Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weapons Grade Christianity

Fuckity fuckity fuck fuck

Here's my favorite bit (otherwise it's kind of a long, but really interesting read):
"Petraeus’s most vigorous defense came last August from the recently retired three-star general William “Jerry” Boykin—a founding member of the Army’s Delta Force and an ordained minister—during an event held at Fort Bragg to promote his own book, Never Surrender: A Soldier’s Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom. “Here comes a guy named Mikey Weinstein trashing Petraeus,” he told a crowd of 150 at the base’s Airborne and Special Forces Museum, “because he endorsed a book that’s just trying to help soldiers. And this makes clear what [Weinstein’s] real agenda is, which is not to help this country win a war on terror.”

“It’s satanic,” called out a member of the audience.

“Yes,” agreed Boykin. “It’s demonic.”

After 9/11, Boykin went on the prayer-breakfast circuit to boast, in uniform, that his God was “bigger” than the Islamic divine of Somali warlord Osman Atto, whom Boykin had hunted. “I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol,” he declared, displaying as evidence photographs of black clouds over Mogadishu: the “demonic spirit” his troops had been fighting. “The principality of darkness,” he went on to declare, “a guy called Satan.” Under fire from congressional Democrats, Boykin claimed he hadn’t been speaking about Islam, but in a weird non sequitur he insisted, “My references to. . . our nation as a Christian nation are historically undeniable.” These strategic insights earned Boykin promotion to deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, a position in which he advised on interrogation techniques until August 2007.

Mikey Weinstein, for his part, doesn’t mind being called demonic by officers like Boykin. “I consider him to be a traitor to the oath that he swore, which was to the United States Constitution and not to his fantastical demon-and-angel dominionism. He’s a charlatan. The fact that he refers to me as demon-possessed so he can sell more books makes me want to take a Louisville Slugger to his kneecaps, his big fat belly, and his head. He is a very, very bad man.” Mikey—nobody, not even his many enemies, calls him Weinstein—likes fighting, literally. In 1973, as a “doolie” (a freshman at the Air Force Academy) he punched an officer who accused him of fabricating anti-Semitic threats he’d received. In 2005, after the then-head of the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted Haggard, declared that people like Mikey made it hard for him to “defend Jewish causes,” Mikey challenged the pastor to a public boxing match, with proceeds to go to charity. (Haggard didn’t take him up on it.) He relishes a rumor that he’s come to be known among some at the Pentagon as the Joker, after Heath Ledger’s nihilistic embodiment of Batman’s nemesis. But he draws a distinction: “Don’t confuse my description of chaos with advocacy of chaos.”

(Military Religious Freedom Foundation) draws on a network of lawyers, publicists, and fund-raisers, but its core is just Mikey, plus a determined researcher named Chris Rodda, author of an unfinished multivolume debunking of Christian-right historical claims entitled Liars for Jesus.
moj sends

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Next, They'll Want A DNA Sample

Would somebody please tell me what practical purpose this might serve?
Homeland Security to scan fingerprints of travellers exiting the US
By Brett Winterford
29 May 2009 05:53AM

From June, US Customs and Border Patrol will take a fingerprint scan of international travellers exiting the United States from Detroit, while the US Transport Security Administration will take fingerprint scans of international travellers exiting the United States from Atlanta.

Biometric technology such as fingerprint scans has been used by US Customs and Border Patrol for several years to gain a biometric record of non-US citizens entering the United States.

But under the Bush Administration, a plan was formulated to also scan outgoing passengers.

Michael Hardin, a senior policy analyst with the US-Visit Program at the United States Department of Homeland Security told a Biometrics Institute conference today that the DHS will use the data from the trial to "inform us as to where to take [exit screening] next."

Maybe they'll see a compelling need to require me to have an exit visa before I travel abroad. I can't wait.
"We are trying to ensure we know more about who came and who left," he said. "We have a large population of illegal immigrants in the United States - we want to make sure the person getting on the plane really is the person the records show to be leaving."

