Friday, June 18, 2004

Let's have fun with poetry! 

Share whatever poem best describes how you're feeling these days. Mine is via Kurt Vonnegut's greatest book, Cat's Cradle:

When I Felt The Bullet Enter My Heart

Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

I was the first fruits of the Battle of Missionary Ridge.
When I felt the bullet enter my heart
I wished I had staid at home and gone to jail
For stealing the hogs of Curl Trenary,
Instead of running away and joining the army.
Rather a thousand times the county jail
Than to lie under this marble figure with wings,
And this granite pedestal
Bearing the words, "Pro Patria."
What do they mean, anyway?


Thursday, June 17, 2004


I love it when this happens. Why people don't see this, read it and come to the only logical conclusion--Bush and his henchmen lie constantly--I will never know.

Must be too much trouble to read all this. Pathetic.

Via atrios, who got it from The Stakeholder at DCCC:


There is some recycled material here, but it is worth revisiting.

Rumsfeld, under oath before the Senate:

"Any instructions that have been issued or anything that's been authorized by the department was checked by the lawyers . . . and deemed to be consistent with the Geneva Conventions."

Seattle Times (May 23, 2004):

"Presented last fall with a detailed catalog of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, the U.S. military responded Dec. 24 with a confidential letter to a Red Cross official asserting that many Iraqi prisoners were not entitled to the full protections of the Geneva Conventions."


At the request of CIA Director George Tenet, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ordered the military to secretly hold a suspected terrorist in Iraq , a Pentagon spokesman said.

The suspected terrorist has been held since October without being given an identification number and without the International Committee of the Red Cross being notified, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. Both conditions violate the Geneva Accords on treatment of prisoners of war.


Maj. David Kolarik, a spokesman for the military's Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, said all prisoners are treated "in accordance with the principles" of the Geneva Conventions "to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity."


More promises broken 

From The Daily Kos:

What happened to Bush's "series of speeches"?

by kos
Thu Jun 17th, 2004 at 17:57:04 EDT

This is what they said back on May 21:

President Bush will deliver an "important speech" about the transfer of political power in Iraq on Monday night, a White House spokesman said Friday.

Bush's address, to be delivered at 8 p.m. at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, will be the first in a series of prime-time speeches intended to lay out the way forward in Iraq, according to White House officials.

So, uh, what happened?

Was that promise a lie, or just a run-of-the-mill Bush flip-flop?

Update: An even better quote:

Beginning with Monday's address at the Army War College, Bush will give a major speech on Iraq every week through June 30, when the U.S.-led coalition is due to turn over limited authority to a new interim Iraqi government. "We're entering a critical phase, and the president will be speaking out each week to discuss with the American people, and the world, the way forward in Iraq," said a White House official.

"Some speeches will have more details than others, and will be given at different places and times. All have the important goal of explaining the essential tasks at hand and the significance of June 30," the official added.

(Thanks to mitch2k2 in the comments.)

I know what happened. The first speech flopped so badly, it came in FOURTH in the prime-time ratings. And the Bush administration SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED the networks NOT cover the speech--an unheard-of situation, in my memory.

Completely bizarre, but somehow perfect in these crazy times we're living in...



Your tax dollars at work! Just what the world needs, a taser that can stun an entire crowd!

GET READY IRAQ: This Gun's Coming to a Marine Near You

EXCERPT: Much akin to Sci-Fi movies, a host of new weapons that use electric-shocks and lasers to immobilize crowds without actually harming them are being readied for sale to the Defence and police forces in the US and Europe.
At present, commercial stun guns called "Tasers" target one person at a time, and work only at close quarters. The new breed of non-lethal weapons can be used on many people at once and operate over far greater distances.
The weapon being created by the US Department of Defense's research division, DARPA, and defence companies in Europe has a conducting channel, which uses a small explosive charge to squirt a stream of tiny conductive fibers through the air at the victim.
In another experiment, engineers at Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems (XADS), based in Indiana, have made a different kind of wireless weapon. Instead of using fibers, the Close Quarters Shock Rifle projects an ionised gas, or plasma, towards the target, producing a conducting channel. It can also interfere with electronic ignition systems and stop vehicles.
The gun has been designed for the US Marine Corps to use for crowd control and security purposes and is due out next year. It is based on early, unwieldy technology and has a range of only 3 meters, but an operator can debilitate multiple targets by sweeping it across them.
Meanwhile, XADS is also planning a more advanced weapon, which will have a range of 100 meters or more. Instead of firing ionised gas, it will probably use a powerful laser to ionise the air itself.

