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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 04/05/2009 - 04/12/2009
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Speaking of Afghanistan, more on the Bagram detainees


when i see more and more of this kind of shit coming out, i have to ask myself, why the hell did i ever bother to vote for obama... why didn't i just sit it out... at least i wouldn't be feeling so damn betrayed...

here's more on what i posted on last week...

Obama Follows Bush Policy on Detainee Access to Courts

The Obama administration yesterday appealed a judge's decision granting three detainees at a U.S. military prison in Afghanistan the right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts, arguing partly that compliance would inhibit the future capture of Pakistani citizens for detention by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The appeal makes clear that, despite the ruling this month by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, the Obama administration for now wants to stick with a policy set by President George W. Bush that those incarcerated by U.S. troops in foreign prisons have no U.S. legal rights.

this sucks...

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Meanwhile, what is now Obama's Afghanistan war continues to produce endless tragedy


i am sitting at my desk here in kabul, surrounded by my afghan colleagues, and i can't help but ponder how horrible they and i would feel if something like this happened to members of their family, committed at the hands of people working for my own country...

from al jazeera...

The US military has admitted that its troops killed four civilians in Afghanistan, including a child, not fighters as was earlier reported.

The US has also offered an apology for the deaths on Wednesday night and indicated that the family will receive support.

Brigadier-General Michael Ryan said in a statement late on Thursday: "We deeply regret the tragic loss of life in this precious family."

A 13-year-old boy who survived the night-time raid on his home told Al Jazeera that his mother, brother, uncle and another female family member were killed.

A woman who was nine months' pregnant was wounded and lost her baby.

at least the u.s. military has 'fessed up, altho' no words of sympathy or regret could possibly make a tragedy like this any easier to bear...
"Words alone cannot begin to express our regret and sympathy and we will ensure the surviving family members are properly cared for," Ryan said.

yeah... well... whatever...

check the al jazeera video... it'll break your heart...

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Greenwald and Olbermann on Obama's support for warrantless wiretapping [UPDATE: EFF perspective, a change for the worse]

worth stretching the fair use standard for...

from glenn greenwald in salon via information clearing house with a nod to brother tim...

April 08, "Salon" -- -Several weeks ago, I noted that unlike the Right -- which turned itself into a virtual cult of uncritical reverence for George W. Bush especially during the first several years of his administration -- large numbers of Bush critics have been admirably willing to criticize Obama when he embraces the very policies that prompted so much anger and controversy during the Bush years. Last night, Keith Olbermann -- who has undoubtedly been one of the most swooning and often-uncritical admirers of Barack Obama of anyone in the country (behavior for which I rather harshly criticized him in the past) -- devoted the first two segments of his show to emphatically lambasting Obama and Eric Holder's DOJ for the story I wrote about on Monday: namely, the Obama administration's use of the radical Bush/Cheney state secrets doctrine and -- worse still -- a brand new claim of "sovereign immunity" to insist that courts lack the authority to decide whether the Bush administration broke the law in illegally spying on Americans.

The fact that Keith Olbermann, of all people, spent the first ten minutes of his show attacking Obama for replicating (and, in this instance, actually surpassing) some of the worst Bush/Cheney abuses of executive power and secrecy claims reflects just how extreme is the conduct of the Obama DOJ here. Just as revealingly, the top recommended Kos diary today (voted by the compulsively pro-Obama Kos readership) is one devoted to attacking Obama for his embrace of Bush/Cheney secrecy and immunity doctrines (and promoting the Olbermann clips). Also, a front page Daily Kos post yesterday by McJoan vehemently criticizing Obama (and quoting my criticisms at length) sparked near universal condemnation of Obama in the hundreds of comments that followed. Additionally, my post on Monday spawned vehement objections to what Obama is doing in this area from the largest tech/privacy sites, such as Boing Boing and Slashdot.

