28 April 2008

An Open Letter to Senator Barack Obama

Dear Senator Obama,

I was disappointed to read on April 27, that you plan to vote to confirm General David Petraeus to lead Central Command. Although widely heralded with "success" for the surge in Iraq , a closer examination of his efforts in Iraq (note: the reduction in violence is not likely due to his leadership) reveals Petraeus' record to be an abject failure that is simply covered over by political gamesmanship.

Petraeus made his move into the political realm in September, 2004 with the publication of an Op-Ed in the Washington Post. This Op-Ed was clearly meant to influence public opinion in favor of President Bush for the upcoming election. The column by Petraeus primarily focused on the "success" he had in training Iraqi troops to take over their own defense. However, despite the rosy numbers spouted by Petraeus in the column, then, as now, Iraqi troops remain completely incapable of defending their country, as demonstrated by the failed al Maliki offensives in Basra and Sadr City last month.

Yet, despite the failure as commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command to develop a battle-ready, independent Iraqi army, Petraeus was promoted to command all forces in Iraq, quite possibly as a reward for his political support of President Bush. In fact, there was one report that after his first meeting with his then commanding officer, Admiral William Fallon, Fallon referred to Petraeus as an "ass-kissing little chickenshit". This same report makes it clear that Admiral Fallon opposed the concept of the surge from the beginnng and that Petraeus was appointed to his role as commander in Iraq to serve as the public face of the Bush surge policy.

It is particularly galling that Petraeus should be chosen to head CentCom because Fallon widely was seen as the last hope for preventing a US attack on Iran. Fallon was widely quoted as having said such an attack would not occur "on my watch". With Fallon now out of the way, appointment of Petraeus to his post would appear to pave the way for such an attack. Given that Tony Snow revealed recently that 80% of President Bush's advisers were against the surge, (note: the link to the Tony Snow quote no longer seems to function, but the quote was repeated on a number of other blogs before the Desert Sun took the article down) yet Bush appointed Petraeus to command troops in Iraq so that he could be the public voice of the surge, why should we believe that Petraeus' role as head of CentCom will be for any other purpose than to advocate for invasion of Iran?

Our military is facing a crisis through the loss of the best and brightest among potential senior officers:
In 2005, internal Army memos started to warn of the "disproportionate loss of high-potential, high-performance junior leaders." West Point graduates are leaving at their highest rates since the 1970s (except for a few years in the early 1990s when the Army's goal was to reduce its size). Of the nearly 1,000 cadets from the class of 2002, 58 percent are no longer on active duty.
Very high on the list of reasons for leaving was "dissatisfaction with the way the Army leadership is managing the war, and the part that played in their decision to leave." Confirmation of General Petraeus as head of CentCom only will exacerbate this situation.

26 April 2008

Congressman Steve Cohen (D - TN 9th) Questions FBI Director Mueller About Torture

Steve, in committee (Judiciary) on 23 April 2008, asked the Director specifically about the FBI's legal obligation to notify other agencies of what it believed to be illegal actions that those other agencies were performing. He followed up by asking if FBI had indeed fulfilled its statutory requirement. From Steve's web site:
Responding to my questions, Mueller recalled that he had warned the Justice Department and the Pentagon that some U.S. interrogation methods might be illegal. The FBI’s admission of their disapproval of other departments’ interrogation techniques is new evidence of the Bush Administration’s reluctance to follow the law, and Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and I will continue to investigate this issue. You can view a video of the exchange:

I am extremely pleased by Steve's representation of the TN 9th during this term, the first of what I hope will be many, many more. Steve Cohen's vigorous defense of our Constitution of the United States of America and his commitment to Human Rights make Steve one of the Good Ones!

For more on torture, expertly examined in depth, see Humanity Against Crimes blog.

