Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 30, 2006

Always an Open Thread

News & views ...

Posted by b on June 30, 2006 at 12:02 AM | Permalink


American Rituals
Massacres, Baseball and Apple Pie

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 30, 2006 12:11:01 AM | 1

Billmon has Moon of Alabama as his top link. All is forgiven!

Posted by: ran | Jun 30, 2006 12:30:52 AM | 2

I must be out of the circuit, but why did Billmon remove MOA from his site in the first place?

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jun 30, 2006 1:58:29 AM | 3

The Guardian has a thought provoking piece by Simon Tisdall entitled

History fuels Tehran's vision for Iraq

" . . .The Iran-Iraq war, in which the US, Britain and others quietly sided with Saddam against the Islamic revolution, is mostly forgotten in the west. Not so in Tehran, where, for example, the UN security council's failure to condemn Iraq's initial aggression or use of chemical weapons has fed an abiding distrust of a body that now lectures Iran on the perils of weapons of mass destruction.
The survivors of the war generation, including president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was a revolutionary guard, are now in power. And it is memories of this conflict that help drive Iran's bid for influence and control in post-Saddam Iraq. Officials argue that more than any other country Iran has a legitimate interest in ensuring that those who rule in Baghdad do not threaten their neighbours again.

"Iran wants stability and security in Iraq, there's a consensus on that," said Nasser Hadian-Jazy, a politics professor at Tehran university. "It wants to protect the Shia shrines, maintain the borders. It wants to ensure that Iraqi territory is not used to make attacks on Iran." To maintain its advantage, Tehran also wanted a government in Baghdad that was neither too weak nor too strong, he said, an assessment echoed by western diplomats.

Iran's leaders paraded their influence with Iraq's dominant Shia community during a high-profile visit to Tehran last week by Abdul-Aziz Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, an organisation with roots in Iran that runs the powerful Badr brigades militia. Mr Ahmadinejad urged deeper political, economic and cultural collaboration. That may only underscore the concerns of Iraq's Sunni minority about Iran's cloying embrace.

The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, used Mr Hakim's visit to reiterate Iran's call for "foreign occupation forces" to leave Iraq. Withdrawal was a "prerequisite" for Iraq's national security and Iran's, too, he implied. As part of its bid for regional leadership, Iran will host a ministerial summit of all Iraq's neighbours plus Egypt on July 8.

Officials flatly reject British assertions that Iran has assisted Iraqi insurgent attacks, saying violence does not serve Iran's interest. But it has withheld border security cooperation with British forces in Basra, a western diplomat confirmed. Hamid Reza Asefi, the foreign ministry spokesman, claimed in turn that the US was continuing to assist the Iraq-based Mojahedin-e Khalq and its political wing, a terrorist grouping formerly backed by Saddam and linked to numerous outrages inside Iran.

"The Americans are shouting about terrorism. But on the other hand they have close links with a terrorist group," Mr Asefi said. "This is the most hated group in Iran. They are definitely trying to destabilise our security, directly and indirectly."

The US was also stirring up trouble among Iran's Kurdish, Azeri and other minorities with "British guidance", he claimed. "Our intelligence say this foreign intervention is quite clear. US interference and meddling is quite obvious."

All the same, Iran's leaders were grateful to the Bush administration for ridding them of Saddam, said Aliakbar Rezaei, a senior diplomat, with an ironic smile. "We're very thankful to the Americans. They paved the way for us in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Lebanon, too - our influence has increased due to the Syrians leaving. They've pushed up the oil price. Thank you!

"The Americans are also helping us establish a common identity in the region. Iran is closer to Egypt and other Arab countries because of the common enemy we share. The Arabs and Muslims were not unified. But the US has achieved this. They've done a lot for us."

Posted by: | Jun 30, 2006 5:39:21 AM | 4

Billmon has Moon of Alabama as his top link. All is forgiven!

what a wonderful birthday present

Posted by: annie | Jun 30, 2006 5:54:46 AM | 5

This picture reminds me of a scene from a movie I saw once:


Posted by: Boy Browning | Jun 30, 2006 11:07:19 AM | 6

Great, Thanks Billmon.

That item would probably fit well in the birthday thread.
I'll leave the decision up to you but thanks for the heads up.

Posted by: Juannie | Jun 30, 2006 11:24:53 AM | 7

That is definitly a bridge too far. From Boy Browning's news link

Five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her and three members of her family in Iraq, a U.S. military official told The Associated Press on Friday.

The soldiers also allegedly burned the body of the woman they are accused of raping.
a U.S. official close to the investigation said at least one of the soldiers, all assigned to the 502nd Infantry Regiment, has admitted his role and has been arrested. Two soldiers from the same regiment were slain this month when they were kidnapped at a checkpoint near Youssifiyah.

At least four other soldiers have had their weapons taken away and are confined to Forward Operating Base Mahmoudiyah south of Baghdad. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

The official said the killings appear to be unrelated to the kidnappings but that a soldier felt compelled to report the killings after his fellow soldiers' bodies were found.

The killings appeared to have been a "crime of opportunity," the official said. The soldiers had not been attacked by insurgents but had noticed the woman on previous patrols.

So first there was a rape and the murder of a whole family, then two GIs were kidnapped and killed.

Anybody thinking this is unrelated has no idea of the role of "honor" in the ME.

Posted by: b | Jun 30, 2006 11:26:15 AM | 8

Such celebrations... what a lovely Friday evening. Thanks Billmon for all you write.

Posted by: Noisette | Jun 30, 2006 12:06:15 PM | 9

From that spunky online blog called the Washington Post. By the way, if this minor story about how your elections are hacked reaches the importance of, say, really critical things like car crashes and underclass crime in the corporate media then thank Bradblog, Greg Palast, Mark Crispin Miller, and Bob Fitrakis. They're the main drivers of the most important story of our lifetimes, unless you lived through the Crusades or something...

