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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 09/30/2007 - 10/07/2007
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Our Congress isn't worth the powder to blow it up

goddam it... goddam it to hell... the fcc is an executive branch entity, so of COURSE they won't investigate telecom collusion with the nsa, another executive branch entity, both of which are under the control of the executive office of the president... congress continues to swat at flies when it's clear the bigger problem is a criminal presidential administration riding roughshod over separation of powers, the constitution, civil liberties, the rule of law and anything else that dares to get in its way, and that forever requesting information only to be stonewalled ain't going to miraculously go away...
The head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission declined to investigate reports that phone companies turned over customer records to the National Security Agency, citing national security concerns, according to documents released on Friday.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin turned down a congressional request for an investigation as a top intelligence official concluded it would "pose an unnecessary risk of damage to the national security," according to a letter National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell sent to Martin on Tuesday.

Intelligence officials "support your determination not to initiate an investigation," McConnell wrote to Martin.

At issue are reports last year that some big telephone companies allowed the U.S. government access to millions of telephone records for an anti-terrorism program.

i've decided that congress is either full of fools or is deliberately colluding with the white house in the destruction of our country...

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"We, as a country, are living a lie"

hard on the heels of my earlier Impeachment ... or accept that the United States is no longer a Republic governed by the rule of law post, steven d at booman tribune uses today's wapo story about yet another "reassignment" of a senior military legal officer, Air Force Col. Moe Davis, the chief prosecutor for the Guantánamo military commissions trials, as a springboard to put together a documented chronology of the numerous reassignments and outright firings that point to a profound dis-ease with the so-called legal process being imposed on detainees...

his summation...

It's a familiar pattern by now. Question the way the Bush administration wants these phony show trials for the Gitmo detainees to be stage managed and your ass is kicked to the curb. Swallow your pride, your honor and any sense of justice or morality you possess and you can continue your legal military career. But at what cost?

We are becoming the opposite of the Land of the Free. America no longer stands for truth and justice, it stands for torture and indefinite detentions. We no longer have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, we are obligated to submit to the federal government keeping its all seeing electronic eye on us night and day. We can be denied the right to travel, if we end up on the government's mysterious "no fly" list. We can no longer peaceably assemble and dissent without being subject to mass arrests so that the President and his faction can party it up in New York City.

We, as a country, are living a lie. We are not a free country, and we are not the land of the brave. And that is the joint legacy of George Bush and all those who cowered before him after 9/11. And the few individuals who have risked their lives, or their careers and their reputations, by insisting on doing what is right rather than what the Bush administration demanded, are the exceptions that prove the rule.

he concludes with the famous kurt vonnegut quote from Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance With Death...
And so it goes.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Angel Falls

a clip from the bbc's planet earth series... something beautiful and soothing for the start of a weekend...

and a relief from the more sobering aspects of our current reality...

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Impeachment ... or accept that the United States is no longer a Republic governed by the rule of law

robert parry is singing out of my songbook, or i'm singing out of his, take your pick...
At some point, the congressional Democrats may have to face up to the hard choice before them: either put impeachment of Bush and Cheney back “on the table” or accept that the United States has ceased being a constitutional Republic governed by the principle that no man is above the law.


- skip over to daily kos, a vaunted "progressive," "liberal" site and read posts supporting obama, hillary, and edwards, the latest outrages about supporting or not supporting the troops, mark penn, and blackwater...

- then pop on over to think progress and read about who's including george bush in their prayers, tony snow's appearance on last night's letterman, and a new right wing group being set up by newt gingrich, et al...

- or swing by atrios and read about the u.s. attorney caught in a sex sting, larry craig, and chris matthews...

evidently, the very likely possibility that our country "has ceased being a constitutional Republic governed by the principle that no man is above the law" isn't something worth posting about...

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IMAGINE PEACE: pictures from the children of Iran

more like this...

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Locals resist irresponsible gold mining in Honduras

i've posted a couple of times about the doe run la oroya operation in peru (here and here)... there seems to be a lot of movement in the grassroots in latin america about many things, and mining activities are a big one... here's an excerpt from a story about community resistance to gold mining in honduras...
On January 9, 2007, representatives from the Mam-Mayan villages that neighbor the "Marlin mine" in San Miguel Ixtahuacan, San Marcos, Guatemala, operated by Goldcorp Inc's wholly owned subsidiary Montana Exploradora, visited the mining company office. They presented a petition to Goldorp Inc. requesting a resolution to a number of problems suffered due to mining operations.


On January 10, community representatives returned to the Goldcorp offices for the response to their petition. According to testimonies, company representatives not only denied all responsibility for the problems, but also insulted them.

Upon leaving the companies installations, the community representatives met up with some community members and began walking to their homes. About two kilometers from the mine entrance, members of Goldcorp's private security company attacked the campesinos throwing rocks at them and firing guns, and attempted to force one man into a company car.


On January 22, the company initiated penal charges against 22 residents of communities neighboring the mine. Arrest warrants were issued for 7 of the 22.


On September 11, the trial was officially opened and on September 26 the trial began. The next phase, the presentation of evidence is scheduled for October 8, 2007.

The communities continue to seek remedy for the damages they are suffering. The communities are extremely concerned about information disseminated by Goldcorp Inc's public relations department in which they announce plans to release water with residues from processing gold, a process in which cyanide, arsenic and other toxic chemicals are used, into the Tzalem river, a tributary of the Cuilco river.

a little bit about goldcorp, a canadian company based in vancouver, b.c... (note: the company DOUBLED its reserves in 2006... add that to the soaring price of gold - $741.20 per ounce as i write this, up from $530 in january 2006 - and you can see that goldcorp is drowning in profit... also note that 70% of the company operations are in nafta countries...)
Goldcorp is a leading gold producer engaged in gold mining and related activities including exploration, extraction, processing and reclamation. The Company’s assets are comprised of 11 operations and 7 development projects throughout the Americas. Over 70% of Goldcorp’s reserves are situated in NAFTA countries.

