Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Democracy Now: Robert Fisk, Julia Wright, Naima Bouteldja, Behzad Yagmaian; Matthew Rothschild, Amitabh Pahl, Patricia J. Williams ...

CIA Warned On Interrogation Procedures
The CIA's inspector general has warned the agency its interrogation procedures could violate the international Convention Against Torture. This according to the New York Times. In a report, the inspector general said "cruel, inhuman or degrading" techniques used in secret locations around the world could expose agents to legal liability. These techniques include waterboarding, in which the detainee undergoes the experience of drowning. The White House is currently pushing a Congressional amendment that would exempt CIA agents from a Senate ban on torture for interrogations conducted overseas.

CIA Official Discloses Agency's Budget
In other intelligence news, a CIA official appears to have disclosed the agency’s budget -- long a national secret. At an intelligence conference in San Antonio last week, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Collection Mary Margaret Graham, said the annual intelligence budget was $44 billion.

UN General Assembly Votes To End U.S. Embargo of Cuba
And for the fourteenth consecutive year, the U.N. General Assembly has cast a near unanimous vote calling on the United States to end its four-decade old embargo against Cuba. The vote passed with a record 184 countries in favor. Only the United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands voted against. United States envoy to the U.N. Ronald Godard said: "If the people of Cuba are jobless, hungry, or lack medical care, as Castro admits, it's because of his economic mismanagement."

The above three items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Ben, Eli and Domingo. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for November 9, 2005

- State of Emergency in Effect in France
- Death Toll in Pakistan Grows to Estimated 87,000
- Lott Suspects Fellow Republicans in Prison Disclosure
- 2nd Lawyer in Hussein Trial Assassinated
- UN Extends US-led Foreign Troop Presence
- Bloomberg Wins Re-Election; Democrats Take Governor Races
- Texans Ban Gay Marriage; CA Rejects Schwarzenegger Measures

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

As France Uses Colonial-Era Law To Impose Curfews, a Look at the Plight of Immigrant Youth in Europe

The French government has declared a state of emergency in response to the youth-led uprising that began nearly two weeks ago, and has spread to over 300 towns and cities across the country as well as Brussels and Berlin. We go to Paris to speak with French-born journalist Naima Bouteldja and French-American activist Julia Wright about how the current civil unrest is rooted in decades of social discrimination.

The Roots of Civil Unrest in Europe: Robert Fisk and Behzad Yaghmaian on Post-Colonial Muslim and Arab Immigrants

As the civil unrest in France approaches the end of the second week, we look back at a critical moment in French history that is still being felt today: the country's colonial rule of the North African nation of Algeria. We speak with British journalist Robert Fisk about the French rule of Algeria and the country's war of independence and with Iranian-born author and professor Behzad Yaghmaian, who spent two years traveling in the Middle East and Europe following migrants from Muslim countries. [includes rush transcript]

The Battle of Algiers: 1966 Film Depicting Algerian War of Independence Against French Occupation Parallels Brutal U.S. Occupation of Iraq

We play an excerpt of the highly acclaimed 1966 film, The Battle of Algiers, that depicts the Algerian struggle for independence against the French occupation in the 1950's and early 60's. Parallels are being drawn between the French use of torture against resistance fighters in Algeria and the U.S. abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

Robert Fisk on Torture: "We Have Become the Criminals...We Have No Further Moral Cause to Fight For"

We speak with veteran war correspondent Robert Fisk of the London Independent about the U.S. abuse of prisoners in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and rendition to other countries as well as the role of journalists in a time of war.

Lloyd e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's "Torture, What Torture?" (This Just In, The Progressive):

I don't know which was more embarrassing: Bush's exclamation, while visiting Lula, that "wow, is Brazil big," or Bush's declaration, in Panama, that "we do not torture."

How, then, does he account for the fact that two dozen detainees have been murdered by U.S. interrogators?

How, then, does he account for Abu Ghraib?

Or the recently revealed gulag archipelago that the CIA is running in Eastern Europe and Asia?

Or why, for that matter, is Vice President Cheney lobbying Congress to this day to permit the CIA to engage in "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment."

Sherry was also visiting The Progressive and she e-mails to note Amitabh Pal's "John Tierney Prefers Name-calling on Free Trade" (Amitabh Pal's Weekly Column, The Progressive):

John Tierney, the New York Times' newest columnist, is fast turning out to be an idiot.

There. I have descended to Tierney's level. In his November 8 column, Tierney engages in argument by name-calling. Using a recent pro-free-market book, "Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot," as his inspiration, Tierney categorizes anyone who is critical of that model as an idiot.

