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Recent decisions counter view of Rehnquist court
The Supreme Court on Thursday defied its stridently conservative image by issuing two important rulings that, along with several others in its current term, embraced tolerance, inclusion and even compassion in their interpretations of federal law. . . . In a decision striking down a Texas sodomy law that banned gay sex, the Rehnquist court mounted a firm and eloquent defense of personal liberty. And the justices gave new strength to death row inmates' appeals by declaring that a Maryland man was the victim of incompetent lawyers at his capital trial. . . . Thursday's rulings follow other decisions this term to uphold affirmative action in university admissions, strengthen the Family and Medical Leave Act, provide lawyers for the poor and ban cross burning in some instances. . . . Taken together, the opinions challenge the notion that the court under William H. Rehnquist has its sights trained on the progressive gains of the last 40 years, and is only awaiting sufficient opportunities to obliterate them. . . . Nate Persily, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said that understanding the justices' behavior requires more than rudimentary right-versus-left thinking. . . . "It's important to talk about what you mean by conservative," Persily said. "Yes, this court has been conservative with respect to curbing Congress' ability to pass laws or to enforce them on states. But this court has also been unwilling to overturn any of the foundational court principles about liberties and civil rights." . . . In a caustic dissent, much of which was read from the bench Thursday, Justice Antonin Scalia accused the justices who formed the majority opinion of signing on to "the so-called homosexual agenda." . . . Only Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice Rehnquist joined Scalia's dissent.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:16 PM

5-Minute Video of George W. Bush on the Morning of 9/11
This footage, obtained and presented exclusively by The Memory Hole, shows President Bush sitting in a Florida classroom for 5 minutes after he was told that the second Twin Tower has been hit and that America was being attacked. A truncated version of this footage that has been available online since June 2002 shows Bush for only 2 minutes, 10 seconds after being told. This new footage more than doubles this length of time.

Immediately below [via the link above], you'll find still-frames from the video, one every 5 seconds starting when Chief of Staff Andrew Card gives Bush the news and ending when the scene abruptly ends. Below that is a longer introduction and explanation of this footage, including how you can get it yourself.

Not only did the leader of the free world sit as his country was attacked, the Secret Service also did nothing. Bush was appearing in public at a previously announced photo-op. He was a sitting duck. The attacks were ongoing at that point (planes had yet to hit the Pentagon or the field in Pennsylvania), and nobody knew how much more destruction was going to happen. Were there two, three, four, eight more planes hijacked and on their way to crash into prominent buildings? Was one headed for the school, where anyone who checked the President's public itinerary would know he was located? Were other terrorists planning to detonate dirty nukes? Were they going to release anthrax or smallpox or sarin? Was an assassination squad going to burst into the school and get Bush? Was a suicide bomber going to ram a truck full of explosives into that classroom?

During the midst of the attacks, any of these things could've happened. Yet there sits Bush, seemingly unconcerned. His Chief of Staff likewise doesn't think that America in flames warrants the President's immediate attention. And the Secret Service utterly fails to do its job by grabbing the President of the United States and getting him to safety. It's truly inexplicable.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:57 AM