Goldcorp is one of the world’s largest gold mining companies and in 2006 the Company doubled its reserves and resources from 5 million to 10 million ounces through the acquisition of assets from Barrick (Placer Dome) and Glamis Gold Ltd. Gold production is forecast to increase by over 50% in the next five years.

and like doe run in la oroya, goldcorp touts its civic activities...
Goldcorp has created a number of programs that provide communities with economic and technical means to achieve sustainability. One of the health programs, initiated by the San Martin foundation, and together with the Spanish NGO Dentistas Sin Fronteras, worked to bring a dental brigade to Valle de Siria, Honduras.

from goldcorp's website information about the honduras marlin mine... (note: also like doe run, goldcorp runs its operations through wholly owned subsidiaries to better protect the parent company from financial risk...)
The Marlin mine is 100% owned by Montana Explorada de Guatemala, S.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goldcorp. The Marlin Mine is a conventional milling operation with a combination of open pit and underground mining which began commercial production in Dec 2005.

Marlin Mine is in the western highlands of Guatemala, 48 kilometers southwest of the city of Huehuetenango, approximately 300 kilometers northwest Guatemala City. The project lies within a highly prospective land package of approximately 100,000 hectares that encompasses the main Marlin deposit and other important mineralized zones.

Commercial production commenced in the forth quarter of 2005 and in its first full year of production Marlin achieved 161,000 ounces of gold and 1.6 million ounces of silver in 2006. Production from the Marlin mine is expected through to 2015.

we need to keep things like this visible... you have to ask yourself WHY the goldcorp would have 70% of its operations outside the u.s. in lesser-developed countries... you also have to ask yourself WHY the locals are upset, in spite of the fact that the company provides jobs and sponsors civic health projects for the community...

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Comunidades y Viviendas: "Slow Cities"

this fits in nicely with the community concept i've been discussing off and on (here, here and here, among others) for the past couple of months...

A banner for a festival in Bevagna:
The celebration is conducted at a snail's pace.

"Slow City" advocates argue that small cities should preserve their traditional structures by observing strict rules: cars should be banned from city centers; people should eat only local products and use sustainable energy. In these cities, there's not much point in looking for a supermarket chain or McDonald's.


"Our goal is to create liveable cities," says [Stefano Cimicchi, mayor of Orvieto, Italy, from 1991 to 2004], a cheerful 51-year-old with a white moustache and laugh lines around his eyes. "We are working, if you will, on the concept of the utopian city, in the same way as the writer Italo Calvino and the architect Renzo Piano have done."

The miniscule Tuscan Chianti town of Greve became the first "cittáslow" in 1999, followed by Bra, Positano and Orvieto. Over time, the slowness wave has spread. There are now 42 slow cities in Italy, and more and more cities -- in Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Poland and Norway -- conform to the movement's list of strict requirements. In Germany, a number of cities -- including Hersbruck, Lüdinghausen, Schwarzenbruck, Waldkirch and Überlingen -- have joined the select circle, which only admits cities with fewer than 50,000 inhabitants.

i've visited the cinque terre region in italy, five unesco world heritage sites villages along the ligurian coast... they function much the same way as "slow cities", and i was vastly impressed... the sense i got was one of towns existing for the people who live there, as opposed to places that have been overtaken and virtually destroyed by the automobile and the relentless push for business expansion and profit...

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre,
Ligurian coast, Italy

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"Passive suicide" in Guantánamo: "The immoral has become so mundane"

This is my country! Land of my birth!
This is my country! Grandest on earth!
I pledge thee my allegiance,
America, the bold,
For this is my country to have and to hold.
Clive Stafford Smith, the legal director of Reprieve, a British charity that provides legal representation to prisoners around the world, offers an op-ed in the LA Times on Guantánamo.

[T]he irony of this place runs deep, as does the tragedy. The base motto is "Honor Bound to Defend Freedom," even though my clients, who are prisoners in the detention center, have none.


Most of the secrecy in Guantánamo involves suppressing bad news about the base rather than anything that should really be classified. But I obey the rules or I go to jail, so until I get permission, I can only write about what I see, not what is said.


After crossing the bay on the 8 a.m. ferry, an escort drove me down Recreation Road, past the golf course. I noticed a yellow sign. The soldiers were admonished that their value of the week should be "Compassion."


It is sometimes a minor rule change, imposed from far above, that inflames me. I always carry lozenges, and some months back, a hunger-striking client agreed to take one to soothe his sore throat. By my next visit, the list of "contraband" had expanded to bar this insignificant salve.


In more than 20 years trying death-penalty cases, I have visited all the worst prisons in the Deep South, yet none compares to Camp Six here. To the military, this tribute to Halliburton's profiteering is state-of-the-art; to the human being, it is simply inhumane. The prisoners have an average of 23 hours a day in isolation, six hours of direct sunlight a month, perhaps one fishing magazine a week to read, and never, ever the chance to see a loved one. The immoral has become so mundane.

here's a little bit about reprieve...
Reprieve provides frontline investigation and legal representation to prisoners denied justice by powerful governments across the world, especially those governments that should be upholding the highest standards when it comes to fair trials.

Reprieve lawyers represent people facing the death penalty, particularly in the USA, or when those facing execution are British nationals . And we represent prisoners denied justice in the name of the ‘War on Terror,’ including those held without charge or trial in Guantánamo Bay and the countless secret prisons beyond. None of these prisoners can afford to pay for representation.

and here's some of what reprieve has to say about al jazeera journalist, sami al haj, clive stafford smith's client, who has spent over five years in detention...
Reprieve ... released statements from two leading psychiatrists diagnosing a serious decline in the mental condition of Guantanamo Bay prisoner Sami al Haj. The reports by noted Texan psychiatrist Dr. Dan Creson and British psychiatrist Dr. Hugh Rickards call for urgent and immediate treatment for Mr. al Haj.