"What distinguishes the Perfect Latin American Idiot is his persistence," Tierney inveighs. "No matter how far the continent falls behind the rest of the world, its populists cling to the same beliefs in socialism and big government, the same distrust of capitalism and free trade, the same conviction that Latin American poverty is the fault of the United States."

Tierney has Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona as Prime Exhibit Number One. Maradona led protests during President Bush' visit to the resort town of Mar del Plata for a free trade summit meeting. Tierney ignores the fact that among the other organizers of the demonstrations was 1980 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Is he an idiot, too?), and that the protests quite accurately reflect feelings in the region toward the "Washington Consensus" on free markets and free trade. "Market reforms and a proposed free-trade area of the Americas (FTAA touted by Bush have encountered growing skepticism amid persistent unemployment and poverty across the Americas," reports AFP.

Now, we're moving to an article by Gary Leupp that Sarita found and was "So excited to see this because Michael Leeden isn't left off the hook the way the New York Times let's him off the hook." From Gary Leupp's "The Niger Uranium Deception and Plame Affair a Chronology" (CounterPunch):

The inescapable conclusion we must draw is that the Bush administration policy leading into the Iraq War was dominated by officials, grouped under Cheney and Rumsfeld in particular, principally neocons and including Wolfowitz, Libby, Feith, Perle, Abrams, Shulsky, Luti, Bolton, Joseph, Hadley, Wurmser, Franklin, Cambone, Ledeen, Card, Hughes, Rhode, Rove and others who as a matter of policy, and without any moral qualms, deliberately practiced deception to build their case for war. They were not duped by conniving Europeans or badly served by incompetent CIA analysts. They were engaging in "psyops," psychological operations, principally against their own people, whom they needed to delude with the most frightening imagery ("a mushroom cloud") to get their job done.

What was that job? Michael Ledeen, a central figure in the Niger uranium scandal, a sophisticated man who writes elegant prose, sums it up nicely: it requires that "Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia" be destabilized, and that "every last drooling anti-Semitic and anti-American mullah, imam, sheikh, and ayatollah is either singing the praises of the United States of America, or pumping gasoline, for a dime a gallon, on an American military base near the Arctic Circle."

Now those guilty of deception---of foisting the Straussian "noble lies" upon the American people and the world---are involved in a desperate effort to avoid exposure, alarmed that the conventional workings of the American political system (congressional hearings, special prosecutors' investigations, FBI investigations of espionage, reinvigorated investigative journalism, etc.) might not only jeopardize the project but also land the lot of them in jail. In an effort to make them more nervous, I post this chronology, inviting readers to correct and expand it so that it does the job better.

In his article, Gary Leupp has a wonderfully detailed timeline for the Plamegate events. From that timeline:

December 1: Michael Ledeen (former employee of the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council, and associate of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith) argues in World Jewish Review that perpetual war is the only useful option to ensure the submission of the Muslim World. Declares: "we will not be sated until we have had the blood of every miserable little tyrant in the Middle East, until every leader of every cell of the terror network is dead or locked securely away, and every last drooling anti-Semitic and anti-American mullah, imam, sheikh, and ayatollah is either singing the praises of the United States of America, or pumping gasoline, for a dime a gallon, on an American military base near the Arctic Circle."

[Ledeen formerly a secret agent of National Security Advisor Robert C. MacFarlane during the Reagan administration, involved in the Iran-Contra affair; associate of Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar; scholarly authority on Machiavelli; resident scholar in American Enterprise Institute and major figure in Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; author of works on Italian fascism in which he evaluates "universal fascism" positively; and longtime advocate of a U.S. attack on Iran.]

Early December: Ledeen organizes meeting in Rome. Involves Ledeen, Pollari, Larry Franklin (Pentagon specialist on Iran), Harold Rhode (Office of Net Assessment at the Pentagon), Ghorbanifar, Antonio Martino (Italian Defense Minister), a former senior official of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, and others. Meeting deals at least in part with regime change in Iran and is not authorized by the U.S. State Department or CIA. [By one report, approved by Deputy National Security Advisor (chief deputy to Condoleezza Rice) Stephen J. Hadley.]

Brenda e-mails to note this on Monday's march, "Marchers Cross New Orleans Bridge to Protest Racism" (NOW):

Leaders from across the country gathered with local activists today in New Orleans to rally at the New Orleans Convention Center, where thousands had been stranded without food or medical care in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and to march across the Crescent City Connection bridge into the city of Gretna.

It was the same bridge where over a hundred hungry and thirsty Katrina survivors, mostly African American, tried to flee the devastating floodwaters -- and were prevented from crossing to safety by Gretna police officers who fired shots in the direction of the crowd.

