Wednesday, May 31, 2006

True Patriotism Emerges

By Sean Gonsalves, AlterNet
Posted on May 30, 2006

Most dictionaries define a patriot as a person who loves, supports and defends his or her country.

But, according to Ambrose Bierce's "Devil's Dictionary," a patriot is "one to whom the interests of a part seem superior to those of the whole. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors." Cynical as it is, the truth of Bierce's definition is plain, especially in light of the my-country-right-or- wrong mentality that has blossomed under President Bush.

Immediately following 9/11, it was hard to tell the difference between jingoistic "patriotism," which puts feelings of trust above truth, and the true patriotism that is emerging at this moment, triggered by the Bush administration's disregard for the Constitution.

It's not news to any reader of this column that I've never been a Bush supporter. I have a laundry list of reasons why, but what's far more interesting and important than my own sense of historical and spiritual consciousness is the burgeoning constitutional consciousness of ordinary citizens who once counted themselves among Bush supporters.

Glenn Greenwald is just such a citizen. A constitutional lawyer who lived and worked in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, Greenwald speaks for many in the preface of his new book "How Would A Patriot Act?" Like many Americans, Greenwald felt like the Constitution prevented any serious abuses of power from either party and that since both parties had their share of extremists, "I was never sufficiently moved to become engaged in the electoral process."

Over the past five years, "all that has changed." Greenwald sees extremism shredding the Constitution, which once served to keep him from becoming politically engaged.

"This extremism is neither conservative or liberal in nature, but is instead driven by theories of presidential power wholly alien, and antithetical, to the core political values that have governed this country since its founding," Greenwald writes.

He goes on to talk about his initial faith, even admiration, in Bush's leadership, which crystallized when the president wrapped his arm around a firefighter on top of a pile of Ground Zero rubble.

What first began to shake his "faith" was the Jose Padilla case, in which the Bush administration claimed it could hold a U.S. citizen indefinitely without issuing a charge or providing access to counsel. The Iraq WMD farce really threw Greenwald for a loop. Then came Abu Ghraib.

In October 2005, Greenwald started the "Unclaimed Territory" blog as a way to uphold "the supremacy of our constitutional principles and the corresponding duty of every American citizen to defend these liberties when they are under assault."

Greenwald's analysis, particularly of the NSA wiretapping debacle, is something that should be pondered by all those whose reaction to the NSA program is: "If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about."

Greenwald walks the reader through how the Bush administration successfully urged Congress to broaden presidential powers with the Patriot Act, including the expansion of eavesdropping powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

After it was passed, the president said he had all the tools he needed to fight the war on terror. So when Bush admitted that he authorized the NSA eavesdropping program without going to the FISA court, he did so "in violation of the very act he had just signed into law," Greenwald said.

"When George Bush ordered the secret NSA program," he continues, "it was not the first time an American president had acted illegally. But what is so astounding, and so profoundly alarming, about the president's behavior is not that he just violated the law deliberately but that he did so repeatedly over the course of many years, and when he was caught he defiantly insisted he had the right to do so."

Though exploring that one fact alone makes Greenwald's 144-page book worth reading, his argument doesn't rest solely on the NSA example. Rather, by analyzing the plethora of constitutional violations committed by the Bush administration over the past five years,

Greenwald's book is important because it raises a fundamental question about patriotism: Loyalty to Bush or to the Constitution?

Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff reporter and a syndicated columnist.
© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Probe Finds Marines Killed Unarmed Iraqi Civilians

