Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Underming The First Amendment By Creeping Christian Prostelyzation

Cross posted from BFD Blog! & Sirens Chroncles:

The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It is generally interpreted and generally agreed that the Establishment Clause in the first amendment establishes freedom of religion and also establishes that there shall be no state religion. This interpretation has stood the test of time and in fact, been upheld by the United States Supreme Court.

It seems, though, that certain segments of the American public, and certain officials (both government and military) are either not aware of this component of the Bill of Rights, or deliberately choose to ignore it. We have seen examples of this in civil life as government officials, who are first and foremost politicians always pandering to what ever special interests get them elected, enact various rules, policies and laws to intermix matters of religion in to state governance. This country was founded by people escaping religious persecution and domination, so that its citizens could each, by his own free choice, determine what, if any religious practice he or she would subscribe to.

A great segment of our society seems to have either never learned this lesson of our history, or simply choose to ignore it in their misguided belief that their religion commands them and all other men and women to conform to their one way of life and religion. They do not understand that no religion that forces its will, or what it believes is its God’s will on the entire human race is not something that is sacred, justified or a moral imperative, but rather an unjustified, morally repugnant imposition of their personal will on another human being. No human being has the right to do that, whether in their God’s name or any other name.

Something that the last eight years should have taught us, and something we may be falling prey to as we move forward in to a new era, is that the active prostelyzing by any religious group delivered via the offices or channels of government is a recipe for disaster. Ironically the “War on Terror” is a religious war, started and fomented by religious fundamentalists who would impose their beliefs, their will, upon the rest of the world, believing only in utter conformance to their particular religious and social values. This is what we have been fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003. Yet our government officials, motivated by their personal desires to retain political power and office and subsequently our military officials, who take their lead or their orders from the politicians, have destroyed our credibility as the world paragon of religious and political freedom.

As told by Jason Leopold at The Public Record in his recent story titled “Military Entangled In ‘Extreme Missionary’ Christian Reality Television Show” our elected, and appointed government and military officials have permitted, in fact seemingly encourage, fundamentalist religious groups to prostelyze their particular religious values to citizens of another country that we occupy. Does it not occur to any of our government officials that by our forcing our own religious and moral values upon Afghanis we are doing the same thing as the Taliban. We are making the imposition off our will on other people, whether invited by those people or not, just as Al Qaeda tries to impose their values on the rest of human kind. How incredibly stupid and short sighted it that?

In his article, Leopold relates how fundamentalist religious groups have succeeded in “embedding” themselves in to military units on station in the war zone:
The popular reality series, “Travel the Road,” aired on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and featured Will Decker and Tim Scott, two so-called “extreme” missionaries who travel the globe to “preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth and encourage the church to be active in the Great Commission.”

The other cable program green-lit by the Pentagon is “God’s Soldier,” which aired in September on the Military Channel, and was filmed at Forward Operating Base McHenry in Hawijah, Iraq. It features an Army chaplain openly promoting fundamentalist Christianity to active-duty U.S. soldiers in Iraq in violation of the U.S. Constitution…

Part of the second season of “Travel the Road” was filmed on location in Afghanistan and aired in April 2006, where Decker and Scott were embedded with the Army, and shows numerous scenes of the men accompanying U.S. Army soldiers on patrol. The missionaries are also filmed evangelizing the local Afghans by distributing New Testaments to them in their native Darri language.

In one scene, an Army Chaplain named Capt. Brad Hanna of the Oklahoma National Guard, talks about the possibility of a “revival” in Afghanistan and says he frequently speaks to Afghans about converting to Christianity. Hanna was made a full-time support chaplain for the Oklahoma National Guard after he returned from Afghanistan.

Additionally, Decker and Scott prominently cite SSgt. Sheldon Hoyt, who was stationed in Afghanistan with the Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, as playing a hands-on role in helping the missionaries facilitate their proselytizing as opposed to simply being a tour guide of sorts…

Earlier this year, U.S. military personnel launched a major initiative to convert thousands of Iraqi citizens to Christianity also by distributing Bibles and other fundamentalist Christian literature translated into Arabic to Iraqi Muslims…

The distribution of the Bibles and Christian literature came at the same time that U.S. Marines guarding the entrance to the city of Fallujah handed out “witnessing coins” to Sunni Muslims entering the city that read in Arabic on one side: “Where will you spend eternity?” and “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16″ on the other…

“God’s Soldier” was co-produced by Jerusalem Productions, a British production company whose “primary aim is to increase understanding and knowledge of the Christian religion and to promote Christian values, via the broadcast media, to as wide an audience as possible.”

Before “God’s Soldier” aired on Sept. 10, the Discovery Channel, which owns the Military Channel, advertised the program by stating that it would feature several Army Chaplains from a wide variety of denominations discussing their work in the military.

“Follow a group of U.S. Army Chaplains from different faiths on a tour of duty in Iraq as they comfort wounded and dying soldiers, reassure panicked and depressed soldiers, as well debriefing those soldiers that return from their tours of duty,” the marketing literature for “God’s Soldier” said.

Instead, “God’s Soldier,” zeroed in on one chaplain, Capt.. Charles Popov, who appears in the first scene of the program in a godlike pose looking down upon the military base and urging soldier to attend Christian Bible study. [Astute readers will note that the Popov family name is a familiar one in terms of religious fundamentalists and tent meetings. -B.F.]

“Hey this is God,” Chaplain Popov says. “Come to Bible study tonight at 1900. Purpose Driven Life. You only have 25,000 days in your life, and probably half of it’s gone.”

The author of the book, “Purpose Driven Life,” that Popov referenced is Rick Warren, the leader of a fundamentalist mega-church in Southern California. In a recent interview with Fox News pundit Sean Hannity, Warren said, “the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped…. In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers.”

For the full context of all of this, Leopold’s full article is a must read. But don’t stop there, in a follow-up story, Leopold reports that this de facto policy of encouraging prostelyzation may continue in the new administration being sworn in on January 21. In his story titled “Prostelyzing In the Military Likely To Continue Under Obama”, Leopold relates:
But, now that Obama has decided to keep Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense—and he’s embraced Warren—it is virtually guaranteed that fundamentalist Christianity will continue to permeate throughout the military just as it has during George W. Bush’s eight years in office.

Despite being named in several lawsuits filed against the Pentagon for allowing military chaplains to proselytize to soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the numerous letters he has received from civil rights organizations and government watchdog groups since he was tapped as Defense Secretary two years ago, letters demanding that he launch investigations into widespread proselytizing, Gates has failed to issue a response of any kind to these groups and has refused to take steps to address the matter. Meanwhile, soldiers continue to have fundamentalist Christianity shoved down their throats.

Of the nearly 11,000 soldiers that have lodged complaints about proselytizing with just one of the various government watchdog groups, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, reports that about 96 percent have identified themselves as Christian, however, there are numerous cases in which atheist and Jewish soldiers have said they were subjected to Christian prayer sessions and proselytizing by chaplains despite their objections.

