Wednesday, June 14, 2006

How America lost its moral authority throughout the world

The Bush administration had planned to perpetrate torture even before it ordered the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq; and it sought to exempt U.S. troops from international prosecutions. In the process, the United States has lost whatever moral authority it might have exerted throughout the world. [See Amendment to H.R. 1646, The Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2001]

It was not too long ago that many people looked to the U.S. for leadership and not so long ago, our nation was still thought to be a democratic nation of laws, due process, and a prudent separation of powers. Now the U.S. is reviled; Bush is seen the world over as having betrayed his own people as he wages aggressive war against a nation that even he concedes had nothing whatsoever to do with 911, a nation about which he lied in order to justify his dirty, evil little war. The war on terrorism is phony.

And now, Bush proves everything that is said about him by refusing to close Guantanamo, by refusing to end practices of torture and rendition which he denies —even as he defends them.

I recommend Robert Jackson’s Place in History by Henry King Jr. An excerpt:
In his final report, after he resigned as U.S. Chief Counsel for War Crimes, Jackson stated that “[i]t is not too much to hope that this example of a full and fair hearing, and tranquil and deliberative judgment, will do something toward strengthening the process of justice in many countries.” I believe that after fifty years it can be maintained with considerable credibility that these visions have largely come to pass.
Perhaps —at the time of the writing —"these visions" had come to pass. But thanks to the Bush administration's deliberate effort to undermine the very foundations of International Law, that important progress has been undone.

One rightly suspects Bush's motives. Even before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, before the attack on Afghanistan, Tom DeLay sponsored legislation that exempted U.S. soldiers from war crimes prosecution at the International Tribunal at the Hague. Did anyone in Congress stop to ask why? Were we planning to commit crimes for which we sought exemption from prosecution? Wasn't it clear to any thinking person what Bush was up to? Are we not the good guys? [Amendment to H.R. 1646, The Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2001]

Clearly --the Bush administration was, in fact, planning to commit war crimes but wanted to make them legal if done by the U.S. I cannot possibly hope to document in a short internet essay the various circumlocutions that have been indulged by the Bush administration and its chief apologist: Alberto Gonzales. All, however, are intended to make legal the very acts that are prohibited by Nuremberg —but only if those acts are done by Americans. Bush is at least consistent in this respect: neither would he press for trials for non-Americans. He would simply decree their imprisonment and torture.

Nazis engaged in similar polemical campaigns. The results were tragic. So too with Bush who most certainly boasted of what can only be the summary executions of thousands who were most certainly murdered before they could assert their innocence:

...more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way -- they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.

-George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 2003

This statement must be soberly examined; note that Bush refers to 3,000 suspects. Yet —he smirks that "...they have met a different fate." He boasts that "...they are no longer a problem to the United States...".

They were only suspects. Since when does the United States summarily execute mere suspects? Do we not know who our enemies are? What were the conditions of their detention? Why are we rounding up mere "suspects" —and not actual combatants? How is the execution of suspects justified under any standard, any morality, any legal system?

I am frankly surprised that Bush maintained the pretense when he has since arrogated unto himself the power to define terrorists. "Terrorists" are what Bush says they are. Bush is the judge and jury. Detainees are never charged and, by Bushs' own words, "suspects" are caused to be " longer a problem". Others are "terrorists" not because they are "terrorists" but because Bush —the decider —says they are. Some may be combatants. Some may be "evil doers". Others may be innocent. No matter. Bush —the all powerful decider —has thrown them all in the same wire cage, the same suicide factory.

Contrast Bush's remarks with those of American Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson uttered when America still had credibility and moral authority:

“That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.”

Opening Statement before the International Military Tribunal,Robert Jackson, Chief American Prosecutor, Nuremberg War Crimes Trials

At the end of World War II, when even Winston Churchill espoused the summary executions of Nazi war criminals and Joseph Stalin favored mere show trials, it was the United States, under the leadership of Franklin Roosevelt, that insisted upon war crimes trials. Nazis would not be summarily shot merely because they were Nazis by definition or decree. Rather, they would be given a trial. Even Nazis would be allowed the right of counsel, the right to present a defense.

How can Bush hope to defend democracy —as he has claimed —when he subverts every Democratic principle that has been fought and died for over the last four hundred years? How can Bush justify his war of aggression against Iraq when he subverts the very "democracy" that he claims to bring them? How can Bush accuse anyone outside the United States of "...just hat[ing] freedom" when Bush is himself democracy's most insidious enemy?

If Nazis had engaged in the same disingenuous activities with regard to the incarceration and ultimate extermination of the jews, what moral authority could the U.S. have extended if its own policies differed not a whit in principle?

Bush should be careful not to indulge his delusions. Under his mal-administration, America is no longer a beacon of hope and freedom. Bush is reviled. He is not a liberator. Several polls suggest that he is seen as a threat to world peace and, in others, he is likened unto Saddamn Hussein. At least three issues and/or Bush policies have given the lie to Bush's rhetoric and U.S. posturing:

  1. Tom DeLay sponsored legislation in which the U.S. unilaterally exempted U.S. citizens from prosecution for war crimes in the Hague; the measure actually empowered Bush to invade the Hague should an American find him/herself standing trial there on war crimes charges;
  2. Bush unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of Kyoto because his base are lobsters denying that they are boiling even as they are thrown into the pot.
  3. The Bush administration has sought over the last five years to exempt itself from widely agreed upon international conventions with regard to torture. But, of course, we are not torturing!