By Tony Perry
LA Times Staff Writer

May 26, 2006

SAN DIEGO — Marines from Camp Pendleton wantonly killed unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, and then tried to cover up the slayings in the insurgent stronghold of Haditha, military investigations have found.
Officials who have seen the findings of the investigations said the filing of criminal charges, including some murder counts, was expected, which would make the Nov. 19 incident the most serious case of alleged U.S. war crimes in Iraq.
An administrative inquiry overseen by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell found that several infantry Marines fatally shot as many as 24 Iraqis and that other Marines either failed to stop them or filed misleading or blatantly false reports.
The report concludes that a dozen Marines acted improperly after a roadside bomb explosion killed a fellow Marine, Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas.
Looking for insurgents, the Marines entered several homes and began firing their weapons, according to the report.
In its initial statement to the media, the Marine Corps said the Iraqi civilians were killed either by an insurgent bomb or by crossfire between Marines and insurgents.
But after Time magazine obtained pictures showing dead women and children and quoted Iraqis who said the attack was unprovoked, the Marine Corps backtracked on its explanation and called for an investigation.
The Marines, many of whom were on their third deployment to Iraq, are part of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment of the 1st Marine Division.
The battalion commander and two company commanders were relieved of duty last month because, a spokesman said, Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, commanding general of the division, had lost confidence in their leadership.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which conducted a separate investigation, is expected to call for criminal charges, including murder, negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and filing a false report.
After the roadside bomb killed Terrazas, the Marines conducted a sweep of the area, a common military tactic. But instead of following the Geneva Convention rules about identifying combatants, the Marines killed Iraqis in homes and five sitting in a vehicle, reportedly without provocation, the investigation found.
Bargewell's report is to be given soon to Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the top operational commander in Baghdad. Chiarelli will make recommendations involving leadership, training and filing reports. Compensation has already been paid to families of some of the slain Iraqis.
Marine officials also confirmed Thursday that an investigation had been opened into an April 26 incident in which troops allegedly killed a civilian in the town of Hamandiya, west of Baghdad.
Marine Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee flew to Iraq on Thursday to talk to Marines and remind them of long-standing orders to protect Iraqi civilians and follow the Geneva Convention.
Hagee is emphasizing "the importance of our core values" and reminding troops about the laws of war, a Marine Corps statement said.
The Marine commandant planned to read to officers and enlisted personnel a statement reminding them: "We must regulate force and violence, we only damage property that must be damaged, and we protect the noncombatants we find on the battlefield."
Hagee last week briefed key congressional leaders on the upcoming report. One of those, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a retired Marine colonel, said later that Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood."
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, held a news conference last Friday to plead with reporters, politicians and the public not to judge U.S. troops by the action "of one squad, in one city, on one morning."
The Marines have had more than 700 personnel killed in Iraq.
In his statement, Hagee said that Marines should overcome the tendency "of becoming indifferent to the loss of a human life" in their dealings with Iraqi civilians.


Fascism, Get To Know It...

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HEATHER BURKE BLOOMBERG NEWS - People who smoke marijuana may be at less risk of developing lung cancer than tobacco smokers, according to a new study. The study of 2,200 people in Los Angeles found that even heavy marijuana smokers were no more likely to develop lung, head or neck cancer than non-users, in contrast with tobacco users, whose risk increases the more they smoke.

The findings are a surprise because marijuana smoke has some of the same cancer-causing substances as tobacco smoke, often in higher concentrations, said the senior researcher, Donald Tashkin, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles.

One possible explanation is that THC, a key ingredient in marijuana not present in tobacco, may inhibit tumor growth, he said in an interview. .

About 1,200 adults under age 60 with cancer of the lung, tongue, mouth, throat or esophagus, took part in the study, as well as about 1,000 without cancer, between 1999 and 2003.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


PR WATCH - The new industry-funded front group from lobbyist Rick Berman, the Center for Union Facts, has launched its first TV ad campaign. The 30-second spot, running on Fox News and local markets, has "actors posing as workers" saying "sarcastically what they 'love' about unions," like paying dues, union leaders' "fat-cat lifestyles," and discrimination against minorities. The ad campaign cost $3 million, which was raised "from companies, foundations and individuals that Mr. Berman won't identify." Another TV ad will be filmed in June. Labor and economics professor Harley Shaiken said the effort "to create an anti-union atmosphere" more generally, as opposed to business-funded ads against a particular union organizing drive or strike, "is a new wrinkle."

Ward Sutton and Sutton Impact: The Case of the Capitulating Corporate Media

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Irony alert: Bush asks people to pray for peace

From Alternet

From our you've-gotta-be-kidding-me file, George W. Bush on Tuesday issued a formal presidential proclamation designating May 29 -- Memorial Day -- as "a day of prayer for permanent peace."

"Those who lost their lives in the defense of freedom helped protect our citizens and lay the foundation of peace for people everywhere," reads the proclamation, signed by Bush on May 16. "On Memorial Day, a grateful Nation pays tribute to their personal courage, love of country, and dedication to duty."

In conjunction with a joint resolution of Congress issued in 1950 that compels the president to issue such a proclamation each year, Bush designated "…the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer." The proclamation also requests that all Americans observe a National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day at 3:00 PM local time.

As a Veteran, I observe Memorial Day in a private and personal way and, while I understand Bush's responsibility for issuing this proclamation, I don’t think it's any secret why this received almost zero mention in the media. Nobody wants to breach the dignity of Memorial Day and George W. Bush declaring any day a time to wish for peace is just dripping with too much sick irony to acknowledge.

Isn’t this just a bit like Charles Manson declaring a mental-health day or Rush Limbaugh proclaiming a certain date as a time to renounce recreational Oxycontin? How seriously are we suppose to take a pray-for-peace proclamation from a man who lied us into a pointless war and who has the blood of tens of thousands of human beings on his hands?

But I don’t think Bush has anything to worry about as most of the country has been praying for peace on a daily basis ever since he took office. In that way, May 29 will just be another day.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Al Gore On SNL!

