ground. It doesn't need to get anything, and it won't; Iraq is a can of worms. It needs to prove something, the same thing the thug needs to prove; its ferocity and aggressiveness. Iraq is really the only place it can do this, because Saddam Hussein is the goldilocks' choice of enemies: not too powerful, like North Korea, not too weak, like Libya, but just right, and an international pariah to boot. . . . US weakness is also manifest in its strategies, or rather in the strategies it pretends to itself it is following. Whatever the administration may believe, the push against Iraq does not implement a policy of pre-emptive strikes against potential threats, because such a policy would focus on the biggest threats first, or at least on substantial ones over insubstantial ones. Iraq isn't any substantial threat to the United States. And the US, it is clear, would never dare to implement such a policy against serious potential threats, like North Korea or China. The US is too weak to do that, and it doesn't want to admit it, even to itself.Were the US to realize just how weak it is, it be scared enough to take the measures it really needs to take for its own survival. It would understand that it cannot do without genuinely useful allies--not British twits, or Israeli goons who are happy to drag America down with them. . . . The only thing that could stop anti-American terrorism would be American opposition to Israel.
posted by Lorenzo 4:55 PM
Why should we in Britain help Bush to get re-elected?
(Richard Dawkins, The Independent, 01 March 2003)
the real reason for war is neither of the two offered by Tony Blair. If it had been, all this would have blown up long ago. It would not have waited until George Bush failed to catch Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and needed a new foreign adventure to divert his electorate. War would have been a big plank in both Bush's and Blair's election platforms. . . . This is George Bush's war. His motives and his timing have an internal American rationale. Bush is so unswerving in his thirst for war that Saddam has even less incentive to disarm than Blair's paradox would suggest. Cowboy Bush is saying, in effect, "Stick your hands up, drop your weapons, and I'll shoot you anyway." . . . Bush wants oil and he wants the 2004 election. . . . If Bush now wins a quick war, with few American casualties and no draft, he will triumph in the 2004 election. And where will that leave us? . . . Bush, unelected, has repudiated Kyoto, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, international trade agreements and environment-friendly initiatives set up by the Clinton administration, and he threatens the UN and Nato. What may we expect of this swaggering lout if an election success actually gives him something to swagger about?In that post-war climate of seething hostility, are we, in Britain, going to let ourselves be identified, throughout the world, with this uncouth fundamentalist redneck? . . . I am vigorously pro-American, which is one reason I am anti-Bush. They didn't elect him, and they deserve better. . . . If Bush finally wins a term as President, decent Americans, intellectual Americans, American scholars, scientists, philosophers, engineers, writers, artists and, not least, American philanthropists, Americans with a great deal to contribute, are going to be looking for a civilised haven. . . . Have things reached the point where you might consider moving? We in Britain may not be able to match your salary, but we can at least offer you a civilised, decent government, very different from the one you are eager to leave behind.
posted by Lorenzo 4:29 PM