Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ricks – Iraq will be tougher for Obama, even without Clintonesque language

New York Times war correspondent Thomas Ricks has several pungent observations related to Iraq for President-elect Obama, focused on the fact that the Status of Forces Agreement probably doesn't mean that much, and that a lot of the easy withdrawing of "combat" troops has been done.

As to the word in scare quotes, and my "Clintonesque" comment in the header, well, I'll let Ricks speak for himself:

News flash for the president-elect: All our troops are combat troops. It isn't like some American soldiers stroll around Iraq unarmed. Nor do the insurgents inquire about the troops' MOS (military occupational specialties) before detonating an IED. Indeed, I feel safer in Iraq accompanying an infantry unit on foot patrol than I do while riding in a convoy of transport soldiers, who are much more likely to get popped by a roadside bomb. So his promise to get "combat troops" out of Iraq in the next 16 months is a phrase that means much less than it appears to.

Total agreement here on all of Ricks' main points. But, I knew that long ago; hat's another reason I had Green, not Democratic, on my presidential vote. Anyway, read the full post for why Ricks thinks a two-term Obama still might not be all the way out of Iraq.

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Petitioning For A Special Prosecutor: Crashing The MSM

Docudharma Tag for background: petition for a special prosecutor

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On December 30, 2008 I wrote here about Ari Melber helping to push the petition and public awareness of Bob Fertik's great efforts at forcing the demand for a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute Bush administration war crimes to the top of the list of questions for Barack Obama at, under Additional Issues. At the time Ari had written a great article for The Nation, which was also published at Huffington post, about Obama's Open For Questions invitation for citizen input.

Ari Melber is The Nation's Net Movement correspondent and a writer for the online magazine's blog State Of Change. Ari's own website is

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Well, that wasn't a one shot effort on Ari's part, and he emailed me on Thursday to let me know that he's been at it again, continuing his push as Net Movement correspondent with another article on Thursday at The Nation, Torture Prosecutor Tops 70,000 Questions for Obama on Change.Gov. His article was also graciously showcased again by Arianna Huffington at Huffington Post, yesterday.

Since all of that happened several more progressive bloggers including Digby and David Swanson have picked up on the story and it's been spreading, finally prompting even the New York Times to relent and write about it, as Ari explains in his article below.

We're getting somewhere folks, inch by groaning inch, but we are making an impact!

Here is Ari's article in full:

Torture Prosecutor Tops 70,000 Questions for Obama on Change.Gov
Ari Melber, The Nation, January 08, 2009

A whopping 70,000 questions poured into over the past week, in response to the Obama transition team's call for citizen queries to the President-Elect. After votes from about 100,000 people, the top ranked question asks Obama whether he will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of torture and illegal surveillance by the U.S. government.

I've been working with activist Bob Fertik to organize support for the question, and several progressive bloggers urged readers and Obama supporters to vote for it last week. Digby, who has written extensively about the Bush administration's abuse of the rule of law, recently reported on the progress:

I wrote a post about [an] initiative spearheaded by Ari Melber of The Nation and to ask President-elect Obama if he will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate war crimes in the Bush administration over at (In a previous round, it was the sixth most asked question...) This time, through their efforts, it's number one. This is particularly important, since the press has only asked Obama about this one time, last April. And a lot has happened since then, most obviously the fact that Vice President is all over television admitting to war crimes as if he's proud of it.

Then The New York Times picked up the news:

[T]he number one submission on the popular "Open for Questions" portion of the site might seem more than a little impolitic to [President Bush]: "Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor -- ideally Patrick Fitzgerald -- to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping," wrote Bob Fertik of New York, who runs the Web site,

Though the Obama team has promised to answer some of the top questions as early as this week, they have not said whether they will respond to Mr. Fertik's, which has received more than 22,000 votes since the second round of the question-and-answer feature began on Dec. 30. The site logged more than 1.5 million votes for 20,000-plus questions... The second highest-ranked submission, which is about oversight of the nation's banking industry, is several thousand of votes behind the query about a special prosecutor. Mr. Fertik's question has been pushed to the top, in part, by a coalition of liberal bloggers...

