Good evening. Fever has broken, pox are going down and my boss came by today, takes a look at me and goes, "I don't care how you feel tomorrow, don't come in." :D
He said he didn't want me to think he was checking up on me. I think he waited until today because he was afraid I was faking and would come by Wednesday only to find I'd gone to see Amy Goodman give that speech. :D
He's a pretty cool guy. He and my dad were Little League coaches together for my brothers. (I was too young, by the time I was in Little League, he'd served his time.)
Elaine's off on Thursdays but you can check out Cedric's Big Mix tonight for Cedric's thoughts on the news. So let's get to the news from Democracy Now!
Telecom Companies Helped NSA Spy on Millions of US Citizens
Three of the country's largest telecom companies have provided the National Security Agency with the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. This according to a report in USA Today. One source with direct knowledge of the program called it "the largest database ever assembled in the world" whose goal is to collect a record of "every call ever made" within the United States. The Bush administration has insisted its spy program focuses solely on international calls. The companies -- AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth -- have been under contract since after the 9/11 attacks. Only one major telecom company declined to participate in the program. The company, Qwest, reportedly asked the NSA to get FISA-court approval before it would hand over the records. The NSA refused. Although the program does not involve the direct monitoring of phone conservations, it amasses detailed records on who people have called and when they've called them. At least one company had already been implicated in the program. In a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation earlier this year, former AT&T technician Mark Klein said AT&T has been working with the National Security Agency to spy on Americans. In addition to raising new questions about the extent of the NSA spy program and the companies involved, the disclosure also raises new questions about CIA Director-nominee Michael Hayden. Hayden headed the National Security Agency at the time the spy program was implemented. He declined USA Today's request for comment.
Read Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY DUMMIES UP FOR THE PRESS!" which is a great (and funny!) take on this news. It's one lie after another with Bully Boy. "Let's impeach the president for lying" is on the stereo right now. Rebecca had a CD in her get well package she dropped of Tuesday and it was Neil Young's Living With War which I was just going to listen to online because I've got a birthday to buy for coming up so I was watching the dollars and cents.
It's really good. It's a great gift (thank you, Rebecca). You can listen to it online at Living With War and if you have a problem with it dropping in and out (I did), just let it play all the way through once and then when it starts up the second time, it won't drop out. And read Kat's
"Kat's Korner: Neil Young's Living With War -- key word 'Living'."
It's a good CD and on days like today, when the news makes you go "Say what?" you'll really appreciate it even more. So Bully Boy got caught in another lie. What is the thing that makes everyone scream "IMPEACH!" at Congress? It seems like we should have passed that point a long, long time ago. It's just one abuse and one lie after another with Bully Boy.
UK Attorney General Calls For Guantanamo Closure
Britain's Attorney General has called for the closure of the US prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a speech in London, Lord Peter Goldsmith said: "The existence of Guantanamo remains unacceptable."
See, that's more shame he's brought on us. How will we ever explain that? The only explanation is, "We were cowards, a bully was in the White House, and we went along." It's time to shut down Guantamo and time to impeach Bully Boy. When England's version of Alberto Gonzales is saying "shut it down," you know the pressure's gotten bad. That's probably because the administration's trying to defend it to the United Nations and even if that's not a big deal in this country, it is outside of it.
There was a guest on Democracy Now! this week that I fell asleep in the middle of so he may have made the point I'm about to but he was trying to talk about the Guantanamo's in this country. I forgot that until Tony brought by this thing today on the UN panel looking into torture. It was on tasers.
I thought, "What the ___!"
Tasers should be pulled, no question. But we're talking about planned, intended torture and one other thing. (I'll get to the other thing.) So it just seemed like someone was trying to piggyback their cause on to this issue. That's how I felt about the story on DN! which was talking about the Guantanamo's in this country.
There are not any Guantanamo's in this country (unless they're secret prisons). What goes on at Guantamao and Bagram and secret prisons isn't just torture. It's also the fact that people who have never had their day in court have been imprisoned. They've been held prisoner without ever being convicted.
That's a big difference.
I know that techniques used at Guantamo were used in some prisons here. I'm not dismissing that. But I am saying that this isn't the "same" as Guantamo.
Whether you got a fair trial or were railroaded, you got a day in court. Your family knew where you were. You weren't picked off the streets by CIA and taken away without anyone knowing.
