Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wake Up, America - Your Liberty is On the Line

Wake Up, America - Your Liberty is On the Line

It should disturb every thinking citizen that, in what was clearly a politically motivated activity, the executive branch raided the office of Democratic congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana. Today's New York Times editorial reminds us that the issue of the separation of powers has arisen under "an explosive combination of political circumstances." Whether Jefferson is guilty or not guilty, this kind of activity is more indicative of an oppressive authoritarian state than an open democracy. We may as well admit that we are living under a totalitarian regime where political dissenters are being made to reasonably fear search, seizure, and the threat of legal prosecution.

After all, if they would do this to a federal legislator, what do you imagine they wouldn't do to you?

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would provide no details of the search when asked, but only described it as "a unique step in response to a unique set of circumstances." That, my friends, is not an adequate explanantion or a legally fitting excuse for stomping over Rep. Jefferson's Fourth Amendment rights.

The LA Times tells us that our Congress members are upset about this - across the board - Republican and Democrat alike.

In a similar vein, Ray McGovern points to unsettling signs that the National Security Agency being "turned against the people."

Russell Tice, a former intelligence officer for the National Security Agency, will allegedly tell Senate staffers next week that unlawful activity occurred at the NSA under the supervision of General Michael Hayden beyond what has been publicly reported, while hinting that it might have involved the illegal use of space-based satellites and systems to spy on U.S. citizens [NGA]. According to Chris Strohm of the Congress Daily, Tice, who worked on what are known as 'special access programs,' has wanted to meet in a closed session with members of Congress and their staff since President Bush announced in December that he had secretly authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens without a court order." Bear in mind the fact that Mr. Tice doesn't have access to everything. It is much broader than what he knows.

According to Democracy Now, "Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin is preparing legislation that rewrites Internet privacy rules. Under the proposed legislation, Internet service providers would be required to keep logs tracking what users did online in order to help police to be able to 'conduct criminal investigations.'" This makes sure the little ISPs are drawn into the surveillance noose. [From Freemarket News]

Consider the dangerous road that the Bush administration is taking the country down...making journalists a whole new class of criminals.

One Father's Anguish and Regret

Lance Cpl. Alexander S. Arredondo
U.S. Marines
Died 8/25/2004

One Father's Anguish and Regret
"When I first approach the casket, I thought it might be hard to recognize him, because we had not been told yet what killed him. We hadn't learn yet that he had a wound in the temple of his head, so that he had a three-inch-wide hole in back of his head. But it was him. And seeing him laying flat in a casket, I thought, he's not breathing and that he looks a little different, a little older. That his hair is a little bit longer. Wanting to reach him I was lifted off the stretcher and climb up to kiss him, to touch his head, his hands, his fingers, his shoulders, his legs, to see if they were still there. I lay on top of the casket, on top of my son, apologizing to him because I did nothing for him to avoid this moment. Nothing."

- Carlos Arredondo/Age 45/Roslindale, Massachusetts
See full story and photos at The Nation

Iran in Focus

Iran in Focus

Matthew Yglesias, hosting Talking Points Memo while Josh Marshall's away, has some interesting thoughts (and links) on the possibility of Iran/U.S. talks.

With a profound break from their past, "Iran has followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent letter to President Bush with explicit requests for direct talks on its nuclear program, according to U.S. officials, Iranian analysts and foreign diplomats."
"You know, two months ago nobody would believe that Mr. Khamenei and Mr. Ahmadinejad together would be trying to get George W. Bush to begin negotiations," said Saeed Laylaz, a former government official and prominent analyst in Tehran. "This is a sign of changing strategy. They realize the situation is dangerous and they should not waste time, that they should reach out."
[Washington Post]

At the Nation, Peter Rothberg says:
Just as it did before invading Iraq, the Bush Administration is manufacturing a climate of fear to prepare public opinion for another possible preemptive action -- this time against Iran.

Condoleeza Rice is saying that Iran will have a part to play in Iraq and that she wants Teheran to help stabilize Iraq. We all know this is something that never - and I mean NEVER - would have been sought had the Bush administration had not been so inept. Rice says she "hopes Iran will play a positive role."
We're hoping for Iran to cooperate and play nicely after we've failed to stabilize Iraq after three years of unilateral war? Doesn't this sound incredibly naive to you?