This is all terrifying to freedom loving, individual Americans, who rightly fear the establishment of any religion as “the state religion”. Religion has a place in each individual’s life at a time and a place of each individual’s choosing, but it has no place being forced upon anyone. The recent brouhaha on these pages about Rick Warren performing an invocation at the presidential inaugural maybe be viewed as a bit over reactive by some, and when it comes down to it, I can ignore that small interlude, as I have done so in similar situations for my entire life, but why should it be foisted on me in the first place during an act of state ceremony, and it does make me fear what else religious extremists might want to force upon me, will I, one day be forced to wear a religious insignia on my clothing, have all of my worldly possessions seized, have my friends and family torn away from me, and find myself marching to a gas chamber, all in service to some one’s skewed belief that their God is God and is the only God?

There's more: "Underming The First Amendment By Creeping Christian Prostelyzation" >>

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

'Obama we're hopeful, but we're watching, marching, too'

Obama We’re Hopeful
(Nelson 2008, tune of “O Come All Ye Faithful”)

Obama we’re hopeful, cautiously believing
you meant when you told us that you’d end this war,
Sooner than later, let’s get our troops back state-side!

Ensconced in the White House, trying to get your bearings,
Oil men and gen’rals whisp’ring in those big ears,
Filling your head with doubts and grim scenarios,

That could be the theme song* for Camp Hope, which opens a 19-day presence in the president-elect's Hyde Park neighborhood on New Year's Day, also known as Emancipation Proclamation Day. Activities and actions are planned daily in Chicago, ending on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 19.

Organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Camp Hope is designed to help build popular momentum behind the progressive goals of Obama’s campaign -- and to remind him of those commitments in eight specific areas.
Among them, what Camp Hope organizers call "a starter step" that Obama could immediately take:
... [I]ssue an order directing the U.S. military to reduce the overall levels of U.S. military personnel deployed in Iraq by no fewer than 6,000 military personnel per month and to immediately cease offensive combat operations, with the ultimate objective of removing all military personnel from Iraq ... and the complete cessation of hostilities within Iraq.
Six thousand troops is roughly equal to the one combat brigade per month Obama promised to withdraw, as well as the support troops for a brigade. Obama's response, Voices for Creative Nonviolence says,
would help clarify whether or not his administration is serious about promises that were made during the campaign. If the new administration won't commit to reductions of 6,000 troops per month, than we have much more work to do in clamoring for troop withdrawals.
Obama's election notwithstanding, nothing has yet changed about the war and occupation of Iraq. It has disappeared from the news. US troops aren't withdrawing, but the TV networks have pulled out, reducing what little coverage they had before.

Camp Hope represents what the antiwar movement should be doing -- as the lyrics say, holding Obama's feet to the fire.

The oil men and generals -- and people like Robert Gates and James Jones -- will indeed be whispering in those big ears. We need a loud, sustained roar from across the country to drown out those voices and remind the new president that we are, indeed, watching.

No honeymoon on ending the war.

As Juan Cole writes in The Nation this week:
Bush's costly and illegal war has been a drain on the economy to the tune of a trillion dollars if hidden costs are included, a sum likely to triple in coming decades as the public pays for the care of injured veterans. The war has left tens of thousands of military personnal wounded, suffering from brain trauma, or dead. The toll on Iraqis has been momumental. It cannot end too soon.

*More lyrics here.

There's more: "'Obama we're hopeful, but we're watching, marching, too'" >>

Monday, December 29, 2008

Obama's Duty To Prosecute Bush For War Crimes

Obama's Duty To Prosecute Bush For War Crimes
by Patriot Daily at Docudharma, Monday December 29, 2008 at 14:14:19 PST

If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

Obama promised that he would investigate and prosecute Bush team for "genuine crimes"  because no one is above the law, but he would not prosecute "really dumb policies." Obama plans to have his AG review the available information to determine if investigations are needed.   Well, AG nominee Eric Holder knows that many crimes have been committed:

Our government authorized the use of torture, approved of secret electronic surveillance against American citizens, secretly detained American citizens without due process of law, denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of accused enemy combatants and authorized the use of procedures that violate both international law and the United States Constitution.... We owe the American people a reckoning.

Indeed, the rule of law is the "strongbox that keeps all our other values safe." We can write laws that say we have certain freedoms and rights, and we can build courts and elect lawmakers, but if there is no rule of law, then we lose our rights bit by bit until they are no longer recognizable.  While the goppies will cry "partisan witch hunt," even the Bush State Dept. recognizes that no democratic society can tolerate abuses when people are tortured or kidnapped under rendition in violation of our rule of law or tolerate the failure to prosecute in compliance with our Constitution.

Signing the petition drafted by budhydharma and Docudharma is not in defiance of our President-Elect Obama, but rather a sign of support for the difficult times that he and Holder will face when performing their clear constitutional duties.

As President, Obama will have the constitutional duty to faithfully execute our laws.

The constitutional oath of office will require President Obama to faithfully execute the office of President and preserve, protect and defend our Constitution. Our constitution also requires that our presidents "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."  The principle of the rule of law is partially based on this Faithfully Execute clause which requires our President to comply with laws, our Constitution and treaties because our Constitution established a government of laws, not of men and women.

The Geneva Convention is one of the laws which must be faithfully executed.

Our constitution mandates that treaties are one of the laws that the President must faithfully execute.  Moreover, treaties are recognized as one of our supreme laws of the land alongside our Constitution and federal laws.  For over 200 years, the federal courts have reaffirmed that our President is bound by the laws of war, which include conventions. In fact, both Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004) and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006)addressed issues of whether the US government was violating the terms of the 1949 Geneva Convention.  Yet, some will whine that it is partisan to not exempt Bush from 200 years of precedent that governed presidents from both parties.

The Geneva Convention imposes a duty to prosecute former presidents who committed war crimes.

The Geneva Convention mandates that the US "search" for persons "alleged" to have committed or ordered the commission of "torture or inhuman treatment" and then prosecute in our courts or extradite to another country for prosecution. It also includes the rendition or  "unlawful transfer of a non-prisoner of war from occupied territory."

Rounding up the suspects is easy

President Obama has an overloaded plate of issues awaiting his leadership. Fortunately, neither AG Holder or an independent commission would have to spend a lot of time searching for alleged perps of war crimes.  This diary has pictures of some of the "persons of interest," as Bush likes to say, who either have admitted their complicity in war crimes or may be percipient witnesses with useful information.

Bush and Cheney have already essentially publicly admitted their roles in authorizing and ordering torture.  In Spring 2008, Bush admitted in an ABC interview that he approved "enhanced interrogation" techniques, including waterboarding:

"As a matter of fact," Bush added, "I told the country we did that. And I told them it was legal. We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it." The president added, "I didn't have any problems at all trying to find out what Khalid Sheik Mohammed knew."
In 2006, Cheney stated that dunking terrorism suspects in water was a "no-brainer" method of interrogation.  After a public outcry, Cheney denied that dunking was equivalent to waterboarding, but merely referenced a literal "dunk in the water." Either way, Cheney is screwed because both waterboarding and water dunking is illegal under US and international law.  

In 2008, Cheney went even further by essentially admitting that he personally authorized the use of waterboarding and thus a war crime.  As constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley states, Bush and Cheney are banking that the public will not have the stomach to prosecute them.