The national press corps has not raised this issue with Obama since his victory. (When it surfaced in April, Obama said he would order his attorney general to "immediately review" the potential crimes.) And while the leading question in the last forum was dispatched breezily -- Will you legalize marijuana? No. -- this one is far more challenging, both substantively and politically.

The Times notes that Obama's team has "not said" whether it will even answer Fertik's question, though ignoring the question that came in first out of 74,000 would turn this exercise into a farce. A terse, evasive answer would be similarly unacceptable. After all, there would be little point in this online dialogue if it reiterates things we already know, (Obama is not in N.O.R.M.L.), and refuses to provide new information.

That's why this may be the first big test for as a genuinely interactive dialogue.

Thousands of Americans are asking whether President Obama will order an independent investigation to ensure our laws are enforced -- in an era when powerful people in government have engaged in criminal conduct and relentlessly tried to make their behavior off limits for media and political discussion. We expect a "yes," "no" or detailed explanation of how and when Obama and his aides will make this decision. Time is running out, of course, because the question must be answered, for Congress and the public, before Eric Holder's confirmation hearing. He must explain how he will restore independence, professionalism and the rule of law to a Justice Department that politicized U.S. attorneys and covered up torture and warrantless surveillance.

Law professor Jonathan Turley, a nonpartisan legal analyst who testified before Congress in favor of President Clinton's impeachment, recently explained that Holder simply should not be confirmed if he is not prepared to enforce the laws banning torture. "Eric Holder should be asked the same question that Mukasey refused to answer in his confirmation hearing: is waterboarding a crime?" Professor Turley stated. "If he refuses to answer or denies that it is a crime, he should not be confirmed. If he admits that it is a crime, he should order a criminal investigation." According to, the crowds agree with the experts on this one.

These articles have not been Ari's only efforts at promoting the issue in mainstream media. Here is Ari going head to head with Ron Christie, former advisor to President Bush II and assistant to Vice President Cheney, on MSNBC television, December 23, 2008, the week that Vice President Dick Cheney proudly confessed on national television to supporting and actually authorizing torture:

Ari also posted at Daily Kos about this on Friday.

There's more: "Petitioning For A Special Prosecutor: Crashing The MSM" >>

Thursday, January 8, 2009




Now Are You Starting To Get It?

Well, we supported this guy because we believed he could and would bring about change. What we meant by "change" was a top-to-bottom systemic housecleaning, a scrubbing out of all the corporatist elements polluting our government under Republicans & DINO's since 1968. What we meant was a return to basic American progressive values, and a total rejection of the crypto-fascist neocon way of doing things: Torture, corruption, violence, lies & half-truths. You know, the whole Nixon-Bush banana republic thing?



What we're getting is the same old stuff with a new face; or maybe it's two faces. A defense contractor's lobbyist will be number two at the Pentagon. A defense contractor board-member and co-conspirator in genocide, oppression and human rights abuses in Indonesia will oversee all of our "intelligence" operations, finally militarizing them all. Outside of Social Security, these are the two biggest budget items. They are now under corporate control. The SecDef himself will be the current ex-CIA chief & Bush appointee. The entire cabinet will be Republicans and Democrats In Name Only. This is not change. This is betrayal.

Stop Obama Now!

"Obama picks lobbyist as Pentagon No. 2"

' President-elect Barack Obama appointed a defense contractor's lobbyist Thursday to become the No. 2 official at the Defense Department, a choice that appeared to break with his self-imposed rules to keep lobbyists at arm's length. William J. Lynn III, Obama's choice for deputy defense secretary, is a former Pentagon official who now is senior vice president for government operations at Raytheon Co. Lynn hasn't been a registered lobbyist since July, meaning he can't personally lobby Congress or the White House. In the first three months of 2008, his lobbying team reported spending $1.15 million to influence issues including missiles, sensors and radar, advanced technology programs and intelligence funding. Obama has vowed that no political appointees in his administration would be permitted to work on areas that "directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years." Although Lynn heads Raytheon's division for government operations and strategy and was personally registered as a Raytheon lobbyist until July — both within that two-year period — Obama plans to give him the job. "We are aware that Mr. Lynn lobbied for Raytheon, and are working with Mr. Lynn to craft a role for him that is consistent with the President-elect's high standards while balancing the need to fill this critical national security position," Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said. Vietor declined to comment further on whether Lynn would have to remove himself from involvement on any issues. Some government watchdogs questioned the revolving-door aspect of Lynn's appointment even while acknowledging his qualifications. "He left public service and went into lobbying for one of the largest defense contractors in the nation. And that's the part that's troubling," said Bill Buzenberg, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity. "Even if he's completely above board and ethical, it raises questions about his loyalty." During his presidential campaign, Obama took pains to tell voters he wouldn't tolerate influence-peddling. "I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over," Obama said in November 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa. "I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president." '

