Monday, June 28, 2004

The Supreme Court rules that Gitmo prisoners will be able to appeal their detentions in the court system:
The US Supreme Court has ruled that terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba can use the US legal system to challenge their detention.

The six-to-three ruling is a major setback for the Bush administration.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Mighty Jimbo over at Digital Catharsis has a few thoughts on the Bush apologists' accusations that people who criticize the President are unpatriotic.
Those who accuse us of being unpatriotic love to remind us that thousands of men and women have died to protect those freedoms we chose to invoke. I am well aware of this. My grandparents are both veterans, as is my uncle. My brother is an officer in the Marine Corp, and I am proud of him and his decision to be ready to fight for our country.

That doesn’t mean I want him to fight for causes that I believe are amoral or unjust. It’s called Memorial Day because those soldiers are dead. And before we send any more of our children off to kill or to die, aren’t we not only justified but required to question why? If we believe strongly that those sacrifices are not made in the best interests of the world or our country, are we not only justified but required to dissent?
Huzzah, Jimbo. Huzzah!

I too have family that has fought for this country. I had an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War. A war which never would have happened, had our founding fathers not decided to DISSENT against the British monarchy. My grandfather fought in World War II, was involved in the invasion of Normandy (D-Day+1 or D-Day+2, can't remember which), and earned a purple heart and silver star later in the war. He later spent 30 years as a professor in the Journalism Department at the University of Michigan, and never shied away from criticizing the government for actions with which he didn't agree.

The "dissent is un-American" crowd reminds me, in many ways, of Fundamentalist Christians (which many of them are). Fundies thump their Bibles emphatically, all the while picking and choosing which sections of those same Bibles they will ignore, and which they will not only obey, but impose upon others. (Ignore: compassion for the less fortunate and "judge not lest you should be judged," among other things. Impose upon others: restrictions on women's rights, sex, homosexuality, etc.) Likewise, the Über-Patriots thump their American-flag emblazoned chests in righteous indignation against dissent, while picking and choosing which sections of the Constitution they will ignore, and which they will trumpet with pride (only in their case, those sections are one and the same). Ignore: First Amendment's freedom of speech (except theirs), freedom of the press ("it's the liberal media's fault!"), and freedom of religion (again, except theirs). Trumpet: freedom of speech (theirs only), freedom of religion (theirs only), freedom of the press (FOX News, ClearChannel, Sinclair Broadcasting). In both cases, hypocrisy and self-righteousness abound, and compassion and tolerance are sorely lacking.

It's highly ironic that the Über-patriots' attitude against dissenting opinion more closely resembles that of the old Soviet KGB, than the attitudes of the framers of our Constitution. So much for the land of the free!

Quote for the Day: "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it."--Voltaire

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The Daily Misleader on Bush's hypocrisy regarding military veterans. I recommend reading the whole thing (it's short), but here's a quick blurb:
President Bush spent the Memorial Day weekend thanking the nation's veterans for their service, saying "we acknowledge the debt [we owe them] by showing our respect and gratitude." Yet, his rhetoric came just hours after the Bush Administration announced new plans to slash veterans health care funding if it returns to power in 2005. He's already drastically cut Veterans programs, now he's planning to cut them even MORE? Compassionate conservative, my ass!
Atrios and the Hoeffel Campaign attempt to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the new Medicare prescription drug plan. An exercise in futility, to put it mildly!
The members of the Iraqi Governing Council are proving to be tough negotiators, and it looks like the Bush Administration is going to have its hands full with the new president and prime minister.
Iraqi leaders forced Washington and the United Nations to back down on Tuesday on their choice of president to lead Iraq out of American occupation.

But the 11th-hour compromise that saw Washington's choice of head of state make way for tribal chief Ghazi Yawar, a critic of U.S. military tactics, ensured the president is surrounded by an interim cabinet laden with technocrats nominated by the U.N.

Yawar, 46, a U.S.-trained civil engineer with links to Saudi Arabia, has accused the U.S. military of provoking Iraqis.

He demanded that the United Nations give Iraq "full sovereignty" when the U.S.-led occupation authority is wound up on June 30. But 150,000 foreign soldiers, mostly Americans, are set to stay on for the foreseeable future to provide security.

He has also complained that the U.S.-drafted U.N. resolution that sets out the handover plan gives Iraqis too little control of oil revenues, and he wants more control over foreign troops than Washington is offering.

New Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a former exile with close ties to the CIA, also said Iraqis wanted an end to occupation and would expand their army -- but he expressed gratitude for U.S. and European forces defending Iraq meantime. His team has a month to settle in before replacing the U.S.-led authority.

After a two-day stand-off, the United States and U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi accepted Yawar in the largely ceremonial role of head of state after their preferred candidate, elder statesman Adnan Pachachi, was formally offered the job and turned it down.

One Iraqi politician had complained of U.S. "dictatorship" though U.S. officials later denied trying to impose Pachachi.

It seemed at first like a clear win for the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, which last week named Allawi as premier in a move that caught Brahimi and Washington off guard.

"There were a lot of rows this morning but everything settled down when Pachachi withdrew," Council member Rajaa Habib Khuzai told Reuters. "We think this has been a big victory for the Governing Council and for Iraqis themselves."
A recently discovered Pentagon email indicates Dick Cheney may have helped his close buddies at Halliburton get no-bid government contracts.
The e-mail, reported by Time magazine, provided "clear evidence" of a relationship between Cheney and multibillion-dollar contracts Halliburton has received for rebuilding Iraq, Sen. Patrick Leahy said.

"It totally contradicts the vice president's previous assertions of having no contact" with federal officials about Halliburton's Iraq deals, Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said in a conference call set up by John Kerry (news - web sites)'s presidential campaign. "It would be irresponsible not to hold hearings."

The March 2003 Pentagon e-mail says action on a no-bid Halliburton contract to rebuild Iraq's oil industry was "coordinated" with Cheney's office. Cheney was chief executive officer of the oilfield services giant from 1995 until he joined George W. Bush's presidential ticket in 2000.

Time said it located the e-mail among documents provided by Judicial Watch, a watchdog group. The e-mail was sent by an Army Corps of Engineers official on March 5, 2003.

It said Douglas Feith, who reports to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, approved arrangements for the contract to rebuild Iraq's oil industry "contingent on informing WH (White House) tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP's (vice president's) office."

A former deputy defense secretary from the mid-1990s, John White, said the e-mail showed unprecedented political input on Pentagon contracts. An official like Feith, an undersecretary for policy, should not be handling contracts, he said. "I've never heard of anything like this before."