The original exit scanning legislation planned by the Bush administration stipulated that airlines would be responsible for conducting the exit fingerprints.

But after much protest, Hardin said the new Obama administration re-considered this legislation two weeks ago and is "not as sold that private sector should be agency for exit fingerprints."

"The new administration feels that perhaps it is more appropriate that Government should take that role."

Wonderful. I'm really looking forward to everyone having to prove that their papers are in order at Checkpoint Charlie before I can get on a Lufthansa to West Berlin. That's gonna be just awesome.

Here's the part I love:
Editors Note - This story originally contained a representation that the biometrics trial in Atlanta and Detroit included the fingerprint scanning of US citizens. This has since been proved to be incorrect and the story has been modified - only non-US citizens will be expected to provide a biometric record.
U.S. citizens, of course, will be expected to present a valid passport— which will contain a biometric record. Assuming they still retain possession of their passport. Which is technically not their personal property, actually— it must be surrendered to law enforcement on demand.

The Weakly Standard: Persistently Wrong About EVERYTHING

Today, they trotted out some Ph.D. student to spin a noxious stream of neo-conservative bullshit about— get this— Internet governance. As it happens, I have some professional expertise in Internet engineering, operations and management, with a minor in Internet governance, so the Stupid in question here isn't as easily overlooked with a sigh and a "well, I'll let the experts take this article apart" dismissal. No, this one falls to me.

I shall now commence to vigorously taking the article down.

Who Controls the Internet?
The United States, for now, and a good thing, too.
by Ariel Rabkin
05/25/2009, Volume 014, Issue 34

The headline and the subhead, as always, is even worse than the article. In this case, however, I blame the author and not the editor. If the author had even the faintest clue what he was talking about, then the editor wouldn't have been tempted to extrapolate the [poorly formed] main argument of the article, i.e. that ICANN should remain under contract to the U.S. Department of Commerce, into the stratospheric heights of inanity it's reached here.

Let's start by taking apart the very first sentence of Mr. Rabkin's article:

In order to please our European allies and our Third World critics, the Obama administration may be tempted to surrender one particular manifestation of American "dominance": central management of key aspects of the Internet by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

He's talking about the ongoing tussle over control of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). It's not a new fight. It's been going on since before there ever was an ICANN. (The Wikipedia article about ICANN is pretty good.)

It takes a particularly bent kind of personality to look at the tiny management function of ICANN and its dependence on a revenue stream from the U.S. Department of Commerce that's so small that I defy you to even find it in the Commerce budget, and to describe that as American "dominance" of anything. These personalities seem to be drawn to the Weakly Standard like mosquitos to an Alabama campfire.

... Other countries are pushing for more control. Early this year, British cabinet member Andy Burnham told the Daily Telegraph that he was "planning to negotiate with Barack Obama's incoming American administration to draw up new international rules for English language websites." It would be a mistake for the administration to go along. America's special role in managing the Internet is good for America and good for the world.

Despite Mr. Rabkin's assertions, the United States does not have any special role in "managing" the Internet, and it gets nothing good or bad out of paying for ICANN out of the Commerce budget, except maybe the blame for some of ICANN's less than popular decisions.

But wait... Mr. Rabkin is only just getting started making a fool of himself.

Internet domain names (such as are managed hierarchically. At the top of the hierarchy is an entity called IANA, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, operated on behalf of the Commerce Department. The U.S. government therefore has the ultimate authority to review or revoke any decision, or even to transfer control of IANA to a different operator.

p1. Internet domain name authority is federated, which is not quite the same thing as "managed hierarchically," and I would have expected an editor at The Weakly Standard to know the difference. Or, I would have expected that if I didn't already have an extremely low opinion of the editors at The Weakly Standard.

p2. The entity that manages the name authority for the root DNS zone is technically not IANA, which is only one of ICANN's subcommittee operations and not authoritative about anything related to operations or management of the Internet domain name system. Mr. Rabkin's conflates the two organizations, referring to ICANN as IANA, throughout his article. This is the error that proves to me that he doesn't have the faintest clue what he's talking about.

