Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Democracy Now: Robert Bryce, Phyllis Bennis, John Perkins; Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Center for Constitutional Rights ...

Over 1,000 Protest Video Showing British Troops Beating Iraqi Youths
In Iraq, more than 1,000 people rallied in Basra Tuesday over a recent video showing British soldiers beating Iraqi youths. The video is believed be from the aftermath of a protest in the city of Amarah in early 2004. Hundreds of people attended the rally to demand employment. On the video, four young protesters are pulled off of a street and into a British army compound where they are punched, kicked and hit with batons. An off-camera voice can also be heard praising the attacks. On Tuesday, the chief of the Basra police force said Iraqi security forces would cease joint patrols with the British military in the province in protest. Meanwhile, the British government says it has arrested three people so far in connection to the beatings.

5 "Raging Grannies" Arrested at Anti-War Protest Near DC
And just outside of Washington, DC, five women with the anti-war group the Raging Grannies were arrested Tuesday at a protest outside a military recruitment office. The women were arrested after announcing they intended to enlist. They chanted: "if someone must die in Iraq, let it be the old." They were later released without charge. The protest was one of several held across the country Tuesday, including in Florida, California, and New York.

Australian Network Airs New Photos of Abu Ghraib Abuse
Meanwhile, the Australian public broadcaster SBS says it has obtained previously unpublished photographs of prisoners abused by US forces at Abu Ghraib. The pictures show a man with his throat slit, another with massive head injuries and a third covered in what appears to be feces. SBS reported: "The extent of the abuse shown in the photos suggests that the torture and abuse that occurred at Abu Ghraib in 2004 is much worse than is currently understood."

Report: 325,000 Names on US Terror-Suspect List
In other news, the Washington Post is reporting the US government has collected over 325,000 names for a list of suspects accused of international terrorism. The figure marks a four-fold increase from when it was created three years ago. The list is maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center. Government officials said only a small fraction of the suspects are US citizens. They would not disclose how many are linked to Bush administration’s domestic eavesdropping program.

The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Francisco, Lyle, Genie and Martha. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for February 15, 2006

- 3 Killed in Pakistan As Muhammad Cartoon Protests Continue
- Hunting Partner Shot by Cheney Suffers Heart Attack
- Report: Cheney Withheld News of Whittington’s Heart Condition
- Haiti Announces Investigation After Burnt Ballots Discovered
- Over 1,000 Protest Video Showing UK Troops Beating Iraqi Youths
- Saddam Hussein Announces Hunger Strike Over Trial Judge
- Australian Network Airs New Photos of Abu Ghraib Abuse
- Gay Bar Attack Victim Files Complaint Over Medical Treatment
- Report: 325,000 Names on US Terror-Suspect List
- 5 "Raging Grannies" Arrested at Anti-War Protest Near DC

As Cheney Victim Suffers Heart Attack, Questions Raised About Secrecy and Cronyism

Harry Whittington, the Austin lawyer and Republican fundraiser V.P. Dick Cheney shot during a hunting trip, has suffered a heart attack. The incident has embarrassed the White House and made headlines around the world, among them: "We are all Harry Whittington." The Bush administration has come under criticism for its long delay in informing the public on both the incident and Whittington's condition. The incident has also raised new questions about cronyism and lobbying at the White House. We speak with Texas-based journalist Robert Bryce, author of "Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America"s Superstate."

On Third Anniversary of Global Protest Against Iraq War, A Look at "Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy U.S. Power"

Today marks the third anniversary of the February 15th global anti-war protest, the day tens of millions of people took to the streets in some 600 cities around the world to protest the Bush Administration's plans to invade Iraq. Author Phyllis Bennis talks about how the anti-war movement has evolved into a major force for global change.

Self-Described Economic Hit Man John Perkins: "We Have Created the World’s First Truly Global Empire"

John Perkins, author of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," joins us in our firehouse studio to talk about his former work going into various countries to try to strongarm leaders into creating policy favorable to the U.S government and corporations. Perkins describes himself as an economic hit man.

