Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Week in Review from Republican Occupied America

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

In the week of Bush's greatest triumph so far, Bob Woodward focused the entire "mainstream media" on the lies Bush told about Iraq. Bush had very nearly consolidated dictatorial powers with the "Military Commission Act of 2006" —but had little time to savor his vainglory. Bush would get his way —stamping his feet and throwing a hissy fit! Sadly, however, the nation would still be without a grown up to run the country.

Before Bush could bask in the glow of absolute power, an old Watergate warrior —Bob Woodward —let loose a fusillade —the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune:

Woodward spent more than two years, interviewed more than 200 people including most of the top officials in the administration and came to a damning conclusion. He tells Mike Wallace that for the last three years the White house has not been honest with the American public. ...Woodward says, "I think probably the prominent, most prominent example is the level of violence."

Not just the growing sectarian violence — Sunnis against Shias that gets reported every day — but attacks on U.S., Iraqi and allied forces. Woodward says that’s the most important measure of violence in Iraq, and he unearthed a graph, classified secret, that shows those attacks have increased dramatically over the last three years.

"Getting to the point now where there are eight, 900 attacks a week," he says. "That’s more than 100 a day—that is four an hour. Attacking our forces."

CBS News

Meanwhile, the Bush "administration" is the only administration in some fifty years that's had a problem understanding what is meant by the language of the Geneva Convention, specifically, outrages to "human dignity". That Bush doesn't know what that phrase means says more about Bush than it says about billions who haven't had a problem with it. Indeed, the "Military Commission Act of 2006" is an outrage to standards of military conduct universally agreed upon by civilized peoples all over the world. Obviously —Bush's willful ignorance and his inability to experience empathy sets him apart from the rest of humankind.

The US attempt to re-interpret Geneva is, of course, unconstitutional under Article VI of the US Constitution which makes of our treaty obligations "supreme law" on the same level as the Constitution itself. Bush's fraudulent bill denies habeas corpus and it will most certainly be cited by Bush when he tries to absolve himself of crimes ex post facto. It also establishes a dangerous precedent! How many other tin horn, would be dictators are now encouraged to rewrite or even abrogate their own responsibilities. One of them will most certainly and conveniently fail to understand the meaning of the word "torture"; another may not be able to get his brain around the word "humane". Certainly —Bush's feeble mentality has failed us all. But the American electorate has no one to blame but itself. We knew from the git go that Bush did not do "nuance".

The good news is this: Geneva remains valid whatever Bush and the Congress have done. It must also be reiterated that all governments should be held to account; all governments must govern within the law if they should ever hope to impose the law. Bush does not get special treatment; Bush has no privilege but the privilege he merely imagines in his psychosis. Contrary to Bush's stated belief: God does not talk to mass murderers and torturers. As far as I am concerned, Geneva is still the law of the land:

The third Geneva Convention ("Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War") covers members of the armed forces who fall into enemy hands. They are in the power of the enemy State, not of the individuals or troops who have captured them

Prisoners of war MUST be:

  • Treated humanely with respect for their persons and their honour.
  • Enabled to inform their next of kin and the Central Prisoners of War Agency (ICRC, the International Red Cross) of their capture.
  • Allowed to correspond regularly with relatives and to receive relief parcels.
  • Allowed to keep their clothes, feeding utensils and personal effects.
  • Supplied with adequate food and clothing.
  • Provided with quarters not inferior to those of their captor's troops.
  • Given the medical care their state of health demands.
  • Paid for any work they do.
  • Repatriated if certified seriously ill or wounded, (but they must not resume active military duties afterwards) .
  • Quickly released and repatriated when hostilities cease.
Prisoners of war must NOT be:
  • Compelled to give any information other than their name, age, rank and service number.
  • Deprived of money or valuables without a receipt (and these must be returned at the time of release).
  • Given individual privileges other than for reasons of health, sex, age, military rank or professional qualifications.
  • Held in close confinement except for breaches of the law, although their liberty can be restricted for security reasons.
  • Compelled to do military work, nor work which is dangerous, unhealthy or degrading . The fourth Geneva Convention ("Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War") covers all individuals "who do not belong to the armed forces, take no part in the hostilities and find themselves in the hands of the Enemy or an Occupying Power".
Protected civilians MUST be:
  • Treated humanely at all times and protected against acts or threats of violence, insults and public curiosity.
  • Entitled to respect for their honour, family rights, religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs.
  • Specially protected, for example in safety zones, if wounded, sick, old, children under 15, expectant mothers or mothers of children under 7.
  • Enabled to exchange family news of a personal kind.
  • Helped to secure news of family members dispersed by the conflict
  • Allowed to practise their religion with ministers of their own faith. Civilians who are interned have the same rights as prisoners of war. They may also ask to have their children interned with them, and wherever possible families should be housed together and provided with the facilities to continue normal family life. Wounded or sick civilians, civilian hospitals and staff, and hospital transport by land, sea or air must be specially respected and may be placed under protection of the red cross/crescent emblem. Protected civilians must NOT be:
  • Discriminated against because of race, religion or political opinion.
  • Forced to give information.
  • Used to shield military operations or make an area immune from military operations.
  • Punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.
  • Women must not be indecently assaulted, raped, or forced into prostitution.
The entire world should ignore Bush's unlawful decree and the US Congress' complicity in it. In time, billions all over the world and millions inside Republican occupied America will render this unlawful and illegitimate administration moot by ignoring its every decree, it's every unfair law, it's every outrage to humanity.