p3. Worse, the ICANN isn't even charged with operating the DNS root zone zervers. That job is currently farmed out of the U.S. Department of Commerce to a multinational corporation called VeriSign, the less you know about, the more calmified you will feel. They pay even less attention to what Barack Obama or the members of the U.S. Senate might think than you do. And YOU couldn't care less, could you?

p4. Finally, the U.S. government doesn't have any authority to review or revoke ICANN decisions. What it has is basically the same authority it has over any chartered corporation that depends on the U.S. government for its funding. The U.S. government, if sufficiently moved, can protest an ICANN decision by unilaterally revoking its charter and attempting to seize back direct control of the naming authority by force. Good luck with that, I say.

Moving on.

Until now, the management of the Domain Name System has been largely apolitical, and most of the disputes that have arisen have been of interest only to insiders and the technology industry.

Like this one, for instance? (Link goes to a technical side of the ongoing clusterfark over internationalized domain names, in which ICANN sits in the middle.)

IANA has concerned itself with fairly narrow questions like "Should we allow names ending in .info?" Commercial questions about ownership of names, like other property disputes, are settled in national courts. Political questions like "Who is the rightful government of Pakistan, and therefore the rightful owner of the .pk domain?" are settled by the U.S. Department of State.

There are persistent proposals to break the connection between IANA and the U.S. government. In these schemes, IANA would be directed by some international body, such as the United Nations or the International Telecommunication Union, which coordinates international phone networks. It is unclear what problem such proposals attempt to solve. There have been no serious complaints about American stewardship of the Internet, no actual abuses perpetrated by American overseers. But were we to abdicate this stewardship, a number of difficulties could arise.

Again. He means ICANN, not IANA. He also probably doesn't mean Verisign, either, but that's not exactly clear. There have been complaints about Verisign. Lots and lots.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to get into the list of "difficulties" that he thinks could arise.

Perhaps most serious, control of Internet names could become a lever to impose restrictions on Internet content.

What? No, seriously... WTF?

Many governments already attempt to control speech on the Internet. Some years ago, Yahoo! was subject to criminal proceedings in France for allowing Nazi memorabilia to be auctioned on its website. Britain, Canada, and Australia all have mandatory nationwide blacklists of banned sites, managed by nongovernmental regulators with minimal political oversight. Such blacklists can have unpredictable consequences: Wikipedia was badly degraded to British users for some hours because of a poorly designed censorship system targeting child pornography.

Mr. Rabkin seems to have completely forgotten that the Domain Name System (DNS) has a federated naming authority, which he described as "managed hierarchically" in his opening sentence, and that ICANN only controls the top-level domain names. I can't begin to comprehend how he's taken that and gone off into the weeds here.

If we give control of the Internet naming infrastructure to an international organization, we must expect attempts to censor the Internet. The Organization of the Islamic Conference will doubtless demand the suppression of websites that "insult Islam" or "encourage hatred," and a number of European countries may well go along.


It doesn't matter who pays for either ICANN or the root zone operator. We must expect attempts to censor the Internet. In fact, we should probably not be terribly surprised to notice that billions of people are already subject to censorship on the Internet, despite Mr. Rabkin's lauding of American "dominance" over Internet governance. How did that happen, Mr. Wizard?

It gets better.

Most countries lack our First Amendment tradition, and if we wish to protect the free speech rights of Americans online, we should not allow Internet domain names to be hostage to foreign standards. Many other First World countries already have government-imposed restrictions on Internet speech that we would not contemplate here. Even if Internet governance were shared only with First World democracies, they might urge and ultimately demand that domain operators impose restrictions on content.

Oh, ye gods. He's worried that if ICANN were to be spun loose and run out of the Internet Society or something, then those goddamned wankers in Eurabia will force him to register instead of www.mohammedsuckedmydick or

I so want to be introduced to his dope dealer.

An international Internet-management organization could offer foreign governments a way to impose restrictions without public debate. Rather than having a political fight about the matter, governments might quietly pressure international regulators to draw up and gradually extend "responsible behavior" codes for online speech. This would follow a pattern familiar in other global institutions: Governments negotiate preferred policies without public participation and then present the results as an international consensus, beyond political challenge.

