Thursday, October 27, 2005

Democracy Now: Laura Rozen, Scott Horton, Craig & Brent Renaud; Brian Conley, Margaret Kimberley, Patricia J. Williamson ...

For she sat down
so that we could stand up
She endured the indignation
of a prison cell
So that we could cross
over into a different space
She pointed the way of
struggle through self-sacrifice
So that we could
wither the storm of the ongoing fight.
The above is an excerpt from Rodney Coates' "A moment of silence" from The Black CommentatorKeShawn e-mailed on this and asked if we could open with it.  Absolutely.
Now, we'll highlight three Democracy Now! Headlines:
Miers Withdraws Supreme Court Nomination
Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to be a Supreme Court justice. Earlier today President Bush announced he had accepted her decision. Miers had come under intense criticism from the Christian Right and many Republican senators. In a letter dated today, Miers said she was concerned that the confirmation process "would create a burden for the White House and our staff that is not in the best interest of the country." Miers went on to write that she needed to withdraw because Senators were seeking White House records that could not be released because of executive privilege. Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote last week that this would be the honorable way for Miers to withdraw. He ended his column by saying “Faces saved. And we start again.” In a statement today, Bush said he "reluctantly" accepted her decision to withdraw.The two have been close friends for nearly two decades. Miers began working for Bush when he was running for governor of Texas in 1994. She remains White House counsel. Miers would have become the third woman to have served on the Supreme Court.
Govt. Ordered to Notify Prison Lawyers on Force Feedings
Lawyers for hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay won a federal court order Wednesday mandating the government to provide them with clients’ medical records and to notify them before their clients are subjected to involuntary force feedings. As Democracy Now reported last week, scores of hunger-striking detainees have been force-fed with tubes up their noses at the U.S. military prison.
Renewed Patriot Act to Alter Death Penalty Rules
The Washington Post is reporting the House bill that would renew the USA Patriot Act includes little-noticed provisions that would dramatically alter the federal death penalty system. The bill allows for smaller juries to decide on executions and grants prosecutors the right to re-try suspects if a jury deadlocks on sentencing. The bill also triples the number of terrorism-related crimes eligible for the death penalty. The Justice Department has already endorsed the provisions. Jennifer Daskal of Human Rights Watch, told the Post : "These are radical changes in the way federal death penalty cases are litigated, and they were added virtually without any debate."
The above three items were selected by Tori, Liang and HeathDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for October 27, 2005

- Miers Withdraws Supreme Court Nomination
- White House Braces for Indictments in CIA Leak Case
- Over 1500 Events Held To Mark 2,000th U.S. Death in Iraq
- Israel Conducts Strikes After Suicide Bombing Kills 5
- Iran President: Israel "Must Be Wiped Off Map"
- Govt. Ordered to Notify Prison Lawyers on Force Feedings
- Inquiry: Over 2,000 Companies Paid Kickbacks to Iraq Regime
Italian Media Reveals U.S. Officials Met With Italian Intelligence Officials To Discuss Fake Documents Citing Niger Nuke Sales to Iraq

As the country waits to see whether indictments will be handed down to top White House officials in the CIA leak case, reports are breaking that Italian intelligence and Bush administration officials met in connection with the forged Niger documents that were used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. We get the latest from law professor Scott Horton and journalist Laura Rozen.
Lawyer Scott Horton: "Vice President Cheney is the Man Who Unleashed Torture and Promoted it Within Our Military and Our Intelligence Service"

The Bush administration is coming under increased criticism for attempting to justify the torture of detainees. Vice President Dick Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss reportedly urged Senator John McCain to exempt the CIA from a proposed ban on torture. We speak with lawyer Scott Horton about the VP and torture.
"Off To War: From Rural Arkansas to Baghdad": Filmmakers on the Lives of Arkansan Soldiers in Iraq