President Elect In Exile Gore made an unexpected appearance on corporate television recently in an attempt to lampoon the status quo. This seems to be a progressive trend, brought to the fore by Stephan Colbert, who woke us from our collective trance.

Check dis shit out here...


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

After The Thaw

ZNet Commentary
After The Thaw May 16, 2006
By John Hepburn

Great events in human history are captured in our memories like fish in ice at the sudden onset of winter. Frozen in time, to be thawed and trawled out in generations to come by curious grandchildren. What were you doing when it happened? Where were you? Who were you with? How did you feel?

Most of these defining moments are shared. The event happens. News flashes around the globe. For a moment we are transfixed, shocked, in awe. JFK has been assassinated…the Berlin Wall came down… the planes hit the twin towers… bonds are created as we share in the tragedy or the elation of the moment.

I recently experienced the defining moment of my generation - the event to dwarf all others. But strangely, I had it all to myself, staring at an email on my computer screen as I struggled to comprehend… humans are changing the climate.

My great grandchildren are unlikely to care about September 11, or about John Howard, or who won the world cup in 2006. They're going to want to know how, in the space of only 4 generations, we created a mass wave of extinctions by triggering a climatic shift so dramatic that evolution was left flailing in it's wake. And they're going to want to know why my generation didn't do anything when we knew it was happening.

Scientists revealed that the Siberian permafrost is melting. Researchers found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago.

The area in question, covering the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that, as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

It is yet another example of a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures. The news managed to climb to the dizzy heights of story number 6 on the radio news. The lead story has already slipped from memory.

Much like the thaw of the permafrost or the dawn sweeping across the landscape, the realization that climate change is real and catastrophic spreads slowly. While I've had an intellectual understanding of climate change for many years and have followed the scientific developments with increasing concern, at some deeper level it just hadn't sunk in. Now it has. And it's not the loss of skiing holidays that is most concerning - it's the loss of life.

A 2004 study published in Nature magazine examined the extinction risk from climate change in six biodiversity-rich regions, representing one fifth of the Earth's land area. The researchers concluded that from 15 to 37% of all the species in the regions studied could be driven to extinction by the climate changes likely between now and 2050. Climate change and the impacts of industrialization and over-consumption are driving a mass wave of extinction that is leading many scientists, like world famous paleoanthropologist, Dr. Richard Leakey, to predict that up to 50% of all species will be extinct within the next 100 years.


WORKING ASSETS -- Tell The Telecoms Where They Can Get Off!

In light of new revelations about the big telecommunications carriers' handing over domestic calling records to the National Security Agency, you should know where Working Assets stands on the NSA's increasingly alarming activities.

Working Assets believes that the warrantless monitoring of phone conversations ordered by the Bush administration is illegal and unacceptable. We also unequivocally oppose the disclosure of domestic calling records to the NSA by our nation's telecommunications providers. As reported yesterday in USA Today,1 AT&T, Bell South and Verizon sold customer call records to the NSA. Working Assets would never, under any circumstances, give (let alone sell) records to the Bush administration without a warrant or a court order.

In fact, as Working Assets' president, I recently signed on to an amicus brief supporting the ACLU's law suit against the National Security Agency. We are the only telephone company participating in this law suit.

Working Assets has never been approached by any government agency seeking our help in illegally accessing the content of conversations by our customers, and we would refuse any such request. Similarly, we would not, under any circumstances, turn over customer call records to the government without a warrant. We are actively engaged in opposing warrantless monitoring, in pushing for full disclosure by the government regarding the scope of the monitoring, and in protecting citizens from intrusive and illegal exercises of governmental power. Additionally, we are fighting Bush's nomination of General Michael V. Hayden, the architect of the NSA's illegal wiretapping program, to head the CIA. . .

Working Assets' underlying carrier for both wireless and long distance is Sprint. After the news broke that AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth were helping the NSA to compile a massive database of call records for domestic spying purposes, we contacted Sprint. Sprint has reassured us that they did not participate in this database. However, we continue to push for additional confirmation.

An important element of our relationship with Sprint is that while we utilize Sprint's underlying network on behalf of our customers, we do not give Sprint any of our customer information, including name, address, billing info.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Can't Happen Here...?

What happened was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to be governed by surprise, to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believe that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. . .

To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it -- please try to believe me -- unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us ever had occasion to develop.

Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted.' . . . Believe me this is true. Each act, each occasion is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. . .

Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. . . You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.

--German professor describing arrival of Nazism to journalist Milton Mayer

Friday, May 05, 2006

Expunged Wiretap Report Here!