Bush is on the wrong side of the torture issue. Torture is morally wrong, prima facie, a priori. Moreover, torture is completely ineffective and unreliable; a victim of torture will say anything to make it stop. Torture inflames a victim and gives them yet another cause celebre. In many cases, if not all, torture legitimizes the opposition cause.

Bush will deny U.S. torture even as he defends it with lies and ex post facto rationales. Since nothing said by Bush on this topic can be believed, torture is, therefore, made policy for other, hidden, nefarious reasons. Those who practice it do so because they are heinously perverted; as "official policy" it can be practiced with impunity and with the blessings of the state. The source of American "torture policy" at Abu Ghraib and throughout the eastern european gulag archipelago is Bush himself, a man who is credibly reported to have reveled in blowing up toads with firecrackers.

I cite the case of Richard Topcliffe -Elizabeth I's "torturer in chief". He was a twisted, perverted lunatic who would have made Torquemada blush. He sent to Elizabeth his long, barely lucid ramblings, consisting of hysterical, psycho-sexual fantasies, hysterical religous overtures and graphic descriptions of what he had done to his "victims" for her Majesty's greater "glory".

I don't want to know how Bush's fevered brain thinks. I don't care! The source of his various sadistic perversions is of no interest to me. My only concern is getting Bush out of the Oval Office and neutralized so that he can't kill anyone else. For selfish reasons —the good of this nation and the world —I want to live to see Bush removed and replaced with someone who —if not a genius on the level of Jefferson or Madison — is at least someone who can be trusted not to undo their great work.

Is that too much to ask?

From Robert Jackson’s place in history:

Jackson drafted the original charges against the Nazis, outlining three categories of crimes for which the defeated Germans would be called to account. The first category included in the draft was the crime of aggressive war (Crimes Against Peace). Jackson considered this to be the most heinous international crime. He set as a priority that German aggression would be subject to prosecution, and he intended that the crime of aggression’s ambit be as broad as possible.

Jackson’s second category of substantive crimes was that of war crimes - crimes against the laws or customs of war. This category was more traditional, as international law had already recognized limits on the ability of nations to conduct war. These crimes had since been codified in The Hague and Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war during the course of international conflict.

The third category of crimes envisioned by Jackson were crimes against humanity - crimes committed in the course of aggressive war against individuals for racial, religious, or political reasons. Within this category lay the crime of genocide, the slaughter of millions of Jews and other ethnic groups. The substance of this crime, calling rulers accountable for their treatment of nationals within their borders, was revolutionary. Genocide had been defined in scholarship and political discussion years earlier, but Jackson’s vision extended beyond mere identification of atrocities. The International Military Tribunal would, for the first time, punish genocide as one might punish the murder of an individual.

Robert Jackson's Place in History, Henry King Jr

Updates and other related materials:

Detainees not given access to witnesses

But in one case, 3 quickly found

By Farah Stockman and Declan Walsh, Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent | June 18, 2006

GARDEZ, Afghanistan -- The US government routinely failed to give detainees at Guantanamo Bay access to witnesses who might have helped them prove their assertions of innocence, saying it could not locate the vast majority of the witnesses the terror suspects requested at special military hearings. But within a three-day span, a Globe reporter was able to locate three of those witnesses in the case of one detainee. The Globe found two of them in Afghanistan, and located a third in Washington, D.C., where he is teaching at the National Defense University. ...
The cover up continues:

UPDATE: Pentagon Orders U.S. Reporters to Exit Guantanamo

By Greg Mitchell and Joe Strupp
Published: June 14, 2006 10:55 AM ET, Updated 12:30 PM ET

NEW YORK In the aftermath of the three suicides at the controversial Guantanamo prison facility in Cuba last Saturday, reporters with the Los Angeles Times and the Miami Herald were ordered by the office of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to leave the island today.

A third reporter and a photographer with the Charlotte Observer were given the option of staying until Saturday but, E&P has learned, were told that their access to the prison camp was now denied. An E&P "Pressing Issues" column on Tuesday covered an eye-opening dispatch by the Observer's Michael Gordon carried widely in other papers.

He had listened in, with permission, as the camp commander gave frank instructions to staff on how to respond to the suicides. All four journalists left the island today and arrived in Miami about 12:30 p.m.

A Pentagon spokesman, J.D. Gordon, confirmed the order to leave the island this morning, but told E&P it was unrelated to the stories produced by the journalists, while admitting that Gordon's piece had caused "controversy." He asserted that the move was related to other media outlets threatening to sue if they were not allowed in. He did not say why, instead of expelling the reporters already there, the Pentagon did not simply let the others in, beyond citing new security concerns.

"All three have been screaming [about the order to leave] like it is going out of style," he said. A curt e-mail to reporters Carol Rosenberg of the Herald (who spoke to E&P about the expulsion) and Carol Williams of the L.A. Times mentioned a directive from the office of Rumsfeld, and stated: "Media currently on the island will depart on Wednesday, 14 June 2006 at 10:00 a.m. Please be prepared to depart the CBQ [quarters] at 8:00 a.m.''

