"War on Terror" Comment

Obama Scraps 'Global War on Terror' for 'Overseas Contingency Operation'
So, no more of President Bush's "war on terror". It was a stupid phrase, saying that we had a war against extreme fear. But it was effective, helping to bestow on Bush the status of a wartime president and leading him to claim extraordinary executive powers, such as engaging in illegal wiretapping. And the phrase persevered even as the Iraq invasion devolved into an occupation.

The proposed new phrase, "overseas contingency operation", is not a whole lot better. What contingency, a hurricane? Running out of fuel? A hooker strike in Amsterdam?

Admittedly, it is difficult to find the best words for our current course. If it's described as a war against extremism, or radical Islamists, we may offend the moslem world. And it is not wise to call it a war. We need a word such as the Cold War's "containment" Best I can come up with is "Operation Global Security". But not "securitization".

homer  www.altara.blogspot.com

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Bush Official: They Knew Many Innocent Were Tortured

Here it comes...the truth that Senator Pat Leahy must get at if his new Truth Commission has anything to do with truth.  New whistleblower, former Colin Powell Chief of Staff Larry Wilkerson, is blasting the media for burying the story of many innocents captured and tortured by the Bush administration, saying:  

largely unreported is that several in the U.S. leadership became aware of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.

   But to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership from virtually day one of the so-called Global War on Terror and these leaders already had black marks enough: the dead in a field in Pennsylvania, in the ashes of the Pentagon, and in the ruins of the World Trade Towers. They were not about to admit to their further errors at Guantanamo Bay. Better to claim that everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released.

Wilkerson says he felt compelled to step forward after Dick Cheney's recent bizarre interview in McLean, Virginia, in which he portrayed President Obama as coddling terrorists and being a danger to the Republic.  Wilkerson says that a former vice president engaging in such fearmongering and imputations to the president is "really, really dangerous." Wilkerson blasted Cheney for the:

unmistakable stoking of the 20 million listeners of Rush Limbaugh, half of whom we could label, judiciously, as half- baked nuts. Such remarks as those of the former vice president's are like waving a red flag in front of an incensed bull. And Cheney of course knows that.

Cheney said in the interview:

"When we get people who are more interested in reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry."

The problem is that the president has never said a single thing about reading rights to terrorists, and if anything has been moving much more slowly on closing Gitmo than many, including Wilkerson, would like.  In the same interview Cheney admitted to putting proclaimed terrorists back on the street.  He said "at least 61 of the inmates who were released from Guantanamo (sic) during the Bush administration...have gone back into the business of being terrorists."

Less clear was whether they were terrorists to begin with, or the kind of terrorist who, if they had nothing against America when they went in, sure did now.  

Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel who flew combat missions in Vietnam, wrote for The Washington Note:

al-Qa'ida will be back. Iraq, GITMO, Abu Ghraib, heavily-biased U.S. support for Israel, and a host of other strategic errors have insured al-Qa'ida's resilience, staying power and motivation. How we deal with the future attacks of this organization and its cohorts could well seal our fate, for good or bad. Osama bin Laden and his brain trust, Aman al-Zawahiri, are counting on us to produce the bad. With people such as Cheney assisting them, they are far more likely to succeed.

In other news, during a visit by George Bush to Calgary last week a Mohawk Indian advanced through a police line to effect a citizen's arrest of Bush as a suspected war criminal.  Gale Davidson of Lawyers Against the War of Vancouver crafted a legal position that under Canadian law Bush could be arrested.  Splitting the Sky, a Mohawk from Six Nations, first evoked international law by asking the RCMP to arrest Bush.  When they refused he told them, "I am serving you notice that you are protecting a war criminal and an international terrorist.  You can be tried, convicted and executed as a collaborator before a Nuremberg-type tribunal".

Splitting the Sky then broke through the police line and advanced alone to arrest George Bush.  He got 2 to 3 feet into the Center.  He pushed his way through with his hands over his head yelling, "I am not touching anyone".  Police surrounded and pounced.  He was arrested and beaten in the police van and jail cell, where he was kept for 24 hours and released on $500 bail.  He sustained serious bodily injuries, including a partial concussion and a massive hernia.