This is quite encouraging but should not be surprising. As much as anything else, what fueled the extreme hostility towards the Bush/Cheney administration were their imperious and radical efforts to place themselves behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy and above and beyond the rule of law. It would require a virtually pathological level of tribal loyalty and monumental intellectual dishonesty not to object just as vehemently as we watch the Obama DOJ repeatedly invoke these very same theories and, in this instance, actually invent a new one that not even the Bush administration espoused.

To be clear: there are important areas in which Obama has been quite commendable, and I've personally praised him fairly lavishly for those actions (see, for instance, here, here and here), but it is simply unacceptable -- no matter what else is true about him -- for Obama to claim for himself the very legal immunity and secrecy powers which characterized and enabled the worst excesses of Bush lawlessness. Yet in a short period of time, he has taken one step after the next to do exactly that.

The Olbermann segments, which are really worth watching, highlight the exact passages of the Obama DOJ's brief which I excerpted and posted on Monday, and underscore how intolerable the Obama administration's conduct in the area of transparency and civil liberties has increasingly become. Credit to Olbermann for highlighting this issue and commenting on it with such unrestrained candor. This should help galvanize greater action to make clear to the Obama administration that this conduct is completely unacceptable, and -- with Accountability Now, FDL and others -- I expect there to be some specific actions announced very shortly to begin pushing back, hard, against these serious transgressions.

brother tim and i had quite a discussion about this on the "And, yes, I DO take it personally" radio show yesterday, and we both agreed that this is a very disturbing development... i've been concerned ever since then-senator obama voted in favor of the fisa bill offering retroactive immunity to telecom companies, and i was hopeful that, upon becoming president, we would see obama unequivocally repudiate this kind of constitutional abuse... that it's not happening is a bad sign...

kevin at cryptogon has christened hopeful attitudes like mine "hopium"... i notice atrios is getting pushed to the edge as well, as evidenced by his occasional post title, "hopey - changey"...

meanwhile, i'm still waiting to get our country back...


from the horse's mouth...


We had hoped this would go differently.

Friday evening, in a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA, EFF's litigation against the National Security Agency for the warrantless wiretapping of countless Americans, the Obama Administration's made two deeply troubling arguments.

First, they argued, exactly as the Bush Administration did on countless occasions, that the state secrets privilege requires the court to dismiss the issue out of hand. They argue that simply allowing the case to continue "would cause exceptionally grave harm to national security." As in the past, this is a blatant ploy to dismiss the litigation without allowing the courts to consider the evidence.

It's an especially disappointing argument to hear from the Obama Administration. As a candidate, Senator Obama lamented that the Bush Administration "invoked a legal tool known as the 'state secrets' privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court." He was right then, and we're dismayed that he and his team seem to have forgotten.

Sad as that is, it's the Department Of Justice's second argument that is the most pernicious. The DOJ claims that the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying — that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.

This is a radical assertion that is utterly unprecedented. No one — not the White House, not the Justice Department, not any member of Congress, and not the Bush Administration — has ever interpreted the law this way.

Previously, the Bush Administration has argued that the U.S. possesses "sovereign immunity" from suit for conducting electronic surveillance that violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). However, FISA is only one of several laws that restrict the government's ability to wiretap. The Obama Administration goes two steps further than Bush did, and claims that the US PATRIOT Act also renders the U.S. immune from suit under the two remaining key federal surveillance laws: the Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act. Essentially, the Obama Adminstration has claimed that the government cannot be held accountable for illegal surveillance under any federal statutes.

Again, the gulf between Candidate Obama and President Obama is striking. As a candidate, Obama ran promising a new era of government transparency and accountability, an end to the Bush DOJ's radical theories of executive power, and reform of the PATRIOT Act. But, this week, Obama's own Department Of Justice has argued that, under the PATRIOT Act, the government shall be entirely unaccountable for surveilling Americans in violation of its own laws.

This isn't change we can believe in. This is change for the worse.

the more i read, the more deeply troubled i'm finding all of this...