Reprieve lawyers have represented Mr. al Haj since 2005. Reprieve provides frontline investigation and legal representation for prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.

Dr. Creson’s report suggests that Sami al Haj is suffering from severe depression and may be deteriorating to the point of imminent death:

“The … diagnosis best fitting the clinical picture that emerges … is Major Depression with psychotic features. It is also clear that his depressed affect bears little resemblance to depressive states one sees in the ordinary clinical practice of Psychiatry. He, in my opinion, fits into a sub-category of severe depression often seen in complex emergencies where an individual has given up all hope; where nothing remains relevant to survival. Such individuals have been called “passive suicides” by some humanitarian aid workers.”


“Mr Al Haj has the symptoms necessary for a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but it does seem a bit premature to use the term “Post” when the trauma is on going… Forced feeding is, in my opinion, always traumatic, even when it is done with respect and kindness. Indeed, the general ambiance of disrespect and planned humiliation are psychological traumas that contribute to depression and hopelessness.”

He goes on to say:

“The marked change in attitude that was noted and the description of Mr al Haj’s current behaviour suggests to me that Mr al Haj no longer has the ability to cope with his relentlessly traumatic environment and is in the process of withdrawing into himself; in effect, he is becoming a case of passive suicide. His cognitive changes, e.g. paranoia, are symptomatic of his depression, but probably also worsen as his physical deterioration increases. As his environment becomes more painful and less humane, with each new punitive act he is forced to endure, he will lose even whatever remaining will to live that he now retains.”

sami al haj has been held for nearly six years without charges... he has been on a hunger strike for 247 days and force-fed that entire time...

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Minnesota woman fined $222K for sharing 24 songs online

well, i hope the riaa (recording industry association of america) and our government are happy... they've managed to place another citizen in debt for the rest of her life... after all, if we aren't in debt, we're a lot harder to control...
The recording industry on Thursday won the largest judgment so far against consumers who illegally download music over the Internet when a federal jury ordered a 30-year-old Minnesota woman to pay $222,000 for copyright infringement.

The victory could embolden the industry in its four-year legal campaign against piracy at a time when illegal sharing of music online is exploding and dramatically reducing music sales.

The decision by the jury in a federal district court in Duluth, Minn., against Jammie Thomas, an Indian reservation employee, is the first case of its type to come to trial. The verdict could convince others accused of pirating music to settle their cases.

see if the riaa's tactics remind you of anything...
Tanya J. Andersen, a disabled single mom from Beaverton, Oregon, is turning the tables on the RIAA and suing the organization for illegally spying on her. The suit claims that Andersen, one of 21,000 people who have been sued by the RIAA since 2003 for illegally downloading music, is a victim of abusive legal tactics, threats and, yes, spying. Her filing says the RIAA refused to drop its case against her even after the recording industry’s own expert concluded she was innocent, and after Andersen discovered that the RIAA was attributing an Internet name to her that actually belonged to a young man living in Washington.

Andersen also claims that RIAA representatives threatened to interrogate her 10-year-old daughter, Kylee, if Andersen didn’t pay thousands of dollars in fines, alleging that a woman claiming to be the girl’s grandmother call Kylee’s school to inquire about her attendance.

ya know, the riaa and our government really do have a lot in common... but, just remember, the business of america is business...

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Ed and Elaine Brown

i've posted a couple of times (here and here) on the tax protesters, ed and elaine brown... it looks like our friendly government has had its wicked way...
U.S. Marshals arrested tax protesters Ed and Elaine Brown at their Plainfield home yesterday, ending the couple's eight-month standoff without bloodshed. The Browns vowed never to be taken alive, but U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier said yesterday that both Browns were arrested without incident on their property around 7:45 p.m.

"The Browns may now begin serving their 63-month federal prison terms," Monier said in a written statement last night. A representative for the marshals refused to answer any questions about the arrests last night.

"High-profile situations like this are always difficult, but they don't have to be tragic. I'm glad no one was injured, and that the community remained safe throughout the operation," Monier said.

ummmmmmmm... let's run that one by again... "the browns vowed never to be taken alive..." "both browns were arrested without incident..." o-o-o-o-oook...

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

"ICE why did you take my mom? I want her back"

(see "oops" below...)

this is sad... it's also wrong...

Hundreds of Hispanics marched on Reno streets Wednesday in protest of a raid last week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at 11 McDonald's restaurants.

The crowd was filled with young people who skipped school and mothers pushing strollers.

Six-year-old Julio Rodriguez, a first-grader at Smithridge Elementary School, carried a sign that said: "ICE why did you take my mom? I want her back."

Other Hispanic and community leaders met at a different spot to talk about how to tame community tensions and formulate a plan to deal with the fallout of last week's raids, which led to the arrest of 54 illegal immigrants.

are they here to destroy the fabric of the united states...? no... they only want what all of us want - financial security and a better life...
What the Hispanics who have immigrated to Northern Nevada really want to do is work, said Erica Lopez of Reno.

"If it wasn't for us, they wouldn't eat," the 20-year-old said. "We make their food."

She shouted to the counter protesters, "You need us."

i've often said that if all the hispanics in this country, legal or otherwise, were to stop working at the exact same moment, the country would immediately have to shut down...

but here's the really tragic part...

Many young people in the crowd said they were concerned how the raids split up families and wanted to show their support. Some wore duct tape over their mouths -- to signify people they believe do not have a voice -- and handcuffs.