25 April 2008

Violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

One of the most dominant stories in yesterday's news was the United States' denunciation of Syria and accusations that Syria was pursuing nuclear weapon technology at the Syrian facility bombed by Israel on September 6, 2007. Today, we learn from the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradai, that Israel was in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by taking unilateral action. As reported by AFP:

Nevertheless, the watchdog was critical of both the US and Israel for their handling of the matter.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei "deplores the fact" that the information was not immediately passed on the the Vienna-based watchdog in accordance with the guidelines of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)," the statement said.

"Under the NPT, the agency has a responsibility to verify any proliferation allegations in a non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT," the statement said.

"In light of the above, the Director General views the unilateral military action by Israel as undermining the due process of verification that is at the heart of the non-proliferation regime," it added.

By destroying the facility instead of reporting it, Israel (presumably with the blessing of the US) prevented inspection of the facility to determine its true purpose. The world is left to wonder whether US claims of a Middle Eastern country to develop weapons of mass destruction can be believed this time. The recent track record on this , of course, is abysmal.

Why can Israel get away with violating the NPT? Because it is not a party to the treaty.

22 April 2008

With One Voice

The striking revelation on Sunday by the New York Times of the recruiting, briefing and deploying of retired military officers into the media to promulgate the Pentagon's version of the Iraq war is staggering in many respects. I would like to concentrate on one aspect of the story that stands as an example of dangers to our country that its founders warned us against. Writing in The Federalist No. 10, James Madison wrestled with the problems inherent in the natural outbreak of factions with differing interests and the inherent struggle between factions with differing views.

Madison starts with a definition of faction:
By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
He then goes on to state that there are two possible approaches to dealing with the difficulties inherent in factions:
There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

A strong argument can be made that George W. Bush has employed both of these approaches to removing causes of faction when enforcing his policies in the United States. The destruction of civil liberties as seen in suspension of habeas corpus, illegal warrantless wiretapping and torture, although clothed as tools in the war on terror, undoubtedly also have served to reduce open expressions of dissent.

The New York Times article, however, is an example of Bush's efforts to "give every citizen the same opinions". The drive to have only one opinion expressed is a hallmark of Bush's presidency. In October, 2005, Nick Turse, writing at TomDispatch.com, told us of "the seemingly endless and ever-growing list of beleaguered administrators, managers, and career civil servants who quit their posts in protest or were defamed, threatened, fired, forced out, demoted, or driven to retire by Bush administration strong-arming." He called this list The Fallen Legion and it can be viewed here at CommonDreams.org. That list is undoubtedly much longer now.

With the Fallen Legion as backdrop, it is interesting to look at the New York Times' description of the incident known as The Generals' Revolt:

The full dimensions of this mutual embrace were perhaps never clearer than in April 2006, after several of Mr. Rumsfeld’s former generals — none of them network military analysts — went public with devastating critiques of his wartime performance. Some called for his resignation.

How is it that none of these retired officers who came out against the handling of the war were employed as military analysts by the networks? Glenn Greenwald reports today that "in CNN's case, contrary to the gist of its denials to the NYT, it actually seemed to be a source of pride that the military analysts they were using were explicitly approved of by the Bush administration."

That brings us full circle to how the Bush Administration has achieved a news media that speaks with one voice. The Pentagon recruits and informs retired military officers who then are "chosen" from lists provided by the networks to be the "independent" analysts for discussion of the war. This does not explain just why the networks, or at least CNN, choose to "clear" their choices with the Pentagon. Do they fear consequences if they do not use approved analysts?

Despite these efforts by Bush to remove all dissent from his inner circle and those speaking for the Administration, we learn (via ThinkProgress) of a very interesting revelation by Tony Snow that Bush chooses his own voice over that of his advisers:

He praised Bush for increasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq despite widespread unpopularity for the war at home and abroad. He said 80 percent of Bush's advisers opposed last year's military surge in the nation, which still faces an uncertain future.

"Everybody was telling him, 'You're crazy, don't do this,'" Snow said. "You get the chills He's really unafraid to take the hits if he thinks he's doing the right thing."

I get chills for another reason. I think Madison knew that someday George W. Bush would be our president when he said (again in The Federalist No. 10) "Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm." Let us hope that the next person at the helm is enlightened enough to realize that the very liberties our country cherishes so much come with a diversity of voices.