The four-mile march across the bridge followed a moving rally in the shadow of the abandoned convention center. Speakers included NOW President Kim Gandy, U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip-Hop Caucus, as well as residents of New Orleans who spoke firsthand about their experiences in the days after Katrina, and on the bridge that fateful day.

Police officials initially intended to prevent today's bridge crossing as well, saying that demonstrators would be arrested if they attempted to cross the bridge. By the end of the rally, many had decided to risk arrest in non-violent civil disobedience -- but the police relented and the marchers crossed with a police escort.

"There was a mighty solidarity on that march, bringing together so many people across race and class and culture," said Gandy, herself a New Orleanian, "and we have to keep marching together, because there are many more bridges to cross."

Brenda wondered if Gandy's statement could be passed on to Elaine. Done via phone. She said she'll be noting it tonight. Noting at her site Like Maria Said Paz. Brenda wanted Elaine's "Peace Never Comes To Those Who Refuse To Open Their Eyes" from yesterday noted so here's an excerpt:

Today was the one year anniversary of the massacre on Falluja and it's honestly depressing to me.
It disgusts me that a year later, we're still having trouble telling the truth about Falluja.
It disgusts me that a year later, so many Americans seem not very concerned with what went down in Falluja.
It disgusts me that a year later, propagandist Dexter Filkins still has an award and so few people will note that his reporting on Falluja was as bad as Judith Miller's lead up to the war reporting.
I'm sure I'll feel better after I wake up tomorrow but tonight it just disgusts me.

[. . .]
Tonight, I'm just depressed.
I'm thinking of a magazine, a left one, that issued a retraction for an article on Iraq when someone whined. I didn't think that was brave and the article wasn't wrong.
I feel like I was bringing
Mike down earlier when we spoke. This may bring people down, this post, but I don't want anyone worrying (or accusing me of slacking off).
We had an amazing summer of activism and it continues. I saw that last week in New York at The World Can't Wait rally.
I also agree that there are wonderful websites, both within the community and outside of it, getting out the news.
I think Democracy Now! is doing important work and making a difference.
I will agree with
Mike completely that the youth of the country have turned against the war.
But I think about the people I encounter. I'm not referring to patients. I avoid writing about patients here even in oblique terms. But I'm thinking of people I know, that I encounter due to my career and these "professionals" . . .
I'm not seeing a lot of growing concern.
I agree 100% that the youth is active and they are doing wonderful things. But I really am a little depressed that a year after the massacre, I encounter ho-hums on Falluja from "professionals." Medical professionals, no less.
Which makes me think of how disgusted I am that people who are supposed to be healers and are supposed to do no harm are perfectly willing to pass on information that should be private to military intell to help with investigations. I'm disgusted that members of my profession are okay with helping military intell devise techniques, they word play it as something other than torture, and the various medical societies are not screaming to protest this.
Doctors are not supposed to be assisting a government to "extract" information. Certainly not assisting those using techniques like "water boarding."
I think people have woken up. I think a lot of people who felt that they were the only ones disagreeing with the adminstration have learned that they are not alone. That's very powerful and I'm not trying to mitigate the importance of that.
But the truth that the youth of America, as a group, can see so easily seems to escape some of my peers. People trained to heal and to help should never need anyone pointing out that they have crossed a line; it should be quite obvious to them.
I knew I would be depressed when this anniversary rolled around; however, I didn't realize I would be as depressed as I am.
Talking about this with peers today, on the phone, didn't help because I encountered far too many justifications and far too much timidity that offered "wait a few months" and other nonsense.
Reporters aren't the only embeds helping this war continue and that depresses me because it seems so plain to me that an oath we took to help crumbles in the face of 9/11 as people who are supposed to be professional abandon their professional stance and their designated role as healers to assist in some misguided (and illegal) war on terror.
That's the mood I'm in tonight. I'll probably put on a Stevie Nicks CD and try to go to sleep (Wild Heart or Belladonna).

Peace Quote from me:
Peace never comes to those who refuse to open their eyes.

On the subject of dates this week, Billie e-mails to note Bernice Powell Jackson's "A sobering Veterans Day" (The Chicago Defender):

Last week a young man whom I met in a church in Florida several years ago came to mind. He had his own small business (I can't remember if it was a lawn care or computer service business) and he had joined the reserves to earn extra cash to support his family as his business grew. He had just been called up for active duty when I talked with him. He was prepared to fulfill his obligations. But he knew that his fledgling business could not survive his long period of absence and his family would be forced to survive on his military earnings and those of his wife.