A Single Person Could Swing an Election

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, June 28, 2006; Page A07

To determine what it would take to hack a U.S. election, a team of cybersecurity experts turned to a fictional battleground state called Pennasota and a fictional gubernatorial race between Tom Jefferson and Johnny Adams. It's the year 2007, and the state uses electronic voting machines.

Jefferson was forecast to win the race by about 80,000 votes, or 2.3 percent of the vote. Adams's conspirators thought, "How easily can we manipulate the election results?"

The experts thought about all the ways to do it. And they concluded in a report issued yesterday that it would take only one person, with a sophisticated technical knowledge and timely access to the software that runs the voting machines, to change the outcome.

The report, which was unveiled at a Capitol Hill news conference by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice and billed as the most authoritative to date, tackles some of the most contentious questions about the security of electronic voting.

The report concluded that the three major electronic voting systems in use have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities. But it added that most of these vulnerabilities can be overcome by auditing printed voting records to spot irregularities. And while 26 states require paper records of votes, fewer than half of those require regular audits.

"With electronic voting systems, there are certain attacks that can reach enough voting machines . . . that you could affect the outcome of the statewide election," said Lawrence D. Norden, associate counsel of the Brennan Center.

With billions of dollars of support from the federal government, states have replaced outdated voting machines in recent years with optical scan ballot and touch-screen machines. Activists, including prominent computer scientists, have complained for years that these machines are not secure against tampering. But electronic voting machines are also much easier to use for disabled people and those who do not speak English.

Voting machine vendors have dismissed many of the concerns, saying they are theoretical and do not reflect the real-life experience of running elections, such as how machines are kept in a secure environment.

"It just isn't the piece of equipment," said David Bear, a spokesman for Diebold Election Systems, one of the country's largest vendors. "It's all the elements of an election environment that make for a secure election.(Editor's note: They're lying!)

Read the whole thing and be afraid. Very Afraid.

Related: Original Brennan Center Summary (pdf).

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 30, 2006 12:51:28 PM | 10

Just chiming in to wish the Moon of Alabama a collective Happy Birthday!

And thanks to you all, Bernhard and fellow patrons, for the fellowship, the humor and the information.

Back when I could admit doing so, friends and I spent every weekend in our underground clubhouse -- often from Friday night until the sun came up, then again on Saturday night until Sunday morning. It goes without saying that this had a significant negative effect on our productivity during the following week.

We had a saying,

Q. "Did you ever have a lost weekend?"

A. "The last six months have been lost!"

Well, 24-hour party here on the Moon has been going on for 24 months so far and no end in sight! I am glad to say that these last 2 years have not been lost. Thanks again.

Posted by: jonku | Jun 30, 2006 1:39:32 PM | 11

silly person i am, all of this birthday cheer/love fest is making me misty-eyed.

Posted by: conchita | Jun 30, 2006 1:58:10 PM | 12

international relations ctr: The "Present Danger" War Parties

On three occasions since the end of World War II—in 1950, 1976, and 2004—elite citizen committees have organized to warn the nation of what they viewed as looming threats to U.S. national security.

These three Committees on the Present Danger (CPD) aimed to ratchet up the level of fear among the U.S. public and policy community. In each case, the committees leveraged fear in attempts to increase military budgets, to mobilize the country for war, and to beat back isolationist, anti-interventionist, and realist forces in American politics.

In the early 1950s and in the late 1970s, the Committees on the Present Danger succeeded in shifting the country to a war footing—first to launch the Cold War, and two decades later to end the move in the policy community toward détente and arms control agreements with the Soviet Union.

The success of the first two present danger committees has inspired the country's hawks and neoconservatives to imitate the CPD model. Both the Center for Security Policy, founded by Frank Gaffney in 1988, and the Project for the New American Century, founded in 1997 by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, cite the CPD model.

It was not, however, until the backlash against the war in Iraq started spreading that the Committee on the Present Danger name was resurrected. This time the Committee on the Present Danger points to Islamic terrorism as the present danger we face abroad and anti-war sentiment as the clear and present danger we face at home.

This IRC special report traces the history and the impact of the three CPDs. To a large degree, the evolution of the Committee on the Present Danger reflects the post-WWII course of U.S. foreign and military policy. Whenever the country has started to move from a wartime footing to a period of decreased support for the military and increased isolationist sentiment, the foreign policy hawks in both parties have organized fear-mongering campaigns to expand the global reach of U.S. troops and weapons.
The new war party — the third Committee on the Present Danger — formed to stem the growing rejection of U.S. interventionism and unilateralism.

Posted by: b real | Jun 30, 2006 2:15:54 PM | 13

A great game!

Germany beat Argentina 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out after a tense quarter-final in Berlin ended 1-1 after extra-time.

Watch the game at an Argentinian bar down the road - those folks are REALLY enthusiastic in winning and loosing.

But somehow my German fellows around are going a bit crazy too. Fireworks in a bright afternoon? Car corsos? Such things have been unknown here until this championship.


Posted by: b | Jun 30, 2006 2:17:40 PM | 14

b, the post #8 story is now on the front page of google being reported in hundreds of msm all over the world. this has got to be one horrific occurance, rape, burning the victim, killing the whole family to hide the crime. i wonder had those 2 soldiers not been kidnapped if the witness would not have come forward. probably not, possibly the revelations only surfaced to help w/the search efforts. one wonders how many untold deaths by murder we will never hear about. iraqi's know so much more and will not be forgetting. we can't kill them all.

Posted by: annie | Jun 30, 2006 4:05:02 PM | 15

So what are the chances that the soldiers who are being "investigated" for rape and murder will be tried and convicted for capital crimes? Same as the chances of Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush going up for war crimes?

Posted by: catlady | Jun 30, 2006 4:54:40 PM | 16

an odd, odd story

Posted by: r'giap | Jun 30, 2006 7:00:18 PM | 17

My imaginary call-in moment to Rush Limbaugh's show.


