Saturday, May 22, 2004

Max Speak

A bunch of idiots should listen.



A military lawyer for a soldier charged in the Abu Ghraib abuse case testified that a captain at the Baghdad prison said the highest-ranking U.S. military officer in Iraq was present during some "interrogations and/or allegations of the prisoner abuse," according to a recording of a military hearing obtained by The Washington Post.

The lawyer said he was told that Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez and other senior military officers were aware of what was taking place on Tier 1A of Abu Ghraib. The lawyer, Capt. Robert Shuck, also said a sergeant at the prison was prepared to testify that intelligence officers told him the abuse of detainees on the cellblock was "the right thing to do."


A Defense Department spokesman today referred questions about Sanchez to U.S. military officials in the Middle East, cautioning that statements by defense lawyers or their clients should be treated with "appropriate caution." Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the senior military spokesman in Iraq, said Sanchez was unavailable for comment last night but would "enjoy the opportunity" to respond later.

At the April hearing, Shuck also said Reese would testify that Capt. Carolyn A. Wood, who supervised the military intelligence operation at Abu Ghraib, was "involved in intensive interrogations of detainees, condoned some of the activities and stressed that that was standard procedure, what the accused was doing," Shuck said in the hearing, which was held at Camp Victory in Baghdad. The Post obtained a transcript of the hearing today.

In the transcript, Shuck said Reese was disturbed by the military intelligence techniques.

"They said that there were some strange (inaudible) by the MI [military intelligence]," Shuck said. "They said, 'What's all this nudity about, this posturing, positioning, withholding food and water? Where's the Geneva Conventions being followed


"We intend to seek immunity for a myriad of officers who are unwilling to participate in the search for the truth without protecting themselves," Myers said today.

Too Easy


CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) President Bush suffered cuts and bruises early Saturday afternoon while mountain biking on his ranch. He was on the 16th mile of a 17-mile ride when he fell, said White House spokesman Trent Duffy.

Bush suffered minor abrasions and scratches on his chin, upper lip, nose, right hand, and both knees, Duffy said. The accident occurred while he was riding with members of the Secret Service and his personal physician, Dr. Richard Tubbs.


Iraqis are ready to "take the training wheels off" and assume political power from the U.S.-led coalition, President George W. Bush said Thursday as his administration began to roll out a rough plan for the June 30 transition of authority.

(suggested by numerous people)

Pop Quiz

Who said this, before the Iraq war:

I believe that we can effectively defend ourselves abroad and at home without dimming our principles. Indeed, I believe that our success in defending ourselves depends precisely on not giving up what we stand for.'s the full speech and here's how the usual suspects reacted to it at the time (note, Neal Pollack's response was satire, though it was hard to tell...)


Lugar just isn't enough. We really need one of the real knuckledraggers to do something like this, not just one of the old guard types. But, I guess it's a start.

In response to September 11, 2001, the United States has created a new Department of Homeland Security, improved airport and seaport security, reconfigured our military weapons and tactics, and scrutinized the efficiency of our intelligence services. All of these steps may help to make us safer. But taking military action against terrorists and their supporters and improving homeland defense are not the same as executing a global strategy designed to overcome terrorism. Military action is necessary to defeat serious and immediate threats to our national security. But the war on terrorism will not be won through attrition - particularly since military action will often breed more terrorists and more resentment of the United States. Nor is the threat or use of military force likely to achieve national realignments that mitigate the extreme danger posed by terrorism in an age when weapons and materials of mass destruction are increasingly available.

Unless the United States commits itself to a sustained program of repairing and building alliances, expanding trade, pursuing resolutions to regional conflicts, supporting democracy and development worldwide, and controlling weapons of mass destruction, we are likely to experience acts of catastrophic terrorism that would undermine our economy, damage our society, and kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people.

The United States, as a nation, simply has not made this commitment. We are worried about terrorism, but the evolution of national security policy has not kept up with the threat. We have relied heavily on military options and unilateral approaches that weakened our alliances. We have engaged in self-flagellation over the September 11 tragedy rather than executing affirmative global strategies aimed at addressing the root causes of terrorism.

He even used that dreaded phrase "root causes" just to explode the brains of the freepi.



WASHINGTON, May 22 — Presented last fall with a detailed catalog of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, the American military responded on Dec. 24 with a confidential letter asserting that many Iraqi prisoners were not entitled to the full protections of the Geneva Conventions.

The letter, drafted by military lawyers and signed by Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, emphasized the "military necessity" of isolating some inmates at the prison for interrogation because of their "significant intelligence value," and said that prisoners held as security risks could legally be treated differently from prisoners of war or ordinary criminals.

But the military insisted that there were "clear procedures governing interrogation to ensure approaches do not amount to inhumane treatment."

In recent public statements, Bush administration officials have said that the Geneva Conventions were "fully applicable" in Iraq. That has put American-run prisons in Iraq in a different category from those in Afghanistan and in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban have been declared unlawful combatants not eligible for protection. However, the Dec. 24 letter appears to undermine administration assertions of the conventions' broad application in Iraq.

(via Sadly, No!)

Off to War

Here's a link to a Kos Diary entry which links to German TV's coverage of Bush clowning around before announcing we're bombing Iraq.

A little preview of Moore's movie.

(thanks to Yikes in comments)

Moore Wins Palme d'Or

Stupid Frogs.

Run Against Bush

Saw some of these fine patriots running past Starbucks a few minutes ago. Join a group in your area!

Election Year Troubles

Yglesias is right that someone in the GOP, and not one of the usual "mavericks" like McCain, but someone, as he says, "awful" like the Senate's evil little troll Jeff Sessions, is going to have to come right out and say that the Iraq is FUBAR and it's all the Bushies' fault.

Sadly, I just can't see it happening. Over the past 4 years the GOP has transformed itself from the party of "anti-Clinton" to the party of George W. Bush. He has become the personification of the party - it's become rather personality cult-like. Members of Congress are motivated by some combination of a desire to "do good" (as defined by them personally - this could include all kinds of bad stuff) and "get re-elected," with the latter one having a rather heavy weight. If they push Bush over a cliff, he'll bring them all down with him.

If the calendar said 2003 that scenario would be possible. But, I don't see it happening.

So, all they can do is... Clap louder!


It appears that Dear Leader was refusing to answer questions:

The Bush administration has refused to answer repeated requests from the Sept. 11 commission about who authorized flights of Saudi Arabian citizens, including members of Osama bin Laden’s family, from the United States immediately after the attacks of 2001.

Former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), vice chairman of the independent, bipartisan commission, disclosed the administration’s refusal to answer questions on the sensitive subject during a recent closed-door meeting with a group of Democratic senators, according to several Democratic sources.


Democrats suspect President Bush, who met privately with the Saudi Arabian ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, on the morning of Sept. 13, 2001, may have personally authorized the controversial flights, several of which took place when all other U.S. commercial air travel had been halted.


Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said she asked Hamilton and Lehman if they were able to find out who in the administration authorized the Saudi Arabian flights. “Who did this? Why would the Saudis want to get out of the country? They said [those questions have] been part of their inquiry and they haven’t received satisfactory answers yet and they were pushing,” Boxer said.

Another Democrat in the meeting who confirmed Boxer’s account reported that Hamilton said, “We don’t know who authorized it. We’ve asked that question 50 times.”

Boxer said she obtained a commitment from Hamilton that the commission will state in its final report if the White House refused to answer questions about who authorized the Saudi flights after the 2001 attacks.

Republican Bigots

Gotta love'em. Briefing Room gives us an ad transcript from the Republican primary in NC-5.

HOST: This episode of Congressional Jeopardy is paid for by Vernon Robinson for Congress . Today's topic -- homosexual rights! This feminist voted to create special rights for homosexuals and took money from the radical gayPACs.

CONTESTANT 1: [Rings in] Alright, it's a, who is Senator Hillary Clinton?

[BUZZER] HOST: Oh no, I'm sorry. We were looking for Senator Virginia Foxx. Virginia Foxx did that. As a Wake Forest Trustee, this bankrupt businessman let two lesbians get married in broad daylight in the campus church.

CONTESTANT 2: [Rings in] That's Jay Helvey. Who is Jay Helvey?

HOST: You are correct! This other bankrupt businessman brags that he's a tolerant Republican - a code word for gay-friendly. As an Appalachian State Trustee, he let the school sponsor a transvestite drag show.