God bless America! I wonder how gun control opponents feel about this one....

Maybe Supertaser will be in use tonight in Spokane. We half-considered making the drive, but now, well, never mind.


A few headlines:

Pentagon Failed on 9/11
Nonprofit Hospitals Overcharge the Uninsured (NYT)
Waste and Fraud Besiege US Program to Link Poor Schools to Internet (NYT)
Bush (41) and Reagan Officials Say Bush (43) Must Go (Nation)
Bush Takes Aim at Northwest States (AP)
Bush Energy Bill Would Reward Oil Industry Without Lowering Prices (BushGreenWatch)
BREAKING NEWS: New Information Shows Bush Indecisive, Paranoid, Delusional (CHB)

Prisoner Abuse: Rumsfeld Issued an Order to Hide Detainee from Red Cross in Iraq (NYT)
9/11 Panel finds No Al Qaeda-Iraq Ties (NYT)
Ray McGovern: Consequential Lies
Car Bomb Kills at Least 31 Outside Iraqi Army Base (NYT)
Jim Lobe: Stymied in Iraq, Hawks Still Positioning US as Globocop (IPS via Common Dreams)
Tom Engelhardt: Who's Sovereign Now? (TomDispatch)

More to come...

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The Hunting Of The President 

"Fahrenheit 9/11" isn't the only film coming out that trashes certain right wing fanatics...

A thousand show up for Clinton film debut

June 16, 2004 | LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- More than a thousand people turned out Tuesday night for the world premiere of "The Hunting of the President," a film claiming to expose "the 10-year campaign to destroy Bill Clinton."

The 90-minute documentary re-creates interviews conducted for the best-selling book of the same name by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons. Rough versions have already played at four film festivals.

The first public showing, at $50 a ticket -- with the proceeds going to a couple of Arkansas-based charities -- drew a large crowd to a ballroom at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, a short walk from where Clinton celebrated his two presidential election victories. It is also next door to the Peabody Hotel, formerly the Excelsior, where Clinton accuser Paula Jones said he harassed her when he was governor.

I met and discussed this movie with Joe Conason in Washington, D.C. a little over two years ago. I never thought it would get distribution; I'm still not sure if it has. It's only playing one-night-stands here and there. I was skeptical.

But at least it's had its premiere, which is more than I can say for MY movie!


No. Credibility. What. So. Ever. 

None. And this is why. From thismodernworld.com:


Vice President Dick Cheney said Saddam Hussein had "long-established ties" with al Qaida, an assertion that has been repeatedly challenged by some policy experts and lawmakers.

The vice president on Monday offered no details backing up his claim of a link between Saddam and al Qaida.

"He was a patron of terrorism," Cheney said of Hussein during a speech before The James Madison Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Florida. "He had long established ties with al Qaida."

9/11 commission:

WASHINGTON - Bluntly contradicting the Bush administration, the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks reported Wednesday there was "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaida target the United States.



Kerry raises $100 million in three months


THE COST OF WAR: $500 per month, per household 

In his forthcoming book The Real Cost of War, Joshua S. Goldstein suggests the following:

To get an idea what your household pays for security against foreign threats, install a parking meter in your living room, and insert a quarter every twenty minutes, 24/7. This amount – about $500/month – is what the government spends, per household, on military-related budgets including veterans’ benefits and homeland security expenses. It will not bankrupt us, but it is a substantial cost.

The book covers government spending, the broader economic effects of war, and the future costs, as well. Here's a sample: Chapter One (pdf file)


Terry Jones has a great column about what is torture and what just looks like torture in today's Guardian (UK).

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


Another superb essay from Tom Engelhardt today on America's global terror network. This one's a sequel to the Orwell/Kafka piece I linked to a couple days ago--and neither is to be missed: Water-boarding in the White House

EXCERPT: On Sunday, in part one of this dispatch on our global torture system, George Orwell… meet Franz Kafka, I wrote: "There will be so much more to learn. Already, when it comes to Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the Pentagon keeps heaping investigations on top of one another, each subsequent one led by a figure with a higher rank and so more capable of investigating responsibility at higher levels, and I think it can be said with certainty that this will only get worse -- worse probably than anything we now imagine." As it happens, this administration is hemorrhaging documents. It took exactly twenty-four hours for my modest prediction to come true.