That soldier's story has been replicated thousands of times in thousands of communities across the nation over the past three years. When the nation passed the milestone of 2,000 American soldiers killed in Iraq, it was a sobering reminder of the ultimate sacrifices made by young men and women at the behest of their commander-in-chief and for us all. That number is small compared to the losses of Viet Nam, Korea or either of the World Wars. Yet, it is huge to each and every family and each and every community from which these service men and women come.

[. . .]

Americans continue to support our troops in many ways. But more and more Americans are coming to the conclusion that we are paying too high a price for a war for which the American people have been given no truthful, legitimate reason. More and more Americans are disturbed about unbid or unsupervised contracts going to politically connected corporations for work in the re-building of Iraq. More and more Americans are disturbed that there is no exit strategy even being discussed, let alone shared. More and more Americans are coming to the conclusion that the war in Iraq has only nurtured a new breed of terrorists who are killing Iraqi civilians and American soldiers every day.

We owe it to our troops to support them and their families. We owe it to our nation to ask difficult questions about this war and to demand truthful answers. This was a sobering Veterans Day for us all.

Veterans Day is Friday. (I'm noting that because anytime this week the day has been mentioned, there's been a flurry of rushing to the calenders. It is Friday. Some things will be closed, et al., it's a federal holiday.) Francisco e-mails to note Juan Gonzalez's "Racial Divide Evident in Military" (New York Daily News via Common Dreams):

Last year, as U.S. casualties mounted in Iraq, only three residents in two neighborhoods of Manhattan's upper East Side - the city's richest area - joined the Army, Air Force or Navy.

Just a few blocks farther north, in a swath of East Harlem, 45 people enlisted.

At the same time, an astounding 113 joined in the Morrisania and Highbridge sections of the South Bronx.

Meanwhile, in two zip codes of Brooklyn's poverty-stricken East New York, 116 men and women joined the military.

And in the immigrant neighborhoods of Elmhurst and Corona in Queens, 73 signed up.

That's all according to the Pentagon's own personnel records, which were obtained under a Freedom of Information request and released for the first time last week by the nonprofit National Priorities Project.

The records track military recruitment by state, county, zip code and racial and ethnic group - even by high school. The Marines weren't included because they did not provide sufficient data to track recruits' place of residence.

The national figures show what you might expect: Youth from low-income areas are far more likely to end up in the military.

This is the most convincing proof yet that as the war drags on - and without a compulsory draft - our battle-weary military has become a ghastly dividing line between rich and poor and black, Latino and white.

"The heaviest burden of war is being carried by less fortunate Americans," Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem), a Korean War veteran, said yesterday.

For anyone who doesn't know this (or blanks on it), Juan Gonzalez co-hosts Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Finally, Keesha notes that The Nation has made a column by Patricia J. Williams available online to all and hopes this is a new change they are implementing. (Williams' columns aren't usually available online unless you're a subscriber to the magazine and enter your code.) The latest column is "Genes, Genius, Genies" (Diary of a Mad Law Professor, The Nation):

In the beginning, there was a time when doctors treated pregnant women by listening to them tell of their symptoms. There were no visuals, no color glossies, no T-shirts with the sonogram emblazoned. There was relative quiet in the womb, which took quiet to attend to. It required listening to the woman say, "This is what it feels like." It required a palpating of the body, a laying on of hands. Midwives and doctors used touch, eyes, ears, measuring from the outside to get a sense of what was within--sounds, motions, clues. It was the mother-to-be whose health was indicative of the condition of the embryo or fetus. Whether life was deemed to begin at conception or whether with quickening, the interdependence of the womb and the woman was a given. I'm certainly not advocating that we turn back the clock with regard to obstetric medicine, but it is arresting to recall that interconnectedness in a time when "life" has become increasingly divorced from traditional contours of the human body. We live in a time when embryos and fetuses are gaining legal rights to sue, are attaining the status of persons, are being enshrined in a molecularly sized iconography of innocents to be saved. With technology, we can make visual what no generation has been privy to before. Like satellites homing in on a secret bunker from space, we have the spyware to case the joint--the interior of the uterus, the cells, even mitochondria, and now DNA.
With all that comes interpretation, and politics, and ideology. And lo, the birth of "the unborn." The magnified fetus becomes an external, a separate entity. Women are no longer imbued with the halo-illuminated metaphors of ripeness and enfolding that underscore so many of our religious notions about women round with child. At least or perhaps especially in the United States, we find ourselves tangled in new definitions of separation and individuation. There has been a restructuring, of our rhetoric as well as of certain religious ideologies, that expressly pits a woman's body against her fetus. There is, these days, a tendency to conceive of the fetus as an entire person, and a litigious little person at that, with a warrior attitude and a long list of complaints that can be asserted against the madonna in question. We've all read about negligence actions, criminal cases, child welfare cases, all involving fetuses still in utero. But the status of the fetus is no longer the most contentious part of the debate. It's moved further and further back in the developmental cycle. Recently the Arizona court of appeals declined to rule that a set of cryogenically frozen fertilized eggs were "persons" for purposes of a wrongful death action, saying that such a designation was for the legislature. The lawsuit was brought by a couple who had sued the Mayo Clinic after its lab lost or possibly destroyed some of the eggs. The eggs were days old, still a clump of cells; nevertheless the court was careful to craft a special category for them: "pre-embryos." Pre-embryonic status is thus not a biological designation but rather a new legal category, a way of dodging the political controversy engendered by those who believe embryos are calling out for rescue. As John Jacubczyk, president of Arizona Right to Life, stated the argument: "Life begins at fertilization."