CONTESTANT 3: [Rings in] Ugh. Who is Ed Broyhill?

HOST: That's right! When the United Way attacked the Boy Scouts for their ban on gay scoutmasters, this courageous conservative successfully defended the Boy Scouts.

CONTESTANT 4: [Rings in] Vernon Robinson. Everybody knows that. Who is City Councilman Vernon Robinson?

[BELL] HOST: Yes, the real conservative! Vernon Robinson: I'm Vernon Robinson and I approved this message because I will fight for our conservative values in Congress just as I have at City Hall.

They Get Letters

To the AJC:

Georgians bear more tax burden

Since Zell Miller recently called John Kerry an ultraliberal from "Taxachusetts," let's compare the tax situations of Massachusetts and Georgia.

According to the Tax Foundation, Georgia's state and local tax burden ranks 18th in the nation; Massachusetts ranks 36th. Strike one to Georgia.

Also, Georgia has a tax code that is so complicated that the state ranks 25th for business friendliness; Massachusetts ranks 12th. Strike two to Georgia.

By Miller's two-strikes-and-you're-out law, Georgia should be warming the bench. However, we'll give it one more at-bat.

For every dollar that Georgia sends to Washington, it gets back $1.01; for every dollar Massachusetts sends, it loses a quarter, which is redistributed to freeloaders such as Georgia.

Strike three, Zell.


Designs on the White House

Don't forget to submit your design!


So, if Chalabi's group really is a front for Iranians why isn't he standing hooded in a dark room with wires hooked up to his genitals instead of, you know, being on every Sunday news show tomorrow?

Friday, May 21, 2004

"I Love to Make a Grown Man Piss Himself."


Prisoners posed in three of the most infamous photographs of abuse to come out of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were not being softened up for interrogation by intelligence officers but instead were being punished for criminal acts or the amusement of their jailers, according to previously secret documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Twists and Turns

Who knew we attacked one member of the Axis of Evil at the behest of another?

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that a U.S.-funded arm of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress has been used for years by Iranian intelligence to pass disinformation to the United States and to collect highly sensitive American secrets, according to intelligence sources.

"Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein," said an intelligence source Friday who was briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency's conclusions, which were based on a review of thousands of internal documents.

The Information Collection Program also "kept the Iranians informed about what we were doing" by passing classified U.S. documents and other sensitive information, he said. The program has received millions of dollars from the U.S. government over several years.

An administration official confirmed that "highly classified information had been provided [to the Iranians] through that channel."

Actually, the truth here is who knows what the hell is going on. Marshall is right that this is more about shifting power in our government than any new information (though, presumably, it's the latter as well).

War Profiteers

True patriots:

Empty flatbed trucks crisscrossed Iraq more than 100 times as their drivers and the soldiers who guarded them dodged bullets, bricks and homemade bombs.

Twelve current and former truckers who regularly made the 300-mile re-supply run from Camp Cedar in southern Iraq to Camp Anaconda near Baghdad told Knight Ridder that they risked their lives driving empty trucks while their employer, a subsidiary of Halliburton Inc., billed the government for hauling what they derisively called "sailboat fuel."

Defense Department records show that Kellogg Brown and Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, has been paid $327 million for "theater transportation" of war materiel and supplies for U.S. forces in Iraq and is earmarked to be paid $230 million more. The convoys are a lifeline for U.S. troops in Iraq hauling tires for Humvees, Army boots, filing cabinets, tools, engine parts and even an unmanned Predator reconnaissance plane.

KBR's contract with the Defense Department allows the company to pass on the cost of the transportation and add 1 percent to 3 percent for profit, but neither KBR nor the U.S. Army Field Support Command in Rock Island, Ill., which oversees the contract, was able to provide cost estimates for the empty trucks. Trucking experts estimate that each round trip costs taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Seven of the 12 truckers who talked to Knight Ridder asked that they not be identified by name. Six of the 12 were fired by KBR for allegedly running Iraqi drivers off the road when they attempted to break into the convoy. The drivers disputed that accusation.

In addition to interviewing the drivers, Knight Ridder reviewed KBR records of the empty trips, dozens of photographs of empty flatbeds and a videotape that showed 15 empty trucks in one convoy.

But the Dixie Chicks -- they hate America.

Mars, Bitch!

Okay, here's my final fundraising plea and then I won't mention it again.

So far I've gotten about 1120 donations. That's great! I'm all Sally Field "You like me! You really like me!" But, it's only somewhere between 2-4% of my daily readers (it's impossible to have an accurate measure of that).

If that small percentage was increased by a point or two, it really would make all the difference.

Many are uncomfortable with Paypal -- the credit card link doesn't actually require a paypal account. It's just a secure credit card donation processor like any other.

For those who prefer mail, I'm still working on a solution of some sort.

But, like I said - final plea! I'll leave the annoying links up top until Sunday, at which point they will disappear...

And, besides, the terrorists are winning...

Moonie Friday

John Gorenfeld will be discussing the good Reverend tonight on AAR at about 10pm.

John follows the shenanigans of everyone's favorite billionaire anti-Semitic genocidal cult leader, who just happens to own the nation's premier conservative newspaper, so you don't have to.

When We Were Young

More Chalabi

Go to CBS News and then click on the video of "U.S. 'Friend' In Iraq A Spy?"

...text story.

Senior U.S. officials have told 60 Minutes Correspondent Lesley Stahl that they have evidence Chalabi has been passing highly classified U.S. intelligence to Iran. The evidence shows that Chalabi personally gave Iranian intelligence officers information so sensitive that if revealed it could, quote, "get Americans killed." The evidence is said to be "rock solid."

On Friday, Stahl reported that senior intelligence officials stress the information Ahmad Chalibi is alleged to have passed on to Iran is of such a seriously sensitive nature, the result of full disclosure could be highly damaging to U.S. security. The information involves secrets that were held by only a handful of very senior U.S. officials, says Stahl.

Meanwhile, Stahl reports that "grave concerns" about the true nature of Chalabi's relationship with Iran started after the U.S. obtained "undeniable intelligence" that Chalabi met with a senior Iranian intelligence, a "nefarious figure from the dark side of the regime - an individual with a direct hand in covert operations directed against the United States."

Chalabi never reported this meeting to his friends and sponsors in the U.S. government, says Stahl.

Survey Results

Thanks to all who responded to the recent survey. The full results from all participating blogs can be found here.

The readers of this site are older than the average blogreader (71% >30 versus 61%) and more likely to be female (24% versus 20.9%) than the typical reader of participating blogs.

Oh, and, not surprisingly, much more likely to be a Democrat.

Right After the Whitewater Corrections...

Stupid NYT:

(May 21, 2004) -- In a front page New York Times article this morning, David E. Sanger quotes a senior U.S. intelligence official's assessment of Ahmad Chalabi's information on weapons of mass destruction, which was distributed so avidly by the Times itself in the run-up to the Iraq war: "useless at best, and misleading at worst."

Yesterday, American and Iraqi forces raided and ransacked the Iraqi National Congress leader's office in Baghdad, completing his fall from grace as what the Times terms a "favorite" of the Bush administration. Today, two front-page articles in the paper, and an editorial titled "Friends Like This," take a harsh view of Chalabi. One would never know that the Times itself once relied on him heavily for its "scoops" on Saddam's WMD stockpiles.

In fact, one must painfully recall the now famous May 1, 2003, e-mail to the paper's Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns from star Times reporter in Iraq, Judith Miller, who wrote: "I've been covering Chalabi for about 10 years, and have done most of the stories about him for our paper. ... He has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our paper."

Oh, how quickly the Times forgets its friends, Chalabi must be thinking today.

Describing Chalabi, Sanger wrote today: "He became a master of the art of the leak, giving new currency to the suspicions about Mr. Hussein's weapons." Leaks? Who was his favored drop? Miller of the Times, although there were many others.

And in today's Times editorial: "Before the war, Ahmad Chalabi told Washington hawks exactly what they wanted to hear about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction ... Much of the information Mr. Chalabi had produced was dead wrong. He was one of the chief cheerleaders for the theory that Iraq had vast quantities of weapons of mass destruction. ... But he can't be made a scapegoat.

