Saturday, May 29, 2004

Unpatriotic Act, Part 2

Ok, I've delved a little deeper. The declaration of John Doe makes clear that it is a small company as he is the sole employee. (While names were blacked out, gender was not!)

The final paragraph of his declaration is quite interesting. It is numbered 30 and says (I gave the blacked out parts letters so we can speculate on their contents):

"I find ironic that _____a______ I freely engaged in political debate on the government's use of the Patriot Act._______b________ I know much more about how the Patriot Act works. _______________________________________c_______________________________________________________________

What could be in those blanks??

Here are some ideas:
a. prior to this lawsuit
b. Now that I have been sued
c. I can no longer have any discussions about the Patriot Act, even though I am now one of the most well-educated persons on the subject in the United States of America.

a. as a government employee
b. Now as a private citizen
c. ???

More tomorrow. I'm hitting the wall.

The Unpatriotic Act

I've started wading through the ACLU's recently released papers in the case against an internet service provider by Ashcroft's Justice Department. Here's the article that got me started on it. The ACLU has gotten the judge to allow them to release some of the legal papers, but the identify of the company targeted by the Justice Department can only be referred to as "John Doe."

I'm playing one of those lawyer games, trying to figure out the name of the company by looking at how long the blacked-out portions of the legal papers are. My first thought was, I wonder if it is one of the blogger sites? After looking at the papers I'm not so sure. The organization's name is (I think) abbreviated after the first few pages, to some acronym that can't be more than three letters. AOL? MSN? But the article about the case refers to John Doe as a company run by an individual who is frustrated by the gag order. The abbreviation could even be "Doe", I suppose.

A few weeks ago there was an article about a computer program, developed by a graduate student, that figured out some of the blacked-out words in the August 6th PDB (that famous non-warning, "Bin Ladin Determined to Attack In United States).

I hope someone applies this program to the ACLU papers so we can find out which ISP the Justice Department is targeting.

I hate John Witchcroft. Atrios says he's toast, on his way out the door before the elections. Will that mean the statue of Justice can take off her blue robe and show her breasts again?

More importantly, who would get the job after Witchcroft? Gonzales, the White House Counsel, who thinks the Geneva Conventions are "quaint"? If they're going to follow with someone in the Ashcroft mode, maybe they'll try to appoint Senator Imhofe of Oklahoma -- the idiot who is "outraged about the outrage".

Oh, who replaces Witchcroft doesn't really matter, does it. Kerry in a landslide. Like father, like son: One term. I believe.

6/1/04 update: Here's an interesting article LINK on about the "Dublin Project" and how it works to identify blocked out text.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Remember Karen Silkwood?

Depleted uranium will be the Agent Orange of Iraq:

News > May 18, 2004
Depleted Morality

The first signs of uranium sickness surface in troops returning from Iraq

By Frida Berrigan

Sergeant Mark Callihan (right) and Staff Sergeant Sean Bach inventory 25mm depleted uranium rounds at their base in Tikrit, Iraq.

It’s a year into the occupation and U.S. troops are being killed at a rate of more than four a day. These deaths from roadside bombs, suicide attackers, anti-U.S. militia and mobs of angry civilians make headlines. More quietly, American soldiers also are beginning to suffer injuries from a silent and pernicious weapon material of U.S. origin—depleted uranium (DU).

DU weaponry is fired by U.S. troops from the Abrams battle tank, A-10 Warthog and other systems. It is pyrophoric, burning spontaneously on impact, and extremely dense, making DU munitions ideal for penetrating an enemy’s tank armor or reinforced bunker. It also is the toxic and radioactive byproduct of enriched uranium, the fissile material in nuclear weapons.

When a DU shell hits its target, it burns, losing anywhere from 40 percent to 70 percent of its mass and dispersing a fine toxic radioactive dust that can be carried long distances by winds or absorbed into the soil and groundwater. The U.S. Army and Air Force have fired 127 tons of DU munitions in Iraq in the last year, says Michael Kilpatrick, the Pentagon’s director of the Deployment Health Support Directorate.

At the beginning of April—the deadliest month of the war and occupation so far—a New York Daily News investigation found that four National Guardsmen have been contaminated by radioactive dust.

The men were part of the 442nd Military Police Company based in Orangeburg, New York, which went to Iraq last summer to guard convoys and prisons and train the new Iraqi police. While the whole company is due back in the United States by the end of April, a number of soldiers were sent home early, suffering from persistent headaches and fatigue, nausea and dizziness, joint pain and excessive urination. They sought medical attention and testing from the Army but were ignored. Nine of the returned soldiers, frustrated with this treatment, sought independent testing and examination from a uranium expert contracted by the New York Daily News. The independent expert’s tests showed four of the soldiers had high levels of depleted uranium in their systems.