17 April 2008

A Call to Action

Democracy for America, USAction, True Majority and Brave New Films have come together to produce a hard-hitting video outlining the case for why Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice must resign. They are collecting signatures on a petition at condimustgo.com and when they achieve 100,000 signatures (they had over 37,000 signatures at 7:30 am ET April 17, less than 24 hours after launching the campaign), they will deliver the petition to Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama. Here is the video:

In the video, we are reminded that at the "Principals Meetings" disclosed by ABC News last week, government officials at the highest levels orchestrated interrogation sessions including torture. At one of these meetings, Secretary Rice said to CIA officials, regarding the interrogation of a new detainee using these techniques, "This is your baby. Go do it."

Please take a moment to sign the petition by clicking the Democracy for America link above and then send the link on to your friends. For more information on torture as committed by the United States government, please visit Humanity against Crimes.

Each of us, after becoming aware of the crimes against humanity that are being committed by our government, in our name, has a responsibility to do everything we can to see that these atrocities stop immediately.

11 April 2008

Rates of Change: A Meditation on the Calculus of Societal Revolution

Revolutionary societal changes occur in increments. A complex array of conditions must be in place for pendulum shifts of change to occur, and it is useful (in the context of pendulum shifts of societal change) to view the "body politic" holistically, that is as a single body, a single organism composed of multiple smaller organisms in the same way that a living body is composed of multiple and varying structures, systems, cells, molecules, and atoms. (One might alternately allude to a "Systems Approach," meaning that everything affects - and is affected by - everything else.)

One of the requisite conditions for a societal pendulum shift is the oppression of a critical mass of citizens to the degree that that mass is impelled by tyranny to rebel. Another needed element is tested charismatic leadership, but it would be a fallacy to think that the charismatic leader drives change; the truth is that she responds to the impetus of the masses, serves as a focal point of the people's discontent, and simultaneously harnesses the energy of the disaffected mass of people. All of this occurs in an organic process that has a life progression (power) of it own, the pace of which cannot be forced, not even by the tested charismatic leader.

Up until now, the pressure of tyranny has not been present in enough force to stimulate change. The constitutional abuses that the Bush administration has inflicted upon the nation - and the world - thus far do not affect a large segment of the U.S. population viscerally. The real pain of catastrophic economic downturn has not made itself excruciatingly known, yet. The ravages of combat born by an all-volunteer professional military do not touch the masses. Eventually though, a tipping point of one or all of these (and likely other conditions as well) will be reached. Could public revulsion toward Bush's enthusiastic embrace of torture emerge as that tipping point? Whicever iniquity does finally push the citizenry beyond its tolerance for oppression, some fiery individuals will push back in response, with varying degrees of effect. In other arenas, groups will respond. If history is a guide (and there is good reason to believe it is), the pendulum will swing. In all likelihood, many more people - mostly largely innocent - will suffer during the process. It is a pity, but no less true for it, nor in any way avoidable for the knowing.

Why We Are Here

From the AOC Mail Bag:

For as long as I can remember, lip service has been paid to our "inalienable rights" as citizens of this country. Yet even as we have been parroting those words, to ourselves and to others, the very institutions responsible for upholding, educating, protecting etc. have been systematically eroded by a small group of powerful people who really only believe in those rights for themselves.

Halting that erosion is the task we have set for ourselves.


Pakistan Emergency Update - Karachi outrage: HRCP for probe by world experts

From the HCRP Blog:

Press Release, April 10

Lahore: While condemning the Tuesday’s violence in Karachi, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called for a probe by international experts. In a statement issued here today, the commission said:

What happened in Karachi on Wednesday, especially the burning alive of several innocent Pakistanis, can only be condemned as acts of utterly horrible bestiality. The hands behind what is obviously a counter-offensive by the camp hostile to lawyers’ campaign must be exposed and the culprits, if it is possible to apprehend them, made to face justice....
Read the rest of the post here

Salon.com has an understated AP account "
Strains Show in New Pakistani Government" here

AOC contributors ondelette, RMP, and Jim White have new posts up (including beautiful Farsi text and Persian poetry) at Humanity Against Crimes (HAC) blog. The subject is torture.

