Saturday, February 25, 2006

10th Amendment Showdown Over Port Control?

Washington D.C. Told To Justify Port Deal In Court

The Bush administration was ordered by a U.S. federal judge on Friday to explain why it did not give New Jersey officials documents and information Washington had about a deal allowing an Arab company to take over management of a container terminal in Newark...

...The judge asked in the order that federal officials explain why New Jersey officials were not given the same documents and information that Washington used to approve the deal, under which state-owned Dubai Ports World would take over management from the British company P&O.

On Thursday, the State of New Jersey sued the federal government to block the deal on the grounds it violated the 10th Amendment, which says states control anything not explicitly mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.

Earlier, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine urged the governors of states with ports affected by the deal -- Louisiana, New York, Florida, Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania -- to join the lawsuit...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Free Audio for Liberty

A Non-Partisan Voice of Freedom

The goal is to spread the word of liberty and freedom to people, communities and countries where they may not be readily available. Personal freedom is sought by everyone young or old, male or female, no matter what race, ethnicity or culture. It is unfortunate that a small but powerful few have taken it upon themselves to deny others freedom for their own gain. Liberty and freedom is not a partisan issue but a human condition that we all seek.

In today’s busy society, it is easy to concern oneself only with the liberties we feel that we need and equally easy to forget about the freedoms that others may feel are important to them and to their lives. In order for us to live in a free society, we must not only enjoy the freedoms that we possess but allow others to enjoy freedoms with which we may disagree.

The Law by Frederic Bastiat

The Candle Maker's Petition by Frederic Bastiat

Common Sense by Thomas Paine

The War On Hype

America's Fleecing in the Name of Security

Rest easy, America. As a response to the Sept. 11 attacks, the Princeton, N.J., Fire Department now owns Nautilus exercise equipment, free weights and a Bowflex machine. The police dogs of Columbus, Ohio, are protected by Kevlar vests, thank God. Mason County, Wash., is the proud owner of a half-dozen state-of-the-art emergency radios (never mind that they are incompatible with existing county radios)...

Veronique de Rugy and Nick Gillespie give you the rest of the story.

Fee Paid To Meet Bush

Former prime minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad admits that “somebody” paid a lobby fee – US$1.2mil – to arrange his meeting with U.S. president George W. Bush in 2002.

“I don’t think the (Malaysian) Government paid. But I must admit the Heritage Foundation (a US think tank) arranged it.

“They talked me into meeting Bush because they said I would be able to influence him in some way regarding US policies...

A recent report in the Los Angeles Times said the Malaysian Government called on a lobbyist when it arranged for a meeting between Bush and Dr Mahathir in 2002.

The report claimed that the lobbyist was paid US$1.2mil by the Malaysian Government for his services in 2001 and 2002...

Dr Mahathir said in the United States, the practice to see a leader was to go through a lobbyist, who had to be paid.

“I did not touch the money. But, I think somebody paid. That is their practice,” he said. “That is their system. It is not corruption at all. It is very open.”

[It is not corruption at all. The practice to see a leader is to go through a lobbyist who had to be paid. It is very open. No not corrupt at all. Money? No problem.]

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Why We Fight

Eugene Jarecki's documentary is now available at the Information Clearing House and is well worth a look.

More from the BBC Storyville.

(If it isn't clear, this means it is available for viewing here.)

Information "Secrecy" Oversight Office

In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.

The restoration of classified status to more than 55,000 previously declassified pages began in 1999, when the Central Intelligence Agency and five other agencies objected to what they saw as a hasty release of sensitive information after a 1995 declassification order signed by President Bill Clinton. It accelerated after the Bush administration took office and especially after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to archives records.

..."It doesn't make sense to create a category of documents that are classified but that everyone already has," said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel of the National Security Archive, a research group at George Washington University. "These documents were on open shelves for years."

..."I think this is a travesty," said Dr. Anna K. Nelson, a foreign policy historian at American University, who said she believed that some reclassified material was in her files. "I think the public is being deprived of what history is really about: facts."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

DOD Notes from 9/11 Released - The Day The Iraq War Began

Department of Defense staffer Steven Cambone's notes from meetings with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the afternoon of September 11, 2001 were heavily cited in the 9/11 Commission Report's reconstruction of the day's events.

The released notes document Donald Rumsfeld's 2:40 PM instructions to General Myers to find the "[b]est info fast . . . judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time - not only UBL [Usama Bin Laden]" (as discussed on p. 334-335 of The 9/11 Commission Report and in Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack).

In addition, the documents confirm the contents of CBS News' Sept. 4, 2002 report "Plans For Iraq Attack Began on 9/11," which quoted Rumsfeld's notes as stating: "Go massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

[T]hese documents unveil a previously undisclosed part of the 2:40 PM discussion. Several lines below the "judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. at same time" line, Cambone's notes from the conversation read: "Hard to get a good case."

