Thursday, December 15, 2005

Torture, Patriot Act, Rory O'Connor and more

Good evening. We'll kick off with Democracy Now! but before we do, let's note that Amy Goodman was back today. Her voice sounded almost back to normal and Ma saw it, I have to listen lately with my schedule, and she said that she had color in cheeks and looked good so I hope she's all better or on the road to all better. And let me note that Elaine's off on Thursdays so I'm soloing here.

House Passes Non-Binding Measure in Support of Senate Torture Ban
Meanwhile, the House overwhelmingly approved a non-binding vote Wednesday in support of Senator John McCain's push for a Senate ban on torture of detainees in US custody. The measure is now being negotiated in Congress, where the White House is pushing for an amendment that would exempt interrogators from punishment.

It's sad, isn't it, that we live in a country that has to pass a BAN on torture. I mean, isn't that pretty sad? And isn't it disgusting that we live in a country where the leader would be trying to stop a BAN on torture?

Patriot Act Renewal Moves to Senate as House Approves Renewal
On Capital Hill, the House of Representatives voted to renew the Patriot Act Wednesday, setting the stage for a showdown in the Senate. A bipartisan Senate group threatens to hold up the bill over concerns it would give the FBI too much power over civil liberties. The Bush administration is lobbying intensively for a renewal. Republican leaders are reportedly considering a fall-back position that would extend the current Patriot Act by one year if efforts to push through new provisions fail.

We gotta stop this. I already called my senators' offices (my parents had the contact info on the fridge with instructions for me and my sister to "MAKE THE CALLS"). But in case someone wants to weigh in but doesn't know how, let me swipe from C.I., this is from NOW's "Oppose Reauthorization: USA PATRIOT Act Violates Our Civil Liberties:"

Vote set for this Friday! Act NOW.
Action Needed:
Please send a message to your Senators urging them to oppose reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Improvement and Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005 (H.R. 3199), which fails to include important reforms and poses a serious threat to individual privacy and to our precious civil liberties. The reauthorization of this controversial law would enact scores of new surveillance powers for the government, establish a number of new crimes, including new death penalties, and still permit secret eavesdropping and secret search orders. Safeguards that were adopted by the Senate earlier this year have been deleted and, alarmingly, most provisions in this final version would be made permanent, bypassing the critically important periodic Congressional reviews.
Senate Democrats are united in opposing this draconian re-write of the PATRIOT Act, and so are a number of Republicans, which makes victory possible. Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.) and a number of both Democratic and Republican members are threatening a filibuster. The Senate is set to vote Friday (Dec.16). The more conservative House voted today 251 to 174 to adopt the reauthorization measure. So this makes it all the more critical to contact your Senators immediately. Please use our formatted message or write one of your own and urge your Senators to oppose this dangerous bill.
Take action NOW.

So you got a link, you got a good organization. NOW made it real easy, all you do is visit the page, you fill in your information, it sends it to your Senators and there's NO CHARGE. Maybe you already contact your senators and you're used to it and have parents like mine who put it on a chore list. :D But if not and if you're not sure how to do it, NOW's made it real easy.

Now let's note a Rory O'Connor, who I bet may be Irish-American like me with a name like that, and his "Able Danger and Unaccountability:"

A December 8 Washington Post article by Dana Milbank, "Intelligence Design and the Architecture of War," described a question-and-answer session that followed a recent National Press Club speech by former deputy defense secretary (now World Bank president) Paul Wolfowitz.
"How do you account for the intelligence Iraq?" Wolfowitz was asked.
"Well," he said after a long pause, "I don't have to."
Precisely. That very lack of accountability at the highest levels of the Pentagon continues to be one of the biggest reasons why the world's only superpower is losing the war on terror.
Accountability for intelligence failures, Wolfowitz explained, just wasn't his problem. "And it's not just because I don't work for the U.S. government anymore," he said. "In my old job I didn't have to. I was like everyone else outside the intelligence community... We relied on the intelligence community for those judgments, so the question is, in a way, how do they account for it?"
To Milbank, the pass-the-buck, laissez-faire attitude exhibited by Wolfowitz "was an unexpected response from a man who, as the Pentagon's No. 2, sat atop 80 percent of the nation's intelligence budget and an intelligence agency that made particularly aggressive claims about Iraq's weapons."
But after months of chasing the Pentagon for answers about, and accountability for, intelligence failures relative to the Able Danger data mining operation -- which purportedly identified four 9/11 hijackers a year before the worst terror attacks ever on US soil -- the Wolfowitz "What Me Worry?" response was exactly what I expected.
Just this week, for example, after literally months of silence, the Department of Defense finally provided an answer -- of sorts -- to my many queries.
That's the good news. Now the bad news: the answer is "No."

And let me point out that Kat did a hilarious thing yesterday. So check out her "Ryan, remember this is Heddy we're talking." And let me point out that Nina wanted to weigh in on "Heddy." I go, "You can write whatever you want." But she goes this is my site and all. I go, "Everyone still asks about your poem in e-mails." :D But that wasn't enough to change her mind. So I go, "I'll interview you!" And she goes, "Oh, Mike, don't make a huge thing out of it." :D So she just wants to weigh in and say that if "Heddy" can't figure out where she stands on the war after over 1,000 days, she's a mush brain. :D She says she's 19 and she's old enough to know that war is wrong and she's old enough to know she needs to say it. She goes she was in D.C. And she was too. That was a lot of fun. She goes she was in D.C. in September and stood up and was counted so she's embarrassed that a grown woman, "1 older than me", can't find a better way to use her voice "than writing about shows I'd be embarrassed for my little sister to watch and she's 13." :D

I love Nina. She's the best.

One more day 'till the weekend. And Nina just reminded me to say something about my buddy Wally. I love The Daily Jot and Wally's had something every day this week. I hope you're checking him out at The Daily Jot.

Remember my motto: The Common Ills community is important and the Common Ills community is important to me. So I'll do my part for the Common Ills community.