07 April 2008

Examining the Decrease in Violence in Iraq

Tomorrow, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker begin Congressional testimony on the situation in Iraq. Look for lots of self-congratulatory talk of dramatic reductions in violence levels, marred only by the minor hiccup of violence in the past few weeks. Further, look for lots of chest-thumping and bragging by Republicans claiming that victory now is within reach.

Despite the claims that will be made that the US military is responsible for the decrease in violence, I think the case can be made that the decrease can be ascribed almost entirely to four other factors. I will list each below, describe the flawed strategy that got us there, describe how the situation is not sustainable and then suggest what really should be done.

1. Four million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes, with two million of them no longer in the country. A major result of this displacement is that the country effectively has been ethnically cleansed. The previous level of integration in neighborhoods no longer exists and a full 16% of the pre-war population is displaced. That would be equivalent to 48 million US citizens displaced from their homes and with neighborhoods becoming exclusively Christian or Jewish.

This situation is a direct result of the original US invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of the government. The situation was made even worse by the subsequent disbanding of the Iraqi military and police organizations.

I would expect Petraeus and Crocker to ignore this situation completely and to perhaps put out a few platitudes if asked about the refugee problem by a Democrat during the hearings. What needs to be done is to provide massive amounts of humanitarian aid to the countries housing the refugees, primarily Jordan and Syria, and to engage them in developing plans for repatriation to occur in concert with withdrawal of US troops.

2. Moqtada al-Sadr declared a cease fire on August 29, 2007, and the stand-down of his Mahdi army has played a major role in the decrease in violence. This was confirmed recently, when Nouri al Maliki declared an offensive against the Mahdi army in Basra and the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad. The dismal failure of this offensive seemed only to demonstrate that violence levels can rise and fall at the command of al Sadr, not the Iraqi government or US forces.

The key failure in this instance is the US strategy of supporting an individual rather than an institution. By clinging to al Maliki, the US is ignoring the many other political factions within Iraq. Political reconciliation cannot occur when the US supports only one small faction. Instead, we should be supporting the entire Iraqi Parliament and working to ensure that all political parties are given a voice in determining the future of the country. The original justification for the surge was to provide “breathing space” for political reconciliation, yet the US , by supporting only al Maliki, has prevented any such reconciliation.

3. A key feature of the violence reduction in summer and fall of 2007 was the development and funding of the Sunni Awakening Councils, beginning in Anbar Province and spreading from there. With the enticement of weapons and funds, Sunni tribal leaders were convinced to switch their allegiance from supporting al Qaeda to fighting al Qaeda. In starting this program, General Petraeus ironically chose to ignore the lesson of history in which the US initially funded and armed Osama bin Laden for his fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. That one worked out just fine, didn’t it?

As should have been expected, this situation is not sustainable and is leading to questions, as reported by BBC:

Meanwhile, the Shia-dominated government is distinctly wary of the Awakening movement.

It fears the Americans are arming and funding groups who represent a potential threat.

Tribesmen are famously independent-minded.

Having switched sides once, might they not do so again - especially when the Americans begin to draw down their forces later this year?

Again, this particular failure is another example of supporting individuals over institutions. As stated above, the US should be supporting the Iraqi Parliament and ensuring all political factions are afforded representation and a voice in moving the country forward.