"That's pretty wrong that the raid destroyed the families," said Maritza Solis, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Cold Springs Middle School. "We're only here to work, not to destroy the United States."

i've posted here before about my friend from mexico who, after three unsuccessful tries, managed to make it across the border to work construction with his brother in kansas, only to die in an automobile accident less than a year later, leaving a wife and daughter - my goddaughter - back in mexico without a husband or a father... these people are people, human beings, men and women who love and care for their families, not political pawns... this is absolutely not the way to handle the problem... meanwhile, mcdonald's business in the area takes a slight dip but will soon be back to business as usual... after all, the business of america is business...


like a dummy, i forgot to cross-reference this post to the post i put up this past saturday about the immigration and customs enforcement office of detention and removal 2003-2012 strategy, titled ENDGAME [PDF], one of the more horrifying and orwellian documents i have ever run across...

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The NYT jumps on the context-free journalism bandwagon, this time on torture

(see update below...)

i absolutely hate it when stuff comes out and the media makes it sound like it's SUCH a surprise... context-free journalism should be illegal...

When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.

But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

so, the nyt says that "explicit authorization" was obtained "for the first time", eh...? what a load of bollocks... donald rumsfeld authored a memorandum on 27 november 2002 "explicitly authorizing" the use of torture techniques, a memo that led directly to general ricardo sanchez "explicitly authorizing" torture techniques to be used in iraq, specifically abu ghraib, contained in a memo written on 14 september 2003... folks, i've tracked this like a bloodhound for over two and one half years and posted about it repeatedly... (go look the posts up for yourselves, i don't have the patience to dig out the links...)

one more time... here's the rumsfeld memo...

here's the authorization memo from general sanchez...

and here are the torture techniques that were authorized...

The use of techniques A-CC are subject to the general safeguards as provided below as well as specific implementation guidelines to be provided by the 205th MI BDE Commander. Specific implementation guidance with respect to techniques A-CC is provided in U.S. Army Field Manual 34-52. Further implementation guidance will be developed by the 205th MI BDE Commander.

Of the techniques set forth below, the policy aspects of certain techniques should be considered to the extent they reflect the views of other Coalition contributing nations. The description of the technique is annotated to include some policy issues that should be considered before application of the technique.

A. Direct: Asking straightforward questions.
*B. Incentive/Removal of Incentive: Providing a reward or removing a privilege above and beyond those that are required by the Geneva Convention from detainees. [Caution: Other nations that believe detainees are entitled to EPW protections may consider that provision and retention of religious items (e.g. the Koran) are protected under international law (see Geneva III, Article 34).]
C. Emotional Love: Playing on the love a detainee has for an individual or group.
D. Emotional Hate: Playing on the hatred a detainee has for an individual or group.
E. Fear Up Harsh: Significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee.
F. Fear Up Mild: Moderately increasing the fear level in a detainee.
G. Reduced Fear: Reducing the fear level in a detainee.
H. Pride and Ego Up: Boosting the ego of a detainee.
*I. Pride and Ego Down: Attacking or insulting the ego of a detainee not beyond the limits that would apply to an EPW. [Caution: Article 17 of Geneva III provides "Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind." Other nations that believe detainees are entitled to EPW protections may consider this technique inconsistent with the provisions of Geneva.]
J. Futility: Invoking the feeling of futility of a detainee.
K. We Know All: Convincing the detainee that the interrogator already knows the answers to questions he asks the detainee.
L. Establish Your Identity: Convincing the detainee that the interrogator has mistaken the detainee for someone else.
M. Repetition: Continuously repeating the same question to the detainee within interrogaton periods of normal duration.
N. File and Dossier: Convincing detainee that the interrogator has a damning and inaccurate file which must be fixed.
*O. Mutt and Jeff: A team consisting of a friendly and harsh interrogator. The harsh interrogator might employ the Pride and Ego Down technique. [Caution: Other nations that believe that EPW protections apply to detainees may view this technique as inconsistent with Geneva III, Article 13 which provides that EPW's must be protected against acts of intimidation. Consideration should be given to these views prior to application of the technique.]
P. Rapid Fire: Questioning in rapid succession without allowing detainees to answer.
Q. Silence: Staring at the detainee to encourage discomfort.
R. Change of Scenery Up: Removing the detainee from the standard interrogaton setting (generally to a location more pleasant but no worse).
S. Change of Scenery Down: Removing the detainee from the standard interrogation setting and placing him in a setting that may be less comfortable; would not constitute a substantial change in environmental quality.
T. Dietary Manipulation: Changing the diet of a detainee; no intended deprivation of food or water; no adverse medical or cultural effect and without intent to deprive subject of food or water, e.g., hot rations to MREs.
*U. Environmental Manipulation: Allowing the environment to create moderate discomfort (e.g. adjusting temperatures or introducing an unpleasant smell). Conditions may not be such that they injure the detainee. Detainee is accompanied by interrogator at all times. [Caution: Based on court cases in other countries, some nations may view application of this technique in certain circumstances to be inhumane. Consideration of these views should be given prior to use of this technique.]
V. Sleep Adjustment: Adjustment of the sleeping times of the detainee (e.g. reversing sleep cycles from night to day). This technique is NOT sleep deprivation.
W. False Flag: Convincing the detainee that individuals from a country other than the United States are interrogating him.
*X. Isolation: Isolating the detainee from other detainees while still complying with basic standards of treatment. [Caution: the use of isolation as an interrogation technique requires detailed implementation instructions including specific guidelines regarding the length of isolation, medical and psychological review, and approval for extensions of the length of isolation by the 205th MI BDE Commander. Use of this technique for more than 30 days, whether continuous or not, must be briefed to 205th MI BDE Commander prior to implementation.]
Y. Presence of Military Working Dog: Exploits Arab fear of dogs while maintaining security during interrogations. Dogs will be muzzled and under control of MWD handler at all times to prevent contact with detainee.
Z. Sleep Management: Detainee provided minimum 4 hours of sleep per 24 hour period not to exceed 72 continuous hours.
AA. Yelling, Loud Music, and Light Control: Used to create fear, disorient detainee and prolong capture shock. Volume controlled to prevent injury.
BB. Deception: Use of falsified representations including documents and reports.
*CC. Stress Positions: Use of physical postures (sitting, standing, kneeling, prone, etc.) for no more than 1 hour per use. Use of technique(s) will not exceed 4 hours and adequate rest between use of each position will be provided.

