Monday, November 26, 2007

Iraq to become permanent US satellite

The WH has released a plan for a permanent US presence in Iraq.

Spencer Ackerman translate for us,
A "democratic Iraq" here means the Shiite-led Iraqi government. The current political arrangement will receive U.S. military protection against coups or any other internal subversion. That's something the Iraqi government wants desperately: not only is it massively unpopular, even among Iraqi Shiites, but the increasing U.S.-Sunni security cooperation strikes the Shiite government -- with some justification -- as a recipe for a future coup.
And the US occupation of Iraq without end will guarantee and endless supply of America hating terrorists. But on the bright side, Bush doesn't have to admit what a huge disaster he has created, and that's what really matters at the White House.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

On my way home

I'm at Heathrow now. It's been a great trip.

I can't get over how easy it was this morning to get to the airport. Despite the horror stories I've heard about Heathrow, I found the entire experience extremely easy and efficient. I left my hotel at 7:05 by cab to Paddington Station (7 pounds), caught the Heathrow Express at 7:25 and was checked in and through security by 8:10!

And was not required to remove my shoes. The Brits mock those in line who want to take off their shows. I had the same experience in Canada.

London is an interesting city. Aside from trips to and from Paddington, I only took one cab. The London Underground was easy enough to use, and I used it multiple times every day. The crowds at peak travel times can be overwhelming. Friday night I was traveling to Bloomsbury to meet a Friend for dinner. We were backed in on the Central line like sardines and I started to get claustrophobic. I had the same experience on Saturday night, but otherwise thought the tube was great. One a few times did I have to wait for a train more than 3 minutes. They move an amazing amount of people on their underground.

I'll write more later. Time to log-off and head to the gate. O'Hare should be a lot of fun later today.


Matt has a thought provoking post up today.

It seems Iran is interested in making a deal to dial down tensions including a willingness to stop processing uranium. But the Iranians don't trust the United States.

Matt understands. Here's the gist,
And, indeed, it's not clear that a policy of appeasement would be wise. True, we've seen rational leadership even from vicious dictators like Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong, but the contemporary United States is led by religious fanatics, which introduces a new element into the equation. What's more, the USA is the only country on earth to have ever actually deployed nuclear weapons. Indeed, current political elites are so war-crazed and bloodthirsty that they not only engineered the 2003 attack on Iraq -- a country that tried to appease the Americans by eliminating its nuclear program and allowing IAEA inspectors to certify that it had done so -- but they continue to deny regretting it to this day. And that includes not only radicals like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, but so-called "moderates" like Hillary Clinton as well.

Key religious leaders like John Hagee explicitly argue that the United States should attack Iran in order to hasten the coming of Armageddon, and Hagee gets not only a respectful hearing at the White House, but also works closely with AIPAC giving him important entrée with many Democrats. All of the incumbent faction's candidates from office have said they'd contemplate a nuclear first strike against Iran, media sources generally lambaste anyone who criticizes American moves to ratchet up conflict with Iran, and in general any responsible Iranian leaders needs to wonder if the USA is really a country that one can risk doing business with.
Matt has a point. Why would anyone trust this administration and those who wish to succeed them don't sound much better.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Huckabee on Imigration

If you're upset about immigration, "you don't grind your heal into the face of a six year old child."

That Huckabee is on the defensive from GOP attacks for this view, tells you all you need to know about where the GOP finds itself at this point in time.

That this GOP is even competitive as a national party tells you all you need to know about where the Democratic party finds itself at this point in time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The treasures of the anciet world

The Brits spent the better part of the 18th and 19th centuries looting the Eastern world and what they stole purchased (not unlike the purchase of Manhattan from the Indians) are displayed at the British Museum.

Want to see friezes that lined the Parthenon? Don't go to Greece.

Want to see giant statues of Ramses II? Well you might see the bodies in Egypt but the Brits lopped off the heads and they're at the British Museum.