4. Over 50,000 Iraqis have been detained since the beginning of the surge. The New York Times reported in February that Iraqi forces have detained 26,000 prisoners and US forces separately hold 24,000 prisoners in American military prisons. Given the abuses that Iraqi prisoners have been subjected to in the past, when there were fewer prisoners at Abu Graib putting this many new detainees under control of US troops is quite possibly the biggest strategic error of the entire occupation. Recent events, with the publication of the Yoo torture memo Bush’s veto of the Intelligence Authorization Act that would ban waterboarding by all US personnel, will only serve to fan the flames of US hatred by the immediate family and friends of those detained. It is very easy to imagine that each detained “insurgent” will lead to the creation of very many more vowing revenge for the mistreatment of those detained. and

Don’t expect Petraeus or Crocker to address this issue. In fact, it will be stunning even if Congressional Democrats ask about it, but this behavior by the US guarantees that hatred of the US will continue throughout the occupation. The only solution is to turn over all detainees to the Iraq government, cease combat operations by US troops and begin an orderly withdrawal.

In summary, a number of factors besides US combat operations have contributed significantly to the downturn in violence in Iraq since early 2007. Upon examination, it is unlikely that the violence decrease can be sustained in any meaningful fashion and that US strategic errors committed by General Petraeus will lead to continued instability in Iraq. Significant strategy changes will be needed to reduce violence sustainably and allow withdrawal of US forces. Don’t look for Petraeus or Crocker to suggest any moves that would achieve these results.

04 April 2008

In Memoriam, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. His words ring just as true today as when he made this historic address in Washington.

Thank you for your dream, Dr. King, and for your inspiring leadership in how to change our great country.

02 April 2008

Gearing Up for the Next Petraeus and Crocker Show

The Congressional elections of November, 2006 were widely seen as a resounding rejection of the war in Iraq by the citizens of the United States. Seen by everyone that is, except the President. In his January, 2007 State of the Union address, he said:

We're carrying out a new strategy in Iraq -- a plan that demands more from Iraq's elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we're deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq.
And so was born the surge. The new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate then flexed their muscles, and gave the President everything he asked for as they funded the surge through the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007. In a minor fit of conscience, however, they did append language to the bill establishing a set of benchmarks against which progress in Iraq was to be judged.

The first review of these benchmarks was in September, 2007. Knowing that a complete lack of credibility would prevent Congressional testimony by Bush, Cheney, Gates or Rice, it was decided that the surge report card would be delivered by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Despite the rosy picture painted by Petraeus and Crocker in their testimony, the Government Accountability Office also presented its own report on the 18 benchmarks that were established in the funding bill. They found that as of September, 2007, three of the 18 benchmarks were met, four were partially met and 11 were unmet.

On January 24, 2008, the Center for American Progress published an updated report on the Iraq benchmarks on the one year anniversary of the State of the Union speech announcing the surge. They found three benchmarks met, five partially met and 10 unmet. Below is a list of these benchmarks, with their description from the GAO report, their status in September, 2007 from GAO and their status in January, 2008 from the Center for American Progress. On a few of them are some added comments about events since January. A new report by Petraeus and Crocker is scheduled for Congressional testimony on April 8, so this analysis is meant as an aid in preparing for the testimony to follow.

1. Forming a Constitutional Review Committee and completing the constitutional review.
Unmet in both reports, although there is a recent report of members of this committee traveling to Northern Ireland to study conditions there.

2. Enacting and implementing legislation on de-Ba’athification.
Unmet in the GAO report and partially met in the CAP report.

3. Enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources of the people of Iraq without regard to the sect or ethnicity of recipients, and enacting and implementing legislation to ensure that the energy resources of Iraq benefit Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Kurds, and other Iraqi citizens in an equitable manner.
Unmet in both reports. Even worse, during Cheney's trip the region, it was reported that Crocker and Petraeus are now negotiating directly with oil firms for new contracts with the Iraq government.

4. Enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.
Partially met in GAO report and unmet in CAP report.

5. Enacting and implementing legislation establishing an Independent High Electoral Commission, provincial elections law, provincial council authorities, and a date for provincial elections.
Unmet in both reports. The prospect of provincial elections was a point Bush touted prominently in the 2007 State of the Union speech, but still, over 15 months later, no elections because conditions are simply too unstable.