We know that high-level officials participated in approving interrogation methods at National Security Principals Committee meetings in the WH over the span of at least 2 years in which the CIA wanted approvals before conducting interrogation in individual cases.   Thus, we can add Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Tenet and Ashcroft to the list of "persons of interest."

Tenet and Bush have both stated that waterboarding was legal based on a memorandum, known as the "Golden Shield," because it was designed to shield CIA officers from liability.   The Golden Shield memo was written by John Yoo and approved by then-chief of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jay Bybee.   In 2004, the Golden Shield legal memo which authorized the interrogation program was withdrawn by Jack Goldsmith, who called the memo "slapdash" and "deeply flawed."

More "persons of interest" can be found if Obama's team reads the Senate Armed Services Committee report which concluded that high-level officials approved torture as an interrogation method.

Holder could also have a chat with Air Force Col. Morris Davis, a former prosecutor, who testified on behalf of a prisoner at Guantánamo that Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann "insisted that prosecutors proceed with evidence they had obtained through waterboarding and other methods of torture."

The other benefit of war crimes prosecutions is that the Geneva Convention seems pretty clear that Bush can not whip out an executive order or pardon to immunize himself or his cronies from liability.  Article 51 of the Convention states that "[n]o High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contracting Party of any liability incurred by itself or by another High Contracting Party in respect of breaches referred to in the preceding Article," which is a reference to Article 50 that defines grave breaches.

There may be some in DC who wish to avoid any investigations for fear of putative complicity, but this simply illustrates the bipartisan nature of any investigation. It's not just the goppies:  For whatever reason, Senator Leahy declared that the Bush team would not face prosecution for war crimes in the US.   And, any investigation could reach some in the new Obama administration, like Robert Gates, for his role in Guantánamo and Iraqi prisons, "which the Washington Post described in a headline as 'a Prison Full of Innocent Men,' without even a procedure for determining their guilt or innocence--unquestionably a violation of the Geneva Conventions in and of itself."

If nothing else, our votes should have sent the message loud and clear to DC that Americans repudiate the past 8 lawless years and want a return to the rule of law.  For some, the way to return to the rule of law is to move forward without investigating crimes committed by Bushie and his sycophants who viewed the rule of law as malleable chunk of clay. However, political expediency as a reason to avoid prosecutions is also a violation of the rule of law that is based upon blind, nonpartisan justice.

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Government interagency screw-up in WoT – or deliberate screw-over?

It would be easy to see the conviction of alleged Afghan drug trafficker and Taliban supporter Haji Bashir Noorzai as an interagency screw-up between DEA and FBI, with the CIA in the background.

That’s the way the Post plays it, while notiong a private company hoping it could profit through “developing” informants in the so-called War on Terror got burned.

That’s the way you could play this story, though the POst leaves open an

First, if Noorzai was a CIA confidante since 1990, why didn’t the Agency keep something like this from happening, the “burning” of an asset?

Could it be … the House of Saud?

Given that Motley Rice, the U.S. law firm that’s taken the lead in trying to sue Saudis for 9/11 damages to be awarded to relatives of 9/11 dead, as page 3 of the story notes, that — the background of the House of Saud, and therefore a government screw-over, not screw-up, sounds more plausible.

There's more: "Government interagency screw-up in WoT – or deliberate screw-over?" >>

‘Trainers’ – didn’t we hear that word in Nam?

Of course we did, and even if Obama isn’t old enough to remember that personally, he knows better. Ted Rall joins me in exposing Obama’s hypocrisy in “relabeling” troops who he intends to keep in Iraq long past the middle of 2009, and probably long past the end of 2011 if he can get away with it.

Rall also notes Obama NEVER voted against a supplemental funding bill.

There's more: "‘Trainers’ – didn’t we hear that word in Nam?" >>

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Winter Soldier: Lets Not Forget

Listening to a November Media Matters podcast, featuring journalist Aaron Glantz, I was prompted to post this as a reminder of the Winter Soldier event of March 2008. The commentaries must live on and the people who organized the event deserve continued recognition.

Interview with Kelly Daugherty on the
Winter Soldier 2008: Iraq and Afghanistan

There's more: "Winter Soldier: Lets Not Forget" >>

Why Bush and Cheney Should Get a Fair Trial

Why Bush and Cheney Should Get a Fair Trial
by Nightprowlkitty at Docudharma, Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 12:27:37 PST

If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

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Why should they get a fair trial?  Why should there be a special prosecutor who investigates thoroughly the torture of human beings that has been going on in our name?

One reason is because so many have not gotten a fair trial, both here in the USA and abroad.

The prisoners at Gitmo did not get a fair trial and it has taken enormous struggle to even have gotten where we are now, with some (but too few) of BushCheney's decisions by fiat being overturned in the courts.

The prisoners in Iraq have been tortured and often killed, none of them got a fair trial.

Here in the US, we see migrant workers hustled off into Halliburton built prisons, lives and entire communities being destroyed, and all without a fair trial.

We have certainly seen our good Senator Joe Lieberman do nothing when it came to the crimes of our government during Hurricane Katrina.

And now we try to have some dialogue, to speak of abuses of human rights in the Gaza.  With what moral authority can we help deal with this problem if we continue to abuse human rights both here and around the world?

We hear that investigating the war crimes of our government would be divisive, would distract us from cleaning up our economy, deal with global warming, all those things.

So perhaps we should just abandon our judicial system, no more money for police in our communities, let's instead put them to work as bean counters and bankers.  Why bother catching criminals, after all, is that not just a distraction to our big problems?

I guess the DOJ will be more involved in .... in .... what, exactly?  Shutting down drug rings?  I guess those dealers deserve a fair trial.  For now, we should just pick and choose what are and are not crimes and "prioritize" the DOJ's work that way?

Is there anyone who is not wealthy and powerful who is getting a fair trial nowadays?  And in that instance, are those trials "fair"?  Or is justice now merely a commodity to be bought and sold?

If we do not hold those in power accountable for their crimes, then who will ever believe the average American has any chance of a fair trial?  Why should our faith in our justice system continue?

Yet if we do investigate, if we do hold all citizens to the same standards, whether rich or poor, powerful or not, we will restore far more than simply our faith in our system of government and justice.  We will be able to use this fair trial as a standard of what can and cannot be done to other huma beings in the name of justice, whether here in the USA or abroad.  Otherwise it's just words to say "We do not torture."  It's just words.

Please sign the petition.  We need to speak out as citizens, because no one else will do this.  No one.  It's up to us.

There's more: "Why Bush and Cheney Should Get a Fair Trial" >>

On Prosecuting Bush/Cheney et al. For War Crimes

On prosecuting Bush/Cheney et al. for war crimes
by snafubar at Docudharma, Sunday December 28, 2008 at 02:49:05 PST

Crossposted from Docudharma and Daily Kos
If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

Here's a comment that was sent to the petition that I liked:

 About two years ago I found a quote by Abraham Joshua Heschel that has haunted me ever since:

When considering cruelties committed in the name of a free society, some may be guilty, but all are responsible.

