Saturday, September 11, 2004
Friday, September 10, 2004
I think the story's most interesting allegation is that Pier 57, the temporary detention site reserved for protesters, was leased by the Republican Party. Here is how Erin Starr, Summer's mother, claims to have discovered that.
The notorious Pier 57 (owned by the HudsonRiver Trust--a city/state consortium) was dubbed "Little Guantanamo" by reporters who also got caught up in police sweeps and who said it looked like the Guantanamo Bay prison built by the USA to hold the Al Qaeda terrorist political prisoners in Cuba. Pier 57 was leased by the RNC before their convention. They arranged for the NYPD to put up the chain link holding pens with razor wire on top in the old Pier 57 warehouse that had oil, gas and asbestos dust on the floor from a previous fire. My heart was in my throat when I got a call from one of my daughter's friends on Oahu who told me she had been arrested and taken to Little Guantanamo. I looked it up on the internet and fear crept into me.I used to think that in the US you are innocent until proven guilty. That Republican rep seems to think differently. And this Republican Administration's overall disposition does little to prove his opinion an exception rather than an expression of the Administration's party line.
I called my daughter's cell phone over and over ("it's mom, where ARE you, call me"). She didn't answer. Only hours before, she had been calling us with joy, telling us of the peaceful protests and beautiful march. But now, nothing. I had nightmarish visions of a fire sweeping over the combustible floor with hundreds -- nearly a thousand -- trapped in the chainlink pens, razor wire on the top of the pens making escape impossible. My husband called the NYPD to ask who had issued a Certificate of Occupancy or Fire Safety Inspection Certificate and who was managing Pier 57. He was given the number for the Republican National Committee. Yes. My husband and I looked at each other in silent, cold horror. In America? The Republicans have set up a private detention camp for their political prisoners that can hold 1000 under inhumane and unsafe conditions!? My husband slowly dialed that number, got the RNC, and the Republican rep who answered the phone said, in answer to my husbands' inquiries about safety: "those protesters don't deserve a Holiday Inn, and they're all criminals anyway!"
So, who is that quiet man who to a large extent calls the shots these days? In his Rolling Stone article T. D. Allman provides a fairly detailed, even if somewhat biased, account of Dick Cheney's life and career.
One would think that a man who has successfully ascended to the upper levels of power in a superpower state would have a string of untarnished victories under his belt, or at least that successes would punctuate his entire career, growing in significance as he progressed. However, according to Allman's presentation, that is not even close to being the case with Dick Cheney.
His manner is certainly impressive as is the grim determination he displays when it comes to life-and-death issues such as war and terrorism. However, this hawk of today appeared not to be so eager to participate in a war that was going on while he was in his prime years,- namely, the War in South-East Asia.
Cheney's record of mistakes begins in 1959, when Tom Stroock, a Republican politician-businessman in Casper, Wyoming, got Cheney, then a senior at Natrona County High School, a scholarship to Yale. "Dick was the all-American boy, in the top ten percent of his class," Stroock says. "He seemed a natural." But instead of triumphing, Cheney failed. "He spent his time partying with guys who loved football but weren't varsity quality," recalls Stephen Billings, an Episcopalian minister who roomed with him during Cheney's freshman (and only full) year at Yale. "His idea was, you didn't need to master the material," says his other roommate, Jacob Plotkin. "He passed one psych course without attending class or studying, and he was proud of that. But there are some things you can't bluff, and Dick reached a point where you couldn't recover."
Cheney might have been flunking in the classroom, but he excelled at making connections. "Dick always had this very calm way of talking," recalls Plotkin, now a retired math professor at Michigan State University. "His thoughtful manner impressed people." Forty years before the son of a U.S. president picked Cheney to be his running mate, the son of a Massachusetts governor picked him to be his sophomore-year roommate. Mark Furcolo, whose father, Foster, had been elected governor as a Democrat, invited Cheney to Cape Cod for a visit. "Dick came back enraptured," Plotkin says. "He was fascinated by the official state cars and planes. The trappings of it got him."