6. Enacting and implementing legislation addressing amnesty.
Unmet in both reports.

7. Enacting and implementing legislation establishing a strong militia disarmament program to ensure that such security forces are accountable only to the central government and loyal to the Constitution of Iraq.
Unmet in both reports.

8. Establishing supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad security plan.
Met in both reports.

9. Providing three trained and ready brigades to support Baghdad operations.
Patially met in both reports. This really should be considered an abject failure. Note that much of the talk prior to the surge was about how the US will "stand down" as the Iraqis "stand up". Also, before assuming overall command of Iraq, Petraeus' primary duty was in training Iraqi security forces. So, 15 months after starting this glorious surge, we are only partially to the point of training and implementing a measly three brigades. That is pathetic.

10. Providing Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions, in consultation with U.S. commanders, without political intervention, to include the authority to pursue all extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.
Unmet in GAO report and partially met in CAP report. I suspect that CAP would withdraw the partially met designation after the abject failure last week of Iraqi forces taking on the al Sadr militia in Basra.

11. Ensuring that Iraqi security forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law.
Unmet in both reports.

12. Ensuring that, according to President Bush, Prime Minister Maliki said “the Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation.”
Partially met in GAO report, unmet in CAP report.

13. Reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security.
Unmet in GAO report, partially met in CAP report. Again given the events of last week indicate that security in Sadr City is still under the control of al Sadr, so the partially met designation by CAP is no longer warranted.

14. Establishing all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad.
Met in both plans.

15. Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces units capable of operating independently.
Unmet in both plans. As discussed above, the inability to develop security forces, after 15 months of trying, is inexcusable and calls into question whether Iraq will ever be able to develop security forces while the US continues its occupation.

16. Ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.
Met in both plans.

17. Allocating and spending $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.
Partially met in both reports.

18. Ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi security forces.
Unmet in both reports.

Summarizing, the Center for American Progress found that status on two benchmarks that were partially met in September, 2007 had deteriorated to unmet. They found that status on three benchmarks unmet in September, 2007 had improved to partially met. Unfortuantely, the increased violence last week, and the demonstrated ability of Muqtadq al Sadr to both increase and decrease violence at his command, demonstrated that two of those areas of partial progress are no longer warranted.

At this point, 15 months after the funding of the surge, three benchmarks are met, three are partially met and 12 are unmet. The net change since September, 2007 is negative in this analysis, by one partially met benchmark. It will be quite interesting to see just how Petraeus and Crocker try to put lipstick on this pig.

Wall Street Journal Propaganda

N=1 (an AOC contributor, AKA "Annie"), who can turn a phrase with the best of 'em, has a new post up at Home of the Brave (HOB) blog about corporate and journalistic meddling in Public Health higher education issues. AOC is committed to helping good citizens everywhere, and is thus happy to comply with N=1's request to share this column with readers. The nursing profession comprises a vital cog in the mechanisms that enable societies to move forward, yet it would be difficult to name a less appreciated field of hard-working educated professionals. Elite nurses who pursue doctoral level studies are now finding themselves in a ridiculous and short-sighted confrontation - not of their choosing - with turf-conscious doctors and their corporate enablers. Here's an excerpt:
The WSJ Health Blog put on its best gender biased, turn of the Nineteenth Century paternalistic presentation of a fabricated problem with the nursing profession’s push to educate more nurses at the doctoral level. The public is ill served by tripe such as this. Readers will come away with the message that those nasty, not legitimate handmaidens of physicians are acting up, are defying their vows of obedience and obsequious, and are trying to take over medicine’s turf...
N=1 is soliciting comments at HOB and asking for readers to send their comments to the WSJ Health Blog.

01 April 2008

A Post From Retired Military Patriot: Murat Kurnaz's Five Years at Guantanamo

The 60 Minutes piece Sunday on Murat Kurnaz, a Turk living in Germany, who at the age of 19 vanished into America's shadow prison system in the war on terror, has created a furor by RW commenters on CBS’s blog site. These commenters are trying to refute Kurnaz’s credibility ala Dan Rather’s report on president Bush’s Air Guard service. Some of the over 2,000 postings and counting are disgusting in their blood thirsty vitriol and dismiss any rights that captured detainees should have simply because our government or foreigners on behalf of our CIA believe them to be enemy combatants.