As much as Gerald Ford might still be lauded by some for "sparing the country the long national nightmare" of whatever proceedings might have been the fate of Richard Nixon, what happened in the Nixon administration was an in-house problem. What has been done in the name of the United States by President Bush and Vice President Cheney has worldwide consequences to our reputation and our future credibility. When we went to war in contravention of world opinion in 2003, we became the rogue nation that the UN was created (with our co-operation) to deal with. We all know the only reason no one has dealt with us is not because our cause was just or because we were proven right, but only because we're the biggest dog on the block with all the teeth. Who is left that could challenge us?

Now the only chance we have to regain that credibility is to use the freedoms as a citizenry to be honest about what our leaders have done in our name. In my opinion it will haunt us for generations to come how we were so proud of our form of democracy, particularly of our Constitution, that we felt we were the one country qualified (if not obligated in the minds of President Bush and Vice President Cheney) to use the largest military force ever assembled to force it on Iraq whether they asked for it or not. It therefore seems perversely tragic that there are plausible allegations that our Constitution - the one we were so proud of - was betrayed in the effort.

The only way to show the world that we are as serious about the integrity of our democratic form of government, complete with it's unique brand of checks and balances amongst the three branches, is if we actually use them to hold a mirror up to ourselves and prove to the world that we have the integrity to be honest about what we find. If we impeached one president because of a scandal that never left the White House, but we refused to even hold credible hearings on alleged corruption and a betrayal of those checks and balances which included the Pentagon, all of our intelligence agencies, the Department of Justice and the office of the President and Vice President themselves, it will be hard to explain. I'm not the first one to repeat the suggestion that if the  accused are truly innocent, one would think they would rush to the stand to clear their name; in fact that was the inference of guilt made by many about our last president.

What I fear is that the citizenry of this country and it's elected representatives know in their heart that our most senior leaders are guilty of the greatest crimes. But in order to perpetuate the delusion that we're still as great as we think we are, the country will not look for anything it does not want to find, and hope the people of the world will forget. I'm not the first to suggest that won't work, because we all know in our core that the truly innocent stand up to vigorously clear their name at any chance they are given. However, given the shroud of "state secrets" and "national security" that has been the claim to stay silent so far, it should be obvious that the world will suspect we are not being honest, and our reputation will be soiled until we demonstrate the kind of transparency that we would demand of any nation that had done anything similar.

The idea that we're exonerated because Bush and Cheney claim the rest of the world had all the same evidence we did (when we know we're the ones that gave it to them) is so laughable that elementary schoolkids wouldn't bet their lunch on getting away with that line.

The "long national nightmare" is just beginning if we decide that to soothe our own conscience (or worse, simply in the spirit of political expediency for both parties) we choose not to investigate all the claims of impropriety. We need answers - plausible and acceptable answers - to be provided both to our own citizens and to the world at large. If we are indeed the Greatest Country in the World ®, then there should not be any hesitation whatsoever in the minds of our leaders to bring that evidence to the table and vigorously wave it before our eyes to assuage us.

But merely to claim that we have taken the high road simply by pointing out that there are others who have done worse does not mean anything. One can be the 'best' in a crowd of ne'er do wells and not be therefore great simply by being 'greater'. In order to claim that we hold the high ground we actually have to be standing on it at some time, not merely looking up at it from some vantage point we claim is higher than anyone else's.

And to those who think that now is not the time for such efforts, well, to them I repeat Heschel's poigniant words again:

When considering cruelties committed in the name of a free society, some may be guilty, but all are responsible.

We had the freedom to choose any leader. Some argue we chose Bush in 2000, and whether or not we actually did, despite all the protestations, he was allowed to take the oath of office.

Then when it seemed our leaders had run amok, whether it was about the pre-war intel, about the post-invasion management, Abu Ghraib, renditions, wiretapping, or Gitmo, we had the power - like so few other countries in the history of civilization have ever had or are likely to have -  to remove them from office without so much as a shot fired. And we chose not to use it.

We did not even allow the opportunity to try to use it.

Now there is an attitude that closing our eyes and pretending that no one else is still looking will make what has been done in our name pass under the bridge of history and become forgotten amongst the bodies of water down river.


No one could say that seriously. If any other country in the world had done what we have done in the last eight years, we'd be the first ones waving our arms to the world demanding that something be done. I bet we'd even take on whoever it was all by ourselves without regard if anyone followed us, just to reinforce our role as world policeman and schoolmarm.

And I did not even mention that it was our economy that has taken the world for a wicked downhill ride that is far from over. Does anyone really think the world loves us now as much as they did on September 12, 2001?

Well, now we're the ones who should be looking at ourselves as critically as we would insist others deserve to be examined.

And to those who might suffer consequences for merely asking for there to be an investigation, and a prosecution if warranted, I say to you that you should accept this sacrifice for the good of the country.

Because in a free society, some may be guilty, but all are responsible.

I may be guilty of not stopping this war, but I don't want to be guily again of ignoring what has come from it.  

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Friday, December 26, 2008

The Power of One

Guest Post by Nightprowlkitty from Docudharma
Crossposted at Docudharma, Daily Kos, My Left Wing, Open Left, The Sanctuary, and They gave us a republic...
If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

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Give Bush and Cheney a fair trial -- something they have not bothered with since they stole office.

It's funny how the powers that be in the media and government are running around with their big fat excuses as to why we can't hold these criminals accountable for their crimes.  It all boils down to "It's too hard!!!"

It's too hard.  It would affect too many people.  It would interfere with the crucial work of restoring our economy.  Blah blah blah.  Not one of these folks say, however, that no crime has been committed, no law has been broken.  No one says that.

I find that stunning.  We all know, at least those of us who have been paying attention, that Bush and his crew of crooks have broken the law over and over again.

And Cheney says "What you gonna do about it?"  And Cheney says "oh, the Dems knew about this and approved it, hell they wanted us to be even tougher than we were!"

And we should believe Cheney ... why?

I don't want speculation any more.  I want the truth, the facts, what really happened.  Only a special prosecutor can get that information, someone who is inured to the politics of Washington D.C. by being given the independent power to investigate.

What I like about this petition is that it shows the power of the individual citizen.  This is not a grassroots effort decided by committee.  A couple of folks got together and came up with the text and others jumped in to work further on it and spread it around.

The power of the individual citizen.

I am extremely annoyed at the argument that we citizens are somehow childlike creatures who don't know all the real problems of our country and so we shouldn't cry and whine about our "pet issues" when the government knows so much more about what is important and should be made a priority.


We ARE the government.  The only people who will take back power as citizens, are citizens!  That's us.

To me, Obama's election is a signal that we can now start taking back that individual power, our individual rights.  It's not for Obama or any elected representative to tell me what I should make a priority.  I get to decide that for myself.  They'll do their jobs, and I'll do mine.

The measure of our success with this petititon will be the resistance from the powers that be, the Dems, the Repubs, Obama, the media.  The more we read about how this is not a good idea, getting a special prosecutor, the more we'll know we have them on the run.

Many of us have sent this petition to friends and family, whether they be politically agreeable to us or not.  One by one people will sign.  This isn't "organized" grassroots and it's netroots only insofar as the structure.

To me, this is about the power of each indviidual citizen, not resting happy with the decisions of our elected representatives but standing up for what we feel is right and making our voices heard.

We need to know the truth about the crimes committed in our names.  We need to have every American citizen aware of what has been done so there can be no denials or excuses.