Rich Bard, deputy world editor for the Herald, said "It was our hope that we could work out an arrangement with the Department of Defense to keep her in Guantanamo. We thought it in the best interest of our readers to have access."

J.D. Gordon, the Pentagon press officer, told E&P that Rosenberg and Williams had been invited to come to Guantanamo last weekend for the start of tribunals. Mike Gordon and Observer photographer Todd Sumlin, meanwhile, arrived to produce a profile of the camp commander, who hails from North Carolina. The suicides of the three detainees happened to occur in this time period and the tribunals were cancelled.

The reporters, with the approval of the base commander, covered the aftermath of the suicides, and interviewed attorneys who ripped the legal horrors for the inmates, few of whom have been formally charged with any crime. A lawyer who had tried to represent one of the dead men was accusing the U.S. government "of thwarting his efforts with bureaucratic maneuvers" and lamented that justice can never be done for his client now that he is dead.

After stories started appearing the reporters ordered to leave, on a hastily arranged military flight to Miami, over the protests of their editors.

Tom Fiedler, the editor of the Herald, wrote to the Pentagon, "Ms. Rosenberg arrived at Guantanamo and proceeded to report on the suicides with the full support of base personnel and with the direct knowledge of Gen. John Craddock, who arrived on Sunday. At no time did anyone state or suggest that Ms. Rosenberg's presence was unauthorized or even undesired.

"Neither Ms. Rosenberg nor The Miami Herald seek to remain indefinitely at Guantanamo nor to have exclusive or special access. However, we respectfully suggest that, while aspects of the suicides remain undetermined it is in the best interest of the DOD and the public that the news media be present."

The Pentagon spokesman told E&P that Rumsfeld's office was overruling any of the permissions from military at the base.
Mike Gordon of the Charlotte Observer told E&P today he had not received the letter from Rumsfeld's office but had been told that he could leave Wednesday or stay until Saturday -- but access to the prison had been ended.

"He was doing a hometowner, a hometowner takes one day," J.D. Gordon, the Pentagon's press officer, said. "You would think that a man allowed down for a whole week would be a bit more gracious about it. Have the good grace and class to leave."

The Pentagon spokesman told E&P that recent activities surrounding the suicides of three detainees required heavier security and the removal of outside media.
"We told [the journalists] on Monday that we are in a difficult position," said Gordon, the Pentagon press officer. "We are trying to be impartial and fair." He added that pressure from other media outlets to be given similar access also forced the complete press ban. "We are between a rock and a hard place," he said.

He told E&P that Williams and Rosenberg were originally part of a 10-person media group invited to arrive Saturday to cover a military tribunal set for this week. But on Saturday, the tribunal, also known in the military as a commission, had been postponed following last week's suicides of three detainees. Press Officer Gordon said the Pentagon informed all 10 journalists on Saturday that they were not allowed to visit. All 10, including reporters from Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal, had planned to arrive via military aircraft.

But he said that Williams and Rosenberg arrived on their own, via a commercial aircraft, and were allowed to be on. Michael Gordon, who had also arrived Saturday, was allowed to remain for his story. "We didn't like it, we didn't think it was appropriate," the press officer said of their arrivals. "But it was plausible."

By Sunday, however, J.D. Gordon said he began getting complaints from other news outlets, such as Fox News, AP, CNN, and Reuters, claiming that their reporters should be allowed on the island if the three other journalists were there. "The other media started to have a mini-phone riot," he told E&P. "'Hey, why are they there?' We had a major issue on our hands for other media to 'either get them in there or we have to see you in court.'"

He would not identify which media outlets threatened legal action, but said more than a dozen news outlets called to complain between Sunday and Monday. Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of AP, said her outlet was among those who sought equal access -- but said legal action was never threatened. "We never begrudge other reporters being there as long as we can be there, too," she told E&P, adding that the military could have accomodated more reporters on the site. "The Pentagon makes lots of complicated logistical decisions that are more difficult than that one. We are not the most difficult problem for them to manage."

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, issued a statement today declaring, “If the United States wants to restore its credibility as a democracy in the eyes of the world, it should be inviting journalists in, not kicking them out. Our government insists it has nothing to hide, but its actions show otherwise."
Still, J.D. Gordon said the decision was made that all of the media had to leave the island. But he denied any accusation that such expulsions were in reaction to any of the tough-minded reporting.

"No, totally not true," he said. "Some of the things [Gordon] wrote caused controversy, about changing detainees clothes and forced entry. But we are not into content management. The issue was that other media were threatening to take us to court."

Bard, the Herald editor, told E&P: "Our knowledge of some of the details is limited." When asked about the Pentagon's contention that other media outlets barred from the island had complained, he said that should not affect his own reporters.

The Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, which was representing the three men who committed suicide, released a statement today: "At a time when the administration must be transparent about the deaths at Guantanamo, they are pulling down a wall of secrecy and avoiding public accountability. This crackdown on the free press makes everyone ask what else they are hiding down there. This press crackdown is the administration's latest betrayal of fundamental American values. The Bush Administration is afraid of American reporters, afraid of American attorneys and afraid of American laws."