You may safely assume that anything from Egypt, Persia, Lykia (southern Turkey) and Mesopotamia that could be moved, was hauled off by the Brits and is on display at the British Museum. I spent about 3 hours yesterday at the Museum. It really is an amazing place.

After the museum I had fish and chips (not the best) and took the Tube to Trafalgar square and walked the length of the mall to Buckingham Palace. Really an impressive crib.

Toured the Queens Art Gallery featuring great works from the Renaissance and Baroque periods of Italian Art.

Finally, I had dinner at Yo! Sushi where the food goes by on conveyor belts and you just grab what you want.

Today, I hit the Tower of London in the morning and the King Tut exhibit at the O2 Center in the afternoon. We've had two semi-sunny days in a row.

The Crown Jewels are impressive. Bling, bling.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner tonight at BoDeans in Soho. Probably a pub after.

For some reason, I'm losing interest in seeing a play.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cold and wet

Made it to London with surprisingly little drama. O'Hare was socked in but we left only 25 minutes late and made up almost all that time in the air.

It was cold and rained all day in London.

For whatever reason I only dosed briefly on the plane over so I've basically been away for 35 hours.

I did a bus tour today to get my bearings. I've got the tube figured out and under control.

I'll post more after some sleep.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Yglesias on Clinton

Matt has a very good post up on Clinton's pros and cons.

What were we thinking?

Several House Rs are are filled with regret for having backed 'Easy' Fred Thompson.

They've complained to Congressional Quarterly that Thompson has failed to put to rest concerns that he is lazy and unwilling to campaign hard by being lazy and not campaigning hard.

Friedman is an Idiot

Why does anyone give this goof the time of day?

His column from Sunday has all the sophistication of an 8th grade term paper.

Friedman actually argues with a straight face that if Obama should be the Democratic nominee he should choose Dick Cheney as his running mate!

And he was serious.

I'm speechless. It's the kind of thing some smug guy at a cocktail party would say to you and you would walk away thinking that you had just meet the dumbest guy in the world.

So far, so good

So far my holiday travel has been anti-climatic. Two years ago I was flying thru Miami on the Friday BEFORE Thanksgiving and it was complete chaos. My early morning flight was canceled and I spent an entire day in St. Louis as I got bumped from one flight to another, gate agents choking back tears, etc. I ended up in Puerto Rico late that night and I was never supposed to be in PR.

Today, I get to the airport nearly two hours early and there's nothing going on. No line at International check-in. I'm told that there is a low ceiling at O'Hare and so they place me on an earlier flight that actual left when my original flight was scheduled to depart.

It's a little foggy at O'Hare and flights are about 1 hour behind but it's no big deal and not chaotic at all.

I'm starting to feel a little cheated.

London Calling

I'm off to London for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Wish my luck getting there!

I'll try and report on travel from the Admiral's Club at O'Hare.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Yglesias follows up on Josh's post earlier today which I had also commented on.

Matt questions the wisdom of Mitt trying to recast himself as a right-wing Christianist.

I'm convinced that if Governor Mitt Romney were running for Pres as a Democrat, he'd be the national front runner.

This is the Mitt Romney I'm talking about,

Of course Romney made other choices so fuck him.

What If Huckabee Wins Iowa?

Josh speculates on a Huckabee win in Iowa.

Apparently, Huckabee doesn't have much of an organization outside of Iowa making it hard for him to capitalize on such a win. However, the entire Romney campaign is based upon early wins in Iowa and NH such that a Huckabee win could derail Romney even if it doesn't do much for Huckabee.

It's hard to overestimate the importance of campaign infrastructure in each key state, but with a strong evangelical following, if anyone can over come lack of infrastructure, it's Huckabee. Huckabee is the only true believer on gays and abortions so where else do those people go?

If you follow politics is pretty easy to map out how the top tier candidates from either party won't win the nomination, and yet we know both parties will have a nominee.

It's going to be fun to watch. Missouri votes on Mega Tuesday Feb. 5 and I'm very curious to see what the race looks like on Feb 4.

