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Archive for June 19th, 2008

Quinnipiac: Obama Leads in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2008 4:42 am by HL

Quinnipiac: Obama Leads in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania
The latest Quinnipiac Swing State polls shows Sen. Barack Obama — with strong support among women, blacks and younger voters — leading Sen. John McCain among likely voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania The results show:

  • In Florida, Obama edges McCain 47% to 43%
  • In Ohio, Obama tops McCain 48% to 42%
  • In Pennsylvania, Obama leads McCain 52% to 40%

Notable: This is the first time Obama has led in all three states. No one has been elected President since 1960 without taking two of these three largest swing states in the Electoral College.

McCain, Oil Drilling and Florida
Political Insider: Did McCain just lose Florida?


“There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2008 4:41 am by HL

“There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes”
Those words are quoted from Major General Antonio Taguba, USA (Ret.) in a preface he wrote to a report put out by Physicians for Human Rights entitled “Broken Laws, Broken Lives.” General Taguba knows from which he speaks, he is the general entrusted with the investigation into allegations of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Now, he has found torture at Gitmo.

torturewrong-2.jpg

An organization known as Physicians for Human Rights has managed to interview and examine 11 detainees held in places like Kandahar, Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca and even Gitmo. They detailed their findings in a report released this week entitled Broken Laws, Broken Lives.

Physicians for Human Rights mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity, and justice and promotes the right to health for all. Harnessing the specialized skills, rigor, and passion of doctors, nurses, public health specialists, and scientists, PHR investigates human rights abuses and works to stop them.

In PHR’s new report, Broken Laws, Broken Lives, [PHR] ha[s] for the first time medical evidence to confirm first-hand accounts of men who endured torture by US personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay. These men were never charged with any crime.

You have to register to read the reports, but you can do so here.

The PHR report has a preface written by Major General Antonio Taguba, USA (Ret.). He is the general who wrote the report detailing prisoner abuse [long document] at Abu Ghraib.

In his preface, General Taguba states in seriously unequivocal language that the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo amounts to “war crimes” on American soil. He said:

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

The report is a series of case studies done involving detainees who were subsequently released and never charged with any crime. Yep, after holding them for years, interrogating them with torture, the US government realized it had no basis to continue holding them and let them go without so much as a “whoops, my bad” by way of apology much less reparation.

The PHR report not only catalogues what the prisoners say happened to them, it includes the steps taken by the physicians to corroborate via physical exam, including bone scans and other testing to establish proof of scarring consistant with the stories told by the prisoners.

In seems that the interrogators focused their work on injuries to soft tissue believing it would not produce lasting scars and it would be the word of a detainee against the word of the US government.

However, some of the electroshock treatments left scars on the skin and some of the beatings left telltale scarring on the bones. Not noticeable to the naked eye, but provable with a bone scan. What PHR has done is put together the kind of forensic evidence needed to actually convict in a war crimes court.

I’m not saying that the information in this report, or the underlying backup documentation make a triable case all by themselves. I doubt that it does.

But this is a HUGE development in terms of the feasibility of bringing a war crimes trial and actually getting a conviction.

And who might be the subject of such a war crimes trial? I don’t have my own theory, yet, but McClatchy sure seems to:

The framework under which detainees were imprisoned for years without charges at Guantanamo and in many cases abused in Afghanistan wasn’t the product of American military policy or the fault of a few rogue soldiers.

It was largely the work of five White House, Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers who, following the orders of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, reinterpreted or tossed out the U.S. and international laws that govern the treatment of prisoners in wartime, according to former U.S. defense and Bush administration officials.

—snip—

The quintet of lawyers, who called themselves the “War Council,” drafted legal opinions that circumvented the military’s code of justice, the federal court system and America’s international treaties in order to prevent anyone — from soldiers on the ground to the president — from being held accountable for activities that at other times have been considered war crimes.

–snip–

The quintet did more than condone harsh treatment, however. It created an environment in which it was nearly impossible to prosecute soldiers or officials for alleged crimes committed in U.S. detention facilities.

–snip–

The five lawyers on the War Council met every few weeks behind closed doors in Gonzales’ or Haynes’ office to plot legal strategy, according to Jack Goldsmith, a former senior Justice Department lawyer.

Several other former U.S. officials confirmed that the group was the driving force for White House policy on detainees.

Who are these geniuses?
-David Addington
-Alberto Gonzales
-William J. Haynes, II
-Our old nemesis John Yoo
-Timothy Flanigan

Please go read the McClatchy piece, it’s a wonderful piece of work and just chock full of information. This is what reporting is supposed to look like and so seldom does. Enjoy.