"The Bush administration should have known what it was doing when it gave enormous credence to a questionable character whose own self-interest was totally invested in getting the Americans to invade Iraq. ..."

Left unsaid is that the Times should have known better, as well. Yet, incredibly, the paper of record has never run a corrective editor's note to clean up the mess that Miller made for the Times' integrity.

Gerth and Miller must have pictures of the publishers with goats.

Purina and Howie Carr

A few have written in with a response from Purina stating that they aren't a sponsor of Howie Carr and that they don't advertise on his program. They do in fact run an ad on his web page at WRKO, not too far below a picture of a man dressed as a penis. This probably doesn't fit with what they describe as their "family friendly programming guidelines in place that are monitored and enforced. "

Advice to Obama

Go watch Beverly Hills Cop to learn how to deal with crap like this.


It's a point which has frequently been made by many commentators, but it's worth restating for about the millionth time. Back when Bush was running for president, the media lickspittles assured us that it didn't really matter that Bush may not, actually, be competent enough to do the job because he would surround himself by a gaggle of "grownups" who would, you know, actually run the government. And, that would be fine and dandy because the country really just wants a president they can imagine having a beer with.

Some of us pointed out that the problem with this little idea is that if ever those responsible grownup underlings started to disagree with each other, someone would have to actually have a wee bit of sense and an ability to resolve the conflicts and make decisions.

The press has been talking about the war between the Pentagon, CIA, and State as if it were a tennis tournament. But, look, it's a bit more important than that. The fact that our entire government is apparently paralyzed with infighting is the kind of thing which should be treated with concern. After 9/11 the media promised us they were going to get all serious for a change. Well, the screwed that one up pretty badly but maybe it isn't too late. As Big Media Matt says:

Should be an interesting investigation -- if elements of the U.S. government are busy preparing to arrest one another, that would go a long way toward explaining the seeming confusion regarding what to say about this in the White House communications operation.

But, obviously it's more than just the communications operation, even if that's about all BushRove really cares about.

Take the Poll

Support Pelosi.


On Moore's movie.

And, hey, if anyone wants to slip me a screening DVD...


Nation Column:

And how pathetic is it that the only cable network really grappling with the media's failure is Comedy Central? Let's give the last word to the Daily Show's incomparable Stephen Colbert: "The journalists I know love America, but now all anybody wants to talk about is the bad journalists--the journalists that hurt America.... Who didn't uncover the flaws in our prewar intelligence? Who gave a free pass on the Saddam-Al Qaeda connection? Who dropped Afghanistan from the headlines at the first whiff of this Iraqi snipe hunt? The United States press corps, that's who."


At Altercation:

In the course of working on the John Kerry profile for Esquire, I spent a lot of time wading through the various tributaries of the Iran-Contra era. The more I read, the more I realized what a pivotal moment-- and missed opportunity -- that was for anyone who believes in accountable democratic government, which some of you geezers in the audience may recall as having once been an important thing. It's not just that so many of that period's Undead walk again among us, instead of being in pre-release programs at Leavenworth where they belong. It's that Iran-Contra serves now as the template for Getting Away With Stuff that the Avignon Presidency has used ever since Uncle Nino picked the locks to the executive mansion.

Do it in secret. Avoid accountability, all accountability. Leave it to low level incompetents to make the blunders and commit the crimes. Depend always on crooked locals --Manuchar Ghorbanifar, shake hands with Ahmad Chalabi (Count your fingers afterwards, though.)-- to sell you a bag of magic beans. (Given what we now know, I'm shocked that Oliver North isn't walking around D.C. wearing a barrel.) Then, when the con breaks down, you can plead being a rube as a defense against being called a crook. Rely on a compliant press, and on the efforts of Blue-Ribbon Important People to keep the investigations from running out of control. And, most of all, make sure you sell very hard the story that the whole mess is just...too...complex for ordinary folks to understand.

Oh, and just for the purposes of set decoration, make sure Colin Powell is standing nearby, probably with pigeons landing on his head.

The greatest price we paid for not throwing the lot of them into the federal sneezer (and in not running a bill of particulars against Uncle Ronnie, for that matter) is that we publicly consented to -- and thereby empowered -- unaccountable secret government, which is pretty bad on its best days, but unfathomably worse when it's run by a collection of manifest incompetents. Plus ca change, plus ca bagmen, I guess.

Tort Reform

Yeah, this is a good step:

Republican Californian Congressman Duncan Hunter has introduced a bill titled the "Parents' Empowerment Act," which would allow the parent or guardian of a minor to sue (in federal court) anyone who knowingly disseminates any media which contains "material that is harmful to minors." If it passes, this bill would affect the entire supply chain, from publisher/manufacturer, to distributor, to retailer.

The bill goes on to specify that it will only apply if the material is distributed in a way that "a reasonable person can expect a substantial number of minors to be exposed to the material, is likely to suffer personal or emotional injury or injury to mental or moral welfare."

Compensatory damages under the bill would start at no less than $10,000 for any instance a minor is exposed to harmful entertainment products. The bill also provides a separate definition of obscenity specifically for children.

CBLDF Director Charles Brownstein said, "It appears to allow for civil actions against any, or every, member of the dissemination food chain, from the retailer to the distributor to the publisher, or work that an individual parent may object to. So any citizen, using their own sense of what is obscene or harmful to minors, can bring suit."

I hope it passes so we can file 50 million lawsuits against Ken Starr.

Monkey Mail

Sometimes I get so fed up with how goddamn stupid some people are. In a recent post comparing Georgia's taxes to Massachusetts, I clearly pointed out that according to the rather not left wing Tax Foundation, Georgia's overall state and local tax burden, as a percentage of income, was substantially higher than that of "Taxachusetts." In addition, the again not left Tax Foundation says that Mass. had a much more favorable climate for business.

Today I get this email:

Atrios is a statistical cherry picker.

>From the Tax Foundation

Corporate Income Taxes Georgia 10th lowest - Mass 6th highest. (not all
states levy corporate income taxes)

Gasoline Taxes - Georgia lowest in nation - 50th, Mass 21st

Property Taxes (per capita) - Georgia 29th - Mass 7th

Sales Taxes - Georgia 30th -- Mass 29th

Cigarette Taxes - Georgia 44th -- Mass 1st

In our lovely federal system, individual state and local governments have great flexibility with respect to how they choose to raise revenue, both in the particular tax instruments they use and in the relative share raised by state versus local municipalities. Some states rely more heavily on some instruments than others, and the degree to which local governments are responsible for raising their own revenue is also going to have an impact on which taxes tend to be higher or lower.

But, here's the deal, oh future Nobel prize winner -- only in the fevered groping dreams of a wingnut could this bit of correspondence be thought to "refute" in any way what I wrote.

Oh, Woot...

Jonah's womb is stealing your stuff...

Cole on Sullivan



I'm not one who jumps on every military-operation-gone bad. But, what I can't stand is when they just get up there and lie about it. On the local news radio station yesterday I heard that the US had denied that any bodies of children were found at the site of the wedding party that was bombed -- this was after video footage had been released showing just that. And they're still denying it.

Post-9/11 Insanity

Digby reminds us just how nuts everyone went after 9/11 - sadly too many never got their marbles back. Here's a wee Jonathan Alter flashback:

In this autumn of anger, even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to ... torture. OK, not cattle prods or rubber hoses, at least not here in the United States, but something to jump-start the stalled investigation of the greatest crime in American history. Right now, four key hijacking suspects aren’t talking at all.

COULDN’T WE AT LEAST subject them to psychological torture, like tapes of dying rabbits or high-decibel rap? (The military has done that in Panama and elsewhere.) How about truth serum, administered with a mandatory IV? Or deportation to Saudi Arabia, land of beheadings? (As the frustrated FBI has been threatening.) Some people still argue that we needn’t rethink any of our old assumptions about law enforcement, but they’re hopelessly “Sept. 10”—living in a country that no longer exists.


Actually, the world hasn’t changed as much as we have. The Israelis have been wrestling for years with the morality of torture. Until 1999 an interrogation technique called “shaking” was legal. It entailed holding a smelly bag over a suspect’s head in a dark room, then applying scary psychological torment. (To avoid lessening the potential impact on terrorists, I won’t specify exactly what kind.) Even now, Israeli law leaves a little room for “moderate physical pressure” in what are called “ticking time bomb” cases, where extracting information is essential to saving hundreds of lives. The decision of when to apply it is left in the hands of law-enforcement officials.