Rabkin is clearly not paying attention. Nobody interested in doing any of those things gives a flying fraggle how the ICANN runs its show, because it's irrelevant to them. How do I know this? Because The Weakly Standard routinely apologizes for every pseudo-Christian wanker in America who'd like very much to scour the pornography out of the Internet with an army of Jesuses wielding wire brushes and tasers, and does the Weakly Standard even know the difference between ICANN and IANA? No. Not important to them. Irrelevant.

American stewardship does not mean the world must put its entire trust in U.S. oversight. If the United States started using its privileged role in ways that other governments found intolerable, they could override this behavior. It would be technically straightforward for foreign governments to maintain their own naming infrastructure and to instruct Internet service providers to use it. This heavy-handed government intervention in network operations, however, would likely receive substantial public scrutiny. It probably would not be undertaken unless the United States gravely misused its authority over the Internet.

He's trying to kill me.

Mr. Rabkin apparently doesn't know or care that the monolithic public Internet domain name horizon is pretty much a polite fiction that bears no actual semblance of reflection on the practices of the real world. Does Mr. Rabkin know why OpenDNS has a reason to exist? Hint: it's because there really isn't a single centralized federated naming authority in practice. Naming authority is routinely overridden in the real world. It's only a single public horizon by convention. (It's not even law, because well, the Internet is run by toothless anarchists and dope-smoking hippies like me, and that's how we roll.)

This same reluctance would apply to potential American responses to censorship or mismanagement by an international organization.

The United States could, in theory, set up a renegade, uncensored Internet. ...

In theory, the United States could unilaterally dismantle its nuclear weapons systems and sell off its eleven carrier battle groups as scrap metal to the Pakistani razor-blade factories.

...But there would likely be significant public distrust, substantial political acrimony, and a great deal of hesitation. We are better off keeping the public Internet free and leaving the social and technical burdens on governments that want to censor. The present system is thus perhaps the best way to prevent the naming system from being used to chill online speech worldwide.

How, exactly does it do that, Mr. Rabkin? How exactly would "surrendering" it to the Internet Society, where the function originated in the first place, facilitate your supposed "chill" of online free speech? I'm trying to figure out how that would work, and I'm just not seeing it.

American supervision of Internet naming is not a historical accident.Much of the world's telecommunications infrastructure was developed by national post offices. Our unusual tradition of private infrastructure development, including the railroad and telephone networks, made America fertile ground for the development of the Internet. We expect government not only to settle political questions, but also to protect the freedom of private entrepreneurs as much as possible. To the extent that the Internet is decentralized and self-governing, it is so because Americans expect society to work that way.


It is natural for other countries to resent the privileged role of the United States in Internet governance and to demand a greater measure of control. [emphasis mine —s9] But if we believe in free speech, we ought to keep control of the Internet away from foreign governments that value it far less than we do.

Deep inside the mind of anyone who could write a sentence like that and get the basic facts underlying their argument so badly wrong, I have to imagine there is a tiny little fascist beavering away at a tiny little typewriter writing his next populist manifesto.

Shorter Ariel Rabkin: the dirty wogs are coming to kill us all in our beds... and make us learn how to type ϕβκ.com into our browser windows. God help us if Barack Hussein Obama sin Laden Malcolm X cuts loose the ICANN from the Commerce Department, because the next thing you hear will be truncheons and jackboots on the street outside your house. WOLVERINES!!!!1!

Shorter S9: the only privilege the U.S. government enjoys in governing the Internet anymore is to write a check every year to Verisign and ICANN; Verisign doesn't even notice the money, and ICANN hardly needs any. This is not a privilege worth defending, much less paying cold hard cash to retain.

In summary: Ariel Rabkin is a dumb-ass, despite being a Ph.D. candidate in computer science with a friend on the editorial board at The Weakly Standard.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Revolution Deferred...