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

When WILL Obama Speak to the Nation on Torture and Wiretapping?

buhdydharma at daily kos asks some very good questions...

In light of the DOJ's recent action to dismiss the right of citizens to sue for being spied on, which it is very difficult NOT to see as the government protecting it's right to spy on YOU without a warrant.

In light of the ICRC's, as the body charged with the task of charging torture, charges that the Bush Administration did indeed torture.

In light of the massive body of evidence in the public sphere that torture was systematically approved and used.

In light of Spain investigating the US for torture.

In light of the United Nations investigating the US for torture.

In light of the UK investigating itself for torture

In light of the assertion that the Obama Administration has apparently been pressured, either by Republicans or by the CIA or by a combination of both into not releasing the latest batch of Bush Torture Program memos.

And in the light of the fact that President Obama has not addressed either Domestic Spying or Torture in a meaningful and substantive way since he has taken office....yet in his campaign championed the Constitution, the rights of citizens, transparency, and the Rule of Law.

Finally, in light of the fact that Obama is rapidly losing the trust of many in his politically necessary base over his silence on these issues.

When will President Obama address these issues before the American people?

buhdydharma's concerns are immediately tempered on the same site by wmtriallawyer...
Now, it has been suggested that someone the new assertion of sovereign immunity made via the Patriot Act, FISA, etc. is breathtaking and such, but I just don't see it the way others do. I look at it from the perspective of the government lawyer, and if there is another argument to be advanced to defend my client on immunity grounds, even if that argument hasn't been advanced before, I'm going to use it. And I'm reasonably certain that is what the DOJ attorneys are doing...their job to defend their client. It has also been suggested that Congress, in passing the telecom immunity in the FISA revision claimed "Well, you can always sue the individual government actors," and that somehow, this Motion goes against the grain of that claim. This Motion doesn't change that one iota. Again, this is a Motion filed on behalf of the United States of America and related government Defendants, in their official capacity. If a Plaintiff finds that Wendy Wiretapper, working for NSA, violated a Plaintiff's civil rights, that lawsuit can still continue, but still be subject to personal immunities for official acts.

I am still wary of where this is going. Clearly, I'd like some more policy assurances from the Obama administration with respect to the wiretapping issue, and changes in the law.

But you can't blame the lawyers for defending their client. And you can't translate what they are doing to defend their client as a policy decision. At least not yet.

it's like i said in my post yesterday... i'm waiting for some REAL changes and so far all i'm seeing is more of same... the clock's tickin' and daylight's burnin'...

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Adrian Salbuchi, Argentine economist, 'splains the global financial meltdown for ya

good viewing and a pretty good explanation for exactly what we're seeing play out in front of our eyes, offered by someone who's lived through it himself during argentina's economic collapse in 2001...
An Argentine opinion on the Global Financial Crisis, describing the whole Global Financial System as one vast Ponzi Scheme. Like a pyramid, it has four sides and is a predictable model. The four sides are: (1) Artificially control the supply of public State-issued Currency, (2) Artificially impose Banking Money as the primary source of funding in the economy, (3) Promote doing everything by Debt and (4) Erect complex channels that allow privatizing profits when the Model is in expansion mode and socialize losses when the model goes into contraction mode.

Global Financial Collapse - Part 1

Global Financial Collapse - Part 2

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Just so's ya know

yes, my last post was on saturday and, yes, it's now wednesday in both afghanistan and the u.s. (afghanistan is 11 1/2 hours ahead of u.s. pacific time and 8 1/2 hours ahead of u.s. eastern time), and, yes, i haven't put up a post yet this week...

why this shocking dereliction of duty...?

simple... there's absolutely nothing out there that's grabbed my attention... yeah, there's the usual run of depressing crap oozing out from all quarters and, yeah, our boy obama's been making some decent speeches, but no meat, ifyaknowhutimean... let's get some REAL changes, POSITIVE changes, whaddaya say...! my patience is about gone...

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