Weaponsgate ... The Coming Downfall of Lying Regimes
(Wayne Madsen, Counterpunch, June 10, 2003)
You wouldn't know if from listening to the leading Democratic candidates for President, but "Weaponsgate" may ultimately bring about the downfall of the Bush regime and its allies in London, Canberra, and elsewhere. . . . The arrogance displayed by the Bush regime, somewhat surprising since it gained power through a fraudulent election process, is what may result in its eventual undoing. Bush may or may not ever realize how he was ill served by the neo-con blight that took root within his administration, particularly within the Department of Defense. But the historians and scholars, who will look back on what turned the tide for a supposedly "popular" war president, will point to the self-described "cabal" whose lies brought about a credibility gap unseen in the United States since the days of Watergate. In fact, Bush's "Weaponsgate" will be viewed as a more serious scandal than Watergate . . . Bush's Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, who has had his own problem with recognizing the truth, was obviously concerned how the history books will treat him. He decided to leave his post mid-term rather than face the music over his repeated distortions about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as a casus belli. Other Bush administration officials, political and career, have also jumped off what appears to be a rapidly sinking ship of state. . . . The most dramatic revolt against George W. Bush and Tony Blair can be seen from the high-level leaks of classified information from the top levels of American and British intelligence. Just consider that the United States has never experienced such repeated leaks of classified information since the years of the spies in the 1980s . . . In another slap at the neo-cons, who have supported the Iraqi National Congress of Ahmad Chalabi, the CIA leaked a classified report about their favorite Iraqi. The report, which surfaced in April 2003, concluded that Chalabi had little popular support among the Iraqi people. No wonder then that it is Chalabi who appears to be the source for all the bogus intelligence about Iraqi WMDs, Saddam Hussein's links to Al Qaeda, Iraqi purchases of uranium from Niger, and other false flag intelligence. Chalabi, who is as big a liar as his neo-con friends, hoped to lull American intelligence into believing him over seasoned Middle East intelligence hands. . . . One day the names Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Woolsey, and Chalabi will become as familiar to students of "Weaponsgate" as the names Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Liddy, Mitchell, and Stans are familiar to those who study Watergate. And in a very interesting nexus between the two scandals, Richard Nixon's former counselor John W. Dean has written that Bush's lying about the reasons for the United States to go to war is an impeachable offense. . . . The revolt against Blair should serve as a warning for Bush. Just consider what is happening in Britain. Blair has been abandoned by some of his most senior government officials, including former Leader of the House of Commons Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and former International Development Minister Clare Short, in addition to a number of lesser Cabinet officials. Over 70 of Blair's Labor members of the House of Commons are in open revolt against his duplicity. . . . The public row in Britain has forced Alastair Campbell, Blair's own Karl Rove-like spinmeister, to apologize to the British Security Services for combining their intelligence material with the bogus material it used in developing the Iraqi WMDs dossier. . . . And what of Bush saying the United States will help its friends and punish its foes? Well, it seems that Mr. Bush cannot be trusted to take care of his friends. Iceland was one of the country's that signed up to Bush's so-called "coalition." How has Bush repaid the North Atlantic nation? By writing a letter to Iceland's Prime Minister stating that the United States will, after 46 years of providing for the NATO nation's defense, pull its military forces from the soon-to-be defenseless island state.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:05 AM

Register to Vote in the MoveOn.org Presidential Primary
In most presidential primary processes, pundits, pollsters and wealthy donors determine the outcome long before the actual primaries. By the time the rest of us cast our ballots, the nomination is typically a done deal. The MoveOn.org PAC Primary will allow hundreds of thousands of voters to speak out now, adding their weight to the campaigns of their choice. Voting in the MoveOn.org PAC primary starts Tuesday, June 24.

If you are already on the MoveOn mailing list, then you are already a registered MoveOn Primary voter -- but you can register here just to make sure. All registered MoveOn Primary voters will be emailed a unique link that will allow them one vote. Do not forward your link to anyone else, as that will allow them to change your vote. There is no way to vote more than once using your unique link.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:04 PM

Empire of lies
L. Neil Smith - LNeilSmith.Com - [speech before the New Mexico Libertarian Party] (06/15/03)

"We are all drowning in a sea of lies. During the Vietnam War, statists in academia and the media asserted that government has a right -- perhaps even a duty -- to lie in order to preserve itself. And without a doubt, if you could go back in time and remove each and every lie the government has ever told, the United States of America -- at least as we know it -- would cease to exist. I'll remind you all, however, that for government, existence is a privilege, not a right. And it is a privilege that, according to Thomas Jefferson, may be revoked at any time."