In view of Woodward's revelations this weekend in his new book, the following excerpt from an email that I received this weekend takes on added significance. It was asked:

"Why are AMERICANS PUTTING UP WITH THIS? CAN ANYONE ANSWER THAT QUESTION?"

Why have we put up with him? Some theories: we lack the courage of the Danes who resisted the Nazi occupation of their country. We don't have the courage to wage a non-violent revolution as did Chileans who rid themselves of Bush's buddy —Pinochet! We no longer have a labor movement and probably never had a labor movement of the calibre of Lech Walesa's Solidarnosc. I've always thought it interesting that the only effective anti-communist movement in the 20th Century came from the left —labor. But, since Ronald Reagan, we are left without a labor movement and no middle class to speak of.

Our Democratic party is just as compromised as is the GOP; triangulation was all that was left the Democrats, a party reduced to technical debates and political maneuvers from within a single political wing: the right. So subversive was Ronald Reagan's bone-headed "revolution" that no one had yet figured out that the GOP had been allowed to get away with shifting the paradigm entirely.

The Democrats get their campaign monies from the same corporate well as the GOP —but they get less of it. Democrats may be less crooked but they are discounted. I will vote Democratic, of course. Anything is better than the GOP —which lacks even the Nazis' snappy logo. All their platitudes and rhetoric, however, are just as meaningless.

I am sick to death of tedious debates about the conduct of the war against the people of Iraq. The "conduct" of the war is not the issue. We should never have "conducted" the war in the first place. But having begun a bloody catastrophe, a war crime, an outrage that will ultimately cost more than World War II, there is no graceful, face saving turn around; there is no winning strategy; there is no graceful exit. The human tragedy will go on and on whether we stay or withdraw. Terrorism will have been made much, much worse now whether we stay or leave. For every victim of Bush's crime of mass murder and/or torture, there may be as many as 1,000 new terrorists. And all of his many victims have families with memories. The entire Middle East has been estranged by the cruelest, the most stupid, the most bone-headed decision ever made by an American "President". We may live it down —in a thousand years or so.

Support what looks like an emerging mass movement to impeach George Bush:

Washington Post: Thousands Nationwide Protest Bush

By LUBNA TAKRURI

The Associated Press

Thursday, October 5, 2006; 11:00 PM

WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of people called the Bush administration's policies a crime and held up yellow police tape along a three-block stretch in front of the White House on Thursday as part of a nationwide day of protest against the president.

The 500 demonstrators were among many who gathered for similar events in more than 200 cities to protest Bush on issues ranging from global warming to the war in Iraq.

"We are turning the corner in bringing forward a mass movement of resistance to drive out the Bush regime," said organizer Travis Morales with the activist group World Can't Wait.

Some dressed in costume, including a hooded prisoner in an orange jumpsuit, a devilish rendition of President Bush and two grim reapers. One man wore a red cheerleader outfit with "Radical" emblazoned on the jersey.

Thousands of protesters clogged New York City's streets as they marched from the United Nations headquarters. Some people lay down in the middle of the street, while others carried signs saying "Expose 9/11" and "This war should be over." They also handed out fliers reading, "Drive out the Bush regime."

Lydia Sugarman, 82, of Manhattan, said she believed in the power of demonstrating.

"That's how we got our civil rights," she said. "If we didn't protest we wouldn't be Americans."

White House spokeswoman Nicole Guillemard defended the administration's Iraq policy.

"Our constitution guarantees the right to peacefully express one's views. The men and women in our military are fighting to bring the people of Iraq these same rights and freedoms," she said. "The president believes it is important to stay on the offense in Iraq."

In Seattle, a person carrying a rifle wrapped in a blanket was among five people arrested. The charges against the other people ranged from resisting arrest to assault.

"They're still investigating to determine what that person was doing with the rifle," said Seattle Police spokeswoman Debra Brown.

The march through Seattle's streets was peaceful as protesters chanted, waved signs and wore costumes mocking administration officials. One woman dressed as a pageant queen with a sash that read, "I Miss America."

It was one helluva week in GOP occupied America:

The Republicans' perfect storm?

One wonders at what point a political edifice starts irredeemably to crumble.

First this.

Then this.

Followed by this.