Producer: what do you want to say?

Me (in my sweetest tone of voice): I want to tell Rush he's on it, and that I've even named my pet after him!

Producer: Turn off your radio.

Me: Okay!

Rush: whatever he says to guests...

Me: Rush, I just wanted to say that I know you are so on it! The viagra, you know? Did you take it with you to fuck 8 year old girls? At least you're not sodomizing children in the name of god, or in this country! Oh, and btw, my cat is also named Rush because he's another big pussy, just like you! And you know, if I were prez, I'd declare you a whateveritis combatant and shove 2x4s up your ass until you passed out!


I think I'm feeling a little of the ultra-violence today, knowing soldiers raped and burned a woman in Iraq and Rush is blathering on about how rule of law means liberals heart terrorists when the Int'l Red Cross said 80% of ppl rounded up for Abu Ghraib, for instance, were innocent of any crime.

have to do some deep breathing and visualize certain citizens of this country on trail for crimes against humanity, along with Red State Rush.

Posted by: fauxreal | Jun 30, 2006 9:09:05 PM | 18

Activists, including prominent computer scientists, have complained for years that these machines are not secure against tampering. But electronic voting machines are also much easier to use for disabled people and those who do not speak English.

Translation from media speach: On one hand your vote does not count, but on the other it is easier to vote. See how fair and balanced we are!

Posted by: A swedish kind of death | Jun 30, 2006 11:11:41 PM | 19

When word of the rape and murder horror first started surfacing a few days ago it wasn't just the capture of the two soldiers from the same unit and the official somewhat muted original official reaction to it, which rang an alarm bell, it was the way that US military and the mainstream media reacted to the dreadful, disgraceful and totally necro-erotic/pedophiliac 'Hadji Girl' song which also sounded alarm bells.

For those lucky enough to be unfamiliar with the theme of this fine example of marine humour, the song pretty much recounts the story of the Iraqi family whose daughter was raped and family murdered.

True it was sung by and about marines not 'army men' (note irony) and there is a big hole in the story. In the lyrics the soldier/marine follows a beautiful Iraqi girl home to meet her parents.

Somehow her younger pre-teen sister end up in his arms over family objections, then the marine/soldier/thug shoots the pre-teen between the eyes before slaughtering the whole family.

Are there missing verses 'cleaned out' of the 'Hadji Girl' song for this live taped performance?

Who knows, what that evil song does tell us is that the attitude the singer has towards the citizens we are told he is there to protect; is foul, exploitative and psychopathic.

Worst of all, judging by the reaction of the hundreds of marines present at the performance, as well as those who defend it, this attitude is the majority shared consciousness amongst the USuk military serving in Iraq.

Now that doesn't happen by accident.

Posted by: | Jun 30, 2006 11:52:28 PM | 20

saw this a couple days back
US Marine exonerated for song about killing Iraqis

The U.S. military will not punish a Marine who performed an obscenity-laced song to a laughing and cheering crowd of fellow troops in Iraq making light of killing Iraqis, the Marine Corps said on Tuesday.


"The preliminary inquiry has been concluded. No punitive action will be taken against Corporal Belile. And there will be no further investigation," said Maj. Shawn Haney, a spokeswoman at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina.

Haney said the inquiry ruled out any violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Another Marine Corps official, who asked not to be named because details of the inquiry are private, said poor taste, poor judgment and poor timing, not to mention offensive lyrics, do not necessarily amount to criminal conduct.

from a 2002 article by an ex-marine:

In boot camp, deceit and manipulation accompany the necessity to motivate troops to murder on command. You can’t take civilians from the street, give them machine guns, and expect them to kill without question in a democratic society; therefore people must be indoctrinated to do so. This fact alone should sound off alarms in our collective American brain. If the cause of war is justified, then why do we have to be put through boot camp? If you answer that we have to be trained in killing skills, well, then why is most of boot camp not focused on combat training? Why are privates shown videos of U.S. military massacres while playing Metallica in the background, thus causing us to scream with the joy of the killer instinct as brown bodies are obliterated? Why do privates answer every command with an enthusiastic, "kill!!" instead of, "yes, sir!!" like it is in the movies?

Military indoctrination could be said to prepare men to use disrespect for all living things as a means of destroying the enemy’s morale. Boot camp itself is mostly a series of chaos-surrounded tests of will and strength, meant to eliminate a human being’s ability to feel weakness, in order for military leaders to harness obedience to their orders when it’s time to kill. The topics covered in motivational songs are tools for desensitizing men who would be predisposed to respect women, so as to create an animal within him that can be activated when necessary to carry out any barbaric assignment. An example of these lyrics follows: "Throw some candy in the school yard, watch the children gather round. Load a belt in your M-60, mow them little bastards down!!" and "We’re gonna rape, kill, pillage and burn, gonna rape, kill, pillage and burn!!" Could the bar be set any higher on the level of atrocities that the military wants its men to be capable of? I say "men" because these kinds of songs are generally not repeated in the presence of women. These chants are meant to motivate the troops; they enjoy it, salivate from it, and get off on it. If one repeats these hundreds of times, one eventually begins to accept them as paradigmatically valid.

Posted by: b real | Jul 1, 2006 12:37:49 AM | 21

here's more from that article

The violation of women in war is a weapon, just as are conventional arms. The movie "Casualties of War" illustrates this clearly when actor Sean Penn holds up his rifle and says, "The army calls this a weapon, but it ain’t," then, grabbing his crotch with the other he says, "This is a weapon." The movie, based on a true story, involves a small U.S. combat unit that kidnapped, raped, and murdered a Vietnamese woman during the war. I assert that times have not changed with respect to the mentality of sexual assault in the military. Although soldiers are given sensitivity classes that tell the men to respect civilians and especially women, another message pervades everything else one learns and trains for, which effectively obliterates all notions of respect during war. This is generally speaking, of course, but sensitivity inherently conflicts with the identity of a killer, which is what infantrymen are conditioned to be. They are trained to thrive on the blood of humans, and this is used to create a lustful sensation when conditioning for combat.