No More Secrets, No more Lies!!!
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 2:00 PM

Statement of Senator Jeffords, Second Anniversary of Decision to Leave the GOP
On issue after issue the Bush Administration is not what it claims to be. Since coming into office, the President has dragged the Republican Party into short-sighted positions that maximize short-term gain while neglecting the long-term needs of families and the nation. . . . In place of thoughtful policy we now have superficial and cynical sound-bites. Instead of confronting pressing national problems, our President lands airplanes while Rome burns. . . . While our troops search for W-M-D's in Iraq--we have found our own W-M-D's right here in Washington - at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They are President Bush's weapons of mass distortion, or better distraction. The Bush Administration says one thing and does another to take the focus off the present realities. . . . Does he think we don't notice? . . . I am pleased to see calls for Congressional investigations to determine whether the President manipulated intelligence information to build support for the war. Why the hurry to invade a country and use military force in such an unprecedented manner? Where was the imminent threat to the United States? And where are the weapons of mass destruction? . . . the President promised the world that the US had a plan in place to rebuild that nation. But it quickly became apparent that there was no plan. While our military guarded the oilfields, we showed no compassion for the Iraqi people as we allowed their national treasures to be looted. All we see now is growing unrest with the US presence in Iraq. . . . In reality we are now in the longest period of continued job loss since the Great Depression. Since the beginning of this Bush Administration, 2.7 million private sector jobs have been lost and the number of unemployed Americans has increased by over 45 percent. In the first three months of this year alone, America has lost another half-million jobs. President Bush has said his tax plan is a "jobs growth package." But the only thing guaranteed to grow is the federal budget deficit. . . . He says one thing and does another. Does he think we don't notice? . . . tax cuts will widen the gap between rich and poor. These tax cuts help those who need it least and do nothing for those who need it most. . . . One of the most disturbing effects of the economic downturn is the lack of state and federal funding for our educational system - where States are laying off teachers, cutting school days and eliminating early childhood programs - most of which have only just started. The President's advisors tell him to endlessly repeat "No Child Left Behind." . . . As the President pushes tax cut after tax cut, his Administration still can not find the funding to fulfill the federal government's commitment to special education - where we still fall $12 billion short on a commitment we made to the States more than 25 years ago . . . A recent New York Times report noted that combined budget deficits for 50 states are estimated to be between $52 billion and $82 billion, and the schools are taking the worst hit. . . . If this wasn't all bad enough, we learned last week that the U.S. Department of Education plans to spend a half-million dollars - yes, a half-million dollars! - on a public relations campaign aimed at quieting the critics of No Child Left Behind. . . . From the beginning, this Administration has relaxed environmental laws through de-regulation and lack of enforcement, and put forward legislative proposals long on public relations and short on substance. What Americans really need now is relief from air pollution, and swift and serious action to avert global warming. We have a right to breathe air that is not contaminated by pollution. At a minimum, we have a right to full and vigorous implementation of laws already on the books, such as the Clean Air Act. . . . This Bush Administration has put forward a plan mislabeled "Clear Skies." This bill weakens or eliminates current clean air programs, accelerates global warming, and saves only one-third of the lives that could be saved by the Clean Power Act. Worse, the Administration bill takes 20 years before its reduction targets are achieved. . . . What makes the actions of the Bush Administration so troublesome is the lack of honesty. . . . It amounts, in the end, to a pattern of deception and distortion; ultimately that does not respect the wisdom of the American people.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:38 PM

Senior US Officials Cozy up to Dictator Who Boils People Alive
(The Memory Hole)
Independent human rights groups estimate that there are more than 600 politically motivated arrests a year in Uzbekistan, and 6,500 political prisoners, some tortured to death. According to a forensic report commissioned by the British embassy, in August two prisoners were even boiled to death. . . . The US condemned this repression for many years. But since September 11 rewrote America's strategic interests in central Asia, the government of President Islam Karimov has become Washington's new best friend in the region. . . . The five members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir were reportedly tortured in order to force them to "confess". The methods included near-suffocation with a plastic bag, being hung upside down, having needles stuck under finger- and toe-nails, having their hands and feet burned and having electric shocks administered via a device fitted to the head ("electric cap").