Short of physical torture, there’s always sodium pentothal (“truth serum”). The FBI is eager to try it, and deserves the chance. Unfortunately, truth serum, first used on spies in World War II, makes suspects gabby but not necessarily truthful. The same goes for even the harshest torture. When the subject breaks, he often lies. Prisoners “have only one objective—to end the pain,” says retired Col. Kenneth Allard, who was trained in interrogation. “It’s a huge limitation.”

Some torture clearly works. Jordan broke the most notorious terrorist of the 1980s, Abu Nidal, by threatening his family. Philippine police reportedly helped crack the 1993 World Trade Center bombings (plus a plot to crash 11 U.S. airliners and kill the pope) by convincing a suspect that they were about to turn him over to the Israelis. Then there’s painful Islamic justice, which has the added benefit of greater acceptance among Muslims.

We can’t legalize physical torture; it’s contrary to American values. But even as we continue to speak out against human-rights abuses around the world, we need to keep an open mind about certain measures to fight terrorism, like court-sanctioned psychological interrogation. And we’ll have to think about transferring some suspects to our less squeamish allies, even if that’s hypocritical. Nobody said this was going to be pretty.

Digby provides the punchline:

The four men who Alter contemplated sending to "the land of beheadings," by the way, were all innocent.

FCC Song

From Eric Idle.

Alter Responds

Jonathan Alter responds to recent criticism.

I like Alter, but Brad DeLong has it right -- people are afraid of being called "shrill." Strangely, only people expressing criticism of this administration are afraid of that.

I understand very well the notion that you can never talk outside the current frame, you can only try to expand its borders. But, frankly, I think these are shrill times.

Rummy Rum Tum Tum


BAGHDAD - With attention focused on the seven soldiers charged with abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison, U.S. military and intelligence officials familiar with the situation tell NBC News the Army’s elite Delta Force is now the subject of a Pentagon inspector general investigation into abuse against detainees.

The target is a top-secret site near Baghdad’s airport. The battlefield interrogation facility known as the “BIF” is pictured in satellite photos.

According to two top U.S. government sources, it is the scene of the most egregious violations of the Geneva Conventions in all of Iraq’s prisons. A place where the normal rules of interrogation don’t apply, Delta Force’s BIF only holds Iraqi insurgents and suspected terrorists — but not the most wanted among Saddam’s lieutenants pictured on the deck of cards.


“Iraq's a nation. The United States is a nation. The Geneva Conventions applied. They have applied every single day from the outset,” Rumsfeld has said.

Several top U.S. military and intelligence sources say yes, and that he, through other top Pentagon officials, directed the U.S. head of intelligence in Iraq, Gen. Barbara Fast, and others to bring some of the methods used at the BIF to prisons like Abu Ghraib, in hopes of getting better intelligence from Iraqi detainees.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Dances With Enemies

From CBS:

Senior U.S. officials told 60 Minutes Correspondent Lesley Stahl that they have evidence Chalabi has been passing highly-classified U.S. intelligence to Iran.

The evidence shows that Chalabi personally gave Iranian intelligence officers information so sensitive that if revealed it could, quote, "get Americans killed." The evidence is said to be "rock solid."

Sources have told Stahl a high-level investigation is underway into who in the U.S. government gave Chalabi such sensitive information in the first place.

In addition, sources told Stahl that one of Chalabi's closest confidantes — a senior member of his organization, the Iraqi national congress — is believed to have been recruited by Iran's intelligence agency, the Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS) — and is on their payroll.

Log Cabin Follies

Will these people ever learn?

Strange But True

G.A. Cerny lets us know that as a young assistant D.A., Arlen Specter obtained the services of a holocaust denier as an expert witness in an effort to ban Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer.

Strange world.

Falling Behind

Damn, it looks like the Cornerites are pulling ahead in the fundraising race.

Quoth the Jonah:

With a fraction of a fraction of what our competition in the elite media has to spend, National Review Online has become the Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu waza Banga of the worldwide web. But it ain't cheap or easy ... "

Uh, whatever.

But, joking aside, thanks so much for all who have contributed so far! I promise no more annoying begging after Sunday. I'm not sure I have an exact number, but it looks like I'm about 25 away from 1000 donations! I really appreciate your generosity.


Good times, weren't they...

Chalabi at the SOTU.

...ailes has many many many more memories.

Savage Bigot

Can anyone explain how Savage keeps his job?

...oh, and while you're at Media Matters you can watch David Brock on the Today Show.

Flashback V - Angry Stalker Edition

And, who can forget my little fun with a lawyer.

But, some good came of it. Since I didn't need all the money people promised for a legal defense fund (largely due to the generous help of former blogger Sam Heldman), people instead donated a bunch of money to the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama to help some people with much more serious legal problems than I had.

Flashback IV - Smear the Queer Edition

Back when the Episcopal Church was considering whether to elevate Gene Robinson as their first "openly gay Bishop," conservatives were in full fury mode. Right before it was about to happen, there was a multi-pronged last minute smear attempt. Leading the charge in the media was Fred Barnes, who ran with the faux-scandals after other media outlets rightfully passed.

Shockingly (not), Fred Barnes had a wee bit of conflict of interest, as he sat on the board of an archconservative Episcopalian group which vehemently opposed Robinson's elevation because he was a big queery queer. This was first reported on the Michelangelo Signorile show, which I happened to be listening to at the time.

Here's my first post on the subject (scroll up for more).

Subsequent comments on this from Charles Pierce, an editorial in the Strib, some more from Pharisee Phred, and Signorile's column on the subject.

Feel free to make a wee donation.

Speaker Pelosi


"Bush is an incompetent leader. In fact, he's not a leader,'' Pelosi said. "He's a person who has no judgment, no experience and no knowledge of the subjects that he has to decide upon.''


"He has on his shoulders the deaths of many more troops, because he would not heed the advice of his own State Department of what to expect after May 1 when he ... declared that major combat is over,'' Pelosi charged. "The shallowness that he has brought to the office has not changed since he got there.''


"Not to get personal about it, but the president's capacity to lead has never been there. In order to lead, you have to have judgment. In order to have judgment, you have to have knowledge and experience. He has none,'' Pelosi said.


"This president has demonstrated very clearly that he does not have the capacity to present a plan to transition,'' she said.

"The only way we can get more troops from other countries is to have a president who respects the other countries. It's hopeless for George Bush. He has made it hopeless.''

Pelosi said Kerry's more gentle criticism of Bush's Iraq policy was appropriate.

"The risk in many of us speaking out in the way that I'm speaking out to you right now is that people will say, 'Oh, it's just political,' '' Pelosi said.

Yet in the end, Pelosi said, she is confident that the failures in Iraq, as well as discontent over domestic issues, will defeat Bush in November.

"He's gone,'' Pelosi said of Bush. "He's so gone.''

You can reward good behavior here.


So, Armstrong Williams is on CNN blasting Chalabi even more harshly than Bernie Ward is...

Hard to figure out what's going on here. Anyone else hearing other responses from the conservaborg?

Flashback III - Wouldn't Have These Problems Edition

This blog got a bit of public notice when Trent Lott had his little bigot eruption. It was a rather amusing time, with conservatives falling all over themselves (after a bit of prodding) to self-righteously claim that they were more against racism than the real racists - liberals. Then, they patted themselves on the back when Trent Lott was demoted from the most powerful position in the Senate to the, say, 4th most powerful position in the Senate.

I think my main contribution to this bit of fun was unearthing this Dixiecrat sample ballot to make clear to even the most idiotic of right wing racist apologists that Thurmond was not running on some sort of noble "States' Rights" platform -- he was running on a disgusting "States' Rights" platform.

It also led to the rather surreal experience of hearing John Podhoretz discuss this weblog rather favorably on the radio.


Click here for all the memories.

Boot Gives Up

Max Boot says it's time for conservatives to give up the gay marriage battle.

Oops - Just Kidding!


Thousands of recent U.S. Army veterans nationwide were told to choose by Monday a new assignment in the Army Reserve or National Guard -- meaning a potential return to active duty -- or the military would decide for them. The Army now says the order was a mistake.