Wartime rape may be used by men who have convinced themselves that they must be able to do anything to a person in order to be comfortable with participating in the horrific acts that surround them. The extreme nature of war itself seems to breed the mentality that makes people surpass the limits of desired reality. War makes criminals of ordinary men, who can not easily switch off the killer within them when off the battlefield, as the training manuals espouse. This certainly does not excuse the atrocities they commit.

The environment of the military is pervaded by sex. When out in the Fleet Marine Force, sadistic initiation rituals are surrounded by sex and physical pain, often together. Although I never experienced this myself, initiation rituals often force men to fondle other men’s genitals, and devices such as broomsticks are used for rectal insertion. This often happens in the presence of, and with the participation of the higher ranks. The Tail hook scandal of 1991 exposed a ritual dating at least back to 1986, where women naval officers were made to walk a gauntlet of male officers that grabbed their buttocks and breasts. It certainly does not end there. In the case of Okinawa, three men planned every detail of the kidnapping, beating, and rape of a twelve year old girl in advance.

The military’s desensitization against a person’s natural inhibitions to hurt people is a way of toughening them up, or making them "hard core." Thus, it makes sense that because this is encouraged by superiors, then it should translate into destructive behavior in combat, and to a lesser extent, in peacetime. This is definitely not to say that the soldier is innocent; far from it. But if we subscribe to the concept that one is shaped largely by their environment, then we can largely blame the institutions which have created this particular proclivity within the men who commit these horrible crimes against women, while supposedly serving to defend the freedom of the world.

Posted by: b real | Jul 1, 2006 12:45:26 AM | 22

@B Real:

Marines sure are weird I guess.

Wonder how long Gyrene you cited ever served in the corps.

Marine saying I enjoyed most was:

Eat the apple and fuck the corps

Apparently slandrous. Directed at higher militay and civilian leadership.

Posted by: Ms Chelsea Puller | Jul 1, 2006 1:26:48 AM | 23

And please now, you'd be falling down laughing tryng to march or dog-trot to all just cited.

Posted by: Ms Chelsea Puller | Jul 1, 2006 1:51:24 AM | 24

Well b real that pretty much contextualises the observations I've made about the behaviour of 'front line' trained military personnel over the years.

Lots of little and not so little things. eg back in the late 80's having lunch in a bush pub in outback australia. Joint army/navy/airforce US/Oz exercises which involved thousands of personnel were being conducted all around us. They had 'budgeted' for around 14 deaths including everything from personnel carriers falling into deep 'billabongs' (water holes) that was 3 humans dead to f-16 or f-18 pilots blacking out and flying into the dirt at mach 2+ ( two more deaths). Anyway a group of us had been swimming at a billibong that fortunatel was both crocodile and personnel carrier free when we decided to head up to the Mataranka hotel for lunch of buffalo steaks and lots of beer.

Bugger me dead if a couple of helicopters didn't land in the paddock right by the pub and a bunch of helicopter jocks swarm in for a lunch of buff steaks and beer as well.

Except they were on duty and stepped into our space carrying an assortment of weaponry from handguns in shoulder holsters to light machine guns.

Now I realise that the amerikan culture has a different attitude toward guns than most other places and few are as anti-gun as NZ but even in Australia's Northern Territory where 'men are men and women have to kick em in the nuts to remind them who's who' carrying guns around so openly is a bit of a no no. In fact I had never seen a gun in a bar before and judging by the uncomfortable and pissed fellow drinkers neither had anyone else. Now IMO that takes a special kind of disdain for other humans around you.

The other more serious end of the scale is a matter I've raised in this bar a couple of times previously. That is since the US navy spat the dummy at having to disclose whether they were carrying fissionable material into NZ waters or not, and therefore refuse to visit with their toyboats anymore there has been a marked decrease in assaults on female and or rape in the towns they used to visit.

I betcha the armies of people defending their homelands don't need to be taught to de-humanise others or rape women to 'stay sharp'.

It is this deliberate effort to turn US military into psychopaths which the elites in both halves of the party must be held to account for long before the debate moves to minimum wage rates and the like.

After all it is amerikans that will have the bulk of these loons coming into their communities when their 'tour is over'.

Posted by: | Jul 1, 2006 1:54:19 AM | 25

From the Australian: Israel warns: free soldier or PM dies

ISRAEL last night threatened to assassinate Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh if Hamas militants did not release a captured Israeli soldier unharmed.

The unprecedented warning was delivered to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a letter as Israel debated a deal offered by Hamas to free Corporal Gilad Shalit.

It came as Israeli military officials readied a second invasion force for a huge offensive into Gaza.

Hamas's Gaza-based political leaders, including Mr Haniyeh, had already gone into hiding.

But last night's direct threat to kill Mr Haniyeh, a democratically elected head of state, sharply raised the stakes.

The bid to free Corporal Shalit was brokered by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who last night warned Hamas it faced severe consequences if it did not curb its "extreme stance" and described the growing conflict as a lightning rod for Palestinian vengeance.

Posted by: | Jul 1, 2006 2:15:20 AM | 26

Post 26 was me. :-)

Posted by: Fran | Jul 1, 2006 2:16:06 AM | 27

if your cousin sets off on a five state crime spree, lots of your kin folks will say their relative is bonnie farker or relation to them. even if you share your loot. if you happen to kill somebody, well, then they try to publically disown you. take my word for it.

what this has to with painting with a broad brush, well, I guess if you want to get rid of a stain, a broad brush works for a big canvas.

Miss Chelsea Puller, is Lewis Puller Jr one of your people?