Greg Mitchell and Joe Strupp (
An update. The link as it appeared in Buzzflash:

2 U.S. troops missing, 1 killed in attack at a traffic checkpoint in Yusifiya. Zarqawi's death was a media event and it was unrelated to the violence on the ground. Our soldiers will continue to die until we bring them home.

Bush is the anti-thesis of the Plato's ideal of the "Philosopher King". Marcus Aurelius, alone among the many Roman Emperors, seems to have epitomized that ideal:

Marcus Aurelius: The Meditations (167 CE)

The emperor Marcus Aelius Aurelius Antoninus who reigned from 161-160 was the only Roman emperor besides Julius Caesar whose writings were to become part of the canon of Western classics. His Meditations are a loosely-organized set of thoughts relating to the stoic philosophy which had been popular among the better-educated citizens of Rome for some centuries.

It stressed self-discipline, virtue, and inner tranquillity. Aurelius was also a social reformer who worked for the improvement of the lot of the poor, slaves, and convicted criminals. Non-Christians in the Western World have often looked to him as a role model. He was also a fierce persecutor of Christianity, doubtless because he felt that the religion threatened the values that had made Rome great.

Aurelius was not an original or brilliant thinker, but his Meditations reflect well the stoic strain in Greco-Roman civilization. The emphasis on morality combined with emotional detachment is strongly reminiscent of Buddhist thought, with which Stoicism has often been compared.

The Existentialist Cowboy


BenMerc said...

Nice post Len, which brings to my short term memory mind from earlier in the day:

Bush was asked about Gitmo detainees again today, and his stock answer is basically putting the ball in the Supreme Courts, court...(No pun intended). And as usual, instead of the reporters voicing a follow up such as: Well, that may be fine for the long term or next time, but originally weren't you the man who initiated the drag-net? and was it not found to be very flawed from the start, and in fact weren’t innocent men found to have been caught up in it mostly because of corruption ?

Instead, they all say: Oh, O.K.!
And then they go on to the next media event spin question for Bush/Co. It is all getting very old, and it seems they are getting away with propping up the killing for another short spell. It is like dispensing candy out to a bunch of six year olds, they keep throwing it and everyone scrambles for a piece. We live in a land of compliant

Len Hart said...

I can remember when real reporters asked follow up questions. Never perfect, the so-called "liberal" media could be tough. The best example was Murrow portrayed recently in the movie "Good Night and Good Luck".

I know why the fascists hate Dan Rather and why they set him up. Rather, a fellow Texan, btw, would always ask the tough questions.

At the height of the Watergate Scandal,Dan Rather and Richard Nixon exchanged pointed verbal jabs in Houston's Jones Hall, home of the local symphony orchestra. I was there as a credentialed member of the press corp.

It went like this. Dan Rather approached the mic and introduced himself: "Dan Rather, CBS News". It was an unsual and awkward format for a press conference; the working press and media execs were all in attendance. Press, or "News" conferences are generally confined to credentialled press only. When Rather introduced himself, there was an odd mixture of applause, cheers, and hisses. When the hubbub died down, Nixon shot back: "Are you running for something, Mr. Rather?"

Again —laughter, applause, and general hubbub.

With impeccable timing, Rather fired back: "No, Mr. President! Are you?"

I thought the roof would fall in. To be fair, Rather was cheered as much as he was jeered.

Shortly afterward, however, rather would be kicked upstairs. That he eventually inherited the anchor spot from Walter Cronkite has got to be the great media comeback story of the 70's and 80's.

BenMerc said...

Thats a good story to have experienced, at least you know how it should work, just wish everone else could hold the same standards. That was a good one, Nixon was running alright, as fast and far from the press as he was able to. But back in those days, I don't think you could pull this Cheney dissappearing act, or could a Bush dish this much bovine manure out, don't think people would have put up with it. Of course they did not, ole' Tricky got a swift one out the door, same as old Spiro, HA! god damn crooks all.

Dante lee said...

Great post, Len. But did you hear the most puzzling and hillarious bucket of manure Bush – all invigorated after his surprise trip to Iraq (don’t ask me why; perhaps someone flew him over some Iraqi pipelines that looked somewhat in better shape that the ones in Nigeria!); well, idiot-in-chief came up with some real natural plant food in the middle of the Rose garden.

He first started by claiming, "I sense something different happening in Iraq".
Good for him if he feels like the tickling inside his hears (or, in between, as a matter of fact) are genuine messages of God. For the common Iraqis, however, sensing is a luxury feature of the body that they have no idea how long it’ll live, or, sensing often becomes a nightmarish body function on the torture chair.

Bush continued with "Success in Iraq depends upon the Iraqis" and, "If the Iraqis don't have the will to succeed, they're not going to succeed. We can have all the will we want, I can have all the confidence in the ability for us to bring people to justice, but if they choose not to take the -- make the hard decisions and to implement a plan, they're not going to make it." A plan? And if their plan is to nationalize their oil, will we help them to “succeed”?

I love this one too – picked from the Post : “Bush said he plans to dispatch Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert M. Kimmitt to help Iraq develop a compact that would commit the nation to a series of political, economic and security goals in exchange for more international aid.”