We air excerpts of the film and speak with filmmakers Craig Renaud and Brent Renaud about the series that follows members of the Arkansas National Guard as they deploy to Iraq. “Off to War” was one of the first films to deal with the ongoing problem of U.S. troops having inadequate equipment and unarmored vehicles in Iraq.
Sarah e-mails to note Brian Conley's "Baladiyat Camp Under Siege, Again" (Alive in Baghdad):

Our morning interview was cancelled when we received a call from the Baladiyat camp. Baladiyat is a refugee camp for Palestinians living in Iraq. Palestinians are an overlooked group that has somewhere between 10 and 20,000 people still living in Iraq, many of them in Baghdad, most of the rest in Mosul and elsewhere in the North.

Today at approximately 7:50 AM three SUVs of Iraqi Police showed up to raid the camp. They surrounded the camp and began firing their guns in the air, seemingly without provocation.

This type of situation is a regular occurrence in the lives of Palestinians living in Iraq. Palestinian refugees in Iraq have no nationally guaranteed rights, are not considered citizens, and were not allowed to vote in the recent Constitutional Referendum.

KeShawn e-mails to note Margaret Kimberley's "Toledo, New Orleans and the Failure of Black Leadership" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

October 15, 2005 is a day that should live in infamy. On that date a group of white supremacists from the National Socialist Movement (NSM) were given permission to march in a racially mixed but mostly black neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio. Typically hate groups are allowed to march only near courthouses and city halls.

Their movements are kept under control; it is easier to separate them from protesters, and it is easier to arrest them too. The Nazis who attempted to march in Toledo should have been told where they could march, and been arrested if they deviated from police instructions.

Instead the Nazis were given permission to march on behalf of a white racist family who had called them to help harass their black neighbors. Inevitably, violence resulted.

The other inevitable result was the media's continued demonization of black people. Just as in post-Katrina New Orleans, the behavior of black people under assault was questioned, scrutinized and ultimately found wanting.

In New Orleans the captions of now famous photographs told us that that white people are always innocent, and black people are always guilty. White people find things and black people are always looters. In Toledo, black people under assault from their avowed enemies were dismissed by their own leaders and then characterized as criminals when they took to the streets in protest.

It's a rare moment when Patricia J. Williamson's columns are made available online to non-subscribers.  Cindy e-mails to note Williamson's "Nearer, My God, to Thee" (The Nation):

I hung a sign on the door. GONE FISHING, it said. I needed to ponder the state of the world. I was feeling a little left out on a planet where the religious forces of Armageddon and the secular warlords of Global Imperium had finally stopped battling each other, signed a truce and gone into business together. The United Nations had been marked by The Sign of the Beast, said beast properly caged, and now naught but snapping and growling emanated from within. The three branches of government had melted down into one big happy family, although it could not be said that we the people were related to any of them. All the judicial activists on the Supreme Court had been replaced by obedient missionaries of The Word, who knew to address the President as Dear Leader, or on formal occasions, Oh Greatest of Great Leaders.

There was no more playing the race card, because the Civil Rights Commission was headed by a man who didn't believe that civil rights was the way to achieve civil rights. The Attorney General was a thoughtful fellow who advocated torture if and only when the electric chair was not enough. The Iraqi people had embraced their newest attempt at a Constitution in voter turnouts of a mere 98 percent in some districts. This number was widely interpreted as evidence of the diversity of viewpoints now flourishing with the emergence of democracy, recalling particularly that during the reign of Saddam Hussein a referendum supporting his regime was distinguished by voter turnout of 100 percent or more.