At this time, the only line between tyranny and freedom is an informed citizenry.  By signing this petition and working to make it known we will not accept anything less than full accountability for torture being done in our name, we are exercising our power, not the power one step removed of the three branches of government.

We have power collectively and we also have power individually.  I think the citizenry of this country are going to be tested enormously as we have to let our representatives know we are not asking for favors on our "pet causes" but taking our government back, of, by and for the people.

There's more: "The Power of One" >>

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Date With Eric Holder And Barack Obama

If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

"The Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendements to the Constitution of the United States prohibit cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment."
With that sentence begins the documentary film "Torturing Democracy", a documentary to be aired on PBS television stations nationwide on January 21st, 2009, one day after President Bush leaves office.

One day after President Bush leaves office will be the first day of President-Elect Barack Obama's new administration.

Between today and that day, we have a date with Attorney General-Designate Eric Holder and President-Elect Barack Obama. Everyday.

As netizens reading this at the founding site of the Citizens Petition for a Special Prosecutor to Investigate and Prosecute Bush War Crimes we have a date every day with those two men as we work to generate as many signatures to the petition that we can possibly generate to bring the war criminals in the Bush administration to justice. Principally Mr. Bush himself, Vice President Richard Cheney, and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They were the leaders. The instigators. And the approvers. But there are many others as well, and they all deserve fair trials. it is the very least we can do for them, and for the world.
These crimes are being euphemistically referred to as "abusive interrogation techniques" by such respected figures as Senator John McCain. These are euphemisms for torture. Torture is a War Crime. Waterboarding is a War Crime. The CIA has admitted waterboarding detainees. Recently, Vice President Cheney has brazenly admitted authorizing the program that led to waterboarding, other forms of torture too numerous to list, and ultimately, the deaths by homicide of detainees.
As is often the case, we are because of our insatiable interest, curiosity and determination to be as well informed as we can be, much farther ahead of the millions of people who will see Torturing Democracy on January 21st, 2009.

Before the PBS broadcast the documentary in its entirety can be viewed at

The following video is the first eight and a half minutes of the full documentary. Watch the rest at the link above.

Torturing Democracy
Mr. Holder has said that:
"Our needlessly abusive and unlawful practices in the 'War on Terror' have diminished our standing in the world community and made us less, rather than more, safe," Holder told a packed room at the ACS 2008 Convention on Friday evening. "For the sake of our safety and security, and because it is the right thing to do, the next president must move immediately to reclaim America's standing in the world as a nation that cherishes and protects individual freedom and basic human rights."
Mr. Holder has said that:
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"Our needlessly abusive and unlawful practices in the 'War on Terror' have diminished our standing in the world community and made us less, rather than more, safe," Holder told a packed room at the ACS 2008 Convention on Friday evening. "For the sake of our safety and security, and because it is the right thing to do, the next president must move immediately to reclaim America's standing in the world as a nation that cherishes and protects individual freedom and basic human rights."
He needs to be held to his word. His President will need to hold him to his word. And we need to hold Mr. Obama to his words.

"Democracy" has been tortured long enough.

It's time for people like everyone here to be the cause of "Change you can believe in."

There's more: "A Date With Eric Holder And Barack Obama" >>

It’s only an Obama ‘stretch’ this time – no end on Iraq

The New York Times finally gets up to speed about how Obama actually WON’T be ending the war in Iraq any time soon. No lie, just another bending of the spirit of what he said oh so long ago.

For we true progressives, left-liberals, etc., whether affiliated with a third party or not, this was evident, what, eight months ago or so, from the first time Obama started talking about “combat troops” and ONLY “combat troops” being removed from Iraq.

Now comes the other shoe many of us rhetorically asked about at that time – what is the definition of a “combat solider”?

B.O.’s definition? It’s as narrow as possible. As the Gray Lady makes clear, don’t expect a lot of soldiers to be withdrawn.

The long answers open up some complicated, sleight-of-hand responses to military and political problems facing President-elect Barack Obama.

To try to meet (December 2011 Status of Forces Agreement) deadlines without risking Iraq’s fragile and relative stability, military planners say they will reassign some combat troops to training and support of the Iraqis, even though the troops would still be armed and go on combat patrols with their Iraqi counterparts. So although their role would be redefined, the dangers would not.

Just.Another.Politician.™ sitting pretty in bed with a bunch of punked Obamiac Kool-Aid drinkers.

Meanwhile, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some MSLBs and knee-jerk commenters there to whine that the mainstream media is picking on them. Others will try to ignore this, I have no doubt. From what I’ve so far, that’s the case.

And, we finally, and tragically, put “paid” to the myth that politics had nothing to do with Obama’s 2002 speech in Chicago.

Was that speech all politics? Of course not. Was it even driven by politics as the single largest factor? I don’t think so.

But, was a political angle clear and present? You bet your ass it was.

There's more: "It’s only an Obama ‘stretch’ this time – no end on Iraq" >>

Monday, December 22, 2008

Eric Holder Knows: Bush And Cheney Deserve Fair Trials

If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey since his appointment by George Bush, as have previous members of the Bush administration such as Alberto Gonzales, and other enablers such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has waffled, spun, twisted in the wind, squirmed, sweated, excused, equivocated, denied reality and otherwise insulted Americans and the entire world as evidence of torture ordered at the highest levels of the Bush administration has piled ever higher and higher.

No better than the public enemies he is protecting, Mr. Mukasey, like Ms. Pelosi, has become no better than a getaway car driver, no better than a fugitive from justice.

Torture is well defined, immoral, and illegal, in violation of international law, US law, and international treaties. There is no more heinous and downright evil and dehumanizing crime in the history of humanity than torture.

Any person guilty of torture under current US law can be incarcerated for up to 20 years or receive the death penalty if the torture results in the victim's death.

Mr. Mukasey, while holding office as the highest ranking officer of justice in the United States, is nothing more than an accessory to the crimes that George Bush, Dick Cheney and others have flagrantly engaged in.

Last week outgoing US Vice-President Dick Cheney made a series of remarkable comments in his exclusive interview with ABC attempting to save himself from prison with a blatant plea for pardon from his co-conspirator George Bush.

Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), explains Cheney's motives in a video interview with Real News CEO Paul Jay...

Cheney admitted to playing a role in the authorization of the use of waterboarding and other 'aggressive interrogation techniques', defended the decision to listen-in on domestic phone calls, and essentially provided broad approval for all the actions taken by his government over his tenure.

In the first part of our interview with Michael Ratner, Michael gives his analysis of both the significance of the interview, and what he believes are Cheney's motivations for such an uncharacteristic offering of information from the notoriously secretive VP.

Real News: December 22, 2008 - 8 min 23 sec
Why did Cheney confess on national television?
Michael Ratner: Cheney's admission of guilt is a plea for a presidential pardon Pt1/2

Michael Ratner is President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York. He has taught at Yale Law School, lectured at Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild.
After January 20, 2009 there will be a new Attorney General of the United States, and Eric Holder Jr. will most likely be confirmed as that new Attorney general.