After leaving Yale, Cheney had one of his few experiences working in the private sector, on a telephone-company repair crew. He showed no interest, one way or another, in the Vietnam War -- until a Texas president, nearly forty years before George W. Bush, turned a remote foreign struggle into a catastrophic, unwinnable war. Thanks to Lyndon Johnson's escalation of Vietnam, lounging around was suddenly no longer an option. Cheney snapped into action. First he enrolled in Casper Community College; then he went to the University of Wyoming. That kept him out of the draft until August 7th, 1964, when Congress initiated massive conscription in the armed forces. Three weeks later, Cheney married Lynne Vincent, his high school girlfriend, earning him another deferment. Then, on October 26th, 1965, the Selective Service announced that childless married men no longer would be exempted from having to fight for their country. Nine months and two days later, the first of Cheney's two daughters, Elizabeth, was born. All told, between 1963 and 1966, Cheney received five deferments.As a side point, note that the telephone repairman's job was about the only one Cheney ever had outside of the government and not due to his political connections.
And I really hope that Allman's silent hint that Elizabeth Cheney was born as a way for her father to avoid draft has no backing in the reality of the events. But be that as it may, at the time the war which Cheney claims to have supported was in progress he received five deferments and never went to this war, whereas many of those who were against the war ended up going there,- and some came back in flag-draped coffins. As Allman aptly observes,
He has never candidly discussed his feelings about the war, the traumatic, formative event for American males of his age. Only once, in fact, has he even answered a question as to why he avoided serving.Allman makes a number of astute observations.
"I had other priorities," was all he has ever said.
Should George W. Bush win this election, it will give him the distinction of being the first occupant of the White House to have survived naming Dick Cheney to a post in his administration. The Cheney jinx first manifested itself at the presidential level back in 1969, when Richard Nixon appointed him to his first job in the executive branch. It surfaced again in 1975, when Gerald Ford made Cheney his chief of staff and then -- with Cheney's help -- lost the 1976 election. George H.W. Bush, having named Cheney secretary of defense, was defeated for re-election in 1992. The ever-canny Ronald Reagan was the only Republican president since Eisenhower who managed to serve two full terms. He is also the only one not to have appointed Dick Cheney to office.
This pattern of misplaced confidence in Cheney, followed by disastrous results, runs throughout his life -- from his days as a dropout at Yale to the geopolitical chaos he has helped create in Baghdad. Once you get to know his history, the cycle becomes clear: First, Cheney impresses someone rich or powerful, who causes unearned wealth and power to be conferred on him. Then, when things go wrong, he blames others and moves on to a new situation even more advantageous to himself.
I hope that his November we as a nation stick to the time-honored tradition of not allowing Mr Cheney to serve in any administration more than one four-year term in a row.
...Homeland Security recommended that local police view critics of the Bush's war on terrorism as "potential terrorists." Mike van Winkle, the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center spokesperson underscored how public dissenters from Bush's policies could morph into real terrorists. "If you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism (all of Bush's wars, of course)," asserted the atavistic Mr. van Winkle, "you might have terrorism at that protest. You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act."Writes Fran Shor in his Counter Punch article on dissent in the "age of terror". Based on Mr Shor's and others' description of what went on in New York City during the 2004 Republican National Convention, Mr van Winkle's view had to a large extent been adopted by the security forces when it came to dealing with demonstrators in the city's streets.
I could argue the legal and social issues surrounding the issue of dissent but I think that for now I should leave that to those who are more qualified to argue them than yours truly. And there is no shortage of very intelligent opinions being voiced,- at least in the alternative media. What I intend to concentrate on is purely practical issues surrounding dissent and terror threats,- the "technical" issues, so to speak.
I have to agree with some of what Mr van Winkle is saying. He is certainly correct in noting that "you might have terrorism at that protest". It would also be correct to say that you might have terrorism at your local supermarket or train station.
However, I have yet to hear of a data pattern indicating that protests can reasonably be expected to produce major acts of terror. While we periodically hear of minor property destruction resulting from protests, all major terrorist attacks I can think of were not committed under a cover of a public protest. An exception that comes to mind is the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv in 1995 but it is worth noting that the crowd at the venue were not protesters but mostly supporters of Rabin amongst whom the assassin had been waiting for his opportunity. Another similar occurrence was the assassination of President John F Kennedy.