Kurnaz was snatched off a Pakistani bus three months after 9/11 and if his story of no involvement with either the Taliban or al-Qaeda is true as he tells it to Scott Pelley, then he truly lived an awful nightmare in the hands of our government. Even if he did at first seem to be a security risk as Germany's Federal Office of Criminal Investigations claimed and may have embellished the severity of his torture to discount his story as these RW bloggers are doing only shows the effectiveness of the Busheviks' fear mongering propaganda among believers.

Scott Pelley and CBS said “there seemed to be ample evidence that Kurnaz was an innocent man with no connection to terrorism. The FBI thought so, U.S. intelligence thought so, and German intelligence agreed. But once he was picked up, Kurnaz found himself in a prison system that required no evidence and answered to no one.” It’s hard to believe that CBS and its lawyers did not thoroughly vet Kurnaz’s story in light of the Dan Rather suit.

Kurnaz’s credibility is not the main lesson to be learned from his nightmare of living inhuman years in a legal, human rights limbo under the jurisdiction of our government and constitution. His story is not the only rare look inside as Pelley hauntingly said, “that clandestine system of justice, where the government's own secret files reveal that an innocent man lost his liberty, his dignity, his identity, and ultimately five years of his life.” A book by Andy Worthington, “The Guantánamo Files” tells the story of how on January 11, 2002, the first of 774 prisoners arrived at Gitmo and until the book came out in the fall of 2007 the story of these men was largely unknown.

They were held without charge, without trial, without access to their families, and, initially, without access to lawyers, and Worthington says “they are part of a peculiarly lawless experiment conducted by the US administration, which has chosen to disregard both the Geneva Conventions and the established rules of war, holding the men not as criminals or as Prisoners of War, but as “illegal enemy combatants,” a category of prisoner which is itself illegal.”

A Huffington Post story by Worthington in September of 2007 provides details of the release of 16 Saudis. Since then,we have heard from lawyers representing Gitmo prisoners of one horror story after another. Candice Gorman who represents two “detainees,” said in her comments on the book, “Perhaps most disturbing, from a personal point of view, is the author’s unraveling of the US government’s manipulation of classified information, not to protect national security, but in a vain attempt to hide the truth about Guantánamo. The fact that the prison’s real story has been ignored by our corporate media, by politicians on both sides of the aisle and, most distressingly, by the judiciary, makes this book an important historical contribution to this dark period. If the US happens to survive this episode of cruelty and lawlessness, The Guantánamo Files will be an important tool for coming to grips with how we as a nation allowed indefinite detention without charge, extraordinary rendition and torture to become national policies.”

Col. Morris Davis, the chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantánamo, told why in a New York Times op-ed piece that he had to resign from his commission. He has charged his Gitmo and DoD superiors with illegal polticial influence. The latest story charges that the DoD wants to have show trials take place this fall during the height of Johnny McSame’s campaign for president. Colonel Davis was placed under a gag rule and ordered not to testify at a Senate hearing. He said, “While some high-level military and civilian officials have rightly expressed indignation on the issue, the current state can be described generally as indifference and inaction.”

Once again the M$M has virtually ignored the 60 Minutes report by Pelley even though the RW blog world hasn’t. There seems to be so much trashing of the rule of law and our constitution by the Busheviks that it just seems to the M$M as old news not worthy of much attention. That is an extremely disturbing and sad reflection on the state of our fourth estate and balance of powers. American and foreign political leaders have insisted that Gitmo be closed and our president simply ignores them. Like FISA, it is just another attempt to cover up illegal activities until he leaves office. Unless he does a signing statement that clears him of all legal liabilities, we need to go after him and his collaborators until they end up in prison themselves. And we should deny them the same rights they have denied thousands in prisons under our control in Afghanistan, Iraq and who knows where else.