In the space of a day, we learned much more; it got significantly worse; and the Pentagon announced yet another investigation, this time of prisoner conditions at Guantanamo, where, it is rumored, much treatment and mistreatment was systematically and bureaucratically videoed, filed, and stored. Though this may seem but the next case of the criminal investigating the crime, there are numerous military men and intelligence officials angry enough, often disgusted enough, at what this administration has let loose to make even insider investigations dangerous for the administration these days.

Were the subject at hand anything but the creation of an American torture regime (and implicitly "high crimes and misdemeanors"), some of what's happened would be hilarious. For instance, Attorney General Ashcroft has stiff-armed Congress, refusing to declassify the memoranda that the administration's many legal minds produced justifying torture and the most literal sort of imperial presidency (to be presided over by a torturer-in-chief); and yet, in the last day or so, these memos have sprouted like so many wretched weeds at news sites all over the Internet....

What they make clear is that the Bush administration had torture on the brain. Its officials were fixated on the subject, which went so naturally with the President's new-style, no-holds-barred, we're-the-only-law-in-town, dead-or-alive, assassination-and-kidnapping "war on terrorism." It's no longer a matter of whether knowledge of the acts committed at Abu Ghraib prison reach the President and his advisors, but of what can only be termed a complete obsession with the subject of torture among those figures. The highest officials at the Pentagon, in the military, in the CIA, and at the Justice Department clearly couldn't stop thinking about torture -- as over the course of more than a year they requested legal memorandum after memorandum, all chewing over how to define torture so that various inhumane acts involving the infliction of mental and physical pain would not be considered such; over how far to go when too far was never quite far enough. In this sense, whether they were aware of the individual acts of horror at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere (and a number of them evidently were), they were certainly intensely aware that acts of this nature and worse were a "necessity" of their war (even if photos of them were not).

Engelhardt goes on to summarize the various news items. Again, if you're following the twists and turns of this scandal -- or if you'd like a good summary to bring you up to date -- these two essays aren't to be missed.

Also, we have a unique opportunity. There's a good chance Tom will stop by here within the next day or two. I extended the invitation, and he expressed interest. So, if you've got any questions or comments for him, click "Comments" just below, post your note, and hopefully Tom will have some time to spare.


In my spare time (as if such a thing exists!) I edit and design a quarterly literary journal called The God Particle. In it we have published several stories and essays with at least tangential connections to the work I do (along with my father, Roger, and our intrepid blogger, Augustino) over at BushWhackedUSA. The current issue, for instance, has a very short, very powerful piece of fiction by Gulf War I paratrooper S. Brady Tucker, called "Falling in Love During Wartime." I cannot recommend the piece strongly enough, and I'd encourage you to explore TGP further, if you've got a few minutes. Thanks.
And thanks, also, for the extra traffic that has been pouring into the blog since the weekend. Whether you're here due to the message on the main BushWhackedUSA site or you somehow stumbled in through a back door, welcome!
-Eric Bosse
Co-editor, BushWhackedUSA


Here's a terrific piece comparingthe lack of security and accountability for electronic voting machines to the abundance for electronic gambling machines: GAMBLING ON VOTING.

EXCERPT: If election officials want to convince voters that electronic voting can be trusted, they should be willing to make it at least as secure as slot machines. To appreciate how poor the oversight on voting systems is, it's useful to look at the way Nevada systematically ensures that electronic gambling machines in Las Vegas operate honestly and accurately. Electronic voting, by comparison, is rife with lax procedures, security risks and conflicts of interest. On a trip last week to the Nevada Gaming Control Board laboratory, in a state office building off the Las Vegas Strip, we found testing and enforcement mechanisms that go far beyond what is required for electronic voting.

Monday, June 14, 2004

How exactly do you blow up a mall? 

That's what I want to know. But Ashcroft is holding his cards close to his vest. You can't blame the guy.

It's not like he's anything close to trustworthy. So far, his record for convictions in "terrorism" is sorely lacking. And he's been known to cry "Wolf" more than a few times, usually at the best opportunity to bring media relief to his boss. So pardon me if I'm a little skeptical when Ashcroft claims this guy tried to blow up a mall.

I have personal experience here. No, not blowing up malls...but on a monthly basis, I wheel a cart full of equipment--musical, speakers and such--into one of the swankiest malls in St. Louis. And no one has EVER stopped me to inspect my cart, or ask a question, etc, etc, etc.