The September 11 candidate

This is really a hoot.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


The AP reports that the DoJ has reopened the inquiry into warrantless wiretapping.
The investigation by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility was shut down last year, after the investigators were denied security clearances. Gonzales told Congress that President Bush, not he, denied the clearances.

"We recently received the necessary security clearances and are now able to proceed with our investigation," H. Marshall Jarrett, counsel for the OPR, wrote to Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. A copy of the letter, dated Tuesday, was obtained by The Associated Press.
It remains to be seen if this will be a serious inquiry or a whitewash, but this is at least encouraging.

Herbert straightens out David Brooks

There has been recent attention to the GOPs so-called Southern strategy of catering to racists whites in the South to win their votes. While it's obvious that the GOP does this, and in fact can only win an election with the racist vote, they still bristle when called on it.

To make matters worse, some people have have the bad taste to point out the obvious: Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia Mississippi -- famous only as the site of the kidnapping and murder of 3 white civil rights workers in 1964 -- as a not so subtle appeal to the GOP racist base.

Last week David Brooks swallowed his credibility and took his turn as GOP lacky and in a very unconvincing column full of mock indignation attempted to deny the obvious and suggest that Philadelphia Mississippi with a population of 7,000 literally in the middle of nowhere was just an inocent choice to kick-off a presidential campaign.

Brooks has been rightly criticized from several fronts, with the best so far being Bob Herbert's column today in the NYTs. Herbert doesn't mince words and cuts to the chase,
Reagan apologists have every right to be ashamed of that appearance by their hero, but they have no right to change the meaning of it, which was unmistakable....

Everybody watching the 1980 campaign knew what Reagan was signaling at the fair. Whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans — they all knew. The news media knew. The race haters and the people appalled by racial hatred knew. And Reagan knew.

He was tapping out the code....

And Reagan meant it. He was opposed to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was the same year that Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were slaughtered. As president, he actually tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He opposed a national holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He tried to get rid of the federal ban on tax exemptions for private schools that practiced racial discrimination. And in 1988, he vetoed a bill to expand the reach of federal civil rights legislation.

Congress overrode the veto.

Reagan also vetoed the imposition of sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa. Congress overrode that veto, too.

The Dark Side of Mike Huckabee

Max Brantley has covered Mike Huckabee from Little Rock for 16 years.

Brantley thinks the national media is lazy. As he watches the current national love-fest for Huckabee he can't understand why people don't bother to see what Arkansans think of him. The short answer is 'not much'.

Brantley goes through a quick litany of scandals and ethical lapses.

Brantley notes of Huckabee, who left the Governor's mansion (with most it's furnishings apparently) in January of this year,
If you think he left a well of warm feelings in Arkansas, note that Hillary Clinton had raised more money in Arkansas at last report and that a recent University of Arkansas Poll showed her a 35 to 8 percent leader over Huckabee in the presidential preferences of Arkansas residents. Only one-third of 33 Republican legislators have said they will support him for president.
Brantley wants us to believe that Huckabee is your standard ethically bankrupt right-wing zealot and has several anecdotes in support.

Brantley recounts my favorite Huckabee story. Governor Huckabee championed of the early release of convicted rapist Wayne DuMond.
If I could resurrect one batch of files [Huckabee crushed numerous computer hard drives before leaving office] , it would be those reflecting the advice of his staff that he not pursue his desire to free convicted rapist Wayne DuMond. By "advice," I mean I think some of them all but pleaded with Huckabee not to do it.

Though DuMond's prior record included a conviction for assault and his alleged involvement in a slaying and one other rape, by the start of Huckabee's governorship DuMond had become a national figure thanks to Republican efforts to depict him as a victim of the Bill Clinton machine. The rape victim was a distant relative of Clinton's.

Huckabee, perhaps persuaded by DuMond's supposed conversion to Christianity, announced his intention to commute DuMond's sentence without talking to the victim. Outraged, she stepped forward to protest publicly. The backlash was swift and powerful. Huckabee backed away from commuting DuMond's sentence, but in a private meeting lobbied the state Parole Board to release him. Huckabee said, in writing, that he supported DuMond's release. DuMond moved to Missouri in 2000, where he molested and killed one woman and was suspected of doing the same to another, but died in prison before he could be charged in the second case.
Then there's Gov Huckabee's opposition to a medicaid funded abortion (per Federal law) for a mentally retarded women from Ft. Smith who had been raped by her step-father.