His daddy might've had a chest full of medals, but that unfortunate son came home from Vietnam and the whole nightmare of that illegal and unnecessary war killed him, so I heard his wife said. Maybe that's why so many don't want to go to war like they're contemplating a picnic. It ain't no picnic, at least that's what my people who served said.

Even if you are supposed to obey your orders and maintain some cohesion and cover each others' backs, it seems like sometimes you have to obey a higher authority, you know, that one that doesn't let you lose your humanity in those moments of craziness.

but I know from my own experience that when you're in the middle of a gunfight, or think you're heading into one, the first thing you're gonna do is protect your own ass, and your gang's, and figure the rest out later.

Clyde shouldn't a started robbing those oil wells. He shoulda stuck with banks.

That's what did us in.

Posted by: bonnie parker | Jul 1, 2006 2:55:45 AM | 28

Well Fran that tidbit may be confirmation of something suspected for a couple of days. That is Corporal Shalit died of his wounds, days ago. Remember when he was first reported missing, that it was said he had stomach wounds? Given the lack of access his captors probably have to any sophisticated medical treatment a stomach wound no matter how light initially could get serious pretty quickly.

The Israeli politicians have sadly misjudged if they imagine the hamas leadership is like they are.

That is a bunch of greedy careerists who have little or no sense of right and wrong. Doubtless the hamas leadership won't be 'over the moon' at the potential deaths the Israelis have planned for them, but neither will they be quaking.

Judging by the totally over the top reaction to palestinian resistance wasting a particularly nasty and corrupt member of the Israeli cabinet a couple of years ago, the Israeli govt isn't big on selflessness.

But surely even these thugs n bullies can comprehend the paradoxical effect their work is creating. They aren't driving Palestininians away from the Hamas point of view. They are pushing Fatah over to the Hamas school of liberating Palestine. That cannot be easily undone and what's more a big chunk of the world's public opinion Israel has spent so many years cultivating is moving along with Fatah.

Posted by: | Jul 1, 2006 2:58:33 AM | 29

Yes, you are right the Hamas is not quaking: Hamas refuses to trade arrested ministers

smail Haniyeh, the Hamas Palestinian Prime Minister, has emerged from days of seclusion with a defiant message suggesting the faction would not trade its newly arrested politicians for the 19-year-old Israeli corporal abducted six days ago.

I never understood how the Israeli can expect the Palestinensian government to do its work, when they destroy the infrastructur it needs. I wonder if they are purposely provocing the Palestinensians, so that they can use their uprising as an pretext to annext the Westbank and Gaza in a final move.

Posted by: Fran | Jul 1, 2006 5:13:53 AM | 30

r'giap that story is truly odd. I have filed it away and will see who knows what, as you know tales such as that are difficult to 'disappear' in Oz.
Here's tales re Gitmo which badly need an airing. First of all this one that tells a little, none of it good about the now discredited military tribunals.

Found: 'Non-contactable' witnesses who could free a Guantánamo detainee

The United States government said it could not find the men that Guantánamo detainee Abdullah Mujahid believes could help set him free. The Guardian found them in three days.

Two years ago the American military invited Mr Mujahid, a former Afghan police commander accused of plotting against the US, to prove his innocence before a special military tribunal.

As was his right, Mr Mujahid called four witnesses from Afghanistan.

But months later the tribunal president returned with bad news: the witnesses could not be found. Mr Mujahid's hopes sank and he was returned to the wire-mesh cell where he remains today.

Article continues
The Guardian's search for Mr Mujahid's witnesses proved successful within three days. One was working for President Hamid Karzai, another was teaching at a leading American college and the third was living in Kabul. The fourth was dead.

Each witness said he had never been approached by the Americans to testify in Mr Mujahid's hearing.

The case illustrates the flaws that have discredited Guantánamo-style justice and which led the US supreme court to declare such trials illegal on Thursday in a major rebuke to the Bush administration.

Mr Mujahid is one of 380 Guantánamo detainees whose cases were reviewed at "combatant-status review tribunals" in 2004 and 2005. The tribunals were hastily set up following a court ruling that the prisoners, having been denied all normal legal rights, should be allowed to prove their innocence. Ten of the hearings proceeded to full trials, including that of Osama bin Laden's aide, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who brought the successful supreme court appeal.

But by the time the review tribunals ended last year the US government had located just a handful of the requested witnesses. None was brought from overseas to testify. The military lawyers simply said they were "non-contactable".

That was not entirely true.

Abdullah Mujahid was originally identified by Washington-based reporters from the Boston Globe after trawling through pages of testimony from the military trials. American forces arrested Mr Mujahid in the southern Afghan city of Gardez in mid-2003, claiming that he had been fired as police chief on suspicion of "collusion with anti-government forces", according to official documents. Later, they alleged, he attacked US forces in retaliation.

In the military tribunal Mr Mujahid protested his innocence. He enjoyed good relations with American soldiers and had been promoted, not fired, he said.

The three living witnesses he requested were easily located with a telephone, an internet connection and a few days' work.

Shahzada Massoud was at the presidential palace, where he advises Mr Karzai on tribal affairs. Gul Haider, a former defence ministry official, was found through the local government in Gardez.

The interior ministry gave an email address for the former minister, Ahmed Ali Jalali, although he could as easily have been found on the internet - he teaches at the National Defence University in Washington DC.

The witnesses corroborated Mr Mujahid's story with some qualifications. Mr Jalali, the former interior minister, said Mr Mujahid had been fired over allegations of corruption and bullying - not for attacking the government.

Mr Haider, the former defence official, said Mr Mujahid had contributed 30 soldiers to a major operation against al-Qaida in March 2002. "He is completely innocent," he said.

In Gardez, Haji Muhammad Hasan, 65, keeps a stack of Red Cross letters as the only proof of his son's whereabouts. "I feel completely helpless," he said in despair. Beside him the detainee's shy sons - aged three, four and five - waited for news of a father they could hardly recall.