[Note: Red asterisks - * - indicate techniques which, as noted, may either be excessive or violate the geneva conventions.

The above interrogation techniques were transcribed from the original documents obtained by the ACLU and maintained in their archives which can be accessed here.]

it's worth noting YET AGAIN that general sanchez perjured himself before the senate armed services committee in testimony he provided on 19 may 2004...
On May 19, 2004, General Ricardo Sanchez testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Iraq Prison Abuse.
U.S. SENATOR JACK REED (D-RI): General Sanchez, today's USA Today, sir, reported that you ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison.

REED: Is that correct?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL RICARDO SANCHEZ, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ : Sir, that may be correct that it's in a news article, but I never approved any of those measures to be used within CJTF-7 at any time in the last year.

torture has been used since the get-go, and has been "explicitly authorized" at the highest levels of our government... nothing has changed... it has never stopped and, you can bet, is still going on today...

The Bush administration on Thursday denied reports that a secret Justice Department opinion in 2005 cleared the way for the return of painful interrogation tactics or superseded U.S. anti-torture law.

"This country does not torture," White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters. "It is a policy of the United States that we do not torture and we do not."

what the hell do you expect them to say...? "well, doggone it, you finally caught us... yep, we torture, and, by golly, we LIKE it..." when can we toss this bunch out on the street...? i'm free this afternoon...

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hey, Congress! I know you aren't listening and don't care, but ya oughta take a look at this anyway

my comment is #9...

House pushes for ‘phone jamming’ probe of White House

Today, members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the Justice Department seeking answers about “phone jamming” and voter suppression tactics in past elections. In particular, the letter pushed for an aggressive investigation into White House participation, expressing concern that “the FBI Special Agent working this matter allegedly was instructed not to follow investigative leads back to Washington.” 4:24 pm | Comment (9)

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Posted by Ali at 4:24 pm


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  1. Another letter to the so called Justice Department.

    “Huh, the door on this postal box won’t open, seems like it’s all jammed up with mail…..”

    Comment by Nevar — October 3, 2007 @ 4:26 pm
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  2. Democrats, stop writing GD letters. Take action. Subpoena and then use Inherent Contempt. It is the only tool you have. I am beginning to think that you like things the way they are because you are doing nothing to change things.

    Comment by bilbobaggins — October 3, 2007 @ 4:27 pm
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  3. This won’t go anywhere. Dems don’t have the balls to really do what needs to be done. Impeach the Chimp.

    Comment by leftcoast — October 3, 2007 @ 4:28 pm
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  4. Don’t start something that you know you won’t finish!

    Comment by Menehune — October 3, 2007 @ 4:31 pm
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  5. Do they really think we believe them anymore?

    Comment by texaslady — October 3, 2007 @ 4:38 pm
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  6. yes! finally!….. sarcasm ON.

    Comment by Fan of Man — October 3, 2007 @ 4:39 pm
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  7. …and another letter gets wadded up and tossed into a White House wastebasket…

    Comment by missmolly — October 3, 2007 @ 4:41 pm
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  8. Why do they even bother ? Of course that is easier than actually getting our troops home or writting a healthcare bill. Gee, answered my own question.

    Comment by texaslady — October 3, 2007 @ 4:47 pm
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  9. wow… another letter… gosh… color me unimpressed… who are they writing those letters FOR…? better yet, WHY…?

    And, yes, I DO take it personally

    Comment by profmarcus — October 3, 2007 @ 4:48 pm
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no cynicism or frustration here... no-o-o-o-o-oooooo sireeeeeeee...

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Is David Sirota waking up?

maybe there's still hope for david...
To paraphrase Thomas Paine, these truly are times that try progressives' souls... . As Beltway progressives pat themselves on the back and think success means getting on Hardball and movement-building means getting one of the most anti-progressive U.S. Senators in America [Max Baucus, D-MT] to attack rank-and-file progressive Democrats and undermine organized labor behind logo-emblazoned podiums in D.C., the bloodshed in Iraq continues, and the economic war on the middle class seethes here at home.

do ya suppose david's getting a clue...? there's little to no daylight between the r's and the dems, just so's ya know... that's not to say there aren't some good dems and, lord help us, a few good r's, but those that hold the reins of power (power = $$ = power) are simply not about to toss it away simply to satisfy a few piddlin' ideals and principles... the vaunted "realpolitik" that enforces support for every "single tactic and decision" along party lines is, in reality, just more political b.s. as usual... while our dear leaders in congress engage in orgies of fulmination at moveon and rush, our constitutionally-based democratic republic is continuing to be torn asunder, with our civil liberties and the foundations upon which our country is supposedly based left in tatters... and, guess what...? unless strong action is taken NOW, the nightmare WILL continue long past 20 january 2009...

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Evo Morales: "I think that indigenous people are the moral reserve of humanity"

The Real Reason People Fear Evo Morales

It's not just that President Evo Morales is indigenous, but that he refuses to sell out the rights of indigenous people.


They fear him not only because he is indigenous, not only because he is a leftist in the presidential palace with a massive base of support across the entire insurgent continent; they fear him because his public and private persona, his gentle charisma and ethical approach forces them -- and us -- to look at the long history of violence and hate buried in our individual and collective subconscious, our top-down notions of political -- and personal -- modernity. He forces us all to look at the inner Conquistador -- and the inner Indio.