No matter how you slice it, this is going to be one crazy campaign year.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Federal Judge orders WH to preserve emails

The Presidential Records Act of 1978 requires all administrations to preserve their emails. Patrick Fitzgerald revealed in 2006 that many WH emails were missing. And we now know that the WH stopped archiving emails back in 2003 for reasons that are still not clear.

In response to lawsuits filed by CREW and National Security Archive a Federal Judge has ordered the WH to preserve all emails currently in their position. Despite being under a lawful obligation to do so, the WH has resisted any court orders compelling them to obey the law.

In response to the court's order today, a WH spokesman tried to offer reassurance,
"We will study the court's order and the magistrate's recommendations," said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel. "However, the Office of Administration has been taking steps to maintain and preserve backup tapes for the official e-mail system. We have provided assurances to the plaintiffs and to the court that these steps were being taken. We will continue preserving the tapes in compliance with the court's order."[emphasis mine]
In other words, the WH will not stop the destruction of any emails used by WH personnel on other systems such as the RNC.

Why are Iowa and NH so important?

Because they are first, and only because they are first.

Neither Iowa nor NH is a great bellwether state. You wont hear anyone say, "as goes New Hampshire, so goes the nation".

Our modern 24 hour news cycle and endless talk shows on TV and radio drives this silliness. When a candidate wins Iowa all the news coverage will be about that candidate being a winner. Likewise, the also-rans will enjoy endless coverage of them as loser. The coverage is shallow but ubiquitous and creates a buzz greatly in excess of the value of either state.

I don't see how any candidate goes into super Tuesday on February 5 with 3 losses under his or her belt -- and the resulting 'loser' news coverage -- expecting to win the nomination.

Rudy's tacit concession of both states at this point (and SC too?) is really huge and I think desperate. He can't win them and so is trying to dodge the 'loser' label by claiming he wasn't trying to win Iowa or NH. Good luck with that Rudy.

Hillary has her own problems in this regard. I see Obama winning Iowa (ala John Kerry) and then all bets are off for the so-called inevitable nominee. I'm convinced that this is why Hillary is the only major candidate to not withdraw from Michigan -- she thinks she might be dire need for a win going into SC (note the tone of desperation from this commenter).

Of course this is all worth what you've paid for it.

What do you think?

Rudy abandons Iowa & NH

I think this is big,
While Iowa and New Hampshire are crucial states for most Republican candidates, Rudy Giuliani thinks of them more as a nuisance. Giuliani's campaign told reporters today that they think Giuliani can lose the first three contests in the cycle and still win the nomination. They essentially conceded defeat in Iowa and New Hampshire to Mitt Romney, who has double-digit leads in the polls and has poured millions into radio and television advertising.
Would Brownback and Robertson liked to have known this before they endorsed Rudy?

Will either withdraw their endorsement?

Was Brownback promised the VP Slot?

I'm standing by my prediction that Huckabee wins Iowa.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tim Russert is the problem

Yglesias provides an excellent take down of Tim Russert and his 'style' of gotcha journalism.

The point of a show like Meet the Press should be to inform and enlighten the public. Ask tough questions about significant policy issues politicians promote and let the guest defend his/her position. But,
Russert doesn't care -- at all -- about whether or not his actions inform the American electorate. Rather, he cares about creating a "news-making" event -- likely something embarrassing for the politician -- and about burnishing his reputation for toughness. He attracts a circle of admirers who share his perverse and unethical lack of concern for whether or not his work helps produce an informed public, gobs of less-prominent television journalists seek to emulate his lack of concern with informing the public, print journalists eagerly court opportunities to appear on the non-informative shows hosted by Russert and his emulators, and down the rabbit hole we go.
Russert's style is sensational and journalistically unethical, as Matt points out. It's also lazy. Russert doesn't have to inform himself on the policy proposals of any guest and the pros and con's of that policy. Too much work. Much easier just to pick at a scab to embarrass a guest using old quotes a production assistant hands him 30 minutes before air.