Asaf Durakovic, a physician and nuclear medicine expert with the Uranium Medical Research Center based in Washington, examined the GIs and performed the testing. The Daily News quoted him as saying: “These are amazing results, especially since these soldiers were military police not exposed to the heat of battle. Other American soldiers who were in combat must have more depleted uranium exposures.”

Second Platoon Sergeant Hector Vega tested positive for DU exposure. He is a 48-year-old retired postal worker from the Bronx and has served in the National Guard for 27 years. After being stationed in Iraq last year, he suffers from insomnia and constant headaches.

Durakovic found that Vega and three of his fellow Guardsmen are the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict. These cases raise the specter of much more widespread radiation exposure among coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians than the Pentagon predicted.

Pentagon spokesmen consistently have maintained that depleted uranium is safe for U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. In May 2003, the Associated Press quoted Lt. Col. Michael Sigmon, deputy surgeon for the U.S. Army’s V Corps, saying, “There is not really any danger, at least that we know about, for the people of Iraq.” Sigmon asserted that children playing with expended tank shells would have to eat and then practically suffocate on DU residue to cause harm.

Yet, according to a 1998 report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the inhalation of DU particles can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, lymphatic problems, bronchial complaints, weight loss and an unsteady gait. These symptoms match those of sick veterans of the Gulf and Balkan wars. In November 1999, NATO sent its commanders the following warning: “Inhalation of insoluble depleted uranium dust particles has been associated with long-term health effects, including cancers and birth defects.” A study that same year found that depleted uranium can stay in the lungs for up to two years. “When the dust is breathed in, it passes through the walls of the lung and into the blood, circulating through the whole body,” wrote Dr. Rosalie Bertell, a Canadian epidemiologist. When inhaled, she concluded, DU “represents a serious risk of damaged immune systems and fatal cancers.”

A four-year study released last year by the Defense Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found “significantly higher prevalences” of heart and kidney birth defects in the children of Gulf War veterans, though it did not mention DU specifically.

The Pentagon’s professions of DU’s safety also is directly contradicted by the Army’s training manual, which acknowledges the hazards of DU, requiring that anyone who comes within 25 meters of DU-contaminated equipment or terrain wear respiratory and skin protection. The manual warns: “Contamination will make food and water unsafe for consumption.”

The men of the 442nd Company said they had never heard of depleted uranium and they were not issued dust masks or other protective gear.

Responding to the New York Daily News article, and calls for testing from Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer New York, an army spokeswoman told the Associated Press that “the military would test any soldier that expressed concerns about uranium exposure.” At the request of Representatives Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) and Robert Filner (D-Calif.), the General Accounting Office (GAO) now is investigating whether the Pentagon has ignored the medical consequences of depleted uranium armaments. Based on the GAO’s findings, Filner and Rodruguez are considering the introduction of legislation to extend service benefits to veterans who develop health conditions that can plausibly be caused by depleted uranium exposure.

These are steps in the right direction. But the men of the 442 and the 131,000 U.S. and 24,000 Coalition soldiers serving in Iraq deserve more. They deserve a ban on Depleted Uranium.

F**k with F*x

Fair & balanced, my a**. Sean Hannity, one of the empty-headed shouters, has a presidential poll up on his site.

Take the Hannity poll (it's on the left side, you may have to scroll down the page a bit). As of 12:30 a.m. tonight, it's 58 Kerry, 41 Bush, 2 Nader.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Ghana to US: Who's the Third World Nation now????

Great article by I.K. Gyasi in Ghanian Chronicle.

The highlights:

Having "won" the election under such unconvincing and highly questionable circumstances, it is no wonder that some of the spectators shouted, 'Hail To The Thief." Sure, he had stolen the Presidency, no doubt about that, Probably realizing his debilitating shortcomings as a person and as "a cut-purse president" George W. Bush set out to terrorize the rest of the world.

With a deadpan face, eyes almost shut out by his eyelids, snake-like lips, hectoring speeches and a bellicose posture, Bush sought to create the impression that he was the modern-day equivalent of the Old Wild West Sheriff who, alone or in the company of a posse, rides out of town to catch the bad guy and bring him to Justice.

On the contrary, Bush has proved himself rather the bad guy who, with his sidekicks, rides into town, pulls out his Smith & Wesson or Colt 45 pistols, heads for the nearest saloon, and starts to cower everyone by indiscriminating firing into the ceiling.