We are ill-prepared to deal with someone who can say without blinking, "I think that indigenous people are the moral reserve of humanity."

as one who lives part time in argentina, has a warm spot in my heart for all of latin america and particularly for native peoples, and knows only too well the poverty and exploitation bolivia has endured, i have nothing but admiration and good will for evo morales and wish him and his country only the best...

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Barack and Hillary - personoids incapable of normal responses

an interesting perspective from barbara ehrenreich...
Trying to say nothing to offend, [Hillary] ends up saying nothing to inspire or even inform, and Obama, though still far more engaged and human-like, risks ending up with another Ambien candidacy.

Part of the problem is structural.We make our presidential candidates campaign for at least a year at a stretch. Take a normal person and subject him or her to month after month of trail mix and chicken Caesars, sleep deprivation, and the need to be "on," smiling and handshaking, 16 hours a day. No solitary moments of reflection, no walks in the park, no escape into thrillers. What do you get after a few months of this? A golem, the artificial, man-like creature of Kabalistic lore, a personoid incapable of normal responses.

So yes, America is ready for a black or a female president. Just be sure to wake us up when it happens.

it's very likely that neither one of them are getting my vote anyway and, just to be annoyingly repetitive, NOBODY'S getting my vote until he or she starts stepping up to our constitutional crisis...

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ya know what I'm REALLY sick of?

the amount of bandwidth, pixels, column inches and raw verbiage devoted to the likes of rush limbaugh, bill o'reilly, ann coulter, melanie morgan, bill kristol, and their ilk... i ran across a term in another blog a couple of weeks ago - "feeding the trolls..." it doesn't exactly apply to what's going on with those cited above but i think the general idea is right on... why the hell are we paying any attention whatsoever to these worthless people, wringing our hands, and bemoaning their latest outrages, when the fate of our country is at stake...? people who ought to know better like media matters, think progress, americablog and atrios should, imho, stop letting themselves get jerked around by these nitwits... (or maybe i'm overestimating them)... what's even more nauseating is watching our congress, ferchrissake, being sucked right in by submitting motions and resolutions, all while fulminating, weeping and gnashing their teeth... give it a rest, folks... our constitution is being abrogated while we waste time on bill o'reilly...? that's simply not acceptable...

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Monday, October 01, 2007

The border fence protects the environment

from those scummy, litterbug, illegal immigrants who are leaving their families behind and risking their lives trying to find a better life...
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Monday defended the construction of a fence along the southwest border, saying it's actually better for the environment than what happens when people illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico line.

"Illegal migrants really degrade the environment. I've seen pictures of human waste, garbage, discarded bottles and other human artifact in pristine areas," Chertoff said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "And believe me, that is the worst thing you can do to the environment."

there's one thing that officials in the bush administration have in common... they all have the sensitivity and compassion of a goddamed toilet seat...

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The Bourne Ultimatum and Blackbriar ain't just big-screen fiction

i took myself to the bargain matinee movie this afternoon, altho' $6.50 ain't what i call a "bargain matinee" price... guess i'm gettin' old...

anywayz, it was the bourne ultimatum, a flick i've been wanting to catch that i didn't get around to seeing when it came out in buenos aires... the action is good but i was much more interested in the technology and black ops showcase that i knew would be on display, and it didn't disappoint... however, as is distressingly typical these days, it's so very easy to move from hollywood to hard core reality in the blink of an eye... case in point...

George W. Bush has transformed elite units of the U.S. military – including Special Forces and highly trained sniper teams – into “death squads” with a license to kill unarmed targets on the suspicion that they are a threat to American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to evidence from recent court cases.

Though this reality has been the subject of whispers within the U.S. intelligence community for several years, it has now emerged into public view with two attempted prosecutions of American soldiers whose defense attorneys cited “rules of engagement” that permit the killing of suspected insurgents.

with precious few modifications, this was the plot premise of the movie... golly gee... why am i not surprised...?

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Sunnis and Shiites unite on one thing - don't Balkanize us

notably absent from the joint statement are the kurds...
Iraq's political leadership, in a rare show of unity, skewered a nonbinding U.S. Senate resolution passed last week that endorses the decentralization of Iraq through the establishment of semiautonomous regions.

The measure, which calls for a relatively weak central government and strong regional authorities in Sunni Arab, Shiite and Kurdish areas, has touched a nerve here, raising fears that the United States is planning to partition Iraq.

"The Congress adopted this proposal based on an incorrect reading and unrealistic estimations of the history, present and future of Iraq," said Izzat Shahbandar, a member of former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's secular parliamentary bloc.

He was reading from a statement also signed by preeminent Shiite Muslim religious parties and the main Sunni Arab bloc.

He was reading from a statement also signed by preeminent Shiite Muslim religious parties and the main Sunni Arab bloc.

"It represents a dangerous precedent to establishing the nature of the relationship between Iraq and the U.S.A.," the statement said, "and shows the Congress as if it were planning for a long-term occupation by their country's troops."

The nonbinding measure was approved in Washington on Wednesday, and resentment appears to be building daily in Iraq. Passed by senators, 75 to 23, it supports a "federal system" that would create regions dominated by sect and ethnicity.

The measure was sponsored by Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, a Democratic candidate for president. Biden, along with Council of Foreign Relations president emeritus Leslie Gelb, has advocated that the country be divided up along ethnic, sectarian and regional lines.

Northern Iraq already has a semiautonomous region ruled by Kurds, but its leaders want to annex adjacent areas with dominant Kurdish populations.

the friend i visited in texas last week announced that she liked biden... not one to keep my counsel, i said i thought biden was a nitwit... sponsoring the measure does nothing to dispel that notion...

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A veritable ORGY of spying and the target is YOU!

coming soon to a neighborhood near you...

the uk, long the most-surveilled country in the world, sinks to new lows...

