28 June 2005

If Miller and Cooper have to serve as much as one day behind bars while Novak remains free, Americans will have witnessed a gross miscarriage of justice

What won't be so clear is the motive behind the injustice and prosecutor Fitzgerald needs to tell the public exactly what purpose he is serving.
By now, the details are familiar to many Americans. Conservative columnist Robert Novak reported that Valerie Plame, the wife of an outspoken critic of the Bush administration, was an active CIA agent. It is against the law to publish the names of active agents, yet to date Novak has curiously paid no price for his obviously illegal disclosure. Novak wrote that he got his information from a high-level member of the administration. That person's intent, apparently, was to use the press to embarrass the CIA agent's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, as punishment for having written (in a newspaper column) that the White House lied when it said Saddam Hussein had obtained illegal "yellow cake" plutonium from Niger.

Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine were given the same off-the-record information as Novak, but – obeying the law – they didn't use it. Cooper later wrote about it, but on the basis of Novak's column rather than the source's tip.

The federal prosecutor in the case, Patrick Fitzgerald, has targeted Miller and Cooper but kept his hands off Novak. He won't explain why, and neither will Novak. And the Supreme Court, as is its custom when it decides not to take up a case, offered no explanation for its decision.

What's even more mysterious is that Fitzgerald told the Supreme Court he has wrapped up his investigation of the leak, yet Miller and Cooper remain in his sights because they didn't obey his demands that they tell him the name of their source, even though they did nothing with the source's information.

Robert Novak thus far, has been immune to prosecution, yet he was the one that blew the cover of Valerie Plame with his published article, but remains scot free. It looks as if this Department of Justice case is predicated not on justice, but as a political hammer to be heaved at foes of the administration.

23 June 2005

Security of financial information held at foreign call centres

It's feeble as this Sun undercover reporter discovered.
CROOKED call centre workers in India are flogging details of Britons’ bank accounts, a Sun probe has found.

Our undercover reporter Oliver Harvey was sold the top secret information on a thousand accounts, and numbers of passports and credit cards.

Harvey, who paid a total of 5,000 US dollars (£2,750) for the information and was asked for another £275 to be sent later, was told details usually cost £4.25 but he was getting a special deal.

Kkaran Bahree, who said he got the details from a network of call centre workers in Delhi, also boasted that he could get up to 2,000 account details a month.

I've been warning the public of this for the past five years, ever since I encountered firsthand at American Express, the migration of information technology jobs to foreign locales, and where your personal data is freely available to a third world nation where bribes still prevade much of daily business details.

Again, I implore Congress to pass legislation to make it a crime for American companies to allow viewing of critical personal data, including social security numbers and credit card account numbers, by foreign personnel.

21 June 2005

George Bush not only lied to them about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but also about the very process that led to war

On 16 October 2002, President Bush told the American people that "I have not ordered the use of force. I hope that the use of force will not become necessary", but we know now that this statement was itself a lie.
…the president, by late August 2002, had, in fact, signed off on the 'execute' orders authorising the US military to begin active military operations inside Iraq, and that these orders were being implemented as early as September 2002, when the US Air Force, assisted by the British Royal Air Force, began expanding its bombardment of targets inside and outside the so-called no-fly zone in Iraq.

These operations were designed to degrade Iraqi air defence and command and control capabilities. They also paved the way for the insertion of US Special Operations units, who were conducting strategic reconnaissance, and later direct action, operations against specific targets inside Iraq, prior to the 19 March 2003 commencement of hostilities.

President Bush had signed a covert finding in late spring 2002, which authorised the CIA and US Special Operations forces to dispatch clandestine units into Iraq for the purpose of removing Saddam Hussein from power.

The fact is that the Iraq war had begun by the beginning of summer 2002, if not earlier.

And there's more troublesome news in this Scott Ritter article — namely that the same sequence of events is being repeated with Iran and that the CIA is using terrorists to do battle in Iran.

Bush continues to lie to the American public about Iraq.

In his June 18 weekly radio address last Saturday, Bush again lied to the American people when he told them that the US was forced into invading Iraq because of the September 11 attack on the WTC.  Bush, the greatest disgrace that America has ever had to suffer, actually repeated at this late date the monstrous lie for which he is infamous throughout the world: "We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens."

Whoever the "people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens" might be, they were not Iraqis, at least not until Bush invaded their country, killed tens of thousands and maimed tens of thousands more, detained tens of thousands others, destroyed entire cities, destroyed the country’s infrastructure, and created mass unemployment, poverty, pollution and disease. 

I cannot state it more strongly, this administration must be impeached. Now.

18 June 2005

The torturer is the enemy of all mankind

Senator Dick Durbin's statement on the Guantanamo Bay detention center has generated a vicious uproar in conservative circles. Durbin's comments have been cherry picked to summarize that the main thrust of his remarks is to call US Military personnel Nazis. But considered in full context, Durbin's charges address how torture is the antithesis of everything America is supposed to stand for.
When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here -- I almost hesitate to put them in the record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

Erik Saar, former US Army linguist, who served at Guantanamo Bay, described the practices employed, but more importantly, how his writing was vetted by the Pentagon, so we're really not getting the complete picture of affairs:

Were dogs used?

Dogs were used on occasion, yes, ma'am.


That's another thing that because the Pentagon vetted the book, I really can't speak outside of the scope of what I have written, unfortunately.

Were you concerned about that use of dogs?

To be honest with you, ma'am, one of the things I was trying to explain in the book is that, you know, I went to Guantanamo Bay with one expectation, and I had no reservations whatsoever about any techniques we were going to use and about the lack of a system of justice for the detainees, but really, what my experience was was that over time, I came to the conclusion by the time I left Guantanamo that we're making a drastic mistake here, and what I saw as a whole was inconsistent with who we are and the values we represent as a nation.

Basically, this argument boils down to whether you are pro-torture or pro-human-rights/anti-torture. It saddens me greatly to see torture celebrated and trivialized, that the detainment of individuals with no charges and no trial is a valid act. Or that checks and balances should be completely discarded and prisoners should be executed, no matter if they are guilty or if they just happened to net a reward bounty for some war chief in Afghanistan. And the bloodlust and thirst to revel in the mental and physical torture of untried "enemy combatants" should dishearten any Christian in America.

2 June 2005

The Bush administration has proven itself to be utterly irresponsible in the use of power

Is it just the unintended consequences of a harebrained policy?
The U.S. government gave the slave trade a boost by offering money for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Afghan and Pakistani warlords simply rounded up people who looked Arab or foreign and sold them to the Americans as captured fighters. The "fighters" apparently included relief workers, refugees, and Arab businessmen. The tribunals looking into the classification of Guantanamo prisoners as "enemy combatants" have uncovered numerous examples of hapless victims of a naive U.S. government too flush with money.

The Bush administration, of course, denies that it bought its detainees, as it denies everything. However, on May 31, 2005, Michelle Faul of the Associated Press reported that in March 2002, leaflets and broadcasts from helicopters in Afghanistan enticed Afghans to "Hand over the Arabs and feed your families for a lifetime." One leaflet said: "You can receive millions of dollars. This is enough to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life, pay for livestock and doctors and school books and housing for all your people."

Najeeb al-Nauimi, a former Qatar justice minister, leads a group of lawyers representing 100 detainees who were sold to the naive Americans. He says a consortium of wealthy Arabs are buying back fellow citizens kidnapped by Pakistani gangs before they can be sold to the Americans.

Money was tossed about in Afghanistan to warlords who in turn, sold their countrymen out.

The gross affront to justice here should invoke a revolting sentiment in all Americans who value liberty and justice.