Hillary's problem

For many years I maintained that Hillary would never be president because she was too divisive and her 'negitives' too high. I wrote this here several times. And as anyone who's paying attention could tell, I was wrong. While Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson were never more popular than the day each announced his intention to run for President, Hillary has been just the opposite. Rudy's numbers have been in steady decline and Hillary's on a steady rise. She's been so demonized for so long, that when people attend a rally or watch her on TV they're presently surprised at her human form.

Hillary's problem is that she doesn't sufficiently represent change. She voted for war with Iraq and, determined to not be out hawked by anyone, tells everyone how troops will stay in Iraq into the next decade. More recently, not wanting to be out hawked, she voted to allow an attack on Iran. Even her claims to experience tie her to a divisive past.

A majority of Americans want real change and a fresh approach. There is only one candidate who can deliver on this, and that is exactly what he did last night at the Jefferson Jackson dinner in Des Moines.

Watch it and see what I'm talking about,

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Is torture the new litmus test?

Did anyone even ask Mukasey about his views on abortion?

NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd thinks John Edwards has a funny haircut.

LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks thinks torture is the new litmus test,
Remember that golden, innocent time -- the 1980s and '90s -- when the phrase "political litmus test" was associated with the debate about abortion rights, and torture was associated with the Spanish Inquisition?

....Today, though, the GOP's interest in abortion appears greatly diminished. When President Bush nominated Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general, no one seemed clear about Mukasey's views on abortion -- and no one in the GOP seemed to care very much either.

These days, you can forget that old-style GOP rhetoric about "values," "human dignity" and the "culture of life." Because the GOP has a new litmus test for its nominees: Will you or will you not protect U.S. officials who order the torture of prisoners?

....Far more than the abortion debate ever did, the debate about torture goes to the very heart of what (if anything) this country stands for. Do we want to be the nation imagined by the signers of the Declaration of Independence, a nation with "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind," committed to a vision of human dignity and unalienable rights, limited government and the rule of law?

Or would we rather bring back the methods of the Spanish Inquisition?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Rudy's BFF

TPM has the complete list of Kerik scandals and it's long!

Ridge Slams Rudy

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge makes an obvious point about Rudy's judgment when he was pushing Bernard Kerik for head of Security of the United States: "We're not talking about some urban city patronage job. That's not what a Cabinet secretary's about."

Apparently Rudy sees things differently.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Global Warming and the GOP

Relaying upon actual polling data, Matthew Yglesias points out that despite silly (and data free)WaPo suggestions to the contrary, global warming is a problem for the GOP.
The campaign to convince people that global warming is a hoax was a big asset for a while, but now it's a problem. The hardest-core members of the Republican base -- the same people pushing for a policy of perpetual war -- are true believers on this point, which makes it difficult for GOP politicians to push for action. That leaves would-be Republican presidents like Giuliani and Romney stuck with the nonsensical position that catastrophic climate change is on the way and we ought to do nothing about it, since proposing a solution would offend key corporate backers and also this largish bloc of voters who accept the hoax theory.
As I've said many times, the Dems win on almost all issues and it is only through the Democrats own message incompetence that the GOP even survives as a major party.

Trippi a political 'suicide bomber' inside Edwards campaign?

Jeff Dinelli explains with a great conspiracy theory.