Reading David Ignatius' summary of how intelligence is being processed on Iran today, I would not be very confident in CIA's ability to "get it right."
Half the analysts in the intelligence community have five years' experience or less, and this "newbie" problem will get worse with a planned 50 percent increase in CIA analysts.
Combine that thought with the fact that CIA has been demoralized and stripped of its best analysts after the Iraq/WMD debacle and the fact that we have a power-hungry Executive administration that two thirds of the country clearly do not trust, and you can understand why American citizens have genuine doubts and concerns on their minds about how the U.S. will handle the Iraq situation.

An Al Jazeera article claims that "what hasn’t been told in the news reports is that the U.S. ordered its Ambassador to Iraq [Zalmay Khalilzad] in March to call off talks with Iran on Iraq, which worsened the already complicated disagreement between Washington and the European Union on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions and persuade it suspend its nuclear program, an editorial on Asia Times suggests."
An excerpt from the article:

The Bush administration's determination and insistence not to use real diplomacy with Iran, and its readiness to use force on the issue, is also the main reason behind the refusal of Russia, China and Germany to vote for any UN resolution imposing sanctions against Iran.

Asked if the official U.S. policy to Iran was "regime change" or "containment," the U.S. ambassador to Iraq had further stated that the United States seeks "behavior change," which implies that the U.S. could indeed be planning for a regime change in Iran
Let's hope we don't "Iraq" Iran. It would spell further disaster for America's reputation, treasure, and already-burdened military.

Thanks to a visitor to this blog, I have discovered that there are protests by young people at universties in Iran today. [see my comments section]. The Spirit of Man blog is covering the story from the University of Tehran. I'll tell you what - if I were the President of the United States, I'd change our own foreign policy to reflect the kind of people Americans really are. We are not the kind of people who would drop nuclear weapons over the innocent heads of our fellow man in order to liberate him! I would represent my own people as people of great heart who would understand that freedom doesn't come that cheaply or easily. You don't kill people to convince them - you buoy the young people who are doing the hard work of freedom in their own nation! I would support NGOs with millions of tax dollars and pull money away from our own nuclear program. I would find meaningful and internationally cooperative ways to get these young people the change and the lives they deserve as human beings living in a world where injustice would never be tolerated and would not be solved by guns and bombs. I would never condone pre-emptive, immoral war and snub the rule of law and I would not rest until we learned that terrorism can only be crushed when we have a foreign policy that takes the sacredness of every person's humanity into account, regardless of his nation of origin.

Protest in Tabriz
One sign says [translated] "Leave the nukes; Take care of us."

May these kids in Iran know that we are with them in spirit and are fighting, ourselves, for a change in our own nation's foreign policy so we will be better able to support them in their own quest for justice. A good start would be to reform international law so that all NGOs would have access to national and international information to strengthen the ability to exchange information between NGOs. I would recommend the establishment of international and intra-Iranian information and communications networks immediately. If we had a better global vision and fit it directly into U.S. foreign policy,, real change would be entirely possible in nations like Iran without war. Communism in the Soviet Union crumbled without a shot fired or bomb dropped because the government did not have the support of the majority of the people.

Bush Policy on Iraq: 60 Feet Up - Without a Net

Bush Policy on Iraq: 60 Feet Up - Without a Net

Juan Cole provides a scathing critique of the Bush administration's ineptitude and ignorance on Iraq.

Media Fears The Fake Piety of the Religious Right

Media Fears The Fake Piety of the Religious Right
..and refuses to point to total hypocrisy when it arises.

Oh, Heavens...
I know this is gross in all its hypocrisy -
but is it worse than McCain and Falwell?
Which makes you want to hurl more?

I wasn't surprised to see the traitorous Democrat Zell "Spitballs" Miller backing Religious Right leader Ralph Reed for lieutenant governor of Georgia. Frankly, since I heard him challenge Chris Matthews to a duel, I am quite sure that Miller's gone off the deep end. But - when I heard that New York's moderate Republican Rudy Giuliani was praising Reed as a candidate, saying he'd do "anything he could" to get Reed elected, I couldn't help but imagine what Reed would have said about Giuliani in the days when Ralph was leading the Christian Coalition and Rudy was sleeping with another woman while still married to his wife Donna - and supporting civil rights for gays and a woman's right to choose. If Rudy had been a Democrat, you can bet your butt that Reed would have made damn certain that he [or his minions] had smeared Giuliani and labeled him one of the greatest sinners who'd ever lived.

Yet - what do you see in the current pages of the New York Times? Cheap and tawdry fare about President Bill Clinton and his wife.

It's all too hypocritical for me.

It's time for a change in the way the media fears the Right's fake piety. The journalists are looking like tabloid amanuenses for Karl Rove.