Click on the link above to see pictures of Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld and other members of the Brutal Bush Regime in loving embraces with vile Karimov.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:20 AM

The New Right Wing Agenda
(Steven E. Miller, CommonDreams.org, June 13, 2003)
The right wing agenda has three main points, each of which has precedents in earlier Republican and Democratic Administrations but which have been pushed to a qualitatively new level by the W clique . . . 1) Fundamentally change the role of government. stripping government of all social welfare functions and all economic regulatory activity. Instead, government would revert to the sole role of protecting property and sovereignty through the use of its police/military power. This change will be accomplished in all three branches. The judiciary will be stacked, the legislature will pass the appropriate laws, and the executive will become more centralized and autocratic. . . . 2) Fundamentally shifting the burden of taxation from capital (including profits and all forms of �unearned� income) to consumption. The eventual goal is to eliminate all capital gains, inheritance, and corporate taxes, as well as the entire income tax. . . . also make taxation increasingly regressive, putting ever-larger burdens on working families and the poor. Since this is happening at the same time that services provided by government to those groups are being reduced, it reinforces the traditional anti-tax feeling among the general population . . . 3) Fundamentally change the nature of international relations from a �trilateral� world in which multinational elites collaborated on creating an investment-friendly world into a US-dominated �new world order� in which narrow nationalist goals are achieved through unilateral and pre-emptive use of the US�s military power and everyone else is forced to accommodate Washington�s ability to �create facts on the ground.� . . . The most important implication of all this is that large segments of the domestic and world population are no longer seen as worth worrying about. . . . The amazing thing is that the right wing fundamentalists have been able to seize power and win a large amount of support � or at least acquiescence -- among the US electorate. . . . Using all these institutional-cultural supports, the reactionary clique has built a broad and powerful coalition. They�ve become a �big tent� for anti-abortionists (pulling in the Catholic right wing), anti-feminists (attracting not only status-concerned men but women who feel threatened by the loss of the �security and respect� given to traditional female roles), homophobes, anti-immigrant and anti-affirmative action groups (drawing on the racist undercurrents that always rise during periods of uncertainty, unrest, and change), gun advocates (pulling in huge numbers of rural and western voters), property-rights advocates (dipping into the traditional distrust of government bureaucracy), business advocates (offering a path forward to businesses increasingly pressed by foreign competition during an economic downturn), and more. And they�ve found ways to give everyone of these constituent groups immediate monetary, policy, and cultural-symbolic payoffs � further tightening their bonds to the government clique. . . . Most important, by wrapping themselves in the mantle of religion, the GOP leadership has made themselves a vehicle for the growing religious fundamentalist upsurge � parts of which can accurately be described as a fascist movement. . . . The scariest part is that the right wing lunatics feel that they�ll get away with it. Who remembers Afghanistan, or the absence of Iraqi�s supposed weapons of mass destruction? Who seems to care that our economy is collapsing? In the short term, Bush and company win not because of smarter strategies or brilliant tactics, but because they have access to overwhelming resources and power and they can simply outlast everyone and everything else. . . . we should not underestimate their willingness to keep imposing their will through direct (or indirect) force -- the racism, lies, manipulation, and violence used to secure the 2000 election are likely to be repeated or exceeded in coming years. . . . Already, European leaders who opposed the US invasion of Iraq are making their peace with the reality that the US went ahead anyway and with the overall agenda of which it is merely one expression. . . . We�re in for a long fight. We can�t pretend that merely exposing the power elite�s wrong doings or failures will cause their downfall. To survive, we need to find issues and movements that can provide some safe space, that uphold a different world view while not denying the new reality in which we live, that can win some concrete and meaningful small victories (which will require some new strategies) while projecting a vision of a more significant change. . . . the bigger the oppositional movement we build the more likely we are to see significant changes. You never know�sometimes things change much quicker than we anticipate.

