February 28, 2006

DP World Requests Second Review?

On February 27, 2006, AP's LIZ SIDOTI reported from Washington, "With the [port] deal under intense bipartisan criticism in Congress, the Bush administration agreed Sunday to DP World's request for a second review of the potential security risks related to its deal." Emphasis added.

I realize this is White House spin. The White House wants to avoid looking like it is caving in to pressure from Congress for a 45-day security review. But this White House spin puts it in the rediculous position of "agreeing" to a foreign corporation's request for a security review. Since when did the White House start entertaining such requests from foreign corporations, or is this request from a foreign government?

February 27, 2006

Bush Failures

Prescription Drugs,

Hurricane Katrina Response,

Port Security, lack of investment,

Port sales to United Arab Emirates (these are separate issues),

Growing Government debt,

International trade deals like CAFTA,

Iraq War...

... to name a few that are making Republicans nervous in an election year.

February 23, 2006

Haiti's Preval and the Rule of Law

Despite numerous delays of the Haitian election, engineered by foreign powers to prevent a popular candidate from being chosen, Rene Preval is now President-elect. He has proclaimed that Jean-Bertrand Aristide may return to Haiti, something the foreign powers insist should not be allowed. But Preval doesn't stop there. He says any Haitian citizen may live in Haiti, even those who are known to have been death squad leaders, even those who were part of the foreign-sponsored coup against Aristide.

Preval's argument? The Haitian constitution protects citizen's rights to live in Haiti. Are these just words or does Preval intend to live by these words? He is saying he intends to follow the supreme law of Haiti, its constitution, regardless of the difficulties that might result.

Elsewhere, adherence to law has eroded. Referring to international law, Shlomo Ben-Ami, former Israeli Foreign Minister, has said recently, "there are conditions where you cannot apply these lofty principles, which are very important, but you cannot apply them." [1] And in the U.S. we have Alberto Gonzales authoring a memo in January 2002 concluding that Article III of the Geneva Convention are obsolete as applied to captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. [2] The Geneva Conventions are a treaty, adopted into US law by a ratification process. And the US President argues that he has the right to surveil US citizens as an unintended consequence of intercepting foreign electronic communications, despite the US constitution's fourth amendment requiring probable cause and a warrant. [3]

Is Haitian leader Preval serious about following the laws of his land? If so, he would be leading by example in a time when actions of US leaders demonstrate a distain for the rule of law, unless the laws are those written by corporate lobbyists to undermine the rights of the people.

1. DemoncracyNow! Interview 2/14/06

2. Gonzales authored a controversial memo in January of 2002 that explored whether Article III of the Geneva Convention even applied to Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters captured in Afghanistan and held in concentration facilities around the world, including Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The memo made several arguments both for and against providing Article III protection to Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. He concluded that Article III was outdated and ill-suited for dealing with captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. He described as "quaint" the provisions that require providing captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters "commissary privileges, scrip, athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments". He also argued that existing military regulations and instructions from the President were more than adequate to ensure that the principles of the Geneva Convention would be applied. He also argued that undefined language in the Geneva Convention, such as "outrages upon personal dignity" and "inhuman treatment", could make officials and military leaders subject to the War Crimes Act of 1996 if mistreatment was discovered. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Gonzales

3. Fourth Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

February 21, 2006

Operation Northwoods

In 1962 senior US military officers proposed staging false pretexts for attacking Cuba. In addition to propaganda campaigns and staged attacks and incidents at US bases in Cuba, the proposed plans included terrorist attacks within the US, the sinking actual refugee boats, the attack of Cuban exiles intended to cause physical injury, the staged downing of a civilian chartered aircraft with college students going on vacation, and the staged downing of a military F101 with planted debris to be found by other unsuspecting members of the US Air Force.

This is must-read US history.

Wikipedia Summary

Declassified Memo PDF

February 20, 2006

Immediate Phased Redeployment: Republican Lite?