Several highlights and Bonnie has a question. What's going on today? A great deal. In Congress? From Laurie Kellman's "Feingold Again Tries to Block Patriot Act" (Associated Press):

In a case of legislative deja vu, Sen. Russell Feingold launched another lonely filibuster against the USA Patriot Act, saying protracted talks produced only a "fig leaf" to cover weaknesses that leave people vulnerable to government intrusion.

"What we are seeing is quite simply a capitulation to the intransigent and misleading rhetoric of a White House that sees any effort to protect civil liberties as a sign of weakness," Feingold said during a floor speech Wednesday that kicked off his latest filibuster.

Brenda notes this from The Bill of Rights Defense Committee:

PATRIOT Act Reauthorization:
The Senate is currently debating PATRIOT Act reauthorization: watch it live on C-Span 2. Also read Senator Russ Feingold's (D-WI) Senate Floor speech.

From stripping of rights on to torture, Markus, noting the latest Abu Ghraib photos noted on Democracy Now! today, steers us to "CCR Responds to Leak of Abu Ghraib Torture Photos" (Center for Constitutional Rights):

On February 15, 2006, in response to the release in the Australian media yesterday of what appear to be new photos of torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) called for a complete, transparent independent investigation into the torture and abuse of detainees that goes all the way up the chain of command.
CCR filed a Freedom of Information Act request jointly with the American Civil Liberties Union, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace, and followed with a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court by those same groups on June 2, 2004, charging the Department of Defense and other government agencies with illegally withholding records concerning the abuse of detainees in American military custody. The government has yet to release the images requested. The photos and videos from that suit are known as the Darby photos. Joseph Darby was the U.S reservist who turned over the photos and videos to U.S. Army officials and touched off the Abu Ghraib scandal in April 2004.
According to attorneys with the Center for Constitutional Rights, it cannot yet be confirmed that these are the Darby photos, though at least two show the infamous Spc. Charles Graner with detainees, and attorneys have not seen these photos previously. Members of Congress have seen the Darby photos and videos. CCR has no knowledge of how the Australian press obtained them. They can be seen at .
Said CCR Legal Director Bill Goodman, "The Bush Administration continues to undermine the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act, which is to provide transparency in government to the American people. In this case, the government's concealment is that of a matter which goes to the heart and soul of American democracy, the use of torture by American officials. Now the rest of the world is learning through a leak that which this government desperately struggles to conceal from its own people. No one up the chain of command has ever been held accountable for what is in these horrifying images, and no true independent commission or special prosecutor has ever been allowed to investigate. There must be an independent investigation and an independent prosecutor must be appointed. The public has a right to know what was being done in our name and what continues to be done at detention camps and secret prisons around the globe."
Said CCR Deputy Legal Director Barbara Olshansky, "We are deeply saddened by the displays of inhumanity in these images. This is an Administration that time and again has refused to be held accountable for its misdeeds. Had the government released these images in a timely and appropriate manner and used them to hold both soldiers and held high-level officials accountable in a court of law, we would not be facing the repercussions we will surely see in the reactions around the world."
Said CCR President Michael Ratner, "What we see here is a direct consequence of this Administration's disregard for the rule of law. This Administration has not only violated international and domestic law against abuse and torture, it has rewarded those who have sought to overturn the Geneva Conventions, the most important protections that exist for our own soldiers. This Administration has put our troops at risk and caused world-wide anger by fostering policies that promote torture and refusing to hold those responsible publicly accountable. There is ample evidence that the torture and abuse were not the actions of a few bad apples, but that responsibility goes up the chain of command to Rumsfeld, Gonzales and others. It is long past the time to hold them accountable. The president's statement when he signed the McCain Amendment is a strong indicator that the administration plans to continue its unlawful practice of torture."
In response to the rights groups' lawsuit, the government had requested and received an extension from the judge stating that they needed time in order to redact the faces of the men, women and children believed to be shown in the photographs and videos. They were given until this past July to produce the images, but at the eleventh hour filed a motion to oppose the release of the photos and videos, based on an entirely new argument: they requested a 7(F) exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act to withhold law enforcement-related information in order to protect the physical safety of individuals. That move was one more in a series of attempts by the government to keep the images from being made public and to cover up the torture of detainees in U.S. custody around the world.
This is part of the request under the Freedom of Information Act filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, the ACLU, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for Peace. The FOIA lawsuit is being handled by Lawrence Lustberg and Megan Lewis of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, P.C.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has additional cases pending against the government for torture and abuse at Guantánamo and against the private military contractors CACI, Inc., and Titan for their involvement in the abuse at Abu Ghraib and other facilities in Iraq.

