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.

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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!

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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

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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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Let's Send Bush A "Farewell Kiss"

Today my sweetie and I are headed for the local post office to send a package containing a beat up old shoe from my closet to George W. Bush at the White House. In the package is a note saying:

This is a gift from the American people. This is the farewell kiss, George.
Then, this Friday, for the 16th monthly observance of the Iraq Moratorium, I plan to send along its mate, with a note reading:
This is for the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.
(Dody suggested this yesterday and it appears that a lot of people have come up with the same idea.) The Iraqi journalist whose words I paraphrase above, Muntader al-Zaidi, pitched a perfect game on Sunday. His two shoe barrage totally disrupted what the White House had choreographed as a farewell tour for Bush to claim success for the catastrophic wars that he lied the US into and will leave behind him when he checks out on January 20.

If you like this idea, please spread it far and wide! Let's bury the White House in shoes, letting George know that we aren't about to let him soft-shoe his way into history.

Crossposted at Docudharma.

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