If that made ya mad read this tale of the original inhabitants of Diego Garcia who keep winning court cases giving them their islands back but which are blatantly ignored by USuk govts.

No compensation for these boys. Hell the Brits won't even let them have the dole or their kids an education allowance lest they scrape their pennies together and have a trial in a court whose verdict is tough to ignore. US Federal courts maybe.

For those that don't know Diego Garcia is the spot where people have been disappeared to since Gitmo didn't work out for them.

The title to this island and it's sovereignty is so muddled no -one could find a venue for any 'habeas corpus bullshit'.

So here's the sickest yarn of the week,

Exiled islanders face appeal by government

The islanders of Diego Garcia suffered a fresh setback yesterday when the Foreign Office said it is to appeal against a high court ruling that would have allowed them to return to their Indian Ocean homes. The entire population of about 2,000 were tricked out of their homes in the 1960s and 1970s by the British government to make way for the US airbase on Diego Garcia, which has been used for bombing Iraq and Afghanistan.

The islanders have won two legal cases in London, in 2000 and again in May, that have criticised the government's behaviour and recognised their right to go home. Lord Justice Hooper and Mr Justice Cresswell, in their ruling in May, described as "repugnant" the government's decision to depopulate the islands by stealth.

The Foreign Office has been under pressure from the US government not to allow the islanders to return to Diego Garcia or its surrounding islands, citing security risks to its base. Lawyers sympathetic to the islanders said the government's chances are slim given that the high court has twice ruled in favour of the islanders.

Olivier Bancoult, the islanders' leader, said: "I am extremely disappointed that the British government has missed this golden opportunity to give justice back to the people."

In another setback to the islanders, a group of children of Chagos islanders living in Britain failed in a high court claim yesterday that they were treated unfairly when they were refused job-seeker's allowance and housing to help them start new lives. All are British citizens and entitled to live in Britain. Lawyers argued they should not be subjected to the habitual residence test because of their close historical ties with the UK.

Mr Justice Bennett said the 41 individuals had all now found work and housing, but sought arrears of job-seeker's allowance for three months and a declaration that they were unlawfully refused housing. The displacement from their homeland "cannot fail to evoke the greatest sympathy", he said, but the government's refusal was not disproportionate.

Posted by: | Jul 1, 2006 10:56:36 AM | 31

Report: U.S. May Have Been Abused During Formative Years

"In its adulthood, the U.S. displays all the classic tendencies of a nation that was repeatedly mistreated in its infancy—difficulty forming lasting foreign relationships, viewing everyone as a potential enemy, and employing a pattern of assault and intimidation to assert its power," said Dr. Howard Drexel, the report's lead author. "Because of trust issues stemming from the abuse, America has become withdrawn, has not made an ally in years, and often resents the few nations that are willing to lend support—most countries outgrow this kind of behavior after 230 years."


I think the Onion hits the bullseye yet again..

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jul 1, 2006 2:17:06 PM | 32

Hideous WSJ Editorial Board Inadvertently Proves NYT Set Up for Bushevik Red Meat Attack

As we noted in our BuzzFlash editorial on Friday, "Darkness at Noon for Democracy," the Busheviks regularly launch Soviet Style demagogic attacks on scapegoats in order to seize more power.

In the last two weeks, the Stalinesque White House has been unrelenting in alternating between contrived propaganda aimed at instilling fear in the public and outrageous, unwarranted charges of treason for leaking (when the White House does it regularly, including outing a CIA operative specializing in tracking the sales of WMDs).

Little reported in regards to the totally calculated and Goebbels-like attack on the New York Times for publishing the bank transaction tracing story is that other papers printed similar stories, including the Wall Street Journal. But the White House is only having its brown shirt echo chamber focus on the New York Times.

However, I am quite ambivalent as to defending the NYT's
I believe factions w/in the NYT's are completely in the service of the Cheney mafia.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jul 1, 2006 2:33:07 PM | 33

Kennedy report ignites controversy

Kennedy, meanwhile, is preparing to up the ante on those he believes abetted the GOP's electoral theft. In July, the outspoken attorney plans to file "whistle-blower" lawsuits against two leading manufacturers of electronic voting machines. According to Kennedy, company insiders are prepared to testify that the firms knowingly made false claims when they sold their voting systems to the government -- misrepresenting the accuracy, reliability and security of machines that will be used by 72 million voters this November. "This is a unique way to try and stop these vendors," Kennedy tells Rolling Stone. "In both cases, our whistle-blowers are familiar with security problems that were well known by the vendors but concealed from election officials during the bidding process. Because we're relying on 'inside' knowledge, it is a far more frightening prospect to the company than a traditional lawsuit might be. And if we prove our case, we will hit the corporations the only place they feel it: in their pocketbooks."

Posted by: annie | Jul 1, 2006 2:43:16 PM | 34

An extreme UK paper has a hateful anti-American rant:

The united states of total paranoia

It’s known as the land of the free and I’m sure it is if you get up in the morning, go to work in a petrol station, eat nothing but double-egg burgers — with cheese — and take your children to little league. But if you step outside the loop, if you try to do something a bit zany, you will find that you’re in a police state.

We begin at Los Angeles airport in front of an immigration official who, like all his colleagues, was selected for having no grace, no manners, no humour, no humanity and the sort of IQ normally found in farmyard animals. He scanned my form and noted there was no street number for the hotel at which I was staying.

“I’m going to need a number,” he said. “Ooh, I’m sorry,” I said, “I’m afraid I don’t have one.”

This didn’t seem to have any effect. “I’m going to need a number,” he said again, and then again, and then again. Each time I shrugged and stammered, terrified that I might be sent to the back of the queue or worse, into the little room with the men in Marigolds. But I simply didn’t have an answer.

“I’m going to need a number,” he said again, giving the distinct impression that he was an autobank, and that this was a conversation he was prepared to endure until one of us died. So with a great deal of bravery I decided to give him one. And the number I chose was 2,649,347.

