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Took a while… 16 May 2009

Posted by marisacat in 2010 Mid Terms, Afghanistan War, AFRICOM, Culture of Death, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Iraq War, Seymour Hersh.
62 comments

McChrystal and Clarke Brief Press at Pentagon
ARLINGTON, VA-MARCH 22: Army Major General Stanley A. McChrystal (L), vice director for Operations, listens as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke speaks at the Pentagon March 22, 2003 in Arlington, Virginia. McChrystal and Clarke briefed the media on the latest developments of the United States led war against Iraq.
Photo: Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images
Mar 22, 2003

… for me to catch on to who McChrystal was, that we had seen a lot of him before… when I began googling for his photo, noticed him beside Tory Clarke – it all came back.  Day after day, those briefings from the Pentagon.  That dumb-fuck face of his.. this man that all sorts of venues are trilling is a “scholar warrior”.  Yes I remember when Kos used that scheisse to hose the thread commenters into supporting the mil.  Why! my goodness! they have advanced degrees… from Ivies.  Bow down.

So… do ya think Ob did his due diligence on this pick?  Or did he snooze in the bubble of the Oval?  I say he SNOOZED.  Biden (too often in the Oval with Ob for the Daily Briefing and for the Economic Daily Brief) said Yes… Rahm said Yes… Axelrod said Yes…

There at the propaganda podium for the invasion.  Side by side with Tory Clarke.  More than whiffs of torture off his command in Iraq… and then there is Tillman.

There is bound to be more.

Mrs Tillman will not be shutting up.

Considering we are swimming in blood and guts,  this should go badly.

I snagged a couple of graphs from Tiny Revolution:

It’s sickening to see Obama try to justify illegal secrecy by hiding behind the troops in just the way Bush used to do. It’s even more appalling to see him not only do nothing to hold torture commanders accountable, but promote them.

Good luck with that, Mr. President. The Tillmans are unwilling to sit quietly and let pass McChrystal’s part in the propaganda disgrace and coverup of their son’s death by ‘friendly fire’. Sy Hersh has tied McChrystal to Cheney’s assassination squads. And, if the principle of command responsibility had any force at all in the U.S. military, McChrystal would have to answer for the pervasive, routine use of torture by his dirty-war task forces in Iraq.

Late last year, confirmation hearings for his last post were held up by concerns about the torture under his command, but a private chat with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee appears to have given everyone involved the cover sought.

Photos or no photos, the upcoming confirmation hearings are going to be an occasion for looking back.

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From one of the comments at Tiny Revolution, “oarwell” at 10:58 pm:

[B]ig money goes looking for a better return on investment. War is the most lucrative, the most profitable venture. [Smedley] Butler argues that the only way to smash the war racket is to take the profit out of war. But as long as the same concerns that profit from war own our press, that is difficult, to say the least.

Is Obama in thrall to these war pigs? Of course he is. They are cynically using him as the best mechanism by which to quell dissent. Policy is disconnected from politics. You think anyone except paid propagandists actually wants to escalate in AfPak? Elite financial interests seek access to oil in central Asia, as well as all the usual spin-offs of war (not to mention the heroin trade, which has boomed since we liberated Afghanistan). If, in their immoral calculus, releasing photographic evidence of war crimes (Hersh says it’s photos of children being sodomized in front of their parents) would interfere with rallying the public to their profitable enterprise, then enormous pressures are brought to bear to stop their release. Pressures that possibly include blackmail. You think they wouldn’t do that? And how many innocent civilians did they kill in Iraq, in Vietnam? They care only about profit, not about human rights or “liberty” or “freedom.”  …

Of course a lot of what Hersh said and wrote about the unreleased photos, he said and wrote in 2004, 2006.  IMO he would not be volunteering all of that these days.  I heard him myself, on Hardball, following his own breaking of the story, say we had done things even Israel would never do.

Give it a break Sy.  Really.

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Last, I was very entertained by this phrasing from the press release on Ob and Mrs Ob going to Accra:

The President and Mrs. Obama look forward to strengthening the U.S. relationship with one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa, and to highlighting the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development.