Even the contentiousness of reproductive rights, which had been such a fine source of profit for the female persuasion, had disappeared once one's opinion of abortion was finally conceded to be a private matter of "personal views" and theoretical speculation. (Of course, after the legislature renamed the actual act of abortion "murder," there wasn't much to argue in the nontheoretical sense either.) This freed up a lot of my time for more constructive debates about how many days it took God to make the ingrates who believe they were spawned by apes. These days I had time to think about why Heaven chose to punish prostitutes and female impersonators by making the levees to fail and the floodwaters to rise and the nursing homes to be washed away and the buses full of sick old people to explode on the road out of town. It was a mystery, all right. Earthquakes in communist countries were certainly much easier to understand. On a more cheerful note, the melting of the polar ice cap was good news for the cruise industry, which could now schedule little fun runs from Scotland to Siberia in half the olden time.

"Nearer, My God, to Thee" is available in full online to subscribers and nonsubscribers.
Molly e-mails to note Tom Hayden's "Speech To Peace Rally" ( which was given in London:

I want to ask Tony Blair a question. In 2003 he visited the US Congress and laid out this vision - "I know it's hard on America, and in some corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I've never been to, but always wanted to go...I know out there there's a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happy, minding his own business, saying to you the political leaders of this country, 'Why me? And why us? And why America? And the only answer is that DESTINY put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do.' "

DESTINY? I looked into the impact of Iraq on Nevada and Idaho in case Mr. Blair never has the chance to visit. Twenty six citizens of Nevada and Idaho have died so far in Iraq - taking population into account, that is the equivalent of some 400 British fatalities, or four times the current number of one hundred British casualties. The cost of Iraq to Nevada and Idaho taxpayers is $2.3 billion, which would pay for 110,000 four year university scholarships in those two small states.

DESTINY? The destiny of Nevada, Idaho and the rest of my country has been to die for imperial deceptions, for an empire that doesn't care about sending its young soldiers to die for lies.

Alex e-mails to note Susan J. Douglas' "Missing Their Moment" (In These Times):

I recently received a letter from Nancy Pelosi, my close personal friend. Well, at least the letter was addressed "Dear Friend." If I sent the Democrats $25 or more, I would be the lucky recipient of something not available in any store, anywhere--the "Democrats Fighting Donkey Lapel Pin! Exclusively Yours!"

The letter said that the "conventional wisdom here in Washington says that it's better just to go along and get along." But the Democrats were not going to do that, Pelosi insisted. "I am going to work hard and fight alongside Senator Reid and all the Democrats in Congress to make sure we are asking the tough questions" of John Roberts and other judicial nominees. Hmm, I guess that explains Reid's instantaneous puckering up to Harriet Miers and the Democratic split on the Roberts vote.

The letter assured me that the Democrats will "ensure your rights are safeguarded." Which Democrats? The increasingly Republican-lite Hillary Clinton, who, whatever her celebrity status, cannot win the presidency and has sold out on everything from the invasion of Iraq to abortion rights? John Kerry? Joe Biden? As compelling as the donkey pin offer was, I resisted temptation. The letter is now making its own contribution to Ann Arbor’s recycling program. When we have to turn to "The West Wing" to hear a sophisticated dismissal of intelligent design by a fictional presidential candidate, or fantasize about Geena Davis being president, we know just how bereft we are.

Eli notes that Wally has a new Daily Jot up:
Right now we have power for a few hours thanks to the generator.

Do I sound like

Well say a prayer for Florida, while the rest of the nation lives under only one Bush, we live under two and you can really tell that with the incompetence displayed at every level in the wake of Hurricane Wilma.

Riverbend is, of course, Girl Blogger from Baghdad Burning who frequently notes the dismal conditions in Baghdad including the frequent power outages.
Trina e-mails to note Kristie Rieken's "Sheryl Swoopes comes out: 'I'm finally OK with the idea of who I love" (The Chicago Defender):

Now, Swoopes said, she finally feels free.

Swoopes is a five-time All-Star, three-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA champion as a member of the Comets, whose run of four straight titles began when she was a rookie in 1997.

While piling up accolades and accomplishments, the 34-year-old Swoopes said she dreamed about the day when she could attend an awards banquet with Scott on her arm.