DREAM BOOGIE, By Langston Hughes

Good morning, daddy!
Ain't you heard
The boogie-woogie rumble
Of a dream deferred?

Listen closely:
You'll hear their feet
Beating out and Beating out a --

You think
It's a happy beat?

Listen to it closely:
Ain't you heard
something underneath
like a --

What did I say?
Sure, I'm happy!
Take it away!
Hey, pop!
It is a warm, bright pleasant evening here in Long Beach. The kind of evening people say reminds them how lucky they are to live in Southern California. The atmostphere is festive... or it would be, but for the serious reason we are all gathering here.

In my neighborhood, Junipero and Broadway, and the small coffeehouse that inhabits that space are the spiritual downtown of the Gay and Lesbian Community of Long Beach. And in about five minutes, thousands of them are going to start a march about two miles away and end up in the park across the street from my redoubt here in the coffee house.

The reason is fairly obvious for anyone who has been following the news today... some religious wingnuts have managed to convince a plurality of California voters that Gays and Lesbians are not real people, and the legal arguments used to try to overturn that opinion in the court were weak and almost entirely without merit.

It wasn't unexpected.

But there's a lot of anger pulsing just beneath the surface. It's Two-Thousand-and-freekin'-Nine, when are we going to join the rest of the world in the 21st frakin' century already?

But it's more than just gay marriage. These people, my friends and neighbors are the proverbial canary in a cultural coal mine; The last quasi-acceptable social hatred. It's the low hanging fruit for a group of people have an agenda for all of us.

Unfortunately, we haven't figured out to beat them at their own game yet. Like I said, there's anger, but also a lot of naiveté and credulity about their opponents... This mix of barely contained rage and a fundamental misunderstanding of what their enemies are really after is trouble for us all...

That's the great thing about Gay politics... any occasion for a march or protest is marked by lots of music, pulsing dance beats from the clubs and bars, lyrics of liberation set at 120 beats per minute. It's a disco revolution, where the rebels wear uniforms festooned in rainbow colors; it's a form of camouflage.

So there will be happy blaring disco music, dancing in the street, and people celebrating themselves loudly and in public... but listen closley... you think it's a happy beat?

7:24 p.m.
Police are setting up barricades on Broadway, as the marchers start to make their way down to the park. Folks are starting to gather in front of the bandstand in park, where they have set up a PA and will hold the rally portion of the evening.

So... what am I doing here? Have I gone madder than bastard on Father's Day? I mean, this is about Gay Marriage... I am a straight married white guy, what could this possibly have to do with me. Existential politics aside for the moment, the fact is that these are my friends and neighbors who are protesting for the right to be just like me.

How could I walk past them on the street, look them in the eyes or mingle with them in the coffee house without doing everything I can to support them in this time. This is my neighborhood (at least for another week or so) and these are my neighbors who need me. Forget the fact that I support their cause 110 percent, these are my people here...


7:40 p.m.
The march is now visible making it's way down a now-vacated Broadway. People with signs hanging out in the coffee place and the corner there waiting for them to arrive. Time for me to pack it up and get to the park...

At first it was a pretty inspiring sight... at least two or three thousand people trying to cram into our little park in front of the bandstand. They just kept pouring in off the street waving signs, blowing whistles, chanting...

Then the speakers started. They were okay, but for the most part uninspiring. They preached the need for love, respect, equal rights, blah, blah, blah... These are all well and good, but none of that is going to win an election, and that is what this is all about now; getting a measure on the ballot for the 2010 midterm primary.

Okay, I hear you saying "well then what Mojo? What do we do?" Here's what:

Commercial idea-- "prohibiting gay marriage: brought to you by the same people who think touching the hands of the snake-oil selling boob on the TV screen cures cancer and who think dinosaurs are freekin' Jesus Ponies (safe link)

If these people really want to rumble in the larger arena of culture, then I think it's high time we take that fight to them. Look, everyone likes to feel smarter than the next guy, and I can think of no better way to help people do that than by letting them know that voting against gay marriage is tantamount to ratifying this other goofy shit, because in the minds of those proposing it, that's exactly what it is, even if they won't come right out and say it!