Update: Press follow-up.

Friday, February 17, 2006

What Really Happend In Tiananmen Square?

...a wealth of eyewitness testimony and interviews suggest that one stubbornly popular picture of what happened in Tiananmen Square needs revision: There was no massacre of students on the Square.

Standard histories such as that by Yale's Jonathan Spence, as well as the recent groundbreaking "Tiananmen Papers," suggest that Chinese soldiers did not fire on students before they left the square in the early hours of June 4, 1989. But in popular references, most recently in the first paragraph of a major retrospective wire story this week stating that "thousands were killed in Tiananmen Square," the myth persists. A massacre did take place in Beijing 15 years ago, eyewitnesses say - just not in Tiananmen...

Mexico Admits Hostage Rescue Was Staged For TV

The Mexican government has admitted to staging a dramatic kidnap rescue for the benefit of a prime-time television audience.

The raid, televised on December 9, in which Mexico's equivalent of the FBI burst into a farmhouse at dawn, guns at the ready, to subjugate four alleged kidnappers and liberate three victims, had been presented by the government as proof that it was winning the battle against organised crime.

This week a presidential spokesman, Ruben Aguilar, accepted it was staged and called it a mistake.

Another Spy Program Says NSA Whistleblower

A former NSA employee said Tuesday there is another ongoing top-secret surveillance program that might have violated millions of Americans' Constitutional rights.

Russell D. Tice told the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations he has concerns about a "special access" electronic surveillance program that he characterized as far more wide-ranging than the warrentless wiretapping recently exposed by the New York Times but he is forbidden from discussing the program with Congress.

Tice said he believes it violates the Constitution's protection against unlawful search and seizures but has no way of sharing the information without breaking classification laws. He is not even allowed to tell the congressional intelligence committees - members or their staff - because they lack high enough clearance.

Peggy Noonan Ponders Cheney Replacement

...Right now in the White House they're discussing how to help the vice president get through his problem. They've already tried the wearing of orange ties, an attempt to take the sting out of the incident by showing they don't feel the sting. Duck! Ha ha!

But what are they thinking that they're not saying? Here's a hunch, based not on any inside knowledge but only on what I know of people who practice politics, and those who practice it within the Bush White House.

I suspect what they're thinking and not saying is, If Dick Cheney weren't vice president, who'd be a good vice president? They're thinking, At some time down the road we may wind up thinking about a new plan. And one night over drinks at a barbecue in McLean one top guy will turn to another top guy and say, "Under the never permeable and never porous Dome of Silence, tell me . . . wouldn't you like to replace Cheney?"...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Political Bias Affects Brain Activity

Brain scans show Democrats and Republicans both ignore facts.

Democrats and Republicans alike are adept at making decisions without letting the facts get in the way, a new study shows.

And they get quite a rush from ignoring information that's contrary to their point of view...

Bias on both sides

The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University.

...The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

...Notably absent were any increases in activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most associated with reasoning.

Read the article here.

[The moral of the story is don't trust anyone committed to a political party.]

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

William Pfaff: A 'Long War' Designed To Perpetuate Itself

The U.S. Defense Department and the White House have decided that the United States is now conducting "the Long War" rather than what previously was known as the War against Terror, then as the Global Struggle against Violent Extremism, and briefly - as one revealing Pentagon study described it - a war against "the Universal Adversary."
President George W. Bush said in his State of the Union address last month that the aim of his administration is to defeat radical Islam. This was a preposterous statement. Shortly afterward, radical Islam began burning embassies from Afghanistan and Indonesia to Damascus and Beirut. The United States is not going to defeat that.

There are a great many dismaying aspects of Bush's Washington, but nothing more so than this combination of the unachievable with the hortatory in giving a name and purpose to the military campaigns that already have the U.S. Army and Marine Corps near exhaustion, and a major part of the world in turmoil.

...What was originally to be a matter of quick and exemplary revenge, with lightning attacks and acclaimed victories, has now become, we are told, the long war whose end cannot be foreseen...

Is The President Above The Law?

Meet The Press transcript for February 12, 2006:

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Roberts, it seems as though the president is saying, “This is a law that’s on the books from 1978”...

SEN. ROBERTS [Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee]: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: ...”but it’s an old law, and my program doesn’t work under that law, so I’m just going to set it aside.” What is the authorization for the president to undertake this program, and did he violate a statute...


MR. RUSSERT: ...called FISA?

SEN. ROBERTS: No. The president has the constitutional authority. It rises above any law passed by the Congress. President Roosevelt did that during World War II. Every president has done that under the Constitution, saying that the president has the primary duty to protect our national security.