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posted by Lorenzo 11:53 AM

FBI Admits: No Evidence inks 'Hijackers' to 9-11
(Michael Collins Piper, Ammerican Free Press)
After seven months of non-stop declarations by U.S. government spokesmen that there exists solid proof tying 19 Muslim men to plotting the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, FBI Director Robert Mueller has now admitted quite the opposite. . . . The amazing possibility remains that others carried out the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, using the identities of the 19 Muslims who have been assigned guilt in the tragedy. . . . In an April 19 speech delivered to the Common wealth Club in San Francisco, Mueller said that the purported hijackers, in his words, �left no paper trial.� The FBI director stated flatly: . . . In our investigation, we have not uncovered a single piece of paper�either here in the United States or in the treasure trove of information that has turned up in Afghanistan and elsewhere�that mentioned any aspect of the Sept. 11 plot. . . . The Times reporters acknowledge that Mueller�s comments �offer the FBI�s most comprehensive and detailed assessment to date of its investigation, remarkable as much for what investigators have not found as for what they have.� . . . Mueller made this claim despite the fact that in the immediate wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, a variety of U.S. officials and media sources speciously announced, almost instantaneously, that there was firm evidence not only that these 19 Muslim men were agents of Osama bin Laden�s al Qaeda �network� but that they were indeed the individuals who hijacked the doomed flights on Sept. 11. . . . Mueller seems to forget that early government and media reports loudly hyped �discoveries��letters and other documents�in the luggage and personal belongings of the presumed hijackers which �proved� that they were on a �mission for Allah,� etc etc. . . . Now Mueller�s comments seem to contradict everything that�s been said.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:44 PM

Senator John Kerry's "Blood Brother" Relationship with Bush ... the Secret Society of Skull and Bones
The all-male Skull & Bones society is composed of alumni of Yale University and includes some of the most powerful men in the United States of America. The society was founded in 1832 as an offshoot of a German secret society. Fifteen new members in their senior year at Yale are initiated annually into the secret society. The initiation ceremony has bonded Yale graduates who went on to become presidents, ambassadors, diplomats, Wall Street tycoons, senators, bankers, judges, lawyers, media executives, and university presidents. Members remain in the society for life. . . . Among the famous families in America who have sent sons into the Skull & Bones are the Tafts, the Bundys, the Buckleys, the Harrimans, the Lovetts, and the Bushes. President George W. Bush AND Senator John Kerry were initiated into the Skull & Bones during their senior year at Yale. Likewise, the current president's father and grandfather, former President George. H.W. Bush and Prescott Bush, were also members of the society. . . . Rosenbaum said the devil-figure pulled the initiates into a white tent in the courtyard where "they found their femurs and emerged with what looked like a thigh bone, although it was impossible to tell whether it once belonged to a human or not."
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posted by Lorenzo 7:39 PM

John Dean: Bush May Be Facing Impeachment
(John W. Dean, FindLaw, 6 June 2003)
President George W. Bush has got a very serious problem. Before asking Congress for a Joint Resolution authorizing the use of American military forces in Iraq, he made a number of unequivocal statements about the reason the United States needed to pursue the most radical actions any nation can undertake - acts of war against another nation. . . . Now it is clear that many of his statements appear to be false . . . Presidential statements, particularly on matters of national security, are held to an expectation of the highest standard of truthfulness. A president cannot stretch, twist or distort facts and get away with it. President Lyndon Johnson's distortions of the truth about Vietnam forced him to stand down from reelection. President Richard Nixon's false statements about Watergate forced his resignation.. . . . Readers may not recall exactly what President Bush said about weapons of mass destruction; I certainly didn't. Thus, I have compiled these statements below. In reviewing them, I saw that he had, indeed, been as explicit and declarative as I had recalled. [Long list of quotations follows.] . . . So what are we now to conclude if Bush's statements are found, indeed, to be as grossly inaccurate as they currently appear to have been? . . . After all, no weapons of mass destruction have been found, and given Bush's statements, they should not have been very hard to find - for they existed in large quantities, "thousands of tons" of chemical weapons alone. Moreover, according to the statements, telltale facilities, groups of scientists who could testify, and production equipment also existed. . . . So where is all that? And how can we reconcile the White House's unequivocal statements with the fact that they may not exist? . . . There are two main possibilities. One that something is seriously wrong within the Bush White House's national security operations. That seems difficult to believe. The other is that the President has deliberately misled the nation, and the world. . . . But, as Time magazine reported, the leads are running out. According to Time, the Marine general in charge explained that "[w]e've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad," and remarked flatly, "They're simply not there." . . . In an apparent attempt to bolster the President's credibility, and his own, Secretary Rumsfeld himself has now called for a Defense Department investigation into what went wrong with the pre-war intelligence. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd finds this effort about on par with O. J.'s looking for his wife's killer. But there may be a difference: Unless the members of Administration can find someone else to blame - informants, surveillance technology, lower-level personnel, you name it - they may not escape fault themselves. . . . Senator Bob Graham has also contemplated three other possible alternative scenarios: One is that [the WMDs] were spirited out of Iraq, which maybe is the worst of all possibilities, because now the very thing that we were trying to avoid, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, could be in the hands of dozens of groups. Second, that we had bad intelligence. Or third, that the intelligence was satisfactory but that it was manipulated, so as just to present to the American people and to the world those things that made the case for the necessity of war against Iraq. . . . Senator Graham seems to believe there is a serious chance that it is the final scenario that reflects reality. Indeed, Graham told CNN "there's been a pattern of manipulation by this administration." . . . Recent statements by one of the high-level officials privy to the decision making process that lead to the Iraqi war also strongly suggests manipulation, if not misuse of the intelligence agencies. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, during an interview with Sam Tannenhaus of Vanity Fair magazine, said: "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason." More recently, Wolfowitz added what most have believed all along, that the reason we went after Iraq is that "[t]he country swims on a sea of oil." . . . Worse than Watergate? A Potential Huge Scandal If WMDs Are Still Missing . . . Krugman is right to suggest a possible comparison to Watergate. In the three decades since Watergate, this is the first potential scandal I have seen that could make Watergate pale by comparison. If the Bush Administration intentionally manipulated or misrepresented intelligence to get Congress to authorize, and the public to support, military action to take control of Iraq, then that would be a monstrous misdeed. . . . To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose." . . . Nixon claimed that his misuses of the federal agencies for his political purposes were in the interest of national security. The same kind of thinking might lead a President to manipulate and misuse national security agencies or their intelligence to create a phony reason to lead the nation into a politically desirable war. Let us hope that is not the case.