Officials from the top of Government to lowly council officers will be given unprecedented powers to access details of every phone call in Britain under laws coming into force tomorrow.

The new rules compel phone companies to retain information, however private, about all landline and mobile calls, and make them available to some 795 public bodies and quangos.

The move, enacted by the personal decree of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, will give police and security services a right they have long demanded: to delve at will into the phone records of British citizens and businesses.

But the same powers will also be handed to the tax authorities, 475 local councils, and a host of other organisations, including the Food Standards Agency, the Department of Health, the Immigration Service, the Gaming Board and the Charity Commission. The initiative, formulated in the wake of the Madrid and London terrorist attacks of 2004 and 2005, was put forward as a vital tool in the fight against terrorism. However, civil liberties campaigners say the new powers amount to a 'free for all' for the State snooping on its citizens.

And they angrily questioned why the records were being made available to so many organisations. Similar provisions are being brought in across Europe, but under much tighter regulation. In Britain, say critics, private and sensitive information will inevitably fall into the wrong hands.

Records will detail precisely what calls are made, their time and duration, and the name and address of the registered user of the phone.

but they're in good company... take a look at new york city...
[New York City] security forces have eagerly embraced an Escape From New York-aesthetic -- an urge to turn Manhattan into a walled-in fortress island under high-tech government surveillance, guarded by heavily armed security forces, with helicopters perpetually overhead. Beginning in Harlem in 2006, near the site of two new luxury condos, the NYPD set up a moveable "two-story booth tower, called Sky Watch," that gave an "officer sitting inside a better vantage point from which to monitor the area." The Panopticon-like structure -- originally used by hunters to shoot quarry from overhead and now also utilized by the Department of Homeland Security along the Mexican border -- was outfitted with black-tinted windows, a spotlight, sensors, and four to five cameras. Now, five Sky Watch towers are in service, rotating in and out of various neighborhoods.


In 2006, according to a Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) spokesman, the MTA already had a "3,000-camera-strong surveillance system," while the NYPD was operating "an additional 3,000 cameras" around the city. That same year, Bill Brown, a member of the Surveillance Camera Players -- a group that leads surveillance-camera tours and maps their use around the city, estimated, according to a Newsweek article, that the total number of surveillance cameras in New York exceeded 15,000 -- "a figure city officials say they have no way to verify because they lack a system of registry." Recently, Brown told me that 15,000 was an estimate for the number of cameras in Manhattan, alone. For the city as a whole, he suspects the count has now reached about 40,000.

This July, NYPD officials announced plans to up the ante. By the end of 2007, according to the New York Times, they pledged to install "more than 100 cameras" to monitor "cars moving through Lower Manhattan, the beginning phase of a London-style surveillance system that would be the first in the United States." This "Ring of Steel" scheme, which has already received $10 million in funding from the Department of Homeland Security (in addition to $15 million in city funds), aims to exponentially decrease privacy because, if "fully financed, it will include. ... 3,000 public and private security cameras below Canal Street, as well as a center staffed by the police and private security officers" to monitor all those electronic eyes.

keep smiling, never look up, and, by all means, KEEP MOVING...!

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“Because life is about choices, I think we have to consider the use of military force”

could someone PLEASE put this guy out of my misery...?

from the jerusalem post via think progress...

“Because life is about choices, I think we have to consider the use of military force,” Bolton said. He added that any strike “should be followed by an attempt to remove” the “source of the problem,” Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

if there was any justice in this world, he and debra cagan (see previous post) would be seized in an extraordinary rendition, spirited away to a cia black site, and forced to watch endless repeats of the daily show...

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The face of diplomacy: John Bolton in drag

where does bush come up with these people...?

Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coalition
Affairs to Defence Secretary Robert Gates

Britsh MPs visiting the Pentagon to discuss America's stance on Iran and Iraq were shocked to be told by one of President Bush's senior women officials: "I hate all Iranians."

And she also accused Britain of "dismantling" the Anglo-US-led coalition in Iraq by pulling troops out of Basra too soon.

The all-party group of MPs say Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coalition Affairs to Defence Secretary Robert Gates, made the comments this month.

The six MPs were taken aback by the hardline approach of the Pentagon and in particular Ms Cagan, one of Mr Bush's foreign policy advisers.

i don't indulge in personal attacks, but i can't help but observe that the outfit she's wearing seems somehow totally inappropriate to any situation where she would be representing her country... on a personal night out to, let's say, a dance club, well, maybe...

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The REAL meaning of bipartisanship

leave it to tom tomorrow to cut through the crap...

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A little bit of gratitude for modern technology

after an extended skype conversation last night with a friend in argentina, thousands of miles away, i lay in bed and, rather than counting sheep, i tried to think of all the ways in which a computer and the internet have replaced all the old, familiar things that used to clutter my life... i was astounded at just how long the list was and i think i dropped off to sleep before i had reached the point where i couldn't think of any more... here's a sample...

since i became a true full-fledged user over 12 years ago, the internet and the computer has become my...

desk, filing cabinet, telephone, television, shopping mall, fax machine, post office, bank, checkbook, publisher, printer, travel agent, travel guide, library, research department, newspaper, magazine stand, bookstore, investment guide, networking forum, employment agency, graphic artist, photo gallery, radio, stereo, music store, music library, yellow pages, address book, calendar, appointment planner, diary, typewriter, audio recorder, video camera, classroom, textbook, political voice, voting booth, opinion outlet, discussion forum, community meeting, weatherman, and probably lots more that i haven't thought of...

amazing, ain't it...?

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

When the possibility of war looms, the jargon flies and the weird turn pro

shamelessly borrowing from my hero, hunter s. thompson: "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..."

more war preparations...