Then again, if it takes a car or truck loaded with explosives to take down a single building, or just the front of it, how the hell is ONE MAN going to bomb an ENTIRE MALL, with the square feet of a small village?

It's just more bullshit.



In today's NY Times: White House Officials and Cheney Aide Approved Halliburton Contract in Iraq, Pentagon Says

EXCERPT: In the fall of 2002, in the preparations for possible war with Iraq, the Pentagon sought and received the assent of senior Bush administration officials, including the vice president's chief of staff, before hiring the Halliburton Company to develop secret plans for restoring Iraq's oil facilities, Pentagon officials have told Congressional investigators. The newly disclosed details about Pentagon contracting do not suggest improper political pressures to direct business to Halliburton, the Houston-based company that Vice President Dick Cheney once led. But they raise questions about assertions by Mr. Cheney and other administration officials that he knew nothing in advance of the Halliburton contracts and that the decisions were made by career procurement specialists, without involvement by senior political appointees. Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for the vice president, would not comment on the disclosure, except to say, "We stand by our earlier statements on this matter."

Hmm... What were Cheney's earlier statements? From the same story:

Appearing on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" on Sept. 14, 2003, Mr. Cheney said, "And as vice president, I have absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts led by the Corps of Engineers or anybody else in the federal government." He referred to the Army Corps of Engineers, which has managed oil infrastructure contracts. Asked if he had been aware of Halliburton's noncompetitive awards, Mr. Cheney said, "I don't know any of the details of the contract because I deliberately stayed away from any information on that."

Sure thing, Dick. Whatever you say.

Flirting with the Pope 

Josh Marshall has the dirt on Bush's request for campaign support from the Pope, via Catholic bishops in the U.S. Here is the background, and here is Marshall's take on what exactly Bush might be gunning for.

Bottom line, more or less: Bush is asking the Pope to instruct American bishops to denounce Kerry from the pulpit. Why? Because Kerry is pro-choice. Never mind the Church's stances on war and the death penalty....

One wonders when or if, not to mention how, the Pope will respond. That is, one wonders such things if one has a borderline obsessive interest in monitoring the bizarre and reckless behaviors of the Bush administration. Fun fun fun...


Looks like another grim week for the administration, with no dead presidents to distract the public. Though the Bush team feigned ignorance of the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and claimed the scandal was merely due to a few bad apples, it turns out that military investigators reported the abuse to superiors as early as November. Meanwhile, even higher up the ladder, it seems that White House officials have turned against Dick Cheney for his camp's support of such illegal and immoral treatment of prisoners as "water-boarding" and "mock burials." As if that weren't bad enough, one British newspaper has warned us that "new evidence that the physical abuse of detainees in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay was authorised at the top of the Bush administration will emerge in Washington this week." and the Washington Post tells us about a memo from August 2002 in which the Justice Department advised the President (sic) that TORTURE "MAY BE JUSTIFIED."

And it seems that while in Rome Bush pleaded with the Pope for a campaign boost from American archbishops, despite His Holiness's apparent consideration of the possibility that Bush is the antichrist.

All this (except for that last one) came out over the weekend, and it's only Monday morning.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Help send a counter-message to these thugs 

From blah3.com:

Time to flood the zone...

Sunday, June 13 2004 @ 01:10 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Contributed by: Admin

Seems there's a web site out there that's committed to shutting down Michael Moore's new film, 'Fahrenheit 911.' They urge action against theaters that have decided to show the film, and urge threats against theaters that are still undecided.

Apparently, some of the theaters that have decided to show the film have received threats, including death threats.

This is UnAmerican. These thugs are trying to stifle Michael Moore's freedom of expression and keep the real story of 9/11 from reaching a broader audience.

On that site, there is a list of email addresses for theater chains which have committed to showing the film, as well as chains that are still undecided.

Use the list. Send thanks to those who support freedom of speech in this country, and encouragement to those who have not yet made the decision to do so. Thank you.

OH! It's a NewsMax web site. Whoda thunkit?


OPEN THREAD: BushWhackedUSA readers, hello! 

While we're on our "working vacation" (a concept we only hope is alive and well in Crawford--well, then again...), now is a great chance for you to let us know how we're doing at BushWhackedUSA. What would you like to see more of? Less? Are you a regular or infrequent visitor? Do you have some favorite other sites or blogs you'd like us to know about? If you feel like it, tell us a bit about yourself, too. Where do you live? Do you work in politics or journalism or another field? How did you discover our site? Do you read or visit us often? Who are you going to vote for?