DoD won't let prosecutor testify

From Spencer Ackerman,
There's an empty chair at Malcolm Nance's hearing before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on torture this morning. That chair was supposed to be occupied by Marine Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch. In 2004, Couch, a then a prosecutor, refused to bring charges against a 9/11-linked detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, after determining that the basis for the charges -- Slahi's confession -- were yielded by torture, as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year.
In all fairness to the Bush administration, such confessions are not without precedent. Both the Spanish and French Inquisitions had great success with confessions secured by torture.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The inevitable war with Iran

Via Matt Yglesias, The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know in this month's Esquire,
In the years after 9/11, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann worked at the highest levels of the Bush administration as Middle East policy experts for the National Security Council. Mann conducted secret negotiations with Iran. Leverett traveled with Colin Powell and advised Condoleezza Rice. They each played crucial roles in formulating policy for the region leading up to the war in Iraq. But when they left the White House, they left with a growing sense of alarm -- not only was the Bush administration headed straight for war with Iran, it had been set on this course for years. That was what people didn't realize. It was just like Iraq, when the White House was so eager for war it couldn't wait for the UN inspectors to leave. The steps have been many and steady and all in the same direction. And now things are getting much worse. We are getting closer and closer to the tripline, they say.
Shockingly, Leverett and Mann claim that diplomatic attempts with Iran to date have been a fraud.

Read the whole story if you have the stomach.

Who exactly are Musharraf's targets in Pakistan?

Ahmed Rashid is a Pakistani journalist and the author of Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia and Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia.

Rashid has a column in today's WaPo explaining that Musharraf's targets are not jihadist destabilizing Pakistan, but rather the civil democratic institutions that he believes threaten his hold on power.
Musharraf's chief aim was to "cleanse" the Supreme Court. Its judges have been forced to resign, and several, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, have been arrested. The court, which had become a major irritant for the regime, had been due to rule on whether Musharraf could remain president for another five-year term.

The other prime targets were not the extremists terrorizing major swaths of northern Pakistan but the country's democratic, secular elite. Dozens of judges, lawyers and human rights workers have been arrested. Others have gone into hiding. Asma Jahangir, Pakistan's leading human rights activist, is under house arrest. She appealed yesterday for the Bush administration "to stop all support of the unstable dictator as his lust for power is bringing the country close to a worse form of civil strife."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Kind of important

McClatchy Washington Bureau,
WASHINGTON — Despite President Bush's claims that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons that could trigger "World War III," experts in and out of government say there's no conclusive evidence that Tehran has an active nuclear-weapons program.

Even his own administration appears divided about the immediacy of the threat. While Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney speak of an Iranian weapons program as a fact, Bush's point man on Iran, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, has attempted to ratchet down the rhetoric.

"Iran is seeking a nuclear capability ... that some people fear might lead to a nuclear-weapons capability," Burns said in an interview Oct. 25 on PBS.

"I don't think that anyone right today thinks they're working on a bomb," said another U.S. official, who requested anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity.
McClatchy (Knight-Ridder at the time) Washington Bureau was the only major news outlet to accurately report on Iraq's lack of WMD, nuclear weapons, etc.

Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime

Evan Wallach, a judge at the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York, teaches the law of war as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School and New York Law School.

Judge Wallach, writing in the WaPo looks at the US history of prosecuting waterboarding as a war crime. Apparently, we were against it before we were for it,
After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: "I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure." He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. "Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning," he replied, "just gasping between life and death."

Nielsen's experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan's military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.
For the Bush apologist who might suggest the Japanese behavior was different, Judge Wallach quotes from the record of those prosecutions,
A towel was fixed under the chin and down over the face. Then many buckets of water were poured into the towel so that the water gradually reached the mouth and rising further eventually also the nostrils, which resulted in his becoming unconscious and collapsing like a person drowned. This procedure was sometimes repeated 5-6 times in succession.
Sound familiar?

No question about Waterboarding from the JAG

Via Think Progress,

November 2, 2007

The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman United States Senate Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Leahy,

In the course of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration of President Bush’s nominee for the post of Attorney General, there has been much discussion, but little clarity, about the legality of “waterboarding” under United States and international law. We write because this issue above all demands clarity: Waterboarding is inhumane, it is torture, and it is illegal.

