Saturday, June 21, 2008


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Blue America vs Retroactive Immunity

Friday, June 20, 2008


FISA Amendments Acts of 2008 passes 293 - 129

Statement from Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office:

"It’s Christmas morning at the White House thanks to this vote. The House just wrapped up some expensive gifts for the administration and their buddies at the phone companies. Watching the House fall to scare tactics and political maneuvering is especially infuriating given the way it stood up to pressure from the president on this same issue just months ago. In March we thought the House leadership had finally grown a backbone by rejecting the Senate’s FISA bill. Now we know they will not stand up for the Constitution.

"No matter how often the opposition calls this bill a ‘compromise,’ it is not a meaningful compromise, except of our constitutional rights. The bill allows for mass, untargeted and unwarranted surveillance of all communications coming in to and out of the United States. The courts’ role is superficial at best, as the government can continue spying on our communications even after the FISA court has objected. Democratic leaders turned what should have been an easy FISA fix into the wholesale giveaway of our Fourth Amendment rights.

"More than two years after the president’s domestic spying was revealed in the pages of the New York Times, Congress’ fury and shock has dissipated to an obedient whimper. After scrambling for years to cover their tracks, the phone companies and the administration are almost there. This immunity provision will effectively destroy Americans’ chance to have their deserved day in court and will kill any possibility of learning the extent of the administration’s lawless actions. The House should be ashamed of itself. The fate of the Fourth Amendment is now in the Senate’s hands. We can only hope senators will show more courage than their colleagues in the House."

For more information, go to:

Thank you for opposing this "compromise" Congressman Doggett

Eviscarating the Fourth Amendment

United States Constitution
Bill of Rights
Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Sen. Russ Feingold
“The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation. The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President’s illegal program, and which fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration.”

Rep. Robert Wexler
I cannot in good conscience support the so-called FISA “compromise” bill, as the only thing that is really being compromised is our civil rights.

The Electonic Frontier Foundation has a copy (pdf) of the new FISA "compromise".

Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office:
"Congress is poised to once again pass disastrous surveillance legislation, now upping the ante with a thinly-veiled giveaway to some major campaign donors.

"This bill allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans’ communications. The court review is mere window-dressing – all the court would look at is the procedures for the year-long dragnet and not at the who, what and why of the spying. Even this superficial court review has a gaping loophole – ‘exigent’ circumstances can short cut even this perfunctory oversight since any delay in the onset of spying meets the test and by definition going to the court would cause at least a minimal pause. Worse yet, if the court denies an order for any reason, the government is allowed to continue surveillance throughout the appeals process, thereby rendering the role of the judiciary meaningless. In the end, there is no one to answer to; a court review without power is no court review at all."

"The Hoyer/Bush surveillance deal was clearly written with the telephone companies and internet providers at the table and for their benefit. They wanted immunity, and this bill gives it to them.

Glenn Greenwald on George Bush's latest powers, courtesy of the Democratic Congress.

Clammyc - WTF, Nancy?.

Emptywheel takes a look at the suck ass "immunity" provision.

Jonathan Turley on Countdown. Can you say "Cover Your Ass"?

friday random ten

Photo by Ryan McManus

Pete Seeger - Dangerous Songs!?
The Pill
Pete Seeger
Dangerous Songs!? (1998)

Odugen Taiga (Instrumental)
Malerija (2003)

The Psychedelic Furs - Sister Europe
Sister Europe
The Psychedelic Furs
Sister Europe 7" (1980)

Test Dept. - Beating the Retreat
Total State Machine
Test Dept.
Beating the Retreat (1984)

Neil Young - Live Rust
Sedan Delivery
Neil Young
Live Rust (1979)

TV 21 - Playing With Fire / Shattered By It All
Shattered By It All
TV 21
Playing With Fire/Shattered By It All 7" (1980)

Giant Sand - Official Bootleg Series, Volume One - Build Your Own Night, It's Easy
Mason Card
Giant Sand
Official Bootleg Series Volume 1: Build Your Own Night, It's Easy (1996)

Pixies - Trompe le monde
Motorway To Roswell
Trompe Le Monde (1991)

The Unicorns - Unicorns Are People Too
I Was Born (A Unicorn)
The Unicorns
Unicorns Are People Too (2003)

Ramones - Rocket to Russia
Do You Wanna Dance?
Rocket To Russia (1977)

Bonus tracks:

Herman Brood - Wait a Minute...
All the Girls 're Crazy
Herman Brood
Wait a Minute... (1980)

F.S.K. - Teilnehmende Beobachtung
Im Westen nix Neues
Teilnehmende Beobachtung (1981)


Thursday, June 19, 2008


Dan Froomkin

The two-star general who led an Army investigation into the horrific detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib has accused the Bush administration of war crimes and is calling for accountability.