Yup.  Blessed.  Double Blessed. “Sound”, “civil”, “lasting”.  I think they should take the children and the dog.  Let’s be wholesome!

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Oh too good to pass up… MO at UCMerced today…

“Remember you are Blessed!  And remember for those blessings you must give back!”

Each word, staccato.

I think the Obs should go to Africa wearing great towering papal mitres – emblazoned with the stars and stripes.

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Sy Hersh is UP in The New Yorker… 25 February 2007

Posted by marisacat in Iran, Iraq War, Israel/AIPAC, Seymour Hersh.
41 comments

   photo from Common Dreams 

A snip from The New Yorker [thanks to Madman for the email!]

[I]n the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Bush Administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction. At least four main elements were involved, the U.S. government consultant told me. First, Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran.

Second, the Saudis would urge Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian party that has received support from Iran, to curtail its anti-Israeli aggression and to begin serious talks about sharing leadership with Fatah, the more secular Palestinian group. (In February, the Saudis brokered a deal at Mecca between the two factions. However, Israel and the U.S. have expressed dissatisfaction with the terms.)

The third component was that the Bush Administration would work directly with Sunni nations to counteract Shiite ascendance in the region.

Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah. The Saudi government is also at odds with the Syrians over the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, in Beirut in 2005, for which it believes the Assad government was responsible. Hariri, a billionaire Sunni, was closely associated with the Saudi regime and with Prince Bandar. (A U.N. inquiry strongly suggested that the Syrians were involved, but offered no direct evidence; there are plans for another investigation, by an international tribunal.) [snip]

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UPDATE, 12:10 pm

The CNN/Late Edition interview iwth Hersh is up in transcripts… You have to wade thru al Rubaie, then Madeleine Albright (shiver) and Kissinger (double shiver) to get to Hersh, here is a snip:

[S]o I think if it goes, and one doesn’t know, it is going to — you know, I have been writing the same story for a year, sort of like I would call up my friends and say, it is Chicken Little, you know, the sky is falling, in the last year. And now, obviously, it seems to be much more serious. It is much more intent.

My own instinct is, Wolf, that this president is not going to leave office without doing something about Iran. And he could always negotiate, it’s always on the table. And he keeps on refusing to negotiate. He keeps on saying he will not. And he keeps on talking tough.

And maybe we just have to really listen to what he is saying. And I don’t know what can stop him because he is president. [snip]

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More… Opera Glasses and Popcorn… ;) 22 December 2006

Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, Cuba, DC Politics, Iran, Iraq War, Israel/AIPAC, Paris, Seymour Hersh, The Battle for New Orleans, WAR!.
24 comments

  Christmas market at Gare St Lazare Paris 

Couple of meaty interviews … 😉

Gore Vidal in Cuba

 [S]ince Woodrow Wilson left the oval office in 1921, no US president writes his own speeches. The president reads what other people write. Sometimes the President agrees with it, and sometimes he doesn’t. Eisenhower used to read his speeches as if he were discovering something new on the paper. During his first presidency, the country was astonished when he said in the middle of a speech: “If I’m elected president I will go to.Korea!?” He was serious. Nobody had said anything to him before that surprise. But anyway, he went to Korea.

Well had the American people seen that and if we had a media that was interested in the Republic, and not in profits, the whole story would have been different; after all, Albert Gore did win the election in 2000 by the popular vote, some 600,000 votes ahead of Bush. And eventually the intervention of the Supreme Court into that election falsified the entire election. So we became overnight a banana republic without any bananas to sell. And that is our problem at the moment. [snip]

…and some snips via Democracy NOW! from a conversation between Hersh and Ritter a few weeks ago at the School for Ethical Culture in Manhattan…

[W]ell, guess what. The Israelis talk about tunnels in Iran. And there are tunnels in Iran. The Iranians have been working with the North Koreans for the last couple decades to perfect deep tunneling techniques, and they are boring in the ground. You saw all those little Hezbollah tunnels in South Lebanon that were so effective against the Israelis? They were dug by the Iranians with North Korean assistance. That comes from the Iranians themselves. And they’re doing the same thing in Iran today. And the Israelis are detecting this deep tunneling activity, and they’re sending elements in to do reconnaissance on that, but they’re not finding any evidence of nuclear-related activity, because there isn’t any going on.