Basically, Bush is sending an “official” economic hit man, to cook a great book for Iraq in order to get billions from the IMF… Billions that the future Iraqi government will never be able to repay or solely by… allowing American oil companies to pump oil at will: Just like the good old days of the Dulles Brothers!

Oh, and cretin-in-chief want to campaign alongside the next Republican nominee for pursuing “our mission in Iraq”. I wonder if any Repug nominee would actually let him do just that… except Jeb, of course.

Len Hart said...

Manure, indeed!

Zarqawi's death was too conveniently timed. Damien asked the tough question:did anyone check his body for freezer burns!

It doens't matter though. Nothing has changed in Iraq and Bush is still a war criminal.

Rove and Snow were at the "Press" conference. And, oddly, both looked very, very grim for a "President" who may have just played his last trump.

Bush was whistlin' past the graveyard.

Dante lee said...

Après moi, Katrina!

Anonymous said...

dante lee - "...Bush – all invigorated after his surprise trip to Iraq (don’t ask me why;..." Probably because during his stay he got to personally torture and kill some innocent men, women, children and babies, which must have given him quite an orgasm of an intensity he hasn't had in a long time. Getting one's jollies through death and killing vicariously and by proxy isn't as pleasurable as doing the killing oneself. He probably even got to rape a few boys in the bargain.

Len Hart said...

anonymous, it has been alleged with increasing credibility that Bush is a mass murderer by proxy.

Kathy O'Leary said...

Torture is a moral issue. This is the heading for a quarter-page ad in June 13th’s New York Times op-ed section. It is an announcement of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture which is a non-profit group headquartered in Princeton, NJ that formed early this year. Cardinal McCarrick, Rabbi Jerome Epstein, Dr. Sayyid M. Sayeed, Dr Rick Warren and 22 other prominent religious leaders from a diverse background have endorsed the campaign’s statement against the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading tactics by our government.

In May, a month that is devoted to Mary, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to a crowd at the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love just outside Rome. He gave a recitation of the rosary and then spoke of the love God and of Mary as a sign of that love. Pope Benedict concluded by speaking of the power of love and the current imperative for choosing love over violence in dealing with our enemies “there is a need to convert to God, to God who is Love, so that the world may be freed from war and terrorism”.

Also in May, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Colin Powell speak. He was not most proud of his accomplishments in war, but of his accomplishments in bringing and maintaining peace. He spoke what he believes is the only way to end terrorism. It is, according to a 4-star general, through small acts of kindness that we will end the fear and the hate that feeds terrorism.

If the Pope and a 4-star general can both choose diplomacy over bombs and love over violence then why can't we?

In a letter to the Senate in support of the McCain-Warner Ammendment to the Defense Authorization Act Bishop John H. Ricard, speaking on behalf of the USCCB wrote "In a time of terrorism and great fear, out individual and collective obligation to respect basic human dignity and human rights, even of our worst enemies, gains added importance." At a time when the Pentagon is re-writing the Army field manual to remove language that relates to the Geneva Convention and prohibitions against the use of inhumane treatment of prisoners, and detainees at Guantanamo are committing suicide because they have lost all hope this statement is very poignant.

To view NRCAT's statement against torture go to Please endorse this statement and tell your legislators that your faith tells you that you must choose love because torture is a moral issue.

Kathy O'Leary
Chapter Coordinator
Pax Christi Summit
(a local chapter of Pax Christi USA )

"As a community the Church must practice love." -Pope Benedict XVI

BenMerc said...

Kathy O'Leary...

I am glad to see some Clergy in this country get together and protest the torture that has earmarked this current administration's behavior. It is about time decent Americans stood up to this kind of action, as we are all complicit if we remain silent.

I will have to disagree on your assessment of General Colin Powell. Mr. Powell helped sell this immoral as well as illegal war to the American people. He knew all to well it was fear mongering of incorrect data in it’s selling, yet stood by silent after he “did” his part.
Not to rain on the parade, but I am a reality based individual, and that is the facts no matter where you want to cut that deck.

Never the less, good luck in your groups venture, and I truly hope you are able to get some of your followers to adopt your philosophy and try a little love and understanding, rather then death and destruction. It will be up to folks like you and your group to get this nations attention, as we apparently have had a shift in our standards these past few years.

Ben Mercadante

Len Hart said...

Kathy, I second Benmerc and welcome you to this forum. I applaud your work and support it naturally. My opposition to torture is both moral, legal and pragmatic.

The Bushco position, by contrast, has its basis in bigotry, cruelty, provincialism, hubris and ignorance. Bushco's legal argument are full of holes; a first year law student could shoot them down. Morally, Bush is without any support. And from a political/pragmatic standpoint, Bush has only inflamed potential terrorism, a counterproductive strategy if there ever was one.

I agree with benmerc, however, with regard to Colin Powell. There is every reason to believe that he deliberately mislead the United Nations. Had Powell gone public at the time, it is quite possible that the ongoing war crime in Iraq could have been avoided. And Bush might not have won a second term. It's even tempting to consider the possibility that a Democrat would be in the White House right now and thousands of lives —Iraqi and American —could have been saved.