Far from being the Liberator bringing peace, development and prosperity, Bush has only succeeded in introducing chaos, needless bloodshed and disintegration to that country[Iraq].

When he allegedly visited American soldiers in Iraq, he could only do so "Nicodemously," instead of riding in an open vehicle to acknowledge the cheers of a grateful people.

It is said that he wore a military uniform, ostensibly to empathize with the troops but more likely to hide his real identity so that he did not become a target. The man "highlighted it" out of town as fast as he had entered it.

On June 30, 2004, Bush will hand over the house of cards he has built in Iraq to a group. He knows very well that that house will collapse but it is anything to get out of that hellhole.

American jingoism, the policy of "my country right or wrong" and her hypocrisy and double standards pre-date the Bush Presidency.

Still, there can be no doubt that Bush in his almost four years in office has adopted the crudest type of foreign policy that has raised this American character to record heights.

The shocking record of the treatment of prisoners in Iraq and at the Guantanamo Base in Cuba has shown the ugliest face of George Bush and his America.

Today, the worst type of a so-called Third World dictator is an angel compared to George Bush. No wonder that 50 (fifty) former American diplomats have written to warn him about the effect of his policies. According to them, such policies are losing friends for America.

It's kind of sad that we have to go to Africa to find media that aren't totally cowed by the Bushies.

Ashcroft Hysterical

The NYTimes reports today that John Ashcroft "may" be using terror alerts to take Americans minds off his boss's political troubles. John Ashcroft doing something unethical? The guy makes Ed Meese look like Learned Hand.

"There's no real new intelligence, and a lot of this has been out there already," said one administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "There really is no significant change that would require us to change the alert level of the country."

A warning based on old information? Sounds like "Bin Ladin Determined to Attack In US". Time for ol' Georgie-Poo to go on a 30 day vacation. Last time he heard a warning like this, he ranted about Saddam from a golf cart. And we know where that got us.

Memorial Day

In the little town in upstate New York where I grew up, Memorial Day was a big deal. There was a parade that went from the school to the cemetery, a distance of about a mile. From the school parking lot where we assembled we marched up Maple Avenue, and turned right at the stop light onto Main Street. People set up lawn chairs on their front lawns, or congregated at the street light to watch and cheer.

Veterans marched, or if they were older, rode in convertibles. The firemen, the ladies auxiliary, the Boy Scouts, the FFA (Future Farmers of America, and we didn't mean Archer Daniels Midland), the marching band, the dairy princess in a convertible, a new fire truck and an ancient one, and often a few floats. I remember spending hours attaching flowers to a chicken wire contraption of a float one cool summer morning.

Kids rode their bikes near the end, festooned with red, white & blue crepe paper streamers. Some years I marched with other kids from school, carrying a freshly picked lilac. When I was in high school I had to march in the band, wearing the uniforms some penny-pinching soul had purchased in the 1950s, to last forever. They were thick wool, with a heavy leather overlay with the school emblem on it. Every year someone from the band either dropped out or collapsed from heat exhaustion. The band director would carry a spray bottle to keep us cool. Of course, we only wore those heavy wool uniforms on one, or two days, of the entire year: Memorial Day and 4th of July. Days that make you think of wool.

The highlight of the parade for me was the reading of the poem "In Flanders Fields". Some years it was read at the fire hall in the center of town; some years at the cemetery. The woman who read the poem every year had a wonderful whiskey and cigarettes voice and I hear that voice whenever I think of these words:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Here's a great site with the history of this wonderful moving poem.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

President Gore's speech

I just listened to Gore's speech to He was scintillating. The link is to the transcript of the speech "as prepared", and Gore added rhetorical flourishes and good Southern minister delivery that aren't evident in the written speech. Eventually I hope Kerry will be able to give a similar speech. The Bush Administration has shamed our country, endangered Americans around the world, and we will live with the consequences of their incompetence for the rest of our lives. It is just sickening.

Kerry in a landslide. Send in the professionals, send the clowns back to the circus.

Bush FIghts Mothra

Digby has a great post on Bush's speeches, If You Believe In Fairies, Clap Your Hands!

He's like a Japanese speaking actor playing a role in phonetic English. No matter how passionately he delivers the lines, the inflection and the rhythm are always off because he doesn't understand the language he's speaking.