It's not the same thing. The physical abuse may be the same but there is another level to Guantamo, the whole secrecy factor.
Crimes are going on in American prisons and they need to be brought out into the open and the guards and others participating need to be put on trial and face long, stiff sentences. But Guantamo brings in the whole internment issue that this nation was supposedly shamed by when they did that to Japanese-Americans. Guantanamo goes against the basic core of our justice system: innocent until proven guilty.
To me, you don't act like the two are equal.
That's how I felt when I read the story about how tasers are killing people in America (they are) and how this is "just like" what's going on in Guantanamo.
Torture is always wrong and always needs to be punished. But torture alone isn't the reason Guantamo is so shameful. That's only one part of it.
Closing because I'm tired. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Chaos and violence continue.
Today? The parliament continued to make the issue of who heads the Iraqi oil ministry the main topic. (Does that not demonstrate how important that position is?) As the AFP notes, yesterday was the self-imposed deadline the US backed Iraqi prime minister designate Nuri al-Maliki had set for finaliing his cabinet. The deadline was missed.
This as Rod Barton, an Australian Defence sciene intelligence officer, has made statements that Australia was lied into war. Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Company's Kerry O'Brien, Barton also addressed the issue of US torture:
KERRY O'BRIEN: Why do you believe he was beaten to death and how clear is the evidence that he was beaten to death?
ROD BARTON: I now know, and I didn't know this when I wrote the book, that he underwent a process called purgatory when he was arrested. Purgatory is, again, by this Special Forces 626. When they arrest the person they're trying to disorient the person. They put a hessian bag over the person's head and for three days or more the person is beaten, deprived of food and sleep and so on. There was a lot of stuff he was involved with. He developed poisons for assassination purposes. But I believe, I now know, that he knew about actual operations of assassinations of Iraqi dissidents overseas. And I believe that was the information that they were trying to get from him when they beat him again. The autopsy showed that he died not of a brain tumour or a brain aneurysm, or whatever they told me - not of natural causes, but the autopsy showed he died of blunt force trauma to the head. In other words, someone hit him too hard on the head.
Back in Iraq, as factions move towards the consolidation of militaries, Grand Ayatolla Hli al-Sistani has "ordered all Shi'ite mosques to close for three days" in Zubayr reports the Associated Press. This as AFP is reporting that "official sanction" will be needed for clerics in Iraq. As part of the agreement, "capital and Iraqi forces" cannot raid mosques without US troops being present. Presumably 'sanctioning' of cleric will take place with US permission as well. (US military spokesperson, Rick Lynch, stated of the deal: "That's news to me, that's a surprise to me.")
In Baghdad, as noted on KPFA's The Morning Show newsbreaks anchored by Sandra Lupien and by CNN, roadside bombs have claimed the lives of at least three American troops today (Lupien also noted the death of two Iraqi soldiers from a roadside bomb -- as does Reuters). The Associated Press notes a roadside bomb took the lives of five "municipal workers." (CNN also puts the number of dead at five and notes one wounded.) Reuters, which puts the previous number at four, reports assailents shot and killed a "judicial investigator near a courthouse." Courthouses and schools continue to be the targets for violence. And the corpse of a police officer was discovered ("hands bound, signs of torture and shot in the head").
In Baquba, Reuters notes that a school teacher was killed and her fourteen-year-old nephew wounded by assailants. Is this the same woman, Widad al-Shimri, whose death the AP reports? They identify her as a Shi'ite "history professor" and note that her seven-year-old daughter was also killed. So at least one educator was killed in Baquba, possibly two. Also in Baquba, at least twenty-five men, suspected gunmen, have been arrested "wearing army uniforms" but not with the army.
In Haqlaniyah, US troops have fired on abandoned hotel where resistance fighters were believed to be while, in Kirkuk, assailants "ambushed and killed a police lieutenant colonel."
I could write about the next three items if I had any energy but, instead, I'll just note C.I.'s
"NYT: The intentionally blind and the willfully useless (yes, Dexy's back in print)" and
"Other Items" plus Kat's "Kat's Korner: Pink's not dead or silent" which may be my favorite review she's done so far. Oh and Rebecca's "more on hud's lead liar alphonso jackson."
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