September 29, 2006

One Nation, Under Torture . . .

Congress to approve torture, methods to be decided by president and kept secret.

The Republican Congress, with the help of a small but shameful minority of Democrats, is about to grant the executive branch of government unprecedented powers to torture detainees accused of "terrorism" by secret means to be determined by the president. The proposed legislation would also allow the president to interpret the Geneva Convention, which covers the treatment of prisoners of war, in basically any manner he sees fit, apparently bypassing review by the Supreme Court.

Democratic efforts to eliminate some of the more draconian aspects of this legislation failed, as did an amendment by Republican Senator Arlen Spector to preserve detainee rights to Habeus Corpus. Under the bill, which is identical in both House and Senate versions, detainees would be tried by "military commissions" which would be able to use hearsay evidence if the court determined it to be "reliable."

The denial of Habeus Corpus and detainee rights to legally challenge their status appears to be unconstitutional on its face, and virtually guarantees that any legislation passed will be brought again before the Supreme Court. Said Republican Senator Smith from Oregon, “We should have done it right, because we’re going to have to do it again.” Smith, trying to have things both ways, actually voted for the legislation when attempts to attach a Habeus Corpus amendment failed to pass by 2 votes.

It is ironic indeed that this virtually certain to pass legislation will concede the president unprecedented powers very similar to those formerly held by "brutal" dictator Saddam Hussein to determine which "enemies" are to be detained and what methods are to be used to inflict punishment or extract information.

And now it's on to Bush's bogus "Global War Against Terrorism."

Unfortunately, constitutional questions are the last thing on the minds of the Republican majority and the White House, both of whom are desperately trying to boost their collapsing approval ratings. With the mid-term elections less than two months away, there's no way the Republicans wish to be reminded about their do nothing record in Congress. Or, to be phraed more accurately, their "do nothing good for the American people" record in Congress.

Having done nothing about the war in Iraq, health care, growing poverty and increased economic polarization, corporate greed and irresponsibility, government corruption, the outsourcing of millions of jobs, the environment, global warming, oil dependency, and disaster relief and FEMA, the Republicans are nevertheless going to deliver big time in one regard. They're going to give us an intensive, 24/7 crash course via the Republican friendly mass media, and the subject -- again -- is fear. As in, "Be afraid. Be very, very afraid."

This time their fear campaign consists of attempts to paint the Democrats and other critics of White House foreign policy as "soft on the terrorists." The cheer leader for this is none other than President Bush himself. The following Bush commentaries come from an address made at the Wardman Park Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C. on September 29th.

President Bush: "You do not create terrorism by fighting terrorism."

Sounds a bit like Bush's infamous and Orwellian "When we're talking about war we're really talking about peace" one liner. What he really meant, but wouldn't dare say was, "You do not create terrorism by fighting terrorism, you create it by invading sovereign nations like Iraq." The president then moved on to complain about a recently leaked intelligence report that paints a devastating picture of the Iraqi invasion, and identifies the occupation of Iraq as the prime mover behind the increase in the number of terrorist attacks across the globe. The report concludes by saying that we are more in danger of another major attack on our soil because of this.

President Bush: "Some have selectively quoted from this document to make the case that by fighting the terrorists -- by fighting them in Iraq -- we are making our people less secure here at home."

"Selectively"? We haven't heard anything released so far from this document that doesn't suggest that the invasion of Iraq has created a recruiting bonanza of epic proportions for Al-Qaeda akin to what happened here in the U.S. to armed forces enlistments the day after Pearl Harbor.

President Bush: "This argument buys into the enemy's propaganda that the terrorists attack us because we're provoking them."

Translation: Anyone who doesn't buy into my Iraqi invasion schemes is a "cut and run" Al-Qaeda enabler. Thirty-five years ago, this statement would have read, "Those calling for a withdrawal of troops in Vietnam are buying into communist propoganda and giving aid and comfort to the enemy." The president also managed to slip a few words -- actually more than a few words but about half the speech -- in about his other foreign policy albatross, Afghanistan.

President Bush: "The training of the Afghan police has not gone as smoothly as that of the army."

And things didn't go as smoothly for Custer at the Little Big Horn than he would have liked.

President Bush: "The police have faced problems with corruption and substandard leadership. And we've made our concerns known to our friends in the Afghan government."

Perhaps the president is considering handing out another contract to Halliburton, this time to give the Afghans ethics and morals lessons? Wait a minute, perhaps he already did?

President Bush: "I have watched very carefully the development of this important country from one that was in the Soviet sphere to one that now is a free nation."

Hold the phone! He left out one "minor" little episode. The 800 pound gorilla in the room one in which the U.S. under Ronald Reagan gave six billion dollars to Islamic fundamentalists -- including Osama bin Laden -- to help them overthrow a secular Soviet backed government which in turn led to the Taliban coming into power. Which in turn led to the setting up of Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, which in turn led to 9/11, which in turn led to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Which in turn has led to the reinvigoration of the Taliban.

President Bush: "Five years ago, Afghanistan was ruled by the brutal Taliban regime. Under the Taliban and al Qaeda, Afghanistan was a land where women were imprisoned in their own homes, where men were beaten for missing prayer meetings, where girls couldn't even go to school. What a hopeless society that was, under the rule of these hateful men. Afghanistan was the home to terrorist training camps."

And things have changed today how? Although for a second we did think he was talking about the present post Bush-invasion situation in Iraq.

President Bush: "I've constantly told the American people we must defeat the enemy overseas, so we do not have to face them here at home."

And more and more Americans are beginning to feel that they have a bigger and more dangerous enemy in our own backyards.

President Bush: "President Musharraf (of Pakistan) made the choice to fight for freedom, and the United States of America is grateful for his leadership."

The president left out the part where his Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, told Musharraf to "Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age."

President Bush: " Iraq is not the reason the terrorists are at war against us. They are at war against us because they hate everything America stands for -- and we stand for freedom."

This is perhaps the biggest lie told by Bush in this address, and one that Bush repeats every chance he gets. The present armed conflict in Iraq is a direct result of the destabilization caused by Bush's invasion and occupation of the country. Al-Qaeda has been and remains a minor player. The bulk of the armed resistance to the U.S. occupation is coming from indigenous Iraqi factions from within the ranks of millions of Iraqis who lost family members, jobs, property, and economic security because of the invasion, many of whom are Sunni muslims. Within these resistance factions there is also antagonism between Sunni muslims, a minority within the country but the ruling faction under Saddam Hussein, and the Shiites muslim majority which suffered greatly under Hussein. In addition, the much repressed Kurdish national minority in the oil rich North is also a competing force for power in any new government that is formed.

Painting the present situation in Iraq as the front lines in a "global war against terrorism" is a patently false, but it is the only rhetoric Bush can sell to the American people to justify his badly failed criminal enterprise.

President Bush: "One of the great things about America is, you're equally American if you're a Jew, a Muslim, a Christian, an agnostic or an atheist."

And what president has done more to undermine this noble ideal than Mr. Bush?


President Bush Discusses Global War on Terror.

Abu Ghraib Torture Photos.