Mr. Holder has said that:
"Our needlessly abusive and unlawful practices in the 'War on Terror' have diminished our standing in the world community and made us less, rather than more, safe," Holder told a packed room at the ACS 2008 Convention on Friday evening. "For the sake of our safety and security, and because it is the right thing to do, the next president must move immediately to reclaim America's standing in the world as a nation that cherishes and protects individual freedom and basic human rights."
Eric Holder, Jr.
Eric Holder, Jr.
Photo: Leslie E. Kossoff/AP
If Mr. Holder, when he becomes Attorney General, is to live up to his own statements and retain the personal and professional integrity he has displayed in his law career thus far, and not by acts of omission become an accessory along with Mr. Mukasey and Ms. Pelosi to the crimes of Bush, Cheney and others in the Bush administration, he will have no choice but to accept the demands of the thousands of US citizens who have signed the Docudharma/ Citizens Petition for a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute Bush administration war crimes.
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If he will not, Mr. Holder runs the risk of throwing away a lifetime of work in a so far illustrious career and all of his personal and professional integrity and becoming a fugitive with Mr. Mukasey and an accessory to these crimes along with and no better than the perpetrators and other conspirators.

Given his professional record, I have every confidence that Mr. Holder, as soon to be Attorney General of the United States, realizes that he can make no other choice than to do the right thing.

Mr. Holder knows. As Attorney General he will wear the badge as the highest ranking officer of justice in the United States.

He will have his own integrity on the line.

Mr. Holder knows that like any other accused criminals, Bush and Cheney deserve fair trials.

And Mr. Holder knows that failing to give them those fair trials would be convicting himself.

Please go to and sign the petition!

Holder Responds to the Citizens Petition
From Attorney General Designate Holder, in response to the The Citizens Petition: Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes.
   "Enough folks. I hear you."
The petition was initially set up to relay every signer to Mr. Holders public e-mail address. Since it's formal launch yesterday, we are now at 1085 signers and growing. In response to AG Designates Holder's response, we have stopped sending him each signature and comment that appears on the petition and are now collecting all names and comments for eventual submission to AG Designate Holder, the media and members of Congress.

We have since asked Mr. Holder for a formal statement on the petition. We await it eagerly! But we now know that he is aware of the petition, aware of our concerns, and aware that there is a citizens movement aimed at bring Bushco to justice. In other is working!

There's more: "Eric Holder Knows: Bush And Cheney Deserve Fair Trials" >>

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Carolers ask Congress members: Bring our families home

Armed with a guitar, Santa hats and some terrific antiwar lyrics for Christmas caroling, members of Military Families Speak Out sang out on Iraq Moratorium day Friday, serenading two members of Congress and asking them to bring family members and loved ones home now.

The carolers visited the homes of two Republican House members,Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and even got a photo and article in the Orange County Register, no easy feat.

The lyrics by Vern Nelson are terrific. You can find them, for eight different songs, on the Orange Juice Blog Here's a sample:

Why the Hell Are We Here?
(tune of Do You Hear What I Hear, Nelson-Alviso 2006)

Said the grunt to his sergeant in Iraq:
Why the hell are we here? (Why the hell are we here?)
Tryin’ to not get shot in the back,
Why the hell are we here? (Why the hell are we here?)
A wife and child wait for me back home,
spending Christmas-time all alone,
spending Christmas-time all alone.

Said the sarge to the Captain in command:
Why the hell are we here? (Why the hell are we here?)
Ev’ry week it seems I lose a man.
Why the hell are we here? (Why the hell are we here?)
A roadside bomb planted in the night
filling ev’ry moment with fright;
There’s no way to win such a fight.

Said the Captain to the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Why the hell are we here? (Why the hell are we here?)
In this civil war in Iraq?
Why the hell are we here? (Why the hell are we here?)
Each bomb we drop only makes things worse;
and our choosing sides is perverse
in this Sunni/Shia universe.

Said the troops to the Congressman back home
Time to bring us back now! (Time to bring us back now!)
Congressman all comfy back home,
Time to bring us back now! (Time to bring us back now!)
This war, this war, has gone on far too long,
Can you hear the words of our song—
Getting out will make us— more strong!!!

A report from that action, and reports and photos from others across the country, are available at the Iraq Moratorium website.

There's more: "Carolers ask Congress members: Bring our families home" >>

The Man: Attorney General-Designate Eric Holder Jr.

President-Elect Barack Obama announced on December 1 that he has nominated Eric H. Holder, Jr. to serve as Attorney General, to take over the running of The Department of Justice in Obama's incoming administration from current AG Michael Mukasey.

Mr. Holder has been a partner with the law firm Covington & Burling LLP since 2001.

Mr. Mukasey since his appointment as Attorney General, like all representatives of Mr. Bush have done, has waffled, spun, twisted in the wind, squirmed, sweated, excused, equivocated, and otherwise bullshitted America and the world as George Bush's acolyte under hot lights and pointed interrogations from Congress over evidence of torture ordered at the highest levels of the Bush administration, the president and vice president, that the least informed people in the world all know is well defined, immoral, and illegal under international law, US law, and international treaties. (see addendum)

A war crime, in simpler terms. A war crime that Vice President Cheney has in recent days confessed publicly that the Bush administration intentionally engaged in.

Mr. Holder is the target of the new Docudharma/ sponsored Citizens Petition for a Special Prosecutor to Investigate Bush War Crimes. Don't forget to sign the petition if you haven't already.

Who is Eric Holder? What are his views and philosophy on the questions of torture, war crimes, secret prisons hidden away from the rule of law, and Bush's "war on terror"?

What can we expect his reactions to be to the petition? We have only his own words and background to look to for clues.

The Covington & Burling LLP Bio of Mr. Holder states that:

Mr. Holder is a litigation partner who handles, among other matters, complex civil and criminal cases, domestic and international advisory matters and internal corporate investigations.

During his professional career, Mr. Holder has held a number of significant positions in government. Upon graduating from Columbia Law School, he moved to Washington, DC and joined the Department of Justice as part of the Attorney General's Honors Program. He was assigned to the newly formed Public Integrity Section in 1976 and was tasked to investigate and prosecute official corruption on the local, state and federal levels.
In 1997, President Clinton appointed Mr. Holder to serve as Deputy Attorney General, the number two position in the United States Department of Justice. He became the first African-American to serve as Deputy Attorney General. Mr. Holder briefly served under President Bush as Acting Attorney General pending the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft.

As Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Holder supervised all of the Department's litigating, enforcement, and administrative components in both civil and criminal matters
Sharon, aka Conchita, has two or three times in the past day or so posted a link in comments at DD to video of Mr. Holder speaking on Friday June 13th this year to the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, but that link is to an unembeddable windows media player video stream that takes forever in online time to load.

The speech, and Mr. Holder's tone, comportment, and obvious high intelligence displayed in it, are very confidence inspiring, unlike Mr. Mukasey's dissembling. I did a little digging around for an embeddable version so everyone could see and hear what Holder had to say on the same questions that make Mr. Mukasey's eyes dart around in a frantic search for safe ground while he sweats and squirms and squeals like a stuck pig writhing on the end of a sharp stick.

Mr. Holder serves on the American Constitution Society's Board of Directors.