Keep the pressure on and let everyone know they have skin in this game. Why do I keep saying this? Here's a quote from the Institute on Creation Research, a supposedly scientific institute:
"[...]What about the use of deception by government officials (rationalized as required for national security, or to avoid a riot, or to promote a “social injustice” policy)? What about civil rights, discrimination, and the persecution of Christians?

The Bible provides knowable answers to all of these moral decision-making questions, either directly or indirectly. The Bible’s moral values are not like relativistic situational ethics.
All physical, biological, and spiritual reality is created and maintained by God in Christ and revealed by the Spirit. All teaching, no matter how profound, attractive, or eloquent, should be tested by its fidelity to the Word of God.
Commerce (business) is the complementary discipline necessary to distribute the “useful things” to everyone.

In essence, commerce is complying with the “fill the earth” portion of the mandate.

Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden and told to “dress and keep” it. They were not told how to do so, only that it was their responsibility before the Creator to maintain and develop what had been provided for them. As the population of earth grew, it would be necessary to develop skills to make their tools and talents available to others. That procedure in modern terms is “commerce.” "
Yeah, this is all apparently "science."

They even go so far as to say that our current legal system is "evolution-based" law. It is all one big thing for the Xtian right. And so far, they have been much better than we at exploiting the general public's apathy about their desire to kill pluralism in society.

mojo sends

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday Horrors

Via Digby, comes America's Tough Love Habit at Mother Jones.
Americans tend to valorize tough love—at times, even tough love that verges on torture—in prisons, mental hospitals, drug rehabs, and teen boot camps. We aren't squeamish about the psychological aspects of torture. We might even admire them.

Thousands of troubled children, for instance, now attend tough "wilderness programs" "emotional growth boarding schools" and other "tough love" camps where they face conditions like total isolation, sleep deprivation, food deprivation, and daily emotional attacks.
This is the sort of thing that' will finally turn me into The Klonopin Kommander one of these days.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

So THAT'S Why It Went Down That Way!

Andy Xie at FT.Com explains something over which I've been puzzling for some time.
Emerging economies such as China and Russia are calling for alternatives to the dollar as a reserve currency. The trigger is the Federal Reserve’s liberal policy of expanding the money supply to prop up America’s banking system and its over-indebted households. Because the magnitude of the bad assets within the banking system and the excess leverage of its households are potentially huge, the Fed may be forced into printing dollars massively, which would eventually trigger high inflation or even hyper-inflation and cause great damage to countries that hold dollar assets in their foreign exchange reserves.

The chatter over alternatives to the dollar mainly reflects the unhappiness with US monetary policy among the emerging economies that have amassed nearly $10,000bn (€7,552bn, £6,721bn) in foreign exchange reserves, mostly in dollar assets. Any other country with America’s problems would need the Paris Club of creditor nations to negotiate with its lenders on its monetary and fiscal policies to protect their interests. But the US situation is unique: it borrows in its own currency, and the dollar is the world’s dominant reserve currency. The US can disregard its creditors’ concerns for the time being without worrying about a dollar collapse.

The faith of the Chinese in America’s power and responsibility, and the petrodollar holdings of the gulf countries that depend on US military protection, are the twin props for the dollar’s global status. Ethnic Chinese, including those in the mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas, may account for half of the foreign holdings of dollar assets. You have to check the asset allocations of wealthy ethnic Chinese to understand the dollar’s unique status.
I remember having several discussions with certain neoconservative assholes back in the 2002-2003 time frame wherein they answered my trepidation about the twin financial problems of the current account balance and growing credit bubble (which, yes, I thought would have collapsed much sooner than it did) with this hoary old chestnut:
When you owe the bank a hundred thousand dollars and you can't pay, you have a big problem. When you owe the bank a hundred million dollars and you can't pay, the bank has a big problem.
This was a snide way of basically saying, "It's less our problem if we can't pay the Chinese the money we owe them than it is a problem for the Chinese who loaned it to us when we can't pay it back. Screw those commie bastards anyway."