His defense fund and website are at http://www.splittingthesky.blogspot.com/

FORWARD TO Senator Pat Leahy's email: senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov


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Obama must appoint a Special Prosecutor

When is President Obama going to live up to his statement that "no one is above the law".  Refusing to appoint a Special Prosecutor is very close to protecting Bush and Cheney.

And critics of the Bush administration say a truth commission inquiry would probably be a half-measure, that immunity would shoeld lawbreakers.

"This is not about mistakes. This is about fundamental lawbreaking, about the disposal of the Constitution, and about the end of treaties," Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a radio interview earlier this month.

Now, a US Congressman is calling for an investigation of the Seymour Hersch allegations that former Vice President Cheney controlled a secret US Military squad that carried out assassinations of foreigners. This against US Law and President Ford's executive order prohibiting any US citizen from doing so. This Must Be Investigated by a Special Prosecutor.

How far outside US law did Cheney go?

Did Cheney use the assassination squad inside the United States?

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Science is Back!

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

President Obama plans to sign an executive order on Monday overturning the Bush administration restrictions on federal funding for stem-cell research.  The White House sent out an e-mail yesterday saying it was planning a ceremony "on stem cells and restoring scientific integrity to the government process. At the event the president will sign an executive order related to stem cells."

The move will spark delight among scientists who have long campaigned for the Bush policy to be overturned, but will likely be condemned by conservative right-to-life groups.  Obama spelled out his campaign policy on stem-cell research last August in a list of answers to the Science Debate 2008 scientific lobby group.

"I strongly support expanding research on stem cells," Obama wrote. "I believe that the restrictions that president Bush has placed on funding of human embryonic stem-cell research have handcuffed our scientists and hindered our ability to compete with other nations."

Reports about Obama's plans were immediately condemned by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "Today's news that President Obama will open the door to direct taxpayer funds for embryonic stem-cell research that encourages the destruction of human embryos is a slap in the face to Americans who believe in the dignity of all human life," Perkins said.

Bush barred federal funding from supporting work on new lines of stem cells derived from human embryos in 2001, allowing research only on a small number of embryonic stem-cell lines which existed at that time.  He also several times vetoed legislation passed by Congress backing the research, which advocates say could help find a cure to diseases such as Alzheimer's, diabetes and Parkinson's. Bush argued that using human embryos for scientific research-- which often involves their destruction -- crossed a moral barrier and urged scientists to consider other alternatives.  Embryonic stem cells are primitive cells from early-stage embryos capable of developing into almost every tissue of the body.

Yesterday, the Health and Human Services Department moved to rescind a controversial rule, made final just before Obama took office, that would allow health care workers to invoke their consciences in refusing to provide health services or information to patients.  This was strongly opposed by abortion rights activists.  Critics and HHS staff have said the wording of the Bush "conscience" rule was vague enough to let health professionals invoke the conscience clause to deny patients contraceptives, family planning advice, and even vaccines and blood transfusions.

The Right is always citing the decline of American society as it pushes for backward-thinking legislation like that which Obama is now undoing. But history shows that wars against science and reason are symptomatic of societies in decline, not remedies against societies ills.

All I have to say...  Hallelujah- science is back!

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George W. Bush, the Progressive's Friend!

The MSM has a whiff of truth today, in coverage suggesting that the stimulus package is more than just an attempt to keep the economy from grinding to a complete stop.  It represents the single largest opportunity to advance the progressive agenda since LBJ.  Spending of this level (and the social policy implicit in how the money is spent) would have been unthinkable a year ago.  But the chaos and crisis that W has created have opened the door to public acceptance of active progressive government.  

Democrats need to understand two important things:  

1.  The public trust they currently enjoy is a precious thing.  American's today are a naturally skeptical people, hence the power of Government Skepticism arguments, principally made by Republicans.  Democrats must use this trust wisely, and ensure that appropriate steps are taken to minimize corruption and waste.

2.  This door will not be open forever.  Strike now while the iron is hot!  Don't waste too much time on bi-partisan compromise.  Offer some compromise, when it is refused, move on!

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