The Democrats have a sound-bite to counter Bush's "Stay the Course" bumper sticker on the Iraq war. They call it, "Immediate Phased Redeployment".

According to the Boston Globe, Senator Jack Reed, "an Army veteran and former paratrooper, has been charged with developing a strategy on the war for the Democrats. The plan exposes the "false dichotomy" suggested by President Bush: The only options in Iraq are "stay the course" or "cut and run." Globe Article

For some time now, military analysts have observed that the presence of US troops helps fuel the insurgency. Their analyses have included the option of moving forces from urban areas to bases in the countryside. Secretary of Defense William Perry addressed this issue broadly in 1996 [1]. Now Democratic Party leaders are considering this option in the form of a "strategic redeployment" plan, which would relocate US troops elsewhere in the region from where they could respond to emergencies in Iraq. Will this include redeplyoments within Iraq? Is this actually a new plan, or something that is already in the works for which Democrats are attempting to take credit?

Adopting this plan could be considered "progress"; however, it might also fit into the grand strategy for a permanent US presence in Iraq. Given the construction of permanent US bases in Iraq [2], it looks like the two major US political parties are preparing to maintain indefinite US control over Iraq and its natural resources. Once again, this Democratic proposal smells a bit like Republican Lite.


[1] Report to the President and the Congress, "The Protection of US Forces Deployed Abroad," September 15, 1996.

[2] "US military to build four giant new bases in Iraq", Michael Howard in Baghdad
Monday May 23, 2005 Gaurdian Article

Impeachment Articles: An Obligation

The opposition party is obligated to draw up articles of impeachment. It is not a matter of political strategy, nor does it depend on the probability of successful impeachment; it is a matter of defining American values for posterity.

If we can collectively answer "no" to any of the following, then we must draw up articles of impeachment.

Are we willing to accept torture as an American value, including sensory deprivation combined with painful stress positions?

Are we willing to accept abrogation of the Geneva Convention and other international norms as an American value?

Are we willing to accept an executive branch violation of the constitution to allow electronic surveillance of American citizens without a warrant from the judicial branch?

Are we willing to allow the executive branch to detain people indefinitely without charge and due process?

Are we willing to accept the practice of intentional deception of American citizens by the executive in order to sway public opinion in advance of a decision by the legislature? [1]

Are we willing to accept the practice of intentional deception of the US Congress by the executive branch in advance of a dicision by the legislature? [2]

Are we willing to accept cronyism in the form of creating opportunities for windfall profits and steering those profits to corporations that, in turn, provide financial backing to executive interests?

We need to draw a bright line on American values, and future expectations of the Office of the President. Articles of impeachment must be formally drawn up by the opposition party.


1. The executive branch paid African American commentator Armstrong Williams to surreptitiously promote the "No Child Left Behind Act" as a part of his talk shows and columns. The executive branch presented deceptive intelligence information to the public and Congress prior to invading Iraq.

2. The chief Medicare actuary, Richard S. Foster, said that Thomas A. Scully, administrator of the Medicare program, directed him to withhold the information from Congress on the true cost of Bush's proposed prescription drug program, citing orders from the White House in one instance. Congress was informed the cost would be about $400 billion over ten years. The more valid estimate was between $678 to $737 billion. Source

Acknowledgment: This blog entry was inspired by statements from Richard Dreyfuss. I've drawn heavily from his statements.

February 19, 2006

Michelle Malkin: Asian Anne Coulter

No thanks to a podcast of the Air America's "Best of Ring of Fire for 2005", today I learned about Michelle Malkin. Here's all you need to know about her:

In November of 2004, the Norfolk, Virginia-based Virginian-Pilot ceased running Malkin's nationally syndicated column. Fellow columnist Bronwyn Lance Chester explained, "I think [Malkin] habitually mistakes shrill for thought provoking and substitutes screaming for discussion… She's the worst of what's wrong with punditry today. She adds absolutely nothing to genuine political discourse."
Source: Wikipedia on Malkin

Photo Source: www.mlcsmith.com/graphics/warped/