I've been wondering why the Chinese haven't dropped the dollar peg yet, and Andy Xie has now helpfully come along to explain to me what's going on. Short summary: the Chinese are rather hoping they can do it gradually so as to limit the pain of moving everybody practically overnight into the renminbi as the reserve currency to replace the dollar. One hopes that the coming secondary wave of foreclosures and mortgage crisis in the U.S. won't force them to accelerate their reforms, because if the Chinese lose faith in the dollar too quickly, especially if the U.S. is too paralyzed in stagflation to be able to leverage its currency collapse into an opportunity to move its productivity into exports, then it's going to be pretty painful around here.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

That would be in the butt Bob...

Since we've been getting into the torture issue, I recommend you go over to Laura Rozen's blog and read her latest several posts about the Harman story and how it is becoming a distinct possibility that the recent revival of that story is a battle in the larger war over who is going to get the blame for participating in the creation of the torture state. She goes into some depth on the Harman story and the ascension of Porter Goss and the Gosslings at CIA and their penchant for using classified information against their political enemies. But this point stood out to me since it relates to the torture issue and possible prosecution:

The destroyed torture tapes. As the chairman and ranking of the House Intelligence committee, Goss and Harman were both notified of the existence of CIA videotapes recording the CIA harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects in February 2003 (H/T Marcy Wheeler). Those tapes were destroyed under Goss's tenure as CIA director, we now know. Was Harman notified? Was she not notified? How did that play into Goss Harman tensions and Gosslings' concern about her possible ascent to chairman of HPSCI? Goss has said he did not approve the destruction of the tapes. That is not what other people at CIA are saying. Former deputy director of operations John Sano has told others that Goss told him and the director of operations to "take care of this." According to what Sano has told others, Goss told Sano to call the CIA station in Thailand to order the tapes be destroyed, and ordered then director of operations Jose Rodriguez to notify the committees. But it's not clear that Rodriguez, who was still under cover, actually did notify the committees. Goss has denied that he approved of the destruction of the tapes, and that he was consistent in expressing his opposition to it. Special prosecutor John Durham has been investigating the episode. Dusty Foggo's prison sentence was delayed a week so he could testify to Durham about what he knew of the matter a few weeks ago. There's surely more to be coming out on this that is of first order concern including potentially legally for some of the actors involved.

Please excuse the long quote,but I think it bears on this discussion we are having becuase it points out that the release of the memos and the Senate Report has many people in DC feeling the possibility of prosecution is far more likely than it was few weeks ago, and a war of leaks and misinformation is being waged in the press to divert and/or direct attention. I think it provides another dimension to the idea that wheels are turning that might develop into some form of accountability for not just torture, but the effort directed from the White House to utilize intelligence against political opponents. Which puts the Bush White House hardon for domestic survellance in a new far more frightening if unsurprising light.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Is President Obama A Liar Or A Coward? You Decide.

That's what Bruce Fein implies, and I agree with him.

BRUCE FEIN: I would have asked him, since he's agreed that what was done was torture, and that the United States criminal code makes torture a crime. And there's no national security exception, no exception if you get useful information. And because we had impeached, in the House Judiciary Committee, a former President, called Richard Nixon, for failing faithfully to execute the laws. How he can justify not moving forward with an investigation when we have a former President and Vice President openly acknowledging they authorized water boarding, what he has described as torture, is a crime.

Or in the alternative, if he thinks that there are mitigating circumstances, and there's body language suggests that, then he should pardon them like Ford did Richard Nixon. And the reason why the difference between a pardon and non-prosecution is important, is because a pardon requires the recipient to acknowledge guilt. That there was wrongdoing. There was a crime. Just forgetting and sweeping it under the rug suggests this wasn't illegal.
Mr. President, if you ensure that nobody is held accountable for ordering the torture, then it proves either A) you're a liar when you say you think your predecessors committed what clearly amounts to a war crime, or B) you're a coward for not having the courage to pay the political costs for granting them a pardon.

Which is it, Mr. President? Which Is It?