"The Bloody Career of Admiral Dennis C. Blair"
' The presumptive appointment by President-elect Barack Obama of retired Admiral Dennis C. Blair as his new Director of National Intelligence is being greeted with cheers by the national media, which hail his experience, bureaucratic infighting skills and comparatively moderate views on national security issues. The New York Times, in a recent profile, seemed much impressed by the fact that the 34-year Navy veteran once water skied behind an aircraft carrier, in addition to his stints with the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Institute for Defense Analysis (from which he resigned in 2006 over conflict of interest charges involving the F-22 raptor). But human rights supporters are right to be worried that Dennis Blair will hardly lead the charge for reform in the nation’s intelligence community after the Bush Administration’s embrace of torture, rendition and other crimes. For in the period leading up to and following East Timor’s August 1999 referendum on independence from Indonesia Blair, from his perch as US Commander in Chief of the Pacific (CINCPAC) from February 1999 to May 2000, ran interference for the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) as they and their militia proxies committed crimes against humanity on an awesome scale. Following the ouster of long-time dictator Suharto in 1998, Indonesian president B.J. Habibie signaled that Indonesia would be willing to allow East Timor an up or down referendum on independence following 24 The Bloody Career of Admiral Dennis C. Blair years of brutal Indonesian occupation. The Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI), hoping to sway the vote in Jakarta’s favor, launched a campaign of terror and intimidation led by the Army, Police and local militia proxies in which they killed hundreds of people displaced tens of thousands, most infamously on April 6, 1999, when militia forces massacred 57 Timorese in a church at Liquica on the outskirts of the capitol Dili. Two days after the massacre, the Pentagon dispatched Blair two days later to meet with Wironto and demand that he disband the militias and allow a fair vote in East Timor. Instead, Blair offered assurances of continued US support for the TNI and invited Wironto to Pacific Command Headquarters in Hawaii as his personal guest. According to top secret CIA intelligence summary issued after the massacre, however (and recently declassified by the author through a Freedom of Information Act request), “Indonesian military had colluded with pro-Jakarta militia forces in events preceding the attack and were present in some numbers at the time of the killings.” A Top Secret Senior Executive Intelligence Brief from April 20, 1999 stated plainly that “to restore stability, the Indonesian security forces must stop supporting the militias and adopt a neutral posture.” A Top Secret CIA Intelligence Report dated May 10, 1999 reported that “local commanders would have required at least tacit approval from headquarters in Jakarta to allow the militias the blatant free hand they have enjoyed.” Blair’s performance, which prompted a rebuke by the State Department, was part of a fierce bureaucratic struggle between the Pentagon and State Department and Embassy officers seeking to reign in the TNI’s terror. '

"After news reports about the apparent conflict of interest, Blair resigned as the head of IDA and his board seat at EDO."
' He's also on the boards of the scandal-scarred Tyco International as well as Iridium Satellite, which has extensive Defense Department business. [22] Blair may also face a squall over his conduct as president of the influential Institute for Defense Analysis from 2003 to 2007.[22] Blair maintained government ties as president of the Institute for Defense Analyses, which is funded by Washington, from 2003-06.[17] '

[Posted by cosanostradamus of blog me no blogs.]

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Iraq Moratorium: Now more than ever

Sometimes we think we should just call it the War Moratorium.

We all want to end the war and occupation of Iraq -- but not to free up more troops for Afghanistan.

Violence continues to rage on a daily basis in both of those war-torn countries.

And now Gaza has been added to the mix, with innocents dying on both sides.