This, it turned out, was fine. He’d been told by his superiors to get a number. I’d given him a number. His job was done and so, just an hour or so later, I was on the streets of Los Angeles doing a piece to camera.
People way down the food chain are given the power to say yes or no to elaborately prepared plans, just so their bosses can’t be sued. One expression that simply doesn’t translate from English in these days of power without responsibility is “Ooh, I’m sure it’ll be fine”.

And, unfortunately, these people at the bottom of the food chain have no intellect at all. Reasoning with them is like reasoning with a tree. I think this is because people in the sticks have stopped marrying their cousins and are now mating with vegetables.

They certainly aren’t eating them. You see them growing in fields, but all you ever find on a menu is cheese, cheese, cheese, or cheese with cheese. Except for a steak and cheese sandwich I bought in Mississippi. This was made, according to the label, from “imitation cheese”.

Posted by: b | Jul 2, 2006 5:09:00 AM | 35

@Bernhard re:#35

That was an interesting, if somewhat bilious, piece that just kind of gathered steam and went nowhere. A good (and occasionally amusing) rant if one is already on board with you, but not the type of thing to gain converts with. It sounded like the kind of travelogue one writes on a particularly bad day and then sends out in a mass e-mail to their closest forty friends and sundry acquaintances in lieu of a genuine correspondence. Hell, I've done it myself.

As for the content, well, I've heard more hyperbolic anti-American rants while hanging out in bars here in Asia, and read more incisive criticisms in these very forums. Hateful rants like the one you linked to are not entirely without merit, but come closer to personal catharses for the authors rather than epiphanies... and reading someone else's catharting is the literary equivalent of watching someone else go to the bathroom. I suppose it makes them feel better, if nothing else.

Yes, the USA has seen an upsurge in petty, local gauleiters, but unless my memory is being dodgy, the quality of service personnel hasn't changed much. If the author cared to epiph rather than just cathart, they could have speculated about the underlying causes for their complaints rather than focusing solely on the fact that they were displeased with another culture. I would have found that a great deal more interesting and a lot less exhibitionist.

Incidentally, nobody is sure what "imitation cheese" is. My best guess is that it's some kind of high-polymer industrial by-product that would have required a "special license" to have disposed of without selling it as a foodstuff.

Posted by: Monolycus | Jul 2, 2006 6:06:36 AM | 36

A good NY Times article I found via drugdge about the US Supreme Court called Roberts Is at Court's Helm, but He Isn't Yet in Control.

For those interested, it starts with three or four paragraphs about newly confirmed Justice Sam Alito, rookie Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Stevens and Kennedy and retired Justice O'Connor.

Roberts and Alito are not yet controlling the court even though they have voted together most of the time, a new record approaching O'Conner and Souters' alignment.

Then in the NYT article, more stats, quite an interesting application of the sportscaster's drill regarding competition.

Later on,

"The court repudiated the Bush administration's plan to use military commissions to try Guantánamo detainees, ruling 5 to 3 that the commissions were unauthorized by statute and violated a provision of the Geneva Conventions."

With Roberts abstaining it was 5-3. If he voted it would be 5-4.

So the Supreme Court is still not stacked. The sky hasn't fallen just yet, although it might.

My discovery of the sport of politics: bread and circuses that distract me from the real.

Posted by: jonku | Jul 2, 2006 7:40:18 AM | 37


Posted by: jonku | Jul 2, 2006 7:42:15 AM | 38

There are a number of amusing paradoxes contained in the column Berhhard linked to,

The first is that the column was published by the same people that bring the world Fox News. Yep you guessed it News Corp the plaything of Rupert Murdoch (and new employer of Jose Maria Aznar, the man whose support for the Iraq invasion cost him his gig as Spanish Prime Minister and was compensated by Murdoch with a sinecure on the News Corp board, droll considering Clarkson's "war losing face") published this rant.

However that's only the start of my rant since I have had the misfortune to have had personal experience of Jeremy Clarkson. In Australia when the Times dispatched him there to 'prove' all Australians were ex-convict, genocidal, "Abo killers".

Some MoA habitues may know Clarkson as the arrogant libertarian advocate of gas guzzling motor vehicles who hosts a TV show called "Top Gear".

Some may even find him entertaining although personally I don't have much time for bullies who use their physical stature to stand over others, but when put to the test have about as much balls as an empty Penn can.

A week or so ago we were talking about the sort of Englishmen who can't mention Australia without saying 'convict', or the US without mentioning Ronald Reagan, or his latest riposte "losing the Iraq war".

You'll note his gripe isn't with the US starting the Iraq murder/rape he's pissed that the war is being lost. Starting and winning it would be good for this germ.

Losing the oil theft is impacting on his life in a number of critical (for him) areas. The price of gas has gone up which makes his penchant for over-powered internal combustion engines less affordable.

And that does hurt, he has surrounded himself with a huge following of middle aged, middle class men, from around the planet, who, being much smaller in stature than Clarkson, have rationalised that if he say's it's OK to drive large penis extensions then it must be.

This because obviously they aren't large penis extensions if Jeremy Clarkson drives them since an obvious member of life's winners such as Jeremy Clarkson, couldn't feel inadequate, could he?

So losing the war means large cars are no longer as popular in 2006 as they were in 2003. For Clarkson this means less viewers, less paid appearances, less, all expense paid holidays to drive a Ferrari/Aston Martin/Corvette, around an exotic locale being filmed doing something exceedingly foolish.

Sorry Monolycus, if Jeremy was being cathartic there, he must have a permanently implanted enema with a prostate tickling add-on; because that column reveals the standard angrily frustrated sense of entitlement Clarkson brings to all his work.