A release from The ACS (via Mark Halperin's The Page at says that:
Washington, D.C. -- Eric H. Holder Jr., Deputy Attorney General during the Clinton administration, asserted in a speech to the American Constitution Society (ACS) that the United States must reverse “the disastrous course” set by the Bush administration in the struggle against terrorism by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, declaring without qualification that the U.S. does not torture people, ending the practice of transferring individuals involuntarily to countries that engage in torture and ceasing warrantless domestic surveillance.

“Our needlessly abusive and unlawful practices in the ‘War on Terror' have diminished our standing in the world community and made us less, rather than more, safe,” Holder told a packed room at the ACS 2008 Convention on Friday evening. “For the sake of our safety and security, and because it is the right thing to do, the next president must move immediately to reclaim America's standing in the world as a nation that cherishes and protects individual freedom and basic human rights.”
Here is Attorney General-Designate Eric Holder Jr. speaking on the Rule of Law at the 2008 ACS National Convention and on the responsibility of Americans to preserve and protect our Constitution and reaffirm the principle of rule of law to its rightful, central place in society.

Eric Holder, American Constitution Society June 13, 2008 Speech, Pt. 1 of 3

Pt. 2 of 3

Pt. 3 of 3

back to top
Summary of International and U.S. Law Prohibiting Torture and Other Ill-treatment of Persons in Custody
International and U.S. law prohibits torture and other ill-treatment of any person in custody in all circumstances. The prohibition applies to the United States during times of peace, armed conflict, or a state of emergency. Any person, whether a U.S. national or a non-citizen, is protected. It is irrelevant whether the detainee is determined to be a prisoner-of-war, a protected person, or a so-called "security detainee" or "unlawful combatant." And the prohibition is in effect within the territory of the United States or any place anywhere U.S. authorities have control over a person. In short, the prohibition against torture and ill-treatment is absolute.
A federal anti-torture statute (18 U.S.C. § 2340A), enacted in 1994, provides for the prosecution of a U.S. national or anyone present in the United States who, while outside the U.S., commits or attempts to commit torture.

Torture is defined as an "act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control." A person found guilty under the act can be incarcerated for up to 20 years or receive the death penalty if the torture results in the victim's death.

There's more: "The Man: Attorney General-Designate Eric Holder Jr." >>

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Citizens Petition: Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes..... Premiere

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You'll notice in the left sidebar here that there is a new Petition Badge for a A Citizen's Petition to Attorney General-Designate Eric Holder asking him to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in War Crimes, sponsored by Docudharma and

Please go to and sign the petition!

With the recent admissions by Vice President Cheney and the release of the Senate Armed Services Committee Report on detainee treatment, what we have known in the blogosphere for years has now....finally....made it into the mainstream. The Bush Administration planned, developed and carried out an organized torture program stretching from Gitmo to Iraq, Afghanistan and secret prisons around the world.

Despite their protestations and attempts to cover themselves with highly questionable legal opinions, this was and is a War Crime. Their politicization and corruption of the Department of Justice has stymied any investigation and left all efforts at accountability and justice to the new Obama Administrations DOJ, and specifically to AG Designate Holder.

Now, even the New York Times is....again, finally...calling for a Special Prosecutor to investigate these crimes.

However, as we also know well in the Blogosphere, this is far more than an issue of crime, punishment and justice as it should be. It is a political issue. A 'hot potato' political issue considering that any and all attempts at investigation and prosecution will undoubtedly (and erroneously) be described by the Republicans, the Right Wing press and pundits, and even some (complicit?) Democrats as a 'partisan witch hunt' and as 'criminalizing politics.' in other words, there are huge political costs at stake here. It would be much, much easier to 'move on' or 'not play the blame game' or point fingers to the past.'

The Obama Administration will face incredible pressure to sweep these War Crimes under the rug of history. We in the Blogosphere need to provide the counter-pressure. We do that by making our voices heard, and one way to do that is by each and everyone of us, the thousands if not millions of blog readers, adding our names to a petition. The petition will ultimately be submitted to AG Holder, as well as to However it can make a great impact on the 'public conversation' just by being everywhere in the Blogosphere as well.

To that end, Docudharma and have teamed up to create, host, and distribute the following petition. The petition calls for Attorney General Designate Holder to, immediately upon being confirmed, appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all officials of the Bush Administration for Torture and War Crimes.

The petition:

Dear Attorney General Designate Holder,

We the undersigned citizens of the United States hereby formally petition you to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in War Crimes.

These crimes are being euphemistically referred to as "abusive interrogation techniques" by such respected figures as Senator John McCain. These are euphemisms for torture. Torture is a War Crime. Waterboarding is a War Crime. The CIA has admitted waterboarding detainees. Recently, Vice President Cheney has brazenly admitted authorizing the program that lead to waterboarding, other forms of torture too numerous to list, and ultimately, the deaths by homicide of detainees.

As Major General Antonio Taguba, the Army general who led the investigation into prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison has stated:
"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."
The Washington Post recently summarized the Senate Armed Services Committee Report on detainee treatment thusly:
A bipartisan panel of senators has concluded that former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials bear direct responsibility for the harsh treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and that their decisions led to more serious abuses in Iraq and elsewhere.
We the undersigned citizens demand a full and thorough investigation immediately upon your taking office. This investigation should be pursued no matter where it may lead and no matter what the political implications may be. To this end, we remind you that you work not on behalf of or for the President or the Congress, but for the People of the United States of America and for Justice itself.

The United States is a representative democracy. The actions of our government officials are done in the name of its citizens. War Crimes have been committed in our name. Torture has been done in our name. The only way to clear our name of War Crimes is to repudiate them through the aggressive prosecution of each and every person involved to the full extent of the law through the appointment of a Special Prosecutor.
We are urging everyone in the Blogosphere and beyond to get involved in this project...not just to sign the petition, but also to write diaries and blog posts in support of the effort. And also to display the linked badge (created by Edger) in your posts or on your sites. The easy to embed code for posting the badge can be found here.

Please feel free to contact us at for more information or any technical assistance you may need.

And of course......Please go to and sign the petition!


If you wish to post this essay, or just the petition, on any site or your own blog, please mail us at and we will send you the entire essay, complete with HTML code, to post wherever you wish. Please feel free to edit, within the parameters of keeping the original spirit and intent. We enthusiastically give full permission for such use!

Or you can download a .txt file of the html code for this essay here.

There's more: "The Citizens Petition: Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes..... Premiere" >>

NYT pushes war crime investigation — are civil suits an alternative

Unfortunately, I doubt even The Gray Lady will be able to convince Just.Another.Politician.™ and Passive Pelosi™ of this need. And, the Times agrees, saying not just political reality but the unmasking of Barack Obama's true colors (they don't call it that, and people like me saw through the mask from the start) are why we won't get what we need:

Given his other problems — and how far he has moved from the powerful stands he took on these issues early in the campaign — we do not hold out real hope that Barack Obama, as president, will take such a politically fraught step.

The Times goes on to describe what it considers minimally acceptable actions in this area from The One; they're minimal indeed, but not bad for where the MSM has been on this issue in the past.