A new president takes office in less than two weeks -- someone whose candidacy was launched and sustained in its early stages by his opposition to the Iraq war.

He, and other policy makers, need to hear from us, loudly and clearly, that we elected them to follow a path to peace -- in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Gaza, and around the globe.

What better time than Friday, Jan. 16, Iraq Moratorium #17, four days before the inauguration?

The Moratorium offers a chance for people across the country to speak out for peace with a united voice, in their own communities, all across the country. Since it began in September 2007, it has sparked more than 1,500 local events in 43 states and 260 communities.

Please join us this month. It's easy. You simply have to disrupt your regular routine and do something on January 16 to call for peace in Iraq. The Moratorium is a big umbrella. You decide what to do -- as an individual or with a group. Aside from unity on Iraq, there is plenty of room for other messages -- to convert military spending to health care or other urgent needs, for example, or to stop the bloodshed in Afghanistan and Gaza.

The main thing is that we all do something -- and that we share that information with others, so that it can inspire them and let them know that they are not alone, but truly part of a national grassroots movement that is mobilizing in local communities.

Please check our website to see if there's an event listed in your community. Here's the list.

If not, please send us the information on any group or individual action you're planning for January 16. Just use this form.

Afterward, we hope you'll share your experience by sending us a short report, with photos or video if possible.

This is not a time to relax our efforts. It is a time to renew and redouble them, knowing that we're no longer trying to speak to a President and Congress with deaf ears on this issue. There is a lot of talk about hope these days, and we should be hopeful, too -- but take nothing for granted.

Thanks for all of your efforts to date, and for whatever you can do this month in the cause of peace.

There's more: "Iraq Moratorium: Now more than ever" >>

Tuesday, January 6, 2009




Live From His $9 Million Mansion On A Public-Excluded Beach In Hawaii, Obama Betrays Us Again

We voted for "change." We're getting the Same Old Sh*t from Obama and his Republican & Democrat-In-Name-Only Cabinet. First, he excludes anyone left of Center-Right from his staff and Cabinet. Next, a protracted war in Afghanistan suddenly seems "inevitable," and talk of a total pull-out from Iraq has all but ceased. Then he picks a professional racist-sexist-nativist-homophobic televangelist to bless his inauguration, in defiance of the Separation of Church & State upon which this country is based. Now Obama is acting just like a Republican, or a "Blue-Dawg" Southron DINO.

His election campaign manager, David Plouffe, is emailing Obama supporters in Obama's name to offer them a chance in a paid raffle of seats at the inauguration, seats which belong to us in the first place and are supposed to be free. Don't they have enough of our money, what little we have left after the Wall Street and Detroit and who-knows-where-all-else taxpayer-bailout ripoffs?


Why is Obama still soliciting campaign contributions, and using public property to do it? What is he still campaigning for? More DINO's in Congress? More hypocritical holier-than-thou hate-filled Jesus-freaks in the Democratic Party? A purge of all progressives, and an end to Progressive ideals? The next Republican Administration? Enough, already.

Obamabots & Hillbots will descend upon you if you question their morals, their ethics, their politics, their philosophies, their ideologies or their values. But actions speak louder than "memes" and "paradigms." And so far, Obama is nothing new, nothing but a darker DINO, nothing but a major disappointment, and a traitor to the Progressive cause. Give him more time? Why? So he can finish shutting us out of our own victory? Oh, HELL no! Time is up.

If you haven't gotten the message yet, get it now, folks. The Permanent Government, the Powers That Be, the Establishment, the entrenched Special Interests, the Culture of Washington, whatever you want to call it, are trying to deny that the sixty per cent of the population who never vote for DINOs & RINOs stood up and chose Obama because he sold himself as a progressive, which is what we all are and always have been. We fired the Clintonistas in the Primaries, and the Republicans in the General Election. We took back our government from corrupt, incompetent and inhumane corporatista's. We cannot let them sleaze right back in through the back door.

Fight this. Let Obama know how you feel. Stop the slimy slide right-wards, before it's too late. And don't give him another dime, ever.

Click to ENLARGEBARACKwhoreINAUGURATION copyright 2008 Cosanostradamus blog me no blogs

[Cross-posted at blog me no blogs by cosanostradamus.]