For one thing, most protesters, if not all, travel on foot and thus lack the means of delivering equipment necessary for a major terror attack. One would think that what a group attempting a major league bombing would need is a vehicle, or several vehicles, able to travel to the target unimpeded. Vehicles disguised as those belonging to the police force, or medical emergency services, or utility services would seem to be prime candidates.
I think that if Mr van Winkle and the like-minded public safety officials want to be taken seriously by those who refuse to just accept their statements at face value, they have to come up with some data backing up their assertions. Such data ought to show that in fact there have been terror attacks of note perpetrated by political protesters, and that it is reasonable to expect a repeat occurrence of the same nature. Failing that, officials attempting to equate protests fueled by political dissent to terrorism ought to be viewed as political, rather than public safety, operatives. I believe that is most likely the case with Mr van Winkle and his ilk. Based on what I know thus far I can only consider the bulk of their activities as an attempt to suppress and criminalize dissent.
The petition published Thursday in the Besheva weekly contained some of the harshest language yet against Sharon's plan.
It called the pullout a "crime against humanity" and urged security forces to disobey orders to evacuate settlements.
"We call public officials who are being asked to lay the groundwork for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from their homeland, and on all of the officers, troops and policemen, to listen to the voice of their conscience and not take part in acts that will sully them," it said.
The petition was signed by 185 people, including former lawmakers, academics military officers and retired officials. The newspaper is oriented toward a religious nationalist audience, including Israel's 240,000 settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, a Besheva spokesman said.
While the signatories have a right to express their opinions, this petition must be recognized for what it is,- an attempt to disrupt the functioning of the IDF and other security forces. If any of the signatories are still part of the military, I believe they ought to be stripped of their rank and their military or security service careers need to be brought to a halt.
Those are things I have covered in a lesser of greater detail in this space, and will continue to do so. However, I think this is a powerful and concise summary. Here's what how author, Bernard Weiner, Co-Editor of The Crisis Papers, sees the utility of this article:
The Republican Party -- in a shameless , all-too-obvious attempt to manipulate the tragedy of 9/11 for partisan ends -- chose New York City for its nominating convention. Must have seemed like a great idea at the time. Their coming to Manhattan not only infuriates New Yorkers, who were badly played by Bush&Co. after the attacks, but enables the rest of us in the country to use Ground Zero as the backdrop for examining the gross failures and crimes of the Bush Administration since that tragic day in September 2001.
So, here is an update* of things we've learned during the three years since 9/11 -- documented mostly from government papers and respected journalistic accounts -- about the Administration that rules in our names. If you find this compendium useful, you might want to make this list available to your friends and colleagues, especially to those still uncertain which presidential candidate they will vote for ten weeks from now.
Well, Mr Weiner, I think you are right on the money,- I certainly do find this compendium useful, even though nothing in it is news to me. It is well-written and easy to read. Thank you for putting it together, and I am trying to get the word out through this post. I hope people read it and think it over very hard.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
According to IsraelInsider,
"Should the IDF fight the enemy, if civilians [on the other side] will be killed, or should the IDF refrain from fighting, and thus endanger our civilians?" the rabbis asked in their letter. In response to the rhetorical question, the rabbis quoted the sage Rabbi Akiva who said that "Our lives come first."At the first glance it may appear that the letter is essentially calling for military planners not to feel restrained in incurring massive civilian casualties on the enemy side in case these casualties appear to save the lives of Israeli soldiers. This position, according to this analysis by Anthony Gregory, is contrary to the laws and customs of war and provides a justification for state terrorism. Addressing the nuclear strikes against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Gregory writes,
People still defend Harry Truman’s atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on pragmatic grounds. Truman’s defenders say that the bombings saved far more lives than they extinguished. They concede that the bombing was an act of targeting civilians, but insist that it was for the worthy goal of ending the war.But this part of the rabbis' argument can be interpreted two-fold,- one can say that they simply are calling on the army not to flinch and to do its job even if, tragic as it is, civilians have to die due to the military activity. They are saying, one might argue, that this is a harsh reality of war, and they are just calling for the army to see it for what it is.