Having said all that, a stronger statement from Powell now is welcome. I wish he would come clean and reveal to the world, in detail, what was going on inside the Bush White House when Bush decided to wage aggressive war on the world.

Colin Powell's testimony at a war crimes trial just might make the kind of case that Robert Jackson made against Nazis at Nuremberg.

Dante lee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dante lee said...

Well said, Len. I am still anticipating for Colin Powell's to sign me a copy of his book: "With A Gun on My Head: How the Bush administration destroyed my career and reputation by forcing me to lie to the Amrican people and the world."

After having shown mad skills on Adobe Photoshop, Colin should try Microsoft Words.

Len Hart said...

If you get one, hang on to it, dante. That autograph will one day be worth as much as Albert Speer's. But only if Colin fully recants, as Speer did. Come to think of it, Powell was in a position to know even more about Bushco than Speer could have known about the Third Reich despite Speer's close relationship with Hitler. I recommend Speer's "Inside the Third Reich". If nothing else, you will have gained upon reading it an absolute loathing for fascist architecture, an aversion to Wagner, and the good sense not to try to race a Nazi down the autobahn at 2:00 AM.

Dante lee said...

"Inside the Third Reich" by Speer is sitting on one of my book shelves as I write. it is indeed one to recommend staunchly.

Len Hart said...

Why am I not suprised that you've already read it? LOL LOL Seriously, it's easy enough to criticize Speer by saying that he only 'fessed up to save his hide. But Speer had some facts on his side. He was most certainly telling the truth about his plan to kill Hitler himself; and, secondly, he countermanded Hitler's "Scorched Earth" orders.

I can only thank heaven that most of those urban projects never got built. The "International School" is bad enough.

The Boy said...

Very good post. I linked to it at Good Nonsense.

damien said...

Just a couple of topical legal points that have come my way that I'd like to share with people.

Fitzgerald has written a letter to Karl Rove appearing to suggest that he will not to be indicted (in the near term). Some of the commentators are suggesting that this is a shrewd move on Fitzy's part to avoid the prospect of Rove taking the 5th amendment. The suspicion is that Rove will have immunity imposed on him. He'll have to give up his bosses or cop to obstruction of justice.

The other one concerns Arlen Specter's FISA amendments. The ACLU have objected to Specter trying "to win administration support by . . . creat[ing] a retroactive exception to criminal liability when warrantless wiretapping is done at the president’s direction under a claim of inherent authority."

Repeat after me: "The law does not apply to the King Boy".

Dante lee said...

Wow, Damien. Bush and Berlusconi were indeed great friends: I thought this hubris kind of immunity would never leave the Roman parliament.
Oh, I forgot it did: Chirac also enjoy great immunity for the millions of dirty money he took while being the mayor of Paris.

Looks like Bush digs how they do politics in the Old Europe after all.

damien said...

Hey, Berlusconi has neocon links going way back. A veritiable good ol' boy. And SISMI had a hand in the Niger forgeries. The ONLY question about those forgeries was why they were so obviously fake??

Repeat after me: "The law does not apply to the King Boy".

Len Hart said...

Re:The Boy...thanks for the link to "Good Nonsense" and also for the kind words.

Len Hart said...

damien, thanks for the update on Rove. Admittedly, I haven't been following this aspect of the story closely. I hope you are correct that Fitz will put Rove into such a position that he will have to "sing".

A few cracks in the Dyke will bring down the whole rotten edifice.

Arlen Specter is, after all, a Republican. At one point, I had hopes that one or two goppers would eschew putting party politics above reason. I was naive.

Ingrid said...

Bravo Len, great piece. "And that's all I gotta say to that"

Len Hart said...

Thanks, Ingrid.

I've had two very busy days but at least three new articles are in the works. Hope to have them up this weekend.

Stephen Neitzke said...

Len -- Excellent piece. Just decided yesterday to create a sidebar section for "Signature Posts" on my own blog. Titles and thumbnail description. Want to get around the blind archive feature. If you ever decide to do something similar, this one should be on your Signature Posts list.

damien -- Thanks for the headsup on the Rove details. I've long maintained that Rove is a gonner -- he's hurt too many very powerful individuals across the decades. It would be just like power at that level to hang him up on a hook of his own design, making him responsible for the bring-down of, say, Cheney. Sure do hope that Fitzgerald lives up to my expectations.

Also, damien, FISA reversal, as you say, is nothing but smoke and mirrors for the past crimes. The Constitution specifies that no retro release from law is possible. But watch out for future crimes if fascist Specter gets his way.

The public has not grasped yet that one of the signature traits of our criminal Congress is to pass inferior statutes that, on their surface, overturn superior Constitutional law. Such a thing is not legally possible under our Constitution, but, of course, Bush thinks he is above our Constitution -- whenever he wants.

Any Bush-talk about law is smoke and mirrors gibberish, for the good of the later Empire if something should prevent him from formally creating a dictatorship here. The arrogant 3-branch fascists have no idea that we the sovereign people can change the Constitution and put the Empire in a hole.