In 2006 the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the authority to prosecute terrorists under the war crimes provisions of Title 18 of the U.S. Code. In connection with those hearings the sitting Judge Advocates General of the military services were asked to submit written responses to a series of questions regarding “the use of a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of drowning (i.e., waterboarding) . . .” Major General Scott Black, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General, Major General Jack Rives, U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General, Rear Admiral Bruce MacDonald, U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General, and Brigadier Gen. Kevin Sandkuhler, Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, unanimously and unambiguously agreed that such conduct is inhumane and illegal and would constitute a violation of international law, to include Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

We agree with our active duty colleagues. This is a critically important issue - but it is not, and never has been, a complex issue, and even to suggest otherwise does a terrible disservice to this nation. All U.S. Government agencies and personnel, and not just America’s military forces, must abide by both the spirit and letter of the controlling provisions of international law. Cruelty and torture - no less than wanton killing - is neither justified nor legal in any circumstance. It is essential to be clear, specific and unambiguous about this fact - as in fact we have been throughout America’s history, at least until the last few years. Abu Ghraib and other notorious examples of detainee abuse have been the product, at least in part, of a self-serving and destructive disregard for the well- established legal principles applicable to this issue. This must end.

The Rule of Law is fundamental to our existence as a civilized nation. The Rule of Law is not a goal which we merely aspire to achieve; it is the floor below which we must not sink. For the Rule of Law to function effectively, however, it must provide actual rules that can be followed. In this instance, the relevant rule - the law - has long been clear: Waterboarding detainees amounts to illegal torture in all circumstances. To suggest otherwise - or even to give credence to such a suggestion - represents both an affront to the law and to the core values of our nation.

We respectfully urge you to consider these principles in connection with the nomination of Judge Mukasey.


Rear Admiral Donald J. Guter, United States Navy (Ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Navy, 2000-02

Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, United States Navy (Ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Navy, 1997-2000

Major General John L. Fugh, United States Army (Ret.) Judge Advocate General of the Army, 1991-93

Brigadier General David M. Brahms, United States Marine Corps (Ret.) Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant, 1985-88

Things are getting ugly in Pakistan

From the Sunday NYTs:
The emergency act, which analysts and opposition leaders said was more a declaration of martial law, also boldly defied the Bush administration, which had repeatedly urged General Musharraf to avoid such a path and instead move toward democracy. Washington has generously backed the general, sending him more than $10 billion in aid since 2001, mostly for the military. Now the administration finds itself in the bind of having to publicly castigate the man it has described as one of its closest allies in fighting terrorism.


Number of Americans who are “eager for a change in direction from the agenda and priorities of President Bush,” according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll.

With just 24 percent of the public believing the Bush administration is leading the nation on the right track, it is the “lowest public assessment of the direction of the country in more than a decade.”

The Dems winning the next election should be like shooting fish in a barrel, and yet......

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Giuliani Beyond Hubris

The Saturday NYTs did a long article on the Giuliani and Kerik love affair and the arrogance of Giuliani for pushing his crooked, mobbed up friend long after he knew of Kerik's criminal behavior.

Giuliani's relationship with Kerik speaks volumes about his poor judgment and lack of character.

As we're learning, Giuliani's first instinct is always to lie, and that is what he had done when asked if he knew about Kerik's mob ties and bribery issues when he promoted him to police commissioner. When finally before a New York grand jury last year, he 'amended' his earlier statements to investigators by admitting he had known of Kerik's problems in 2000 before promoting him. He just didn't care. And then again, in 2004 when he pushed Kerik as Secretary of Homeland Security.

But here is the best part of the article. Just imagine this scene now in the Oval Office,
When Mr. Giuliani became mayor, he gave Mr. Kerik a job in the Correction Department. A year later, the mayor asked him to drop by Gracie Mansion.

The two men sat upstairs and shared a bottle of red wine, a gift to the mayor from Nelson Mandela. Mr. Giuliani said he planned to appoint Mr. Kerik as first deputy correction commissioner.

Mr. Kerik, who wrote of this in his autobiography, “The Lost Son,” was taken aback; he was a year removed from being a police detective.

“Mayor, I appreciate your confidence in me, I really do,” he said. “But I ran a jail. One jail. Rikers is like 10 jails.”