Iraq? Afghanistan? How many wars will we have under the Bully Boy? (We could note attmpted coups as well.) If you're tired of it Jill notes this from CODEPINK:

Sign the Women Say No to War Call TODAY! From now until March 8, International Women's Day, we will be gathering 100,000 signatures to deliver to officials in Washington DC and to U.S. embassies worldwide. Please sign the call today at, pass it on to your friends, and join us either in Washington DC or at local events. Click here

Bonnie e-mails to ask what I think of Susan's "Robert Parry" (Random Thoughts):

Why a relative novice like Hackett had so much "support" from the "grassroots" has to do with the Mouthzilla effect of being all mouth but little substance to back it up. It's the fact many bloggers and activists possess a "third-party" mentality when it comes to politics. Loudmouths seldom win major races, but because Hackett was a veteran who opposed our involvement in Iraq, he was god to the one-issue, naive crowd.
Well, a viable candidate has got to be more than a one-issue loudmouth pandering to the McGovernite wing. Moreover, Democrats in any race need to unite behind a single candidate and not waste precious money on a primary fight. So the decision was made to urge Hackett to get out of the Senate race and concentrate on running again for the House seat he almost had last year. Hackett, though, a crybaby extraordinaire, bitched about the Democratic establishment and refused to accept blame or responsibility for his own shortcomings. Now he's supposedly stepping out of politics.

I think Susan's expressed how she feels quite well.

We've avoided the Hacket announcement because there's nothing I would say that would be sympathetic. Both Elaine and I made our feelings known during the earlier run. You need a platform, you need to know issues. And if you're "against the war" you need to say it. Hackett started the last race with something other than "end the war, bring the troops home." I'm sure Parry has a wonderful take on it as well. Parry's a great journalist.

But, my opinion, Hackett ran a lousy campaign for the House. No one seemed to want to state that then. (Or immediately after if they were holding their tongues during the run.) Heavy on personality, short on politics. I don't know why you go from there to a Senate run? Or rather to a sense of entitlement. He can say the Dems pushed him out (and I don't doubt that pressure was applied -- he wasn't polling well in the Party's polling) but the fact of the matter is, he left the race. He had donors online, he had as much backing as he needed to fight. But he didn't. He bowed out of the race. I'm not seeing it as a loss. Maybe he'll pull a Ross Perot and step back in?

I have no idea. But you need to stand for something. You don't make a campaign up as you go along or figure out what you think in the midst of a declared run. That happened with the House race and yet people acted as though he was the most incredible candidate in the world. Now if you vote personality, that may be the case. He photographed well, he had soundbytes. But in terms of someone running for Congress, he seemed lost. Even after the election, when Amy Goodman interviewed him on Democracy Now! he still seemed lost.

But let's go to Katha Pollitt's ""Band of Brothers--Brother!" (The Notion, The Nation):

The theory is that as former soldiers they will be immunized against Republican charges that Dems are unpatriotic girly-men who are "soft on defense." (As "Mask" points out in the comments section of Ari's post, running as a vet worked so well for Max Cleland and John Kerry!)
One thing the Band of Brothers strategy will do if it succeeds is to help keep Congress white and male. Of the 56 candidates currently marching under the brotherly battle flag, only three are women. (One of the three,
Mishonda Baldwin, is also the only African-American).
So I guess the Dems are giving up on that whole gender-gap equality thing.