But again, thanks to konseptsia, Gilad, and the way the Israelis now do their assessments, they immediately equate deep tunneling and a nuclear enrichment program to mean that there’s a secret underground nuclear weapons program. Faith-based analysis has trumped fact-based analysis, and because of the pressure put on American policymakers by the Israeli lobby, our own government has now embraced this point of view. And this is very dangerous, ladies and gentleman, because if we accept at face-value, without question, the notion of a nuclear weapons program in Iran, that means the debate’s over. It’s over, because if Iran has a nuclear weapons program that operates in violation of international law, it’s very easy for American policymakers to talk about the imperative to confront this.  [snip]  

Enjoy…

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UPDATE, 7:22 pm Friday

Oh this did give me a laughThe New Republican, the Nationalist Review… who knows anymore.  It is all congealing:

And to All a Good Night

The National Review Online today features what you might charitably call a symposium, though without all that gay shit Plato had to—you’ll pardon the expression—shove in there. It’s called “Christmas at War,” and I imagine a heavy period to lend a little gravity to the pronunciation thereof: “Christmas. At War.” It is not to be confused with the War on Christmas, which is a discrete portion of a wider ideological struggle. If you’d asked me just hours ago if I believed that any table of contents would ever achieve the same gauzy silliness doing drag as necessary commentary as was achieved by this recent edition of TNR, I wouldn’t have believed it. And yet: [snip]

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UPDATE, Saturday 11:30 am

Byron Dorgan, with Sherrod Brown, has an opinion piece in the Wapo on Free Trade.  I had caught Dorgan on three different occasions in extended interview during 2006… twice I heard him discuss how hard to impossible it was for him to get an opinion piece in the m ajor papers.  Inevitably that means the Democrats squashed it, TOO.  So, I take a smidgen of hope, the faint stain of memory of hope, in seeing this opinion piece… 😉

[E]qually important, by enabling this kind of trade, the agreements force U.S. workers to accept cuts in their pay and benefits so their employers can compete with low-wage foreign producers. And those workers are the lucky ones. Millions of others have lost their jobs as corporations moved overseas to build the same products with cheap foreign labor. It is no coincidence that salaries and wages today are the lowest percentage of gross domestic product since the government began keeping track of this in 1947.  [snip]

I also heard Sherrod in his acceptance speech state, flat out, “We must get out of Iraq”… if the smart, informed from the ground progressives (however flawed) agree to silence and collusion for some 2008 elevation… well, last nail.

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To balance out that smidgen (lest anyone think I fell into some bottomless well of false hope), is this from Uchitelle in the NYT (via TruthOut):

[T]he decades immediately after World War II were the heyday of the federal minimum wage. Without following any particular formula, Congress periodically ended up setting it at roughly one-half the average hourly pay of the nation’s production workers. That average is nearly $17 an hour today; half would be $8.50. By 2009 it is likely to be close to the $9 that Ms. Rios seeks.

    Spurred on by last month’s election results, the populist wing of the Democratic Party is calling for a return to the old standard. Sherrod Brown, newly elected to the Senate from Ohio, is in that group. So is the AFL-CIO, which says that its success in getting out the vote this fall entitles it to a bigger voice in Democratic Party policy.

    But they are meeting political resistance from the moderates in the party. Trying to push the populist case, the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented research center, posted a statement in late November calling for an increase in the minimum to $8 an hour in 2009 instead of the $7.25 proposed by the party leaders. That recommendation was quickly withdrawn, however, under pressure from the leadership.

    “Our friends on Capitol Hill said our statement would be heard as criticizing the Democrats,” said Ross Eisenbrey, the institute’s policy director. “It would not be perceived as encouragement to do more; it would be perceived as raining on the parade.”