Just do it, the mayor replied.

Mr. Kerik followed Mr. Giuliani downstairs to a dimly lighted room. There waited Mr. Giuliani’s boyhood chum Peter J. Powers, who was first deputy mayor, and other aides. One by one, they pulled Mr. Kerik close and kissed his cheek.

“I wonder if he noticed how much becoming part of his team resembled becoming part of a mafia family,” Mr. Kerik wrote. “I was being made.”

Giuliani's pants are on fire!

Wolf Blitzer, of all people, catches Rudy in a lie.

As Josh Marshall notes, Rudy is apparently "not familiar with the concept of audio and video recordings."

Here's the video,

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

This is interesting....

not because it reflects the election outcome in a year (it doesn't), but because it shoots down the CW you hear endlessly.

The latest national survey by the Pew research Center conducted Oct. 17 to 23 finds:
Sen. Clinton holds a 51%-43% advantage over Giuliani in a general election ballot test among all registered voters. Clinton's lead over Giuliani reflects her strong backing from women (57%-37%). Giuliani runs slightly ahead of her among men (49%- 44%). Clinton's support is strongest among women voters younger than 50 (60%-36%), while Giuliani's support is greatest among men in the same age group (52%-45%). Younger women also are the voting group that most often says that, apart from their feelings about Clinton, it would be a good thing to elect a female president. Nearly half (47%) express this opinion, compared with just 34% of older women and 24% of men.

Clinton's supporters are much more positive about her candidacy than are Giuliani's. Roughly three-quarters of voters who favor Clinton (76%) say their choice is more a vote for the New York senator, compared with 20% who say their choice is mostly a vote against Giuliani. By contrast, Giuliani's support is divided fairly evenly between those who see their choice as a vote for Giuliani (46%) and those who say it is a vote against Clinton (50%).

Voters who favor Clinton more often cite her positions on issues as the reason they support her (35%), but many also mention her leadership ability (27%) and experience (24%). Giuliani's support is much more based on his leadership ability (46%), and much less on his positions on issues (15%").
Hillary is even beating Rudy in places like FLA.

Here is a thought I've had for some time and expressed here a few times. Rudy is seriously nuts. He was never more popular than the day he announced and his popularity has declined ever since as people get to know him and read more about him. It is significant that Rudy's supporters do not support him based upon policy. What does he do once they realize he's insane?

Hillary is just the opposite. She has been so vilified for 16 years that there is nothing ugly left to say about her the the public hasn't heard a dozen times. Her popularity continues to rise as she meets more voters and they discovery that she's not the monster that they've always been told to expect. And, Hillary's supporters like her on policy. As they continue to warm to her personally, how can she lose?

I'm far from convinced that either Hillary or Rudy will be the nominee (I'm pretty sure Rudy will not be) but if so, next summer should be very interesting.

You read it here first

It's like I was saying.....

From today's NYTs,
Scott L. Silliman, an expert on national security law at Duke University School of Law, said any statement by Mr. Mukasey that waterboarding was illegal torture “would open up Pandora’s box,” even in the United States. Such a statement from an attorney general would override existing Justice Department legal opinions and create intense pressure from human rights groups to open a criminal investigation of interrogation practices, Mr. Silliman said.

“You would ask not just who carried it out, but who specifically approved it,” said Mr. Silliman, director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke. “Theoretically, it could go all the way up to the president of the United States; that’s why he’ll never say it’s torture,” Mr. Silliman said of Mr. Mukasey.

Dogs and cats sleeping together?

Via TPM,
A coalition of right-wing bloggers and MoveOn that helped force several networks to allow public use of their political debate footage last spring has just launched a similar campaign against Fox News.

In a press release just blasted out by MoveOn, founder Eric Erickson, a prominent right-wing blogger, is quoted saying: "Already FOX is viewed as a partisan network by the Democrats, who will not use that forum for debates...Every other news organization has liberated their debate footage and FOX should either be no different or no longer have the privilege of airing debates."