The consequence of the error appears to be a sharp increase in enlistments in Oregon and elsewhere by reservists who feared being assigned a unit without their consent. They face possible deployment to the Middle East.


Whether soldiers who had signed up under the mistaken deadline would be released from their commitment was unclear Tuesday.


Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, commander of the Army Reserve, declined comment on how the mistake was made, a spokesman said. How the mistaken order was issued is a mystery, said Steve Stromvall, the civilian public affairs director for the U.S. Army Reserve Command in Atlanta.

We Are Scum

Really. I'm fucking sorry. There's no other way to react to stuff like this.

A military intelligence analyst who recently completed duty at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (news - web sites) said Wednesday that the 16-year-old son of a detainee there was abused by U.S. soldiers to break his father's resistance to interrogators.

The analyst said the teenager was stripped naked, thrown in the back of an open truck, driven around in the cold night air, splattered with mud and then presented to his father at Abu Ghraib, the prison at the center of the scandal over abuse of Iraqi detainees.

Upon seeing his frail and frightened son, the prisoner broke down and cried and told interrogators he would tell them whatever they wanted, the analyst said.

Fuckers. I hate these people.

And, for the trolls - I am not responsible for things not done in my name. I am responsible for things that are. Please try to understand the difference.


So, are we really pissed at him or is this just part of a grand plan to let Chalabi distance himself from us so that he can become the face of the moderate opposition so that we can install him as a friendly strongman who pretends to not be friendly?

So complicated.

...Robert Dreyfuss says it's a con.

Flashback Thursday II

This one got the honor of "Most Humorous Post" in the 2003 Koufax awards, which was a high honor indeed. I was quite proud of it, because I'm usually not funny in this kind of way.

Surely comedy of such quality is deserving of a wee donation.

But, let's remember the absolutely horrible story that "inspired" the post.

Quotes You Won't Read Here

I understand that the foreign news frequently places a different emphasis on the US News and it isn't always evidence of their superiority. However, this is from testimony to the Senate yesterday about the Most Important War Ever. And, at least using Google News, I can't find a damn thing on it domestically. From the Guardian:

"I believe we are absolutely on the brink of failure. We are looking into the abyss," General Joseph Hoar, a former commander in chief of US central command, told the Senate foreign relations committee.


Larry Diamond, an analyst at the conservative Hoover Institution, said: "I think it's clear that the United States now faces a perilous situation in Iraq.

"We have failed to come anywhere near meeting the post-war expectations of Iraqis for security and post-war reconstruction.

"There is only one word for a situation in which you cannot win and you cannot withdraw - quagmire."


General Hoar was equally scathing about the calibre of the Bush administration.

"The policy people in both Washington and Baghdad," he said, "have demonstrated their inability to do a job on a day-to-day basis this past year."

(thanks to reader cab driver)

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

Congratulations to the 345K new jobless! Lucky Duckies every one.

Contrary to news reports about a booming job market, there just isn't any evidence of one. We have had some numbers which have suggested that a recovery could be on the way, but we really haven't had jobs numbers that were that solid.

New jobs from the February totalled 83K. New jobs from the March report totalled 337K. From April, 288K.

For some perspective, this handy graph shows us Clinton averaged 242K new jobs every month over his 1st term, and 235K new jobs every month during his 2nd. Bush has had two good months. Let's hope they continue, but all the talk of the massive recovery in the labor market is so far mostly talk.

Those high oil prices aren't going to help.

Flashback Thursday

Let's use fundraising week to remind ourselves of some of my finer moments here at Eschaton (suggestions welcome, too).

Here's where I let George Will hang himself by his own sweet words. From 2/28/03.

George Will, Then and Now


Lloyd Cutler is a liberal critic of Senate Rule XXII that requires 60 votes to curtail debate by imposing cloture. He is a distinguished Washington lawyer, seasoned by public service (he was President Carter's counsel) that unfortunately did not inoculate him against the temptations of institutional tinkering. The tinkering he favors would facilitate the essence of the liberal agenda - more uninhibited government. For example, a decade ago he recommended various reforms to undermine what he called an "anomaly" and what the Framers considered the essence of the constitutional system - the separation of powers.

Cutler's argument for the unconstitutionality of Rule XXII is:

"The text of the Constitution plainly implies that each house must take all its decisions by majority vote, except in the five expressly enumerated cases where the text itself requires a two-thirds vote: the Senate's advice and consent to a treaty, the Senate's guilty verdict on impeachments, either house expelling a member, both houses overriding a presidential veto and both houses proposing a constitutional amendment."

But the Constitution "implies" no such thing. Cutler's semantic sleight-of-hand is in the words "must take all its decisions." The Constitution provides only that, other than in the five cases, a simple majority vote shall decide the disposition by each house of business that has consequences beyond each house, such as passing legislation or confirming executive or judicial nominees. Procedural rules internal to each house are another matter. And the generation that wrote and ratified the Constitution - the generation whose actions are considered particularly illuminating concerning the meaning and spirit of the Constitution - set the Senate's permissive tradition regarding extended debate. There was something very like a filibuster in the First Congress.


The president, preoccupied with regime change elsewhere, will occupy a substantially diminished presidency unless he defeats the current attempt to alter the constitutional regime here. If at least 41 Senate Democrats succeed in blocking a vote on the confirmation of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Constitution effectively will be amended.

If Senate rules, exploited by an anti-constitutional minority, are allowed to trump the Constitution's text and two centuries of practice, the Senate's power to consent to judicial nominations will have become a Senate right to require a 60-vote supermajority for confirmations. By thus nullifying the president's power to shape the judiciary, the Democratic Party will wield a presidential power without having won a presidential election.

That was easy. Next?

haha. I hate George Will. Smug overrated hack.

...oh, and here's the Findlaw column that post eventually indirectly inspired.

Troops Raid Chalabi's Compound

What the hell.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Begging Bowl

Thanks to all the Majority Report listeners who donated!

A few more donations tonight and I should stay ahead of those cretins over at the National Review...


My usual gig, Air America Radio, 8:20-9 or so.

Heroes into Hacks

Tony Pierce wonders what happened to instapundit.

(via Brian Linse)


From one of the finer racists at GOPUSA:

We took 120,000 Japanese Americans - two thirds were citizens of the United States - and locked them up during World War II. We put them inside barbed-wire fencing; we didn't strip them of their clothes - we stripped them of their dignity; took them from their homes; caused many to lose their businesses, because we could not take a chance that any one of them might hurt us. None did, but we still couldn't take that chance . . . we were at war.

Emphasis mine.

Some Sanity

First, from Businessweek:

The media has helped inflame the passions surrounding this new activism by the Vatican and some of its clergy by giving way too much attention to Kerry's observance of the sacraments and by being so selective in its coverage. How do I know Kerry took Communion on those two Sundays? Because it was so widely reported. Did Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge, who is pro-choice, take Communion on Mothers Day? How about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, another pro-choice Republican? Or New York Governor George Pataki, a Catholic who supports both abortion rights and the death penalty?

PRIVATE MATTERS. I don't know about any of them, because I couldn't find news coverage about what they did on those Sundays. Their church habits, their pursuit of religious freedom, apparently didn't make the news. Nor should it.

Same goes for Kerry. He's just one of millions of Catholics who disagree with the Church on some matters but who still feel moved to practice their religion. Not everything that happens is newsworthy -- even if it's done by a Presidential candidate. I happen to think a Catholic practicing his religion and partaking of one of its Sacraments should be private.

If the media wants to take the tack that a politician's religious behavior is important because it could inform his decisions, then they should be reporting on all of the prominent Catholic politicians and their religious practices. And they don't, because really, it's largely irrelevant to public discourse. Nothing can be extrapolated from knowing that a Catholic politician, fearing Rome's wrath, declines to present himself or herself for Communion. Nor is anything to be gleaned by a Catholic's seeking the Sacrament.

Put the focus on where it belongs -- on an institution that's trying to exert influence in outmoded ways, not on those who seek to practice a religion they've made their peace with.

And, then, from voters:

New Jersey voters disapprove 68 -- 21 percent of comments by some Catholic clergy that they would deny Holy Communion to McGreevey because of his position on abortion. Catholic voters disapprove 64 -- 27 percent. Only 7 percent of voters say they are less likely to vote for McGreevey because of these comments, while 9 percent are more likely and 82 percent say it won't influence their vote.