"We have had to celebrate behind closed doors," she said. "I don't want to have to hide from the world anymore."

But that's not to say that she isn't concerned about repercussions from her admission. She worries about her mother Louise, who has known for five years, but "doesn't think it's right."

"She'll probably never accept it," Swoopes said. "But she's dealing with it."

And she is nervous about the response from her hometown of Brownfield, Texas, about 600 miles northwest of Houston, where cotton is king and Swoopes reigns as queen.

Not to mention what people will think right down the road in Lubbock, where she brought Texas Tech it's only national championship in basketball by scoring 47 points in the final game in 1993.

"I worry about the reaction throughout the country, but I really worry about Brownfield and Lubbock," she said. "Because they're both small towns and Sheryl Swoopes is a local hero. Now what? I hope it doesn't change. It's important to me."

Swoopes is perhaps the highest profile team-sport athlete to come out and follows two other WNBA players. Shortly before she retired in 2002, New York Liberty player Sue Wicks became the first active WNBA player to open up about her sexuality.


Gareth e-mails to note Gina Holland's "Terror Suspect Takes Case to High Court" (Associated Press):


"Dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla has asked the Supreme Court to limit the government's power to hold him and other U.S. terror suspects indefinitely and without charges.

The case of Padilla, who has been in custody more than three years, presents a major test of the Bush administration's wartime authority. The former gang member is accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive device.

Justices refused on a 5-4 vote last year to resolve Padilla's rights, ruling that he contested his detention in the wrong court. Donna Newman of New York, one of Padilla's attorneys, said the new case, which was being processed at the court Thursday, asks when and for how long the government can jail people in military prisons.

"Their position is not only can we do it, we can do it forever. In my opinion, that's very problematic and something we should all be very concerned about," she said.


AMY GOODMAN: Talk about General Miller. Who is he?

COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: General Miller was sent to visit Iraq by Secretary Rumsfeld and the Undersecretary Cambone. And they came -- General Miller came to visit from Guantanamo Bay. He was the commander of detention operations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and he was sent to assist the military intelligence interrogators with enhancing their techniques. And he brought with him the techniques that were tested and in use at Guantanamo Bay. And he brought a team of about 20 people, 22 people with him to discuss all aspects of interrogation operations, and actually, he did an in-brief. I was invited to participate or to attend to listen to his in-brief, because he was working almost exclusively with the military intelligence people and the military intelligence interrogators while he was there.

But we owned the locations that he was going to visit, and he ultimately selected Abu Ghraib to be the focus of his efforts, and he told me that he was going to make it the interrogation center for Iraq. He used the term, he was going to “Gitmo-ize” the operation and use the M.P.s to assist the interrogators to enhance interrogations and to obtain more actionable intelligence. I explained to him that the M.P.s were not trained in any kind of interrogation operations, and he told me that he wanted me to give him Abu Ghraib, because that's the location he selected.

AMY GOODMAN: You're both generals?

COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: Yes. He was a two-star.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the dogs? Is that when the dogs were introduced?

COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: Shortly after his visit, he -- again, he was spending most of his time with the commander of the Military Intelligence Brigade, Colonel Pappas. In his in-brief, his introduction when he first arrived there with his team, he responded to one of the interrogators, the military interrogator's question, and he was listening to the comments, the criticisms that they were doing these interviews and they were not obtaining really valuable information, so he was there to assist them with different -- implementing different techniques to get more actionable intelligence.

And one of the interrogators just asked the question about what he would recommend that they could do immediately, because they thought that they were doing a pretty good job with identifying the people who may have additional value or more military intelligence value, and General Miller said -- his first observation was that they were not -- they were being too nice to them. They were not being aggressive enough. And he used the example at Guantanamo Bay that the prisoners there, when they're brought in, that they're handled by two military policemen. They're escorted everywhere they go -- belly chains, leg irons, hand irons -- and he said, “You have to treat them like dogs.”

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