Thanks for stopping by.


Tom Engelhardt puts America's global torture network into perspective:

For his dystopia, 1984, his classic novel of totalitarianism, George Orwell created "Room 101," an interrogation room where a prisoner's deepest fears were to be realized and applied. Tier 1 in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, as the now-infamous photos indicate, was the Bush administration's Room 101 for the "Arab mind," and so the crown jewel of its global interrogation facilities; just as Guantanamo was the "crown jewel" of the prison camps in its global Bermuda Triangle of injustice; just as the new appointed "interim government" hidden within the ever-more fortified Green Zone in Baghdad and led by a prime minister and former CIA asset whose exile organization, we learned this week, once set off car bombs in downtown Baghdad, is now the crown jewel of "freedom and democracy" in the Middle East. This is our "war against terrorism." Talk about an Orwellian world.

As it happens, from the heart of Abu Ghraib's interrogation rooms and the acts of, as our President and other administration officials have repeatedly said, "a few people" or even "a few hillbillies," the nature of, extent of, knowledge about, and responsibility for such acts has been rapidly spreading outwards across the imperium, upwards into the highest reaches of our government, and backwards in time. We now know, for instance, that, to the various acts of horror caught on camera in Abu Graib, we must add murder (or rather numerous murders) in Afghanistan as well as Iraq, and the use of electric shocks on prisoners, as the Marine Corps Times reported recently.

As for the acts we saw in the photographs, they too have "spread" and knowledge of them reaches ever higher: To take but two examples, Nakedness is now reported to have been used as a tool of humiliation not just in Iraq but in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo, as it was used in one of the earliest acts of American inhumanity in the war against terrorism, the interrogation of John Walker Lindh in Afghanistan back in 2001; while the "technique" of menacing prisoners with dogs -- "an apparent violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Army's field manual" -- has now been well documented at Abu Ghraib by the Washington Post ("On Jan. 13, Spec. John Harold Ketzer, a military intelligence interrogator, saw a dog team corner two male prisoners against a wall, one prisoner hiding behind the other and screaming, he later told investigators. ‘When I asked what was going on in the cell, the handler stated that he was just scaring them, and that he and another of the handlers was having a contest to see how many detainees they could get to urinate on themselves…'"); but it was also evidently employed at Guantanamo, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In the meantime, responsibility for such actions has moved inexorably upwards. We know now that interest in information gleaned from interrogations, ranging from that of John Walker Lindh to those in Iraq was requested at the highest official levels....

Add it all up -- only what's been revealed so far -- and you have a global system of injustice and torture, purposely mounted in the moral and legal darkness, beyond the reach or oversight of anyone but the President, vice-president, secretary of defense and associated officials, meant to extract information (and take revenge), meant as in Kafka's fictional penal colony to write the sentence these men had passed on the bodies of America's captives.

And talk about paper trails! If you need any evidence of the combination of arrogance, incompetence, and plain stupidity of the Bush administration, it now sits unavoidably before our eyes.

It's a good, long read.

Proof positive that somebody at the White House ORDERED the torture at Abu Ghraib 

Proof. Lots of it. All in one neat package over at kos.

Go read it.



I'd love to hear from some of you, the BushWhackedUSA readership, abour your opinions of Noam Chomsky and his work.

As you might guess from the frequency with which we link his interviews and commentaries, we (well, I can't speak for Augustino, our illustrious blogger, but my father and myself) think he's doing extremely important work. His role as both a media critic and a political analyst -- a critic of Power and its propaganda, essentially -- makes him perhaps the most valuable and crucial figure in the progressive political movement. (By "progressive" I mean far left rather than the so-called "progressive" movement of Democrats drifting across the center into the Republican party. Yes, they're out there, and they call themselves "progressives." It's an unfortunate coincidence.)

My father noticed recently that Chomsky's name is (mis)used by Republicans and Democrats alike as synonymous with paranoid-radical-leftist-wacko-conspiracy-theorist. With that in mind, and in a political climate where so-called liberals rage against the candidacy of Ralph Nader, it's easy to see how the Republicans have dragged America steadily to the right for decades now.

Anyhow, that's my rambling two cents on Chomsky. Here is an interesting German interview with him.

I'd love to read your thoughts.


Well, here's a blow to Bush's newfound internationalism:

From Ha'aretz: Brahimi quits post as UN envoy in Iraq


Even the bad guys think Bush is so bad he's gotta go.

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