While Bush administration defenders say critics are drawing the wrong conclusions from the leaked parts of the NIE report, that Bob Woodward's book is full of "myths" (Condoleeza Rice "vehemently denied" Woodward's assertions that she ignored warnings of an impending attack on the U.S.) and that the Mark Foley affair is no worse than various Democratic congressional and presidential indiscretions, it is hard to see how things won't get worse before they get better (assuming they do) for Republicans, with mid-term elections just four weeks out.

Apart from the fallout from what some will construe as a GOP leadership coverup in the Mark Foley affair -- one Republican has already said House Speaker Dennis Hastert "lied" about what he knew and Connecticut Republican Chris Shays has said anyone in a leadership comes position who knew about it should step down -- along comes a new book about Colin Powell's experiences in the Bush administration which will only add to the "state of denial" flames.

Also lurking out there, in what appears to be an increasingly leak-happy atmosphere is another "damning" Iraq intelligence report, which, California Rep. Jane Harman, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, wants released.

The Washington Post's excerpts of Bob Woodward's book can be found here.

Bob Woodward interviewed on "60 Minutes" .

The Post's Sunday magazine article on Colin Powell can be found here.

Emails reportedly between Rep. Mark Foley and a congressional page can be found here.

IMs (warning: explicit) reportedly between Rep. Foley and the congressional page can be found here.

Earlier reader comments on the Woodward book and the Foley affair can be found under the two previous Ross Report posts.

Bush et al. have committed war crimes

The recent debate over rules for coercive interrogation is being blatantly misrepresented by the Bush administration, and few media outlets are calling it on the most important issue. The president and his men have already violated the War Crimes Act of 1996; they are indictable right now.

There is no doubt that, at the very least, they've subjected detainees to outrages on personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment. Can there be any doubt that much greater crimes will be revealed years down the road, as has so often been the case in history?

The president wants to arrange things so that, when the full truth comes out, when the full extent of the violations of international law and common decency is in the open, he and his crew will be safe from prosecution.

Foley Built Career as Protector of Children

He Gained Attention by Fighting Sex Crimes

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 1, 2006; Page A04

The Republican congressman who resigned Friday following the discovery of sexually explicit Internet messages he sent to teenage boys was a gregarious and charismatic lawmaker who built his political career in large measure on legislative proposals meant to halt the sexual predation of children and others.

Beginning with his 1993 sponsorship of a measure in the Florida state legislature to seize the cars of men who solicited prostitutes, former restaurant owner and real estate agent Mark Foley repeatedly attracted a flattering political spotlight by inveighing against those involved in sexual crimes and presenting himself as a protector of exploited children.

A well-liked member of the class of conservatives elected to Congress in 1994, Foley was until two days ago a deputy whip for the House Republicans and a co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. A Web site for the bipartisan group states that it was formed to "create a voice within Congress" on that issue and to operate a hotline for tips about "online child sexual exploitation" that could be passed to law enforcement agencies. ...

Resist U.S. War Crimes

by Jeremy Brecher

Most Americans hold these truths to be self-evident: Torture is wrong; attacking another country that hasn't attacked you is wrong; occupying another country with your army and imposing your will on its people is wrong. These policies are not only immoral. They are illegal.

Most Americans believe that even the highest government officials are bound by law. They reject Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales' view that the law is whatever the President says it is - that if the President says something isn't torture, then it's O.K. to order it.

Most Americans don't agree that their president can unilaterally annul treaties like the Geneva conventions. They don't accept, as Gonzales put it in a 2002 legal memo, that if the President simply declares there's a "new paradigm" he can thereby "render obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners."

Aggression, military occupation, and torture were the war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity for which the Axis leaders were prosecuted at the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials after World War II. The U.S. has supported similar charges against Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein.

But what about the U.S. attack on Iraq, which Kofi Annan has bluntly called "illegal"? What about the leveling of Fallujah and the targeting of hospitals and urban neighborhoods? What about torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo? If a single standard is applied, these too are crimes of war. And as the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal stated, "Anyone with knowledge of illegal activity and an opportunity to do something is a potential criminal under international law unless the person takes affirmative measures to prevent the commission of the crimes." How many Americans can honestly claim to know nothing about this "illegal activity"? It's reported in detail in the daily newspapers and shown in full color on the nightly news, from the phony reports of Iraq's "yellowcake" uranium to the shooting of ambulances to the horrors of Abu Ghraib.

In 1967, faced with evidence of the napalming of villages and massacring of civilians in Vietnam, a distinguished group of Americans signed a "Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority." They declared the Vietnam War illegal under U.S. and international law and pledged to support young people who were resisting the draft.

When the Johnson administration charged world famous pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, Yale Chaplain William Sloan Coffin, and others with conspiracy to "aid, counsel, and abet" resistance to the draft, it identified the "Call" as their first overt act.

There's no draft yet, but there's plenty of resistance. The Pentagon acknowledges 5,500 desertions since the Iraq war began. Army Reserve and National Guard recruitment is plummeting. Many in the military are deciding not to reenlist. ...



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