In his 2004 report on Abu Ghraib, then-Major General Anthony Taguba concluded that "numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees." He called the abuse "systemic and illegal." And, as Seymour M. Hersh reported in the New Yorker, he was rewarded for his honesty by being forced into retirement.

Now, in a preface to a Physicians for Human Rights report based on medical examinations of former detainees, Taguba adds an epilogue to his own investigation.

Frank Donaghue, CEO of Physicians for Human Rights

Medical examinations of 11 former terrorism suspects held by U.S. troops found proof of physical and psychological torture resulting in long-term damage, a human rights advocacy group said on Wednesday.

Mistreatment cited by the men included beatings and other physical and sexual abuse, isolation, forced nakedness and being forced into painful stress positions with hands and feet bound.

"The evaluations provide evidence of violation of criminal laws prohibiting torture and of the commission of war crimes by U.S. personnel," said the report by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Physicians for Human Rights.

Scott Horton: Torture from the Top Down

The Bush administration officials who pushed torture will need to be careful about their travel plans.

Juan Cole has a round up of the torture scandal, including videos of McClatchy reporters being interviewed by Aljazeera.

(NYT) The Bush administration’s war crimes system “is designed to get criminal convictions” with “no real evidence,” Commander Kuebler says. Or he lets fly that military prosecutors “launder evidence derived from torture.”

Oh, and Fuck Metallica the strange lexicon of 21st-century America, the US military calls this "torture lite". Torture is apparently OK if it is not too "heavy". Metallica's Enter Sandman has been played at cacophonous levels for hours on end in Guantánamo Bay and at a detention centre on the Iraqi-Syrian border. One Iraqi prisoner said it was done at "an unidentified location called 'the disco'".

Unfortunately, some artists are not offended by their work being used to torture. "If the Iraqis aren't used to freedom, then I'm glad to be part of their exposure," James Hetfield, co-founder of Metallica, has said.

Kucinich threatens 60 impeachment articles if Judiciary doesn’t act

Raw Story

Rep. Dennis Kucinich warned the House Judiciary Committee that it would be wise not to ignore the 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush last week. If the committtee does not act within a month, he plans to introduce even more articles.

The Ohio Democrat and former presidential candidate tells the Washington Post’s Sleuth blog that he’s not giving up his fight to kick Bush out of the White House.

Kucinich tells us he’s giving the House Judiciary Committee 30 days to act on his resolution proposing 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush or else he’ll raise even more hell on the House floor. Thirty-five articles was just the tip of the iceberg. If Judiciary does nothing, he’ll go back to the House floor next month armed with nearly twice as many articles.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

War Criminals

Tom Lasseter continues his five-part series for McClatchy Newspapers on the detention system created after 9/11: Easing of laws that led to detainee abuse hatched in secret

The framework under which detainees were imprisoned for years without charges at Guantanamo and in many cases abused in Afghanistan wasn't the product of American military policy or the fault of a few rogue soldiers.

It was largely the work of five White House, Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers who, following the orders of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, reinterpreted or tossed out the U.S. and international laws that govern the treatment of prisoners in wartime, according to former U.S. defense and Bush administration officials.


The quintet of lawyers, who called themselves the “War Council," drafted legal opinions that circumvented the military's code of justice, the federal court system and America's international treaties in order to prevent anyone — from soldiers on the ground to the president — from being held accountable for activities that at other times have been considered war crimes.

wednesday reads

Spencer Ackerman: Roadmap to Torture

Dan Froomkin: Torture's Bad Seeds

Vote for Mugabe or die.

Impeachment: It Still Matters

Tomgram: John Feffer, Are We All North Koreans Now?

Author Sues Booksellers for Selling His Books (via Boing Boing)

For every blank CDr bought, a few cents “pirate tax” are added to compensate artists for loss of revenue when people share their albums. However, not every artist agrees that sharing is wrong so as a statement, the Swedish artist Mr.Suitcase has used his “pirate tax” income to make a pirate album.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Austin - Police State

Austin American-Statesman

Austin police spending per capita grew 84 percent during a nine-year period that ended in 2006, while expenses in six other departments, including Dallas and San Antonio, increased 34 percent at most, according to information compiled by the city auditor's office.

Austin police expenses also were more than two times higher than the other cities' from 1997 to 2006, the draft public safety report said.


[Police Chief Fearmonger Art Acevedo]
"It is clear that this administration treats the organization as a businesses, and as such, we strive to maximize efficiency and effectiveness and attempt to keep costs at a minimum," Acevedo said.

"The reality is, can you put a price tag on public safety?"

Grits for Breakfast answers: " Well of course you can, sir! It's called "your budget."