By a 74 -- 21 percent margin, 69 -- 25 percent among Catholics, voters say it is wrong for Catholic church leaders to try to pressure politicians on issues such as abortion. Voters say 76 -- 22 percent that a public official's religious beliefs should be a private matter, not a matter for public discussion.

"New Jersey voters -- including Catholics -- want church leaders to stay out of politics and get off Gov. McGreevey's back. Voters say it is wrong for Catholic Church leaders to cross that line between church and state and try to pressure Catholic politicians on issues such as abortion. The church's attack on the Governor is clearly one of the reasons McGreevey's approval numbers are bouncing back," Richards added.

Dershowitz on Scalia

I've been meaning to trasncribe this bit from when I was co-hosting the Majority Report and Dershowitz was on. sez Dersh:

He's an interesting guy. His father was a teacher at Brooklyn college when I was there. His father was a proud member of the American-Italian fascist party and got his doctorate at Casa Italiano at Columbia at a time when in order to get your doctorate you had to swear an oath to Mussolini. So he comes from an interesting background and he went to a kind of military school in New York which was a place where many children of fascists were educated. Therefore to call him a conservative - he's never expressed any conservative priniciples - he's a statist. He's a man who is well in the tradition of Franco and Mussolini. Not Hitler. He's not an anti-Semite - there's no bigotry or racism in him at all. But he is somebody who has these views which would have been very comfortable in fascist Italy or fascist Spain.

(slightly cleaned up after reader suggestion)

They Get Letters

John Conyers writes a letter to Sensenbrenner regarding misrepresentations to the Supremos (.pdf).

Catholic Reaction in Colorado

Colorado Luis documents some of the backlash against Bishop Sheridan's recent statement that people who vote for pro-choice politicians should be denied communion.

Take the Survey

Thanks to all who took the time to take the readership survey. If you haven't yet, please do. I know it's rather long and some had a few problems, but if you could take the time that'd be great. For #22, please write "Eschaton" if you remember...


Thanks to all who have been donating. I don't have a precise number, but the average donation appears to be about $25. As I said when I began pledge week, my hope was if a small but non trivial percentage of readers gave a modest donation, that multiplied together the resulting total would be nontrivial. There have been a few extraordinarily generous large donations, which are of course nice too.

I'm still working on a mail-in-donation solution...

As for the total donations, if there's sufficient desire to know I'll post it at the end. My preference is to not, as no matter what it'll be the "wrong" number -- you know, it'll simultaneously be "he didn't raise as much money as Andrew Sullivan!" and "how dare people give so much money to pay some guy to sit in his pajamas and post links to news articles all day!" But, like I said, if people want to know I'll add it all up at the end.

And, I say again, if the Cornerites raise more than me the terrorists will have won!


Just stunning.

...The Mighty Reason Man adds in the comments to that post something which deserves wider readership:

And right here we have a perfect example of one of the things I truly despise about Reynolds.

For the longest time, I couldn't put my finger on it, but after a while, you start to notice just how often he throws around implied threats.

The only way freedom of the press could be curtailed (aside from the vague boundaries enacted by executive management) would be through government intervention - something that a large enough block of angry conservative voters could theoretically initiate.

From most other people, I would see such a question as the raising of a legitimate concern - perhaps not a concern that is warranted, but nothing out of line.

But I don't for a second believe that Reynolds' question is an innocent one. This is not "we should be concerned, because something potentially dangerous could happen," not when he spends every goddamn day pounding his little web lectern and railing against media bias.

He's not a neutral observer of the "large and active minority," he wants to be their leader. Hell, he may even think he already is.

It's as if I stood on a street corner screaming about the malevolence of the homeless, and then asked a homeless guy how long he thought he would survive if a large mob bent on hanging winos were to suddenly form in the vicinity.

How, then, can this be interpreted as anything other than "how long before the people I represent use their influence to forcibly 'balance' the news"?

The sentiment that if the media won't conform to his views, they should have their freedoms taken away puts the absolute lie to his bullshit brand of libertarianism -- which itself, it is increasingly clear, is merely a rhetorical inoculation against the uglier aspects of modern Republicanism, due to the much more socially permissive stance of his audience versus the common run of Republican.

Even though TMRM is a total slacker loser who never bothers to update his blog.

...apparently this is the wingnut talking point of the week. From Tony Blankley:

It is heartbreaking, though no longer perplexing, that the president's political and media opposition want the president's defeat more than America's victory. But that is the price we must pay for living in a free country. (Sedition laws almost surely would be found unconstitutional, currently — although things may change after the next terrorist attack in America.)

Fucking fascists.
(tip from penalcolony)

Unitarians - Not Religion

More shenanigans in Texas.

5 Interrogation Deaths

This is just horrible.

Correct Terminology

Reader paul l. writes in regarding correct military terminology:

IRR are not the "inactive reserves", but the Individual Ready Reserves---ACTIVE Reservists who do not train regularly with a specific unit of assignment (usually because they do not live within a "reasonable" travel distance" to an appropriate unit.)

Under statutory law, there is a preference for mobilization of Reservists as UNITS---the statutory purpose of the reserves is to provide "trained units and qualified individuals" to supplement the "active duty component" of the military.

The Reserves are divided into two parts...

1) the Ready Reserves--those who are subject to mobilization by Presidential decree

2) the Standby Reserves--those who are subject to mobilization only under the provisions of an act of Congress

the Standby Reserves are divided into two sections...

1) ACTIVE STATUS standby reserves, whose mobilization requires ONLY an act of congress

2) INACTIVE STATUS reserves, whose mobilization requires not just an act of Congress, but certification by the Secretary of Defense that there are insufficient numbers of ACTIVE STATUS reservists within specific categories to meet National Security needs.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Clowns II

Kevin Drum provides the punchline for my earlier post providing a rush transcript of Jonathan Alter's comments today on Franken's show. I was a bit rushed so I didn't have a chance to follow it up, but Kevin provided the point. Part of the reason I posted those comments was that they were things I would never imagine Alter writing in Newsweek. And, in fact, he hasn't.

There are two issues here - one is a certain hesitation to be overly critical of this administration when you think someone might be "looking." And, the second is the simple fact that straight journalists or centrist opinion columnists like Alter, when they do TV or radio, are highly influenced by the opinions of the people they're talking to. It's weird.



May 18, 2004 — Dozens of soldiers — other than the seven military police reservists who have been charged — were involved in the abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, and there is an effort under way in the Army to hide it, a key witness in the investigation told ABCNEWS.

"There's definitely a cover-up," the witness, Sgt. Samuel Provance, said. "People are either telling themselves or being told to be quiet."

Provance, 30, was part of the 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion stationed at Abu Ghraib last September. He spoke to ABCNEWS despite orders from his commanders not to.

"What I was surprised at was the silence," said Provance. "The collective silence by so many people that had to be involved, that had to have seen something or heard something."

Provance, now stationed in Germany, ran the top secret computer network used by military intelligence at the prison.

He said that while he did not see the actual abuse take place, the interrogators with whom he worked freely admitted they directed the MPs' rough treatment of prisoners.

"Anything [the MPs] were to do legally or otherwise, they were to take those commands from the interrogators," he said.

Top military officials have claimed the abuse seen in the photos at Abu Ghraib was limited to a few MPs, but Provance says the sexual humiliation of prisoners began as a technique ordered by the interrogators from military intelligence.

Kudos to Sgt. Provance.

Roger Returns!

Neal Pollack's beleaguered manservant is now Christopher Hitchens' butler.


Some excerpts from Jonathan Alter's (Newsweek) appearance on the O'Franken Factor day:

"the level of incompetence here is so staggering here, and yet there's this gap between how astonishingly incompetent...and we can go over particulars in the last year if you want to... how astonishingly incompetent they've been and the perception is still of them as solid citizens..."


"The only way you can sort of start to let the public know is to say no. They don't know what they're doing. They're clowns."


"I was among those people who was deceived. When I was told by administration officials that they were working on a nuclear weapons program - Paul wolfowitz told that to me directly. It did cause me some alarm and cause me some sense that it was not worth the risk to not take Saddam out."

Say Hello to Obama Blog

Barack Obama's candidate weblog just went up. It, uh, may look a wee bit familiar in some ways...

Delayed Human Rights Report Released

About which country did we say this?