Before even examining the plausibility of this argument, we have to acknowledge the argument’s essence. In effect, to rationalize the targeting of noncombatants as the best method of bringing about a greater good is to make excuses for state terrorism. Terrorism, if it means anything, is a method by which civilians are the targets of violence for the purpose of achieving political goals. Having Imperial Japan surrender, even if a worthy goal, was nevertheless a political one, and the targeting of innocents to achieve that goal was an act of terrorism.
Indeed, it was terrorism on an incredibly large scale. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese were instantaneously wiped off the earth on August 6 and August 9, 1945. Many more died in the following years from the radioactive climate left behind by the bombings.
However there are details in this letter that make it difficult to read it quite that way. According to the Al Jazeera report,
In a letter to the Israeli defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, published on Tuesday, the rabbis said killing enemy civilians is "normal" during the time of war and that the Israeli occupation army should never hesitate to kill non-Jewish civilians in order to save Jewish lives.However, the task of the IDF is not to protect Jews per se but rather to protect Israel and its citizens, 25% of whom are non-Jewish. If for example an IDF unit discovers an enemy mortar crew preparing to fire on a target in Israel the actions expected of them are the same whether the transgressors are Arab, Chinese or Jewish. Nor are all the members of the IDF Jewish as there are Druze, non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union and others serving in that force.
The rabbis' letter appears to be a highly racist document. And Jewish racism is a serious problem,- in my opinion, one of the major stumbling blocks on the road to the resolution of the crisis in Israel. The overall racist perception of the issues involved is clearly in line with some Orthodox rabbis' views of the world such as those like Rabbi Dov Lior who certainly appears to classify the humanity strictly along the Jewish vs non-Jewish lines. The Al Jazeera report states,
...a few months ago a prominent rabbi in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arbaa near Hebron issued an edict stating that non-Jewish civilians may be killed to save Jewish lives, soldiers and civilians alike.While little can probably be done to alter the views of an individual extremist, I think the best path for Israel to overcome this problem is by passing a Constitution declaring it a secular democracy of, for and by all of its citizens. That would drastically diminish the influence of such extremist rabbis and allow the society to easier disregard their hateful rhetoric.
The rabbi, Dov Lior, argued that non-Jewish lives had no sanctity, especially during the time of war.
Lior has publicly praised and eulogised Baruch Goldstein, an American Jewish settler who in 1994 mowed down 29 Arab worshippers who were praying at Hebron's Ibrahimi Mosque.
Calling Goldstein a "great saint", he said a "thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew's fingernail".
A small story about Israel that you won't find in today's headlines or leading the evening news.The story pretty much shatters many racist stereotypes that permeate many people's perception of the human interaction in that country.
After weeks in which John Kerry's military record has been picked to pieces, President George Bush now faces a double blast of scrutiny over his own past, raising new questions over his avoidance of the Vietnam draft and his alleged use of drugs.As I have already stated, I believe drugs must be legalized. Hence I would not hold Mr Bush's drug use against him were it not for the fact that he has never, to my knowledge, held a position on the issue of drugs which would be in any way similar to mine; quite to the contrary, as a public official he has always gone right along with the devastating and immoral "War on Drugs".
I would also not object to Mr Bush's alleged attempts to avoid going to war in Vietnam were it not for his alleged support of that war as well as for the fact that his father supported it as a Congressman. Vietnam was a war whose immediate necessity as far as the national security of the United States escaped many, and people who avoided participating in that war were not necessarily unpatriotic.
Unlike many, I am not accusing George W Bush of cowardice. He served honorably in the National Guard for several years, flying fighter jets,- a job that is dangerous whether in war time or in peace time. However, there are strong reasons to believe that he did not complete his commitment to the Guard. And that only serves to further reinforce the image of the man who later became President as an irresponsible and spoiled young man, as someone who only honors his commitments when they are not burdensome to him.