Let's note an long excerpt from today's Democracy Now! -- this is from "The Battle of Algiers: 1966 Film Depicting Algerian War of Independence Against French Occupation Parallels Brutal U.S. Occupation of Iraq:"

AMY GOODMAN: A scene from the film The Battle of Algiers. We're now going to turn to a news conference at the White House yesterday, where Press Secretary Scott McClellan was questioned by veteran reporter, Helen Thomas.

    HELEN THOMAS: I'm asking: Is the administration asking for an exemption?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: I am answering your question. The President has made it very clear that we are going to do --

    HELEN THOMAS: You're not answering. Yes or no?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: No, you don't want the American people to hear what the facts are, Helen. And I'm going to tell them the facts.

    HELEN THOMAS: [inaudible] the American people every day. I'm asking you: yes or no, did we ask for an exemption?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: And let me respond. You've had your opportunity to ask the question. Now I'm going to respond to it.

    HELEN THOMAS: If you could answer in a straight way.

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: And I'm going to answer it, just like the President -- I just did. And the President has answered it numerous times.

    HELEN THOMAS: Yes or no?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Our most important responsibility is to protect the American people. We are engaged in a global war against Islamic radicals who are intent on spreading a hateful ideology and intent on killing innocent men, women and children.

    HELEN THOMAS: Did we ask for an exemption?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: We are going to do what is necessary to protect the American people.

    HELEN THOMAS: Is that the answer?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: We are also going to do so in a way that adheres to our laws and to our values. We have made that very clear. The President directed everybody within this government that we do not engage in torture. We will not torture. He made that very clear.

    HELEN THOMAS: Are you denying we asked for an exemption?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: Helen, we will continue to work with the Congress on the issue that you brought up. The way you characterize it, that we're asking for exemption from torture, is just flat-out false, because there are laws that are on the books that prohibit the use of torture. And we adhere to those laws.

    HELEN THOMAS: We did ask for an exemption; is that right? I mean, be simple. This is a very simple question.

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: I just answered your question. The President answered it last week.

    REPORTER: What are we asking for?

    REPORTER: Would you characterize what we're asking for?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: We're asking to do what is necessary to protect the American people in a way that is consistent with our laws and our treaty obligations. And that's what we do.

    REPORTER: Why does the C.I.A. need an exemption from the military?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: David, let's talk about people that you're talking about who have been brought to justice and captured. You're talking about people like Khalid Shaykh Muhammad; people like Abu Zubaydah.

    REPORTER: I'm asking you --

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: No, this is facts about what you're talking about.

    REPORTER: Why does the C.I.A. need an exemption from rules that would govern the conduct of our military in interrogation practices?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: There are already laws and rules that are on the books, and we follow those laws and rules. What we need to make sure is that we are able to carry out the war on terrorism as effectively as possible, not only --

    REPORTER: What does that mean?

    SCOTT McCLELLAN: That's what I'm telling you right now. Not only to protect Americans from an attack, but to prevent an attack from happening in the first place.

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, that was an excerpt of a news conference, this one not fictional, yesterday at the White House, the questioning of Scott McClellan, the White House Press Secretary. The exemption that Helen Thomas and other reporters were asking about is the one that the Vice President, Dick Cheney, has requested. Senator McCain of Arizona, who was a P.O.W. in Vietnam, sponsored a bill that would say that no prisoner held by the United States can be treated cruelly on inhumanely, and Vice President Dick Cheney has lobbied him personally to make an exemption for the C.I.A.

The e-mail address for this site is

Yahoo! FareChase - Search multiple travel sites in one click.

[Note: Post corrected for font. Also to add tags for technorati.]