Congress can reverse FISA, but they cannot reverse our personal privacy rights, guaranteed in many provisions of the Constitution and upheld in many SCOTUS decisions over the past 150 years or so. As soon as the Empire loses the ability to protect all of its good little goosestepper from our rule of law, 18 USC 241 -- felony conspiracy against citizen rights -- will result in the imprisonment of about a thousand of the executive, judicial, and legislative treasonous felons-in-waiting.

SadButTrue said...

This is a great blog, Len, and I'll have to add you to my growing list of good Texans; Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kinky Friedman, Willie Nelson, the Dixie Chicks, etc. The Chicks, of course, were wrong about Dubya..Connecticut cowboy, wasn't he? All hat and no cattle. No need for Texas to be ashamed, except for having voted for the dumbass for governor, then twice for president
I'm writing from Canada, and it chills me to hear you discuss current events vis a vis the Nazi regime. Growing up believing that our nearest neighbour was the greatest country history has ever known (I know that sounds trite, but we're talking the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations), it is a rude wake-up call to suddenly feel more like Poland, 1937.
Your comments thread does you proud; no trolls, smart, well informed folk. "An informed citizenry is the bulwark of democracy" as Thomas Jefferson said.
I came across something GREAT on Google Video recently that you and your readers will probably like. It's called the history of oil, and is presented by a British comedian named Robert Newman. Well worth 46 min. of your time, I linked to it through a blog run by a guy who calls himself sans-culotte. I recommend you do the same, as he has compiled a list of factchecking links to supplement the video. If you're interested, head over to:
BTW, I don't personally know this guy, but he has one of the best amateur blogs I've seen yet.

Len Hart said...

Welcome back, Stephen. I really like the "Signature Posts" idea. But what I would really like to do —if I can find a way —is to create a more easily browsable comments section. What I have in mind, however, is just not possible on Blogspot and creating a super blog on my own server is a bit beyond my means at the moment. Thanks for your kind words.

I agree with Daniel Gerous about the quality of comments here. And, while I am at it, I want to welcome Daniel to the ranch.

Daniel, your comment about "good Texans" is interesting. I don't mind admitting that I remember a more "liberal" Texas. W. Lee O'Daniel, however, was before my time but his Western Swing band —"The Lightcrust Dough Boys" —survived his tenure as Gov and I actually heard them once when I was very young. Bob Wills —who's memory is still a big influence on the Austin music scene got his start with "Pappy" Lee O'Daniel's band. The film O Brother, Where Art Thou? featured a character named "Pappy" O'Daniel, loosely based on the real O'Daniel.

O'Daniel ran against and defeated Lyndon Johnson in a race for the US Senate in 1941.

Another famous Texas politician was Ma Ferguson. GW Bush will be remembered for executing a record number of folk —even making fun of at least one them on Larry King Live. Furguson, however, is remembered still for pardoning " average of 100 convicts a month."

It was a different time. I am fourth generation Texan. My ancestors settled in the Texas panhandle before the railroad —quite possibly, predating the early colonization of the state by Stephen F. Austin. As this was Mexican territory at the time, and, as Mexico has never formally recognized Texas as a part of the U.S., a technical case could be made that I am Mexican. But genetically, I am Scots-Irish/Choctaw-Cherokee.

I really enjoyed your list which included Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kinky Friedman, Willie Nelson, the Dixie Chicks. Music is a great tradition in Texas. My father played traditional "breakdowns" on the fiddle. But my cousin and I were expected to study "violin" and, in that respect, my cousin was more successful. He could play Tchaikovsky as well as "Black Eyed Susie". Janis, of course, played all the little "folk" clubs in Houston and the honky tonks in Beaumont before making it big. Stevie Ray LIVES...even B.B. King acknowledged Ray who played as if he were channeling the licks. I don't wish to be a name dropper, but I met Kinky recently. He is completely unpretentious. What you see is what you get. He's smart and quick witted. His one liners are priceless. Things you'll never hear in Texas: The tires on that truck are too big! Or: Come to think of it, ah'll have a Heineken.

Another great musician from Texas was the late Roy Orbison. Orbison's birthplace is officially listed as Wink, TX , a wide place in the road south of Odessa. It was about this time that Roy formed a group called the "Wink Westerners" which played honky tonks from Odessa to El Paso. By the time he landed a TV program on KOSA-TV (Odessa), he had changed the name of the group to "The Teen Kings". If I am not mistaken, he recorded "Oooby Dooby" at Norman Petty's legendary recording studio in Clovis, NM. He would later sign with Sun, of course. The whole world remembers "Only the Lonely". Another famous Texan —Buddy Holly —also recorded there.

Thanks all for the great comments. We are living in troubled times and the US is very near to losing its constitutional democratic republic. But —as Lazlo told Rick: "This time I know our side will win!" —Casablanca

Stephen Neitzke said...

Len -- Check out comments pages on Greenwald's "Unclaimed Territory", as well as on my "DD Revival". I presume that you've already dismissed that format, but if you haven't and you like what you see on Greenwald's and my blog, you get it on Blogger -- Dashboard > Settings > Comments > scroll down to the question, "Show comments in a popup window?" and bullet-point "No".

BenMerc said...

Hey Len, don't forget: Robert Earl Keen, Joe Ely, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Lyle Lovett,Lightnin'Hopkins, Billy Gibbons, Buddy Holly, Johnny Winter...and there are many more.