Relative to the overall size of the population this is a small number. However, while the Bush Administration attempts to hide these deaths from us, we should not allow the Administration to succeed in that attempt. The Pentagon has issued an order banning media coverage of the flag-draped coffins as they arrive at the Dover Air Force Base. The stated reason was respect for the privacy of the dead and their families. Given that the coffins are identical and no personal information is displayed on them, it is beyond ridiculous to claim that a public display of anonymous coffins would violate anybody's privacy. In spite of all that, the Senate has joined in this shameful exercise in censorship.
The treatment of the wounded is in many ways similar. The US government certainly is not too keen to keep us well informed of their plight, and I believe in many ways we as a society have failed them. But we need to see pictures like these (wounded, coffins) and think of them, and never pretend they are not part of our reality.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
I have previously commented on some of the things on this list, others are new to me. All of the items on the list are issues that I think should concern all Americans, if not all of the humanity, regardless of one's belief system.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
"I got the impression that US interrogators and CIA officers have not a clue about what they are doing. Their questions were shallow and indicated serious ignorance of the Iraqi scene."Given the fact that even qualified Arabic and other foreign language translators at the US forces' disposal are allegedly still in a severely short supply, this impression of Dr al-Dhari's does not surprise me in the least. Also note his sentiment towards Americans:
"I also noticed they are so keen to mock, ridicule, and insult us. Some of them are good people, and are very angry at [President] George Bush, one of them told me if he (Bush) loves Iraq so much, why does he not bring his family and live here?"
"They [the interrogators] asked me, why we hate them? I told them that we do not hate the American people, they are welcomed as tourists, traders…etc., but not as occupiers."
Monday, September 06, 2004
Very recently, Hawaii bought enough DREs to put one in every precinct and to make them the only method of voting available for walk-in voting in 2004.Given wide-spread problems with the DRE equipment,- such as the situation in Riverside County, California and this security issue with the Diebold's DRE equipment,- Milo Clark's words quoted above sound alarming to say the least. But that is not the whole story. According to Clark,
Hawaii election officials chose a machine made by Hart InterCivic, a Texas-based supplier. Normally, government procurement practices require open bidding with the sale going to the lowest bidder who meets specifications. Those specifications are set forth in some form of Request for Quotation (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP). These are assumed to be open documents.
In late July, I asked Mr. Yoshina for information on the procurement process for DREs. I was told that such information was not available during the procurement process. He could tell me nothing at that time. I told him that people are very concerned and worried about DREs. A plank of the Hawaii Democratic Party platform expresses this concern.
Is it coincidence or plan that puts this purchase off to the last minute? With a primary scheduled for Saturday, September 18, does it make sense to keep the public in the dark until mid-August on this important decision?
In Florida, Georgia and Riverside County, California, electronic voting machines turned out to be part of the problem. The C.E.O. of Diebold, maker of one such machine, is quoted as saying he will do all in his power to assure that George Walker Bush is elected President in 2004.Well, those who manufacture or service electronic voting machine can almost certainly do quite a bit to make sure that the candidate of their choice emerges victorious. In fact, such an outcome may well be within their power. Yes, that may require behaviour that is both illegal and morally repugnant,- but there is no guarantee that morality or respect for the rule of law are their strong suits.
While campaigning for reelection, President Bush declared: "Knowing what we know today, we still would have gone into Iraq." That Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction nor ongoing efforts to create them, no Iraqi ties to al Qaeda or involvement with the attacks of 9/11 were, by Bush’s own admission, irrelevant to his plans to attack an innocent nation. Truth, in other words, has no meaning in this man’s calculation of his actions. Mr. Bush went even further in declaring, on the one hand, "I don’t think you can win" the war on terror, but adding that America cannot retreat from this war because, to do so, would "show weakness" to the world.
Most Americans are probably uncomfortable with the thought that their president might suffer from madness. The mere contemplation of such a possibility simply does not compute within minds that have been conditioned to believe in the rationality of the political process which is supposed to filter out the unstable, the crazed fanatics, and those of "extremist" dispositions. How could a man become and remain president if his thinking and actions were dominated by irrational impulses?