[Comment: OR ... maybe we should hope it IS the case ... Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and Rice belong in prison for high crimes against the people of this land and the world. Isn't it about time for some courageous members of Congress to begin the impeachment process?
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posted by Lorenzo 4:41 PM

AlterNet: War on Iraq: News Log: CIA bullied by Cheney and Co.
Posted by Lakshmi on June 5, 2003 @ 9:36AM

Senior CIA analysts have told the Washington Post that they felt pressured to come up with right kind of intelligence during repeated visits to Langley by Dick Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. The men "sent signals, intended or otherwise, that a certain output was desired from here."

More than Cheney and Rumsfeld, the full-court press to deliver the goods came from senior aides like Paul Wolfowitz: "'They were the browbeaters,' said a former defense intelligence official who attended some of the meetings in which Wolfowitz and others pressed for a different approach to the assessments they were receiving. 'In interagency meetings,' he said, 'Wolfowitz treated the analysts' work with contempt.'"
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posted by Lorenzo 5:10 PM

What goes around comes around
Ronald Reagan always wanted to not know what was going on so that he could have "deniability." Now he's practically a vegetable and doesn't even know who he is. ... Isn't karma wonderful?
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posted by Lorenzo 9:26 PM

my most pleasant shock [while visiting the U.S.]
was the fact that the third of americans who know that most of their problems have been caused by their governments and are currently being made far worse, ACTUALLY CARE MORE DEEPLY THAN I DO!! after all it�s their culture, their constitution, their proud history, ideals and self-respect that are being trashed daily before their eyes. while britain�s democracy seems more resilient after all, theirs has been hijacked into a direction that scares the hell out of them while shaming them to their roots. ... before i went there, i knew there was a large opposition, but i had no idea how deeply, painfully and daily these americans are feeling it. so, apart from the other good news i bring, is the crucial fact that the opposition CANNOT STAND HOW THINGS ARE GOING!
--Fraser Clark

[Comment: Fraser has been declared a World Heritage Cultrual Icon by all who know him. Rock on, Fraser ... and keep the faith. Us unwashed masses will rise again!]
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posted by Lorenzo 8:24 PM