One of the other things I like about the PHR report is that it debunks the notion that the detainees were trained or have been subsequently coached to make up false claims of abuse. CNN had the story up on Wednesday morning. This story needs to grow a strong pair of legs. Every pundit should be talking about this. For weeks.

Eighteenth in a series on torture and the law

[Editor’s note: This photo by takomabibelot features a banner created and designed by Firedoglake reader BonnieT of Austin, Texas, where she operates OpposeTorture.org.]


A Time To Lead On FISA

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2008 4:40 am by HL

A Time To Lead On FISA

Via mcjoan, the NYTimes Ed Board writes:

If Congress cannot pass a clean bill that fixes the one real problem with FISA, it should simply extend the temporary authorization. At a minimum, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, should oppose FISA expansion and pledge to revisit it next year. If any significant changes are going to be made, they should be made under the next president. There are clear differences between the candidates. Senator John McCain, who is sounding more like Mr. Bush every day, believes the president has the power to eavesdrop on Americans without a warrant.

Senator Barack Obama opposes immunity and voted against the temporary expansion of FISA. We hope he will show strong leadership this time. He might even take time off from the campaign to vote against the disturbing deal brewing in the back rooms of Congress.

(Emphasis supplied.) The time to lead on FISA is now Senator Obama.

Speaking for me only


Stupid Mass Transit

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2008 4:39 am by HL

Stupid Mass Transit
I take it all back. It sucks.


NY Times Hypes McCain Credentials

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2008 4:38 am by HL

NY Times Hypes McCain Credentials
Looks like McCain’s national security adviser is inventing history.


Obama: You Wanna Talk About 9/11? Well, Let’s Talk About 9/11!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2008 4:37 am by HL

Obama: You Wanna Talk About 9/11? Well, Let’s Talk About 9/11!
Barack Obama continues hitting back hard today at the false McCain/GOP assaults on him for allegedly seeing terrorism as only a law-enforcement problem… “I refuse to be lectured on national security by people who are responsible for the most disastrous…


Abramoff Crony Gets New Trial

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2008 4:36 am by HL

Abramoff Crony Gets New Trial
From the AP: A federal appeals court has ordered a new trial for a former Bush administration official convicted in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. David Safavian, former chief of staff for the General Services Administration, was convicted of lying…


Iraq demands veto to US operations

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2008 4:35 am by HL

Iraq demands veto to US operations
Intensive talks on future of US forces, 2-yr. agreement planned, minister says.

Blackwater co.:Try us under Islam
War contractor seeks to be sued in Afghanistan instead of US.


Feith: ?We Did Not? Exaggerate Iraq Threat, Just Made ?Errors? In Presentation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2008 4:34 am by HL

Feith: ?We Did Not? Exaggerate Iraq Threat, Just Made ?Errors? In Presentation
Earlier today, former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith refused to appear at a House Judiciary hearing. But while he didn’t have the time for Congress, he did have the time to appear on Bill Bennett’s radio show this morning. During the interview, Bennett asked Feith if the Bush administration exaggerated the case for war with […]

Earlier today, former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith refused to appear at a House Judiciary hearing. But while he didn’t have the time for Congress, he did have the time to appear on Bill Bennett’s radio show this morning.

During the interview, Bennett asked Feith if the Bush administration exaggerated the case for war with “the mushroom clouds and so on.” “Did we overstate the case?” asked Bennett. “I think that we did not,” replied Feith, though he conceded, “There were errors made in the presentation”:

BENNETT: One, did we overstate the case, the mushroom clouds and so on? Was there exaggeration? Not inaccuracy about the weapons, but did we overblow it?

FEITH: I think that we did not. I don’t think that administration officials purposely overstated, I do think there were errors made in the presentation and the main error was of course relying on the CIA’s assessment that we would find not just the chemical and biological weapons programs, but actual stockpiles.

Feith went on to claim that it is a common misconception that “the Bush administration officials came into office hell bent on war.” Listen here:

Feith’s claim that there was no “exaggeration” by the White House before the war is yet another example of his misremembering the facts in an effort to save his tattered reputation. In fact, the New York Times article earlier this month on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the administration’s pre-war claims was titled, “Senate Panel Finds Iraq Intelligence Exaggerations.”

Here are just a few examples of the exaggerations found by the Senate Intelligence Committee:

– Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

– Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

– Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.

Feith’s claim that Bush administration officials were not “hell bent” on war is contradicted by others who served in the administration. For instance, in 2004, former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill told CBS News that “from the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go.”

Transcript: (more…)


France’s Whirlwind of Change

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2008 4:28 am by HL

France’s Whirlwind of Change
Jim Hoagland, Washington Post