Security forces continued to torture and abuse detainees and prisoners, arbitrarily arrest and detain persons and detain them incommunicado.

Right Wing Bigots

Another one with a microphone.

...Patriotboy provides some email addresses for Nestle, the owner of Purina, one of his sponsors.


I've been hearing various rumbles about this for a few days, but as Nick Confessore notes the draft is about to be underway. The military is tracking down members of the Inactive Reserves - as I understand it, basically former military personnel who have their names on file just in case of emergency - and telling them they may as well sign up now.

In addition, according to, the military is apparently using the IRS to track these people down.

Republican Noise Machine

David Brock's book, out today...

Couple 243

A tale of marriage in Mass.

Sweet Jeebus

Rick Perlstein has a stunner in the Voice:

Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move
The Jesus Landing Pad
by Rick Perlstein
May 18th, 2004 10:00 AM

It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. Not for our eyes were the notes that showed White House staffers taking two-hour meetings with Christian fundamentalists, where they passed off bogus social science on gay marriage as if it were holy writ and issued fiery warnings that "the Presidents [sic] Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level"—this to a group whose representative in Israel believed herself to have been attacked by witchcraft unleashed by proximity to a volume of Harry Potter. Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios.

But now we know.

"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the Voice.

The e-mailed meeting summary reveals NSC Near East and North African Affairs director Elliott Abrams sitting down with the Apostolic Congress and massaging their theological concerns. Claiming to be "the Christian Voice in the Nation's Capital," the members vociferously oppose the idea of a Palestinian state. They fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza might enable just that, and they object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and David's temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won't come back to earth.

Abrams attempted to assuage their concerns by stating that "the Gaza Strip had no significant Biblical influence such as Joseph's tomb or Rachel's tomb and therefore is a piece of land that can be sacrificed for the cause of peace."

Three weeks after the confab, President George W. Bush reversed long-standing U.S. policy, endorsing Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank in exchange for Israel'sdisengagement from the Gaza Strip.

In an interview with the Voice, Upton denied having written the document, though it was sent out from an e-mail account of one of his staffers and bears the organization's seal, which is nearly identical to the Great Seal of the United States. Its idiosyncratic grammar and punctuation tics also closely match those of texts on the Apostolic Congress's website, and Upton verified key details it recounted, including the number of participants in the meeting ("45 ministers including wives") and its conclusion "with a heart-moving send-off of the President in his Presidential helicopter."

Go read the rest.

Why Donate?

I can't wait until pledge week is over so I can stop sounding like the folks at the National Review Online. Though, why on Earth the nation's premier outlet for conservative thought (shudder) needs reader donations I have no idea. Millions of right wing slush money floating around and they can't get their hands on any of it?

Anyway, a lot of people have expressed hope that I could perhaps obtains sponsorship from some organization, or get paid to blog for an existing magazine, or something like that. All of those things are possibilities, I suppose (though no offers yet), but they aren't necessarily things I'd like to do, at least not right now. This site is part journalism, part pundit, part community, part activist - and the last two, the activist/community parts, would be much more difficult to do under such circumstances. Any institutional support would come with its own parameters.

The other day Kos wrote, in a kind post directing people over here:

And if we can't get compensated for our efforts, there will come a time when we'll face two choices -- abandon the effort or accept an offer to blog for faceless media conglomerate X. A free and independent blogosphere requires that writers get compensated for their time.

All of this takes time - and, in addition, trying to increase the influence of this blog and blogs in general also takes time. One thing a lot of people don't realize is that media appearances are rarely if ever compensated. Doing things like making a radio appearance, or answering a journalist's questions, all take a lot of time. Now, I love going on Air America -- it's a lot of fun, but it also chews up one of my evenings every week.

The reason why there's a never ending supply of right wing nutballs appearing on every TV and radio news program 24/7 is because a lot of them are paid to sit around and do not much more than wait to be booked on TV and radio.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is this has never been a "give me money or I'm going to quit blogging!" situation. It's more a matter of can I continue to do this and perhaps try to expand the influence of the left wing blog community in general, or do I need to refocus efforts onto maintaining more realistic career goals. I hope to become a bit more visible one way or another, go and cover the DNC convention, etc... But, I need a bit of a buffer to be able to do that.

But, aside from those high minded sounding things -- if you like the service, leave a tip. If you're unemployed or otherwise financially constrained, please don't. Really. It isn't necessary.

And, you know, it would be sweet if I could raise more than the Corner...

Lying to the Supremos

Eric Muller has an update.

Book Review

I suppose there's never a "right" person to do a book review, but it's certainly a bit odd that the Washington Post chose someone who had received a subpoena regarding the Plame Affair to do a hatchet job on Joe Wilson's book.

(tip thanks to Alice)

Truth in the NYT

Tee Hee:

Across town, Mr. Bush called for a continuing battle to end racial equality, and pointed to his No Child Left Behind law as the way to accomplish that.

...damn, fixed. I wonder if it made the print edition...


So, Drudge links to an article, headlining it "Release the Emergency Reserves," even though the article in question clearly states that Kerry specifically has not called for releasing the emergency reserves.

He has called for suspending of continuing to fill them, which might be reasonable given the fact that this administration has been filling them to record levels.

Hitchens Flashback


...many countries maintain secret police forces and inflict torture on those who disagree.... [R]elatively few states will take photographs or videos of the gang-rape and torture of a young woman in a cellar and then deposit this evidence on the family's doorstep. This eagerness to go the extra mile, as is manifested in Saddam Hussein's regime, probably requires an extra degree of condemnation. And if we are willing to say, as we are, that the devil is in the details, then it may not be an exaggeration to detect a tincture of evil in the excess. We could have a stab at making a clinical definition and define evil as the surplus value of the psychopathic -- an irrational delight in flouting every customary norm of civilization.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Premium Items

For $250 you can get Jonah Goldberg's signature. For $250 you can get my signature on a Xerox copy of my posterior!*


Shorter Wingnuts

The horrible torture that was done by 7 bad apples was the totally right thing to do which the prisoners deserved even though honorable men like Donald Rumsfeld wouldn't have approved such a thing even though they should have.



The American officer who was in charge of interrogations at the Abu Ghraib prison has told a senior Army investigator that intelligence officers sometimes instructed the military police to force Iraqi detainees to strip naked and to shackle them before questioning them. But he said those measures were not imposed "unless there is some good reason."

The officer, Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, also told the investigator, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, that his unit had "no formal system in place" to monitor instructions they had given to military guards, who worked closely with interrogators to prepare detainees for interviews. Colonel Pappas said he "should have asked more questions, admittedly" about abuses committed or encouraged by his subordinates.

The statements by Colonel Pappas, contained in the transcript of a Feb. 11 interview that is part of General Taguba's 6,000-page classified report, offer the highest-level confirmation so far that military intelligence soldiers directed military guards in preparing for interrogations. They also provide the first insights by the senior intelligence officer at the prison into the relationship between his troops and the military police. Portions of Colonel Pappas's sworn statements were read to The New York Times by a government official who had read the transcript.

Testimony from guards and detainees at a preliminary hearing for a soldier accused of abuse said that orders from interrogators at Abu Ghraib had stopped short of the graphic abuse seen in the photographs at the center of the prison scandal.

Open Thread

"Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?" edition.


Plant that Bush used to brag about his successful economic policies is shutting down.

Free Market

Damn, and some people pick on me for having a fundraising drive. The Cornerites are trying to raise $50,000 to fund their little corner of hell over at National Review Online.

If I don't raise more money than the Corner, then the terrorists will have won!

(via Ailes)

Poor Zell Miller

Apparently when he was young in school, when he would shower in gym class, they would lock the door, put a bag over his head, beat him, sodomize him with broomsticks and light sticks, forced him into sexual acts with other people, threaten his life, and take pictures of the whole thing for their amusement.

Explains a lot.

Zell's conversion to the dark side has worked about as well as Dennis Miller's.

Iraqi Democracy Rapture


Some Things are Hard to Comprehend

One should definitely credit the spokesman for the anti-gay wrongly named Massachusetts Family Institute for being rather disgusted by the hate-filled antics of Fred Phelps and his merry gang of hatemongers. But, how does one react to a statement like this from him?

What's going on down there is legal, and as far as I'm concerned, give those people their happiness for the day.