    In a second statement, issued this month, the Economic Policy Institute finally endorsed the increase to $7.25, stipulating that once Congress approved this amount, a second bill should be introduced to raise it to a higher $8 in 2009.

    Senator-elect Brown and the AFL-CIO have taken similar stands, wanting more but nevertheless endorsing the bill that the Democratic leadership intends to introduce in the first 100 hours of the new Congress.  [snip]

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This is a good slap of political coal in the Christmas stocking… and an interesting twist on tired old “Fitzmas” fizzle/sizzle:

[I]f Obama decides to run, there will be some sort of news conference with the Daleys, where national political writers can decide if they wish to keep drinking the Obama Kool-Aid or ask a difficult question.

It’s difficult because it is not Axelrod-approved and doesn’t reflect the gauzy Obama narrative, but here it is:

If elected president, do you promise to keep U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago?

Here’s why this is critically important to understanding Obama’s national commitment to ethics and reform.

Daley’s City Hall is finally under siege by federal grand juries investigating truckloads of corruption. Included are the mayor’s illegal patronage armies that elected U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Tomczak), an irritating detail avoided by the national press for fear of being considered rude and parochial.

Illinois Republicans are also quivering.

The massive and bipartisan state pension fund scandal threatens Illinois Republican boss and Bush White House connection Robert Kjellander, treasurer of the Republican National Committee, who has not been indicted but is referred to in federal documents as “Individual K.” [snip]

Kass at the Chicago Trib doesn’t much like Rahm and is suspicious of Obama hype, so he lets loose with some interesting columns… 😉

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UPDATE, 12:54 pm Saturday…

via Truth Out:

FEMA Not Required to Restore Aid to Evacuees, Court Rules
    By Shaila Dewan
    The New York Times

    Saturday 23 December 2006

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency does not have to reinstate immediately rental assistance to evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled yesterday, reversing a decision that a lower court judge had said he hoped would “get these people a roof over their heads before Christmas.”

    But FEMA still has to comply with part of the earlier order by the judge, Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, by providing families with clear explanations why they were denied assistance.

    Responding to the ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, FEMA officials said they would immediately suspend plans to provide the money, leading to criticism from evacuees and their advocates.

    “It’s another setback,” Wanda Jones, an evacuee in Houston, said in a statement issued by Acorn, the housing advocacy group that filed the lawsuit. “It’s like a terrible roller coaster ride. Every time we go up, when we come down we lose more people.”  [snip]

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Sy Hersh is up… 22 May 2006

Posted by marisacat in DC Politics, Seymour Hersh.
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[USA Today photo] in The New Yorker.  On Lt Gen. Michael V. Hayden and who listens in, how it came about – and how much.  Venality on the hoof.  Your government on the line with you…  Yes, god forbid the government should exist For the People.  By the People.  And that they did not go to Congress, or seek FISA authority, essentially because they just did not wish to…

Last December, the Times reported that the N.S.A. was listening in on calls between people in the United States and people in other countries, and a few weeks ago USA Today reported that the agency was collecting information on millions of private domestic calls.

 A security consultant working with a major telecommunications carrier told me that his client set up a top-secret high-speed circuit between its main computer complex and Quantico, Virginia, the site of a government-intelligence computer center.

This link provided direct access to the carrier’s network core—the critical area of its system, where all its data are stored.

“What the companies are doing is worse than turning over records,” the consultant said. “They’re providing total access to all the data.”

“This is not about getting a cardboard box of monthly phone bills in alphabetical order,” a former senior intelligence official said. The Administration’s goal after September 11th was to find suspected terrorists and target them for capture or, in some cases, air strikes. “The N.S.A. is getting real-time actionable intelligence,” the former official said.

And the upshot?

Hayden’s public confirmation hearing last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee was unlike the tough-minded House and Senate investigations of three decades ago, and added little to what is known about the wiretap program. One unexamined issue was the effectiveness of the N.S.A. program. “The vast majority of what we did with the intelligence was ill-focussed and not productive,” a Pentagon consultant told me. “It’s intelligence in real time, but you have to know where you’re looking and what you’re after.”