Is There Anything Left That Matters?
(Joan Chittester, OSB, Common Dreams, June 2, 2003)
This is what I don't understand: All of a sudden nothing seems to matter. . . . First, they said they wanted Bin Laden "dead or alive." But they didn't get him. So now they tell us that it doesn't matter. Our mission is greater than one man. . . . Then they said they wanted Saddam Hussein, "dead or alive." He's apparently alive but we haven't got him yet, either. However, President Bush told reporters recently, "It doesn't matter. Our mission is greater than one man." . . . Finally, they told us that we were invading Iraq to destroy their weapons of mass destruction. Now they say those weapons probably don't exist. Maybe never existed. Apparently that doesn't matter either. . . . Except that it does matter. . . . It matters that the infrastructure of a foreign nation that couldn't defend itself against us has been destroyed on the grounds that it was a military threat to the world. . . . It matters that it was destroyed by us under a new doctrine of "pre-emptive war" when there was apparently nothing worth pre-empting. . . . It surely matters to the families here whose sons went to war to make the world safe from weapons of mass destruction and will never come home. . . . It matters to the people in Baghdad whose water supply is now fetid, whose electricity is gone, whose streets are unsafe, whose 158 government ministries' buildings and all their records have been destroyed, whose cultural heritage and social system has been looted and whose cities teem with anti-American protests. . . . It matters that the people we say we "liberated" do not feel liberated in the midst of the lawlessness, destruction and wholesale social suffering that so-called liberation created. . . . And it should matter whether or not our government is either incompetent and didn't know what they were doing or were dishonest and refused to say. The unspoken truth is that either as a people we were misled, or we were lied to, about the real reason for this war. . . . It may be time for us to realize that in a country that prides itself on being democratic, we are our government. And the rest of the world is figuring that out very quickly. . . . From where I stand, that matters.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:50 PM

We're in the Beginning Stages of a Police State
In a free society, police agencies respond to evidence of planned and actual criminal activity. ... Police officers in a free society keep the peace; they do not investigate citizens and activities unless there is some reason to investigate. ... In a free society, police do not investigate citizens' attitudes toward the central government, only their action. ... Citizen dissent is lawful in a free society and police agencies do not investigate citizens' attitudes toward the criminal justice apparatus. ... Those conditions no longer exist in the United States! . . . The new [FBI] Guidelines now encourage the FBI to snoop around looking for people who might be suspicious, creating files on anyone who catches their fancy. Agents can now investigate people, organizations, websites, chat rooms and forums for any reason or for no reason at all. They can enter your home without a warrant and are not required to inform you that they have invaded your home if you are not present. . . . Scores of U.S. cities are now using surveillance television camera systems to spy on citizens--shades of 1984. With video cameras perched atop buildings and poles, watching whatever American are doing, do you suppose there might be some potential for abuse in such systems? Christian Parenti's, article, "DC's Virtual Panopticon," in the June 3, 2002 issue of The Nation describes how "police in Detroit and DC have used CCTV [closed-circuit television] to stalk personal foes, political opponents and young women." Smile, you're on Kandid Kamera. . . . Under the heading of 'civil disturbance planning', the U.S. military is training troops and police to suppress democratic opposition in America. The master plan, Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, is code-named, 'Operation Garden Plot'. Originated in 1968, the 'operational plan' has been updated over the last three decades, most recently in 1991, and was activated during the Los Angeles 'riots' of 1992, and more than likely during the recent anti-WTO 'Battle in Seattle.' . . . We know that the beginning stages of a police state exist in the United States when: a leader is brought into power through illegal means ... a national catastrophe is used as the pretext to begin a war and institute extraordinary restrictions on constitutional liberties ... citizen dissent is held to be treasonous ... the constitutional separation of powers is abrogated by a power-mad executive branch which controls or intimidates the other two branches of government . . . The US Patriot Act was enacted by a Congress that had not actually read it. The only thing representatives and senators got was a two or three page compendium from the White House press office. Nobody was actually given the time to read the provisions of the act. The White House intimidated members of Congress into passing the bill by telling them that if they refused to sign it, they'd be labeled as "unpatriotic"--something almost all members of Congress were frightened of at the time. . . . Lieberman, Daschle and Gephardt later wrote a memorandum stating that Congress had effectively given the Bush Administration "near dictatorial powers."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 9:02 PM

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