This is how Butler Shaffer opens his fairly accurate analysis. Here is the rest of it.
Faris is one of more than 1,000 suspected al Qaeda sympathizers under FBI investigation across the nation. Hundreds of suspects are being tailed or are under electronic surveillance. Many came under focus because their names turned up in records recovered in terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.Whichever way you look at it,- this appears to be a significant issue. If I remember correctly, some DOJ releases mentioned even higher numbers,- up to 5,000 suspected Al-Quaida "sleepers" in the US waiting to be activated. Even if the real number is 1% of that count, that gives a headcount of 50, and let us not forget that 9/11 was alleged to have been the work of a team 19 strong.
However, it looks like the DOJ's blood-curdling allegations are yet to materialize in any tangible form. According to this Daily Herald article,
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Attorney General John Ashcroft has touted his efforts to nab "sleeper cells" inside the United States.
But Ashcroft and his associates too often have sleepwalked. The Justice Department's admission Wednesday of potentially criminal prosecutorial misconduct in a prominent Detroit terrorism case does good for the cause of trampled civil liberties but doesn't inspire much confidence about efforts to find real terrorists who may be lurking in the United States.
The article addresses the government's setback in the recent Detroit terror case. The author then goes on to show that the above-mentioned case is more of a norm than an exception.
If this were an isolated instance, it would be one thing. But other cases have gone belly-up. In May, Ashcroft and the FBI targeted Brandon Mayfield, a 37-year-old Oregon lawyer, as being linked to the Madrid bombings. Defying the findings of Spanish investigators, they insisted that his fingerprints matched those on a plastic bag connected to the bombings. They didn't, and Mayfield was unconditionally released. Most recently, the Justice Department lost a case against a computer student in Boise, Idaho, who was acquitted of charges that he was raising money for terrorist causes.And as I've said before, if one's aptitude in fighting terrorism were an important consideration for the US Attorney General position, Mr Ashcroft would be unlikely to still hold that job.
The Knesset met in an emergency session and a decision was reached to negotiate with the terrorists, but they refused to extend their deadline. Late in the afternoon, an elite unit from the Golani Brigade stormed the building and managed to kill all the terrorists, but not before they used guns and explosives to kill some of their hostages. A total of 26 Israelis were killed and more than 60 people were wounded in what became known as the Maalot Massacre.
Of those 26, 21 were children.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
Please be advised that the information you are about to view is overwhelmingly significant. We offer no conclusions, but simply present the evidence and let you the viewing audience draw your own conclusions.So announce the authors of this analytical documentary at the beginning of the film, and I endorse this announcement without reservations. Their evidence,- film footage and photographs taken on September 11, 2001 of the terror attacks of that day. Those are the same video and photo materials that the whole world has since seen; few people,- and certainly none in the employ of the US government,- have claimed that they are not authentic or inaccurate.
The authors introduce their work thusly:
From Dave von Kleist, co-host of The Power Hour radio program & writer/producer of the album Will Someone Listen and William Lewis, producer director of American Freedom News, TruNews and Police State comes a full length documentary presented in a modern, stylish TV newsmagazine format. In Plane Site uses news footage from all of the major news sources in an in-depth analysis which shows that what was originally reported on the morning of September 11, 2001 is not what has become the official story of that day. Eyewitness accounts and live video feeds told the real story of 911 and they are presented now for the first time as evidence of the largest cover-up in modern day history. With the pounding force of a sledgehammer you will find yourself horrified and astonished at the shear scope of the largest transgressions ever carried out against the people of the United States and indeed... of the entire world.I must give von Kleist and Lewis credit for strictly sticking to disproving the official theory and, admitting the insufficiency of information at their disposal, abstaining from offering alternative theories of their own for the events in question. I commend them for their professionalism. They act like a good attorney defending a murder suspect. For instance, if such an attorney presents evidence to the effect that his client is severely visually impaired and also suffers from cerebral palsy that makes his hands tremble at all times, no jury will likely find that such a defendant was indeed the marksman who pulled the trigger of a power rifle placing a shot right into the victim's eye from 300 meters out.
You can view the film online here and order it on DVD or VHS here.