Len Hart said...

Thanks, Stephen, I will check that out..

Benmerc, Wow what a list! Texas turned out to have been a hot bed for music —near enough to Louisiana to have imported Cajun and New Orleans jazz influences and mix it up with everything else. Not the least of which is Mexican: conjunto, mariachi, et al. Some of the best Texas music is its own brand of blues. A good example would be ZZ Top.

BenMerc said...

Some of the I also checked out all those I listed, and it seems were native sons to my knowledge, and I have at least one or two LP's - CD's of all, and your list also, well only a few down loads on Kinky, which I enjoy. How about "Asleep at the Wheel" are they yours also?

BenMerc said...


Oh yea, how could we have forgotten the incredible Townes Van Zant

Len Hart said...

Asleep at the Wheel, indeed!! I became a fan with Choo Choo ch' Boogie. Less familiar with van Zandt, but still appreciative. And we mustn't forget the cosmic cowboy: Jerry Jeff Walker. For a bit of hispanic influence, you can't beat Freddy Fender. Wasted Days and Wasted Nights is a classic. And, of course, the "Perfect Country and Western Song" comes from David Allen Coe.

The following download must be enjoyed with a Shiner Bock: You Never Even Called Me by My Name A Dos Equis is also acceptable. Beware of that colorado stuff called "Coors". John Cleese, as I recall, referred to it as "Gnat's Urine". Cleese was right.

Here's a source for Crazy Cajun Cosmic Cowboys

BenMerc said...

Thanks for the links Len...

Fuzzflash said...

This post has gotta be the exchange of the month. Broad ranging, free-wheeling, heady and chatty at the same time. Just like to toss in Aaron T-Bone Walker as one of the all time Texas music greats, a pioneer who led a big band with an electric guitar and wrote some very cool blues. I've also had a soft spot for Clarence"Gatemouth" Brown who skedaddled for the big Juke Joint in the sky the day after Katrina struck. Gate's version of Muddy's "Got My Mojo Workin'", uptempo with a horn section, gets me every time.

Been sucked into the World Cup, a quadrennial ritual since 1974. Fantastic spectacle, spell-binding drama. Please don't expect much blogsense from me till it's over. My family have disowned me, but still leave nourishment at regular intervals at the den door.

Meanwhile in Europe,the warmth and hostpitality of the German people exceeds the delights of commercial windfall. There's a lot of national healing happening at this World Cup Of Football.

BenMerc said...

David Allen Coe...he had a place down at the end of the island where my folks lived late seventies early eighties on No Name Key, back in the tail end of the "old outlaw days" That was a wild bunch to say the least (come to think of it, weren’t all back then) My folks wanted off the grid back then, and my Dad being an engineer, designed an all solar house that was very cutting for its day…I got to help him build it, was a real treat.

One of Van Zan'ts fast step songs, "White Freightliner Blues" ( i have a steel/pedal version by David Ogilvy that is sweet) and the classic "Poncho & Lefty" ...and yea, Jerry Jeff, Gatemouth & T-Bone which are played on our local blues programs off and on. The list goes on & on...looks like you guys got them all, well it is no "tall tale" when it comes to music in Texas, you guys got the world beat hands down for songwriters and blues men, country blues, country, all the fusion anyone could imagine etc.

So, Fuzz there is a political angle to the world games that are evident? Would be interesting to get a run down from someone of your perspective. As long as they keep J. Bolten away we may be able to smooth over some rough ground.

Len Hart said...

fuzzflash, indeed! Mustn't forget T-bone. I agree...what a great exchange. Who remembers Spade Cooley? He was an "Okie" who made his way to CA during the depression "dust bowl" years. He was brought to my attention just very recently. He's of the old Bob Wills vintage.

ReL Gatemouth. You're talkin' Delta Blues, fuzz. It "don't git" much better.

benmerc, Texas was certainly blessed musically...but we must not forget Kansas City. Like New Orleans, KC music was always served up with easy sex. That tradition goes all the way back to Scott Joplin days but continued right up to Benny Carter and Count Basie.

SadButTrue said...

Well, I sure know where to go when I want a list of great Texas musicians now, don't I? Having eclectic tastes, I have heard most of them, including a lot who are pretty much unknown up here in Canada. Some friends of mine are in a band called Prairie Oyster you may have heard of, they started off doing mostly swing and covered a lot of tunes by Asleep at the Wheel. I love Roy Orbison, but didn't know he was a Texan. Another friend of mine was a big Townes van Zandt fan. Robert Earl Keen, Joe Ely, Jimmy Dale Gilmore I've never heard of, they were either before my time or their music never made it up this far north. And I caught Willie Nelson when he was through here just a few weeks ago.
Not that we don't have great music around here. The legendary Ronnie Hawkins (who's from Arkansas) lives up the road, and Neil Young hails from these parts. His dad was a writer for the Toronto Star, and he picked me up hitchhiking when I was a teenager. The one thing beyond music that unites us is that we all love freedom. I started getting seriously interested in US politics with the invasion of Iraq, which didn't seem to make any sense to me even though I supported Afghanistan (as did the Canadian government.) Man, you folks HAVE to unseat the Bush regime, and get working on setting things right.