From The Memory Hole

Each April, the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts is required by federal law to submit to Congress a report detailing the number of federal and state wiretaps approved or authorized during the previous calendar year. On 01 May 2006, the Office posted this report here: (It has been removed)

One PDF file contained the main body of the report, and multiple separate PDFs contained the 9 text tables and 4 appendix tables.

A press release about the report is here.

On the evening of 03 May, a librarian reported on an email discussion list that all the files had been deleted from the US Courts website. A copy was not in Google's cache, although the cache did show a page with a deleted link to the 2005 report.

I contacted several journalists who had written about the report to see if they still had a copy of it on their hard drives. They didn't, but on 04 May, one of the reporters called the US Courts' press officer, who said that the report had been yanked because it contained information that is still under judicial seal. A sanitized version of the report is expected to be posted soon.

Soon after I contacted Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center about this, Sherwin Siy of EPIC kindly emailed the body of the original, uncensored report, which he had downloaded and saved. It is posted below.

PDF Report: 11 Pages, 125K

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Proud to say that Vicki, Suzanne and I marched in Northern Cali's largest demonstration--Pete

MICHAEL CONLON, REUTERS - Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said 29 of its more than 500 eateries were closed Monday because employees didn't show up but it was largely "business as usual" across the chain.

At the headquarters of American Apparel in Los Angeles, the largest garment factory in the United States, sewing machines fell silent when managers shut down to allow all 3,000 workers a chance to join the protests. . .

In Florida, about of half the state's farm workers stayed away from the fields, according to the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association and many workers abandoned construction sites, according to contracting officials.

In New York City, demonstrators formed "human chains" at several points around the city. Hundreds, including school children, lined the streets in Queens waving U.S. and Latin American flags and banners saying, "We are Americans" and "Full Rights for All Immigrants."

The Catholic Church has come down strongly on the side of the immigrants in the debate, and priests at the parish level helped organize many of the protests. Cardinal Roger Mahony in Los Angeles has suggested he would order his priests to disregard any law against assisting undocumented immigrants.


Mr. Colbert has certainly struck a nerve, 'twould seem

A "Thank You" site, dedicated to recording the gratitude of viewers worldwide.

Maryland's Steny Hoyer is apparently quite the idiot...

From Alternet

This is just heartbreakingly stupid suck-up-ness on the part of Maryland's Steny Hoyer. John Aravosis writes: "Sure, George Bush is plumetting in the polls. So what does Steny Hoyer do? The Hill newspaper reports that he takes a cheap shot at someone who's out there defending the party and taking the president on."

"I thought some of it was funny, but I think it got a little rough," Hoyer said. "He is the president of the United States, and he deserves some respect."

"I’m certainly not a defender of the administration," Hoyer reassured stunned observers, but Colbert “crossed the line” with many jokes that were "in bad taste." [VIDEO.]

Bad taste?! Bad taste?! Are you fucking kidding me? If anyone came to me, as a nationally recognized figure, and asked with the camera and lights on whether I thought Stephen Colbert's speech was in "bad taste" I would try to avoid the drool accumulating in the corners of my mouth and say:

You know what's in bad taste? Trampling on the Constitution, sending people to other countries to be tortured, starting a war on false pretenses that has taken the lives of over 2000 soldiers and untold Iraqis, many of whom were women and children, sending people, without trial, in the most un-American fashion to a black hole off the coast where they sit and rot without hope of release, tortured because the president has played with the law to make it difficult to prosecute, spying on Americans illegally and claiming he can do it like some kind of a monarch.

And you wanna talk about a comedian's jokes being in bad taste? Shame on you.

So I paraphrase Heathers the next time someone asks why the Dems don't win elections:
Because you're an idiot, Dad.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Where Hamas' government learned their stuff

[From the Washington Post]

Abdul Rahman Zeidan
Minister of Transportation
BA, civil engineering, University of Alabama

Sameer Abu Eisheh
Minister of Planning
Civil engineering, Pennsylvania State University

Aziz Duwaik
Speaker, Palestinian Legislative Council
MA, geography, State University of New York at Binghamton
PhD, regional science, University of Pennsylvania

Wasfi Kabaha
Minister of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs
BS, civil engineering, University of Detroit

Omar Abdel Razek
Minister of Finance
BA, with majors in mathematics, economics and computer science, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
PhD, economics, Iowa State University

Naser al-Shaer, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education
Institute Fellow, Multinational Institute of American Studies, New York University

Mousa Abu Marzook, Deputy chief of Hamas political bureau
MA, industrial science, Colorado State University
Studied engineering, Louisiana Tech University

WaPo Article...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Stephan Colbert Skewers BushCo!

At the White House correspondents dinner - usually bootlicker journalist central - Stephan Colbert goes full tilt on the president, with GWB just feet away.

Bravo, Stephan!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3