An alternative —
Of course, as Newsweek reports, the ball may be starting to roll without any say-so from Obama or Pelosi. The recent Senate Armed Services Committee report may give a new legal boost to Maher Arar’s suit against John Ashcroft. And, SCOTUS has revived a lawsuit against Rumsfield by four Guantanamo detainees.

There are two sides to this.

One is that civil suits don’t bring prison time.

The biggest downside of civil suits against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, or even soon-to-be former President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney is that you and I never get to see heinous offenders against international law, international law that is by treaty and the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, the law of the land — do the actual criminal time in prison they have earned.

The flip side, though, is that Bush (or Obama, in the name of “national unity”) can’t pardon anybody, today or looking ahead to the future, from the verdict and punishments of any civil suit.


Also, in a criminal case, given “War on Terror” hysteria, getting a conviction by unanimous jury vote would be mighty hard.

You don’t need a unanimous vote in civil cases at the state level; I think the same is true at federal level, but I’m not sure. (In any case, only a small fraction of the small fraction of federal civil cases that go to trial are pled before a jury.)

So, if Maher Arar has a better shot of suing Rumsfeld, bolstered by the recent Senate Armed Services Commission report on the architects of torture, as Newsweek reports, fire away!

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And, if you want to prod Obama on the criminal special prosecutor side: Please go to and sign the petition!

There's more: "NYT pushes war crime investigation — are civil suits an alternative" >>

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Defining Moment?

Crossposted at Docudharma, They gave us a republic..., Daily Kos, and Edgeing

"The more you begin to investigate what we think we understand, where we came from, what we think we're doing, the more you begin to see we've been lied to, we've been lied to by every institution..."
-- Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Zeitgeist

"The Edge... There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
-- Hunter S. Thompson

The entire global economy depends not just on politicians and economists and crooked financial industry executives who make decisions for the world, but on transportation; planes, trains, trucks, and automobiles.

Nothing gets delivered. Nothing gets anywhere. Not food, Not goods. Nothing. Anywhere. Without transportation.

And all of our transportation systems depend on oil and cannot function without oil.

Transportation is the heart that pumps the blood to drive the economy. Energy, oil, is the nourishment that enables the heart to keep on pumping.
Fatih Birol, IEA
What happens when the heart stops pumping? The body, the economy, dies.

Fatih Birol is the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA), and each year publishes the World Energy Outlook, the forecasting report that governments all over the world use to know what energy supplies will be available when planning development of transportation strategies and systems to keep the economy humming along.

Systems that will use the energy Birol's report tells them will be available to power that development.
George Monbiot photograph by Adrian ArbibGeorge Monbiot is the author of the best selling books Heat: how to stop the planet burning; The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order and Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain; as well as the investigative travel books Poisoned Arrows, Amazon Watershed and No Man’s Land. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper. He lives in mid-Wales with his daughter Hanna.
Britain's leading green commentator, George Monbiot, talks to Fatih Birol at the IEA in the Real News video below, who reveals for the first time a startling and worrying prediction for the date of peak oil.

And finds that the rate of decline of oil production that Birol and The International Energy Agency have been giving to governments around the world for the past few years has been simply an assumption - a guess - based on no research at all.

A guess. Based on no research at all. Until this year. This years World Energy Outlook 2008 is finally based on real research, and on real numbers.

And the numbers are not at all good. Not nearly as good as the projections that Birol and the IEA have been supplying to world governments for their transportation systems planning and strategy development for the past few years.

Which means, of course, that all of that planning and strategizing has been fantasyland planning and strategizing, based on assumptions, guesses, that energy supplies will be much higher that they will be.

Real News: December 18, 2008
George Monbiot questions Fatih Birol on peak oil
Guardian: International Energy Authority chief economist reveals startling prediction for peak oil date

There's more: "The Defining Moment?" >>

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Between the century...

...and the shoe
came the war, the torture,
the injustice and the blood,
the rage and the sorrow
and the tapping and the flood.

Between the eleventh and the crash
came the shock, the awe,
the anguished and the dreaded,
the widowed and the scourge,
the bombed and beheaded.

Between the reign and the snow
came the child’s vacant stare,
the grief and the wrath,
the tears and the scowl,
the starving and the flag.

Between the heaven and the hell
came the lies and the spin,
the tanks and the guns,
the free and imprisoned,
mankind and his sun.

There were no angels….

© 2008 mrp/tpm
Craig Welch takes viewers inside a surreal, meticulously crafted world to meet a mysterious protagonist and his otherworldly visitor.

In this surreal exposition, we meet a man, obsessed with control. His intricate gadgets manipulate yet insulate, as his science dissects and reduces. How exactly are wings attached to the back of angels? In this invented world drained of emotion, where everything goes through the motions, he is brushed by indefinite longings. Whether he can transcend his obsessions and fears is the heart of the matter. A film without words.

Directed by : Craig Welch. Produced in 1996...

-How Wings are Attached to the Backs of Angels-

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Booting Bush, Marking the Moratorium

Friday's Iraq Moratorium will offer a mixed bag of activity across the country, from holiday-themed events to footwear-related actions.

Antiwar caroling, mall walks to raise shoppers' consciousness, and vigiling by Santa are among the plans.

Elsewhere, the shoe-throwing by an Iraqi journalist have inspired actions like a "Give Bush the Boot" footwear-throwing contest in Milwaukee, and plans by others in New York and Connecticut to mail shoes to the White House on Moratorium day, with a note calling for an end to the war and occupation.

It's all part of the ongoing, growing effort to get US troops out of Iraq by ratcheting up locally-based antiwar activity on the Third Friday of every month. Friday, Dec. 19, is Iraq Moratorium #16.

Moratorium efforts got a boost last weekend when the National Assembly of United for Peace and Justice, the nation's largest antiwar coalition with 1,400 member groups, approved an action plan that includes support for the Moratorium's Third Friday organizing efforts.

Here's a list of what's planned this week (that we know of; there are always others we find out about later.): December actions.

You'll find lots of other information and ideas on the Moratorium website.

Friday's the day. The war's got to stop and we've got to stop it. Please do something.

UPDATE: Help free al-Zaidi. From United for Peace and Justice:
You can join the growing international call for the release of al-Zaidi! Click here to sign a petition.

By now, you've all seen the footage of the Iraqi journalist hurling his shoes at George W. Bush during a press conference in Baghdad this past Sunday.

What has not been so widely reported are the words Muntadar al-Zaidi, a correspondent for Cairo-based al-Baghdadiya TV, shouted out. As the first shoe was thrown at Bush, he said: "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog." And with his second shoe, which the president also dodged, al-Zaidi said: "This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq."

This bold statement also has to be understood in its cultural context. Showing the soles of your shoes to someone, let alone tossing your shoes at them, is a sign of contempt in Arab culture.

After throwing his shoes, al-Zaidi was wrestled to the ground by security personnel and hauled away. According to Democracy Now! this morning, "Muntadar al-Zaidi has been held without charge for over twenty-four hours and has been reportedly beaten in jail. His brother said al-Zaidi has suffered a broken hand, broken ribs and internal bleeding, as well as an eye injury. Earlier today, al-Zaidi was handed over to the Iraqi military command in Baghdad."

We urge you to join the growing international call for the release of al-Zaidi! Click here to sign a petition:

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