The American air force is working with military leaders from the Gulf to train and prepare Arab air forces for a possible war with Iran, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

An air warfare conference in Washington last week was told how American air chiefs have helped to co-ordinate intelligence-sharing with Gulf Arab nations and organise combined exercises designed to make it easier to fight together.

Gen Michael Mosley, the US Air Force chief of staff, used the conference to seek closer links with allies whose support America might need if President George W Bush chooses to bomb Iran.

Pentagon air chiefs have helped set up an air warfare centre in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where Gulf nations are training their fighter pilots and America has big bases. It is modelled on the US Air Force warfare centre at Nellis air force base in Nevada.

Jordan and the UAE have both taken part in combined exercises designed to make sure their air forces can fly, and fight, together and with American jets.

naturally, the jargon was flying thick and fast...
Bruce Lemkin, the American air force deputy under-secretary for international affairs, said: "We need friends and partners with the capabilities to take care of their own security and stability in their regions and, through the relationship, the inter-operability and the will to join us in coalitions when appropriate…

'scuse ME, but WTF did you just say...?
"On its most basic level, it's about flying together, operating together and training together so, if we have to, we can fight together."

oh... ok, then...

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Meanwhile, the war drums continue to beat and a revised strategy for attacking Iran moves forward

i'm glad to see hersh back in the thick of it... first spiegel (see earlier post) and now this...
In a series of public statements in recent months, President Bush and members of his Administration have redefined the war in Iraq, to an increasing degree, as a strategic battle between the United States and Iran.


The focus of the plans had been a broad bombing attack, with targets including Iran’s known and suspected nuclear facilities and other military and infrastructure sites. Now the emphasis is on “surgical” strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism.

The shift in targeting reflects three developments. First, the President and his senior advisers have concluded that their campaign to convince the American public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat has failed (unlike a similar campaign before the Iraq war), and that as a result there is not enough popular support for a major bombing campaign. The second development is that the White House has come to terms, in private, with the general consensus of the American intelligence community that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb. And, finally, there has been a growing recognition in Washington and throughout the Middle East that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq.

so, in response to being thwarted at every turn, how does the ruling cabal respond...? why, with a p.r. strategy, of course...
At a White House meeting with Cheney this summer, according to a former senior intelligence official, it was agreed that, if limited strikes on Iran were carried out, the Administration could fend off criticism by arguing that they were a defensive action to save soldiers in Iraq. If Democrats objected, the Administration could say, “Bill Clinton did the same thing; he conducted limited strikes in Afghanistan, the Sudan, and in Baghdad to protect American lives.”

there is absolutely no way my opinion of our government leaders could possibly sink any lower... they should be the first targets of the office of detention and removal (see previous post)...

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Endgame: The Office of Detention and Removal of the ICE/DHS

residentcynic at daily kos has put up an excellent post on just how the u.s. and our esteemed department of permanent detention for irritating and annoying people homeland security plans to solve the problem of aliens, potential terrorists and all of us who might disagree with or oppose the policies of our government...

I recently spent some time on the web researching the Bush Doctrine and neocon (Straussian)-based policy. What I didn’t expect to find was an operational government program which targets immigrants and "potential terrorists" on a grand scale. Never missing an opportunity for Orwellian titles, the Department of Homeland Security has named this little gem "ENDGAME." [PDF]

Its goal is "the removal of all removable aliens, (including illegal economic migrants, aliens who have committed criminal acts, asylum-seekers required to be retained by law) or potential terrorists." (Executive summary of document)

Can't "potential terrorist" mean, well, anybody?

it's worth reading and i definitely encourage you to do so...

here's the cover page and introduction of the endgame document [PDF] referenced above...

be sure to note the date, 27 june 2003... public law 107-296 [PDF], which established dhs, was passed by congress on 25 november 2002... the office of detention and removal, the unit responsible for the execution of the endgame strategy, was not integrated into dhs until march 2003, not long after dhs began operation as a department... this 49-page strategy was published a mere 6 months after dhs was established and a mere 4 months after the unit was incorporated into dhs... this tells me that the strategy was on the shelf, ready to go long before that...

another interesting item is that the endgame strategy [PDF] references the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798...

The Detention and Deportation Program, now the Office of Detention and Removal (DRO), was established in a 1955 reorganization of the INS to carry out a mission first articulated in the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. The Alien and Sedition Acts included the earliest deportation legislation, which empowered the
President to order the departure from the United States of all aliens deemed dangerous. Legislation since then has expanded the detention and removal operations and redefined the classes of aliens to be deported or excluded. The basic mission, however, remains the same: Remove all removable aliens.

for those of you who may not be familiar, here's a little bit about the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798...
The Alien and Sedition Acts were four laws passed by the Federalists in the United States Congress in 1798 during the administration of President John Adams, which was waging an undeclared naval war with France, later known as the Quasi-War. Proponents claimed they were designed to protect the United States from alien citizens of enemy powers and to stop seditious attacks from weakening the government. The Democratic-Republicans, like later historians, attacked them as being both unconstitutional and designed to stifle criticism of the administration, and as infringing on the right of the states to act in these areas. They became a major political issue in the elections of 1798 and 1800. One act (the Alien Enemies Act) is still in force in 2007, and has frequently been enforced in wartime. The others expired or were repealed by 1802. Thomas Jefferson held them all to be unconstitutional and void, and pardoned and ordered the release of all who had been convicted of violating them.

i haven't finished unpacking yet after coming back from argentina via texas... maybe i should just leave the stuff in my bags in case i have to make a hasty exit when they come for me...

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Opus apologies

for anyone who might have inferred that opus would become a regular sunday feature here, i apologize... i should have made it clear from the get-go... as much as i love berkeley breathed, his cartoon skills, opus and the whole gang, i will only share strips that strike my fancy... needless to say, not all of them do...

for those who would still like an opus fix, here's a link to today's offering...

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