Laurie Mylroie, Neocon goddess

She's on C-Span right now 7:50 a.m. EST. Wolfowitz, Perle,Cheney all love her. She's nuts. She's the leading proponent of the idea that Saddam Hussein was behind the 1993 WTC bombing. She giggles maniacally a lot.

OK, very weird, from the outhouse to the penthouse, the next guest on C-Span is Dr. Helen Caldicott, the anti-nuclear (should I say anti-nuke-u-lar?) crusader. Rational, collected, persuasive. What a contrast. Her website is worth reading.

Bush's job creation for high school grads

The New York Times reports we have guys with high school degrees interrogating prisoners in Iraq:

The CACI Corporation employed all of the contract interrogators at Abu Ghraib, including Stephen Stefanowicz, who is the other contractor implicated in the scandal......Education among all the contract employees varied. Most had some college education; 18 of the 44 had a four-year degree, or more; seven had only a high school diploma. Six of those were CACI employees.

Do you suppose they learned Arabic, or Kurdish, at their high schools? Bet they were making good money, though. Much more than we are paying our military who are doing the same job.

Of course, with nicknames like these, I doubt they are more conversant with the English language than Prances in Flightsuit:

The forms asked the workers if they used aliases, and several offered fearsome ones. Kevin Bloodworth, an Air Force veteran from Great Fall, Mont., who is serving as an interrogator, said he was known as Blood. And Timothy Duggan, an interrogator from Pataskala, Ohio, who said he was 6 feet tall and weighed 225 pounds, offered his alias, Big Dog.

The Title Says It All

Bush: More of the same
The president continues to hope for the best in Iraq without planning for the worst, imagining a democracy that may take decades to build

Yes, that is the title of a Newsday article. Read it and weep.

Newsday is also worth reading just for Jimmy Breslin. He has been particularly incisive in his skewering of the 9/11 Commission and NYC's continued lack of preparedness for another terrorist attack.

5/27/04: Here's Breslin today "Higher-ups Beware the Lowly Stool Pigeon". And he's right. They've had over 30 deaths in that prison, there are over 30 low-level people there who can, interrogated properly, roll over on them. Let's get the ringleaders, not the flunkies.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Don't f**k with Congress

Apparently, the Pentagon gave the Senate Armed Services Committee the Taguba report with 2,000 pages missing. 2,000 pages! Did they think no one would notice? link

Once you start lying, it's hard to stop.

Get Buckner out of there!

Apparently Buckner is still in Iraq, still letting the ball go through his legs: link

An excerpt:

Company A of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion spent most of 2003 in Iraq, following a 2002 deployment in Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Billy Buckner, spokesman for the Fort Bragg-based 18th Airborne Corps, said Monday.

Capt. Carolyn A. Wood was the officer in charge of interrogations during both deployments, Buckner said. Wood no longer is stationed at Fort Bragg, but Buckner said he didn't know where she was transferred.

Buckner said neither Wood nor her unit have been accused of any wrongdoing in Afghanistan or Iraq.

He said that when Wood redeployed to Iraq last year, she modified the interrogation techniques used on prisoners there.

"In Afghanistan they had some interrogation rules of engagement. When they deployed to Iraq, she (Wood) brought those rules with her," Buckner said. "Those rules were modified to make sure the right restraints were in place."

OK, this is me again (note to self, learn how to change fonts). Rules of engagement are rules for conducting warfare, not rules for conducting interrogation, as Sen. Carl Levin pointed out to generals Abezaid, Miller and Sanchez. Guess Senate Committee on Armed Forces hearings aren't being televised in Iraq yet.

Bush vows to tear down what's-that-name-again prison

So why couldn't the dumb f**k pronounce the name of the prison correctly? Abu Ghraib, we've heard the name literally hundreds of times in the past two weeks, and Mr. "The Buck Stops with Buck Privates" can't even pronounce it?

Now, there have been three distinct pronunciations: Aa-boo Grabe, Aaboo Grub, and Aaboo Gra-heeb. He could have picked any of these. Maybe it was having too many choices that was his undoing.

I remember, in the distant recesses of my middle-aged mind, reading an article about Bush's mangling of language. The gist of it was, when Bush really believes in and cares deeply about what he is saying the words flow from his mouth with ease. It's when he is forced to say something that he doesn't care about that he begins to garble.

I guess he thinks destroying America's credibility vis-a-vis human rights issues in the world isn't a big deal. I'm lookin' at the big picture, see?

Bushit Translation: If we have to tear down that Ahh-boo G-g-gruh prison to get you people focused on my re-election, OK, then, we'll do it. Bring 'em on. Mission Accomplished.