Later in the program,

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Roberts, let me ask you a very serious question. Do you believe that the Constitution gives the president of the United States the authority to do anything he believes is necessary to protect the country?


[Lesson: No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority]

Every Move You Make...They'll Be Watching You

It's getting harder to cover your tracks as even the most everyday activities -- from running a Google search to using the E-Z Pass lane -- leave a lengthy digital trail.

Joe Burris
Baltimore Sun

Ever get the feeling that someone's eyeballing you? You're probably right.

These days, between the news that the National Security Agency has been eavesdropping without warrants and that the Justice Department wants to know what searches have been conducted on Google and elsewhere, it's no wonder you feel under watch.

The real surprise, though, may be how so much of what you do on an everyday basis already gets screened, monitored, tracked, scanned and observed - often without your even knowing it.

From spyware on your computer to police cameras on your street to GPS devices on your cell phone, how much of your private life is really private any more?

"It's all part of the general evaporation of privacy"...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cheney's Role in L'Affaire Plame Comes Into Focus

Confessions of a Welfare Queen

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Emerging Market for Danish Flags in the Middle East

Reuters AlertNet: When entrepreneur Ahmed Abu Dayya first heard that Danish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad were being reprinted across Europe, he knew exactly what his customers in Gaza would want: flags to burn.

Abu Dayya ordered 100 hard-to-find Danish and Norwegian flags for his Gaza City shop and has been doing a swift trade.

"I do not take political stands. It is all business," he said in an interview. "But this time I was offended by the assault on the Prophet Mohammad."

A wave of anger has swept the Muslim world over the publication of the cartoons, one of which shows the Prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb.

First printed in Denmark, the cartoons have appeared in newspapers across Europe, as well as in the United States...

..."I knew there would be a demand for the flags because of the angry reaction of people over the offence to Prophet Mohammad," said Abu Dayya, whose PLO Flag Shop also sells souvenirs and presents.

He sells his Danish and Norwegian flags for $11 a piece -- a price he acknowledged might be dampening sales. Many protesters prefer to save money and make the flags themselves from scraps of fabric, he said.

Abu Dayya sources some of his flags from suppliers in Taiwan, but he buys Israeli flags from a merchant in Israel, even though he sells them to be burnt at anti-Israeli rallies.

Flag-making has been a growth business for Abu Dayya for years, thanks to orders by Palestinian militant groups for national flags and banners bearing the symbols of armed factions.

Last year, he said the Palestinian Authority ordered 60,000 flags ahead of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. Workers at one factory stitched some 3,000 pennants a day.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

"I Participated In A Hoax On The American People"

NOW Press Release

Colin Powell's Former Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson Calls Pre-War Intelligence a "Hoax on the American People"

In an interview airing tonight on the PBS weekly newsmagazine NOW, Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson states that much of Powell's landmark speech to the United Nations laying out the Bush Administration's case for the Iraq war was false.

"I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community, and the United Nations Security Council," says Wilkerson, who helped prepare the address.

The NOW report, which airs days before the third anniversary of Powell's speech, examines the serious doubts that existed about the key evidence being used by the American government at the very time Powell's speech was being planned and delivered.

"I recall vividly the Secretary of State walking into my office." He said: 'I wonder what will happen if we put half a million troops on the ground in Iraq and comb the country from one end to the other and don't find a single weapon of mass destruction?'" In fact, no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.

UPDATE: The transcript of Lawrence B. Wilkerson's conversation with NOW's host David Brancaccio.

Friday, February 03, 2006

US Spy Plane Disguised in UN Colors to Lure Saddam into War?

The UK press is discussing a new book, "Lawless World," by British human rights lawyer, Phillipe Sands. The book reveals extraordinary details of a George Bush and Tony Blair pre-war meeting in January 2003 at which they discussed plans to begin military action irrespective of whether the UN had passed a new resolution authorizing the use of force.

The minutes from the meeting include President Bush saying that:

"The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would 'twist arms' and 'even threaten'. But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway.''

Prime Minister Blair responded that he was: "solidly with the President and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam."

Mr. Sands book also has notes from the meeting having President Bush state: "The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

Bush went on to say: "It was also possible that a defector could be brought out who would give a public presentation about Saddam's WMD, and there was also a small possibility that Saddam would be assassinated."

The Channel 4 "White House Meeting Memo" report.

The Guardian reports on the Blair-Bush deal.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Up Helly Aa!

Vikings march through the streets of Lerwick on 12/31/06, in the Shetland Islands, Scotland.

The festival of fire is known known as 'Up Helly Aa'. The spectacular event takes place annually on the last Tuesday of January.

The festival ends with the hauling of a Viking longboat through the streets where paraders throw torches into the galley.