Who knows where it comes from? He plays the role of libertarian intellectual member of Yorkshire's landed gentry but he's strictly grammar school local boy made good. I suppose if he had been born at the start of the 20th century instead of in the middle of it, he would have been one of Oswald Mosely's 'raw boned thugs' in the British Union of Facists, breaking up picket lines and threatening Jewish people. That he isn't, is chiefly because he is of the generation who benefited most from Britain's post WW2 over-indulgence in the pseudo-socialism, that should more properly be termed 'state capitalism'.

Yeah I know, the sort of bloke I have been getting into bar fights with, since forever.

Posted by: | Jul 2, 2006 7:54:04 AM | 39

Some of my best internet friends come from Yorkshire, and I don't thing any of them are named Moseley, by the way.


Posted by: | Jul 2, 2006 10:56:19 AM | 40

Thanks for the context, Debs. Never heard of Jeremy Clarkson before. Don't see any pressing need now to hear about him again.

Posted by: Monolycus | Jul 2, 2006 11:19:49 AM | 41


if your world does not include jeremy clarkson - it is already a better world

debs take if anything, on 'journalists' like him is a moderate response to the banality of evil

Posted by: r'giap | Jul 2, 2006 12:19:17 PM | 42

A new Hersh piece in the New Yorker about Iran and the internal fight in the US between politicians and the military.


Still reading ..

Posted by: b | Jul 2, 2006 4:04:57 PM | 43

Billmon has been postiong fast and furious. Actually maybe a little too fast. His latest post -Playing the Degüello, he asks:
"So what exactly is Gen. McCaffrey proposing? That we stop taking prisoners? ... Is that really where this is heading? "

What does Billmon mean "Is that where this is heading?"

Hell, we are way past that, where has Billmon been?

Just look at what happened in Fallujah. How many times have I heard: "Kill em all and let God sort em out!"?

Prisoners have been held for torture, interrogation, bait, revenge, rape or even women as hostages. No need to ask where this is heading.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Jul 2, 2006 9:15:17 PM | 44

Good article by Hersh. Thanks for the link.
Even a little humor thrown in:
“There is a war about the war going on inside the building,” a Pentagon consultant said. “If we go, we have to find something.”

Posted by: Rick Happ | Jul 2, 2006 9:34:20 PM | 45

Rick Happ asked "where has Billmon been?"

You know, I'm really starting to wonder about that myself. I was really, really relieved when he started blogging again after his latest mysterious absence, even though posts were coming at what might be considered an unhealthy, maniacal pace. But I'm a greedy little consumer, so I just gobbled up and digested what he was willing to offer.

Now, I'm beginning to wonder a bit more about those absences rather than the spate of production. Certain... how to put this?... a priori assumptions are starting to creep into Billmon's output. Memes, if you will. Might even want to call 'em talking points regarding the GWOT.

Now, I still love what Billmon does and still want to imagine that he is working entirely independently of any direction from on high, so I'm going to chalk my growing suspicions up to my tragic Leftist dementia. Breaks the heart how paranoid and crotchety I'm getting here.

Posted by: Monolycus | Jul 2, 2006 10:27:33 PM | 46

Just an old, old, song:

Don't Put a Dime In The Appropriations Jukebox.

Gyrene Don't Need To Hear That Song No More.


Supreme Victory Through Air Power:

The retired four-star general also described the commanders’ conference as “very fractious.” He added, “We’ve got twenty-five hundred dead, people running all over the world doing stupid things, and officers outside the Beltway asking, ‘What the hell is going on?’ ”

Cheney is not a renegade. He represents the conventional wisdom in all of this. He appeals to the strategic-bombing lobby in the Air Force—who think that carpet bombing is the solution to all problems.”

“The Air Force is hawking it to the other services,” the former senior intelligence official said. “They’re all excited by it, but they’re being terribly criticized for it.” The main problem, he said, is that the other services do not believe the tactic will work. “The Navy says, ‘It’s not our plan.’ The Marines are against it—they know they’re going to be the guys on the ground if things go south.”

Posted by: Ms. Pollyana Puller | Jul 2, 2006 11:19:39 PM | 47

Hey Monolycus, I know what you mean. But if Billmon is anything like me, one accidental cup of coffee will keep him going for hours. No kidding.

As far as the attitude adjustment question goes, I'm not so sure. We are all repeater stations for what we hear, and some have the gift of packaging that information, or even draw insights into it -- I found the early Billmon very stimulating on economic issues which he knows and writes well.

Knowledge of history and current news and a firm command of humorous writing are additional strong points. I'm not so sure when it comes to foreign policy, but there is a real cloud in that area for all of us.

He did come out strongly and persuasively in favor of the "Anything But Bush" strategy and also was the first voice I heard measuring his country's fit for the f word.

The guy is also a member of a clique or peer group of writers on the Internet and that must influence or even inspire further efforts.

Now on the other hand if you think Billmon may have been re-educated, then I agree that the suspicious absences alone are a dead giveaway. Let's not tell anyone else we know this, I'm not sure if they can be trusted.


Posted by: jonku | Jul 3, 2006 5:49:29 AM | 48

Mum's the word, jonku. Nobody's getting anything out of me apart from an occasional significant glance or a discrete, nudging elbow in the ribs.

Posted by: Monolycus | Jul 3, 2006 10:35:54 AM | 49

@b on #35

"I'm going to need a number," he said again, giving the distinct impression that he was an autobank, and that this was a conversation he was prepared to endure until one of us died. So with a great deal of bravery I decided to give him one. And the number I chose was 2,649,347.

The pathetic author of this piece seems never to have suspected that the Immigration was practicing a high form of mercy, which is to relentlessly give the slow witted traveler no option but to give the proper answer, an answer that will keep the traveler OUT of trouble. Predictably, our sociophobe traveler tries to humiliate the man who is rescuing him.

Let's all heart that agent, and wish for his continued health and mental stamina.

Posted by: citizen | Jul 3, 2006 12:31:10 PM | 50

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