[. . .]
Do we really want to promote the idea that military service is some kind of necessary item on a political resume? That personal machismo is a qualification for office? The BOB strikes me as a gimmick, if not an outright pander to militarism and sexism--time for the daddies to retake the mommy party! Chaaarge! And yet more proof, ladies, that the Dems are writing you off.

Pollitt's making several solid points. I'm not sure how many people are listening, but it's worth paying attention to.

On Hackett, he got a lot of press after the run for the House. Lot of people writing about the miracle race. (I'm referring to print writers.) Now on John Kerry (or any other candidate) the same writers tended to scream, "He lost! Wake up!" But with Hackett, there was a drive to prop him up. Why? He fit the narrative. Fuzzy on issues, male, White, VET!, go down the list.

The reality was he ran a bad campaign. He can smile! He's a vet! He takes a few swipes at Bully Boy! That's not a campaign for Congress, or shouldn't be. This was reported in the New York Times, his stepping down. I believe it was yesterday. It was in the Times so take it with a grain of salt but the impression wasn't one of bravery.

I don't doubt the Party leadership turned on him. That happens in many elections. Why drop out? If it's to help the 'other guy' then presumably you don't take your problems to the press. If he was the fighter he was billed as, he would still be in the race unless he dropped out to 'help' the Party -- but that would require not going public with how 'mean' everyone was.

There are races going on right now with Dems, Repubes, third party candidates in them and not every candidate has the support of their party. That's reality. If Hackett believed in fighting, he'd still be in the race. (And if he's a fighter, he may get back in it.) But he dropped out and he shared his version of why. He can't do both and claim to have done it to 'help' the Party. So, to many, it looks like whining.

I feel sorry for him but . . . He was running for a Senate seat on the Democratic ticket. That this all came as a surprise to him demonstrates again his lack of political awareness. That he responded to this suprise by a) dropping out and b) taking the issue public doesn't suggest bravery.

The Times report read like the whole thing was a shock to him. That's why I wouldn't be surprised if he got back in. But elections are battles. They always are. I feel sorry for him. More because of the reality he now faces -- which is he's nothing in the eyes of the Party. If he were smart, he would get back in the race or, failing that, begin fundraising for the ticket. That's the only way he's going to have any power within the Party. Dropping out didn't give him power but it didn't necessarily take any away. Dropping out while making the issues public did huge damage.

I think he should get back in the race. Not because I support his candidacy but because it's the only way he'll have footing if he wants to run at a later date. While the pressure was being put on him to drop out, I'm sure he heard a lot of empty promises. Part of his anger may be due to the fact that he sensed they were empty promises. But even those got jerked off the table when he went public.

He's now the "outsider" and, as such, he has a lot more power than he did before if he uses it. If he doesn't, he's a faded press clipping. I'm assuming he wants a career in politics which may very well be wrong (I'm often wrong). If that assumption is correct, he needs to own his power or he is history.

If he were to get back in the race and receive as much as 28% of the primary vote, he'd be in a better position (within the Party) than he is now. That assumption is also based upon the belief that he wants to stay in the Party and that may not be the case.

KeShawn had a highlight for Black History Month that should have gone up last night. It didn't. If that happens again, Blogger/Blogspot error messages that prevent my logging into the account, we'll put it up at the mirror site. And on the mirror site . . . If you check in tomorrow and see nothing up, go to the mirror site. Blogger/
Blogspot is having too many problems. Plan is for KeShawn's highlight to go up tonight. (We can do more than one if any other member wants to weigh in.) If you don't see it here, go to the mirror site.

The e-mail address for this site is

C.I. Note: some typos corrected. I'm having an awful time getting into Blogger/Blogspot and get an error message repeatedly when trying to get into this account or one when I try to publish this fixed entry.