If not for people like him, they could be happy for the rest of their lives.

Let's hope that maybe, just maybe, what he saw will make him rethink his life's mission.

Another Way to Help

Hey - thanks to all who have been contributing. Another thing you can do to help is to fill out a brief survey which will be provided to possible advertisers. Be truthful, and for the last question, #22, write in "Eschaton."



As President Bush was traveling through the Midwest on his exuberant bus tour last week, his campaign aides still sounded confident that the revelations of how Iraqi prisoners were abused would do far more harm to the United States' image abroad than to the president's standing at home.

The End of Civilization

Pictures from Boston.

Banging Head Against the Wall

NPR this weekend:

PETER KENYON reporting:

If you want an idea of how passionately Iraqis feel about their soccer team, listen to this non-verbal reaction to Wednesday's night 3-to-1 win over Saudi Arabia that allowed the underequipped, undertrained Iraqi squad to get into the Athens Games.

(Soundbite of gunfire)

KENYON: Celebratory gunfire roared through the Baghdad night in a display of firepower not seen since--well, since November when the team beat North Korea to enter the qualifying round.

Unidentified Man: Billy, could you turn the sound off, please?

KENYON: But today, what might have been an unbridled display of pride and joy by Iraqis starve for something to rally around, it was turned into a stage-managed antiseptic media event featuring no Iraqi football fans, other than some of the cameramen recording the ceremony.

(Soundbite of helicopter)

KENYON: US administration leader Paul Bremer arrived by helicopter at the heavily secured stadium. American snipers watched from all sides as Bremer made his way to a podium on the playing field. He was flanked by several team members in their white playing jerseys as his remarks echoed off the empty stadium seats.

Mr. PAUL BREMER (US Administrator, Iraq): In about three months, you men will have the great honor of marching on to the Olympic Stadium. There will be hundreds of millions of people watching all around the world, and here in Iraq, people from Dahuk to Um-Kasr(ph) will be watching with pride.

KENYON: There was a smattering of applause and soon Bremer was gone in another cloud of helicopter dust. The players spoke with the media explaining how much their trip to Athens means to them, and they weren't critical of the Americans for this event, saying Iraq is a dangerous place these days and they understand Mr. Bremer's security concerns. Team Captain Basim Abbas dedicated this victory to the Iraqi people who he said recognized the team has succeeded against huge odds. When asked if he'd be bringing the spirit of Iraqis to Athens, he smiled.

Mr. BASIM ABBAS (Team Captain): (Through Translator) We're going to take the screaming of Iraq, the reputation of Iraq with us.

KENYON: Off to one side, a disappointed young Iraqi boy stood with his father. Thirteen-year-old Ali Hamid(ph) was in full Iraqi soccer uniform clutching a ball with both hands. His favorite player is left-wing Hawar Mohammed. He says when Iraq made the Olympics, his house erupted with joy.

ALI HAMID: (Through Translator) We were happy and we started screaming and jumping, you know, and it's an honor for all the Iraqis.

KENYON: Ali is already known as a talented player. He can keep a soccer ball in the air, hitting it only with his head 1,500 times, with his feet, more than 6,000 times. He was supposed to perform at today's ceremony, but he said the Americans wouldn't allow it.

(Soundbite of soccer ball being hit)

KENYON: With a little encouragement, Ali began deafly tapping the ball, first low, then high, then on to his head, neck and back. His brow slightly furrowed in concentration. Behind him, the team members wondered back to their bus. Even in the parking lot, there were no fans. It seemed local Iraqis weren't even aware their beloved team was here. When asked if they had a team song, one player leaned over and said, 'We're too sad to sing. Why do they keep the fans away?' The players said they'd get over their disappointment as soon as they were back among their elated families and neighbors. One said he bets Iraqis will cheer for the country's Olympic athletes who also include swimmers, boxers, runners, wrestlers and others far more loudly than they will for the interim government due to assume power on June 30th. But as one Iraqi attendee noted, for an American administration eager to publicize some good news about Iraq, the kindest thing he could call today's event was another missed opportunity.


MAJeff has a first person account of events in Boston.

As does Jake Beal.


Billmon, Froomkin, and Josh Marshall all parse the Pentagon's non-denials about Hersh.

Tech Central Stupid

Some stupid science from everyone's favorite PR-firm-masquerading-as-journalism.

Not a Bad Idea

I think Nathan Newman's right that the governator's plan for the state to take a chunk of any punitive damages is probably a good idea. There are some downsides - it gives the state an interest in legal proceedings which they aren't a party to, and it diminishes the incentives for lawyers to take risky cases. But, the general notion seems okay to me.

Though, it's early and I haven't thought it through...


Thanks to all who have donated so far! For those who don't have a paypal account or don't like using one, you can also use a credit card without a paypal account. There's now a secure credit donation link above.

Iraq Governing Council President Killed


Sunday, May 16, 2004


To the happy couples about to be married in Mass.!


We're shifting 4,000 troops from S. Korea to Iraq.

Reading Taguba

Yankeedoodle explains the Taguba report. Lurking journalists should take note of this.


Just go looky looky.


Pledge Week

As I've hinted at a couple of times, the cushy employment situation which has allowed me to maintain this blog as I have is winding down. This is somewhat due to choices I've made, so I'm not crying victim here. But, basically, it's time in my life for a career change.

Running this blog doesn't really cost anything, but there is a huge opportunity cost of the time involved doing it. Time spent doing this is time spent away from pursuing other career enhancing activities. The ad money recently has been great, making this far more lucrative than I ever imagined, but it isn't enough that I can justify otherwise abandoning career pursuits. It's time for a priority check.

I'm reasonably optimistic about my future job prospects (rightly or wrongly), and this blog may at some point provide a stepping a stone to other things I might want someone to pay me for. But, at the moment it's hard to picture how I can both pursue an alternate career path and maintain the blog. Given that it's the election year, I'd really like to continue doing this for awhile longer. Having a bit of a backup reserve would make it possible to justify doing that to both myself and my family.

So, here's the deal. I'm going to, Andy Sullivan style, hold a weeklong fundraiser. I'm not going to set any goals, though if people want I'll post the total at the end. I won't come back in a month and do it again (though, of course, contributions are always appreciated!). This isn't charity - this is just NPR/PBS style giving. You don't have to if you don't want to, and you shouldn't feel guilty if you either don't want to give or can't.

If Mr. Soros would like to donate a half of second worth of his interest payments on his fortune, that'd be great. But, basically, I'm just hoping that (small percentage of daily readers) X (modest average donation) = (not so small total number).

So, if the mood strikes, help me out with some turkee! can also use the Amazon paybox below. I prefer paypal because a) amazon takes big commissions and b) there's a fairly small limit on the number of donations Amazon will allow per month (no idea why - they wouldn't let me change it). But, if you're anti-paypal feel free.

Amazon Honor System

Click Here to Pay
Learn More

...I'll try to get a PO Box tomorrow (though, I'll also need to figure out how to get a bank account together so that may be a bit more complicated...)


Who knew the WaPo's Fred Hiatt ever had much to contribute. But, here I think he gets it about right:

Some will say this is all to the good if it diminishes the hubris of what President Bill Clinton called the "indispensable nation." They will say that slave-owning, Indian-eradicating, dictator-propping America was never anything but a fraudulent champion of human rights.

But if you could ask the dissidents and human rights champions who over the decades, in isolated prison cells and frozen work camps, have somehow gotten word that U.S. diplomats or presidents had not forgotten them; if you could ask the elected leader of Burma, who is still under house arrest; or the peasants who are being chased from their villages in western Sudan, or the democrats being slowly squashed in Hong Kong by the Communists in Beijing -- if you could ask any of them, you might get a different answer. They might tell you that the United States has never been perfect, has never done enough, has never been free of hypocrisy -- but also that if America cannot take up their cause, no one will.

Yes, the myth of American moral exceptionalism has always been somewhat of a myth, but there was a substantial net benefit due to the fact that it was a myth that much of the world agreed to collectively buy into. Whether deserved or not, it does appear necessary to have a moral and ethical presence on the world stage which is backed by the economic and military might of the US. Someone needs to be in that role.

The neocons set out to irrevocably enshrine American exceptionalism in the world, and in a surprisingly short amount of time they've managed to destroy it. Mission accomplished!