On a related note, APD "needs" a third helicopter and more surveillance cameras.

tuesday reads

Tom Lasseter continues his five-part series for McClatchy Newspapers on the detention system created after 9/11: Wrongly jailed detainees found militancy at Guantanamo

A conference to plan the prosecution of President Bush and other high administration officials for war crimes will be held September 13-14 at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover .

Stars and Stripes: Former journalist refuses to report for duty with Army

A former Army journalist recalled to active duty this month refused to report to his new assignment Sunday night, citing his opposition to the Iraq war.

Matthis Chiroux, who served five years in the Army before separating last summer, said he expects and welcomes legal action resulting from his refusal, calling U.S. operations in Iraq an illegal occupation.

The global number of refugees and displaced people reached 67 million last year.

"Fair Use". They keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what they think it means.

The Army official who managed the Pentagon’s largest contract in Iraq says he was ousted from his job when he refused to approve paying more than $1 billion in questionable charges to KBR, the Houston-based company that has provided food, housing and other services to American troops.

Kandahar braces for Taliban attack

U.S. soldiers who shot dead a Reuters journalist in Iraq three years ago acted appropriately, but the Army's probe of the incident was flawed because evidence went missing, a Pentagon investigation said.

Way to go TSA.

An interesting proposal has surfaced to help resolve the intra-Belgian political stalemate between Dutch-speaking Flemings and French-speakers, who prevail in Brussels and Wallonia: a couloir francophone (‘Francophone corridor’) that would link Wallonia to Brussels, thus ending the Belgian capital’s territorial isolation within Flanders.

The reviews are in for the Sen. Cornyn (R - Box Turtle) convention video.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Scott Horton Interviews Sibel Edmonds and Luke Ryland

Sibel Edmonds and Luke Ryland discuss the London Times series on her case and the international nuclear black-market network surrounding A.Q. Kahn, the U.S. government’s total clamp-down by gag orders even against Congress, the American foreign policy hypocrisy of demonizing certain nuclear ambitions and supporting others, the military-industrial-congressional complex revolving door, the bipartisan lack of enthusiasm in pursuing whistleblower cases, the movie about Sibel’s case “Kill The Messenger,” and how it only takes one congressman to call her to testify to blow the case wide open.

monday reads

Tim Lasseter: U.S. abuse of detainees was routine at Afghanistan bases

The eight-month McClatchy investigation found a pattern of abuse that continued for years. The abuse of detainees at Bagram has been reported by U.S. media organizations, in particular The New York Times, which broke several developments in the story. But the extent of the mistreatment, and that it eclipsed the alleged abuse at Guantanamo, hasn't previously been revealed.

Guards said they routinely beat their prisoners to retaliate for al Qaida's 9-11 attacks, unaware that the vast majority of the detainees had little or no connection to al Qaida.

Former detainees at Bagram and Kandahar said they were beaten regularly. Of the 41 former Bagram detainees whom McClatchy interviewed, 28 said that guards or interrogators had assaulted them. Only eight of those men said they were beaten at Guantanamo Bay.

Because President Bush loosened or eliminated the rules governing the treatment of so-called enemy combatants, however, few U.S. troops have been disciplined under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and no serious punishments have been administered, even in the cases of two detainees who died after American guards beat them.

More than a million people have been forced to flee their homes in southern China by major flooding that has cost 57 lives and added to the misery of last month's earthquake.

Scott Horton: The U.S. Attorneys Scandal Enters the Criminal Prosecutions Phase

Sen. John McCain on his plan to capture Osama bin Laden.

ICE Cold to Kids

Lindsay Beyerstein interviews Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family.

Sleazy RIAA shops for a new judge.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

McClatchy report on Gitmo

America's prison for terrorists often held the wrong men

McClatchy interviewed 66 released detainees, more than a dozen local officials — primarily in Afghanistan — and U.S. officials with intimate knowledge of the detention program. The investigation also reviewed thousands of pages of U.S. military tribunal documents and other records.

This unprecedented compilation shows that most of the 66 were low-level Taliban grunts, innocent Afghan villagers or ordinary criminals. At least seven had been working for the U.S.-backed Afghan government and had no ties to militants, according to Afghan local officials. In effect, many of the detainees posed no danger to the United States or its allies.

The investigation also found that despite the uncertainty about whom they were holding, U.S. soldiers beat and abused many prisoners.


The McClatchy investigation found that top Bush administration officials knew within months of opening the Guantanamo detention center that many of the prisoners there weren't "the worst of the worst." From the moment that Guantanamo opened in early 2002, former Secretary of the Army Thomas White said, it was obvious that at least a third of the population didn't belong there.

The Tragedy in Somalia

Channel 4 Video Documentary

Warlords Next Door

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Our Government's Dirty Little Secrets: George Galloway on the tragedy in Somalia (part 1, part 2).