Good thing he didn't have to talk about the Taguba report.

Others who find this annoying: No More Mister Nice Blog, Hammerdown

From Atrios Speech Comments thread:

why no makeup over left eyebrow? is that where the tamping rod was extracted?
"abu ..garummmP"phineas gage | Email | Homepage | 05.24.04 - 8:28 pm | #

How distracting is his tennis-game back-and-forth between right/center/left teleprompters? Talk about phoning it in. Abu Ga - wait a sec, let me find my place - raib.
Enoch | Email | Homepage | 05.24.04 - 8:28 pm | #

He can't even pronounce Abu Ghraib he slurring his words more than usual?
ellroon | Email | Homepage | 05.24.04 - 8:28 pm | #

he can't even f**king say "abu ghraib". I wonder if anyone has even told him about it.
jason. | Email | Homepage | 05.24.04 - 8:29 pm | #

Did Bush just say Abu-Gah-Rape?
The Fool | Email | Homepage | 05.24.04 - 8:30 pm | #

aboo garub-du-dub ... eh, nevermind.
a**-head foot-mouth | Email | Homepage | 05.24.04 - 8:30 pm | #

Holy Cow! Did you see his life flash in front of his eyes when he couldn't pronounce AbuGraib? LMAO The name of the prison that killed his political career, and he can't pronounce it not *once* but *twice.* I think everyone was just clapping cuz he pronounced it right the third time. I have no clue what he said about it, I was laughing too hard.
Humanitarian Do-Gooder | Email | Homepage | 05.24.04 - 8:31 pm | #

Uh oh. Bush can't pronounce Abu Ghraib. Bad, really bad. How embarrassing. I wonder how many times he practiced it.
Anonymous | Email | Homepage | 05.24.04 - 8:31 pm | #

Ah-boo gah-rape; ah-boo gary; abu gravy

3 tries not a one of them even close. I honestly thought he was having a stroke with the first one.
attaturk | Email | Homepage | 05.24.04 - 8:32 pm | #

So far I'm enormously heartened by hearing Bush say again everything he's already said that hasn't happened yet. I am, however, disappointed to hear that we have another prison scandal to contend with. Apparently there has been dishonorable conduct at Abu Garoob as well!
Palmer Eldritch | Email | Homepage | 05.24.04 - 8:34 pm | #

Let's remind you guys that these thar bad guys are evil doers. Evil doers like Aboo Gra uh Grai uh Grub bad guys evil evil bad bad. Vote for me cuz I am War President and I am a good doer not a evil doer.
ellroon | Email | Homepage | 05.24.04 - 8:38 pm | #

It's amazing how consistent Bush is in being unable to get words out of his mouth when the words are associated in his mind with mistake or failure. Thus: Abu Ghraib, mangled.
Tena | Email | Homepage | 05.24.04 - 8:47 pm | #

i hope it's cool in blogtopia for me to have copied some posts from Atrio's comments page....I'm sure someone will let me know if it's not....

Monday, May 24, 2004

The Arrogant Boy in the Bubble

Bush doesn't read newspapers. He obviously isn't a student of history. And now even the cowed media is beginning to tell us the truth -- he's the boy in the bubble. Today's New York Times article tells us he met with the G-8 foreign ministers for exactly 8 minutes (60 seconds per country?) then made a hasty departure, taking no questions. The big "summit" with the Republicans last week? 35 minutes of Bush speaking, no questions allowed.

The truth, via Lincoln Chafee (R-RI): ""The president talked about being humble when he was running for office," Mr. Chafee said, "but the opposite seems to be true."

Not humble, not smart. Here's what ABC reports some of the other Republicans were doing during that interminable 35 minutes: "Will the president find out that Time magazine reports that during last week's pep talk on the Hill, members "checked e-mail on their BlackBerrys or read newspapers on their laps while Bush rambled"?" (emphasis added)

I just watched the speech. Just like I predicted, there's no there there. No plan, no change of course. Worst of all, no admitting the truth, that it's a disaster. Stay the course, damn the consequences.

I need a drink.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

"Facing the Real Possibility of Defeat"

The L.A. Times tells us what we already knew -- it's all fallen apart in Iraq. And Bush's solution? He's going to give 6 major policy speeches over the next 6 weeks. Great.

What will those speeches contain? War on Terra, stay the course, 9/11, Saddam Hussein, our magnificent military, the most superb Secretary of Defense in history, torture chambers, rape rooms, war president, we will bring democracy to Iraq, yadda, yadda, yadda. A lot of sound & fury signifying nothing.